Pixel Scroll 12/8/18 Science Fiction Is What I Yell “ZAP!” For When I Throw At People

(1) WHITTAKER SHALL RETURN.The Hollywood Reporter quashes rumors to the contrary: “Jodie Whittaker Confirms Return for ‘Doctor Who’ Season 12”. Shame on rumor-spreading clickbait sites that got fans all stirred up about this, like, uh — let’s go right to the story, shall we?

The first female Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, will be returning for another season. 

While it was largely presumed that Whittaker wouldn’t be handing over her sonic screwdriver anytime soon, the typically tight-tipped BBC hadn’t yet confirmed who would be playing Doctor Who for season 12 of the cult sci-fi series, and there was always the chance that she could go the way of Christopher Eccleston, who managed just one stint as the Time Lord. 

“I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again,” Whittaker told The Hollywood Reporter.”It’s such an incredible role. It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and I’m not quite ready to hand it over yet.”

(2) NEW SFF ZINE DEBUTES NEXT WEEKEND. Future Science Fiction Digest, a new quarterly publication with a strong focus on translation and international fiction, will be available December 15, with the stories to be posted on the web over the next several months

It is a collaboration between Future Affairs Administration (a media and technology brand in China) and UFO Publishing (a small press from Brooklyn, NY) and is edited by Alex Shvartsman.

Our first issue features fiction from the United States, China, Nigeria, Italy, and the Ukraine, as well as several articles, totaling 65,000 words. It will be published on December 15, with stories posted on the web over the course of several months. The next issue will be published on March 15.

(3) TODAY’S BRADBURY REFERENCE. Dennis Howard got permission to share this image with File 770 readers:

My ex emailed me this photo she took at Walmart and asked if I remembered Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Jar”. Of course, I remembered that creepy episode based on a Ray Bradbury story. I wonder if the manufacturer of this thing remembers.

(4) KGB. The hosts of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, present Maria Dahvana Headley & Nicole Kornher-Stace on December 19.

Maria Dahvana Headley

Maria Dahvana Headley is a New York Times-bestselling author of seven books, most recently The Mere Wife,a contemporary retelling of Beowulf for the McD imprint at Farrar, Straus& Giroux, which will be followed in 2019 by a new translation of Beowulf, for the same publisher. She’s also the author of the young adult novels Magonia and Aerie. With Neil Gaiman, she edited Unnatural Creatures, and with Kat Howard, she wrote The End of the Sentence. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards, and included in many Year’s Bests, including Best American Fantasy & Science Fiction, in which, this year, she has two stories. @MariaDahvana on Twitter, or www.mariadahvanaheadley.com

Nicole Kornher-Stace

Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of Desideria, The Winter Triptych, the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp, and its sequel, LatchkeyHer short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex, and Fantasy, as well as many anthologiesShe lives in New Paltz, NY with her family. She can be found online at www.nicolekornherstace.com, on Facebook, or onTwitter @wirewalking.

Things begin Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY.

(5) PRATCHETT REFERENCE. Quoting an article by Simon Ings in the December 1 Financial Times about artists who have residencies at the CERN particle physics laboratory —

In The Science of Discworld 4: Judgment Day, mathematician Ian Stewart and reproductive biologist Jack Cohen have fun at the expense of the particle physics community.  Imagine, they say, a group of blind sages at a hotel, poking at a foyer piano.  After some hours, they arrive at an elegant theory about what a piano is–one that involves sound, frequency, harmony, and the material properties of piano strings.

Then one of their number, still not satisfied, suggests that they carry the piano upstairs and drop it from the roof. This they do–and spend the rest of the day dreaming up and knocking over countless ugly hypotheses  involving hypothetical ‘trangons’ and ‘thudons’ and, oh I don’t know, ‘crash bosons.’

(6) BUTLER. Samuel Delany encourages sff readers to get familiar with this Octavia Butler story and a parallel case of injustice.

Three years before she died, Octavia E. Butler wrote her last two science fiction stories: One of them, “Amnesty,” was published in 2003. Though it received no awards, it is arguably the most important SF story written in this the last quarter of a century. It is the penultimate story in the revised and expanded edition of this book (2005). You should have read it but if, for some reason, you haven’t; then you should learn who the models for the alien “Communities” were and the story’s general political inspiration. It is one of the last two story in the second edition of this book.
Wikipedia is a good start. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wen_Ho_Lee> After you familiarize yourself with this frightening case of injustice, probably you should read the story again.

(7) IMAGINING TECH. Brian Merchant covers the sci-fi/industrial complex for Medium: “Nike and Boeing Are Paying Sci-Fi Writers to Predict Their Futures”.

One of the most influential product prototypes of the 21st century wasn’t dreamed up in Cupertino or Mountain View. Its development began around a half-century ago, in the pages of a monthly pulp fiction mag.

In 1956, Philip K. Dick published a short story that follows the tribulations of a police chief in a future marked by predictive computers, humans wired to machines, and screen-based video communications. Dick’s work inspired a generation of scientists and engineers to think deeply about that kind of future. To adapt that same story into a $100 million Hollywood film 50 years later, Steven Spielberg sent his production designer, Alex McDowell, to MIT. There, a pioneering researcher?—?and lifelong Dickfan?—?named John Underkoffler was experimenting with ways to let people manipulate data with gloved hands. In 2002, a version of his prototype was featured in the film, where it quickly became one of the most important fictional user interfaces since the heyday of Star Trek. Bas Ording, one of the chief UI designers of the original iPhone, told me his work was inspired directly by the gesture-based system showcased in Minority Report.

For the past century, this messy, looping process?—?in which science fiction writers imagine the fabric of various futures, then the generation reared on those visions sets about bringing them into being?—?has yielded some of our most enduring technologies and products. The late sci-fi author Thomas Disch called it “creative visualization” and noted there was no more persuasive example of its power “than the way the rocket-ship daydreams of the early twentieth century evolved into NASA’s hardware.” Submarines, cellphones, and e-readers all evolved along these lines.

Minority Report produced a hundred patents and helped rapidly mainstream the concept of gesture-based computing?—?not just the iPhone but all touchscreen tablets, the Kinect, the Wii?—?and became cultural shorthand for anyone looking to point their ventures toward the future.

(8) SEIDEL OBIT. Myla Seidel, who more fans would have known as Anne Cox, died December 7 reports her son Kevin. Ed and Anne Cox were among the first fans I met in person in the Seventies. They later divorced. Ed died in 1997, and the last time I saw Anne was at a memorial gathering for him.

Ed Cox and Anne Cox (Myla Seidel).

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 8, 1954 Atomic Kid, starring Mickey Rooney, was released on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Director of A Trip To The Moon which I know was one of Kage Baker’s most-liked films. It surely must be one of the earliest genre films and also one of the most visually iconic with the rocket ship stuck in the face of the moon. He did some other other genre shorts such as Baron Munchausen’s Dream and The Legend of Rip Van Winkle. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E.C.Segar. Creator of Popeye who of course is genre.Who could not watch Altman’s film and not know that? Segar created the character who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Fantagraphics has published a six-volume book set reprinting all Thimble Theatre daily and Sunday strips from 1928–38. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker,68. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London. So what else is he know for? Oh I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The Exorcist, Star Wars, The Howling which I love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and Hellboy. 
  • Born December 8, 1951Brian Attebery, 67. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and his Parabolas of Science Fiction recently published with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. 
  • Born December 8, 1965David Harewood, 53. First genre appearance is the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North (Billie Piper plays the lead). He played Tuck in the BBC’s Robin Hood series and showed up as Joshua Naismith in Doctor Who’s ‘The End of Time ‘ episode. Currently he plays two separate characters on Supergirl, J’onnJ’onzz/Martian Manhunter / Hank Henshaw and Cyborg Superman. 
  • Born December 8, 1976 Dominic Monaghan, 42. He  played Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck in Peter Jackson’s version of the Lord of the Rings.He’s also the narrator of Ringers: Lord of the Fans, a look at the early days of the Tolkien fandom when it was part of the hippie culture. He has a role as Maverick in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and will be appearing in the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode IX.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe questions the constant recycling of familiar movie franchises. Sort of.
  • Incidental Comics has a book lover’s holiday wish list.

(12) KEY INGREDIENTS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Have you ever felt the need to spend $250 on a set of replacement keycaps for your computer keyboard? If so, Novel Keys has you covered with this set captioned in Aurebesh characters. SYFY Wire has the full story (“Star Wars keyboard senses a great disturbance in your command of Aurebesh”). The keycaps are expected to ship“late April 2019” for preorders through 5 January. Two models are available,with only Aurebesh or with English legends added.

Alright, C-3PO, it’s time to break out those awesome translating skills you’re always humblebragging about — and while you’re at it, break out your wallet, too. Star Wars has just licensed its first-ever official computer keyboard replacement set, coded in Aurebesh, the written version of the official language spoken throughout the Galactic Empire.

This new key replacement set is color-themed to appeal more to the Death Star crowd than to supporters of the gauzy-hued Rebellion. That means don’t even bother looking for X-Wing symbols and Yoda silhouettes here; rather, the Galactic Empire DSA Set sports the cool iconography of the galactic alphabet, plus some killer stand-in Dark Side symbols (like TIE Fighters, AT-ATs, and Darth Vader helmets) for commonly used commands. A red lightsaber in place of an enter/return key? Swish, swish.

(13) THOSE WERE THE DAYS. An article in the December 1 Financial Times by David McWilliams about the possibility that Brexit would lead to the unification of Northern Ireland with Ireland includes this ST:TNGreference:

In 2990 an episode in the third series of Star Trek:  The Next Generation was deemed so incendiary that it was censored in Britain and Ireland.  In that Episode, “The High Ground,’the Starship Enterprise’s android officer data, musing on terrorism, noted from the vantage point of the year 2364 that Ireland had been unified in 2024. The episode was pulled for fear it might encourage more political violence; 1990 was the year the IRA bombed the London Stock Exchange, assassinated Conservative political Ian Gow and when 81 people on both sides of the conflict were murdered in Northern Ireland.

(14) EVEN OLDER DAYS. At theinferor4, Paul Di Filippo shared an antique poem he rediscovered: “Lament for 1999 from the Year 1911”.

…Think of the thrill to him who first took flight,

When all the vast familiar continent

Of air was unexplored….

(15) PLASTIC RAPS. A character who debuted in 1941 might be getting his own movie. The Hollywood Reporter thinks “‘Plastic Man’ Could Be DC’s Answer to ‘Deadpool'”.

And not just because both characters are dressed in red, have criminal backgrounds and smart mouths that don’t know when to shut up. That Warner Bros. is developing a Plastic Man movie perhaps shouldn’t come as quite the surprise that it does; after all, not only did the DC superhero headline his own ABC animated series for a couple of years, but he’s also the perfect choice to give Warners something that it never even knew it needed: A comedic foil to the rest of the DC cinematic universe.

This wouldn’t be a new role for Plas, as the character’s often called for short. Unusually for a superhero — and especially one whose origin involves having been a criminal who was left for dead by his gang after being exposed to some mysterious chemicals— Plastic Man has traditionally been a comedy character throughout his 75-plus year career. Indeed, his 1970s animated series underscored this appeal by being called The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show. (The series ran from 1979 through 1981; he’s also appeared in other DC animated shows, including Batman:The Brave and the Bold and Justice League Action.)

(16) HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL HAGGIS. NPR interviews the star of “‘Anna And The Apocalypse’: The Scottish Zombie Christmas High School Musical”.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a [checks notes] Scottish zombie Christmas high school musical.

It drew raves in Great Britain, and has now been released in the United States. It’s based on a short film by the writer-director Ryan McHenry, who died of bone cancer at age 27, and did not get to complete this feature-length production.

Anna and the Apocalypse is directed by John McPhail. Ella Hunt (who is English) stars as the young Scottish teen who’s about to graduate from school, but first has to contend with the zombie takeover of her village and perhaps the world — with a little help from her friends.

“I love that this film glorifies teenage friendship and not teenage romance,” Hunt says in an interview. “To me, it’s a much truer thing to glorify.”

