Pixel Scroll 9/8/19 To Be Placed On Our “Do Not Teleport” List, Please Press 1

(1) WRITTEN AS A WARNING. Margaret Atwood was featured today on CBS Sunday Morning: “’The Handmaid’s Tale’ author Margaret Atwood: ‘I have never believed it can’t happen here’”.

…When asked her inspiration for the handmaids’ outfits, Atwood replied, “The concealment of the body, number one, and the limitation of the body, number 2, so other people can’t see you, but you also can’t see other people.

“So, that, and the Old Dutch Cleanser package from the 1940s,” she added. “A vision from my childhood.”

Outside the church, Atwood is recognized by teenagers attending day camp. At 79, she is Canada’s most famous living writer. She’s published 60 books, but “The Handmaid’s Tale” has overshadowed the others. In English, it’s sold more than eight million copies.

She began the book in West Berlin in 1984: “A symbolic year because of Orwell, and how could I be so corny as to have begun ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in that year?  I couldn’t help it!”

(2) NO AWARD. David Pomerico was incensed that Anne Groell finished behind No Award in the Best Professional Editor, Long Form Hugo category. While some of these tweets are a bit overwrought (“Of course, maybe Anne wronged 97 of you somehow, but knowing her like do, I find that hard to believe”), it’s very fair to say most voters have only a very general idea what an editor does, and to wonder how they decided to fill out their ballots. Thread starts here.

I have observed in the fan categories that No Award votes can function as a protest against the existence of a category. If something similar is at work here, it would only be unfortunate collateral damage that a person received fewer votes than No Award on the first ballot. Note that although she wasn’t the first choice of very many voters, the sixth place runoff shows 446 people ranked Groell ahead of No Award.

(3) PKD’S FINAL RESTING PLACE. “Arts and Entertainment: Community celebrates Philip K. Dick” — The Fort Morgan (CO) Times covers a local PKD festival. Why Fort Morgan? For a couple of good reasons:

…PKD died in Santa Ana, California, on March 2, 1982, at the age of 53. After his death, Hollywood would make some of his work popular with films such as “Blade Runner” (based on his short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”); “Total Recall” (based on “We can Remember it Wholesale”); “Minority Report” and “The Adjustment Bureau.”

Dick is buried at the Fort Morgan cemetery next to his twin sister, Jane, who died at 6 weeks old. That grave is a popular draw for fans of the prolific science fiction author from all over the world, with cemetery workers often seeing little trinkets related to his tales left on the stone.

Another connection to Fort Morgan with the late author is that his father’s family was from Fort Morgan.

Two years ago, an expert on author Philip K. Dick who goes by Lord Running Clam (aka David Hyde) saw his dream of having a PKD Festival held in Fort Morgan come true.

And this year, the second version of that every-two-years festival was held.

… One of the big events at this year’s PKD Festival was a panel discussion about “The Man In The High Castle.”

“The Man in the High Castle” is what many consider to be Dick’s first masterpiece, but not everyone feels that way. The panel consisted of Ted Hand, Dr. Andrew Butler, Tessa Dick and Frank Hollander.

(4) CLINGERMAN APPRECIATION. The Library of America’s “Story of the Week is “Mr. Sakrison’s Halt” by Mildred Clingerman (1918–1997), originally published in 1956 by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and recently anthologized in The Future Is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women.

During the last couple of decades the name Mildred Clingerman has popped up in prominent spots around the science fiction universe. Her works have been included in several significant anthologies and even in textbooks; indeed, her story “Wild Wood” is one of the more memorable entries in the late David G. Hartwell’s landmark collection of Christmas fantasy tales. In 2014 she received a posthumous Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award, joining such previous honorees as R. A. Lafferty, Leigh Brackett, and the collaborative team Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore. And two years ago her family assembled The Clingerman Files, a book collecting most of the science fiction stories that appeared during her lifetime, along with two dozen unpublished tales found in her papers.

(5) TRUE CONFESSION. Cat Rambo is taking inventory:

(6) Q&A. Odyssey Writing Workshops taps into the experience of a successful grad — “Interview: Graduate Erin Roberts”.

Your story “Thanks for the Memories,” an interactive story about a woman piecing her life together one memory at a time, came out in Sub-Q in December 2018. What were some of the challenges in writing a story structured that way?

I had so much fun writing “Thanks for the Memories,” and it’s based on a story I wrote for my last week of Odyssey. I could never make it quite work in prose, but making it interactive and letting the player/reader experience the feeling of trying to work out the main character’s past from within her shoes, using her memories, was the perfect fit of story and format. The hardest part of doing it, other than learning a new coding language to write the piece, was figuring out how to make the piece non-linear (so you could experience the memories in any order), but also structured (so there was a set beginning, middle, and end to drive the story). My solution was to create a frame narrative with a ticking clock and key moments that always happened when the player got through a certain number of memories. That way their experience of the memories could always be different, but the story would still have a shape and forward plot momentum. I like to think it worked out in the end.

(7) HINTS OFFERED. At Writer’s Digest, Robert Lee Brewer has curated a list of links to other WD articles that will show you “How to Write a Science Fiction Novel”.

Whether you want to write about peace-loving aliens or a heartbreaking dystopian future, there are a number of practical strategies for starting your novel, building your world, and landing a satisfying finish. In this post, learn how to write a science fiction novel using some of the best advice on WritersDigest.com.

(8) A HISTORIC CONNECTION. Actor Robert Picardo celebrates Star Trek’s premiere 53 years ago today by sharing Trek-related things found in storage boxes at The Planetary Society’s headquarters. One is a signed letter from Gene Roddenberry encouraging the Star Trek community to join the Society.

Star Trek: Voyager’s holographic doctor, Robert Picardo, also serves on The Planetary Society Board of Directors. However, he is not the first connection between Star Trek and The Planetary Society. In 1980, the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, wrote a letter and sent it out to a Star Trek fans mailing list. In the letter, Gene invited his fans to join us on our mission to explore the cosmos. Hear the letter as read by Robert Picardo, listen to his Jean-Luc Picard impression, and see inside Bill Nye’s office for more Star Trek artifacts on hand at The Planetary Society.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 8, 1966 Star Trek’s first aired episode, “The Man Trap,” was written by George Clayton Johnson.
  • September 8, 1973 Star Trek: The Animated Series premiered on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 8, 1911 William Morrow. He’s the first original Trek Admiral appearing as an Admiral in two episodes, Admiral Komack, in “Amok Time” and as Admiral Westervliet “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”.  Other genre appearances include Cyborg 2087, Mission ImpossibleColossus: The Forbin ProjectPanic in Year Zero!The Resurrection of Zachary Wheeler, Rollerball and Fantasy Island. (Died 2006.)
  • Born September 8, 1925 Peter Sellers. Chief Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films which are surely genre, aren’t they? Of course, he had the tour de force acting experience of being Group Captain Lionel Mandrake and President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. He also took multiple roles (even the Queen) in The Mouse That Roared. Amusingly he was involved in another of folk tale production over various mediums (film, radio, stage) including Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Mother Goose and Jack and The Beanstalk. (Died 1980.)
  • Born September 8, 1945 Willard Huyck, 74. He’s got a long relationship with Lucas first writing American Graffiti and being the script doctor on Star Wars before writing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And he was the writer and director on Howard the Duck which, yes, is a Lucasfilm. It’s the lowest rated on Rotten Tomatoes Lucasfilm production ever at 15% followed by Radioland Murders, the last script he’d write for Lucasfilm which would be a not quite so dismal 24%. 
  • Born September 8, 1948 Michael Hague, 71. I’m very fond of East of the Sun and West of the Moon retold by he and his wife Kathleen. Not to be missed are his Wind in The Willows and The Hobbit which are both lovely takes on those tales. 
  • Born September 8, 1954 Mark Lindsay Chapman, 65. Sorry DCU but the best Swamp Thing series was done nearly thirty years ago and starred the late Dick Durock as Swamp Thing and this actor as his chief antagonist, Dr. Anton Arcane. Short on CGI, but the scripts were brilliant. Chapman has also shown up in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The New Adventures of SupermanThe Langoliers and Max Headroom to name a few of his genre appearances.
  • Born September 8, 1965 Matt Ruff, 54. I think that his second book Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy is his best work to date though I do like Fool on The Hill a lot. Any others of his I should think about reading? 
  • Born September 8, 1966 Gordon Van Gelder, 54. From 1997 until 2014, he was editor and later publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, for which he was awarded twice, and quite well deserved they were, the Hugo for Best Editor Short Form. He was also a managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction from 1988 to 1993, for which he was nominated for the Hugo a number of times. 
  • Born September 8, 1971 Martin Freeman, 48. I’m not a fan of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films but I really do think he made a very fine Bilbo Baggins. Now I will say that I never warmed to Sherlock with him and Benedict Cumberbatch. Elementary with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu works better for me.  
  • Born September 8, 1975 C. Robert Cargill, 44. He, along with Scott Derrickson and Jon Spaihts, worked on the script for Doctor Strange. More intriguingly they’re writing the script for The Outer Limits, a movie based on the television show. The film, produced by MGM, will be adapted from just the “Demon with a Glass Hand” episode begging the question of what they’re writing for a script given that Ellison did write the Writers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Script for a Television Anthology script. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LOOK OUT BELOW. Speakers’ Corner finds an author who did a literal book launch: “Science Fiction Should Be Re-Named Science Prediction: Q&A With Sarah Cruddas”.

What inspired you to pick up a pen and write a book for children?

The Space Race: The Journey to the Moon and Beyond – which was released this May – is my third children’s book. Although I don’t see it as just a children’s book. Nearly all of us have a child like wonder about space, and I want to inspire as many people as possible about why space matters and how it is shaping our lives. What inspired me to write this book is that I wanted to inspire as many people as possible about why space matters. I even launched the book to the edge of space (using a balloon) to help showcase just how close space really is.

Wait, hang on – you actually launched your book into space?

Haha yes!

I launched my book to space using a special type of balloon filled with hydrogen gas. The science behind it is relatively simple, the gas in the balloon weighs less than the air around it, so that causes it to rise. The balloon continues to rise and expand until the air that surrounds is equal in pressure – at the edge of space at an altitude which in this case was 33.1km. It then pops and falls to the Earth by parachute.

However it’s also complicated in the sense, you have to notify the CAA and also track the balloon and predict rough landing sight using weather patterns. But it shows that space is truly not far away.

(13) GOOD AS GOLD. Somewhat unexpectedly, Joker has taken top prize at the Venice Film festival. Slate has the story: Joker Steals Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival!”.

               The Joker, that caliph of clowns, that prince of pranksters, that malevolent mischief-maker whose cunning capers continually confound the courageous crimefighters of Gotham City, has struck again! This time, the caped crusaders’ archest arch-nemesis has left Gotham for bella Italia—ancestral home of local heiress J. Pauline Spaghetti—to pull off his most daring, dastardly deed to date: Stealing the Golden Lion, the top prize at this year’s Venice Film festival, and awarding it to Joker, screenwriter and director Todd Phillips’ critically-acclaimed meditation on poverty, grief, and the myriad ways the social and economic forces of the Reagan era turned decent people into Clown Princes of Crime.

               The Joker’s fiendish feat of film flimflammery is a festival first: According to the Cinematic Milestone Bat-Disclosure Unit, Joker is the first superhero movie to win the Golden Lion. The festival jury, headed by Argentinean director Lucrecia Martel, has not commented on its role in the Joker’s scheme, but Commissioner Gordon believes that an empty box of “Joker Brand Film Festival Jury Hypnotic Gas Pellets (Italian Formulation)” found in the gondola where deliberations were held may hold a clue to the mystery. Authorities acknowledge, however, that their theory that the festival jury was biased in favor of supervillains is not entirely consistent with the fact that they awarded the festival’s next highest award, the Grand Jury Prize, to a small-time sex offender named Roman Polanski for An Officer and a Spy, a movie about the Dreyfus affair. Holy Ham-Handed Historical Analogy, Batman!

(14) NAVIGATING OZ. Daniel Tures looks back at the books and 1939 movie in “Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, Oh My!” at the Los Angeles Public Library blog.

…As one of the cultural touchstones of the 20th century, almost any look into the history or production of The Wizard of Oz will spin the reader down endless rabbit holes of film criticism and intellectual wandering. From Judy Garland’s ruby slippers, silver shoes in Baum’s original book, illustrated by W.W. Denslow, to E. “Yip” Harburg and Harold Arlen’s iconic songs, and with heirs from The Wiz to the films of David Lynch, it stands at the crux of Hollywood history.

We tend to think of the books as being written in one place, and the movies based on them being made in another—yet strangely enough L. Frank Baum and his wife Maud Gage actually lived in the town of Hollywood from 1910 to 1919, at the end of his life, just as it was being transformed from a little-known agricultural paradise to a world-famous moviemaking one.

(15) KYLO REN IS DONE WITH IT. “Darth Vader’s Screen-Used Helmet From Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Goes up for Auction”: ComicBook.com says you’ll need a wheelbarrow full of cash.

Are you a Star Wars fan with $250,000 to spend? If so, iCollector has an item for you! The online collectibles auction is boasting a Darth Vader helmet worn onscreen by David Prowse in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

(16) HISTORY OF SF FILMS. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Scott Zicree, has been doing a History of Science Fiction, and in the third installment covers 1955 to 1959. He hopes viewers will support his efforts at www.patreon.com/marczicree.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/27/19 What File Shall A Poor Pixel Scroll To All Tomorrow’s Parties?

(1) ROBERTS SUES SERRUYA. Nora Roberts is taking #CopyPasteCris to court –U.S. News and World Report has the story: “Nora Roberts Sues Brazilian Author, Cites ‘Multi-Plagiarism'”.

Best-selling novelist Nora Roberts is suing a Brazilian writer for copyright infringement, alleging that Cristiane Serruya has committed “multi-plagiarism” on a “rare and scandalous” level.

In papers filed Wednesday morning in Rio de Janeiro, where Serruya lives, Roberts called Serruya’s romance books “a literary patchwork, piecing together phrases whose form portrays emotions practically identical to those expressed in the plaintiff’s books.” Citing Brazilian law, Roberts is asking for damages at 3,000 times the value of the highest sale price for any Serruya work mentioned in the lawsuit.

