Pixel Scroll 2/15/21 A Hit!
A Palpatine Hit!

(1) INVESTIGATION OF BAEN’S BAR. [Item by rcade.] Jason Sanford has published an investigative report on the disturbing number of right-wing users calling for political violence on Baen’s Bar, the private message board of the SF/F publisher Baen Books. “Baen Books Forum Being Used to Advocate for Political Violence”, a public post on Patreon.  

Some of the users advocating violence are even site moderators.

A moderator with the username Theoryman wrote, “As I’ve already pointed out, rendering ANY large city is uninhabitable is quite easy… And the Left lives in cities. The question is just how many of its inhabitants will survive…” Theoryman later in the thread suggested shooting transformers in cities with high-power rifles to make the cities “uninhabitable until restored,” adding in another post that “The point is to kill enough of them that they can not arise for another 50 years… or more.” …

[T]his user is a moderator for Baen’s Bar, meaning the publishing company selected this user to monitor and manage discussions on their forum.

While stating that he does not believe Baen Books endorses the calls for violence hosted on its forum, Sanford has questions he’d like Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf to be asked when she is the guest of honor at Worldcon this year.

During this year’s interview I’d really like Weisskopf to be asked about her company’s private forum being used to advocate for political violence. Does she find this acceptable? Does she condone these types of statements? Why did Baen Books previously ban some topics from their forum but doesn’t currently ban advocacy of political violence?

(2) RESPONSES TO SANFORD’S ARTICLE. There’s been an outpouring of response. Here is just a small sampling.

Marie Brennan:

Christopher Hensley on Facebook:

Well, I guess it’s time to burn this bridge. This is the last of a long chain of harmful behavior by Baen Books, and their Editor Toni Weisskopf. Set aside the political affiliations of the authors being mentioned. Baen’s stable is built around authors with a documented history of harassment. They are what’s known as missing stairs…

Even Publishers Weekly tweeted the link.

Jon Del Arroz tried to add a comment to the discussion on Sanford’s Patreon page – it’s gone now. “Helicopter rides” is a common right-wing reference to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s use of “death flights” to murder opponents.

Jason Sanford tweeted this update:

(3) REDISCOVERING SF BOOK CLUB ART. The second part of Doug Ellis’ series looking at the art of “Things to Come” (the newsletter of The Science Fiction Book Club) has now gone live over at Black Gate. This time he covers 1958-1960, which includes seldom seen work by Virgil Finlay: “The Art of Things to Come, Part 2: 1958-1960”.

The bulletin of the SFBC, Things to Come, which announced the featured selections available and alternates, sometimes just reproduced the dust jacket art for the books in question. However, in many cases the art was created solely for the bulletin, and was not used in the book or anywhere else. Nearly all of the art for the first 20 years of Things to Come is exclusive to that bulletin, and as a result hasn’t been seen by many SF fans. In this series, I’ll reproduce some of that art, chosen by virtue of the art, the story that it illustrates or the author of the story. The first installment featured art from 1957 and earlier, while this installment covers 1958-1960, presented chronologically.

(4) HISTORY-MAKING ASTRONOMY. The latest episode of the Center for Science and the Imagination’s podcast The Imagination Desk features an interview with Katie Bouman, a professor at Caltech who was part of the Event Horizon Telescope team that took the first image of a black hole: The Imagination Desk: Katie Bouman.

Katie Bouman is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences, electrical engineering, and astronomy at Caltech in Pasadena, California. In this episode, we talk about scientific collaboration, imagination, and Katie’s work on the Event Horizon Telescope, which produced the first image of a black hole by combining insights and methods from signal processing, computer vision, machine learning, and physics. 

The podcast is on the CSI website (which links out to the other services), Apple PodcastsSpotifyRadioPublic, and Libsyn.

(5) THE MOST IN UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR. The gourmands at ScreenRant serve fans the “10 Silliest 50s Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked”.

There is no shortage of silly science fiction films produced during the 1950s. With the fear and paranoia over the atomic bomb and its potentially monstrous mutations, the subgenre took the opportunity to explore some of the most outlandish stories, plots, and premises in cinematic history during this era….

It’s impressive to consider that this one is in effect last on their list. Imagine what must follow? (Plan 9 is number one.)

10. King Dinosaur

… Here’s the kicker. The giant monsters are led by King Dinosaur, which is really just an iguana forced to stand on its hind legs to appear like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The foursome uses atomic power to destroy the iguana in the end.

(6) ROVER COME OVER. The Perseverance rover is set to land on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. JPL explains the challenges: “7 Minutes to Mars: NASA’s Perseverance Rover Attempts Most Dangerous Landing Yet”.

All landings on Mars are difficult, but NASA’s Perseverance rover is attempting to touch down in the most challenging terrain on Mars ever targeted. The intense entry, descent, and landing phase, known as EDL, begins when the spacecraft reaches the top of the Martian atmosphere. Engineers have referred to the time it takes to land on Mars as the “seven minutes of terror.” The landing sequence is complex and targeting a location like Jezero Crater on Mars is only possible because of new landing technologies known as Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago at L.A. Con III, The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson wins the Hugo for Best Novel. Other Nominees fur this Award were The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter, Brightness Reef by David Brin, The Terminal Experiment  by Robert J. Sawyer and Remake by Connie Willis. It would also win the Locus Award for Best SF Novel, and be nominated for the HOMer, Nebula, Prometheus, Campbell Memorial and Clarke Awards.

(8) ALEXANDER OBIT. Wanda June Alexander, a freelance editor for Tor for 22 years (1984-2006), and a high school English teacher in New Mexico, died of cancer on February 14. One of the projects she worked on while with Tor was George R.R. Martin’s The Ice Dragon, a fully-illustrated children’s book.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born February 14, 1883 Sax Rohmer. Though doubtless best remembered for his series of novels featuring the arch-fiend Fu Manchu. I’ll also single out The Romance of Sorcery because he based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini who he was friends with. The Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” whose lead villain looked a lot like most depictions of Fu Manchu did. (Died 1959.) (CE) 
  • Born February 15, 1915 – L. Robert Tschirky.  Half a dozen covers, two interiors for us.  Art director for Encyclopedia Americana; travel articles (particularly Spain) in e.g. the NY Times.  Here is The Mislaid Charm.  Here is Without Sorcery.  Here is The Incomplete Enchanter.  Here is Lest Darkness Fall.  Here is a piece of bibliographic history.  (Died 2003) [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1915 – Ian Ballantine.  Pioneering publisher.  First President of Bantam.  Ballantine Books an early publisher of SF paperback originals; first publisher of authorized U.S. edition of Tolkien; a hundred Richard Powers covers.  World Fantasy Award, SF Hall of Fame (both with wife Betty Ballantine).  (Died 1995) [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1935 – Paul Wenzel, age 86.  A score of covers.  Here is the Nov 58 Galaxy.  Here is the Sep 62 If.  Here is the Dec 63 Fantastic.  Here is the Aug 66 Worlds of Tomorrow.  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1945 Jack Dann, 76. Dreaming Down-Under which he co-edited with Janeen Webb is an amazing anthology of Australian genre fiction. It won a Ditmar Award and was the first Australian fiction book ever to win the World Fantasy Award. If you’ve not read it, go do so. As for his novels, I’m fond of High Steel written with Jack C. Haldeman II, and The Man Who Melted. He’s not that well-stocked digitally speaking though Dreaming Down-Under is available at the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1948 Art Spiegelman, 73. Author and illustrator of Maus which if you’ve not read, you really should. He also wrote MetaMaus which goes into great detail how he created that work. And yes I know he had a long and interesting career in underground comics but I’ll be damn if I can find any that are either genre or genre adjacent. (CE)
  • Born February 15, 1951 – Lisanne Norman, age 70.  Nine novels, a dozen shorter stories.  Some activity with U.K. fandom.  Interviewed in Interzone.  “I trained as a teacher so I’m interested in everything….  used to read a minimum of 8 books a week….  it’s so easy now to be influenced while I’m writing that I don’t read nearly as much as before.  [Yet] it’s mostly SF I read.”  [JH]
  • Born February 14, 1958 Cat Eldridge, 63. Cat Eldridge is the publisher of Green Man Review and Sleeping Hedgehog. Cat, who’s had some severe health problems, likes to remind people, “Technically I died in 2017 and was revived in the same year. Repeatedly.” (CE)
  • Born February 14, 1971 Renee O’Connor, 50. Gabrielle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. I’m reasonably sure that I watched every damn episode of both series when they aired originally. Quite fun stuff. Her first genre role was first as a waitress in Tales from the Crypt andshe’s had some genre film work such as Monster Ark and Alien Apocalypse. She’s also played Lady Macbeth in the Shakespeare by the Sea’s production of Macbeth. (CE)
  • Born February 15, 1959 – Elizabeth Knox, age 62.  Ten novels, two shorter stories for us; eight other novels; essays.  Co-founded the New Zealand literary journal Sport.  Prime Minister’s Award.  Companion of the NZ Order of Merit.  Interviewed in SFRA (SF Research Ass’n) Review.  Here she is on The Master and Margarita.  [JH]
  • Born February 15, 1975 – Erick Setiawan, age 46.  So far one novel, Of Bees and Mist (2009), about which there have been many yeas and nays – although I see little among us.  In April 2013 he said “I am feverishly finishing another book – my plan is to get it done by end of year.”  No blame, it’s hard work.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) I HEART PLUTO. [Item by Steven H Silver.] Lowell Observatory is running the on-line I Heart Pluto this week.  It started yesterday and runs through Thursday, which is the 91st anniversary of the discovery of Pluto.  A full schedule can be found here including links to the talks already given.

Ron Miller will be speaking on Imagining Pluto on Wednesday and I’ll note that on his bio page, he is sitting with his Hugo Award.

(12) BOUND FOR THE ISS. “Russian cargo ship launched to International Space Station”ABC News carried the update.

An unmanned Russian cargo ship launched successfully Monday with a load of supplies for the International Space Station.

The Progress MS-16 cargo ship blasted off as scheduled at 9:45 a.m. (0445 GMT) from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan and reached a designated orbit en route to the station.

It is carrying water, propellant and other supplies and is set to dock at the space outpost on Wednesday….

