Pixel Scroll 1/18/19 Learn To Scroll The Pixelphone, I File Just What I Feel, Drink Straight Tully All Night Long, And Filk Behind The Wheel

(1) AMAZON SAYS THEY’RE NOT TO BLAME. “Amazon hits back at claims it is to blame for falling author earnings”The Guardian has the story.

Amazon has called the conclusions of a recent report into US author earnings flawed, after the Authors Guild suggested that the retail giant’s dominance could be partly responsible for the “a crisis of epic proportions” affecting writers in the US.

The report from the writers’ body, published last week, highlighted the statistic that median income from writing-related work fell to $6,080 (£4,730) in 2017, down 42% from 2009, with literary authors particularly affected. Raising “serious concerns about the future of American literature”, the writers’ body singled out the growing dominance of Amazon for particular blame. “Amazon (which now controls 72% of the online book market in the US) puts pressure on [publishers] to keep costs down and takes a large percentage, plus marketing fees, forcing publishers to pass on their losses to authors,” said the report.

But on Wednesday, Amazon took issue with the report’s conclusions. “The Authors Guild has acknowledged that there are significant differences between the data it compared in its recent survey and years prior, noting that ‘the data does not line up’,” said an Amazon statement. “As a result, many of the survey’s conclusions are flawed or contradictory. For instance, the survey also shows that earnings increased almost 17% for traditionally published authors and 89% for independent [self-published] authors, and that full-time authors saw their median income rise 13% since 2013.”

(2) OVERSAUCED. Cora Buhlert wrote an emphatic dissent from Lee Konstantinou’s Slate article “Something Is Broken in Our Science Fiction” (linked in the Scroll a few days ago). Buhlert’s post is titled “Science Fiction Is Dying Again – The Hopepunk Edition”

…And now science fiction is dying again. Or rather, it already died in the 1980s and has been shambling along like a mirroshaded cyberpunk zombie ever since. For inspired by the hopepunk debate that broke out in late December (chronicled here), Lee Konstantinou weighs in on cyberpunk, hopepunk, solarpunk and the state of science fiction in general as part of Slate‘s future tense project (found via File 770). And this is one case where I wish I could use the German phrase “seinen Senf dazugeben” (literally “add their mustard”) instead of the more neutral English “weigh in”. Because Lee Konstantinou absolutely adds his* mustard, regardless whether anybody actually wants mustard or whether mustard even fits the dish….

(3) THE NEXT SFWA PRESIDENT. He’s not a SFWA member but he believes that could change — Jon Del Arroz declares “My Endorsement Of Mary Robinette Kowal For SFWA President” [Internet Archive link]

…Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community

Again, the most important aspect of this, as the most underserved and underrepresented writers in the SF/F community are conservatives and Christians. These groups feel like they’re not welcome anywhere within the sphere of publishing, and it needs to change.

I’m confident Ms. Kowal will enact change here, which is the primary reason for my endorsement. I also volunteer to act as an ambassador to the conservative/Christian writing communities on her behalf, as many writers feel they can safely speak with me in confidence, when their concerns might get them ostracized or their businesses hurt if they voice their issues elsewhere. With me in such a role, we can repair the bridge in fandom so we can make it about books again, and selling for authors, and not about petty political squabbles.

Ms. Kowal has demonstrated to me personally that she is sincere in this effort by attempting to assist me with Worldcon 2018 when they horribly discriminated against me last year because of my outspoken beliefs, and because I was under threat of physical harm being done to me at their convention by extreme left-wing agitators.  The cycle of victim blaming must stop, and Kowal has assured me SFWA will not be an organization that will treat conservative authors as 2nd class citizens. This is a human rights issue and very big for me!

But Kowal also puts her money where her mouth is. When I was coming up and needed promotion as a writer, Kowal featured me on her blog not just once—but twice, and the second after I’d already become a prominent outspoken conservative within the community. She cares about books FIRST – and this is what sets her apart from others.

I’m excited for her tenure so I can finally join the professional guild (as is my due) without being shut down and held to standards others within SFWA are not.