“If you plagiarize, I will come for you,” Roberts told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “If you take my work, you will pay for it and I will do my best to see you don’t write again.”

Roberts added that she would donate any damages from the lawsuit to a literacy program in Brazil.

In a telephone interview Wednesday with the AP, Serruya called herself a “fanatic” of Roberts’ work. But she denied copying her and said she had not received notification of any lawsuit. Serruya added that she often used ghost writers for parts of her books and “could not guarantee that no part was copied” by them….

… Lawyer Saulo Daniel Lopez, a specialist in authors’ rights, said a case like this can take 5 to 10 years to be decided in Brazilian courts. If plagiarism is proven, Serruya could be forced to pay from the proceeds of her books, Lopez said.

(2) GUILD V. AGENTS. Jody Simon gives a litigation update in “Winter Is Coming: Writers and Agents Hunker Down for a Battle of Attrition”.

  • The WGA has filed suit against the ATA and the Big Four agencies (WME, CAA, ICM and UTA), alleging that the practice of collecting package commissions constitutes breach of fiduciary duty and unfair competition under state and federal law.
  • The entire ecosystem under which writers found jobs is upended. Under the California Talent Agencies Act (TAA), only licensed talent agents can “procure” employment for writers. The WGA has issued a statement delegating authority to managers and lawyers to find work for writers notwithstanding the statute, but many (including the ATA) question the union’s authority to do so. The WGA has offered to indemnify lawyers and managers against TAA claims. So far, however, no one has taken it up on this offer.
  • Lawyers, but especially managers are in a tight spot. They have writer clients to service without agencies to back them up and provide cover. They can procure employment for their clients in violation of the TAA, at risk of being required to disgorge any commissions received if their client files a claim with the State Labor Commissioner. Meanwhile, the big agencies have made it clear that they will not look kindly upon managers and lawyers who encroach upon their territory, and will remember who their friends are when this dispute is finally resolved.
  • No one knows how open writing assignments will be filled, since this was a central role of the agencies. The WGA has set up an online database to facilitate matchmaking, and showrunners are falling back on their personal networks. These are early days, however. There will undoubtedly be loss of efficiency in staffing but how serious it will be and who will suffer remains to be seen.

(3) A VIEW OF THE HIMALAYAS. Ursula Vernon continues to post Twitter threads with photos and comments from her adventures in Tibet. Starting here,

(4) NYRSF READINGS. “Black Gods, Black Drums, Black Magic” is the theme of May’s installment of the New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series, assembled by guest host Cam Rob. Phenderson Djèlí Clark and Yvonne P. Chireau will headline.

For most Americans, the historical and mystical dimensions of the African American religious experience remains unexplored, secret, long hidden. This place of heroines, gods, danger, and true things is a vital, living piece of our story. But to venture forth, require guides. Today, we will follow two griots who know the way.

This will be a reading, a seminar, and a discussion with professors Phenderson Djèlí Clark and Yvonne P. Chireau. Phenderson will read from his new novella, Black God’s Drum, and Professor Chireau will discuss the Black American magical traditions to give us historical context as well as read from her book, Black Magic. This will be followed by discussion and Q&A from the audience.

Yvonne Chireau is a professor of Religion at Swarthmore College. She is the author of Black Magic: African American Religion and Conjuring Tradition (2003) and co-editor of Black Zion: African American Religions and Judaism (1999) with Nathaniel Deutsch. She is interested in black religions in the US, African-based religions such as Vodou, and the intersection between magic and religion in America. She blogs subjects having to do with Voodoo and Africana religions at Academic Hoodoo.com

Phenderson Djéli Clark is the Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon nominated author of the novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is founding member of the FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.

The readings take place Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from 6:45-9 p.m. at the Brooklyn Commons Café, 388 Atlantic Bl., Brooklyn, NY 11217-1703. $7 suggested donation.

(5) KSR COMING TO UCSD. Free and open to the public is “San Diego 2049: Closing Keynote with Kim Stanley Robinson and Team Project Competition” on May 22 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) at Robinson Auditorium, UC San Diego. RSVP here.

Kim Stanley Robinson–the multiple award-winning science fiction writer, climate change expert, and UC San Diego alum–joins us to deliver the closing keynote to San Diego 2049, sharing his insights into the future of the border region and how the practice of science fictional worldbuilding can help us imagine–and impact–issues of vital importance to individuals, our communities, our species, and life on planet Earth.

This evening will also feature the final projects of several UC San Diego graduate student teams who have been participating in the San Diego 2049 series and imagining their own future scenarios for the region.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards, and in 2017 he was awarded the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Red Moon, New York 2140, the bestselling Mars trilogy and the critically acclaimed Forty Signs of Rain, The Years of Rice and Salt and 2312. In 2008, he was named a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine, and he works with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, which is hosted each summer at UC San Diego. He is an alumnus of both UC San Diego and the Clarion Workshop and lives in Davis, California.

(6) DIVERSE SFF CREATORS. Texas A&M University hosts “’The Stars Are Ours’: Infinite Diversities in Science Fiction and Fantasy” through September 20, 2019 at the Cushing Memorial Library & Archives. 

Items from the Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection provide a window into the diversities of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and culture that have always been a part of science fiction and fantasy.

…Some of the many books represented in the exhibit are The Female Man, Dune and Memoirs of a Spacewoman. Explore the arts and visual media Cushing has displayed with posters from famous movies such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman and TV series like Star Trek:Discovery and Luke Cage. Album covers from David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) are on display as well.

“What both this exhibit and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection at Cushing Library hope to show visitors is simply this: science fiction and fantasy and horror, in their abounding variations, are part of our shared cultural heritage,” said Jeremy Brett, curator of the exhibit. “They are not, nor have they ever been, the property of any one class of creator or fan.”

Also included in the exhibition are the 1984 Grand Master Award and the 1998 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement for famed female sci-fi and fantasy writer Andre Norton. She was the first woman to be made a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Tananarive Due gave an opening talk on March 29.

(7) GENE WOLFE IN DEPTH. There’s been ample praise for Brian Phillips’ profile “Gene Wolfe Turned Science Fiction Into High Art” at The Ringer.

Mary is still in touch with the Dietsches, the Wolfes’ old neighbors from Peoria. Rosemary Dietsch, Gene’s childhood playmate, comes to Texas for a visit. Gene and Rosemary discover that they still like each other. Before long, they’re engaged. Rosemary is Catholic, so before the wedding, Gene starts studying Catholic doctrine. For a while now, maybe because of his war experience, he’s been thinking about suffering and compassion and how human beings can be better. Catholicism resonates both with his sense of humanity’s fallenness and with his sense of the dedicated, lifelong commitment required for each individual’s redemption. Eventually, he decides to convert. He and Rosemary get married in 1956, two clean-cut kids smiling postwar American smiles. He tells people she saved him.

(8) NIGHTCAP. In 1982, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Gene Wolfe appeared together on the Nightcap cable TV talk show.

Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Gene Wolfe discuss science-fiction writing with Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin on the Alpha Repertory Television Service (ARTS), the predecessor of today’s A&E (Arts and Entertainment Network). The program was called “Nightcap: Conversations on the Arts and Letters.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 27, 1901 Frank Belknap Long. He’s best known for his short stories, including contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. During his life, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement and the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. (Died 1994).

One – that’s it!

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ON THE BUTTON. Cora Buhlert tweeted a photo of this Dublin 2019 memento:

(12) MY PETRONA. The 2019 Petrona Award shortlist for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year has been announced. In spite of the name, this is a British award given out at CrimeFest Bristol and is one of the comparatively few genre awards for translated fiction.

The Petrona Award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia, and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

  • THE ICE SWIMMER by Kjell Ola Dahl, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)
  • THE WHISPERER by Karin Fossum, tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)
  • THE KATHARINA CODE by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (Michael Joseph; Norway)
  • THE DARKNESS by Ragnar Jónasson, tr. Victoria Cribb (Penguin Random House; Iceland)
  • RESIN by Ane Riel, tr. Charlotte Barslund (Doubleday; Denmark)
  • BIG SISTER by Gunnar Staalesen, tr. Don Bartlett (Orenda Books; Norway)

The winning title will be announced at CrimeFest on May 11. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2020.

(13) SEE VERTLIEB ON TV. Steve Vertlieb’s star turn is available for online viewing —

I want to thank popular comedian and radio personality Grover Silcox for inviting me to share a delightful segment of his new Counter Culture television interview series which aired February 19th on WLVT TV, Channel 39, Public Television in Allentown. We sat together at the famed “Daddypops Diner” in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where the wonderful series is filmed, and talked about Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi…, Lon Chaney, Sr., and Lon Chaney, Jr. at Universal Pictures, as well as Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing at Hammer Film Productions, and the long, distinguished history of Horror Movies. For anyone who didn’t see the program during its initial broadcast, you can catch my episode on line by accessing the link below. You’ll find my segment in the middle of Episode No. 3.

 Click here for Episode 3.

(14) SHIELD YOUR EYES. Dead State didn’t think the name’s too offensive for a headline… “Tennessee movie theater censors the title of the movie ‘Hellboy’ because it’s too offensive”.

(15) HEAR NEWITZ. In episode 22 ofInto the Impossible, the Clarke Center’s podcast, they welcome Annalee Newitz, journalist and fiction author, and co-host of the podcast series Our Opinions are Correct.

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award and nominee for the Nebula and Locus awards, her ability to use her scientific knowledge in both her fiction and nonfiction works is something that makes Newitz’s work remarkable. Dr. Brian Keating speaks to her about creative process behind her newest novel Autonomous, as well as the forthcoming The Future of Another Timeline, and more. Enjoy!

And if you’re curious about her talk at UC San Diego, “Your Dystopia Is Canceled,” take a few minutes over at the Clarke Center YouTube channel:

(16) SPECULATIVE STUDIES. In the recent issue of American Studies, four new books of scholarship in speculative studies were reviewed — including Imagining the Future of Climate Change: World-making through Science Fiction and Activism by UC San Diego professor and Clarion Workshop Faculty Director Shelley Streeby — giving a view of the rapidly growing field. Read the full review here.

But speculative fiction studies, though it overlaps with scholarship on science fiction, is a different animal: broader, more capacious, less concerned with technical literary and generic questions. While some have tried to demarcate the bounds of speculative fiction—with Robert Heinlein and Margaret Atwood proposing the most famous definitions—others find the ambiguity of the term attractive.2 In Migrant Futures: Decolonizing Speculation in Financial Times, Bahng is “less interested in literary taxonomies than in the various modalities of writing and reading that can alter relations between writer and reader, shift ways of thinking, and produce different kinds of subjects”; she sees potential in speculative fiction’s “promiscuity and disregard for the proper” (13, 16). Similarly, Streeby embraces the term speculative fiction in Imagining the Future of Climate Change: World-Making through Science Fiction and Activism “because it is less defined by boundary-making around the word ‘science,’ stretching to encompass related modes such as fantasy and horror, forms of knowledge in excess of white Western science, and more work authored by women and people of color” (20). In Commander’s Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic, Afro-Atlantic speculation exceeds science fiction, or even Afro-futurism, which Commander regards as only one “subgenre of Afro-speculation of the twentieth and twenty-first century that is concerned with the artistic reimagining of the function of science and technology in the construction of utopic black futures”

(17) ALIEN STAGE PLAY. Mr. Sci-Fi, Marc Zicree, posted “My Favorite Moment” from the high school performance of Alien. (Tough audience – applauding the chest-burster scene!) Zicree adds —

And let’s give hats off to the writer Dan O’Bannon for thinking this up in the first place. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.

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

Pixel Scroll 4/14/19 Pixel Scroll Title Lacks Gravitas

(1) PULL THE TRIGGER. NPR follows up on a recent Pixel: “‘Uncharted Waters’: Union Tells Hollywood Writers To Fire Their Agents.”

Thousands of Hollywood writers have been told by the Writers Guild of America to fire their agents — a drastic move that could impinge the production of new TV shows and films.

The abrupt directive on Friday followed a breakdown in negotiations over proposed changes to the agreement that has guided the basic business relationship between writers and agents for the past 43 years.

With talks stalled ahead of a midnight deadline, the WGA sent its 13,000 writers an email with instructions to notify their agents in writing that they cannot represent them until signing a new code of conduct.

…At the center of the conflict is a complaint among writers that their agents are not just drastically out-earning them, but preventing them from receiving better pay. The dispute threatens to hinder production at a time when the major broadcast networks are typically staffing up for their fall lineups. It could also lead to job losses in the industry.

“This whole fight is really about the fact that in a period of unprecedented profits and growth of our business … writers themselves are actually earning less,” said Goodman.

A main point of contention involves what are known as packaging fees, the money that agents get from a studio when they provide a roster of talent for a film or TV project. Traditionally, agents would earn a 10 percent commission for the work their clients receive from a studio. But with packaging fees, they are compensated by the studios directly. “They are not incentivized to increase the income of those writers,” Goodman said.

(2) TIME SCOUTS KICKSTARTER. “The Time Scouts Handbook” is the focus of a Kickstarter launched by 826LA, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.  They’ve raised $15,978 of their $20,000 goal with over three weeks to go.

Introducing THE TIME SCOUTS HANDBOOK, your guide to traveling the whatever of whenever from 826LA. Filled with over 80 pages of time travel tips, writing prompts, and other useful scout tips like space knots, the Time Scouts Handbook has been lovingly designed to explore the most important place in space and time – your imagination. 

With your help, we’ll not only create a print version of this manual for 21st century consumption, you’ll fund access to Time Scout programming for students across Los Angeles. 

Time Scouts and this handbook are part of 826LA, a very real nonprofit dedicated to supporting students and teachers across Los Angeles. It is definitely not a front for an intergalactic, time-traveling adventure organization called Time Scouts. Who told you that? Was it Frida? 

(3) SNAPCHAT GIMMICK. Is there a dragon landing pad on the roof of Tor.com headquarters?