(13) WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? “Scientists accidentally found life under 3,000 feet of ice in Antarctica. ‘Never in a million years’ would they have expected it, the lead scientist said.”Yahoo! has the story.

… The video reveals two types of unidentified animals, shown here in a video from the British Antarctic Survey. The animals in red seem to have long stalks, whereas another type of animal, highlighted in white, looks more like a round sponge-like animal.,,,

The scientists say these animals are about 160 miles from the open sea.

“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers, such as how did they get there?” Griffith said in a press release. “What are they eating? How long have they been there?”

The scientists said their next step was to understand whether the animals were from a previously unknown species.

“To answer our questions we will have to find a way of getting up close with these animals and their environment,” Griffiths said.

(14) THE BRITCHES OF TOKO-RI. Jon Del Arroz continues to make his brand known everywhere.

(15) I’VE HEARD THAT VOICE BEFORE. There’s an app called PRAY where James Earl Jones reads The Bible. I’m wondering — if you don’t log in often enough, does he say “I find your lack of faith disturbing”?

(16) KAIJU-SIZED CREDENTIAL. Yahoo! is quite right – the “Godzilla Vs. Kong Trailer Is Even Better with a Cat”.

… A YouTuber that goes by JKK Films put his cat, Wayne, into the trailer, and it’s incredible. There’s something so special about a giant super-imposed kitty yawning in the background while the big monster boys fight….

(17) UP, UP, AND AWAY. Film Theory answers a serious scientific question: “Pixar’s Up, How Many Balloons Does It Take To Lift A House?”

Have you ever wondered if the house in Up could really float away on balloons? So have I but that is not the most INTERESTING question! You see, people have tried to figure that out before. What I aim to do today, Loyal Theorists, is figure out the actual COST of making a balloon powered flying house WORK! That’s right, we are not stopping until this house would really fly!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Prometheus Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George says the characters in this Alien prequel are “the worst scientists you can imagine” because they take their helmets off in an alien cave because there’s breathable oxygen and try to escape a giant rolling spacecraft by trying to outrun it instead of leaping to one side.

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, James Davis Nicoll, John Hertz, JJ, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason Sanford, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Kit Harding, Cat Eldridge, Danny Sichel, rcade, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

2020 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / olegd

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2020 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 50 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • 38 of the novellas published in 2018,
  • 57 of the 2019 novellas,
  • and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and I do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.

Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)
Continue reading

Pixel Scroll 7/31/20 And I Won’t Forget To Scroll Pixels On Your Grave

(1) GALACTIC WALKTHROUGH. Journalists get a virtual tour as “Virgin Galactic Unveils Comfy Cabin for Jet-Setting to the Edge of Space” reports the New York Times.

The inside of Virgin Galactic’s space plane is like a space-age executive jet.

The seats recline to absorb the forces of acceleration toward space. Mood lighting shifts during each phase of the flight. Twelve windows — two for each of the six passengers, who have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars each for a seat — provide an impressive view of Earth and the darkness of space. Sixteen cameras will capture you floating. And the back of the cabin includes a big circular mirror so that you can watch yourself enjoying a few minutes escaping the effects of gravity.

Virgin Galactic will be offering short up-and-down trips to the edge of space, essentially like giant roller coaster rides with better views, in its space plane, SpaceShipTwo.

But how can the company unveil the fancy new interior of its space plane in the middle of a global pandemic when journalists are not able to gather for a fancy media event?

Modern technology provided an imaginative solution. Virgin Galactic sent Oculus virtual reality headsets as loaners to journalists so that they could chat with the designers of the cabin while walking through a computer-generated version of it — an experience of almost being there while being nowhere near there….

(2) REASONS FOR SITE SELECTION WRITE-INS. Yeah. No.

(3) DRAGON AWARDS. Almost there – Dragon Awards.

Dragon Awards dates

Ballots for the awards will be released in the first week of August.

Voting registration closes on 9/4/20.

Voting closes on 9/5/20.

(3) JUST LIBRARIANS. “Internet Archive Answers Publishers’ Copyright Lawsuit”Publishers Weekly distills the defendant’s legal reply to the lawsuit.

In a July 28 filing, the Internet Archive answered a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by four major publishers, asserting that its long-running book scanning and lending program is designed to fulfill the role of a traditional library in the digital age, and is protected by fair use.

“The Internet Archive does what libraries have always done: buy, collect, preserve, and share our common culture,” reads the IA’s preliminary statement to its answer, contending that its collection of roughly 1.3 million scans of mostly 20th century books, many of which are out of print, is a good faith and legal effort to “mirror traditional library lending online” via a process called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL).

“Contrary to the publishers’ accusations, the Internet Archive, and the hundreds of libraries and archives that support it, are not pirates or thieves,” the filing states. “They are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world. Copyright law does not stand in the way of libraries’ right to lend, and patrons’ right to borrow, the books that libraries own.”

The IA’s answer comes in response to a June 1 copyright infringement lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York by Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House, and coordinated by the Association of American Publishers….

(4) KGB READINGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Elizabeth Hand and Michael Libling in a YouTube livestreamed event on Wednesday, August 19 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand is the author of sixteen multiple-award-winning novels and collections of short fiction including Curious ToysWylding Hall, and Generation LossThe Book of Lamps and Banners, her fourth noir novel featuring punk provocateur and photographer Cass Neary, will be out this year. She divides her time between the Maine coast and North London.

Michael Libling

Michael Libling is a World Fantasy Award-nominated author whose short fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, Amazing Stories, and many others. His debut novel, Hollywood North: A Novel in Six Reels, was published in 2019. Michael is the father of three daughters and lives on Montreal’s West Island with his wife, Pat, and a big black dog named Piper.

 (5) CEASELESS GIVEAWAY. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is running a giveaway of Marie Brennan’s upcoming book Driftwood. The rules and other details can be found here: “First Marie Brennan Driftwood Book Giveaway”

To enter the giveaway that’s in this very post, comment on this post (here) and tell us what your favorite Marie Brennan short story is. Whether a Driftwood story or one of her many other stories; whether published in BCS or elsewhere.

Your comment will enter you in a random drawing for the signed copy of Driftwood. This giveaway ends Wed. Aug. 12. (Full Rules are here, at the end of this post.)

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 31, 1930 — The Shadow first made his appearance as the narrator of the Detective Story Hour radio program which was intended  to boost sales of Street & Smith’s monthly Detective Story Magazine. Harry Engman Charlot, a scriptwriter for the Detective Story Hour was responsible for the name. The Shadow would be developed into the character that we know a year later by Walter B. Gibson. (CE)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 31, 1807 – Clara de Chatelain.  In her Child’s Own Book of Fairy Tales, two more, retold fifty classics and wrote a hundred forty.  The Sedan Chair and Sir Wilfred’s Seven Flights comprises two for adults.  Translated four hundred songs for music publishers e.g. Schott; tr. Cammarano’s Italian lyrics for Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (whose protagonist is Scots).  Wrote widely under “Leopold Wray” and other names.  Friend of Victor Hugo.  (Died 1876) [JH]
  • Born July 31, 1879 – Kenneth Morris. Ranked by Le Guin with Eddison, MacDonald, Tolkien as master 20th Century fantasy prose stylist.  Three novels (this one published posthumously), forty shorter stories, sometimes under the Welsh form of his name Cenydd Morus.  (Died 1937) [JH]
  • Born July 31, 1924 – Waldemar Kumming.  Leading German fan for decades.  Joined SFCD (Science Fiction Club Deutschland; note combined English-German name) 1956, chair 1962-1968.  Fan Guest of Honour at Seacon ’84  – combining Eastercon 35 (U.K. nat’l con) + Eurocon 8.  Published Munich_Round_Up with Walter Reinicke until WR died 1981, then alone until 2014; I was glad to contribute.  Kurd_Laßwitz_Special Award for MRU and life achievement.  Big Heart (our highest service award).  Wolf von Witting’s appreciation here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born July 31, 1928 – Allen Lang, 92.  One novel (Wild and Outside, US baseball shortstop sent to civilize the planet Melon), a score of shorter stories translated into Dutch, French, German, Italian, most recently (“Fuel Me Once”) in the Jul-Aug 20 Analog.  [JH]
  • Born July 31, 1929 – Lynne Reid Banks, 91.  A dozen novels for us, forty other books including The L-Shaped Room.  Children’s fantasy The Indian in the Cupboard, ten million copies sold; four sequels.  Eight years teaching on a kibbutz (“not a Jew, but Jew-ish”).  Barrie Award. “Writing for a living is a great life, if you don’t weaken.”  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born July 31, 1932 Ted Cassidy. He’s best known for the role of Lurch on The Addams Family in the mid-1960s. if you’ve got a good ear, you’ll recall that he narrated The Incredible Hulk series. And he played the part of the android Ruk in the episode “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” on Trek, and provided the voices of the more strident version of Balok in the episode “The Corbomite Maneuver” and the Gorn in the episode “Arena”. In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode “The Napoleon’s Tomb Affair”, he was Edgar, who kidnapped, tortured, and repeatedly attempted to kill Napoleon and Illya. (Died 1979.) (CE) 
  • Born July 31, 1935 –Dave Van Arnam.  Seven novels (some with Ted White), translated into Dutch, Japanese, Spanish. Two anthologies (with Kris Neville, William Tenn).  “How I Learned to Love Fandom” in NyCon 3 Program & Memory Book (25th Worldcon; DVA was co-chair).  Co-founded, or something, APA-F.  (Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born July 31, 1951 Jo Bannister, 69. Though best-known as a most excellent British crime fiction novelist, she has three SF novels to her credit, all written in the early Eighties — The MatrixThe Winter Plain and A Cactus Garden. ISFDB lists one short story by her as genre, “Howler”, but I wasn’t at all aware that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine printed genre fiction which is where it appeared first. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1956 Michael Biehn, 64. Best-known in genre circles as Sgt. Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks in Aliens and Lt. Coffey in The Abyss. He was also The Sandman in a single episode of Logan’s Run. Though not even genre adjacent, he was Johnny Ringo in the magnitude Tombstone film. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1959 Kim Newman, 61. Though best-known For his Anno Dracula series, I’d like to single him out for his early work, Nightmare Movies: A critical history of the horror film, 1968–88,  a very serious history of horror films. It was followed up with the equally great Wild West Movies: Or How the West Was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten. He’s also a prolific genre writer and his first published novel, The Night Mayor, sounds very intriguing. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1962 Wesley Snipes, 58. The first actor to be Blade in the Blade film franchise where I thought he made the perfect Blade. (There’s a new Blade actor though their name escapes right now.) I also like him as Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1976 John Joseph Adams, 44. Anthologist of whom I’m very fond of The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West which he did. He was the Assistant Editor at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for nearly a decade, and he’s been editing both Lightspeed and Nightmare Magazine since the early part of this decade. (CE)
  • Born July 31, 1979 – B.J. Novak, 41.  Author, actor, writer-director.  Fifteen short stories ours in The New YorkerZoetrope, and collection One More Thing (it has 64 total; six weeks a NY Times Hardcover Fiction Best-Seller).  For children The Book With No Pictures (also a best-seller; “a lot of the other one-star reviews are from people who object to speaking of a hippo named Boo Boo Butt”).  [JH]

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe needs help finding a dystopian book.