(17) BONDING. In the Weekly Standard, Tony Mecia visits the James Bond museum in Murren, Switzerland, which was built to be Blofeld’s lair in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and which gives visitors the chance to pick up a red phone to hear instructions from M and “graft a photo of your face onto (George) Lazenby’s face as he aims a pistol.” —“High-Altitude Hideout”

In real life, the filming location called Piz Gloria was not destroyed. For decades, it was merely an observation point and restaurant. In 2013, its owners decided it needed more. They added a small museum, known as“Bond World 007,” and have been adding Bond-related features ever since.

Among serious Bond fans, the site “is the Holy Grail of Bond film locations,” says Martijn Mulder, a Dutch journalist who leads occasional Bond tours and coauthored On the Tracks of 007: A Field Guide to the Exotic James Bond Filming Locations Around the World. That’s because filmmakers bankrolled construction of Piz Gloria, which looks just as it did in the late 1960s.

Bond enthusiasts list other prime destinations, too, such as a site near Phuket, Thailand, that has come to be called “James Bond Island” after appearing in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. Last year, Mulder led 40 people on a two-week tour of Japan to visit locations used in 1967’s You Only Live Twice. He was forced to scrap a two-hour hike to a volcano crater that was an earlier Blofeld hideout because the volcano showed signs of erupting.

(18) MAN’S BEST FIEND. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett begins “Bad Mad Vlad” with this unusual comparison —

Vampires are a lot like dogs, you know.

No. Don’t scoff. They really are if you think about it in just the wrong way (that’s always been the Doctor Strangemind way of course).

Here, let me explain.

So what is the single most noticeable feature of the animal known as dog? That’s right, the seemingly endless plasticity of the species.The fact is humanity has been able to twist and turn and breed dogs into a startling wide array of forms from poodles to corgis to dobermans. If the average Martian visited our planet what are the chances that this visitor from space would guess right off that all dogs are of the same species? Not likely is it? Instead the average Martian would probably decide that dogs make no sense to them. Which is probably why they don’t visit Earth all that often,they find this planet too weird and confusing to be a satisfactory holiday destination.

So what has this to do with vampires I’ve no doubt you’re wondering. Well, the answer to that is to point out how humanity has been able to twist and turn and write vampires into a startling wide array of types and situations, far more than any other supernatural creature….

(19) FIGHT TO THE FINNISH. NPR hopes “World’s First Insect Vaccine Could Help Bees Fight Off Deadly Disease”.

Bees may soon get an ally in their fight against bacterial disease — one of the most serious threats the pollinators face — in the form of an edible vaccine. That’s the promise held out by researchers in Finland, who say they’ve made the first-ever vaccine for insects, aimed at helping struggling honeybee populations.

The scientists are targeting one of bees’ most deadly enemies:American foulbrood, or AFB, an infectious disease that devastates hives and can spread at a calamitous rate. Often introduced by nurse bees, the disease works by bacteria feeding on larvae — and then generating more spores, to spread further.

(20) BREAKING MARTIAN WIND. BBC shares a sound clip: “Nasa’s InSight probe listens to Martian winds”.

The British seismometer package carried on Nasa’s InSight lander detected the vibrations from Martian air as it rushed over the probe’s solar panels.

“The solar panels on the lander’s sides are perfect acoustic receivers,” said Prof Tom Pike, who leads the seismometer experiment from Imperial College London.

“It’s like InSight is cupping its ears.”

Prof Pike compares the effect to a flag in the wind.As a flag breaks up the wind, it creates oscillations in frequency that the human ear perceives as flapping.

(21) DRAGONS HAVE GAS. Space flatulence is a real problem closer to home. Wired lays out the story: “A SpaceX Delivery Capsule May Be Contaminating the ISS”. Evidence is accumulating that the Dragon capsule is outgassing and the contaminants are, well, accumulating on the outside of the International Space Station.

In February 2017, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted through low clouds, pushing a Dragon capsule toward orbit. Among the spare parts and food, an important piece of scientific cargo, called SAGE III  rumbled upward. Once installed on the International Space Station, SAGE would peer back and measure ozone molecules and aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere. Its older siblings (SAGEs I and II) had revealed both the growth of the gaping ozone hole and,after humans decided to stop spraying Freon everywhere, its subsequent recovery.

This third kid, then, had a lot to live up to. Like its environmentally conscious predecessors, SAGE III is super sensitive. Because it needs unpolluted conditions to operate optimally, it includes contamination sensors that keep an eye on whether and how its environment might be messing up its measurements. Those sensors soon came in handy: When the next three Dragons docked at the Space Station, over the following months, SAGE experienced unexplained spikes in contamination. Something on these Dragons was outgassing—releasing molecules beyond the expected, and perhaps the acceptable, levels. And those molecules were sticking to SAGE.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Artificial Intelligence That Deleted a Century” on YouTube, Tom Scott shows what happened when a program released in 2028 to hunt down copyright violators on YouTube achieves artificial general intelligence.

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

Readercon 29 Photos

Daniel Dern shares his pictures of guests, panelists and vendors who participated in Readercon 29 over the July 12-15 weekend.

GoH Nisi Shawl


More photos follow the jump.

Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 7/22/18 Insert Self-Referential Pixel Scroll Title Here

(1) THE BARD OF MARS. Tickets are on sale for “MARTIANS – An Evening With Ray Bradbury”, to be staged at the Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, CA beginning September 7.

Ray Bradbury speaks directly to the audience weaving Martians stories both humorous and harrowing, bringing his characters to life on stage right before your eyes. Characters like Bob and Carrie, a young couple struggling to turn the cold, dead Mars into an Earthly garden. Theres Beck and Craig, two soliders of fortune searching for the legendary Blue Bottle of Mars! Father Nivens religious faith traps a shapeshifting Martian in the form of Christ! Emil Barton is the alst man on Mars with only recordings of his younger self to keep him company, or drive him mad!

As Ray creates his stories we come to know the mind and heart of the great writer who believes that humanity can only survive by carrying our culture out into the Universe!

Most of the text is taken from Rays own words, from interviews and books hes written on the art of writing, as well as adaptations of his Martian stories The Strawberry Window, The Blue Bottle, The Messiah and Night Call, Collect.

Ray Bradbury is played by co-creater Charlie Mount who played him in a production of The October Country and produced Rays Irish play Falling Upward with Pat Harrington, Jr, both staged at Theatre West in association with Rays Pandemonium Theatre Company…

(2) STEAMPOSIUM UP IN SMOKE. There will be no Alaska Steamposium this year. Its chair, Tess, announced on Facebook what the future holds:

We attempted to adapt, to go with the flow, and pull off a hail Mary. And I think our track record of hail Marys is pretty good. (Anyone remember the year we had more vendors and staff than attendees?) But the honest truth is, we don’t want to half ass it. We like to whole ass all of our endeavors.

There were many reasons we chose this as the best path, and a good portion of that was how to keep our booth spaces and ticket prices affordable for everyone. If anyone has paid money, it is being refunded as I type.

We’re going to take a year and reorganize, and restructure, and in general change the way we do things. We completely understand if we loose some of you to anger and frustration. But we hope with all our hearts that you stick with us. We have even greater hope that some of you will join our Staff. We have far too few people to run an event of this size. Dedicated, (A small portion of the reason for our postponement for a year)

Many, many of you have concerns, comments, and suggestions moving forward. Please post them here. As with all difficult decisions, the responsibility stops with me. I wear the big bustle. My staff has worked hard, tirelessly, and even spent their own money in an attempt to make this year possible. If you need somewhere to place blame or vent anger, you direct to toward me, and me alone….

(3) NOVIK PRAISED. Constance Grady reviews the new book for Vox: “With Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik cements her status as one of the great YA fantasy authors”.

Spinning Silver is a spiritual successor to Novik’s 2015 novel Uprooted, for which she won the Nebula for best science fiction and fantasy novel. While the books don’t take place in the same universe, they’re both set in fantasy lands with Eastern European influences, and they both play with fairy-tale tropes without becoming literal retellings. (Novik got her start in fanfiction, which means she comes by her ability to deconstruct tropes honestly.)

The novels also both revolve around the same romance trope, in which a feisty young girl is kidnapped by an immensely powerful older man whom she must change for the better. The power dynamics here are questionable, to say the least, but the way Novik insists on her heroine’s agency makes the story palatable, and the conclusion is undeniably satisfying. What makes the trope more or less work in the end is that Novik’s girls are not just heroines. They are also monsters, even if they have their reasons for what they do.

(4) LOOKING THROUGH THE LENDING WINDOW. John Scalzi, a flagship author at Tor, weighs in on “That Tor Library eBook Lending Thing”.

  1. Tor says that it is noting a general impact on ebook sales because of library lending (its initial statement was more adamant about it, it appears, than some followups). I haven’t seen anyone’s sales numbers but mine, but I do know Tor’s data game is pretty strong — we use it to maximize my own sales and we’ve done a pretty good job there. Its data-mining history has some credibility for me.
  2. Tor has not been a troglodyte either in how it proceeds with ebook tech (remember that it was one of the first major publishers to offer ebooks DRM-free) or in sales/marketing. It’s taken risks and done things other publishers didn’t/wouldn’t do, sometimes just to see what would happen. I have my own example of this: Tor’s ebook-first serialization publication of The Human Division and The End of All Things helped provide Tor with much of the data it used to build its successful Tor.com novella line.

So with all that noted, let’s go back to my first blush statement. I don’t think having day-and-date ebook library lending has had a detrimental effect on my own sales situation. I’m also aware I’m not in the same situation as most authors with regard to sales and attention. Tor has a financial and fiduciary duty to sell books, for itself and for its authors. If Tor wants to try a pilot program to window ebook library lending to find out what impact it has on its sales in general, as much as I don’t think it makes sense for me or my books, I also recognize I don’t see all the data Tor sees across its entire line. I’m also willing to believe, based on previous experience, that Tor is neither stupid, excessively greedy, nor unwilling to make changes if the data tells it something different than what it expects.

(5) ALDRIN FAMILY VALUES. Buzz Aldrin told Florida Today (“Buzz Aldrin explains why he was a no-show at Apollo gala”) why he stayed away from a gala at Kennedy Space Center “kicking off a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, even though the event is an important fundraiser for his foundation and he typically is the star attraction.” It was due to a legal fight within his family and disagreements over the direction of Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation. His son, Dr. Andrew Aldrin, serves as the President of the Buzz Aldrin’s ShareSpace Foundation.

“I will not be attending the Gala tonight. While initially looking forward to it, due to the present course of events related to my space initiative, also current legal matters linked to the ShareSpace Foundation, I have decided not to attend at this time…

…the Foundation is, in my view, now being used to promote quite different objectives. I was recently advised by way of a letter from an attorney for my son, Andrew Aldrin, that I was not to hold myself as being part of the Foundation.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported on the suit when it was filed in June: “Buzz Aldrin sues 2 of his children, claiming slander over dementia”.

Aldrin’s lawsuit filed earlier this month in a Florida state court came a week after his children, Andrew and Janice, filed a petition claiming their father was suffering from memory loss, delusions, paranoia and confusion. They asked for the court to name them his legal guardians

KVEO’s article “Gala opens countdown to 50th anniversary of 1st moon landing” adds:

Andrew and Jan Aldrin, as well as business manager Christina Korp, are on the foundation’s board and attended the gala. Aldrin’s oldest son, James, isn’t involved in the legal fight.

Andrew Aldrin acknowledged his father’s absence during the gala.

“We’re sorry dad can’t be here, I know some of you are disappointed,” Aldrin said. “Ultimately, what we’re about is creating the first generation of Martians.”

(6) STARTING YOUNG. Kayla Randall has a profile in the Washington City Paper of Rebecca F. Kuang, whose first novel, The Poppy War, is out from Harper Voyager.  Kuang just graduated from Georgetown University this year. “How a Georgetown Student Published Her Epic Fantasy Debut—Before She Turned 22”

Kuang began writing the book when she was 19 and managed to start, finish, and publish the book all before turning 22. She graduated from Georgetown this spring and will enter Cambridge’s modern Chinese studies program in the fall.

“I never really thought about age being a barrier,” she says. She had read Eragon by Christopher Paolini, who started writing that book at the age of 15 and published it when he was 19. “It always seemed possible that you could write fantasy and get published at a ridiculously young age,” Kuang says.