(4) SPOCK BACKSTORY. Showrunner Alex Kurtzman discusses the launch of Star Trek: Discovery season 2 with The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Star Trek’ Showrunner: ‘Discovery’ Season 2 Is About Spock’s ‘Unwritten Chapter’”.

Discovery season one seemed like a declarative end of a chapter with the Federation-Klingon war coming to its conclusion. Why did you choose to start the second chapter by bringing in the Enterprise, considering its notoriety?

We discover in season one that Michael has a relationship with Spock. The mystery of why Spock, who we’ve known for over 50 years, has never mentioned his sister, is huge. It felt like there was no way we were going to be able to answer that question in one or two episodes. It was easily going to be the substance of a whole season. This season is a deep-dive into that relationship and what went wrong, their history and where they’re headed. That excited me. It’s the unwritten chapter of how Spock became the character that we meet in the original series. We’ll come to understand that were it not for his relationship with Michael, many of the things we know and love about Spock may not have flowered in the way that they did.

(5) LOOKING GOOD. Camestros Felapton reviews the premiere in “Star Trek Discovery: Brother (S2E1)”.

…Launching into this first episode reminded me that I do actually like these characters. I felt happy to see Michael, Tilly, Saru and Stamets again. Also, Discovery remains visually impressive, it’s easily the best looking Star Trek. The promised story arc appears to be a mysterious simultaneous signal from five points across the galaxy — a signal that Spock knows something about and which (apparently coincidentally) Captain Pike has been tasked with investigating….

(6) COSTA BOOK AWARDS. The 2018 Costa Book Awards, a general literary prize in the UK, have a winner of genre interest — Stuart Turton won the First Novel award for The Seven (or 7 1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

At a party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed – again.  She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day Aidan Bishop is too late to save her.  The only way to break this cycle is to identify Evelyn’s killer.  But every time the day begins again, Aidan wakes in the body of a different guest.  And someone is desperate to stop him ever escaping Blackheath……   

Stuart Turton is a freelance travel journalist who’s previously worked in Shanghai and Dubai.  He’s the winner of the Brighton and Hove Short Story Prize and was longlisted for the BBC Radio 4 Opening Lines competition.  TV rights for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle have been optioned by House Productions.  He lives in West London with his wife and daughter.     

Judges: ‘Impossibly clever, genre-busting murder mystery that feels like a mash-up of Cluedo, Sherlock and Groundhog Day.’

(7) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “WCFF-Dream” on Vimeo is an animated version of “I Dreamed a Dream” with many cute animals that was shown at the World Conservation Film Festival in October.

(8) PEARLMAN OBIT. Alan R. Pearlman (1925-2019) has died at the age of 93. The New York Times notes he was —

Founder of ARP Instruments and designer of its early synthesizers, which were used in Star Wars: A New Hope (R2-D2’s beeps), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (that infamous 5-note sequence, shown being played on an ARP 2500), and the 1980’s version of the Dr. Who theme.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 18, 1882 A.A. Milne. Oh Pooh has to count as genre, doesn’t he? Certainly that an exhibition entitled “Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic” appeared at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London shows his place in our culture. There’s also Once on a Time, a rather charming fairy tale by him. And though it isn’t remotely genre, i wholeheartedly recommend The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 18, 1933 John Boorman, 86. I will admit that he does not at all have a lengthy genre resume though it’s quirky one nonetheless as it manages to encompass one howlingly horrible film being Zardoz featuring Sean Connery in diapers and Excalibur giving us a bare breasted Helen Mirren as Morgana. Did you know by the way that Robert Holdstock wrote the novelisation of The Emerald Forest which he directed? He also directed Exorcist II: The Heretic which frankly the less said about, the better.
  • Born January 18, 1937 Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and  “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. (Died 2009)
  • Born January 18, 1953 Pamela Dean, 66. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling claims is her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is a great deal of fun reading. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Alll of these are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
  • Born January 18, 1955 Kevin Costner, 64. Some of his films are his genre films are really atrocious, to wit Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesWaterworldThe Postman and the recent Dragonfly but I really like  his Field of Dreams and his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as  “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. I forgot until just reminded that he was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I know that’s two more horrid films he’s been in. 
  • Born January 18, 1960 Mark Rylance, 59. Prospero’s Books, an adaption of The Tempest which I really want to see, The BFG and Ready Player One are the films he’s been in. An active thespian, he’s been in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Royal Opera House, Hamlet at American Repertory Theater and Macbeth at Greenwich Theatre to show but a few of his appearances.
  • Born January 18, 1968David Ayer, 51. Film director, producer and screenwriter. Recent genre film from him were Suicide Squad and Bright, both of which have Will Smith in them and both of which, errr, were utter crap. He’ll be directing Gotham City Sirens which will not presumably have Will Smith in it. Yes I’m being snarky. 