(9) COMING TO A MT. TBR NEAR YOU. Andrew Liptak has released his book list for August. (Formerly published by Polygon.)

(10) NEW HONOR FOR HOPPER. In line with the Rosalind Franklin Mars rover, Google announces “The Grace Hopper subsea cable, linking the U.S., U.K. and Spain”. Press release.

Today, 98% of international internet traffic is ferried around the world by subsea cables. A vast underwater network of cables crisscrossing the ocean makes it possible to share, search, send, and receive information around the world at the speed of light. In today’s day and age, as the ways that we work, play and connect are becoming increasingly digital, reliable connectivity is more important than ever before. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new subsea cable—Grace Hopper—which will run between the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain, providing better resilience for the network that underpins Google’s consumer and enterprise products.

Grace Hopper joins our other private subsea cables, Curie, Dunant and Equiano to connect far-flung continents along the ocean floor. Private subsea cables allow us to plan effectively for the future capacity needs of our customers and users around the world, and add a layer of security beyond what’s available over the public internet.

Once commissioned, the Grace Hopper cable will be one of the first new cables to connect the U.S. and U.K. since 2003, increasing capacity on this busy global crossroads and powering Google services like Meet, Gmail and Google Cloud. It also marks our first investment in a private subsea cable route to the U.K., and our first-ever route to Spain. The Spanish landing point will more tightly integrate the upcoming Google Cloud region in Madrid into our global infrastructure. The Grace Hopper cable will be equipped with 16 fiber pairs (32 fibers), a significant upgrade to the internet infrastructure connecting the U.S. with Europe. A contract to build the cable was signed earlier this year with Eatontown, N.J.-based subsea cable provider, SubCom, and the project is expected to be completed in 2022.

(11) MOVIE AMBIENCE. [Item by algorithm connoisseur Martin Morse Wooster.] The YouTube algorithm introduced me to a website called Ambient Worlds, whose creator has come up with Harry Potter Movie Ambience: “Hogsmeade Relaxing Music, Crowd Noise And Snow”, which is an hour of music from the Harry Potter movies mixed into background music for whatever you happen to be doing (in my case, writing, because I write with music or baseball in the background).  I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Ambient Worlds has a Lord of the Rings background music video that’s three hours!

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Nothing to do with sff, I just want to share my appreciation of this editing job!

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

Pixel Scroll 5/9/20 A Pixel Scroll Title That Turns Out To Have Been Used Before

(1) NOT DEAD YET. Since the cancellation of San Diego Comic-Con 2020 was announced in mid-April the people behind it have been thinking about an online counterpart. This humorous video dropped on May 8.

What it all means has yet to be revealed. However, in April SDCC started posting coloring books and videos with the theme of Comic-Con Museum@Home.

While Comic-Con 2020 has been cancelled (we’ll return in 2021!) and the Comic-Con Museum is currently closed along with the rest of the museums in Balboa Park, we want to welcome you to our newest endeavor: Comic-Con Museum@Home!

We have great plans for this new section of our website. This will be your main source for some amazing Comic-Con Museum content, such as exclusive videos—including past events (Sense of Wonder with Jen Bartel, The Art of Shag, Will Eisner Week), and new video content created exclusively for the Museum@Home program. Plus, we’re proud to introduce our exclusive “Fun Book” series, a regularly scheduled downloadable PDF featuring activity and coloring sheets created by the Comic-Con Museum for various age groups.

For one example – “Comic-Con Museum Celebrates Will Eisner: Life Forces: The Art of the Comics Memoir.“

(2) GNAW, YOU’RE KIDDING ME. The New York Times’ Cathy Weaver says it’s “Time to Check Your Pandemic-Abandoned Car for Rats”.  

You might want to make sure there’s not a rat living (or recently dead) in your car’s engine.

Why are you still reading? Check your car for a rat, I said. That’s the tip. Rats like it in there, and while they could take up residence in a car engine at any time, anecdotal reports (and mankind’s modern if imperfect knowledge of rat behavior) suggest the phenomenon may be occurring more frequently right now.

Three line breaks into this story, it is becoming increasingly clear that the depth of your interest in rats plunges far deeper than basic car maintenance tips. You are a person who seeks to understand rats in a way that rats may not even understand themselves. You want to read the invisible instruction encoded in a rat’s brain that compels him to abandon the deli dumpster where he has spent the majority of his short life and, all of a sudden, carry a leaf and perhaps some twigs into the engine of your Jetta. OK. Here is more rat information…

(3) LEAPIN’ LEPUS. “Juliet Johnson and Peter Capaldi On The Story of Richard Adams’ Watership Down” on YouTube is a promotional video for Black Stone Publishing in which Richard Adams’s daughter, Juliet Johnson, and Peter Capaldi discuss a new, unabridged version of Watership Down which Capaldi recorded to commemorate Richard Adams’s centennial.

(4) SURVIVAL OF THE SFFEST. “Everything I Need To Know To Survive Covid-19 I Learned By Watching Scifi & Horror Movies” is a clever mashup by Evan Gorski and Michael Dougherty.

(5) SOFT RE-OPENING. South Pasadena’s Vidéothèque movie rental business told people on its mailing list they expected to be allowed to reopen for pick-up service today.

Pursuant to County Health Dept provisions (& crossing our fingers), we will re-open Saturday, May 9 from 11am-7pm with front door service & will keep these hours daily.

Please refer to our website vidtheque.com to search for titles 

They included a bunch of movie recommendation lists to stimulate the demand, including Time Out’s “The 100 best horror films – the scariest movies ranked by experts”. Number four on the list is

Alien

The miracle of birth
Talk about above and beyond: Ridley Scott was hired by Twentieth Century Fox to make ‘“Jaws” in space’, and came back with one of the most stylish, subversive, downright beautiful films in either the horror or sci-fi genre. The masterstroke, of course, was hiring Swiss madman HR Giger as the film’s chief designer – his work brings a slippery, organic grotesquerie to what could’ve been a straight-up bug hunt (© ‘Aliens’). But let’s not overlook Dan O’Bannon’s script, which builds character without assigning age, race or even gender – plus one of the finest casts ever assembled.

(6) VIDEO GAME CREATOR. The Strong Museum of Play has received a collection of prototypes and projects from the family of inventor Ralph Baer.

Ralph Baer, known as the father of home video games and the first person to patent the idea of playing a video game on a television, spent more than four decades creating, inventing, and changing the landscape of play. The Strong museum, home to the World Video Game Hall of Fame, is pleased to announce that it has received a donation of prototype toys and technologies from Baer’s family that showcase his work and his creative thinking. The items add to the museum’s existing collection of Baer materials, which includes his personal papers and one of his desktop inventing workstations.

…Baer is known for his work in the video game industry, but in addition to creating the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972, the first home console machine, Baer led a successful career in toy and handheld electronic game design, creating the matching game Simon and the plush bear TV Teddy, among many other products. This collection includes dozens of items in various stages of development, including a Big Bird Talking Bank, the Video Buddy interactive system, augmented GI Joe rescue set, Super Simon, along with various other pieces or concepts, including talking greeting cards, a twirling carnival ride, modified stuffed animals, and a toy phone. Together, along with the museum’s existing personal papers, they provide a window into Baer’s design process.

“My father escaped Nazi Germany as a child, and he spent much of his life after that thinking differently about the world and trying to introduce more fun and whimsy into it. He was a visionary and creative force who never stopped learning, inventing, and tinkering—even into his 90s,” says Mark W. Baer, his son and the Trustee of the Ralph H. Baer Trust. 

(7) CREATURE FEATURE. Marie Brennan considers “New Worlds: Working Animals” at Book View Café.

…In fact, dogs serve as kind of a template for things we use working animals to do. The tasks of draft (pulling things like wagons or plows), pack (carrying loads directly) and riding came up when we talked about transportation, so I won’t rehash the list of species used in different parts of the world — but I will note that certain animals we can’t domesticate, like zebra and moose, can occasionally be tamed to perform those tasks. This category is where the Industrial Revolution made the most immediate and obvious dent: once we could replace muscle power with steam power and its successors, we no longer needed to keep millions of horses and mules and donkeys and camels and so forth to work for us.

(8) WHAT’S STUFFED INSIDE. NPR’s Jason Sheehan rides the line: “These ‘Little Eyes’ Watch The World Burn”.

Samanta Schweblin is not a science fiction writer. Which is probably one of the reasons why Little Eyes, her new novel (translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell) reads like such great science fiction.

Like Katie Williams’s 2018 novel Tell The Machine Goodnight before it, Little Eyes supposes a world that is our world, five minutes from now. It is a place with all our recognizable horrors, all our familiar comforts and sweetnesses, as familiar (as if anything could be familiar these days) as yesterday’s shoes. It then introduces one small thing — one little change, one product, one tweaked application of a totally familiar technology — and tracks the ripples of chaos that it creates.

In Tell The Machine, it was a computer that could tell anyone how to be happy, and Williams turned that (rather disruptive, obviously impossible) technology into a quiet, slow-burn drama of family and human connection that was one of my favorite books of the past few years. Schweblin, though, is more sinister. She basically gives everyone in the world a Furby with a webcam, and then sits back, smiling, and watches humanity shake itself to pieces.