A gap year between her sophomore and junior years allowed her to finish the book. She lived in Beijing and taught debate to high school students. Before she moved to China, she’d had very little contact with her grandparents but when she returned, she had long conversations with them and learned her family’s history in China. “I was steeped in that family legacy and decided I wanted to do something with it,” she says. The “something” evolved into the plot of The Poppy War, with some supplemental fantasy elements.

(7) FORTNITE ADDICTS. In the Washington Post, Sam Fortier says that many professional coaches are worried that athletes are spending so much time playing Fortnite that they’re not getting enough sleep and are doing a poor job at game time — “Are pro athletes playing too much Fortnite? Some teams are worried.”

The fear of the Capitals is that games such as Fortnite could erode a foundational practice of their developmental system: eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. Before last season, the Capitals instructed Olie Kolzig, the former Capitals goalie who is now a coach with their minor league affiliate in Hershey, Pa., to monitor players’ cellphone usage. The organization knew some junior-hockey players had “a problem” because looking at screens less than an hour before bed affected their sleep. This coming season, management trusts Kolzig’s players will know the same concern applies to Fortnite.

Yet Kolzig finds himself in the same predicament any parent faces because video games are integral to his players’ culture. So he will ask they discipline themselves to about an hour a day and not to play before bed.

“It’s a big issue, and it could affect performance,” Kolzig said. “But they’re grown men. .?.?. You can’t hold their hand and force-feed them [advice]….”

(8) BRAND MALFUNCTION. Inverse says “Stan Lee Did a Legitimate Cameo in a DC Movie”.

…Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance in pretty much every single Marvel movie, and for good reason, since the co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and more is in many ways Marvel’s public face. He never did any work for rival DC Comics, though, which explains why Lee has never made a cameo in a DC movie… until now.

Lee makes his DC debut in Teen Titans Go! to the Movies, which opens on July 27. The long-running Cartoon Network series’ first big-screen adventure is chock-full of meta-humor that puts Deadpool to shame, as it’s all about making a blockbuster superhero movie and skewering the entire industry/genre in the process….

(9) WENDEL OBIT. 3rd Rock from the Sun actress Elmarie Wendel has died. Syfy Wire posted a career retrospective.

Her other genre roles included: Fallout 4 (Video Game, 2015), The Lorax (2012), Rumpelstiltskin (1995), Weird Science (1994, 1 episode), Knight Rider (1982, 1 episode).

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur shows that, like Westworld, nothing can go wrong during a chat with Alexa….

(11) SIDESHOW. Gizmodo’s io9 takes you to the winner of the Franchise Wars at SDCC (“Taco Bell’s Demolition Man Restaurant Gave Us Nacho Fries, Happy Feelings, and Seashell Butts”). The pop-up “Taco Bell 2032” was something between a restaurant and an art installation set up near Comic-Con, though non-attendees were welcomed too. (One has a hard time imagining why any non attendee would have wanted to wait in the hours-long line.) The io9 writer was impressed with the effort put into the look and feel of the place, much evoking the Taco Bell featured in Demolition Man (Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock, Wesley Snipe). The food? Well, it certainly looks fancy and was said to taste pretty good, but it is a Taco Bell.

So, were the three seashells in the restroom? Yeah, looks like they were… but carefully sealed in a clear box with a scrolling electronic sign that seemed to read “out of order.” What people would have done with them had they been accessible does not bear close thought.

(12) DRAX DEFENDS JAMES GUNN. One of his actors spoke out in his defense: “Dave Bautista, Others Defend James Gunn: ‘I Am NOT OK With What’s Happening’” at Yahoo! Entertainment.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Dave Bautista came out strongly in defense of James Gunn Friday after Disney fired him from his role as director of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.”

“I will have more to say but for right now I will say this,” Bautista, who plays Drax in both “Guardians” movies and in “Avengers: Infinity War,” wrote on Twitter. “James Gunn is one of the most loving, caring, good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. I’m NOT ok with what’s happening to him.”

(13) PETITION TO BRING BACK GUNN. A Change.org petition calling for Marvel to Re-Hire James Gunn already has over 106,000 signatures. The petition’s author says —

I’m smart enough to know this most likely won’t change anything but hopefully, this could get Disney to realize the mistake they made and not do it again in the future.

I agree on the point that if people say a bunch of stupid shit while working for a studio, the studio has full right to fire him over the possible controversy. This situation is very different though as he made these jokes years before he was working for Disney and also the fact that they were jokes. I agree with most, including Gunn himself that the jokes were shitty and un-funny but they were still jokes, it wasn’t an opinion or a statement, it was just a bad attempt at being funny.

(14) WHAT WAS SO BAD? Not everyone has read examples of Gunn’s tasteless jokes? Bill linked to numerous samples in this comment – and be warned, a lot of it is quite foul.

(15) NO COMING BACK. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna analyzes why “For James Gunn, there’s no return to being a major mainstream filmmaker”.

On Thursday, Gunn apologized in a series of tweets to his nearly half-million Twitter followers, trying to explain that he attempted such social-media “jokes” back when he viewed himself as “a provocateur” whose humor and horror movies alike were “outrageous and taboo.”

Joking in a taboo manner about such subjects as rape and pedophilia didn’t hurt Gunn’s filmmaking career back when he was a lesser-known indie director releasing such low-budget, industry-admired movies as “Slither.” But now that he is mainstream, there is, of course, no way a major studio creating all-ages entertainment can keep even a beloved franchise director in a leadership role.

Walt Disney chairman Alan Horn said Friday in a statement: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

The irony here, of course, is that Disney simply had to know about Gunn’s history of offensive online remarks when they hired him for 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” – the first film in a franchise powered largely by Gunn’s bent sense of humor and love of classic rock songs.

(16) CERNOVICH. SFGate invites readers to “Meet Mike Cernovich, the Right-Wing Provocateur Who Got James Gunn Fired”.

Right-wing provocateur Mike Cernovich claimed another scalp online Friday when Disney fired James Gunn from its “Guardians of the Galaxy” series because of old tweets that Cernovich helped publicize.

(17) SKRUTSKIE NOVEL REVIEWED. NPR’s Caitlyn Paxson sees “Muscle And Bone Meet Machinery In ‘Hullmetal Girls'”:

Hullmetal Girls embraces teen angst in the form of bionic mech suits and the girls who meld with them to save humanity.

Aisha Un-Haad has been working hard as a janitor to take care of her two younger siblings, but when one of them falls ill with a deadly fever that’s sweeping through all the ships that make up the Fleet, she makes the decision to become Scela, a bionic super-soldier created to protect and serve the Fleet’s rulers. There’s no going back once her body is sliced and diced to make room for the mechanical parts that make up her new artificially intelligent “exo,” and her mind is welded permanently to its will and those of the other Scela in her squad. But it will all be worth it if she can advance far enough in the ranks to earn a salary that will keep her siblings safe….

(18) ONE WORD. NPR’s Korva Kolman looks at “Beowulf In The Suburbs? ‘The Mere Wife’ Is An Epic Retelling”:

There’s a vitally important word in the epic tale of Beowulf and, according to Maria Dahvana Headley, it’s been translated incorrectly for a very long time. The word is aglæca/æglæca — no one’s entirely sure how to pronounce it – and, as Headley explains, that same word is used to describe Beowulf and his three antagonists: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon.

“In the early English translations it was translated for Beowulf as ‘hero’ and for Grendel as ‘monster,’ and for Grendel’s mother as ‘wretch of a woman’ or ‘hag,’ ” Headley says. “But it’s the same word.”

(19) ROBO FETCH. They’re going from viral video to market: “Boston Dynamics Is Gearing Up to Produce Thousands of Robot Dogs”.

Boston Dynamics, maker of uncannily agile robots, is poised to bring its first commercial product to market — a small, dog-like robot called the SpotMini.

The launch was announced in May, and founder Marc Raibert recently said that by July of next year, Boston Dynamics will be producing the SpotMini at the rate of around 1,000 units per year.

The broader goal, as reported by Inverse, is to create a flexible platform for a variety of applications. According to Raibert, SpotMini is currently being tested for use in construction, delivery, security, and home assistance applications.

The SpotMini moves with the same weirdly smooth confidence as previous experimental Boston Dynamics robots with names like Cheetah, BigDog, and Spot.

(20) BIG CONSTRUCTION. BBC covers “The mega-machines helping China link the world”. Includes an ordinary diagram, and animations of two extraordinary track layers.

China is creating a network of ambitious land- and sea-based transport links to connect its booming economy with those of Europe and Africa. And it’s wasting no time – designing incredible bespoke construction machines to get the job done fast.

President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013, aims to connect two-thirds of the world’s population across 70 countries through a network of land links (the “belt”) and sea routes (the “road”).

Officials talk about lifetime investments worth trillions of dollars, sourced from banks, participating countries and the Chinese government.

The scheme is not without controversy. Critics point out that it burdens poor countries with billions of dollars of Chinese debt, and dismiss it as a projection of Chinese foreign policy…

(21) THE ORVILLE AT COMIC-CON. The Season 2 Trailer for The Orville debuted at Comic-Con.

The Orville: Follows the crew of the not-so-functional exploratory ship in the Earth’s interstellar fleet, 400 years in the future.

 

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

2018 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards Shortlist

“Books that imagine futures far and near, nudged or driven by science but still bound by the human experience,” have been named to the shortlist for the inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

The Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College will announce the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards winners from among the shortlist in May.

Awards will be presented for a debut work and an established author in the genre of speculative fiction. Each award winner will receive a $5,000 honorarium that will be presented during a Dartmouth-hosted panel to discuss the genre and their work.

Included within the list of 11 finalist books in the speculative fiction genre are novels, a graphic novel, young adult work, and collections of stories. The finalists comprise a mix of first-time and established authors.

2018 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards Shortlist of Books:

  • After Atlas by Emma Newman (Roc, 2016)
  • Best Worst American by Juan Martinez (Small Beer Press, 2017)
  • Central Station by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications, 2016)
  • Children of the New World by Alexander Weinstein (Picador, 2016)
  • Made for Love by Alissa Nutting (HarperCollins, 2017)
  • New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit, 2017)
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corrine Duyvis (Amulet/Abrams, 2016)
  • Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Orbit, 2017)
  • Telling the Map by Christopher Rowe (Small Beer Press, 2017)
  • Using Life by Ahmed Naji (UT Press, 2017)
  • Void Star by Zachary Mason (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017)

“These books run the gamut in form, context, and outlook. We see irony, adventure, humor, and loss,” said Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute. “Whether describing a cloned space crew, the future of sexual relations, or everyday life in a changed environment, the Neukom shortlist is filled with essential reads that address the complexities that the future may bring.” The shortlist was prepared by Rockmore and Dartmouth colleagues Alexander Chee and Tarek El-Ariss.

The judging is spearheaded by New York Times-bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley, whose soon-to-be-released novel The Mere Wife (MCD × Farrar, Straus & Giroux) is a contemporary retelling of the classic “Beowulf.” Headley says:

I couldn’t be more excited to judge a shortlist that represents such a diverse group of writers. It’s a privilege to get to award prizes like these, which push the boundaries between forms and genres, and which amplify the innovative work of radical thinkers, intense creators, and brave analyzers of our culture and future.

The Neukom Institute for Computational Science is dedicated to supporting and inspiring computational work. The Literary Arts Awards is part of the Neukom Institute’s initiative to explore the ways in which computational ideas impact society.

[Thanks to Gordon Van Gelder for the story. This coverage is based on the press release.]

Pixel Scroll 5/22/17 Little Pixels Made Of Ticky Tacky All In A Row

(1) HOW POWERFUL IS SF? When their joint book tour brought them to San Francisco, Goodreads members had a chance to quiz this dynamic duo: “The Authors@Goodreads Interview with John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow”.

GR: Goodreads member Lissa says, “When I read the description of Walkaway, I was wondering ‘Will he have written the book we need to wake us up and get us to pay attention, or the book we need to prepare us for what he thinks might be coming?'”