(10) SIGNS OF SPRING. Jonathan Cowie announced that the Spring edition of SF2 Concatenation is now online, with its rich mix of con reports, articles, seasonal giant news page and loads of book reviews.

(11) BRICKS OF MONEY. Bloomberg says “The Hot New Asset Class Is Lego Sets”.

In a paper titled “Lego — The Toy of Smart Investors,” Dobrynskaya analyzed 2,300 sets sold from 1987 to 2015 to measure their price-return over time. She found that collections used for Hogwarts Castles and Jedi star fighters beat U.S. large-cap stocks and bonds, yielding 11 percent a year. Smaller kits rose more than medium-sized ones, similar to the size effect in the Fama-French model (though the relation isn’t exact).

Lego sets that focus on superheroes, Batman and Indiana Jones are among the ones that do best over time. The Simpsons is the only Lego theme that has lost value, falling by 3.5 percent on average.

(12) DANISH CRIME FICTION AWARDS. The winners of the 2018 Danish Criminal Academy Awards for the best Danish crime fiction have been announced.

The Harald Mogensen Prisen for the best thriller went to Jesper Stein for his novel Solo.

The Danish Criminal Academy’s debut award was won by Søren Sveistrup for the thriller novel “Kastanjemanden” (The Chestnut Man).

 The Palle Rosenkrantz Award for this year’s best foreign thriller novel has been awarded to Michael Connelly for Two Kinds of Truth. The award recognizes the best crime fiction novel published in Danish. It is named in honour of Palle Rosenkrantz (1867-1941), who is considered the first Danish crime fiction author; his novel Mordet i Vestermarie (Murder in Vestermarie) was published in 1902.

(13) J FOR JANUARY AND JOY. Cora Buhlert’s guest post “Space Opera and Me” is part of the Month of Joy project of the Skiffy and Fanty Show:  

At the time, a friend asked me why I always watched Star Trek, even though I’d seen much of it before and it was all the same anyway. “You watch soap operas, don’t you?” I asked her. She nodded and said, “Yes, to relax.” – “Well, Star Trek is my soap opera,” I told her.

I was on to something there, because there are similarities between space operas and soap operas beyond the fact that both started out as derogatory terms including the word “opera”. Both soap operas and space operas (and actual operas for that matter) offer larger-than-life drama with a huge cast of characters. Both offer the grand spectrum of emotion, love and hate, birth and death, weddings and funerals. However, space opera has aliens, ray guns, starships and space battles to go with the melodrama.

Another thing that unites space operas and soap operas is that no matter how fascinating the settings, how shocking the twists, how grand the melodrama, what makes us come back for more are the characters. The best space and soap operas feature people (in the loosest sense of the term) we want to spend time with, whether it’s in the mundane surroundings of Coronation Street or Lindenstraße or on the deck of a starship or the surface of an alien planet.

(14) FLOCKS OF HUGO RECOMMENDATIONS. Nerds of a Feather makes its collective picks in several Hugo categories at each post. Examples are included below.   

“2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 2: Visual Work Categories”

Graphic Story

  • Destroyer, Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Volume 7: Synthesis, by Tom Sidell
  • Lumberjanes, Volume 8: Stone Cold, by Shannon Waters and Kat Leyh
  • Monstress: Volume 3: Haven, by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda
  • Saga: Volume 9, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Walking Dead, Volume 29: The Lines We Cross, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
  • White Sand: Volume 2, by Brandon Sanderon, Rik Hoskin, and Julius Gopez
  • X-Men: Grand Design, by Ed Piskor

“2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 3: Individual Categories”

Fan Writer

“2019 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Longlist, Part 4: Institutional Categories”

Semiprozine

(15) HOW WE GOT HERE. An article in this week’s Nature reminds me of the old t-shirt design pointing out “You are here” — “The Once and Future Milky Way” [PDF file].