(4) COMING ATTRACTIONS. You better believe it – there’s bank to be made! The Hollywood Reporter tells readers “Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy on Planning “Next 10 Years” of Star Wars Films”.

“We are looking at the next saga. We are not just looking at another trilogy, we’re really looking at the next 10 years or more,” Kennedy said.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson is developing a trilogy of films, while Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are crafting their own trilogy. 

“This [movie] is the culmination of the Skywalker Saga; it’s by no means the culmination of Star Wars,” said Kennedy. “I’m sitting down now with Dan Weiss and David Benioff…and Rian Johnson. We’re all sitting down to talk about, where do we go next? We’ve all had conversations about what the possibilities might be, but now we’re locking it down.”

This summit is on the calendar for next month, Kennedy said.

(5) SPACE COMMAND. Marc Zicree’s latest Mr. Sci-Fi video – “He Met Star Trek’s Uhura When He Was 10 — and Shows Her His Scrapbook 50 Years Later!”

Mr. Sci-Fi shares a very special moment on the Space Command shoot with Nichelle Nichols!

(6) PETS, PITS, AND SIR PAT. Dann sent a pair of pet-related items: “So I ran into a link about optical illusions increasing pet adoptions. The first wasn’t as genre-tangential as I thought it might be.” — “Brilliant Optical Illusions Inspire Families To Adopt Rescue Pets”.

To promote a recent pet adoption event, the Mumbai, India-based group World For All commissioned a visual campaign aimed at encouraging families to find a place in their lives for a needy animal — and what resulted couldn’t be more brilliant at doing just that.

The images are optical illusions, showing people framed in such a way that they form the shape of a pet in the empty space between them, along with the simple tagline:

“There’s always room for more. Adopt.”

“But the next story in the cart was about Patrick Stewart fostering a pitbull and a pitbull mix.  And hey!  Patrick Stewart!” “Patrick Stewart’s New Foster Dog Can’t Stop Smiling At Him”

Many people might say that Sir Patrick Stewart is famous for his iconic roles in television, movies and even on stage — but dog lovers know that one of the most important parts Stewart has played is as a homeless pit bull’s foster dad in his real life. 

This was back in 2017 — and Ginger has since been adopted by a loving family.

But now Stewart is at it again. 

(7) MAKING THE TABLE ROUNDS. And another knight has been out doing good. “Ian McKellen spotted at The Hobbit pub” was an item in the BBC’s April 11 roundup.

Acting legend Ian McKellen stopped by The Hobbit pub in Southampton yesterday.

The Lord of the Rings actor stepped in to help pay a copyright licence fee in 2012 so the pub could carry on trading as The Hobbit after Hollywood film firm the Saul Zaentz Company threatened it with legal action.

At the time Sir Ian, who plays Gandalf, described the company’s actions as “unnecessary pettiness”.

The pub posted a picture of the actor on Instagram, prompting one user to reply: “I have never been more jealous in my life.”

Terry Hunt sent the link with a note, “The Hobbit is a LoTR-themed pub, particularly popular with students, which I’ve been visiting occasionally for around 25 years: see http://thehobbitpub.co.uk. In 2012 the film franchise sitting on the rights (who notoriously failed to pay the Tolkien Estate anything from the films’ earnings – not sure what the state of play is on that story) threatened the pub over its use of the name, etc., but apparently arrangements were made as it continued trading as before: at the time I missed the relevant report: (see here). I hadn’t realised until now that Sir Ian McKellen/Gandalf had been the co-payer, along with Stephen Fry, of the necessary fee.”

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 14, 1925 Rod Steiger. Carl in The Illustrated Man which is specifically based on three stories by Bradbury from that collection: “The Veldt,” “The Long Rain,” and “The Last Night of the World.” Great film. Genre-wise, he also was Father Delaney in The Amityville Horror, showed up as Charlie on the short-lived Wolf Lake series, played Dr. Phillip Lloyd in horror film The Kindred, was Pa in the really chilling American Gothic, played General Decker in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks (really, really weird film), Dr. Abraham Van Helsing in Modern Vampires and Peter on “The Evil Within” episode of Tales of Tomorrow  series. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 14, 1929 Gerry Anderson. English television and film producer, director, writer and if need be, voice artist.  Thunderbirds which ran for thirty-two episodes was I think the best of his puppet-based shows though Captain Scarlet and the MysteronsFireball XL5 and Stingray are definitely also worth seeing. Later on, he would move into live productions with Space: 1999 being the last production under the partnership of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. (Died 2012.)
  • Born April 14, 1935 Jack McDevitt, 84. If you read nothing else by him, read Time Travelers Never Die as it’s a great riff on the paradoxes of time travel. If you’ve got quite a bit of time, his Alex Benedict space opera series is a fresh approach to conflict between two alien races.
  • Born April 14, 1954 Bruce Sterling, 65. Islands in the Net is I think is his finest work as it’s where his characters are best developed and the near future setting is quietly impressive. Admittedly I’m also fond of The Difference Engine which he co-wrote with Gibson which is neither of these things. He edited Mirrorshades: A Cyberpunk Anthology which is still the finest volume of cyberpunk stories that’s been published to date. 
  • Born April 14, 1958 Peter Capaldi, 61. Twelfth Doctor. Not going to rank as high as the Tenth Doctor or the Seventh Doctor on my list of favourite Doctors, let alone the Fourth Doctor who remains My Doctor, but I thought he did a decent enough take on the role. His first genre appearance was as Angus Flint in the decidedly weird Lair of the White Worm, very loosely based on the Bram Stoker novel of the same name. He pops up in World War Z as a W.H.O. Doctor before voicing Mr. Curry in Paddington, the story of Paddington Bear. He also voices Rabbit in Christopher Robin. On the boob tube, he’s been The Angel Islington in Neverwhere. (Almost remade by Jim Henson but not quite.) He was in Iain Banks’ The Crow Road as Rory McHoan (not genre but worth noting). He played Gordon Fleming in two episodes of Sea of Souls series. Before being the Twelfth Doctor, he was on Torchwood as John Frobisher. He is a magnificent Cardinal Richelieu in The Musketeers series running on BBC. And he’s involved in the current animated Watership Down series as the voice of Kehaar.
  • Born April 14, 1977 Sarah Michelle Gellar, 42. Buffy Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes I watched every episode. Great show. Even watched every bit of Angel as well. Her first genre role was as Casey “Cici” Cooper in Scream 2 followed by voicing Gwendy Doll in Small Soldiers. Her performance as Kathryn Merteuil in Cruel Intentions is simply bone chillingly scary. I’ve not seen, nor plan to see, either of the Scooby-Doo films so I’ve no idea how she is Daphne Blake. Finally she voiced April O’Neil in the latest animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film.
  • Born April 14, 1982 Rachel Swirsky, 37. Writer, editor, poet and podcaster. She was the founding editor of the superb PodCastle podcast and served as the editor for several years. As a writer, she’s a master of the shorter form of writing, be it a novella, a short story or a poem. Indeed her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” won a Nebula Award. Her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” won another Nebula Award for Best Short Story. She’s the editor of People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) ONE BEST FAN WRITER TO ANOTHER. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid – April 12 edition features a review of Una McCormack’s excellent new novella The Undefeated and a look at the movie adaptation of Tim Lebbon’s The Silence, as well as the first of a planned series of Hugo spotlights on Charles Payseur.

Best Fan Writer finalist (Like me! That still sounds AWESOME) Charles Payseur is a writer, poet and a major part of the ongoing redemption of short fiction as an art form worthy of discussion. That sounds a touch high faluting I know but it’s true, short stories continue to enjoy a renaissance triggered by podcasting (Such as these fine shows) and the massive rise in digital magazines (Such as these fine magazines). The weird thing is that for the longest time that surging market has been largely overlooked by critics. Charles is not one of those critics.

(11) PSA. “RIKER IPSUM” delivers random messages that appear to be quotes from ST:TNG’s Riker:

I can’t. As much as I care about you, my first duty is to the ship.

(12) PC PROGRAMS. A BBC story reports “US lawmakers to probe algorithm bias”.

Computer algorithms must show they are free of race, gender and other biases before they are deployed, US politicians have proposed.

Lawmakers have drafted a bill that would require tech firms to test prototype algorithms for bias.

(13) DRONE CRIME. “Gatwick drone attack possible inside job, say police” – BBC has the story.

The drone attack that caused chaos at Gatwick before Christmas was carried out by someone with knowledge of the airport’s operational procedures, the airport has said.

A Gatwick chief told BBC Panorama the drone’s pilot “seemed to be able to see what was happening on the runway”.

Sussex Police told the programme the possibility an “insider” was involved was a “credible line” of inquiry.

…Police told the BBC they had recorded 130 separate credible drone sightings by a total of 115 people, all but six of whom were professionals, including police officers, security personnel, air traffic control staff and pilots.

(14) HIKARU. CBR.com’s “Comic Legend” series confirms “How Vonda McIntyre’s First Name for Sulu Became Canon”.

COMIC LEGEND:

Peter David’s comic book adaptation of Star Trek VI helped to get Vonda McIntyre’s first name for Sulu made canon.

STATUS:

True

The world of science fiction lost a great voice when the amazing Vonda McIntyre passed away earlier this month. McIntyre was a multiple Nebula Award-winning author, with her novel, Dreamsnake, capturing both the 1979 Nebula Award AND the 1979 Hugo Award….

[Thanks to Daniel Dern, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Dann, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories.  Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 4/13/19 No Matter Where You Scroll, There You Are

(1) SCHOEN LEAVES SFWA BOARD. Earlier this week Lawrence M. Schoen announced he was “Resigning from the SFWA Board of Directors”:

Effective as of 10am today, April 10th, 2019, I am resigning my position as a member of the SFWA Board of Directors.

We live in a world where appearance often carries more weight than intention. Recent controversies, and my perceived involvement in them, have increasingly made it difficult for me to effectively perform the responsibilities for which I’d been elected. Accordingly, it makes sense for me to step aside and allow someone else to continue the work.

Today’s decision notwithstanding, I remain committed to the ideals and goals of SFWA, perhaps best expressed by the statement the Board composed at last year’s Nebula Conference: “We are genre writers fostering a diverse professional community committed to inclusion, empowerment, and outreach.”

It has been my privilege to be of service to this organization and our community. I encourage you all to pay it forward.

Schoen’s statement does not specify what “recent controversies” he is perceived to be involved in. They may relate to Jonathan Brazee’s 20Booksto50K Nebula recommendation list. Schoen’s novelette “The Rule of Three” is one of the stories on the list that made the Nebula ballot. Brazee responded to criticism by apologizing for the list.

(2) NICHOLS ON SPACE COMMAND. Marc Zicree told fans, “Today’s shoot with Nichelle Nichols went great! Here’s a behind the scenes clip, with more to come.”

To help with the GoFundMe to pay for their efforts, click on “Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols Space Command Scene!”. At this writing they’ve raised $2,310 of their $15,000 goal.

(3) LUCAS’ FINGERPRINTS. IGN explains “How George Lucas Helped Finish Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”.

The new teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker features quite the surprise: as the trailer comes to a close, the screen cuts to black and our ears are filled with the cackling of Emperor Palpatine. It’s a laugh cold enough to send shivers down your spine and a character inclusion crazy enough to make your head spin. He met his electrifying end in Return of the Jedi, after all. IGN talked to director and co-writer JJ Abrams at Star Wars Celebration Chicago about how the iconic villain came to be a part of the film, and his answer included a meeting with the Maker himself, George Lucas.

“This movie had a very, very specific challenge, which was to take eight films and give an ending to three trilogies, and so we had to look at, what is the bigger story? We had conversations amongst ourselves, we met with George Lucas before writing the script,” Abrams revealed. “These were things that were in real, not debate, but looking at the vastness of the story and trying to figure out, what is the way to conclude this? But it has to work on its own as a movie, it has to be its own thing, it has to be surprising and funny and you have to understand it.”

(4) COPING. Sarah Hughes, TV critic at The Guardian, tells how Game of Thrones helped her cope with her cancer diagnosis. “Game of Thrones, cancer and me…”

…Best of all, while I might not find out how Martin himself intends to finish his series (there are still two long-awaited books to come), I will almost certainly see the TV series of Game of Thrones return for its brutal, no doubt bloody and hopefully rewarding conclusion this month. As for Tottenham Hotspur winning the league in my lifetime, that remains too great a step for even the most benign of gods to arrange.

(5) CLFA VOTING BEGINS. At the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance “The 2019 Book of the Year ballot is now open!”

Ready to cast your vote for CLFA Book of the Year 2019?  Go here to support your favorite!

(6) YAKFALL. We only thought we’d figured out the subject for Ursula Vernon’s next Hugo acceptance speech. Hilarious thread starts here.

Another great thread about their Tibetan explorations begins here.

(7) THE ESSENTIALS. Can a fannish kitchen be complete without a set of “Star Trek Klingon Alphabet Fridge Magnets”? ThinkGeek takes the “No” side of the debate.