DOCTOROW: I think…we overestimate the likelihood of things we can vividly imagine and spend a lot of time worrying about our kids getting snatched by strangers and not nearly enough time worried about them getting killed by food poisoning or car accidents. We have this giant war on terror but no war on listeria despite the fact that inadequate refrigeration kills a lot more Americans than terrorism does. It has to do with how vividly we can imagine those things…..

GR: Are the worlds you create the kind of worlds you want to live in?

SCALZI: No! I write terrible universes where horrible things are happening, I like where ‘m living now. Some years are better than others, but altogether ‘m OK with who I am and where I am in the world.

(2) NEED IT RIGHT AWAY. What’s the next thing collectors absolutely must have? Could it be — “Pint Size Heroes”! (They remind me a lot of the Pet Shop pets my daughter used to love, except completely different, of course.)

This series features characters from some of your favorite science fiction movies and television! Including Martian from Mars Attacks, Neo from The Matrix, Leeloo from The Fifth Element, Predator and many more! Collect them all this Summer!

(3) TIME ENOUGH FOR CHEESECAKE LOVE. Here’s what Neil Gaiman will do for half a million dollars — that isn’t even for him. Let Yahoo! News set the scene:

The Cheesecake Factory‘s menu is the In Search of Lost Time of the restaurant industry, in that it is far too long and probably includes a madeleine or two.

Neil Gaiman is a very famous author (American Gods, Stardust, Coraline) with a notably soothing British accent, who has nothing to do with the Cheesecake Factory but has been dared to read its convoluted bill of fare anyway.

How’d this happen?

It all began with writer/comedian Sara Benincasa, a self-professed cheesecake addict…

She has secured Gaiman’s agreement and has launched a fundraiser at Crowdwise. — “Neil Gaiman Will Do A Reading Of The Cheesecake Factory Menu If We Raise $500K For Refugees”.

Will the appeal be strong enough for the fund to meet its goal? Only $2,321 has been pledged as of this afternoon.

(4) IT NEEDED SAVING? In the opinion of the Chicago Tribune “Novelist Timothy Zahn is the man who saved ‘Star Wars,’ according to fans”. There’s no doubt they’ve been good for each other.

Timothy Zahn, who is 65 and bald and carries an ever-so-slight air of social anxiety, is nobody’s image of a superstar. And yet as he sat behind table No. 26 and waited for fans, he did not wait long. The doors to the convention hall at McCormick Place opened at 10 a.m., and by 10:10 a.m. the line of people to meet Zahn was the second-longest at C2E2, the massive Chicago comic book convention held each spring. Only Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man and the Hulk, could boast longer lines. This was a few weeks ago, just as “Thrawn,” Zahn’s latest “Star Wars” novel, was debuting at No. 2 on The New York Times’ best-seller list.

(5) GO RIGHT TO THE SOURCE. Tyrannosaurus rex is still nature’s most-feared predator: “Woman In T-Rex Costume Charged With Scaring Horses”.

Growling at carriage horses while wearing a full-body Tyrannosaurus Rex suit is illegal, a South Carolina woman has learned.

As two horses pulled a carriage of tourists through Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday evening, the horses came face to face with an unfamiliar animal: a six-foot, orange dinosaur. The extinct beast, however, was actually a person in an inflatable T-Rex suit. And when the person allegedly growled at the carriage, the horses became startled, backing the carriage into a parked car, unseating the carriage driver, and running over his leg.

Though multiple onlookers captured photos and video of the incident, the agitator’s face was concealed inside the dinosaur suit, leaving police without a suspect until 26-year-old Nicole Wells turned herself into police Friday night. She was charged with disorderly conduct and wearing a mask or disguise.

Wearing a mask is illegal in South Carolina, and Charleston has particularly strict anti-mask ordinances. City residents over the age of 16 are prohibited from wearing masks in public places, even on Halloween. And after Wells allegedly spooked the carriage horses, locals placed a bounty on her T-Rex head.

(6) THIS WON’T BE DIRT CHEAP. A sack of gold dust wouldn’t bring as much as this NASA artifact is predicted to fetch at auction.

A small white pouch marked “Lunar Sample Return,” which Nancy Lee Carlson bought two years ago for $995, is expected to fetch as much as $4 million at an upcoming Sotheby’s auction. That’s because it’s sprinkled with moon dust.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong filled the bag with rocks from the lunar Sea of Tranquility during his historic trip to the moon on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. He turned the bag over to a Houston lab, which emptied it of the rocks and then lost track of it. It eventually turned up on a U.S. Marshals auction website.

Enter Carlson, a Chicago-area attorney. She bought the pouch — along with some other items, in a kind of space-memento grab bag — for $995 and sent it off to NASA for testing. NASA claimed the bag belonged to the agency, and wouldn’t return it until after a long court battle. You’d think Carlson was asking for the moon.

The bag is expected to go for such a sky-high price because NASA doesn’t allow anyone to own any bit of the moon –except for the bag.

Sotheby’s senior specialist Cassandra Hatton called the auction of the “modest bag” her “Mona Lisa moment.”

(7) TAKE THE TEST. The Guardian will let you audition: “Ignore or delete: could you be a Facebook moderator?” Looks like I won’t be working for FB anytime soon — I only matched their decision 9 out of 16 times.

(8) TODAY’S DAY

History of Goth Day

The history of Goth Day stretches back in odd and meandering paths to history. Musically it can be traced back to 1967 when someone referred to the music of the Doors as “Gothic Rock.” This term was soon being bandied about, used to describe music like Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, and Siouxsie and the Banshee’s described as one of “Goth Rocks Architects”.

But why “Gothic”? It’s an odd term considering that it originally referred to the Visigoths whose claim to fame was sacking Rome. So how did Goths become Goths? Well, we can trace the term back a bit further to 1764, where Horace Walpole wrote a story called “The Castle of Otranto”, granted the subtitled “A Gothic Story” during its second printing. So what is Gothic in this context? It describes a “pleasing sort of horror”, and was seen to be a natural extension of Romantic literature. This, of course, implies a sort of romance with the darker side of life, something that can be said to describe the little blossoms of gloom described at the beginning.

Goth Day celebrates all these souls, and the part of them that celebrates the darkness within us all through music, art, and media.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 22, 1859 — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

(10) HIGH FRONTIER CULTURE. The Washington Post’s Sarah L. Kaufman describes the Washington Ballet’s forthcoming, space-themed production — “For a Washington Ballet premiere: Dancers, spacesuits and Velcro. Lots of Velcro. “.

“Frontier” will have its world premiere May 25, with performances continuing through May 27 at the Kennedy Center Opera House. It tells the story of a group of ASCANS –the NASA acronym for astronaut candidates –and flight technicians preparing for a mission, and the stage effects include a rocket launch and travel to a distant planet.

Just 25 minutes long, the ballet is a big event for everyone involved, but especially for Stiefel, the retired American Ballet Theatre star who is unveiling his first major commission as a choreographer, and for Washington Ballet Artistic Director Julie Kent, who asked Stiefel, her friend and former dance partner, to tie his ballet to the Kennedy Center’s John F. Kennedy centennial celebration. That’s where the space theme came from, reflecting the former president’s expansion of the space program.

(11) SHADOW CLARKE. Another pair of reviews from the Shadow Clarke Jury.

The other day, when I was reviewing Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, I noted that it was one of two books I still had to write about from my initial list that hadn’t made either the Sharke Six or the official Clarke Award shortlist. I then proceeded to detail why I thought the Brooks-Dalton hadn’t made the lists (it’s not really very good science fiction).

This is the second, and the reasons The Gradual didn’t make either list are, well, I don’t know.

One of the most common accusations levelled at genre fiction is that it is… generic: a typical police procedural will see a detective with a troubled home life win out over bureaucratic incompetence to catch a killer, a standard romance will see two seemingly ill-matched individuals coming together across geographical and social divides to reach a perfect understanding, and we’ve all watched horror movies where we spend the first half of the film yelling at the characters not to go into the house. The reason we still enjoy such stories is often related to their very predictability — we find a formula that works for us, where each new iteration is a pleasure that is doubled in its anticipation, like slipping back into a comfortable pair of slippers.

I would suggest there is something folkloric in such archetypes, something of the mythical, and what genre’s detractors often fail to notice about archetypes is how flexible they are, how ripe for re-imagining and subversion…

(12) BACK IN THE LIMELIGHT. Last year’s Clarke Award winner begins a multi-part rundown of this year’s shortlisted works.

Because I didn’t get the chance to do a Clarkeslist post last year, for what I hope are excusable reasons, I was denied the opportunity to laud Chambers’ first outing, A Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet. This book was one of the ones I would have been happiest to lose to. It was also the subject of a mixed bag of reviews, which may be because it’s SF about, not the space beyond our atmosphere but the space between people (which €˜people’ very emphatically includes nonhuman sentience).

(13) DIVERSE AWARDS COMMENTARY. Cora Buhlert has “A few words on the 2016 Nebula Awards, the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Awards and the Shadow Clarkes”.

…In other awards news, the shortlist for the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award has been announced as well. It’s a pretty good shortlist, consisting of a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee (Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee), a Hugo nominee, sequel to one of last year’s Clarke Award nominees (A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers), this year’s Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction and the literary speculative fiction novel of the year (The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead), a new novel by a former Clarke Award winner (Occupy Me by Tricia Sullivan), a new work by an author nominated for multiple BSFA, British Fantasy and World Fantasy Awards (Central Station by Lavie Tidhar) and a Locus Award nominated novel by an established and talented, but somewhat overlooked writer (After Atlas by Emma Newman). It’s also a nicely diverse shortlist, ranging from space opera and military SF via dystopian fiction to alternate history. The writer demographics are diverse as well — after the debacle of the all male, all white shortlist in 2013, in spite of a jury consisting of several women — and include three men and three women, two writers of colour, at least two LGBT writers and one international writer. At the Guardian, David Barnett also reports on the 2017 Clarke Award shortlist and praises its diversity

(14) NONREADERS DIGEST. At Lady Business, Ira and Anna try to help readers evaluate one of the nominees for the Best Series Hugo by presenting “The Vorkosigan Saga in 5 Books”.

Ira

Friends! One of my favourite things made of words ever is up for the Best Series Hugo this year! That is correct, The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold is a Hugo Finalist. And I am here with the lovely frequent Lady Business guest poster forestofglory (Anna), a fellow Vorkosigan fan, to present you with two ways to skim the highlights of this series in 5 books each.

Anna

Five books is kind of an arbitrary cutoff, but it’s a lot fewer than 17!

Ira

Isn’t that right!

Now, you may have seen that your Hugo packet includes Borders of Infinity as the sole representative of the Vorkosigan Saga. This is a collection of novellas/short stories with some interstitial material that constitutes its own (very) short story. If Baen, the publisher, had to pick ONE book, this is not a bad choice, as it gives several interesting adventures and tones from this series. However, Anna and I think it doesn’t really cover the breadth of the series, and we’re here to fix that.

This post is intended for two audiences: (1) People who have never encountered a Vorkosigan book in their life, or maybe have read one or two but don’t really know the full series, so we can suggest a subset of the series that is readable by the Hugo voting deadline; and (2) Fans of the series so they can come argue with us about our picks. BOTH ARE SO WELCOME….

(15) PALATE CLEANSER. Need a change of pace before diving back into the Hugo Voter Packet? Maybe Short Story Squee & Snark can help. “The Thule Stowaway,” by Maria Dahvana Headley is their latest discussion pick.

“The Thule Stowaway,” by Maria Dahvana Headley. Novelette. Published in Uncanny Jan/Feb 2017.

Suggested by Mark Hepworth:

I love “secret history” style stories, which this combines with a carefully crafted nest of narratives.

This one has reactions all over the map, which should make for some interesting discussion!

Charles Payseur echoes our recommendation: “This story is something of a Master’s course in nested narratives, unfolding like a puzzlebox that defies reality and is much larger on the inside than it appears.”

Tangent Online reviewer Herbert M. Shaw calls it “overlong and burdensome,” and “a rejected plot from the Doctor Who storyboards, featuring Edgar Allan Poe.”…

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Lovestreams by Sean Buckalew on Vimeo explains what happens when two people who have only “met” through IM messages step through a portal to “meet” in cyberspace.