Data from the Gaia spacecraft are radically transforming how we see the evolution of our Galaxy.

There was a a smashup between the young Galaxy and a colossal companion . That beast once circled the Milky Way like a planet around a star, but some 8 billion to 11 billion years ago, the two collided, massively altering the Galactic disk and scattering stars far and wide. It is the last-known major crash the Galaxy experienced before it assumed the familiar spiral shape seen today. Although the signal of that ancient crash had been hiding in plain sight for billions of years, it was only through the Gaia space probe’s data set that astronomers were finally able to detect it.

(16) CITY CHESS. Maybe nothing to do with Brunner’s The Squares of the City, but designers can plot their moves with this — “Virtual cities: Designing the metropolises of the future”.

Simulation software that can create accurate “digital twins” of entire cities is enabling planners, designers and engineers to improve their designs and measure the effect changes will have on the lives of citizens.

Cities are hugely complex and dynamic creations. They live and breathe.

Think about all the parts: millions of people, schools, offices, shops, parks, utilities, hospitals, homes and transport systems.

Changing one aspect affects many others. Which is why planning is such a hard job.

So imagine having a tool at your disposal that could answer questions such as “What will happen to pedestrian and traffic flow if we put the new metro station here?” or “How can we persuade more people to leave their cars at home when they go to work?”

This is where 3D simulation software is coming into its own.

Architects, engineers, construction companies and city planners have long used computer-aided design and building information modelling software to help them create, plan and construct their projects.

But with the addition of internet of things (IoT) sensors, big data and cloud computing, they can now create “digital twins” of entire cities and simulate how things will look and behave in a wide range of scenarios.

(17) YOUNGER THAN RINGTIME. BBC says “Saturn’s spectacular rings are ‘very young'” — thought likely for a while, but now it’s locked down.

We’re looking at Saturn at a very special time in the history of the Solar System, according to scientists.

They’ve confirmed the planet’s iconic rings are very young – no more than 100 million years old, when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.

The insight comes from the final measurements acquired by the American Cassini probe.

The satellite sent back its last data just before diving to destruction in the giant world’s atmosphere in 2017.

“Previous estimates of the age of Saturn’s rings required a lot of modelling and were far more uncertain. But we now have direct measurements that allows us to constrain the age very well,” Luciano Iess from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, told BBC News.

(18) BOX SCORE. The sff/horror drama Bird Box was very good for Netflix’s business:

Shows including Bird Box helped Netflix end 2018 with more than 139 million subscribers, adding 8.8 million members in the last three months of the year.

Bird Box was watched by 80 million households in its first four weeks after release

The firm reported quarterly revenue of $4.2bn (£3.2bn), up 27% from the same period in 2017.

(19) WALK THIS WAY. Cnet explains how “Scientists built a lizard-like robot based on a 280-million-year-old fossil”.

You can tell a lot about an animal from the way it moves, which is why scientists have been recreating the movements of an extinct crocodile-like creature called Orobates pabsti. Orobates lived well before the time of the dinosaurs and is what’s called a ‘stem amniote’ – an early offshoot of the lineage which led to birds, reptiles and mammals. Using 3D scans of an exquisitely preserved Orobates fossil – and an associated set of fossilised footprints – researchers were able to build a dynamic computer simulation of the creature’s movement. The simulation incorporates data from extant animals such as lizards and salamanders to create more realistic motion as it walks along. And the simulation didn’t just stay on a computer; the researchers tested the models in the real world using a Orobates robot, helping bring this ancient creature to life.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/16/19 Right After I Graduate, I’m Gonna Cut The Scrolls Off My Shoes, Sit In A Blog, And Learn To Play The Pixelhorn

(1) GHOSTBUSTERS 3. Though few details seem to be available, it looks like there will be a fourth live-action Ghostbusters movie (Variety: “Jason Reitman to Direct Secret ‘Ghostbusters’ Movie”), with a new generation of Reitman taking over in the director’s chair.

Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman.

Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise.

Reitman has also co-written a screenplay with Gil Kenan and plans to shoot the film this summer, with Sony planning to release the latest sequel in summer 2020. Insiders say this film will be a continuation of the 1984 sequel and will not be connected to the 2016 film. Sources couldn’t say if that means that the original cast members will be back, as exact story details are still being kept under wraps but sources say Reitman has begun testing teenagers for four mystery roles.

ScienceFiction.com quotes Reitman:

 “I’ve always thought of myself as the first Ghostbusters fan when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set. I wanted to make a movie for all the other fans. This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ‘80s happened in the ‘80s, and this is set in the present day.”

(2) KOWAL DECLARES SFWA CANDIDACY. Mary Robinette Kowal announced on her blog: “Dear SFWA members: I’m running for the position of President.”

…I believe that SFWA is an important organization and that volunteering for it is a way that we can each help to pay it forward by making the field stronger.  As a group, we can improve things within the industry in ways that individuals cannot, but we are dependent on our volunteers. We are dependent on you. I would very much like to help SFWA move forward so that it can continue to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for our members.

Besides health care, what else am I interested in accomplishing?

  • New opportunities to help our members diversify their income streams
  • Strengthening the Nebula Conference as a professional development conference
  • Protecting our rights for free speech
  • Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community
  • Taking full advantage of our 501c3 status to apply for grants that will allow SFWA to be a more active and useful organization for our members

John Scalzi threw his support behind her in a post today at Whatever: “Mary Robinette Kowal is Running for SFWA President and I Endorse Her Candidacy”.

…Some of you may recall that I was SFWA president once, from 2010 to 2013. Mary Robinette was my vice president for two of those years, 2010 through 2012, and was secretary of SFWA for two years before that. In my role as president, I got a chance to see her work for SFWA up close. She was, in a word, excellent. As my VP she gave me sound advice and counsel (up to and including telling me when I was wrong), she executed on policy and strategy in ways that were smart and effective, and she was my not-so-secret weapon in instances that required tact and delicacy. She was, in sum, the very best of vice-presidents….

(3) NEXT STAR WARS COMICS ON THE WAY. Marvel’s “celebration of Star Wars characters” continues in April, with epic one-shots of heroes and villains of the original film trilogy in Age of Rebellion. For more information, visit StarWars.com.

Following the legendary sagas of the Jedi, the Sith, and more from AGE OF THE REPUBLIC, join writer Greg Pak (The Incredible Hulk, Weapon H) and artist Chris Sprouse (Black Panther) for new tales about some of the most iconic Star Wars heroes and artist Marc Laming (Beckett, Star Wars Annual) for new stories about the galaxy’s most dangerous villains. With covers by Terry and Rachel Dodson, these are stories you don’t want to miss! 

Also in April, discover brand new sides of some of your favorite – and deadly – heroes and villains in AGE OF REBELLION SPECIAL #1, written by superstar team Marc Guggenheim (X-Men Gold), Jon Adams (The New Yorker, Love Romances), and Si Spurrier (Doctor Aphra), and drawn by Adams, Caspar Wijngaard (Doctor Aphra Annual), and Andrea Broccardo (Star Wars), with cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Guru-eFX!

(4) SFWA READINGS. There are four SFWA readings coming up in the Seattle/Portland area:

Seattle

Seattle events are held at the Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant, 111 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033. Phone: (425) 822-8940. Readings start at 7pm and go until 8:30

  • January 29, 2019. KG Anderson, Joe Follansbee, Edd Vick
  • April 23, 2019. Rebecca Roanhorse, Kari Maaren, Sam J. Miller
  • September 10, 2019. Ted Chiang, Jack Skillingstead, Daryl Gregory
  • November 12, 2019. Jeff Grubb, Shanna Germain, Caroline M. Yoachim

Portland

Portland events are held at Lucky Lab on Hawthorne. 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd.  Portland, OR 97214. (503) 236-3555 Readings start at 7pm and go until 8:30

SFWA Link: https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-readers/reading-series/sfwa-northwest-reading-series/

(5) OOPS. You could be forgiven for thinking that yesterday’sTor’s promotional message contains a premature prediction, although I think it was just intended to be a list of the author’s accomplishments. See if you can spot the issue. (Image comes from here.)