You remember what a Furby is, right? They were those creepy-cute, fuzzy animal toys that could blink and squawk and sing, dance around and respond to some basic commands. They were toys that pretended (mostly poorly) that they were alive.

Schweblin’s version is called a kentuki. It’s a simple, fur-covered crow or mole or bunny or dragon with cameras for eyes, wheels, a motor. And a person inside. Virtually, of course. Not, like, for real. Because that would be horrifying. And Little Eyes is absolutely horrifying, but not that kind of horrifying….

(9) REDECORATING THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE. ScreenRant tries to explain “Why The Fourth Doctor Had A Second (Original) TARDIS Console Room”.

…In the debut episode of Doctor Who‘s original season 14, The Doctor takes his then-companion, Sarah Jane Smith, to a different, unused console room, and then strongly suggests this place was actually the original hub of the TARDIS. This console room remained The Doctor‘s base for the remainder of the season and was a massive visual departure from what had come before, with wooden panel walls, stained glass windows, and a smaller, cabinet-like console. Unfortunately, the Victorian-style console room only lasted a single season before the white, pimply decor returned. Reports conflict as to whether the wood of the previous set was proving problematic to maintain, or whether incoming producer, Graham Williams, simply wasn’t a fan.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 9, 1973 Soylent Green premiered in theatres. It was the last performance by Edward G. Robinson who gets a great death scene here. It starred Charlton Heston and Leigh Taylor-Young. It was directed by Richard Flieschier and produced by Walter Seltzer and Russell Thacher. It was rather loosely based on Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison. Most of the critics at the time generally liked it, and at Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 71% rating among audience reviewers.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 9, 1860 J. M. Barrie. For us and for many others he’s the author of Peter Pan.  After that he had a long string of successes in the theater.  He knew George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells.  He joined the Authors Cricket Club and played for its team along with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A.A. Milne, and P.G. Wodehouse.  He was made a baronet in 1913. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 9, 1913 Richard McKenna. His short story “The Secret Place” was a Hugo finalist and won the Nebula.  “Casey Agonistes” (short story) and “Hunter, Come Home” (novelette) are in many anthologies; “Casey” has been translated into French, German, Italian; “Hunter” into French, German, Italian, Romanian; “Secret” into Dutch, German, Italian, Polish.  Cover artist for Volume 3 of the NESFA Press Essential Hal Clement (Variations on a Theme by Sir Isaac Newton).  Best known outside our field for The Sand Pebbles.  (Died 1963.)
  • Born May 9, 1920 Richard  Adams. I really loved Watership Down when I read it long ago so will not read it again so the Suck Fairy may not visit it. Are any of the various Watership animated affairs worth seeing? Reasonably sure I’ve read Shardik once but it made no impression one way or the the other.  Heard good things about Tales from Watership Down and should add it my TBR pile. (Died 2016)
  • Born May 9, 1920 William Tenn. Clute says in ESF that ‘From the first, Tenn was one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction, sharper and more mature than Fredric Brown and less self-indulgent in his Satirical take on the modern world than Robert Sheckley.’  That pretty sums him up I think.  All of his fiction is collected in two volumes from NESFA Press, Immodest Proposals: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume I and Here Comes Civilization: The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn: Volume II. (Died 2010.)
  • Born May 9, 1925 Kris Neville. His most well-remembered work, the “Bettyann” novella, is a classic of science fiction. It would become part of the Bettyann novel, a fix-up of it and “Overture“, a short story of his. He wrote a lot of rather great short fiction, much of which can be in the posthumous The Science Fiction of Kris Neville, edited byBarry N Malzberg (who greatly admired him) and Martin H Greenberg, and more (some overlapping with the first collection) Earth Alert! and Other Science Fiction Tales. He’s not alas wisely available in digital form. (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 9, 1926 Richard Cowper. Writer of some seriously comic genre fiction that Martin Amis loathed. The White Bird of Kinship series is what he’s best remembered for and I’d certainly recommend it as being worth reading.  It appears that all of here are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2002.)
  • Born May 9, 1936 Albert Finney. His first genre performance is as Ebenezer Scrooge in Scrooge. That’s followed by being Dewey Wilson in Wolfen, a deeply disturbing film. He plays Edward Bloom, Sr. In the wonderful Big Fish and voices Finis Everglot in Corpse Bride. He was Kincade in Skyfall. He was Maurice Allington in The Green Man based on Kingsley Amis’ novel of the same name. Oh, and he played Prince Hamlet in Hamlet at the  Royal National Theatre way back in the Seventies! (Died 2019.)

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Immortal words from The Far Side.
  • Bookshelves dominate Grant Snider’s new Incidental Comic.

(13) KEEPING COMIC SHOPS AFLOAT. Shelf Awareness reports money will start flowing from the rescue fund next week: “Binc Distributing $950K to Comic Book Stores”.

Next Tuesday, May 12, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) will distribute more than $950,000 raised by the Comicbook United Fund to comic store owners. The fund was created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic by Creators 4 Comics, Jim Lee, DC and Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group. Binc is distributing amounts ranging from $800 to $2,400 to 637 comic book shops across the U.S. and U.S. territories.

The Comicbook United Fund grew out of the Forge Fund, which Oni-Lion Forge established last year with a donation to Binc of $100,000. This year, DC added another $250,000 to the fund. In addition, after the pandemic hit, a coalition of artists, authors, comics creators and other supporters held more than 600 auctions on Twitter, and DC’s Jim Lee began auctioning 60 original sketches in 60 days on eBay, with 95% of sales going to Binc.

In addition to the more than $950,000 that Binc is distributing to comic stores next week, Binc has distributed another $174,786 to 156 comic retail employees and owners to help with rent, mortgage, utilities, food and other necessities during this pandemic

(14) TIME AND TIDE. Wil Wheaton’s latest read is “By request, an HP Lovecraft short story.” Hear him at Soundcloud.

…I love the Cthulhu mythos, but I’m not crazy about Lovecraft’s storytelling. I feel like he spends a lot of time in the high concept and the world building, without ever really going more than skin deep on his protagonists and narrative characters. NB: I haven’t read a ton of Lovecraft, probably six or so short stories, so maybe he has a novel or novella with rich characters and narratives, but I haven’t found it.

None of this is to suggest that he wasn’t brilliantly creative and imaginative, just that his stories aren’t the most satisfying use of my time.

However, hundreds of you have reached out in comments and emails, asking me to narrate something from the Cthulhu Mythos, so today’s RFB Presents is a short, weird, lurid story called Dagon.

(15) OUR DYING EARTH. Tammy reviews “GOLDILOCKS By Laura Lam” at Books, Bones, and Buffy.

Goldilocks has a fantastic premise and uses one of my favorite sci-fi tropes: leaving our dying Earth and striking out to colonize a new planet, in the hopes of saving humankind. And for the first half of the story, it lived up to this promise. But I ended up with mixed feelings, and I felt the first half was way stronger than the second half. Still, I had a lot of fun reading this book, and I’m going to recommend it to readers who love strong female characters and enjoy reading about current social issues. There are some scary events in Goldilocks that really hit close to home (can you say “pandemic”?) which added a lot of tension to the story, but I also felt that Lam made a few missteps with the characters’ choices in some cases.

(16) IN THE BEGINNING. “Supergirl: 10 Things You Never Noticed About The First Episode” at ScreenRant.

… Since so much has happened in the meantime, it’s easy to forget what Supergirl was like in its beginnings when Kara Danvers was still learning how to use her powers and was hoping to figure out how to be a hero. No matter how many times you’ve seen the show’s first episode, you might have never noticed the following 10 details.

Number 10 —

National City

Kara reveals shortly after the beginning of the first episode that she lives and works in National City. The name of the city is a nice easter egg for all fans of the publisher DC comics.

National City doesn’t have its origin in the comics, but by choosing this name for Supergirl’s home, the show’s creators paid homage to DC comics. Before DC was, well, DC, the company’s name was National Comics Publications, hence the ‘National’ in the name of Supergirl’s city.

(17) MASTERPIECE THEATRE. Gideon Marcus is there when That Was The Week That Was goes off the air, and other real news is happening, but no time to waste! This is the magazine with Robert Sheckley’s Mindswap! — “[MAY 8, 1965] SKIP TO THE END (JUNE 1965 GALAXY]” at Galactic Journey.

…And then, having given my report, I’d tie it pithily to the subject at hand, namely the June 1965 Galaxy science fiction digest.  But the fact is, there’s lots to cover and I’m anxious to get it all down while it’s still fresh in my mind.  So, you’ll just have to pretend that I was clever and comprehensive in my introduction…. 

(18) THE FAR FUTURE – 1947. At First Fandom Experience they’ll take you back even further in time where you can see “A Rarity: Tellus News”.

This issue of Tellus News, a “newspaper of the future,” was discovered among a collection of fanzines from the 1940s.  It was mis-categorized because of the cover date: “Sol 23, 1947”

But this hand-drawn fanzine was created in 1932 by Howard Lowe as a vision of what news might look like 15 years hence.  It’s not a copy — it’s an original set of drawings. Rendered in colored pencil, it was likely never reproduced, and as such is a one-of-a-kind artwork….

(19) STAR WARS FOR THE 1 PERCENTERS. Michael Verdon, in the Robb Report story “Why ‘Star Wars’ Characters Are Taking Over the World’s Most Expensive Superyachts” says the British superyacht firm Thirtyc has been putting out Star Wars-related yachts for Star Wars Day on May 4, and Verdon shows how the onepercenters are having cosplay fun with their expensive yachts.

…Seeing a storm trooper and Darth Vader on a million-dollar tender isn’t an everyday occurrence. Neither is catching a glimpse of Princess Leia or Chewbacca driving away on another tender.

At first, the firm received a lot of compliments about their whimsical but highly realistic work. “As it spoke to peoples’ imaginations, they started asking us to use their boats,” says Armstrong. Soon, Star Wars vehicles like AT-AT Walkers and Starfighters appeared on superyacht helipads and rear decks.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Universe” on YouTube is a 1960 documentary, directed by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low for the National Film Board of Canada, which Stanley Kubrick said was one of his inspirations for 2001.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/31/19 Moon Pixel, Wider Than A File, I’m Scrolling You In Style Someday

(1) BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARDS. The winners of the 2019 Best Translated Book Awards were announced May 29. I believe neither is genre. (However, Sofia Samatar, past winner of a World Fantasy Award, is among the judges.)