  • A fun way to teach anyone the basics of pIqaD (the Klingon alphabet)
  • For use on magnetic surfaces, like your fridge or your ship’s hull

…This set contains the entire alphabet, with multiples for the more frequently used, plus a few apostrophes.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 13, 1937 Terry Carr. Lifelong fan and long after he turn pro, he continued to be active in fandom, hence was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. He worked as an Editor, first at Ace where he edited The Left Hand of Darkness. After a fallout with Wollheim, he went freelance where he developed Universe and Best Science Fiction of the Year, the latter on a remarkable four publishers. He was nominated for Best Editor Hugo thirteen times and won twice. He wrote three novels, one with Ted White, and three collections of his stories in print. (Died 1987.)
  • Born April 13, 1943 Bill Pronzini, 76. Mystery writer whose Nameless Detective has one genre adventure in A Killing in Xanadu. Genre anthologist, often with Barry N Malzberg, were many and wide ranging, covering such things as Bug-Eyed Monsters (with Malzberg), Arbor House Treasury of Horror and the Supernatural (with Greenberg and Malzberg) and Arbor House Necropolis. As Robert Hart Davis, he wrote “The Pillars of Salt Affair”, a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novella that ran in the The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine.
  • Born April 13, 1951 Peter Davison, 68. The Fifth Doctor and one that I never came to be fond of. Just seemed too lightweight for the role. I thought he put more gravitas into the voice of Mole he did for The Wind in the Willows animated special Mole’s Christmas. For twenty years now, he has reprised his role as the Fifth Doctor in myriad Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.
  • Born April 13, 1954 Michael Cassutt, 65. His notable genre TV work includes executive producing, producing or writing, or both, for Strange Luck, Seven DaysOuter Limits, Eerie, Indiana, and The Twilight Zone. He was also story editor for the Max Headroom series which I loved.
  • Born April 13, 1959 Brian Thomsen. Editor, writer and anthologist. He was founding editor of Warner Books’ Questar Science Fiction, and later served as managing fiction editor at TSR. He co-wrote the autobiography of Julius Schwartz. Strangely enough, I’ve actually read one of his anthologies, A Yuletide Universe, as I remember it from the cover art. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 13, 1950 Ron Perlman, 69. Hellboy in a total of five films including three animated films (Hellboy: Sword of StormsHellboy: Blood and Iron and Redcap). He’s got a very long association with the genre as his very first film was Quest for Fire in which he was Amoukar. The Ice Pirates and being Zeno followed quickly Captain Soames in Sleepwalkers and  Angel  De La Guardia in Mexican horror film Cronos. Several years later, I see he’s Boltar in Prince Valiant, followed by a hard SF role as Johnher in Alien Resurrection and Reman Viceroy in Star Trek: Nemesis. And I should note he was in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them as Gnarlack, a goblin gangster if I read the Cliff notes to that correctly.  No, I’m not forgetting about his most amazing role of all, Vincent in Beauty and The Beast. At the time, I thought it was the most awesome practical makeup I’d ever seen. And the costume just made look him amazing. 
  • Born April 13, 1962 Stephen Holland, 57. I’m a deep admirer of those who document our genre and this gentleman is no exception. In handful of works, he’s created an invaluable resource for those interested in SF published in paperback. British Science Fiction Paperbacks and Magazines, 1949-1956: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide and The Mushroom Jungle: A History of Postwar Paperback Publishing certainly look to be essential reading, and his Fantasy Fanzine Index: Volume 1 also sounds useful.

(9) WHAT A TANGLED WEB THEY WEAVE. Rebecca F. Kuang’s thread about the Game of Thrones tapestry starts here.

Through July 28 the public can “see Game of Thrones® immortalised in a giant, 77-metre long Bayeux style tapestry at the Ulster Museum.”

(10) THRONE CHOW. Delish says that in the UK, “TGI Friday’s Is Celebrating The Game Of Thrones Premiere With A Menu Inspired By The Series”.

In honor of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones—which premieres in just three days, people!!!—TGI Friday’s has released a limited-edition menu inspired by the series. However, vegetarians and vegans may want to steer clear of the “Dragon Slayer Feast.” It’s definitely a meat-heavy selection….

You can also order up Dragon Fire Hot Wings and the Bucket of Beast Bones, which is a combo of ribs and Friday’s famed glazed wings. However, as far as we know, the GOT special is currently a U.K. exclusive. The meat-filled feast will kick off April 10.

(11) ALTERNATE ASTRONAUTS. Camestros Felapton continues working his way through the finalists: “Hugo Novels: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal”.

The Calculating Stars has a more grounded aesthetic than it’s predecessor, and aims to present a plausible alternative history where the space program is accelerated and is also a more international collaboration. In the centre of this effort is Dr Elma York who desperately wants to go into space but who must also navigate through the complexities of 1950s America.

It’s an engaging fictional autobiography of a remarkable person — the kind of multi-talented character that you find in accounts of America’s space program. Drive, talent, brains and luck conspire to put Elma in a spotlight but the attention that comes with it reveals Elma’s greatest weakness: social anxiety in crowds when she is the focus of attention. Ironically the press characterising her preemptively as ‘The Lady Astronaut’ complicates her attempts to actually become an astronaut.

(12) CREDIT WHERE DUE. Misty S. Boyer’s long Facebook post provides further detail about who contributed to the newsmaking black hole photo.   

…The photo that everyone is looking at, the world famous black hole photo? It’s actually a composite photo. It was generated by an algorithm credited to Mareki Honma. Honma’s algorithm, based on MRI technology, is used to “stitch together” photos and fill in the missing pixels by analyzing the surrounding pixels.

But where did the photos come from that are composited into this photo?

The photos making up the composite were generated by 4 separate teams, led by Katie Bouman, Andrew Chael, Kazu Akiyama, Michael Johnson, and Jose L Gomez. Each team was given a copy of the black hole data and isolated from each other. Between the four of them, they used two techniques – an older, traditional one called CLEAN, and a newer one called RML – to generate an image.

The purpose of this division and isolation of teams was deliberately done to test the accuracy of the black hole data they were all using. If four isolated teams using different algorithms all got similar results, that would indicate that the data itself was accurate….

(13) POST MORTEM. What happened? “Beresheet spacecraft: ‘Technical glitch’ led to Moon crash”.

Preliminary data from the Beresheet spacecraft suggests a technical glitch in one of its components caused the lander to crash on the Moon.

The malfunction triggered a chain of events that eventually caused its main engine to switch off.

Despite a restart, this meant that the spacecraft was unable to slow down during the final stages of its descent.

(14) BIG STICK. “Internet Archive denies hosting ‘terrorist’ content”.

The Internet Archive has been hit with 550 “false” demands to remove “terrorist propaganda” from its servers in less than a week.

The demands came via the Europol net monitoring unit and gave the site only one hour to comply.

The Internet Archive said the demands wrongly accused it of hosting terror-related material.

The website said the requests set a poor precedent ahead of new European rules governing removal of content.

If the Archive does not comply with the notices, it risks its site getting added to lists which ISPs are required to block.

(15) BULL MARKET. Science reports “Beliefs in aliens, Atlantis are on the rise”. (Full text restricted to subscribers.)

Beliefs in “pseudoarchaeology”—ancient aliens, Atlantis, and other myths—are on the rise. In 2018 41% of Americans believed that aliens visited Earth in the ancient past, and 57% believed that Atlantis or other advanced ancient civilizations existed. These outlandish beliefs have been circulating for decades, and archaeologists are now mobilizing to counter them. They are taking to Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and newspapers to debunk false claims and explain real archaeological methods, and they plan to compare notes this week during a symposium at the Society for American Archaeology meeting. 

(16) IT’S ALL JUST FUN AND GAMES UNTIL… Never forget that Quidditch is a field sport: “For Some Quidditch Players, The Magic Wears Off As Injury Risks Grow Clearer”.

It happened in a split second, and Vanessa Barker doesn’t remember any of it. She doesn’t remember dropping to the field, nor does she remember how she got hit.

When she came to, she was sitting on the sidelines with an EMT, being evaluated for what turned out to be her first concussion. Over the next two years, she’d suffer another two more while out on the field — hardly what she expected when she decided to start playing quidditch.

…”If I ever have any others, I’ll have to stop playing,” she said.

(17) PLAYING A TATTOO. For the next four weeks you can listen online to BBC4’s production of “Ray Bradbury – The Illustrated Man”, dramatized by Brian Sibley.

A young traveller encounters a vagrant on the road, who claims that his tattoos come to life after dark and tell the future. Starring Iain Glen and Elaine Claxton.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Black Hole:  Based on Stephen Hawking’s Reith Lecture” on YouTube is an animation done for BBC Radio4 of an excerpt of a Stephen hawking lecture where Hawking says it’s not hopeless if you fall into a black hole.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cora Buhlert, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day cmm.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/19 Baby, It’s Cthulhu Outside

(1) MICHELLE YEOH TREK SPINOFF. The Hollywood Reporter brings us additional details on one of the several Star Trek spinoffs (the existence of which leaked as far back as November) in the works (“‘Star Trek’: Michelle Yeoh-Led ‘Discovery’ Spinoff Details Revealed”).

Riding the high of a Critics’ Choice Award win for best comedy, Michelle Yeoh has further reason to celebrate Monday.

CBS All Access has officially tapped Yeoh to captain a Star Trek series of her own: a black ops-themed spinoff of Discovery in which the actress will reprise her role and explore the next chapter in the life of Capt. Philippa Georgiou. The untitled drama will further explore Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation featured on Star Trek: Discovery.

[…] “Michelle has shattered ceilings, broken boundaries and astonished us with her grace and gravitas for decades. As a human, I adore her. As an actor, I revere her,” [producer Alex] Kurtzman said. “Erika [Lippoldt] and [Bo Yeon Kim] are remarkable, exciting writers who bring a fresh perspective to the world of Star Trek, and we’re all thrilled to explore the next wild chapter in the life of Captain Philippa Georgiou.”

(2) SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. Kotaku covers the auto arsonist who struck at Anime Los Angeles this weekend: “Suspected Cosplay Stalker Destroys Seven Cars During Anime Con”.

A suspected arson attack, allegedly carried out by an “obsessed stalker”, has torched seven cars in the parking lot of a hotel where Anime Los Angeles attendees have been staying over the weekend.

The incident took place early on Sunday morning, just before 2am. The night manager of the Azure Hotel & Suites in Ontario, California told ABC News that surveillance footage “showed a man walk up to the main vehicle, pour two cans of gasoline all over it and then [flick] a match on it”.

That car belonged to cosplayer Julia Moreno Jenkins, who says her vehicle was “targeted and set on fire by an obsessed stalker”. Once it was in flames, the fire then spread to nearby cars. As a precaution, the hotel was evacuated….

(3) YOU DON’T SPIT INTO THE WIND. Maybe they won’t be suing Cory Doctorow after all — “Start-up Bird backs down in electric scooter legal row”.

A scooter firm has apologised after issuing a journalist with legal threats over a blogpost about its scooters.

Start-up Bird offers electric scooters in around 40 US cities, which are hired via an app.

Bird accused Cory Doctorow of copyright infringement for linking to a forum about a device which enables abandoned scooters, bought at auction, to be fitted with a new motherboard.

This means they can then be used without the Bird app.

Mr Doctorow’s blogpost, published on the website Boing Boing, was about the number of Bird scooters that are being abandoned or badly parked, then removed by local authorities and legitimately sold.

It described a $30 (£23) motherboard which replaces the scooters’ existing hardware but does not alter either the hardware or software installed by Bird.

A spokesperson told the BBC Bird’s legal team had “overstretched” in issuing a takedown request.

Doctorow posted Bird’s lawyer letter at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

(4) FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY. Neil Clarke unveiled Mack Sztaba’s cover and the table of contents for his The Eagle Has Landed collection, to be released in July.

On July 20, 1969, mankind made what had only years earlier seemed like an impossible leap forward: when Apollo 11 became the first manned mission to land on the moon, and Neil Armstrong the first person to step foot on the lunar surface.

The Eagle Has Landed collects the best stories written in the fifty years since mankind first stepped foot on the lunar surface, serving as a shining reminder that the moon is and always has been our most visible and constant example of all the infinite possibility of the wider universe.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Bagatelle by John Varley
  • The Eve of the Last Apollo by Carter Scholz
  • The Lunatics by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Griffin’s Egg by Michael Swanwick
  • A Walk in the Sun by Geoffrey A. Landis
  • Waging Good by Robert Reed
  • How We Lost the Moon by Paul McAuley
  • People Came From Earth by Stephen Baxter
  • Ashes and Tombstones by Brian Stableford
  • Sunday Night Yams at Minnie and Earl’s by Adam Troy Castro
  • Stories for Men by John Kessel
  • The Clear Blue Seas of Luna by Gregory Benford
  • You Will Go to the Moon by William Preston
  • SeniorSource by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • The Economy of Vacuum by Sarah Thomas
  • The Cassandra Project by Jack McDevitt
  • Fly Me to the Moon by Marianne J. Dyson
  • Tyche and the Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi
  • The Moon Belongs to Everyone by Michael Alexander and K.C. Ball
  • The Fifth Dragon by Ian McDonald
  • Let Baser Things Devise by Berrien C. Henderson
  • The Moon is Not a Battlefield by Indrapramit Das
  • Every Hour of Light and Dark by Nancy Kress
  • In Event of Moon Disaster by Rich Larson

(5) FANHISTORY. Steven H Silver reminisces about “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Lou Tabakow” at Black Gate, a long resume of the conventions he founded. I’d also like to mention what impressed me about Lou Tabakow. By the time I encountered him in the mid-1970s yes, he was a vaunted fanpolitician and Secret Master of Fandom, yet he was always interested in how to bring more people into fandom and share what was going on. That not as common a trait as you’d expect among fans.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 14, 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
  • January 14, 2005 — The first probe to land on Saturn’s moon, Titan, signaled it survived its descent. The Huygens space probe was designed to last only minutes on Titan’s surface, but surpassed the expectations of mission managers. Huygens descended the atmosphere, contacted the surface, and transmitted for at least an hour and a half.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 14, 1921Kenneth Bulmer. Oh my god. I couldn’t possibly summarise him if I tried. Looking through his list of writing that I know that I have read some Astor New Writings in SF and I reasonably sure that those Antares novels sound awfully familiar. So what have y’all read of him? (Died 2005.)
  • Born January 14, 1949 Lawrence Kasdan, 70. Screenwriter, director and producer. He is best known as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark (one of my favorite films of all time), Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. He directed SF horror film  Dreamcatcher which was based on a novel by Stephen King and by a William Goldman screenplay. 
  • Born January 14, 1962Jemma Redgrave, 57. Her her first genre role was as Violette Charbonneau in the “A Time to Die” episode of Tales of the Unexpected which was also her first acting role. Later genre roles are scant but include a memorable turn as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart on Doctor Who. 
  • Born January 14, 1964 Mark Addy, 55. He got a long history in genre films showing up first as Mac MacArthur in Jack Frost  followed by by the lead in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (why did anyone make this?), Roland in A Knight’s Tale (now that’s a film), Friar Tuck In Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (has anyone seen this?) and voicing Clyde the Horse in the just released Mary Poppins Returns. Television work includes Robert Baratheon on Game of Thornes, Paltraki on a episode on Doctor Who, “The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos”, and he was Hercules on a UK series called Atlantis. 
  • Born January 14, 1974Kevin Durand, 45. Jason Woodrue In the forthcoming live Swamp Thing series on the DC Universe service (that’s me jumping up and down!). Previous genre roles include as The Blob in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Little John In Robin Hood, Mogadorian Commander In I am Number Four, Ricky in Real Steel, Emil Pangborn In The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Cesar Tan In Winter’s Tale
  • Born January 14, 1990Grant Gustin, 29. Actor, known as The Flash in the Arrowverse. I’ve got him as a boyfriend on an episode of A Haunting, one of those ghost hunter shows early in his career. Later on, well that’s it as Arrowverse has kept him rather busy.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Yoda offers some seasonal advice at Half Full.