[Thanks to Sam Long, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 12/16/16 Pixel Bell Rock

(1) DUCKTALES. As a kid I loved my father’s Donald Duck imitation. He was so funny. That memory immediately came to mind when I read David Tennant will voice Scrooge McDuck in the reboot of Disney DuckTales. I can’t stop imagining Tennant doing my father’s duck accent. Admittedly, Tennant’s character doesn’t sound like Donald, even so, will the voice of the deadly serious Tenth Doctor really be transformed into the dialect of a Scottish billionaire duck?  ScienceFiction.com has the story.

To announce the cast for the highly-anticipated reboot, Disney XD released a video of the all-new stars singing the original series’ theme song. Headlining the quack pack for the upcoming globe-trotting adventures is ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ star David Tennant, who will no doubt bring his particular Scottish burr to Uncle Scrooge. He’ll be joined by ‘Powerless’ and ‘Community’ star Danny Pudi, ‘Parks and Recreation’ favorite Ben Schwartz, and ‘Saturday Night Live’ staple Bobby Moynihan as the voices of mischief-making Huey, Dewey and Louie, respectively. The cast will be rounded out by Beck Bennett as Launchpad McQuack, Toks Olagundoye as Mrs. Beakley, and Kate Micucci as Webby Vanderquack. But to get in on the fun that is that unforgettable theme song, check out the video below of the cast participating in a ‘DuckTales’ sing-along:

 

(2)LICENSED TROUT. My good friend, who chooses to be identified as “Kilgore Trout” for purposes of this news item, is organizing a convention, and like good conrunners should he is licensing the music they’ll be using. But Kilgore was bemused by the aggressive terms of the ASCAP agreement —

I note their list of potentially infringing uses:

Please note that your organization is responsible for any music used at the event, including music used by exhibitors, speakers or music provided overhead by the facility in your meeting/event rooms.  

Examples of reportable music uses:

Live music (bands, soloist,pianist, harpist, etc), Disc Jockeys, karaoke, Guitar Hero or mechanical music (Internet streaming or downloaded music, CD’s, Records, Radio, iPod music,DVD’s, Videos, background music provided by the hotel or facility)

Music during the receptions & closing ceremonies

Lead in & exit music

Music used during meetings, PowerPoint presentations

Pro-speakers using music at part of their speeches, whether live or

mechanical

CD players,iPod, Music via computers in booths or exhibits

Music utilized during awards banquets, event dinners and parties

Comedians and magicians using music or parodies of songs

Multiple or large screen TV’s used at events

Flash Mobs

Zumba, Yoga and group relaxation sessions using music

Event video/DVD streamed or archived on your event website

In particular, I want to highlight “flash mobs”, “large screen TVs”, and event video as reportable. I have asked for clarification, as surely they can’t mean the presence of TVs requires a license.

Also, note the requirement for a license if the hotel provides background music in the facility. (Isn’t that an issue between ASCAP and the hotel?)

(3) DON’T RAIN ON MY PARADE. WIRED rounded up all the grumpy, sneezy and dopey designers in town to “shove a lightsaber through the Death Star’s design”. Go ahead, click on it and reward their bad behavior….

Despite its reputation as a symbol of fear and oppression and its confounding vulnerability to proton torpedoes, the Death Star continues to be a subject of endless fascination—especially in the design world. In advance of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a new book—Death Star Owner’s Technical Manual—lays bare the plans for the station that, presumably, get stolen by rebels, transmitted to Princess Leia, secreted in an R2 unit on board the Rand Ecliptic, and eventually made possible the Death Star’s destruction. Oh, sorry: spoilers.

Point is, the drawings of the planet-killing not-a-moon may look like gobbledygook to you, but to a trained designer, they’re fare game for criticism. And when WIRED asked a bunch of designers, architects, and other professionals for their assessments, most were not kind. That’s not just because of the Death Star’s evil connotations, but due to obvious design flaws. These include, among many other things, limited amenities for stormtroopers and other employees, defense vulnerabilities, severe aesthetic disappointments, and a real lack of creativity when it comes to disposal of waste heat.

Architect Cameron Sinclair, founder of Small Works, a firm that specializes in building solutions in post disaster zones and underserved communities, calls it “yet another techno-driven ego play by the Empire,” primarily blaming a lack of community engagement during the building’s conceptual phase. “If you look at the accommodation wings, there is little room for troopers and their families. No educational spaces, no decent public places and extremely limited access to fresh produce. (Seriously, vertical food farms have been around for generations.) All the communal spaces have been downsized due to an over emphasis on unproven technology.”

(4) LONG LIST EBOOK. David Steffen wants you to know that the Long List Volume 2 ebook was released this week. Hie thee hence!

(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #18. The eighteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for a TGM Fundraiser: Manuscript Critique from Jessica Reisman.

Attention authors: today’s auction is for the critique of a manuscript, up to novella length (39,999 words), from author Jessica Reisman. Reisman is the author of more than 25 published stories, several of which have been honorable mentions in various Year’s Best anthologies. She won the Southeastern Science Fiction Achievement Award (SESFA) for her story “Threads.”

(6) A BUNDLE OF BRONZE. Captainco is offering a Forrest J Ackerman statue & Tales From The Acker-Mansion Bundle.

Celebrate Uncle Forry’s Centennial with a very limited faux bronze statue of Forrest J Ackerman by Dark Horse, accompanied by the Tales From The Acker-Mansion anthology. A perfect gift for any Monster Kid you know or the Monster Kid in yourself. A $300+ value for only $200!

statue-ackermansion-bundle_large

(7) MORE FAVES. Smash Dragons has picked its “Best of 2016”.

Well it’s that time of the year again. The festive season is in full swing here at the lair (no, I’m not drunk… yet), and I figured it was time I reflected on what has been an amazing year for genre fiction.

Looking back over the books I read in 2016 made me realise just how lucky I am to be a reader. I’ve witnessed the emergence of some stunning new talent this year, and I’ve rediscovered some old favourites along the way. To paraphrase George R R Martin, I’ve lived a thousand different lives over the past twelve months, and I’ve loved every single one of them! Choosing a top ten proved extremely difficult. I struggled to make my selections for a long time. However, after much deliberation and thought I managed to nut it out, and I’m pretty happy with the list I came up with. Most of the top ten have full reviews (those that don’t never fear, I will get to them soon), which I have provided links to if you’d like to check them out. I’ve also linked purchase information. It is the season of giving after all, and as a friend of mine pointed out when you buy a book you are buying two gifts essentially (one for the reader, and another for the author of the book you purchased). So be generous to those around you!

So without further ado, I give you my top ten best reads of 2016!

1 – The Fisherman by John Langan/Crow Shine by Alan Baxter

I cheated a little here, but I really couldn’t seperate the two. The Fisherman is a magnificent character- driven cosmic horror that crawled under my skin and refused to budge. Langan is a masterful storyteller, and The Fisherman is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read, period. You can buy The Fisherman here.

Crow Shine is also an incredible book that is filled to the brim with rich and powerful dark fiction. It is one of the best collections I’ve ever read, and Baxter is one of the best short fiction writers working in the world today. I loved this book so much I even forked out a lot of money to buy a signed limited edition copy of it! Highly recommended. Check out my full review here, and buy yourself a copy here.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 16, 1901: Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published.
  • December 16, 1983 – Nazis are forced to turn to a Jewish historian for help in battling the ancient demon they have inadvertently freed from its prison in The Keep, seen of the first time on this day.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born December 16, 1917 – Arthur C. Clarke
  • Born December 16, 1928 — Philip K. Dick

(10) THESE AREN’T THE CRITICS I’M LOOKING FOR. This NPR review makes Rogue One sound “meh”.

You won’t get more plot than that from me, because plot is the chief attraction in Rogue One. With Stormtroopers lurking ’round every intergalactic corner, director Gareth Edwards hasn’t much time for such other Star Warsian charms as character, grace, whimsy and, most of all, fun. He does like to linger over battles, although I can’t say their outcomes are ever much in doubt, the fears of a pessimistic droid (voiced indispensably by Alan Tudyk) notwithstanding.

We’ve been here before, and will doubtless go here again, probably with more imagination, and hopefully with more seeming to ride on the outcome. Rogue One is allegedly a standalone story, but it’s also a prequel, tied so tightly to the stories we’ve already heard that most 9-year-olds will be able to tell those nervous Nellies in the rebel alliance how it’s all going to come out, even before Jyn delivers the script’s flatfooted version of a St. Crispin’s Day speech.

(11) CURTAIN OF HISTORY DRAWN BACK. Another NPR review — “’Hidden Figures’ No More: Meet The Black Women Who Helped Send America To Space”.

Shetterly grew up in the 1960s in Hampton, Va., not far from NASA’s Langley Research Center. She’s African-American, and her father, extended family and neighbors were all scientists, physicists and engineers at NASA. But it wasn’t until about six years ago that she understood the magnitude of the work black women were doing there. She recently told NPR’s Michel Martin, “I knew that many of them worked at NASA. I didn’t know exactly what they did.”

Shetterly spent the next six years searching for more information. She researched archives and interviewed former and current NASA employees and family members. In her book, she details the journeys and personal lives of Langley’s star mathematicians, and recounts how women computers — both black and white — broke barriers in both science and society.

(12) PREDICTING THE PRESENT. The BBC tells “Why Children of Men has never been as shocking as it is now”.

Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian thriller is one of the 21st Century’s most acclaimed films – and its version of the future is now disturbingly familiar. Nicholas Barber looks back….

If the plot harks back to two classic fictions of the 1940s, Casablanca and Nineteen Eighty-Four, the setting is breathtakingly contemporary. Cuarón doesn’t use captions or speeches to explain what has happened to civilisation, but, judging by the old newspapers we glimpse, society has been rocked by climate change, pollution, nuclear accidents, social division, and terrorist bombings. Nevertheless, all of Britain’s troubles have been blamed on asylum seekers, who are locked in cages, and then bussed to hellish shanty towns. “Poor fugees,” says Theo’s hippy friend Jasper (Michael Caine). “After escaping the worst atrocities, and making it all the way to England, our government hunts them down like cockroaches.”

The blame game

Ring any bells? Mass migration was a major issue in 2006, so it’s not surprising that it should be so central to Children of Men. But, a decade ago, no one had predicted the Syrian refugee crisis, or that the US’s President-elect would propose registering Muslims, or that the UK would vote to leave the European Union after a campaign that focused on immigrant numbers. Today, it’s hard to watch the television news headlines in Children of Men without gasping at their prescience: “The Muslim community demands an end to the army’s occupation of mosques.” “The homeland security bill is ratified. After eight years, British borders will remain closed. The deportation of illegal immigrants will continue.” In 2006, all of this seemed plausible enough, but perhaps a little strident, a little over-the-top.

(13) CHECK YOUR PHONE. Here are “20 Extremely Real Texts From Superheroes” selected by Cracked.

Sometimes we like to take a break from writing words about superheroes to look at images of words written by superheroes. To show you what we mean here’s another installment from our friends over at Texts From Superheroes. Check out their website here.

(14) COVER LAUNCH. Orbit has unveiled the cover and title for N. K. Jemisin’s final Broken Earth book.

The highly lauded and award winning Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin comes to its remarkable conclusion in THE STONE SKY. The first book in the series won the Hugo award and was shortlisted for the Nebula, Audie, and Locus award, was the inaugural Wired.com book club pick, and was a New York Times Notable Book of 2015. The sequel, The Obelisk Gate, was chosen as one of NPR’s Best of the Year and one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2016.

THE STONE SKY, publishing in August 2017, closes out a trilogy that is haunting, beautiful, and surprisingly prescient. Our earth-shattering cover for the third book was designed by Wendy Chan.

jemisin_stonesky-tp

(15) FREE FANZINES. Bruce Gillespie has made three of his fanzines available for download as PDF files from eFanzines:

SF Commentary 92, July 2016. 70,000 words. Ray Sinclair-Wood’s ‘Poems of the Space Race’, Michael Bishop’s ‘Scalehunter: Lucius Shepard and the Dragon Griaule Sequence’ and ‘I Must Be Talking to My Friends’: a cat story, plus 80 correspondents. Cover art by Carol Kewley and Ditmar.