Slave Old Man, written by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated (from the French and Creole) by Linda Coverdale, and published by The New Press, won for fiction. Of Death. Minimal Odes, written by Hilda Hilst, translated (from the Portuguese) by Laura Cesarco Eglin, and published by co-im-press, took the prize for poetry.

…Thanks to grant funds from the Amazon Literary Partnership, the living winning author and the translators will each receive $2,000 cash prizes…

The fiction jury included Pierce Alquist (BookRiot), Caitlin L. Baker (Island Books), Kasia Bartoszy?ska (Monmouth College), Tara Cheesman (freelance book critic), George Carroll (litintranslation.com), Adam Hetherington (reader), Keaton Patterson (Brazos Bookstore), Sofia Samatar (writer), Elijah Watson (A Room of One’s Own). The poetry jury included Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (EuropeNow), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Aditi Machado (poet and translator), and Laura Marris (writer and translator).

(2) SOUVENIR SEEKER OR ARMS DEALER? LA Times columnist Mary McNamara must learn new moves when she visits a new domain in the Magic Kingdom: “Tense and intense, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is not your mother’s Disneyland”.

As a SoCal mom, I know what it takes to do Disneyland: water, sunscreen, sturdy walking shoes, lots of cash, phone, snacks and whatever other gear the age and Disney-geek demographic of the group demands.

Strollers, mouse ears, matching shirts, lanyards clanking with tradable pins, whatever; I’ve always had it covered, down to the Band-Aids, hand sanitizer and Advil.

But I never thought to pack a back story.

Within minutes of entering Galaxy’s Edge, the park’s brand-new “Star Wars”-themed land, I realized this was a hideous mistake.

“Are you looking for a job?” A young woman in native-Batuu garb asked in a low voice as she sidled up to my daughter and me.

“Um, no,” I said. “We’re looking for lightsabers.”

“Keep your voice down!” she said. “The First Order is everywhere. But Savi’s Workshop is right around the corner.”

I smiled in what I hoped was a knowing fashion and moved away….

(3) WORLDBUILDING. Marie Brennan continues with “New Worlds Theory Post: Exposition, Pt. 2” at Book View Café.

When we first hit the topic of worldbuilding exposition back in May, I discussed the exposition on the level of prose: how to work setting details into your sentences without putting a neon stop sign on them saying “HERE BE INFORMATION,” and how to use the surrounding context to make those details convey story as well as facts. That works on a small scale, but when you get to more complex matters, you often have to think larger in order to work them into the story.

One time-honored way to do this is with a naive protagonist: someone young, inexperienced, foreign, or otherwise unfamiliar with the situation at hand. They don’t have to be ignorant of everything, and in fact it can be annoying if they are — at least in fiction for adults. In kids’ literature and YA, a naive protagonist is often a natural choice….

(4) REALISM V. NUANCE. L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright explains these paradoxical characters in “The Paragon of Realism, Superheroes!” at Superversive SF.

… Reality is complicated, and it is the job of an author to reflect this. So, how does one do this? Simple, he has cause and effect function in a way that makes sense to the audience. For example, let’s talk about Superman.

One of the complaints made against Superman is that he is unrealistically good, that a normal person with his power would abuse it. To this I say, their definition of realistic is wrong. Their argument is that: since he has so much power, he must abuse it. The thing they don’t get is that by not abusing his power and being a good guy, he is making the D.C. universe more realistic. Just look at General Zod to see what I mean.

… There are many kings and presidents who use their power for good without abusing it, like Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, who was offered a crown but turned it down in favor of becoming president and then retired to his farm. It is not impossible that there could exist a man that could use his power for good without letting it control him. If there is such a man, then we as authors should write stories about him, for he is a hero. If Superman is this man, is it  any wonder he can use his power without abusing it.

Just because he does good does not make him more or less realistic than any other hero in the D.C. universe….

…This kind of touch is what makes your story realistic, having the character make logical choices in accordance with his fantastic circumstances. His job is logical.

Another example of this is the Science Patrol from Ultraman. In the Ultraman universe, there are giant monsters, generally called Kaiju, which are practically walking natural disasters.

…In a later season, someone on the staff realizes something interesting: the monsters are not innately evil. They are wild animals, so maybe we should have one of our heroes try not to kill them. Out of this idea came Ultraman Cosmos, the warrior of compassion. This is also something that comes naturally from the premise because a complicated interaction with the Kaiju makes the world seem more realistic, even with the fantastic premise.

All of these ideas take a premise and bring it to its logical extreme. ‘Realism’ so called, does not. ‘Realism’ only shows one small part of the human experience, while real realism shows as much of the human experience as is needed for the story, which is what all good stories show.

(5) ODYSSEY SCHOLARSHIP. George R.R. Martin announced Kyle De Waal is the winner of this year’s Miskatonic Scholarship to the Odyssey Writers Workshop in New Hampshire, given each year to a student working in the area of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. The scholarship is funded by Martin.

This year’s winner is Kyle de Waal, who loves to write anything with a monster in it, especially cosmic horror with a bent towards YA-lit. He also enjoys tabletop games, mountain biking, and Greek and Roman history. He lives in Canada with his border collie who is named after a poetic device: Volta.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 31, 1895 George Stewart. Author of Earth Abides which won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It’s worth noting that his novel Storm whichhad as its protagonist a Pacific storm called Maria prompted the National Weather Service to use personal names to designate storms. (Died 1980.)
  • Born May 31, 1897 Christine Hartley, better known as Christine Campbell Thomson. Best known for her horror anthologies published in the 1920s and 1930s. The first, Not at Night gave its name to the whole series, which ran to eleven volumes.  In all, there were 170 stories including ones by Howard and Lovecraft, and, according to bibliographer Mike Ashley, a hundred of these came from Weird Tales. All of the fiction she wrote was done under the pen name of Flavia Richardson. Neither the anthologies or her fiction appear to be in print currently. (Died 1985.)
  • Born May 31, 1907 Peter Fleming. Elder brother of that Fleming. Among his works is a novel written in 1940, The Flying Visit about an unintended visit to Britain by Adolf Hitler. It’s apparently a comedy. The Sixth Column: A Singular Tale of Our Time is also genre though it is now Forgotten Literature as his other book. (Died 1971.)
  • Born May 31, 1928 Bryce Walton. Writer on Captain Video and His Video Rangers though I can’t tell you exactly what that means as IMDB lists the numbers of episodes he did as unknown. He also wrote for Alfred Hitchcock Presents including “The Greatest Monster of Them All” which is definitely genre. He wrote one SF novel, Sons of the Ocean Deeps, and has one collection of stories, “Dark of the Moon” and Other Tales. (Died 1988.)
  • Born May 31, 1930 Gary Brandner. He’s  best known for The Howling trilogy. The first book was adapted quite loosely as into The Howling. Brandner’s second and third Howling novels have no connection to the movie series, though he was involved with writing the screenplay for the second Howling movie, Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf. Who came up with that title?  Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is actually the most faithful adaptation of his first novel hence the title. (Died 2013.)
  • Born May 31, 1961 Lea Thompson, 58. She’s obviously best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy though I remember her first as Beverly Switzler in Howard the Duck as I saw Back to the Future after I saw Howard the Duck. Not sure why that was. Her first genre role was actually as Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D, a film I most decidedly did not see. If you accept the Scorpion series as genre, she’s got a recurring role as Veronica Dineen on it.
  • Born May 31, 1968 John Connolly, 51. Best known for his Charlie Parker noir crime series where his character solves mysteries by talking to dead. His Chronicles of the Invaders written with Jennifer Ridyard, his wife, are more traditional SF as is the Samuel Johnson series.
  • Born May 31, 1976 Colin Farrell, 43. I remember him first as Bullseye in the much dissed Daredevil film. (It wasn’t that bad.) He was in Minority Report as Danny Witwer. And I see he’s listed as being the third transformation of Tony in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. H’h. Now he was Peter Lake in Winter’s Tale, a takeoff of Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, a novel no film could do justice to. Oh, he’s Holt Farrier in Dumbo
  • Born May 31, 1995 Jeremy Szal, 24. He says he was (probably) raised by wild dingoes. He writes about galactic adventures, wide-screen futures, and broken characters fighting for hope in dark worlds. He is author of the dark space-opera novel Stormblood out in February 2020, the first of a trilogy. His short fiction has appeared in Nature, Abyss & Apex, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Tor.com, The Drabblecast. He is the fiction editor for the Hugo-winning StarShipSofa, which once led to Harlan Ellison yelling at him on the phone. He carves out a living in sun-bleached Sydney, Australia. He loves watching weird movies, collecting boutique gins, exploring cities, and dark humour. Find him at http://jeremyszal.com/ or @JeremySzal

(7) COMICS SECTION.

Three stfnal installments of Bob the Angry Flower:

(8) MODERATELY GOOD OMENS. William Hughes explains the flaws that keep the first episode from perfection: “’In The Beginning,’ Good Omens struggles to let its more heavenly elements shine” at AV/TV Club.

There’s a question that inevitably dogs (or maybe that should be hellhounds?) the production of any TV or cinematic adaptation of a popular book: How close do you hew to the original text—i.e., the stuff that presumably got people in the door in the first place—vs. softening or changing it for the natural rhythms of human speech? It’s a query that gets extra tricky when the original author and the person doing the adapting are one and the same, which might help explain why screenwriter Neil Gaiman has filled so much of the first hour of his new Amazon series Good Omens with long passages taken directly from his and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 book. …And yet, Good Omens’ pilot occasionally feels like sitting through the process of listening to a friend read you some of their well-crafted short fiction while an energetic, eye-catching slideshow plays—provided, of course, that your friend was Frances McDormand, and she was also pretending to be the voice of God.

(9) NEWS SCOOP. Delish discovered that “Baskin-Robbins Is Adding Two Stranger Things-Inspired Ice Cream Flavors To The Menu”.

Earlier this week, BR announced two Flavors of the Month for June: Eleven’s Heaven and Upside Down Pralines. The first is a waffle cone-flavored ice cream (I know, WOAH) with chocolate-coated sugar cone pieces and chocolate icing. The latter is chocolate with praline pecans and chocolate caramel swirled in.