(9) IS HOMER IN THE MCU NOW? Thanos paid a visit to The Simpsons with predictable—yet unpredictable—results (Inverse: “Only One ‘Simpsons’ Character Survived Thanos on Sunday”). The Big Guy added a new “stone” to his gauntlet and used it to lay low most of the Simpson family in the introduction to the episode.

Thanos wants to wipe out half the known universe in the pursuit of perfect balance, but he has a (very toxic) soft spot. In a guest appearance on The Simpsons on Sunday, the villain of Avengers: Infinity War used the Infinity Stones to wipe away most of the Simpsons family, except for one.

In the “couch gag” for the Sunday premiere of Season 30, Episode 12 of The Simpsons, Jim Starlin’s Thanos occupies the Simpsons family couch and uses his Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out most the Simpsons family.

(10) A LIST TO THINK ABOUT. Nerds of a Feather’s contributors have assembled the “2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 1: Fiction Categories”. A nice set of cover galleries accompany the picks.

…The rules for inclusion were simple–just: (a) meet the eligibility criteria; and (b) be “award worthy” (i.e. good). Given the subjectivity of the latter, it should come as no surprise that the selections on our longlist reflect the spectrum of tastes, tendencies and predilections found among our group of writers. You’ll find selections ranging from the obscure and literary to the unabashedly popular and commercial, and from all corners and subdivisions of the genresphere.

That said, this is not nor intends to be a comprehensive survey of the field. Some books that are undoubtedly “award worthy,” for example, are absent for the simple reason that we haven’t read them yet. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider–alongside others…. 

(11) R.O.U.S. Ars Technica: “Rodents of Unusual Size—Meet the invasive, orange-toothed pests of coastal erosion”. A new nature documentary makes a callback to The Princess Bride—in its title, at least. Nutria. They’re not just for breakfast anymore.

…Back in the early 20th century long before environmental changes imminently threatened the state’s natural resources, Louisiana still needed more industry. So businessmen like EA McIlhenny (of the Tabasco family, yes) had an idea. Argentina has this abundance of these large, furry creatures called nutria, what if we acquired some?

The concept seemed solid: raise ‘em on a fur farm, skin ‘em for the pelts, and then export hats, jackets, and other fine furs to make a pretty penny. And for a long time, the scheme worked—even Sophia Loren once wore nutria, and the industry for Louisiana trappers peaked around $15 million in annual revenue. But as animal rights became more of a mainstream concept, the popularity of fur drastically decreased. Suddenly, folks in Southern Louisiana didn’t have the same motivation, and nutria quietly built out a larger population within their new habitat.

This, to put it lightly, had consequences. In the ’70s and ’80s when the fur game started drying up, Rodents of Unusual Size estimates 25 million invasive nutria occupied Southern Louisiana. Unfortunately, the rats tend to devastate their immediate environment, eating anything green in sight and uprooting plants in the process, which makes a plot of land more at risk to the natural forces of coastal erosion….

(12) SHORT FICTION REVIEWS. Charles Payseur catches up with “Quick Sips – Anathema #6”:

So I might have missed when this latest issue of Anathema dropped on the last day of the year. My apologies! I’m super glad I caught it, though, because it’s an amazing bunch of stories, featuring six different works that explore grief, loss, and a palpable powerlessness. The characters are dealing with things that cannot be changed (or that seem like they cannot be changed) and finding out what they can do about it. That sometimes means learning how to accept things and try to move on, though that’s complicated by grief, by pain, and by the fear of losing more. It’s an emotional and often devastating read, and I’ll get right to those reviews!

(13) OUT OF THE MAZE AND INTO THE BOX. “Rosa Salazar: From ‘Abbreviated’ ‘Bird Box’ Role to James Cameron’s ‘Alita'”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The apocalypse has been good to Rosa Salazar.

After dystopic turns in the Divergent and Maze Runner franchises, the 33-year-old actress was most recently seen in Bird Box, Netflix’s foray into the end times. While the movie has since reached hit status (more than 45 million views in its first week, according to the streamer), she was hesitant to sign on.

“I felt like I had been there and done that,” she explains. But Bird Box was an opportunity to work with some of her “idols,” like star Sandra Bullock, and Salazar ultimately joined after director Susanne Bier offered to add more of a backstory for her character, who was not in the original Josh Malerman novel.

(14) A STORY ABOUT RAY BRADBURY. Mr. Sci-Fi shares a story Ray Bradbury told him personally — about the time he met Laurel and Hardy. And Space Command is off to London to meet with Netflix!

(15) SPILL THE BEANS. Supermarket News says “Giant/Martin’s, Stop & Shop begin robot rollout”.

Ahold Delhaize USA plans to deploy robots to nearly 500 Giant Food Stores, Martin’s and Stop & Shop locations to help improve in-store efficiencies and safety.

The company’s Retail Business Services (RBS) arm said Monday that the rollout, slated to continue through the early part of 2019, comes after successful store pilots of the technology. The initiative stems from a partnership between RBS and retail automation and robotics provider Badger Technologies, a division of Jabil.

Named “Marty,” the robots are being used to flag hazards — such as liquid, powder and bulk food-item spills — and report when corrective action is needed. RBS said the robots help stores reduce the risk caused by such spills, freeing up store associates to spend more time serving customers.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “If You Can” on Vimeo, Hanna Rybak animates an inspiring quote by WInston Churchill.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Cat Eldridge, David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/21/18 Golden The Ship Was Ho! Ho! Ho!

(1) DOOM PATROL TEASER. Daniel Dern helpfully adds a Rot-13 footnote to the video: “For Filers too young and/or cool to recognize the background music’s singer, Fvatvat ‘Gvcgbr Guebhtu Gur Ghyvcf’ vf Gval Gvz , of course.”

DOOM PATROL is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved groups of outcast Super Heroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol’s members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities — but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find. Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Picking up after the events of TITANS, DOOM PATROL will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same.

There’s a flock of character posters, too.

(2) BUMBLEBEE LIFTS OFF. NPR non-fan Scott Tobias says that in “Flight Of The ‘Bumblebee’: Transformers Flick Soars Over (Low) Franchise Expectations”

Mankind has split the atom, sent a man to the moon, and now, in arguably its most unlikely achievement, it has produced a watchable Transformers movie.

There’s really no scientific expression for how low Michael Bay’s five previous Transformers movies have set the bar, but it’s not enough to praise Bumblebee, the diverting new spin-off/prequel, for basic visual coherence or evidence of identifiable human emotion. It does better than that, imbuing the commercial cynicism of a Hasbro product with the borrowed warmth of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, Splash, and a soundtrack so chock-a-block with ’80s favorites that it gets from The Smiths to Steve Winwood in a hummingbird’s sneeze.

Though Bay has stayed on as producer, director Travis Knight, who made the wonderful Laika animated film Kubo and the Two Strings, and his screenwriter, Christina Hodson, almost make a point of crumpling up his vision and tossing in the waste basket. Gone is the Bay’s risible mix of mythology and militarism, replaced by simplified conflict and an emphasis on the friendship between an outcast and an exile. Gone also is the leering, dorm-room poster sexuality, replaced by a notably chaste teen romance that doesn’t get past first base. Bumblebee seems to have more of a family-friendly mandate than Bay’s Transformers movies, but the lightness and earnestness serves the material well. Movies inspired by toys tend to crack like cheap plastic under too much weight.

(3) TOP SFF. Here’s The Verge’s list of “Our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of 2018”:

The long and bleak year of 2018 is almost over. It was a year full of devastating storms and disasters, scandal after scandal from tech companies, and chaotic politics from around the world. If there was any bright point in the year, it was that 2018 also brought with it a bumper crop of fantastic science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels that served as an oasis to examine the world around us, or to escape for brighter pastures.

The best books of this year told stories of interstellar colonization, of fantastic magical civilizations, optimistic alternate worlds, and devastating potential futures. They brought us fantastic characters who sought to find their places in the vivid and fantastic worlds they inhabited.

One of those books is –

The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Set in the distant future, humanity survives on a planet wrecked by climate change and plagues in Larissa Lai’s latest novel The Tiger Flu, which follows a community of cloned women who are battling for their very survival waged by illness and economics.

Lai’s story follows two women: Kirilow, a doctor of Grist Village whose lover Peristrophe dies of a new strain of flu. Peristrophe was vitally important to their community — she could regrow her limbs and organs, and following her death, Kirilow sets out to Salt Water City to try to find someone to replace her. There, she meets Kora, a woman living in the city who might be able to save her community, but who resists leaving her family behind. Lai’s story is an intriguing post-apocalyptic novel, one rife with biotech and the remnants of the world from before.

(4) SPACE COMMAND. On Late Night With Stephen Colbert the USS Enterprise receives a message from an alien curious about this whole Space Command thing. (The one thought up by Trump, not Marc Zicree.)

(5) THE KING JEFF VERSION. Now in those days a decree went out from Jeff VanderMeer counting down his Facebook rules for 2019:

I’m expanding my blocking next year to people who (1) love ice cream, (2) hate vultures, (3) tag me in posts comparing me unfavorably to authors I hate, (4) post cute animal vids without checking the source, (5) think wine coolers are cool, (6) have “author” as part of their name, (7) are inept at the fine art of humble bragging, (8) tell me something’s inspired by Annihilation just to get me to retweet it, (9) send me emails about how convinced they are the biologist wanted to commit suicide, and (10) send me every goddamn photo of a weird tree every single goddamn time. – Love, Curmudgeon

(6) MOFFAT OBIT. You saw him a lot, but did you know his name? “Donald Moffat, Commander Garry in John Carpenter’s The Thing, passes away at 87” – details at Syfy Wire.

Donald Moffat, the English actor most known for playing station commander Garry in John Carpenter‘s 1982 remake of The Thing, has died at the age of 87. According to The New York Times, Moffat passed away Thursday in Sleepy Hollow, New York, after complications arose from a stroke six days before his 88th birthday.

… Born in Plymouth of the U.K.’s Devon County in December of 1930, Moffat moved to the United States at the age of 26 to pursue a full-time acting career. Besides The Thing, the actor appeared in a number of other genre projects, like Night Gallery, The Terminal Man, Logan’s Run (the TV series), Exo-ManPopeyeThe Right Stuff, and Monster in the Closet.

(7) MASTERSON OBIT. “Peter Masterson, Actor, Director and ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ Writer, Dies at 84”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The father of actress Mary Stuart Masterson and a two-time Tony nominee also helmed ‘The Trip to Bountiful’ and appeared in ‘The Stepford Wives’ and ‘The Exorcist.’…

(8) ICONS LOST IN 2018. Last week, Turner Classic Movies posted its annual in memoriam video. Harlan Ellison, Jerry Maren, William Goldman, Gary Kurtz, Margot Kidder, and Stan Lee are some of the genre figures shown.

In loving memory of the actors and filmmakers who have passed away in 2018. We will remember you for all time.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

December 21, 1968 – Apollo 8 launches. The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach notes the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8.  “No space mission had ever presented so many exotic ways to kill astronauts,” Achenbach writes. “Apollo 8: NASA’s first moonshot was a bold and terrifying improvisation”.

Walter Cronkite held a tiny model of the Apollo 8 spacecraft and strode across a darkened studio where two dangling spheres represented Earth and the moon. This was the CBS Evening News, Dec. 20, 1968, and three Apollo 8 astronauts were scheduled to blast off the following morning on a huge Saturn V rocket. Cronkite explained that the astronauts would fly for three days to the vicinity of the moon, fire an engine to slow the spacecraft and enter lunar orbit, circle the moon 10 times, then fire the engine a final time to return to Earth and enter the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour.

“They must come in at JUST the right angle. If they come in too steeply, they will be CRUSHED in the Earth’s atmosphere. If they come in too shallow, they will SKIP OUT and go into Earth orbit and not be able to return,” Cronkite said….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 21, 1892Hubert Rogers. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines. His first freelance work was for Ace-High, Adventure, Romance, and West. In ‘42, he started doing covers for Astounding Science Fiction which he would do until ‘53. He did the cover art for the ‘51 edition of the Green Hills of Earth, the ‘50 edition of The Man Who Sold the Moon and the ‘53 edition of Revolt in 2100. (Died 1982.)
  • December 21, 1928Frank Hampson. A British illustrator that is best known as the creator and artist of Dan Dare, Pilot of The Future and other characters in the boys’ comic, The Eagle, to which he contributed from 1950 to 1961. There is some dispute over how much his original scripts were altered by his assistants before being printed. (Died 1985.)
  • Born December 21, 1937 Jane Fonda, 81. Sure everyone here has seen her in Barbarella? Her only other genre appearances are apparently by voice work as Shuriki in the animated Elena of Avalor series, and in the Spirits of the Dead, 1968 anthology film based on the work of Poe. She was the Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein in the “Metzengerstein” segment of the film. 
  • Born December 21, 1948Samuel L. Jackson, 70. Where to start? Did you know that with his permission, his likeness was used for the Ultimates version of the Nick Fury? It’s a great series btw. He has also played Fury in the Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War and showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. too! He voiced Lucius Best (a.k.a. Frozone) in Incredible and Incredibles 2, Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Afro Samurai character in the anime series of the same name and more other genre work than can be listed here comfortably so go ahead and add your favorite role by him. 
  • Born December 21, 1962Kevin Murphy, 56. American actor and writer best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. And he does RiffTrax which are  humorous audio commentary tracks intended to be played along with various television programs and films. 
  • Born December 21, 1966 Kiefer Sutherland, 52. My, he’s been in a lot of genre undertakings! I think that The Lost Boys was his first such of many to come including FlatlinersTwin Peaks: Fire Walk with MeThe Nutcracker PrinceThe Three Musketeers,  voice work in Armitage: Poly-MatrixDark City, more voice work in The Land Before Time X: The Great Longneck Migration,  Marmaduke and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn TwilightMirrors, and yes he’s in the forthcoming second Flatliners as a new character. 
  • Born December 21, 1971Jeff Prucher, 47. Won the Hugo Award for Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction which to my knowledge is still the only historical dictionary of words originating in sf, plus citations and bibliographic information for them. If there’s another one, I’d like to know about it. 