SF Commentary 93, December 2016. 60,000 words. First part of John Litchen’s ‘Fascinating Mars: 120 Years of Fiction About Mars’; Colin Steele’s ‘The Field’: the year’s SF and fantasy books; and two accounts of ‘My Life, Science Fiction, and Fanzines’ — Bruce Gillespie and James ‘Jocko’ Allen. Cover art by Ditmar and Elaine Cochrane.

Treasure 4, October 2016. 50,000 words. Mervyn Barrett’s tales of the Melbourne SF Club during the 1960s; Robert Lichtman’s pocket history of FAPA; four tributes to John Collins (from Robyn Whiteley, Bruce Gillespie, Don Collins, and Gail Reynolds); Jennifer Bryce’s ‘Travels in the UK, 2014 and 2015’; and Robert Day’s tales of another fandom — trainspotting around Britain and Europe. Plus many correspondents.

(16) RAGE. The New Inquiry has a transcript of a panel with Deji Bryce Olukotun, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Haris Durrani — “The Changing Faces of Sci-Fi and Fantasy”.

The trio discussed the limits of heroism, the politics of reality-building, and the whitewashing of publishing. The following is a transcript, edited for length, of their conversation.

DEJI BRYCE OLUKOTUN  When PEN approached me to help organize the event, I was in the middle of reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther comic books, which are super popular: they sell out every week. I felt real enthusiasm that a writer of color who was a National Book Award winner and MacArthur Fellow was tackling comic books, but at the same time, I wasn’t thrilled with some of his depictions of African themes and cultures.

Let me explain a little more what I mean. I was excited that Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has been a comic book fan his whole life, is tackling the genre, but I had critiques about his technique–some of the dialogue, some of the writing. I felt the dilemma that a lot of people feel if you are from a marginalized group. A lot of voices, especially black voices aren’t making it on the page with major publishers. Was I going to actually destroy opportunities if I spoke out against his work and said, “Well, I love this part of the story but I don’t like this part”?

(17) READING THE NIGHT AWAY. Not a new article, but seasonally appropriate! From NPR, “Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood’”.

In the United States, popular holiday gifts come and go from year to year. But in Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book — and it has been that way for decades.

Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world, with five titles published for every 1,000 Icelanders. But what’s really unusual is the timing: Historically, a majority of books in Iceland are sold from late September to early November. It’s a national tradition, and it has a name: Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood.”…

What kind of books, exactly?

“Generally fiction and biographies would be the mainstays, although it varies a lot,” Bjarnason says. “Two years ago one of the surprise best-sellers was a pictorial overview of the history of tractors in Iceland.”

That book, And Then Came Ferguson, wasn’t the only unusual breakout success. Another, Summerland: The Deceased Describe Their Death And Reunions In The Afterlife, came out last year. The book, by Gudmundur Kristinsson, an author in his 80s who believes he can talk to the dead, sold out completely before Christmas 2010 — and sold out yet again after being reprinted in February 2011.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, and David Steffen for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Redheadedfemme.]

Pixel Scroll 5/27/16 With Pix You Get Eggscroll

(1) HANG ONTO YOUR TOWEL. Britain’s Radio 4 has provisionally ordered a six-episode Hitchhikers sequel.

Radio 4 has commissioned a new series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, over a decade since the last series aired.

It will become the sixth series for the sci-fi comedy on radio, with the show’s last run – Series 5 – having broadcast in 2005.

Expected to be titled ‘The Hexagonal Phase’, the British Comedy Guide understands that the new episodes will primarily be based around the book And Another Thing….

This news comes after Towel Day, the annual celebration of the work of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy creator Douglas Adams. The writer, who launched the hit series on Radio 4 in 1978, died in 2001.

In 2009 author Eoin Colfer was commissioned to write And Another Thing… featuring the same characters as seen and heard the previous radio series and books written by Adams. Although Colfer had the blessing of the creator’s widow, the announcement proved to be controversial at the time. Colfer has recognised that there was “semi-outrage” at the idea of another author contributing to the series, but he has been pleased by the reaction the book has since publication.

(2) THEY SAID NO. Esquire shows “This is What The Lord of the Rings Would Have Looked Like With Its Original Cast”.

7. Liam Neeson as Boromir

Details on this one are a little sketchy, so let’s file it under woulda, coulda, shoulda. “I have a particular set of skills… and a big ancestral horn.”

(3) HVP WARNINGS. Vox Day told his readers there will be warning labels on two items in the Hugo Voter Packet (the one for Tingle has already been reported here.)

The WorldCon convention has also issued at least two other “warning labels” to two other Hugo-nominated works in the packet, one a Best Related Work by Moira Greyland, the other a Best Short Story by Chuck Tingle.

(4) BEYOND CHARACTER POSTERS. ScreenRant has nice, large images: yesterday, Star Trek Beyond: Jaylah & Bones Character Posters Released”, and today, Star Trek Beyond: Spock and Chekov Character Posters”.

[The] the studio has unveiled two more posters that are obviously meant to highlight the film’s action quotient and its (new) cast of characters – two elements that have appealed to summer blockbuster fans over the series’ seven-year run thus far, and which Paramount clearly is banking on happening yet again. Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard McCoy is featured in one of the posters, while series newcomer Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service, the currently-in-production Mummy) as the mysterious Jaylah takes center stage in the other (see below).

(5) GENERATION HEX. At Observer, “A Millenial Reviews: ‘Star Trek’ Is a Blantant, Boring Rip-Off of ‘Star Wars’”.

I recently watched Star Trek because I never actually watched it growing up (I was busy having sex and hanging out with my friends after school) so I decided to marathon The Original Series. Let me tell you, good Yeezy almighty, Star Trek sucks earbuds. Now I’m a total geek, but I don’t understand how anyone can be expected to actually watch this stuff. Every episode is an hour long. Do you understand how long an hour is? That’s half of a podcast. If I don’t have 10 minutes to listen to Marc Maron talk about his dead cats then I don’t have 60 hours to watch a dudebro white-privilege his way across the galaxy in a deep V-neck. I tried though.

(6) ARISTOTLE! Atlas Obscura carries a Greek report that Aristotle’s tomb has been found.

A group of archaeologists in Greece say they have found the lost tomb of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and likely world’s first true scientist….

The archaeologists had been digging for 20 years at a site in the ancient northern Greece city of Stageira, where Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. Aristotle died 62 years later in Chalcis, about 50 miles north of Athens.

Ahead of the official announcement, the Greek Reporter has some more details on the tomb, saying that “literary sources” say that Aristotle’s ashes were transferred there after his death. It is located near the ancient city’s agora, apparently intended to be viewed by the public.

From the Greek Reporter

The top of the dome is at 10 meters and there is a square floor surrounding a Byzantine tower. A semi-circle wall stands at two-meters in height. A pathway leads to the tomb’s entrance for those that wished to pay their respects. Other findings included ceramics from the royal pottery workshops and fifty coins dated to the time of Alexander the Great.

Will R. asks, “I wonder if the tombstone reads, ‘Here Truths Aristotle.’”

(7) BIRDS OF A FEATHER. Scott Tyrell’s pictures of great authors as owls is heavy on British fantasy writers – Rowling, Tolkien, and Pratchett among them.

(8) BIRTHDAY BOYS AND A BAT-GIRL

  • Born May 27, 1911 –Vincent Price
  • Born May 27, 1922 — Christopher Lee
  • Born May 27, 1934 – Harlan Ellison.

Jason Davis of HarlanEllisonBooks.com figures the celebration is incomplete without people buying Harlan’s books and here’s his encouragement for ordering the latest volume of unfilmed scripts, Brain Movies 7.

If you’ve popped by HarlanEllisonBooks.com in the last couple days, you’ll have noticed that I surreptitiously announced that the sixty pages of bonus BRAIN MOVIES 7 content for those who pre-order will be Harlan’s unfinished motion picture adaption of his first novel WEB OF THE CITY; it’s called Rumble, as the book was known when this movie—which was to have starred Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello—was in development. It’s a very interesting adaptation and illustrates that Harlan was not averse to having a little fun with his own source material.

  • Born May 27, 1935 — Lee Meriwether

(9) PUPPIES FOR PEACE. The Huffington Post explains the TV host’s advice — “Samantha Bee Bets On Adorable Puppies To Reconcile Bernie And Hillary’s Feuding Supporters”.

So, in a bid to stop the “Democrat on Democrat violence” that’s been taking over people’s social media feeds, Bee’s team have created a new website: TotallyObjectivePoliticalFacts.org.

Clicking on the link brings up a picture of an adorable animal, alongside a salient quote — such as, “Why can’t we all just get long?”

“Just post that link in any thread where your liberal friends are tearing each other apart and end the argument,” Bee said in a YouTube clip on Thursday.

“Seriously, Democrats, just look at a picture of a puppy and hug it out before it’s too late…”

“She might regret going there….” says Steve Davidson.

(10) PREPARING TO VOTE. First-time Hugo voter and game writer Martin Ralya outlines his approach.

Will I be able to read 100% of the Hugo nominees? Realistically, probably not. I’ll do my best in the time I have, though.

I vote in the ENnie Awards every year, and I don’t even attempt to read/play every nominated work — doing so would entail giving up too much of my time. Instead, I play/read the stuff that interests me, and vote for stuff I feel familiar with. Unlike the Hugos, the ENnies don’t offer up a voter packet, but I make a point of visiting nominated blogs and checking out nominated free products.

I also don’t feel obligated to read every Hugo-nominated work, because fuck the Rabid Puppy agenda. I have a horseshit filter, and you know what? It didn’t stop working when I became a Hugo voter.

If a nominated work stands on its own merits, like Seveneves does, I don’t care if it also appears on the Rabid slate. If a slated work doesn’t stand on its own, or if it advances or supports Rabid Puppy horseshit, it’s going below No Award on my ballot.

(11) RECOMMENDED. Rachel Swirsky finds another story to love — “Friday Read! ‘The Traditional’ by Maria Dahvana Headley”.

I’m a big fan of science fiction that takes vivid, strange images into the future. I think, actually, I always have — and if you look at a lot of classic SF, that’s what it’s doing. That’s obvious when reading someone like Stanislaw Lem, but I think it’s still true about folks who we consider more traditional now. It’s just that some of the weird images they used have been carried on in the conversation so far now that they’ve become standard, and have lost their newness. Stories like this, and space opera by people like Yoon Ha Lee, bring a contemporary disjunctive strangeness to the genre. I look forward to seeing what happens when the next generation gets bored with it.

If you like odd surrealism and lyrical writing, Maria Dahvana Headley is worth perusing.

The Traditional” by Maria Dahvana Headley….

(12) CHINESE SF MOVIES. Linus Fredriksson has posted the “Chinese Science Fiction Fimography (1958-2016) with lots of links to films, some with subtitles. He explains some of his idiosyncratic choices.

Even though we are faced with some small hindrance when setting a date for the birth of science fiction film in China we are facing an even bigger obstacle when it comes to defining what science fiction really is. According to me science fiction film is a film which uses some form of idea, invention, geographical discovery to convey an image of an alternative society different from the one were living in now. So the appearance of futuristic technical gimmicks and/or inventions in the film is not necessary for defining a film as science fiction. On the contrary, some of the films I’ve watched has not gotten in to the list much because the science fiction elements in the movie is merely a way to get the story going and in the end they’re absent of context and doesn’t bring any further narrative development of the impact that scifi-gimmick might have had.

Take for example Bugs … a catastrophe film from 2015 which begins with a foreign scientist trying to develop a protein, in order to end starvation in the world, by experimenting with insects. Instead of relief for starving people he creates a giant bug which sends out smaller bugs that eat human beings and then returns to its host to feed it. The entire movie, except for the first minute or two, is about escaping these bugs and then killing the big bug. It’s lack of motivating the science in the film and being consistent with it, made me choose not to have the film in my list. It’s pretty much the same when it comes to the rom-com film Oh My God … but here I reasoned differently mostly because the film has been advertised as a scifi-comedy whenever I read something about it. Therefore Oh My God is on the list.