If you think those sound epic just wait, because there’s more:

  • The Upside Down Sundae includes praline scoops and toppings on the bottom.
  • The Demogorgon Sundae is served in a waffle bowl that “frightfully resembles” the monster.
  • Byers’ House Lights Polar Pizza Ice Cream Treat is basically an ice cream and candy ‘za. It has a Snickers ice cream crust and topped with fudge and M&M’s to look like Christmas lights.
  • USS Butterscotch Quarts are filled with butterscotch toffee ice cream and a toffee ribbon.
  • Elevenade Freeze = ice cream + Minute Maid Lemonade.

(10) BOOK EXPO. “What if they gave a Book Expo and no one came?” asks Andrew Porter, who shared his photos of the autographing lines on Wednesday afternoon, first day of the exhibits.

From Publishers Lunch (behind a paywall) — “Book Expo Panels: Retailers, Breakfast Authors and More”:

As predicted, this year’s Book Expo is effectively a one-day show played out over three days. After a quiet start on Wednesday, Thursday at least has attendees filling the very wide aisles, spacious lounges, empty booth slots and open meeting rooms at a convention that is more profoundly than ever a downgraded, modest shadow of its former self. (It’s very sustainable, though; exhibitors are using generous lengths of plain pipe and drape, rented chairs, and simple printed panels over fancy fixtures and displays.) With a generally quiet line-up of panels as well, one Thursday afternoon that still offered some substance of note focused squarely on physical retail.

Publishers Weekly’s public article: “BookExpo 2019: Slow Start to a Buzzy Show”

The noon opening for BookExpo on Wedesday led to a quiet start for this year’s fair. But as the day progressed, the crowd steadily built and by late afternoon, a palpable buzz began to fill the hall, as people lugged tote bags full of galleys and promotional swag.

Prior to the opening, more than 100 people, many of them book bloggers and independent authors, lined up to get an early start on the galley giveaways and literally dashed into the hall the moment the floor opened.

(11) MORE PORTER PHOTOS FROM BOOK EXPO.

  • For the YA near-future novel “Contagion,” Charlesbridge wrapped their display in Caution tape:
  • Pilgrim’s Progress: The Graphic Novel. Porter says, “The artwork reminded me of Basil Wolverton…”
  • Who knew? Dayglo and UV posters are back!

(12) SURPRISING STRIKEOUT. Kat Hooper concludes “Record of a Spaceborn Few: Third time’s not the charm” at Fantasy Literature.

…So many people love Becky Chambers’ WAYFARERS trilogy and all three books have been nominated for several awards. After reading the entire trilogy, it’s clear that it’s just not for me. I thought The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was a cool-sounding title, but the story was “like watching Barney & Friends while eating cotton candy.” I liked A Closed and Common Orbit even less, finding it dull and unchallenging. Both novels have very little plot or tension, but they do contain heart-warming scenes and sweet messages about cooperation, diversity, and other nice things.

Record of a Spaceborn Few has the same problem, but magnified….

(13) DYNAMIC DUO. Black Gate’s Elizabeth Crowens interviews one of the “Power Couples in the World of Speculative Fiction: Jim Freund and Barbara Krasnoff”. (Unexpectedly, the NYRSF Reading Series is mentioned only in photo captions, although their names appear on File 770 in connection with that more than anything else!)

Crowens: You guys are native Brooklyners, right?

Both: No.

Barbara: I’m the native Brooklyner. He’s from Queens.

Jim: I’m from Jackson Heights. She is from Canarsie… originally. It’s like the line from Captain America: Civil War when he meets Spider-man. Captain America is fighting him at the airport and says, “You’ve got heart, kid. Where are you from?” and Spider-man says, “Queens.” Captain America looks at him and says in a confrontational tone, “Brooklyn.”

(Laughs): That’s great.

Jim: Best line in the movie.

How did you guys meet?

Barbara: Online, basically.

(14) SUPPRESSING MALARIA. “GM fungus rapidly kills 99% of malaria mosquitoes, study suggests” – BBC has the story.

A fungus – genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin – can rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosquitoes that spread malaria, a study suggests.

Trials, which took place in Burkina Faso, showed mosquito populations collapsed by 99% within 45 days.

The researchers say their aim is not to make the insects extinct but to help stop the spread of malaria.

The disease, which is spread when female mosquitoes drink blood, kills more than 400,000 people per year.

Worldwide, there are about 219 million cases of malaria each year.

(15) PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF. Here’s the ultimate good example when it comes to attempts to sweep up orbital debris: “UK satellite ‘sets sail’ for return to Earth”.

A British satellite in space has just “set sail” to return to Earth.

TechDemoSat-1 was launched in 2014 to trial a number of new in-orbit technologies but has now reached the end of its operational life.

To bring it out of the sky faster than would ordinarily be the case, it has deployed a “drag sail”.

This large membrane will catch residual air molecules at its altitude of 635km and pull TDS-1 quickly into Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up.

There is a lot of interest currently in “clean space” technologies.

The orbital highways above the planet are set to become congested with thousands of spacecraft in the coming years, and serious efforts need to be made to tidy away redundant hardware and other space junk if collisions are to be avoided.

(16) INSTANT CLASSIC. That old time edition is good enough for Matthew Johnson:

Give me that old time purple prose
Those long sentences soothe the soul
I reminisce about the pros of old
And that old time purple prose

Just take those old novels off the shelf
I’ll read Lord Dunsany by myself
I want some adjectives, sweet and low
I like that old time purple prose

Don’t try to keep me to a word count
In ten minutes I’ll be past that amount
I’ll savour adverbs Bulwer-Lytton chose
In his old time purple prose

Call it bad writing, call it what you will
Edgar Rice Burroughs can thrill me still
With each dependent clause my hunger grows
For that old time purple prose.

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

Arisia Announces Rosenberg Out

A day after Crystal Huff posted “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again.” charging the convention with failing to enforce its code of conduct in situations where she had been the victim, Arisia’s president resigned, and the convention’s executive board issued this statement on Facebook:

Effective immediately, Noel Rosenberg is no longer President of Arisia, Inc. On October 26th, at an emergency meeting of the other members of the Arisia Executive Board, the first step we took was to ask Noel to resign as President of Arisia Corporate and we have accepted that resignation. The Arisia 2019 Conchair has informed the Eboard that Noel is no longer the Operations Division Head, and will not be placed in any other staff positions.

Yesterday we issued a short statement that “the Arisia Executive Board takes our Incident Response process and the safety and concerns of our community very seriously.” We mean that, but we acknowledge that we failed severely in this case. We will work harder to live up to our values going forward, and in order to begin to regain the trust of our community, we are going to acknowledge and apologize for our failures, and take immediate and decisive action.

We failed by allowing Noel to be part of any Incident Response process while he was the subject of a serious incident investigation. To be clear, he was not a part of the investigation which related to him. He was not privy to any information collected, nor was he involved with the discussion or voting on the results. He was still, in his capacity as President, participating in other incident investigations. That was an error of our judgment and we apologize for this. We will work with the Corporation to improve our policies so that this does not happen again.

We failed by mentioning a subject’s name at the September corporate meeting. We apologized at the time. However we understand that can’t make up for the error. We have ensured that the person’s name is not recorded in the minutes or printed in Mentor.

We failed to give the corporate membership sufficient transparency ahead of the 2018-2019 officer elections, and we apologize for this. While we did mention the Incident Report at the election meeting, we did not give the Corporation sufficient notice or detail to make an informed decision. Again, we will visit this with the Corporation to ensure it cannot happen again.

We have accelerated the creation of a webpage to act as a centralized, public location for our disciplinary policy process. This is intended to clarify and and make more transparent our processes as well as codifying, when possible, best practice into procedure. Please keep in mind that putting this together correctly takes time but the work in progress can be found here: https://corp.arisia.org/DisciplinaryProcessInformation.

We are conducting a review of our Code of Conduct and Incident Response Process to ensure that it meets its goal of ensuring the safety of our community. We are reaching out to a third party consulting company for review and assistance and will report back to the Corporation.

Please send further questions about this situation, our Code of Conduct, or disciplinary policy in any capacity to incidents@arisia.org. This email goes to the Incident Response Team Heads, Conchair team, and Executive Board. We are working on additional steps that we will announce in the coming weeks.

Signed,
The Arisia Executive Board

However, there was nothing contrite about Rosenberg’s resignation email to the corporate list.

Date: Fri, Oct 26, 2018, 15:56
Subject: [Arisia DH] My role in Arisia
To: Arisia Corporate <corp@arisia.org>, Arisia Divheads List </corp@arisia.org>

I take issue with what Crystal has said, both about me and about Arisia, most of which is at best misleading and at worst flat out untrue.

Nevertheless, it is clear that I cannot lead Arisia at this time and I have become too much of a distraction. Therefore, in the interests of Arisia I am resigning as president effective immediately. I have also tendered my resignation as Division Head for Operations for Arisia ’19, and the Convention Chair has accepted my resignation.

I make this decision with a heavy heart, as I know what the truth is regarding these accusations. I have worked on this convention for more than a quarter century, and have been served on the Eboard for a number of those years.

-Noel Rosenberg

Just last month Rosenberg ran for President unopposed, receiving 42 of 54 valid votes, with 6 noes and 6 abstentions.

Marie Brennan’s Twitter thread epitomized the early reaction to Arisia’s statement:

Pixel Scroll 10/25/18 Because I Could Not Scroll The Pixel, It Kindly Scrolled For Me

Today’s Scroll is unconscionably short because I took the early part of the day to deliver a prescription to my mother, and must leave soon to see my daughter perform with the color guard at a football game. I have left space to drop in the birthdays when I get back….!

(1) LORD NAMED A JUDGE FOR COMMONWEALTH PRIZE. Karen Lord, author and Worldcon 75 toastmistress, has been named one of the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize judges.

The judging panel will be chaired by Kittitian-British novelist, playwright and essayist Caryl Phillips —

He will be joined on the international judging panel by a judge from each of the five Commonwealth regions – Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific. They will be: Ugandan novelist and short story writer Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Pakistani writer and journalist Mohammed Hanif, Barbados’s Karen Lord, British short story writer Chris Power, and New Zealander poet, playwright, fiction writer and musician Courtney Sina Meredith.