(11) DON’T JUDGE BY CHARACTERS ON TV. Ada Hoffman told Twitter readers, “[If] you are NT, I am going to explain several reasons why you SHOULD NOT EVER judge if a character is ‘autistic enough’ by how well they match autistic characters on TV. Any TV.” Thread starts here.

(12) SPACE DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH SPACE? The Man Who Sold The Moon, Delos Harriman, died before authorities could smother him with paperwork for his illegal mission – not so  Swarm co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Sara Spangelo: “FCC fines Swarm $900,000 for unauthorized satellite launch”.

Swarm Technologies Inc will pay a $900,000 fine for launching and operating four small experimental communications satellites that risked “satellite collisions” and threatened “critical commercial and government satellite operations,” the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.

The California-based start-up founded by former Google and Apple engineers in 2016 also agreed to enhanced FCC oversight and a requirement of pre-launch notices to the FCC for three years.

Swarm launched the satellites in India last January after the FCC rejected its application to deploy and operate them, citing concerns about the company’s tracking ability.

(13) COUNTERING ROGUE DRONES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] BBC chronicles “Gatwick airport: How countries counter the drone threat”. Context: per another BBC post, possibly 100,000 or more passengers grounded due to somebody flying at least one drone around the airport. It’s unclear so far whether it was a random idiot, or somebody deliberately harassing; the latter reminds of Christopher Anvil’s “Gadget vs. Trend” which is framed by quotes from a sociologist complaining first about rampant conformism and last about rampant individualism, after a device has allowed people to be … disruptive.

Rogue drones “deliberately” flown over one of the UK’s busiest airports caused travel chaos this week.

Incoming planes were forced to divert to airports up and down the country as the drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), repeatedly appeared over the airfield at London’s Gatwick Airport.

The situation was so serious the Army was called in to support the local police in tackling the issue, with the runway finally re-opening on Friday morning.

For some time now, governments around the world have been looking at different ways of addressing the dangers of drone use in areas where they pose safety risks.

Here we look at some of the solutions – ranging from bazookas to eagles.

More: “Gatwick disruption: How will police catch the drone menace?”

(14) 770 FROM 770 IS NOTHING. Here’s the real reason for today’s diminished sunlight — senpai has stopped noticing me!

(15) SAD FOR REAL. No explanation why yet, but “Scientists Find A Brain Circuit That Could Explain Seasonal Depression”.

Just in time for the winter solstice, scientists may have figured out how short days can lead to dark moods.

Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether you are happy or sad.

When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed.

(16) YA DESERVING YOUR ATTENTION. Surprisingly, all six books chosen by Vicky Who Reads for “Best of 2018: Hidden Gems + Underappreciated Books” are sff.

There are so many amazing books this year that I personally think did not get enough hype or recognition, and today’s all about highlighting some of the quieter YA releases that you should definitely check out!

Every single book on this list and the ones to come are books that I’ve already read + loved, but obviously there are 2018 novels I haven’t read and could definitely qualify. But, alas. It is not to be.

One of those picks is –

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

I feel like in end of the year lists, we oftentimes forget about books that published earlier in the year, but Undead Girl Gang is a book I looooved! Not only did it star a fat Hispanic MC, but it’s also a really great book about friendship?

I mean, this girl has her mean girls revived as “zombies” of sorts (just not…flesh eating) and I loved seeing how they resolved their differences throughout the novel. It was not only super nice to read about friendship and not a lot of romance, but I also really loved the sort of fun narrative style that makes you enjoy what’s happening and not take it too seriously!

(17) OUTWARD MOBILITY. Paul Weimer makes a recommendation at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: Implanted, by Lauren C Teffeau”.

Lauren C Teffeau’s Implanted combines future cyberpunk beats with a climate changed ravaged future, a vertically oriented arcology setting, and a strong central character with a thriller chassis for an entertaining read.

…The strength of the novel is Emily as a flawed, complicated character with lots of fiddly bits to her personality and story. Far from being a smooth operator when dropped into her new, unwelcome situation, and on the other hand, avoiding the trap of making her a completely clueless newbie without any skills, the author creates Emily as someone with strengths and weaknesses, in terms of skills and personality, that become plot relevant and interesting to her development and growth. Her desire to reconnect with her former life, damn the consequences, is a major driver of the plot as well.

(18) FELINE NAVIDAD. Camestros Felapton’s “Carols with Catnip” features seasonal music behind a video visage of Timothy the Talking Cat. It’s sort of like that Sauron eye fireplace video, except even more horrifying!

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

Pixel Scroll 10/24/18 That’s One Sure Road To Mount Tsundoku Blues, Pixels On The Scrolls Of Your Shoes

(1) HUGO HISTORY BY WALTON. At Locus Online, “Gary K. Wolfe Reviews An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton”.

…So the value of Walton’s book – in some ways a companion piece to her other collection of Tor.com columns, What Makes This Book So Great – lies not in identifying such howlers – in fact, she con­cludes that Hugo voters got it more or less right some 69% of the time – but in the lively and opinionated discussions of the winners and losers, of which books have lasted and which haven’t, and why. Walton includes not only her original columns, but selec­tions from the online comments, and the comments, especially from Locus contributors Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton, are so extensive and thoughtful as to make the book virtually a collaboration….

(2) A GENEROUS SPIRIT. Rachel Swirsky had a great experience at “an unusually good convention, with a lot of space and help for new writers” — “Open-Hearted Generosity at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference”.

The administrators established an atmosphere of open-hearted generosity which reflected through everyone. The agents and editors were eager to find new clients, and also to help nurture new ones. The professional writers treated the new ones like colleagues, not supplicants or intruders who would have to prove themselves worthy before being given respect. The new writers were excited and respectful of the professionals’ time and experience.

I think one thing that really helped foster the positive environment was the expectation that presenters join the attendees for meals and announcements. It got everyone used to being around each other, and reinforced that we were all in it together as people at that conference, sharing the goals of telling stories and making art.

Anyone can have a worthy story to tell. Everyone seemed to have a strong sense of that, and to respect it.

I think the administrators also chose carefully–and wisely–presenters whose native inclination is to come to new people with warmth. My experience of the colleagues I already knew who were there–Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Nalo Hopkinson–bears that out. They’re all excellent teachers who are thoughtful and kind, and excited by teaching and learning. I can only aspire to match their generosity.

(3) ZICREE WINS INAUGURAL GOLDEN DRAGON. The Cardiff International Film Festival honored Space Command creator Marc “Mr. Sci-Fi” Zicree this past weekend. Wales 247 covered the festival’s award ceremony: “Winners announced for world class cinema in Cardiff”.

The highlights of the ceremony were the lifetime achievement award for Dame Sian Phillips and the naming of American science fiction writer and director Marc Zicree as the first recipient of a Golden Dragon award for excellence in cinema and the arts.

[Zicree said – ] …“The thing that’s wonderful about accepting this award here in Wales is that Elaine and I have received such a warm welcome here this weekend. My own writing career began as a teenager having watched The Prisoner television show, which was filmed in Portmeirion. So Wales is in part responsible for my career as a screenwriter.”

Marc Zicree and his wife Elaine, have sold over 100 teleplays, screenplays and pilots to every major studio and network, including landmark stories for such shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, The New Twilight Zone, and Babylon Five. Their work has been nominated for the American Book Award, Humanitas Prize, Diane Thomas Award, and Hugo and Nebula Awards, and they’ve won the TV Guide Award, the prestigious Hamptons Prize and 2011 Rondo and Saturn Awards. Their new production, Space Command, premiered at the Cardiff International Film Festival.

(4) STONY END. James Davis Nicoll gives pointers on “How to Destroy Civilization and Not Be Boring”. For example —

Large eruptions like Toba 70,000 years ago or the Yellowstone eruption 640,000 years ago are very sexy: one big boom and half a continent is covered by ash. But why settle for such a brief, small-scale affair? Flood basalt events can last for a million years, each year as bad as or worse than the 18th century Laki eruption that killed a quarter of the human population in Iceland. Flood basalts resurface continental-sized regions to a depth of a kilometer, so it’s not that surprising that about half the flood basalts we know of are associated with extinction events. In terms of the effect on the world, it’s not unreasonable to compare it to a nuclear war. A nuclear war that lasts one million years.

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series gives some idea what a world in the midst of the formation of a Large Igneous Province might be like.

(5) CARNEGIE MEDAL CONTENDERS. I’m easily spoiled. The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction 2019 Finalists were announced today. Last year, two of the three novels were of genre interest. This year, none, although Washington Black does include a trip in a hot air balloon. It’d be a shame to waste my research, though, so here’s the shortlist —

Fiction

Esi Edugyan
Washington Black
Knopf

This evocative novel, equally rich in character and adventure, tells the wonderfully strange story of young George Washington Black who goes from Caribbean slavery to Arctic exploration, via hot-air balloon, to search for his mentor in London.

Rebecca Makkai
The Great Believers
(Viking)

Makkai’s ambitious novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in meticulously realized settings––WWI-era and present-day Paris, and 1980s Chicago––while insightfully and empathically illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

Tommy Orange
There There
(Knopf)

Orange’s symphonic tale spans miles and decades to encompass an intricate web of characters, all anticipating the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow. Orange lights a thrilling path through their stories, and leaves readers with a fascinating exploration of what it means to be an Urban Indian.

Nonfiction

Francisco Cantú
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
(Riverhead)

Readers accompany Cantú to parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as he recounts his years working for the U.S. Border Patrol. Remaining objective without moralizing, he shares a heart-wrenching, discussion-provoking perspective on how a border can tear apart families, lives, and a sense of justice.

Kiese Laymon
Heavy: An American Memoir
(Scribner)

In his artfully crafted and boldly revealing memoir, writing professor Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.

Beth Macy
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
(Little, Brown)

Macy’s years of reporting on the still-unfolding U.S. opioid crisis earned her remarkable access to people whose lives have been upended by these drugs. Hers is a timely, crucial, and many-faceted look at how we got here, giving voice to the far-reaching realities of the addicted and the people who care for them.

(6) CALL ME ISHMAEL. David Brin posted an entertaining collection of “Fabulous First Lines of Science Fiction”.

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. – Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ, with guest appearance by Standback]

  • Born October 24, 1893 – Merian Cooper, Aviator, Writer, Director and Producer. After spending WWI in the Air Force, Cooper became a writer and researcher for The New York Times and later the American Geographic Society, traveling the world, and writing stories and giving lectures about his travels. He then turned some of his writing into documentary films. He had helped David Selznick get a job at RKO Pictures, and later Selznick hired him to make movies. He developed one of his story ideas into a movie featuring a giant gorilla which is terrorizing New York City. King Kong was released in 1933, and for reasons which are utterly unfathomable to JJ, the story has been sequeled, remade, comicbooked, and rebooted innumerable times in the last 85 years.
  • Born October 24, 1915 – Bob Kane, Writer and Artist who co-created, along with Bill Finger, the DC character Batman. Multiple sources report that “Kane said his influences for the character included actor Douglas Fairbanks’ movie portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro, Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s mystery novel The Circular Staircase.” He was inducted into Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The character he created has been featured in countless comic books, stories, movies, TV series, animated features, videogames, and action figures in the last eight decades.The 1989 movie based on his creation, featuring Michael Keaton in the title role, was a finalist for both Hugo and British Science Fiction Association Awards.
  • Born October 24, 1948 – Margaret “Peggy” Ranson, Artist, Illustrator, and Fan, who became involved with fandom when she co-edited the program book for the 1988 Worldcon in New Orleans. She went on to provide art for many fanzines and conventions, and was a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo every one of the eight years from 1991 to 1998, winning once. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a DeepSouthCon. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2016; Mike Glyer’s lovely tribute to her can be read here.
  • Born October 24, 1952 – David Weber, 66, Writer of numerous novels and short works in several science fiction series, most notably the popular Honor Harrington series, which has spawned spinoff series and numerous anthologies bearing contributions from other well-known SFF authors. He has been Guest of Honor at more than two dozen conventions, including the 2011 UK Natcon, and received the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement from Southern Fandom.
  • Born October 24, 1952 – Jane Fancher, 66, Writer and Artist. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black and white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black and white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions.
  • Born October 24, 1954 – Wendy Neuss, 64, Emmy-nominated Producer. As an associate producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, her responsibilities included post-production sound, including music and effects spots, scoring sessions and sound mixes, insertion of location footage, and re-recording of dialogue (which is usually done when lines are muffed or the audio recording was subpar). She was also the producer of Star Trek: Voyager. With her husband at the time, Patrick Stewart, she was executive producer of three movies in which he starred, including a version of A Christmas Carol which JJ says is absolutely fantastic.
  • Born October 24, 1956 – Dr. Jordin Kare, Physicist, Filker, and Fan who was known for his scientific research on laser propulsion. A graduate of MIT and Berkeley, he said that he chose MIT because of the hero in Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. He was a regular attendee and science and filk program participant at conventions, from 1975 until his untimely death last year. He met his wife, Mary Kay Kare, at the 1981 Worldcon. He should be remembered and honored as being an editor of The Westerfilk Collection: Songs of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a crucial filksong collection, and later as a partner in Off Centaur Publications, the very first commercial publisher specializing in filk songbooks and recordings. Shortly after the shuttle Columbia tragedy, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, on live TV, attempted to read the lyrics to Jordin’s Pegasus Award-winning song “Fire in the Sky”, which celebrates manned space exploration. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was named to the Filk Hall of Fame. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him can be read here.
  • Born October 24, 1960 – B.D. Wong, 58, Tony-winning Actor of Stage and Screen who has appeared in the Hugo-winning Jurassic Park films and The Space Between Us, had main roles in Mr. Robot and Gotham, had guest roles in episodes of The X-Files and American Horror Story, and voiced a main character in Disney’s Mulan films. He was also in Executive Decision, which is only borderline genre, but holds a special place in JJ’s heart for killing off Steven Seagal, and JJ feels that all of its cast members should be heartily applauded for that.
  • Born October 24, 1971 – Dr. Sofia Samatar, 47, Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is a twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website.