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 16, 1903 Harold A. Davis. Notable as another writer of the Doc Savage novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. He was the first ghostwriter to fill in for Lester Dent on Doc Savage.  Davis would create the character of  Ham’s pet ape Chemistry in Dust of Death. (Died 1955.)
  • Born January 16, 1927Anne R. Dick. Author of Search for Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982: A Memoir and Biography of the Science Fiction Writer. Her importance to Philip despite their short marriage can be appreciated in this New York Times obit for her. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 16, 1946 Graham Masterton, 73. English horror writer with numerous titles to his credit. I want to to single out Rules of Duel, a short novel from the early 1970s that he wrote with William S. Burroughs. And The Manitou film based off his novel is a lot of bloody fun.
  • Born January 16, 1948 John Carpenter, 71. My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York.  His films include the Halloween franchise, The Thing, Starman (simply wonderful), The Philadelphia ExperimentGhosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to do particularly well?
  • Born January 16, 1949 Caroline Munro, 70.Active in SF and horror films in the Fifties and Sixties. Amongst her many  films are Hammer Horror films such as Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter and Dracula A.D. 1972. Later films include Starcrash (Christopher Plummer is in it so it can’t be that bad, can it?) and At the Earth’s Core. She appeared also as Tammy, a nursing employee of a sinister health farm, in “The Angels of Death” of The New Avengers, a vastly underrated show in my opinion if only for the fact it had the young and quite sexy Joanna  Lumley on it .
  • Born January 16, 1980 Lin-Manuel Miranda, 39. Sometimes I find that the Birthday honorees have the oddest genre credits but this is the first singer and composer I’ve run across.  His first genre credit is voicing Shag Kava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens but he also gets credited as special featured composer. Next up is as composer and singer for the animated Moana film. His most recent, and I’ve no idea if he sings in it but I assume he does, is in Mary Poppins Returns 

(7) THEY’RE DEAD JIM (OR WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS). Easy come, easy go? Newsweek lets us know that, “China’s Moon Plants That Sprouted Are Already Dead.” The experiment kicked off just before the mission’s landing site on the back side of the Moon did its monthly thing and earned the otherwise misleading title Dark Side of the Moon, (No, not that Dark Side.)

Yesterday the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that cotton seeds carried to the far side of the moon by its Chang’e 4 lander had sprouted, marking the first time that humans had successfully grown living material on the surface of another world.

But just a day later, it has emerged that the sprouting cotton buds died as night fell over the lunar far side, bringing the brief experiment to an end. The cotton seeds formed part of a “mini-biosphere” experiment aimed at understanding how plants and animals can grow and live on the moon.

The experiment involved a “mini-biosphere” consisting of a sealed metal canister filled with water, soil and air, which was designed to be its own self-sustaining ecosystem. To this mix, scientists added yeast, fruit fly eggs and the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and rock cress—a flowering plant in the mustard family.

The biosphere was powered by natural light from the Sun, so the death of the sprouts as the canister entered the lunar night—where temperatures can dip to as low as -280 degrees Fahrenheit—was anticipated by mission planners.

“Life in the canister would not survive the lunar night,” Xie Gengxin, leader of the experiment from Chongqing University, told Xinhua, China’s state-run, English language news agency.

(8) DISSENTING OPINION. Don’t count Abigail Nussbaum among the fans of Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch: “The Illusion of Free Will: On ‘Bandersnatch’ and Interactive Fiction” at Asking the Wrong Question.