Yes, the genre labeling for the films in the list might be a bit arbitrary and inconsistent at times but that’s also why I’m writing this blog post so that other people can have the chance to have a second opinion on the selection of films. At the end of the list I will add all those films which has been labeled as science fiction but which I personally didn’t consider to fulfill the requirements of falling under that category.

(13) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog selects “6 of the Most Fearsome Warbands in Fantasy”.

Kailen’s Twenty, Snakewood, by Adrian Selby

This recent epic fantasy about a disbanded mercenary company plunged back into in their twilight years brings together an instantly iconic collection of gruff warrior types. The Twenty once turned back armies and toppled nations through chemical warfare, tactical cunning, and brute force, but the world has moved on. Kailen, their mastermind and leader, has gone into hiding, and the surviving members of this band of brothers are far past their prime, having retired to more peaceful pursuits or counting down their days working small mercenary contracts. When a shadowy assassin begins hunting them down, offing them one by one and leaving a single black coin on the bodies to signify an act of betrayal, and two of the Twenty, Gant and Shale, receive a desperate message from Kailen himself, they must embark on a journey to save their remaining friends from the legions of people who want their heads—but two past-their-prime swordsmen and an eccentric tactician may not be enough to turn the tide. The deeds of the Twenty were epic, but what truly makes them a warband for the ages is the chance to see what happens to a merc after the battles have ended.

(14) DESPERATELY SEEKING FRED’S TWO FEET. In Key West, they’re threatening to tow this car if they can’t find the owner.

Real-life-version-of-Fred-Flintstones-car-found-illegally-parked-in-Florida

The City of Key West, Fla., put out a call for help to find the owner of a most unusual illegally parked vehicle — a replica of a car from The Flintstones.

The city said in a Facebook post that a Stone Age vehicle resembling that driven by Fred Flintstone and company in the classic cartoon series (and live-action films) was found illegally parked without anyone around to claim the unique piece of property.

How long do you figure it’s been overparked, about 30,000 years?

[Thanks to Will R., John King Tarpinian, Alan Baumler, and Steve Davidson for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Matthew Johnson.]

Pixel Scroll 2/12/16 Little Pixels Made Of Puppy-Scroll, And They All Look Just The Same

(1) THE TENTACLE RECONCILIATION. This just in — “Cthulhu Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize”.

OSLO, NORWAY — Dread Lord, and presidential candidate, Cthulhu has more to savor this week on the campaign trail than the vulture-picked carcasses of the campaigns of Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley and others. Cthulhu has been officially nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, according to Henriette Berg Aasen, Nobel watcher and director of the Peace Research Cooperative of Oslo….

Aasen told the Kingsport Star Herald that Cthulhu has been nominated, as He is yearly, by the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu (known also as CTHU). Cthulhu joins a long list of historical luminaries nominated for the coveted prize like Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Rush Limbaugh, Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin.

Aasen says CTHU selected the independent candidate and demon god because “when He rises from the Deep, humanity will finally know peace and understanding. Our conflicts will disperse. Our prejudices will fade. The Truth of existence will fill us. And those of us left will join as one in praise of Pax Cthulhia.”

(2) TORT SOLO. The BBC reports “Star Wars prosecuted over Harrison Ford injury”.

The production company behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens is being prosecuted over the incident in which Harrison Ford broke his leg.

The actor was struck by a hydraulic metal door on the Pinewood set of the Millennium Falcon in June 2014.

The Health And Safety Executive has brought four criminal charges against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd – a subsidiary of Disney.

Foodles Production said it was “disappointed” by the HSE’s decision.

Following the incident, Ford was airlifted to hospital for surgery.

Following an investigation, the HSE said it believed there was sufficient evidence about the incident which left Ford with serious injuries, to bring four charges relating to alleged health and safety breaches.

(3) PUT TO THE QUESTION. The characters in Redshirts are out of jeopardy, but not out of Jeopardy!

(4) MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Black Gate’s John ONeill points out “Gypsies, Paupers, Demons and Swans: Rich Horton’s Hugo Recs”:

I cover a lot of short fiction magazines and novels, but I never feel adequately prepared for the Hugo ballot. But that’s okay, because I know people who read every single short story published in English, and can point me in the right direction.

Well, one person. Rich Horton. Seriously, he reads them all. No, really. All of them. When he modestly claims he doesn’t, he’s lying. He’s read some of ’em twice.

(5) HORTON’S RECS. The recommendations originated at Rich Horton’s blog Strange at Ecbatan.

For the past few years I have avoided the sorts of posts I used to routinely make, listing my favorite stories of the year and making suggestions for Hugo nominations. There are several reasons – one is simply that I thought my Best of the Year Table of Contents served such a purpose by default, more or less, another is time. And a third, of course, is a feeling of skittishness about the controversy that has arisen, from several directions, on the appropriateness of nomination lists, or, Lord preserve us, “slates”.

But hang it all, almost all I’ve been about for my time writing about SF is promoting the reading of good stories. Why should I stop? Why should anyone? I don’t want people to nominate based on my recommendations – I want people to read the stories I recommend – and lots of other stories – and nominate the stories they like best. I don’t want to promote an agenda. I don’t want to nudge the field towards any set of themes or styles. (Except by accident – I don’t deny that I have conscious and unconscious preferences.) In fact, I’d rather be surprised – by new ideas, by new writers, by controversial positions, by new forms, by revitalization of old forms.

This is, indeed, mostly the contents of my Best of the Year collection, with a few added that I couldn’t use for one reason or another (length, contractual issues, etc.). And let’s add the obvious — I miss things! Even things I read. There have definitely been cases where a story I didn’t pick seemed to me on further reflection to be clearly award-worthy.

I recently made a post on potential Hugo nominees in which I briefly discussed potential Best Editor nominations. I mentioned John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Trevor Quachri, C. C. Finlay, Sheila Williams, Andy Cox, Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, Scott H. Andrews and Brian Thomas Schmidt. And in all honesty, I think any of those people would be wholly worthy nominees. They have all done first-rate recent work. But that said, let’s be honest, I was being a bit timid. Who would I really vote for? I wanted to be a bit more forthright, and plump for a few folks I am really rooting for….

(6) DEFERRED GRATIFICATION. “20 Year Overnight Successes: Writing Advice” is a set of Storified tweets from Maria Dahvana Headley about writing.

Mark-kitteh sent along the link with a modest disclaimer: “Obviously I have no way of knowing if they’re good advice or not, but as Neil Gaiman commented on then approvingly I’m assuming they’re good…”

She begins:

Gaiman’s comment:

(7) RANDOMNESS. Don’t know what this actually relates to, just found the stand-alone comment amusing.

(8) IAN WATSON. At SF Signal, Rachel Cordasco’s “Eurocon 2016: An Interview with Ian Watson”

RC: This Eurocon is taking place in Barcelona- what is the state of Spanish scifi today?

IW: Spanish SF (including, as I said, Fantasy and Horror) is thriving, but not nearly enough gets translated into English nor is published visibly enough. Félix Palma’s Map of… trilogy is certainly a best-seller in English (as the New York Times says) but consider a genre-bending author such as veteran Rodolfo Martínez, a major award winner in Spain: you can get a Kindle ebook of his novel

The Queen’s Adept in an English translation so good, of a book so good, that it reads like an original novel by Gene Wolfe, but you’ll find it in no bookshop in the USA or UK. (While on the subject of actual books, devour The Shape of Murder and Zig-Zag by José Carlos Somoza.)

Recent professional labour-of-love productions include The Best of Spanish Steampunk (big, edited and translated by James and Marian Womack, whose Nevsky press is based in Madrid), the crowdfunded Castles in Spain put together by Mariano Villarreal, and (in progress) the likewise crowdfunded competition-winners anthology Spanish Women of Wonder edited by Cristina Jurado, title courtesy of Pamela Sargent. Mariano Villarreal is also responsible for an admired series of original anthologies entitled Terra Nova, published by Rodolfo Martínez’s own Sportula press, of which one is in English translation: Terra Nova: An Anthology of Spanish Science Fiction. Ebooks only, these last three.

On the whole, things are humming.

(9) ALBERT FANDOM. Einstein is not only on a bubblegum card, he’s on a Star Wars gif too –

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 12, 1915 — Lorne Greene, who played Commander Adama.

(11) MEET THE RABIDS. Vox Day adds to his slate: “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Graphic Story”.

(12) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. The L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers & Illustrators of the Future Annual Awards Ceremony invitation was extended to LASFS members on Facebook. Information about the ceremony is here. The event is April 10, 2016 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. Doors open at 5:30 pm – Event starts at 6:30 pm. Party and book signing immediately follow. Black tie optional or Steampunk Formal. RSVP HERE

Past winners of the Writers of the Future Contest have gone on to publish well over 700 novels and 3000 short stories; they have become international bestsellers and have won the most prestigious accolades in the field—the Hugo, the Nebula, the John W. Campbell, the Bram Stoker, and the Locus Award—and even mainstream literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Newbery and the Pushcart Prize. The Illustrators of the Future winners have gone on to publish millions of illustrations in the field.

 

(13) CHARACTERIZATION. At All Over The Map, Juliet McKenna has some interesting advice concerning “The importance of thinking about ‘local values’ when you’re writing”.

On the other hand, you can turn this issue of local values to your writerly advantage, in the right place, for the right character. When I said minus three degrees or minus thirteen a few paragraphs back, I meant Celsius, because my local weather values are centigrade. When I come across temperatures given in Farenheit in US crime fiction, I always have to pause and do a quick mental conversion calculation. It disrupts the flow of my reading, so as far as I am concerned, that’s a bad thing.

But if I was a character in a book? If the author wanted to convey someone feeling unsettled and out of their usual place? Sure, that author could tell us ‘She felt unsettled by the unfamiliar numbers in the weather forecast’ but you could do so much more, and far more subtly, as a writer by showing the character’s incomprehension, having her look up how to do the conversion online, maybe being surprised by the result. It gets how cold in Minnesota in the winter?

(14) ALPHA HOUSE. To better organize the presidential candidates competing in the New Hampshire primary, Mic sorted each candidate into Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter. Still funny, even if the primary’s over.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora Feuer.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/16 I’m Not A Pixel, I’m A Free Scroll

(1) SPEAKING OF FREE SCROLLS. R. Graeme Cameron will start a “SciFi Fiction Magazine” for Canadian writers if his GoFundMe appeal generates $1,500. Issues will be a free read.

When I was a teenager I decided I wanted to be a Science Fiction Writer. Fifty years later I’m a curmudgeonly pensioner who never sold a darn thing, not one novel, not one story. Del Rey books rejected one of my novels with the comment “We don’t like your main character and we don’t think anyone else will either.”

As a life-long beginning writer I know your pain. Always dreaming of that first sale. That’s why I’m starting up POLAR BOREAL, a Canadian SF&F fiction magazine actively encouraging beginning Canadian writers to submit short stories (3,000 words or less) and/or poems. The magazine will be free to anyone who wants to download it, yet all contributors will be paid on acceptance (if I can get the money) at one cent a word for short stories and $10 per poem.

(2) THE CLASSICS. Alexander Dane makes it sound like every day is Black Friday…

(3) NOT EGGSACTLY SURE. TV Guide promises “The 15 Coolest Easter Eggs from Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. SPOILER WARNING, naturally, but my question is – how many of these are really Easter Eggs as opposed to simple casting reveals? Do I not understand what an Easter Egg is? Straighten me out here….

(4) WILD GUESS. Umm, maybe look at the MidAmeriCon II committee list and use the contact information?

(5) HOW AUTHORS DON’T GET PAID. Philip Pullman has resigned as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival the organization has announced. The reason is very simple.

Our President, Philip Pullman, has resigned as a Patron of Oxford Literary Festival because they do not pay authors.

He explained his decision:

My position as President of the Society of Authors, which has been campaigning for fair payment for speakers at literary festivals, sat rather awkwardly with my position as Patron of the Oxford Literary Festival, because (despite urging from me and others over the years) it does not pay speakers. So I thought it was time I resigned as a Patron of the OLF.

The principle is very simple: a festival pays the people who supply the marquees, it pays the printers who print the brochure, it pays the rent for the lecture-halls and other places, it pays the people who run the administration and the publicity, it pays for the electricity it uses, it pays for the drinks and dinners it lays on: why is it that the authors, the very people at the centre of the whole thing, the only reason customers come along and buy their tickets in the first place, are the only ones who are expected to work for nothing?