Guest birthday bio from Filer Standback:

  • Born October 24, 1970 – Vered Tochterman, 48, Israeli Writer, Editor, and Translator. From 2002-2006, she was the founding editor of Chalomot Be’Aspamia (“Pipe Dreams”), a science fiction and fantasy magazine for original Israeli fiction which has been massively influential on Israeli fandom and writing community. Her short story collection Sometimes It’s Different won the first Geffen Award for original Hebrew fiction; more recently, her novels Blue Blood and Moonstone depict vampires in modern-day Tel Aviv. As a translator, she has brought major English novels — from Tim Powers to Susannah Clarke to Terry Pratchett — to Israeli readers. One of her more eclectic contributions was a fan production she co-wrote, which is a mashup between Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the Buffy musical episode. She has been, and remains, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli fandom.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BANDERSNATCH. See video of Diana Glyer’s talk at Vanguard University last evening here on Facebook. (Warning — the image looks sideways.)

(10) NEXT YEAR’S MYTHCON. Mythcon 50 has announced its dates — August 2-5, 2019, in San Diego, California.

Theme: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Our theme is a head-nod to Roman mythology’s Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, gates and doorways, transitions and passages and duality. So we are moving forward into the future while also, at least for this Mythcon, looking backward toward the place from where we’ve come.

(11) TIM MOONLIGHTS. Timothy the Talking Cat takes his show to Amazing Stories: “timTalk: Tonight’s Episode – Schroedinger’s Cat”.

TimTALK: Tonight’s Episode – Schrodinger’s Cat.

[Theme music fades out and the title fade out to reveal a small studio. Two cats sit in comfortable chairs with a coffee table between them. Timothy the Talking Cat (for it is he) is looking at the camera, while his guest sits opposite.]

Timothy the Talking Cat: Good evening, hello and welcome to another edition of timTALK where I, Timothy the Talking Cat, ask the tough question of the day of the great, the good and the feline. Tonight, I’m talking to one of the Twentieth Century’s most notable thought leaders. A cat who has done more for surprisingly cruel thought experiments in physics than any animal since Zeno made a tortoise race Achilles. I am, of course, talking to Schrödinger’s Cat.

[Timothy turns to his guest]
Good evening. You’ll be eighty-three years old this November, shouldn’t you be dead already?

Schrödinger’s Cat: Ha, ha, let me just say that reports of my death have been exaggerated. No, wait…they haven’t been exaggerated at all.

(12) OCTOCON REPORT. Sara (“Not Another Book Blogger”) has written up Octocon, the Irish National Convention, held last weekend in Dublin –

(13) RUINING FANDOM. free to fanfic purports to show “how web 2.0 (and especially tumblr) is ruining fandom”.

how does the structure of web 2.0 socmed harm fandom?

in aggregate: it forces fandom[$], a diverse space where people go to indulge niche interests and specific tastes, into overexposure to outsiders and to one another, and exacerbates the situation by removing all semi-private interaction spaces, all moderation tools, all content-limiting tools, and all abuse protection.

(14) SHORT ON SENSE OF WONDER. Abigail Nussbaum reviews “First Man” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…I have to admit that I approached First Man in genuine puzzlement as to why it had even been attempted. 2016’s Hidden Figures, it seemed to me, provided a much better template for future fiction about the Apollo program, shining a light on little-known corners of the endeavor, and on the people who took part in it who were not white men. Why go back to Armstrong and Apollo 11, whose story has surely been covered from every possible angle?

First Man doesn’t really give you a satisfying answer to this question. It’s a fantastic piece of filmmaking, with some stunning visuals and set-pieces—particularly the long final sequence on the moon itself, though I couldn’t shake the sneaking suspicion that in shooting these scenes Chazelle was driven primarily by his crushing disappointment that none of the real moon landing footage is in HD. And there are moments in Josh Singer’s script where you can almost sense a unique approach to the material. Where, instead of Right Stuff hyper-competence, or even Apollo 13 improvisation, the film highlights the ricketiness of the edifice NASA built to take men into space, the flimsiness of the technology that Armstrong and his fellow astronauts trusted with their lives, and the danger and uncertainty they met when they left the earth’s atmosphere….

(15) WORLDS WITHOUT END. Mylifemybooksmyescape interviews Dave, administrator of the Worlds Without End sff book site.

DJ: Which feature or aspect of WorldsWithoutEnd.com do you actually like most/sets its apart from other sites in the community?

Dave: One of the things that we have tried to do is replicate the brick and mortar bookstore experience online.  We have set up the site to be browse-able in a way that sites like Amazon or other online bookstores just aren’t.  On those sites you go in already knowing what you want. You can’t really browse like you’re wandering around in a bookstore.  On WWEnd we present you with shelves of books in different categories that you can easily browse through.

You might start off looking through the Nebula shelves for something to read.  You spot a great looking cover, just like you might in a store, and click over to read about The Three-Body Problem.  You read the synopsis, just as you would flip the book over to read the back blurb. Then you read the excerpt as if you held the book in your hands.  Then you skim through the reviews to see what other folks are saying about that book as if there was someone else on the isle in the store you could talk to.  Then you notice that the book is also on the WWEnd Most Read Books of All-Time list so you wander over there to see what else is on that shelf. Then you see an author like N. K. Jemisin that everyone is talking about so you click her name and see what’s on her shelf.

And as you go you’re tagging books to put them on your to-read list for later examination or marking the ones you’ve already read and slowly but surely the site is getting color-coded to your reading history — suddenly you realize you’re only six books away from reading all the Campbell Award winners.  Or you find out that you haven’t read as many books by women as you thought you had. The experience is fun and intuitive and we provide an abundance of information so you can make more informed choices before you plunk down your hard-earned money.

(16) CLEANUP THE DEAD ON AISLE THREE. Gizmodo peeked behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall and discovered “The Urban Legend About Scattering Human Ashes at Disney Is True, and It’s Worse Than We Thought”. There’s even a special code to call for cleanup.

The Journal report continues with more specific details:

Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they’ve been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts.

“The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” said one Disneyland custodian.

(17) PYTHON TRIBUTE. BBC finds that “Dutch ‘silly walks’ crossing is a hit”.

The people of Spijkenisse have taken to the idea with great enthusiasm, and filled social media with clips of pedestrians crossing with a variety of outlandish gaits.

Aloys Bijl was also on hand to show passers-by the 12 steps of the traditional John Cleese silly walk.

(18) JOHN WILLIAMS SICK. He’s had to miss an engagement — “John Williams: Composer pulls out of concerts due to illness”.

The 86-year-old had been due to appear with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday.

But the venue said he had pulled out because of a “last-minute illness”.

(19) CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE A BOOKSELLER. One moment he was a customer, the next moment…. “Dutchman’s ‘pure shock’ after winning Cardigan bookshop”

Paul Morris and his wife Leila, owners of Bookends in Cardigan, are giving their beloved bookshop away.

The couple will now fulfil a lifetime ambition by travelling the world.

The winner of that draw, Dutchman Ceisjan Van Heerden, known as CJ, will run the shop with his Icelandic friend Svaen Bjorn, 23, who he had never met….

When he told CJ, who is from Vrij Bij Duurstede and a “regular customer” at the bookshop, Paul said “there was a lot of silence” and he could tell he was “stunned”.

“It was pure shock initially,” said CJ. “Then I thought ‘this is an amazing opportunity, let’s do it’.”

But CJ did not want to run the shop alone and called around some of his friends, one of whom had already shown an interest.

CJ had known Svaen Bjorn, a 23-year-old from Reykjavik in Iceland, for eight years through online gaming but the pair had never met in person.

“He got back to me and said ‘yeah, let’s do it’,” CJ recalled ahead of the official handover on 5 November.

(20) SOMETHING NEW AT THE BAR. Unlike Pohl and Kornbluth (Gladiator-at-Law), J.K. Rowling’s work has put down roots in the legal profession: “Harry Potter to ‘inspire’ budding India lawyers”.

A top Indian law university in the eastern state of West Bengal has introduced a course based on the fictional world of Harry Potter.

The course uses the role of law in the series to draw parallels between the stories and real-life situations.

Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha, who designed it, says it is an “experiment” to “encourage creative thinking.”

Several universities in the US and at least one in the UK also offer courses inspired by the famous series.

The course in India, which is entitled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse”, is expected to include a total of 45 hours of discussion-based teachin

Some of the topics mentioned in the course module point out how social and class rights in India can be equated with the “enslavement of house-elves and the marginalisation of werewolves” in the fantasy series.

(21) ALT-FLIGHT. There was a strange addition to the commute in the San Fernando Valley yesterday…. (Although marked as a WWII German fighter, the plane was a vintage U.S. Army trainer.)

The pilot, who flies for Alaska Airlines, walked away from the crash with minor injuries, according to AP News.

He told KTLA in a previous interview that he was interested in vintage airplanes because his father had flown in World War II. The single-engine model that crashed was a North American Aviation T-6 Texan, which was first developed in the 1930s and used by U.S. pilots to train during World War II, according to AP News.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/4/18 Scrolls Lift Us Up Where We Belong

(1) MOTHER’S DAY IN GOTHAM. ComicBook.com brings news that “Martha Wayne to Return in ‘Gotham’ Season 5”—the same actor who played her in the pilot will now reprise the part in the finale season.

In addition to moving toward Batman’s future in the upcoming final season of Gotham, it looks as though the FOX series will also be flashing back to Bruce Wayne’s past. Martha Wayne, Bruce’s mother who was murdered in the series premiere, will be returning in the second half of Season 5.

Actress Brette Taylor, who played Martha in the pilot, took to Twitter earlier this week to share a photo from the set. In the image, Taylor is sitting on a bench with Gotham stars Sean Pertwee (Alfred) and Cameron Monaghan (Jeremiah). Along with the photo, Taylor included the caption, “Takin a break with the gang,” and a hashtag for Martha Wayne, leading to speculation amongst fans that she would be appearing somehow.

While the photo simply indicates that she was on the set, ComicBook.com can now confirm that she is indeed filming Season 5, reprising her role as Martha Wayne.

(2) GETTING PAID. Another classic Scalzi / Sykes / Wendig exchange. Thread starts here.

(3) PENNSYLVANIA 221B. Rebecca Romney, in “The Art of the Painstaking Sherlock Recreation” on Crimereads.com, goes to the home of the Dobry family in Reading, Pennsylvania, where they have carefully reconstructed Sherlock Holmes’s flat.  We learn in the piece that there’s a guy in Los Angeles who makes his living creating Holmes-related stuff for collectors.

The man holds up a thin, sharp instrument. “Do you know which story this is from?” he asks. I hesitate. I’m not even sure what it is, except that its end forms a wickedly curved needle.

I browse through my mental catalog of murder weapons and other questionable objects. I’m trying not to get distracted by the phrenological bust in the corner of the room, or the initials “VR” dotted onto one section of the wall in shapes that resemble bullet holes.

Denny Dobry smiles, takes pity. “It’s a nineteenth-century cataract knife.” Of course it is. Now I know what it’s from: the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Silver Blaze.”

I’m in 221B Baker Street, the residence of Sherlock Holmes. But I’m not in London. I’m in Reading, Pennsylvania.

(4) CBS ALL ACCESS DROPS SHORTS. The Star Trek: Short Treks were released today. The Hollywood Reporter’s spoiler-filled article “‘Star Trek: Short Treks’ Episode 1 Packs a Lot into 15 Minutes” tell what you’ll see.

In its new series Short Treks, Star Trek is going where no version of the show has gone before: online-only content. But the first of four monthly installments, which dropped Thursday on CBS All Access, made sure to bridge the gap between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

(5) SEPTEMBER’S STORIES. At the B&N Sci-FI & Fantasy Blog, Marla Haskins links to noteworthy stories from last month’s offerings: “Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Fiction Roundup: September 2018”.

We Mete Out Justice With Beak and Talon“, by Jeremiah Tolbert in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Tolbert’s high-flying sci-fi tale is set in a near-future American city where law enforcement uses humans who are mentally linked to birds of prey to patrol the skies, sending them swooping in whenever they spot criminal activity. It’s a vividly told story; Tolbert skillfully draws you in to the strangeness of the joined human/bird mind-space, giving the reader dizzying new perspectives on the future of technology, and the future of police work. Thought-provoking and compelling.

(6) THAT STUFF YOU FIND IN BOOKS. At Mr. Sci-Fi, former Star Trek Writer Marc Zicree talking about the history of science fiction in novels. From Frankenstein to HG Wells.

(7) SABRINA. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premiere October 26 on Netflix.

Her name is Sabrina Spellman. Half witch. Half mortal. On her 16th birthday, Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) has to make a choice between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends. With her aunties (Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis), her cat Salem, and her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), Sabrina will face horrors and new adventures in the mysterious town of Greendale. From the executive producers of Riverdale comes a haunting new tale.

 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 4, 2005 — Troma’s Rock’N’Roll Space Patrol Action Is Go premiered.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TIS THE SEASON. Camestros Felapton shared this epic from the desk of Timothy the Talking Cat — “The Timarillion”.

…Without the trees, Heaven is in dire need of some lightbulbs but Feanor won’t let anybody else use his. It’s a moot point anyway because Mmmm had stolen them. Feanor vows bloody vengeance against Mmmm for stealing his lightbulbs and over-billing his therapy sessions.

Meanwhile, the gods invent the Moon and the Sun, which is a better plan than trees if you think about it….