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words) in English. Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000. Translated entries are also eligible, as are stories written in the original Bengali, Chinese, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish. The competition is free to enter.

The submission window for the 2019 Prize is open and will close 1 November 2018. Find the 2019 rules here.

(2) CHARGES LEVELED AT ARISIA LEADERSHIP. Crystal Huff says she is calling it quits with the convention: “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again.” Her 6,000+ word statement explains the charge and a great deal of other history.

Content warnings: rape, trauma, sexism, gaslighting, harassment, intimidation, stalking, and general asshattery of a group of people in general and one rapist in particular….

…Arisia was the first science fiction event I attended, my first year in college. It was the first convention for which I volunteered on staff. After working on the convention for several years, it was the first one I chaired, in 2011. I served on the executive board several times. I used to regard Arisia as my “home convention,” and I was proud of the things I did to make it happen. I regarded the progress on the con’s inclusion and diversity efforts in recent years as having roots in things I did years ago, in ways great and small, and I was thrilled to see accessibility and safer spaces and diversity of program participants expand beyond those efforts. I was, to be honest, chuffed that Arisia was considered a feminist convention by other convention-runners. My online handle, for many years, was “ArisiaCrystal.”

You can therefore perhaps imagine how awful and gutting it was for me when members of Arisia leadership, over the past few years, told me that there was nothing to be done about the fact that my rapist was also on staff, in positions of authority, and has in recent years involved himself with the safety processes of the convention. Over the past few years, these developments have edged me out of the Arisia community.

Marie Brennan responds to Huff’s statement in “On Arisia”

…This is not a con I can trust with my safety, or that of anybody I know. So while I did not have any existing plans to attend Arisia — just a vague “ooh, I should do that someday!” intention — I now have very firm plans not to attend. Not this year, not next year, not any year until and unless this is made better. And if you’re an Arisia attendee, I encourage you to rethink that plan.

(3) STAR TREK ALA ‘RICK AND MORTY’. Coming to CBS All Access, “‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ Animated Series From ‘Rick and Morty’ EP & Secret Hideout Ordered By CBS All Access”Deadline has the story.

The expansion of CBS All Access Star Trek universe continues with a two-season order to Star Trek: Lower Decks, a half-hour adult animated comedy series from Rick and Morty head writer and executive producer Mike McMahan, a long-time Star Trek fan. Star Trek: Lower Decks, which will focus on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships, marks CBS All Access’ first original animated series and the first project to be produced by CBS Eye Animation Productions, a newly launched animation arm of CBS Television Studios.

It hails from Alex Kurtzman’s CBS TV Studios-based Secret Hideout, which had been spearheading the Star Trek franchise expansion, and Roddenberry Entertainment. Secret Hideout’s Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin, Roddenberry Entertainment’s Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth as well as former Cartoon Network executive Katie Krentz will executive produce alongside McMahan. Aaron Baiers, who brought McMahan to the project, will serve as a co-executive producer.

(4) INDUSTRY NEWS. Shelf Awareness Pro reports these changes at Tom Doherty Associates (Tor/Forge/Tor Teen/Starscape):

Anthony Parisi has joined the company as associate director, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. He was formerly senior marketing manager at Simon and Schuster.

Rebecca Yeager has been promoted to advertising and promotions manager. She was formerly assistant manager.

Renata Sweeney has been promoted to digital marketing manager, Tor, Forge Books, Tor Teen, Starscape. She was formerly associate manager.

Isa Caban has joined the company as marketing manager, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. She was formerly YA associate marketing manager at Scholastic.

Sara Di Blasi has been promoted to marketing assistant, Tor Teen, Starscape, and school & library marketing. She was formerly assistant to the v-p of marketing and publicity.

Zakiya Jamal has joined the company as digital marketing assistant, Tor, Forge Books, Tor Teen, Starscape.

(5) WORD STUDY. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “prequel” first appeared in print in 1958 in an article by Anthony Boucher in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, used to describe James Blish’s 1956 story They Shall Have Stars, which expanded on the story introduced in his earlier 1955 work, Earthman Come HomeMother Jones reports “Before 1958, There Was No Way to Say That Something Was Stackable”.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born October 25, 1902 – Mark Marchioni, Artist known as “Marchioni”. He sold his first illustration to Hugo Gernsback’s Air Wonder Stories in 1929. He went on to draw black and white story illustrations, in the Modernist, style, for most pulp magazines in the science fiction genre, including Astonishing Stories, Astounding, Startling Stories, Wonder Stories, and Thrilling Wonder Stories, from 1930-1948. In the 40s, his lifelong interest in machinery lead him to invent a coin-sorting machine, for which he and his older brother Caesar won a patent. They also invented, patented, and manufactured for nearly three decades the Tiltall aluminum camera tripod, which became wildly popular with photographers for its superior performance; eventually the rights were sold to Leica.
  • Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty, who was frequently cast in character roles where his small stature suited the character, and who is probably best known to genre fans as the wise elder wizard in Willow. He was also in the Ridley Scott fantasy Legend, and played the rotoscoped Bilbo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in the animated The Lord of the Rings; other appearances include in Alice in Wonderland, Bride of Frankenstein, The Undead, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow White, Masters of the Universe, and Lobster Man from Mars.
  • Born October 25, 1935 – Russell “Rusty” Schweikart, 83, Pilot and Astronaut who was the lunar module pilot for Apollo 9, and the first in the Apollo program to do an EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity). During the launch of the first Skylab space station mission in 1973, the station’s thermal heat shield was lost, and his work developing procedures and equipment for building and implementing an emergency solar shade, and for deployment of a jammed solar array wing, resulted in saving the space station. He was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal and Exceptional Service Medal. He is the co-founder and chair of the B612 Foundation, an organization devoted to finding ways to defend Earth from the impact of stray asteroids.
  • Born October 25, 1955 – Gale Anne Hurd, 63, Saturn-winning Writer, Film Producer and founder of Valhalla Entertainment. After starting out as executive assistant to New World Pictures president Roger Corman, she formed her own production company which has been responsible for numerous major blockbusters in the last 30+ years, including the Hugo-winning Aliens, the first three Terminator movies, Hugo finalist The Abyss, and Armageddon as well as Virus, The Relic, two Hulk movies, Aeon Flux and the just-announced TV series of the same name, and The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead series.
  • Born October 25, 1963 – John Gregory Betancourt, 55, Writer who is best known (or possibly most notorious) for his third Chronicles of Amber series in Roger Zelazny’s universe, and who has written quite a bit of other franchise fiction including in the Star Trek, Hercules, and The New Adventures of Superman universes. Most of his original fiction was early in his career. He’s also edited in a number of magazines including Weird Tales, Amazing Stories, H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror, Adventure Tales, and Cat Tales, and co-edited with Anne McCaffrey Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey. He founded Wildside Press in 1989, which has received three nominations for World Fantasy Special Awards.
  • Born October 25, 1964 – Kevin Michael Richardson, 54, Actor and Singer who has become a powerhouse as a voice actor in the animation world in the last 20 years. Just a few of his more than a hundred show credits include roles in the animated series The Batman, Black Panther, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Simpsons, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ben 10, Lilo & Stitch, Gremlins, Ace Ventura, Voltron, Family Guy, and Buzz Lightyear. He has had numerous nominations and wins for Behind The Voice, Annie, and Daytime Emmy Awards.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) SPOILERS. io9’s Avengers 4 Set Pictures Tease an Interesting Upgrade for Pepper Potts” collects rumors (Spoiler Alert) for upcoming movies & TV series including:

  • Avengers 4
  • Night of the Comet
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Quicksand
  • The Boy 2
  • Monster Problems
  • Terminator 6
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Reign of the Supermen
  • Daredevil
  • 2018 Arrowverse Crossover
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • The Passage
  • Cloak & Dagger
  • The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  • Riverdale
  • The Purge
  • Black Lighting
  • The Flash

(9) LE GUIN. The London Review Bookshop, which is related to the London Review of Books, has chosen Ursula K. Le Guin as its Author of the Month for November. The bookstore will have a dedicated table for the author’s books at its location in London.

Le Guin’s work throughout her long career was underpinned by her deep interest in anthropology, feminism, environmentalism and anarchism. In 2014 she wrote about her philosophy of writing: “anything at all can be said to happen [in the future] without fear of contradiction from a native. The future is a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas in, a means of thinking about reality, a method.”

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

Cats Sleep on SFF: Within the Sanctuary of Wings

Doctor Science guides us through what might be called the game of cat and dragons:

This is Sneakers, age 18 years 7 months, sleeping on (or next to) Within the Sanctuary of Wings. The dragon bedspread is from Full Moon Loom, btw.

The picture of him with The Silmarillion is from April 2008, when he was much younger and much larger, but clearly ahead of his time when it comes to sleeping on or near SFF.

Sneakers has been fading for a while and we really thought he had reached the end of the line last week, we were getting ready to make The Call. But he’s now on appetite-stimulating medication, is eating (etc.) again, and definitely acting like there’s life in the old boy yet. He’s a self-rescue who turned up at our door in December 1999 aged about 10 weeks (so-called humans used to dump pets in the fields next to our house), saying “Bastet sent me”. I’m allergic to some cats, but not him.


Photos of other felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

2017 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last couple of years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015 and 35 of the novellas published in 2016 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

Last year, the result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I decided to do it again this year.

The success of Tor’s novella line seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, and Book Smugglers jumping on the bandwagon, as well as the Big 3 magazines and the online fiction venues – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. Toward the end, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2017 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

Read more…

Pixel Scroll 7/7/17 Oh I Get Scrolled With A Little Help From My Friends

(1) BY KLONO’S BRAZEN BALLS. I remember how 30s space opera authors invented colorful gods for characters to swear by. Taking advantage of today’s freer speech, Book View Café’s Marie Brennan advises writers to give characters language to swear with: “New Worlds: Gestures of Contempt”.

In fiction, you can sell just about anything as contemptuous so long as the characters react to it appropriately. You can give it a cultural underpinning if you want; the story about longbows and the V-sign may not be true in reality, but in a story something along those lines could be a great touch of historical depth. In many cases, though, trying to explain why the gesture is offensive would probably turn into an unnecessary infodump. Instead it can just be like the line from Shakespeare: “Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?” We don’t need to know why biting the thumb is an insult for it to work in the scene. We just need to know whether this is a mild way of saying “screw you” or something to fight a duel over, whether it’s just vulgar or a sign that the other person is placing a curse. The intent and the reaction will tell us all that’s necessary.