After seven years, four seasons, eighteen episodes and two specials, the conversation around Black Mirror seems to have settled itself into distinct camps. There are those who see it as a meaningful commentary on the growing role of technology in modern society and the pitfalls of our growing dependence on it. And there are those who decry it as a cynical, reflexively anti-tech exercise in nastiness. I tend to think of myself as falling between the two extremes—there are a lot of ideas in Black Mirror that I find interesting and unique, especially when it comes to the intersection of technology and capitalism; but I often feel as if many of them have happened largely by accident. The show’s latest foray, however, the interactive movie “Bandersnatch”, written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, has shaken my indulgence. Not only does it revel in some of Black Mirror‘s worst excesses, it’s also an extremely bad example of interactive fiction, at a moment when the form is enjoying a creative flowering.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

January 16, 1939 — The comic strip Superman appeared. Robert Kerr writes:

80 years ago today the first Superman daily strip appeared in the Houston Chronicle. This was the first place Superman had appeared outside of Action Comics. His own solo comic book was still a couple of months away. The daily strip was where Krypton was first mentioned by name and the first place Superman got a more detailed origin. This was full circle for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Before DC Comics bought Superman for Action Comics #1, Superman was rejected by every major newspaper syndicate in the country. Before Superman pretty much created the comic book industry, cartoonist wanted their strips to be in newspapers.

(10) IT’S NOT THE WESTERN. Digg has some graphs that show “How Movie Genres Have Changed In Popularity Since 1910, Visualized”. Guess which genre is the perkiest?

The graph reveals several interesting trends. Some genres, for instance, have evidently fallen out of favor, such as musicals and westerns. In the 1930s, 15% of the movies released were musicals, while in 2018, the figure has fallen far below 5%. And although westerns saw a resurgence in the ’70s after its decline in the ’60s, the genre has had scant representation in recent years.

(11) TREK TRIVIA. ScienceFiction.com invites you to show your mastery of Star Trek and “Match The First Officer To The Starship”. The quiz is at the link.  It was tougher than I expected – I scored only 3/10!

The ships of the United Federation of Planets have a long history of service, exploration, and combat in the Star Trek Universe.  While the Captains of these ships usually end up getting most of the glory, it takes many, many crew members to effectively maintain a starship’s operations, and while the Captain is usually busy calling the shots, much of the administrative and personnel work falls to the First Officer.

This quiz will test your knowledge of those brave souls assigned to ships as the XOs.  In some cases, these characters may have only served the First Officer role for a short while; in other cases, you may see names  of officers whose adventures have squarely shown them in the second-in-command role.  This will be no easy task, but hopefully you are up for the challenge.  Engage! 

(12) ST PHONE HOME. Do you want a better ST:TOS cosplay phone? Or do you miss your flip phone? Standing on the shoulder of the Wall Street Journal (whose story is behind their paywall), Mashable proclaims that, “A rebooted Razr with a foldable smartphone screen is coming in February, report says.”

Hellooo, 2004 is calling, and it is STOKED!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lenovo and Verizon are soon to reboot the iconic aughts Razr flip phone, with a 2019 twist — or should we say…. fold!!!

The report claims that Lenovo Group, Inc. has teamed up with Verizon as an exclusive partner to sell a new version of the Razr, based on the word of “people familiar with the matter.” 

The new Razr will be a smart phone, but it will be able to retain its flip phone form because the screen will be a foldable. It will reportedly become available as soon as February (!!!), and cost $1500. Which, ouch. But that’s maybe worth it for retro foldable screen glory?

(13) WILL THE U.S. RETURN TO SPACE THIS YEAR? The Verge: “How SpaceX’s first astronaut crew is preparing to take on a brand new spacecraft” — “If schedules hold, SpaceX could fly people this summer.”

2019 may finally be the year when American astronauts launch to orbit from American soil again, ending an eight-year drought that started when NASA’s Space Shuttle program shut down in 2011. The inaugural flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are slated to take place in the coming months, and the launches will see privately owned vehicles carrying space agency astronauts for the very first time. If the current schedules hold, California-based SpaceX may be the first one to send its vehicle to space with two NASA astronauts on board.

For this Verge Science video, we visited SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to meet those astronauts and see what one possible future of American crewed spaceflight looks like.

(14) BUT THEN HE GETS GOOD REVIEWS.  A paper in Maine will not be ditching its book reviews after all: “Stephen King persuades newspaper not to scrap its book reviews”.