(6) I SEE BY YOUR OUTFIT. Y-3 creates spacesuits for Virgin Galactic pilots on world’s first commercial space flights

(7) BUGS, MISTER RICO! The newly-christened “Las Vegas of ants” is visible on Google Earth.

Not far from the Grand Canyon, near a landmark called Vulcan’s Throne, the ground is dotted with strange, barren circles, visible from orbit.

Evidence of an alien encounter? Nope. The likely culprit is actually ants — a lot of them. So many that the scientists who discovered them are referring to the area as “the Las Vegas of ants.”

Physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, noticed the bizarre polka- dot features while studying the dimensions of the Grand Canyon rim in Google Earth.

(8) VOX DAY COLLECTIBLES. Vox Day devoted a post to Camestros Felapton’s “Hugo”/Lego “Sad Larry” trading card.

While they, apparently, are occupied with making Lego figures of us. It seems that is what they do when they are not obsessing over what they think we are thinking. Even in light of how poorly they anticipated me last time, it’s mildly amusing to see that they still don’t understand my perspective at all.

The Dread Ilk commenters, however, were more concerned that Vox get a “Hugo” trading card of his own, so Felapton reassured them in “Vox links to the Larry pic”

Vox appeared in an earlier post and has a new figure in a couple of days – with a flaming sword no less!

So it looks like we won’t get to riff off Lucy’s “Was Beethoven ever on a bubblegum card?” after all.

(9) GRABTHAR’S HAMMER OF LOVING CORRECTION. Steve Davidson’s self-imposed moratorium on writing about Sad Puppies at Amazing Stories has ended in the only way it could. Here are a few salient paragraphs.

In moving forward, I believe it is important that the message sent last year be reinforced this year. We’ve already seen at least one author declaring that begging for votes is no longer a problem.  If we do not want that mindset to take hold, we will continue to repudiate slate voting this year.

Fans who discover a loophole in the voting rules don’t seek personal advantage – they bring it to the attention of other fans and make proposals at the business meeting and generally use their new found knowledge for the benefit of the whole.  (Or, if unhappy with the process, they go off and do their own thing, which is then rewarded or ignored based on the merit of the accomplishment, not a tally of internet one upsmanship points.)  Hugo voting actions this year should send that message.  Therefore –

I will be nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards this year in the same way I voted last year:  I’ll read and watch and listen to everything I can on the final ballot, will vote my conscience and will make sure that any work that appears on a slate (a voting list with a political agenda behind it) will be below No Award and off the ballot.

(10) RATINGS TIME. Gregory N. Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank says:

We analyzed all the RSR data to come up with a list for Best Editor (short form) Hugo nominations.

We construct several different lists, using different assumptions, and urge fans to use our data to make their own lists, so I don’t think this amounts to a slate.

This should be fun reading for anyone who’s really into short fiction, since I don’t believe anyone has ever done this kind of analysis before.

If anyone feels to the contrary — there are any slate-like tendencies in play here — please share your analysis.

(11) WE ALL DREAM IN GOLD. Since we always try to cover Guillermo del Toro’s doings on File 770 whenever we can, John King Tarpinian was disgustipated (I think that’s the technical term) that I overlooked this golden opportunity in my post about the 2016 Oscar nominations.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Ang Lee will announce the 88th Academy Awards® nominations in all 24 Oscar® categories at a special two-part live news conference on Thursday…

(12) SHRUNKEN HEADS. Cass R. Sunstein at Bloomberg News breaks down “How Facebook Makes Us Dumber”.

Why does misinformation spread so quickly on the social media? Why doesn’t it get corrected? When the truth is so easy to find, why do people accept falsehoods?

A new study focusing on Facebook users provides strong evidence that the explanation is confirmation bias: people’s tendency to seek out information that confirms their beliefs, and to ignore contrary information.

I thought so. Or is it just confirmation bias at work if I agree that Facebook lowers my IQ?

(13) FOREVER DIFFERENT. Tobias Carroll checked with “28 Authors on the Books That Changed Their Lives”. The New York Magazine article has contributions from SF authors Elizabeth Hand, Ken Liu, Cathrynne M. Valente, Kelly Link, Jeff VanderMeer, and Jo Walton, among others.

Maria Dahvana Headley, author of Magonia and The Year of Yes “This question is both easy and difficult! I grew up a very rural and very gluttonous reader, in Idaho, about ten miles outside a town of 500 people. Essentially, I spent my reading childhood playing with other people’s imaginary friends, and I’ve grown into the kind of writer who does the same thing. So, in that regard, everything I’ve ever read has been life-changing. The first massive Rock My World book, though, was Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which I read when I was 17. Not only was I clueless about race in America at that point, coming from where I came from, I was also clueless about living female genius writers. I didn’t know there were any. Up to that point, I’d read almost entirely white men. KA-BAM. I got blasted out of the universe of dead white boys, and into something much more magnificent. Morrison’s way of flawlessly entwining her haunting with her history left me dazzled, sobbing, and bewildered. Morrison is obviously a genre-leaping master of style, and reading her not only made me aware of what was possible as a writer, it led me to all of the poets, songwriters, playwrights, and librettists who continue to influence my work today.”

(14) BOWIE AND SF. Jason Heller’s Pitchfork article “Anthems for the Moon: David Bowie’s Sci-Fi Explorations” is one more list of SF parallels and influences on Bowie’s work. Moorcock, Heinlein, Bradbury, Dick, Burgess, and others are mentioned.

In its celebration of androgyny, glam also lined up with Ursula K. Le Guin’s visionary 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which takes place on an alien planet where transitions between genders are as routine as any other biological process—a concept that certainly resonates with Bowie’s aesthetic. “Androgynous sexuality and extraterrestrial origin seemed to have provided two different points of identification for Bowie fans,” notes Philip Auslander in Performing Glam Rock: Gender and Theatricality in Popular Music. “Whereas some were taken with his womanliness, others were struck by his spaciness.”

(15) MARS MUSIC I. Matthew Johnson adds another number to that award-winning musical, The Martian.

(With apologies to David Bowie)

Hello, I feel I have to remind
You that you kind of left me behind
Is there life on Mars?

 

Four years alone could be a slog
I guess I ought to keep a log
Is there life on Mars?

 

On Mars a man dies by his wits
He even has to science his shit
Is there life on Mars?

 

The greatest scientist on the planet
I can plant it and grow it and can it
Is there life on Mars?

 

Disco hell is kind of groovy
Matt Damon plays me in the movie
Is there life on Mars?

 

Four years is a long time to be alone
There might be a new Game of Thrones when I’m done
Is there life on Mars?

(16) MARS MUSIC II. And Seth Gordon likewise swings and sways to a melody in his head

As I walk through the valley with the sand so red
I take a look at my suit and realize that I’m not dead
’Cause I’ve been science-ing this shit for so long that
Even Houston thinks that my ass is gone…

[Thanks to Bret Grandrath, Rob Thornton, John King Tarpinian, Will R., and Nick Mamatas for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

NYRSF Readings Welcome Winter with Taylor and Headley

Parental advisory:  This report is brought to you by the letter “F.”

By Mark L. Blackman: On the frigid winter evening of Tuesday, January 5, 2016 (an exceptionally mild December had spoiled us), the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series kicked off the second half of its 25th anniversary season with Maria Dahvana Headley and Terence Taylor sharing their short fiction at the Series’ current venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café (in the wonderful Borough of Brooklyn).

In with the new, in with the old, as Jim Freund, producer/executive curator of the Series and host of the long-running live radio program on WBAI-FM, Hour of the Wolf (broadcast and streamed every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am) welcomed the audience, cautioning us that we were on camera and livestreaming (visit Livestream.com), so to be mindful of what we say and next to whom we’re sitting.  He thanked contributors (the event is free, with a suggested donation of $7), and reported that, alas, the Kickstarter campaign to fund the readings is at present a non-starter, but he still hopes to get one underway.  (Hmm, maybe he could blackmail the attendees over our shady associations.)  Next month’s readers, on 2 February, he announced, will be very familiar faces, Richard Bowes and Barbara Krasnoff.  Karen Heuler will be one of the readers on 1 March, and 5 April’s event will be the launch of Clockwork Phoenix 5, with Mike Allen guest-hosting.  Special events are also planned for May and June, respectively, a play by Andrea Hairston, with musical accompaniment, and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Space and Time magazine, with Gordon Linzner, et al. Finally, he invited the audience to grab dinner during the intermission or after the readings at the Café, which has added hot items to its menu. (He suggested ordering early so that it would be ready.)

TT-Head 2With the evening’s first reader, Terence Taylor, unable to act in his usual role as the Series’ technical director, he and Freund swapped places, and Jim did the camera cuts.  (Video killed the radio star?)  Taylor is an award-winning children’s television writer who, “after a career of comforting young kids, [is] now equally dedicated to scaring their parents.”  He is the author of, among a number of horror stories (“literary carnage”), the Vampire Testament Trilogy, the second volume of which, Blood Pressure, he read from at a past NYRSF Reading.  The conclusion of his trilogy, Past Life, is “in process” and “not ready” for public reading (as he discovered when he tried at Readercon).  (For more on the books, see his website http://doyoubelieveinvampires.com/.)

Terence read two short pieces.  The first, “Sex Degrees of Separation,” was a modern take on Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” and appeared in the HIV-themed anthology With the Body.  (Appropriately, he was wearing Edgar Allan Poe socks, a Christmas gift, which he “limberly” displayed after his reading.)  A fictionalization of an evening out clubbing at a black gay club, the story is rooted in the disease’s trail (“Ever fuck a porn star?”) and impact (the main character is HIV-positive) on the community.

His second piece, “Star Fuckers, Inc.,” was a major (and welcome) change in mood.  Inspired by William Burroughs (of whom Taylor is a huge fan, as he discussed with an audience member during the intermission), the darkly comic work, well-received by the audience, was about time-abducted celebrity sex slaves, drugged and mind-wiped before being returned; here the stars are the later-tragic James Dean and Marilyn Monroe (still Norma Jean Baker).  (Terence was then mind-wiped and returned to the control booth.  Serves him right.)

A short break followed, during which a raffle was held for contributors.  The prizes were a copy of Taylor’s manuscript of “Star Fuckers, Inc.” (“signed with his special autograph pen”) and the audiobook (edited by Freund) of the John Joseph Adams-edited anthology Wastelands 2.

Maria Dahvana Headley

Maria Dahvana Headley

Maria Dahvana Headley is a New York Times-Bestselling author and editor, whose Nebula and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated short fiction has been anthologized in many years’ bests, and who, with Neil Gaiman, is the #1 New York Times-bestselling editor of the anthology Unnatural Creatures.  Her most recent works include the young adult fantasy novel Magonia, the dark fantasy/alternate history novel Queen of Kings, and the internationally bestselling memoir The Year of Yes.  Her offering of the night was from her novelette The Virgin Played Bass, about a troupe of roving musicians passing through war’s horrors and destruction, a reimagining of the fairy tale “The Town Musicians of Bremen”, and its Scottish version “The White Pet,” with a mix of “Puss in Boots” and the Gospels.  In the midst of Eastern European war (“after the War and before the War”), Bruno, a young accordionist hooks up with a talking (multilingual yet, though fond of a certain word beginning with “F”) and singing cat (yes, he caterwauls), the White Pet, and the duo and a growing band (three Marys for their miracle plays) wander through Russia, Moldova, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and Hungary toward Brementown (“Bremen’s where we’re always going, until there’s no Bremen to go to.”) and quest for fish soup.  (The nine lives trick comes in very handy for them.)  The story is running in the current issue of Uncanny, (#8) released earlier that day.

As traditional, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, along with refreshments (cheese, crackers and cookies).  Additionally, books by Taylor were for sale and autograph.  The cold-braving crowd of about 30 included Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Amy Goldschlager (filling in as ticket-taker for Barbara Krasnoff, who was out at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas), Karen Heuler, John Kwok, James and Susan Ryan, and Max Schmid.  Afterward, people milled around, socialized and grabbed a bite.