(2) JOANN KAISER. The GoFundMe for JoAnn Kaiser has blown past its goal and has raised over $14,000 as of today. She is the widow of fan and bookdealer Dwain Kaiser, who was killed earlier this week.

(3) SMALL PRESS. The Washington Posts’s Michael Dirda says “These small presses can help you think big about summer reading”. He plugs the Haffner Press, and gives a shout-out to Darrell Schweitzer (even using his book cover as art.)

Haffner Press . If you have any interest in pulp fiction, this is the publisher for you. Stephen Haffner issues substantial hardback volumes devoted to the magazine stories of Edmond Hamilton (creator of Captain Future); the crime fiction of Fredric Brown; the early work of Leigh Brackett (whose later credits include the screenplay for “The Empire Strikes Back”); and the occult detective stories of Manly Wade Wellman. One recent title, “The Watcher at the Door,” is the second volume in an ongoing series devoted to the weird tales of the versatile Henry Kuttner. Its foreword is by Robert A. Madle, a Rockville, Md., book and magazine dealer, who may be the oldest living person to have attended the first World Science Fiction Convention, held in 1939…..

Wildside Press . While its books aren’t fancy, this Washington-area publisher maintains an enormous backlist of classic, contemporary and off-trail works of fantasy, science fiction, adventure and horror. Wildside also issues new works of criticism focused on these genres, most recently Darrell Schweitzer’s “The Threshold of Forever.” In these easygoing and astute essays, Schweitzer reflects on the comic side of Robert Bloch (best known for his novel “Psycho”), Randall Garrett’s “The Queen Bee,” often regarded as the most sexist short story in the history of science fiction, and the work of idiosyncratic horror writers such as James Hogg, William Beckford and Sarban.

(4) OH NOES. Gizmodo fears “Mars Might Not Be The Potato Utopia We Hoped”.

In Andy Weir’s novel-turned-Matt-Damon-movie The Martian, the protagonist endures the harsh terrain of Mars by using his own shit to grow potatoes. The idea isn’t that outlandish—over the last few years, a NASA-backed project has been attempting to simulate Martian potato farming by growing taters in the Peruvian desert. While early results were promising, new research suggests that survival of any life on Mars—much less potato-growing humans—might be more difficult than we thought. I blame Matt Damon.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh tested how the bacteria Bacillus subtilis would react to perchlorates, which were first discovered in Martian soil back in 2008. Perchlorates are naturally-occurring (and sometimes, man-made) chemicals that are toxic to humans, but they’re not always so bad for microbes. In fact, in the Atacama Desert in Chile, some microbes use perchlorates in the soil as an energy source. On Mars, perchlorates allow water to exist in a briny liquid form despite the planet’s low atmospheric pressure.

However, when the researchers put B. subtilis in a bath of magnesium perchlorate solution similar to the concentrations found on Mars, and exposed the microbes to similar levels of UV radiation, the bacteria died within 30 seconds.

(5) WAFFLE TEST PATTERN. Scott Edelman invites the internet to chow down on chicken and waffles with Nancy Holder in Episode 42 of Eating the Fantastic. The encounter was recorded during StokerCon weekend.

Luckily, my guest this episode was not a skeptic, and enthusiastically accompanied me for the greasy goodness. Five-time Bram Stoker Award winning-writer Nancy Holder had been the Toastmaster during the previous night’s ceremony, is the author of the young adult horror series Possessions, and has written many tie-in works set in such universes as Teen Wolf, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, AngelSmallville, and Wonder Woman.

We discussed her somewhat secret origin as a romance novelist, why her first horror convention made her burst into tears, how she got off on the wrong foot with acclaimed editor Charles L. Grant, what caused her Edgar Allan Poe obsession to begin, why she was a fan of DC Comics instead of Marvel as a kid, what Ed Bryant might have meant when he called her “the first splatterpunk to chew with her mouth closed,” and more.

(6) HAWKEYE BOO-BOO. Actor “Jeremy Renner Broke Both Arms in Stunt Accident on Set of ‘Tag'”.

Jeremy Renner has broken both his arms in a stunt that went wrong while filming, the actor, who is currently working on Avengers: Infinity War, said Friday.

Speaking before a Karlovy Vary film festival screening of Taylor Sheridan‘s Wind River, in which Renner plays a federal wildlife officer drafted to help solve a murder on a Native American reservation in Wyoming, Renner said the injuries would not affect his ability to do his job.

“It won’t stop things that I need to do. I heal fast and am doing everything I can to heal faster,” he said.

(7) MISSING IN ACTION. Massacres like this are usually reserved for Game of Thrones. Ben Lee of Digital Spy, in “Once Upon a Time season 7 adds five stars including this Poldark actor”, notes that season 7 of Once Upon a Time has started production and no less than seven members of the cast have been booted:  Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jack Dallas, Jared S. Gilmore, Emile de Raven, and Rebecca Mader.

(8) JOAN LEE OBIT. Deadline’s Patrick Hipes, in “Joan Lee Dies:  Wife of Comics Icon Was 93”,  notes her passing on July 4.  IMDB shows she had parts in X-Men Apocalypse and the TV versions of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Fantastic Four. She and Stan Lee had been married for 69 years.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Lon Chaney Jr. is the only actor to portray four major Universal Monsters; the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy (Kharis), and Count Dracula.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 7, 1955 — The Science Fiction radio serial X Minus One aired “The Green Hills Of Earth.” As John King Tarpinian says, this probably wasn’t a coincidence.
  • July 7, 2006Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, an adventure film starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 7, 1907 — Robert A. Heinlein

(12) MEDICAL NEWS. Spreading cancer caught on film.

The way in which every single cancer cell spreads around the body has been captured in videos by a team in Japan.

The normal body tissues show up as green, while the cancer comes out as intense red spots.

The team, at the University of Tokyo and the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center, says the technology will help explain the deadly process.

The research is on mice so far, but it is hoped the method could one day help with treatment too.

(13) NOT INCLUDED. Tesla to build the world’s largest battery.

The battery will protect South Australia from the kind of energy crisis which famously blacked out the state, Premier Jay Weatherill said.

Tesla boss Elon Musk confirmed a much-publicised promise to build it within 100 days, or do it for free.

The 100-megawatt (129 megawatt hour) battery should be ready this year.

“There is certainly some risk, because this will be largest battery installation in the world by a significant margin,” Mr Musk said in Adelaide on Friday.

He added that “the next biggest battery in the world is 30 megawatts”.

The Tesla-built battery, paired with a Neoen wind farm, will operate around the clock and be capable of providing additional power during emergencies, the government said.

(14) HUGO REVIEWS. Natalie Luhrs shares her evaluations in “2017 Hugo Reading: Novelettes”.

I think the novelette finalists are a bit more of a mixed bag. Some of them I think are outstanding, one fell flat for me, and then there’s that other one. You know the one….

This is her review of one she rates as outstanding:

“Touring with the Alien” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld)

This novelette opens with Avery getting a call offering her a job transporting an alien from the DC area to St. Louis. The aliens had appeared overnight, large domes across the country and until this one decided they wanted a tour of the country, what they wanted and their motives for coming to Earth were unclear. Their motives are still not very clear at the outset of the journey, but by the end–well.

The alien comes aboard the bus in crates and is accompanied by his human translator, Lionel. Each alien has a human translator, someone who was abducted as a child from a family that didn’t care for them, a child no one would miss (how horrible is that?) Avery starts driving and as they make their way across the US, she gets to know Lionel and through Lionel, the alien.

Avery’s a sympathetic narrator and she is genuinely curious about the aliens and willing to acquiesce to most of Lionel’s requests on the alien’s behalf. There is a lot about what it means to have consciousness—the aliens are not conscious—and what value, if any, that brings to existence. I found the ending to be both a surprise and quite endearing. Gilman is an easy prose stylist and Avery’s conversational and self-reflective voice is exactly what this story requires.

(15) ANOTHER TAKE. Speaking of “the one,” it’s given an actual review as part of Doris V. Sutherland’s “2017 Hugo Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics.

Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex is, of course, the Rabid Puppy pick for Best Novelette. It is here as a result of Vox Day rather lazily repeating his prank from last year when he got Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion on the ballot as a dig at Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”

Some have dismissed Stix Hiscock (who, despite her masculine choice of pseudonym, is a woman) as a mere Chuck Tingle imitator. This would be unfair. After all, Chuck Tingle was not the first author to write weird dinosaur erotica, and Ms. Hiscock has as much right as he does to try her hand at the genre.

Taken on its own terms, Alien Stripper Boned From Behind by the T-Rex is a solid but undistinguished specimen of its kind….

(16) SUMMER TV. Glenn Garvin on reason.com reviews Salvation, an end-of-the-world show in the vein of When Worlds Collide coming to CBS starting on July 12: “Salvation Will Have You Hoping for the World’s End”.

He concludes that “Salvation strongly resembles recent congressional budget debates, punctuated by occasional kidnappings, car chases, and gunplay by an unidentified gang of thugs that want the world to end.”

(17) MORE THAN A MEMORY. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson, in “Review of The Mindwarpers by Eric Frank Russell”, revisits the work of someone once regarded as among sf’s more thought-provoking writers.

One of the interesting aspects of science fiction is that it is a form sometimes used to criticize science, or more precisely the application of science, rather than glorify it.  From Barry Malzberg to J.G. Ballard, Ray Bradbury to Pat Cadigan, Tom McCarthy to James Morrow—these and other writers in the field have in some way expressed a wariness at technological change and its impact, intended and unintended, on people and society.  The quantity of such fiction dropping since the days vast and quick technological change first threatened, change has almost become the norm.  Getting more outdated with each day, Eric Frank Russell’s 1965 The Mindwarpers is one such book.  Republished as an ebook in 2017 by Dover Publications, the message at its heart, however, transcends time.

(18) MANY A TRUTH IS SAID IN TWEET. Wax on. Wax off.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Isotype from Henning M. Lederer is a soothing kaleidoscope-type animation with music from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]