(11) TAKE A WHIFF. Evolution detectives tell NPR “Lemurs Provide Clues About How Fruit Scents Evolved”.

In Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar, where there is incredible diversity of fruits of all shapes and sizes, there are certain plants that rely only on lemurs to spread their seeds. There are other plants that rely on birds and other animals.

The researchers gathered hundreds of ripe and unripe fruit samples from 30 species of plants. They separated them into two groups — the ones that rely on lemurs, and the ones that rely on the other animals — and tested the chemicals emitted to see whether the smells were different between the ripe and unripe samples.

(12) UNHAPPY LANDINGS. They can’t all win the Darwin Award, can they? The BBC says “259 people reported dead seeking the perfect selfie”.

They found that selfie-related deaths are most common in India, Russia, the United States and Pakistan and 72.5% of those reported are men.

Previous studies were compiled from Wikipedia pages and Twitter, which researchers say did not give accurate results.

The new study also showed that the number of deaths is on the rise.

There were only three reports of selfie-related deaths in 2011, but that number grew to 98 in 2016 and 93 in 2017.

However, the researchers claim that the actual number of selfie deaths could be much higher because they are never named as the cause of death.

(13) IN COUNTRY. Spacefaring Kitten reviews a favorite for Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [Book]: Lovecraft Country, by Matt Ruff”.

“Stories are like people, Atticus. Loving them doesn’t make them perfect,” The Safe Negro Travel Guide publisher George Berry tells his nephew Atticus Turner in the beginning of Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country.

Berry is sort of an old wise man character in the novel, always there delivering helpful truths and constructive advice when needed. Here he is unraveling Atticus’s – and his own – conflicted feelings towards science fiction and fantasy literature. They are both in love with genre classics such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft but at the same time register that the authors and their works are deeply problematic, especially from the viewpoint of black readers which is what both men are.

(14) SEPTEMBER (SWAN) SONG. Charles Payseur wraps up last month with “Quick Sips – Terraform September 2018”.

I’m closing out my September reviews with a look at Motherboard’s Terraform, which brings four new looks at rather terrifying possible futures. As usual, the stories range from predictive to outlandish, but all of them lean toward warnings. Signs for people to read and pay attention to. Turn back now. Avoid this possible time when humanity has lost respect for our world and our selves. These are pieces look at the way things could be with an unblinking gaze and invite readers to look into that abyss. It’s a nice range of works, too, from far future space extinctions to much more grounded political sci fi, where corruption and injustice are only a step or two beyond what we have now. It makes for a strong month of stories, which I’ll get right to reviewing!

(15) THE BEES KNEES. The folks at Archie McPhee would love to sell you their “Car Full of Bees Auto Sunshade”.

This sunshade has so many bees on it, we had to buy new computers that could handle the design! When you plop this in your window, it creates the illusion that your car is full of bees! Can you go in the carpool lane if you have a swarm of bees riding shotgun? At 50″ x 27-1/2″, this sunshade is big enough for most cars. It protects, cools and blocks out UV rays. Includes two suction cups for easy installation.

(16) BLADE RUNNER 2049 COMIC. Titan Comics announced that Blade Runner 2049 screenwriter Michael Green (Logan) will partner with long-term collaborator and comic writer Mike Johnson (Star Trek) to pen an in-canon Blade Runner comic series for Titan Comics and Alcon Media Group.

In addition to co-writing the screenplay for Blade Runner 2049, the critically-acclaimed sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 celebrated classic Blade Runner, Michael Green’s recent writing credits include Alien: Covenant, Murder on the Orient Express, the hit Starz series American Gods, and Logan, which earned Green an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2018.

Mike Johnson, Green’s co-writer on comics including Supergirl and Superman/ Batman, will co-write the Blade Runner series. A veteran writer of the Star Trek franchise, Johnson’s other comic credits include Transformers and Fringe

(17) RECURSION. SYFY Wire says another new sff TV show is on the way: “Shonda Rhimes and Matt Reeves team up for new science fiction venture on Netflix”.

Shondaland is expanding. The prolific producer and showrunner Shonda Rhimes is teaming with Matt Reeves for a science fiction film and television series on Netflix. The pair will bring Blake Crouch’s upcoming novel Recursion to life on the streaming service.

The novel centers on a female scientist who creates technology that allows people to recactivate their most powerful memories and rewrite them.

Rhimes told Variety, “Projects like this are why I came to Netflix. The opportunity to explore a multi-genre universe in innovative ways is extremely exciting. Matt and Blake both have the tremendous ability to build compelling characters and imaginative landscapes and I am thrilled to work alongside them.”

Rhimes signed a multi-year deal with Netflix last year to create new content for the streaming service, while Reeves signed a first look deal earlier this year….

(18) DAREDEVIL TRAILER. Season 3 of Marvel’s Daredevil debuts on Netflix October 19.

Missing for months, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) reemerges a broken man, putting into question his future as both vigilante Daredevil and lawyer Matthew Murdock. But when his archenemy Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is released from prison, Matt must choose between hiding from the world, or embracing his destiny as a hero.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 5/23/18 Admit It – You Woulda Done The Same!

(1) HUNDRED BEST. Unbound Worlds knows there’s nothing like a “best” list to get everyone riled up. To that end they present “The 100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time”. I’ve read a solid 15 of these, which tells you I’m not a big fantasy fan, but even I know they should have picked a different Pratchett book.

It was daunting, but we did it: a list of the one hundred best fantasy books of all time. What was our criteria? Well, we loved these these books and thought they deserved to be on the list. That’s pretty much it. This list is totally subjective, and with a cut-off of one hundred books, we couldn’t include all of the amazing fantasy tales out there. We hope you look through this list and agree with a lot of our picks, and that you also find some new stories to pick up. If there’s anything we left out, please add it to the comments below — we’d love to see what books would be on your list!

So without further ado, here’s what makes our list of best fantasy books of all time (arranged alphabetically)! Fair warning: your TBR pile is about to get a lot bigger…

(2) NEW GROENING SERIES. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Matt Groening’s new animated fantasy show will premiere on Netflix in August”.

Matt Groening’s animated epic fantasy series has a release date: Netflix has revealed that Disenchantment will premiere on August 17th. The company also shared a handful of pictures that show off an art style that will be familiar to anyone who’s watched Futurama or The Simpsons.

Netflix officially announced the series last year. It’ll follow a “hard-drinking young princess” named Bean, an elf companion named Elfo, and her personal demon named Luci as they encounter all manner of fantasy creatures in a magical kingdom known as Dreamland. Netflix ordered 20 episodes of the show; the first 10 will premiere this year.

 

(3) HELP FRANKENSTEIN AUTHOR GET BUSTED. Sculptor Bryan Moore hopes to crowdfund the rest of the expenses of the Mary Shelley Bronze Bust Project. So far people have contributed $3,546 of the $16,000 goal.

To celebrate the 200th publication anniversary of the legendary novel “Frankenstein”, we’re donating a life size, bronze bust of Mary Shelley to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, WA on August 30, 2018!!!!

While I’ve donated the last six months of my time sculpting Mary, I can’t get her across the finish line without your help to pay for the considerable costs at the bronze foundry to mold, cast, finish and fire the patina on the bust itself.

Mary Shelley is the second of three busts that MoPOP has graciously agreed to accept in my horror author bronze bust series; “Dracula” author Bram Stoker was unveiled in October, 2017, Mary Shelley will be installed on her birthday on August 30, 2018 and Rod Serling will be unveiled in 2019 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of “The Twilight Zone”. As you’ll see in the video, I’ve also sculpted and donated bronze busts of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.

 

(4) SEEMS LIKE FOREVER. It was another busy day at the Romance Writers of America.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 23, 1969 Destroy All Monsters premiered.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born May 23, 1933 — Joan Collins, who won genre fame as “City on the Edge of Forever’s” Edith Keeler.
  • Born May 23, 1986  — Black Panther director Ryan Coogler

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian witnessed the first book tour at Non Sequitur.
  • And Lio seems to have the wrong idea about The Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

(8) PERSISTENT BELIEVERS. Did you think this was a settled question? Oh, such a silly person you are… “Loch Ness Monster’s Existence Could Be Proven With eDNA”.

Is the Loch Ness real? We may soon have an answer.

A team of scientists have proposed using actual science to figure out if the mythical creature allegedly lurking in Scotland’s River Ness is actually real.

Their proposal? Using environmental DNA, or eDNA, a sampling method already used to track movements in marine life. When an animal moves through an environment, it leaves behind residual crumbs of its genetics by shedding skin or scales, leaving behind feathers or tufts of fur, perhaps some feces and urine.

Scientists think those residual clues left behind by a monster like that of the Loch Ness could be collected by eDNA and subsequently used to prove its existence.

“This DNA can be captured, sequenced and then used to identify that creature by comparing the sequence obtained to large databases of known genetic sequences from hundreds of thousands of different organisms,” team spokesman Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago in New Zealand told Reuters.

It’s certainly not the first time that people, scientifically minded or not, have attempted to track the legendary monster’s existence. A sixth century document chronicles the tale of an Irish monk named St. Columba, who banished a “water beast” to the bottom of the River Ness.

(9) JDA WILL PROVE LOVE. Since his lawsuit won’t even get its first hearing til October, Jon Del Arroz came up with a new plan to make people pay attention to him: “Announcement: Rally For Freedom And Anti-Discrimination Demonstration At Worldcon 76 San Jose” [Internet Archive].

Civil rights activist Erin Sith, trans for Trump, and I talked about this briefly on our livestream last Thursday. As we are both minorities on the right, we’ve both had a lot of shared similar experiences where those of privilege on the left have treated us inhumanly because we left the proverbial slave plantation they set up for us. 2018 is the year we will let our message be heard, in unity, in love, and for tolerance and diversity.

We are planning a gathering outside Worldcon 76 in San Jose, on Saturday, August 18th, 2018. I’ve talked with the city of San Jose and the convention center and we are cleared to go on their end. We cannot allow these institutions to willfully discriminate and spew hatred just because someone is an outspoken political personality. With Worldcon’s actions emboldening ConCarolinas and Origins to similarly attempt to harm and discredit other popular conservative authors because of politics, enough is enough….

(10) ANTIMATTER. Gizmodo swears it happened in 2015: “A Recent Hurricane Shot a Bolt of Antimatter Toward Earth”.

The detector onboard the plane measured a phenomenon that scientists have been interested in for decades: terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. It’s unclear exactly how it happens, but lightning in storms seems to accelerate electrons to nearly light speed. These electrons collide with the particles in the atmosphere, resulting in high-energy x-rays and gamma rays that scientists have measured in satellites and on the ground. The rays could also result from collisions between electrons and their antimatter partners, positrons.

The team behind the newest paper had a tool called the Airborne Detector for Energetic Lightning Emissions (ADELE) on board a hurricane-hunting WP-3D plane, according to the paper published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

(11) UNDERGROUND. “New whisky distillery in Moray ‘like nothing else'”. It blends in with the landscape, but visits expected to double. Chip Hitchcock asks, “A side trip for next year’s Worldcon?”

The new distillery, on the Easter Elchies estate near Craigellachie in Moray, has been camouflaged under a vast turf roof, to blend in with the rolling hillside.

It is believed to be the most expensive in the country, going 40% over budget, with a total cost for the production facility and visitor centre of £140m.

The roof, with 10cm (4in) depth of turf and meadow flowers, covers 14,000 sq m.

Underneath are ventilation, vapour control, flexible waterproofing and irrigation systems.

Under those is a complex ceiling structure comprising 2,500 panels, few of them the same.

(12) HEAVY DEW. “GRACE mission launches to weigh Earth’s water” – BBC has the story. This is a replacement/upgrade for applauded 15-year-old satellites which will track icecaps, and sea/land exchanges.

A joint US-German mission has gone into orbit to weigh the water on Earth.

The Grace satellites are replacing a pair of highly successful spacecraft that stopped working last year.

Like their predecessors, the new duo will circle the globe and sense tiny variations in the pull of gravity that result from movements in mass.

These could be a signal of the land swelling after prolonged rains, or of ice draining from the poles as they melt in a warming climate.

The satellites were launched on Tuesday aboard a SpaceX rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California.

(13) SUMMA WHAT? Bakers are more activist in some parts of the country: “US student’s ‘Summa cum laude’ graduation cake censored”.

The South Carolina student’s mother had asked a local grocery store to print the term “Summa Cum Laude” (with the highest distinction) on her son’s cake.

The store censored the term “cum” deeming it offensive and put three hyphens in its place.

(14) TODAY’S CLICKBAIT. Frog in a Well asks “Was Hirata Atsutane Japan’s first Science Fiction writer?”

Maybe. Well, sort of. It kind of depends on how you define things.

Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843) was one of the key thinkers and popularizers of Japanese Nativism. He was a prolific writer, and most of what he wrote was aimed at proving that Japan was the center of the universe. In particular, he argued against Chinese learning, which was pointless, and to the extent it was any good, the Japanese had done it first. He argued against Indian (Buddhist) learning, which was pointless, and to the extent it was any good, the Japanese had done it first. He argued against European (Dutch) learning, which was pointless, and to the extent it was any good, the Japanese had done it first. As you may guess, he was a bit polemical. He was also pretty important in the creation and popularization of a specifically Japanese identity.

One of his important works is Senkyo Ibun (Strange tidings from the realm of the Immortals), 1822. This is an account of his interviews with the teenage tengu Kozo Torakichi. Tengu are the trickster/mountain goblin figures of Japanese folklore. Torakichi claimed to have been raised by them, and to have learned all the secrets of true Japanese-ness in the process.

(15) PERSONAL 451. Mr. Sci-Fi delivers “Ray Bradbury & Fahrenheit 451 – The Untold Story.”

Sci-fi whiz Marc Zicree shares stories his dear friend and mentor Ray Bradbury told him about the genesis of Fahrenheit 451 and gives a history of the work that includes first editions, plays, radio versions and movies.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Explanation below the cut.)

The rules for the best series Hugo award stipulate:

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

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

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

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

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

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

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

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • December 25, 1924 – Rod Serling

(10) COMICS SECTION.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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