Author Stephen King – and his readers – have persuaded his local newspaper to reverse a decision to axe its book reviews.

The Portland Press Herald, based in his home state of Maine, had decided to stop running reviews of local books.

After King expressed dismay, the paper challenged him to get 100 followers to buy digital subscriptions.
His fans did not disappoint him, prompting the paper to pledge that “book reviews will return”.

(15) DISNEY MUSIC. “A Place Called Slaughter Race” from Ralph Breaks the Internet. Performed by Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, and Cast Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Phil Johnston, and Tom MacDougall

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

Pixel Scroll 1/1/19 We’re Going To Need A Bigger Scroll

You deserve a bigger one, but let’s pretend this Scroll came out on time!

(1) FANGRRLS INTERVIEWS KOWAL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] SYFY Wire’s Fangrrls column keeps dropping posts, in this case an interview with an author I had the honor of meeting at the late Con†Stellation in Huntsville AL (“Space the Nation: Mary Robinette Kowal on astronauts, social justice and needing glasses”). Being a geek, I was intrigued at the way she uses spreadsheets in her writing (though that was probably only the third or fourth most interesting thing in the interview).

Mary Robinette Kowal’s multi-award-winning “Lady Astronaut” series imagines what the 1950’s space race would have been like if women weren’t just behind-the-scenes “calculators” (like the heroines of “Hidden Figures”), but center-stage mission members. If you’ve grown up in an era where female astronauts are not that all remarkable, maybe this doesn’t seem like much of a twist. But consider what Kowal has to do to make such an alternate history plausible: She smashes an asteroid into the East Coast of the United States, an extinction-level event that both transforms the space race into an attempt to colonize Mars and radically reduces the number of men available to work on this ambitious project — meaning that female astronauts are needed for both their bodies and their brains.

[…]FANGRRLS: How explicitly are you thinking about modern-day politics when you’re putting these stories together?

KOWAL: Pretty explicitly. These two books were odd because I wrote them before Trump. So, writing a book in which I slam an asteroid into Washington, DC is very different before Trump than after Trump. I went on a book tour for the book before this, Ghost Talkers, and my first tour date was election day. And what I usually do is read a chapter out loud from the next book. So, election day. I read the first chapter…

FANGRRLS: The slamming asteroid chapter?

KOWAL: I read the slamming asteroid chapter. And it’s fine. Because at this point, the results are not in yet. The day after that, I read it again and the audience has a completely different reaction. It was just — it was so uncomfortable and different. And I just didn’t read it for the rest of the tour.

(2) WIRED’S PICKS FOR BEST COMICS OF LAST YEAR. Wired talks about what they consider “The Best Comics of 2018— From Sabrina to Crowded.”

Each year, more comics hit the shops than any one person could ever read. And while the splashy superhero titles are (somewhat) easier to keep up with, finding all of the great hidden gems each year is tough. We’re here to help. Below, just in time for you to spend the holiday break catching up, are some of the best books of 2018. We say some of the best because we’re not mentioning titles that have appeared in previous year-end wrap-ups—like, say, DC’s Mister Miracle, which would have appeared otherwise—nor are we including books that have only just launched, which explains the absence of Vertigo’s Goddess Mode. But enough about what didn’t make the cut—let’s look at the books that did. And the best part? Some are continuing titles, which means you’ve got more to look forward to in 2019.

The comics discussed in the rest of the article include:

  • Sabrina (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Immortal Hulk (Marvel)
  • Woman World (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Beneath the Dead Oak Tree(ShortBox)
  • Crowded (Image Comics)

(3) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 1, 1954 Midori Snyder, 65. I was most impressed with The Flight of Michael McBride, the Old West meet Irish myth story and hannah’s garden, a creepy tale of the fey and folk music. She’s seems to have been inactive for a decade now. Anyone know why?
  • Born January 1, 1957  — Christopher Moore, 62. One early novel by him, Coyote Blue, is my favorite, but anything by him is always a weirdly entertaining read. I’m hearing good things about Noir, his newest work. Has anyone read it? 
  • Born January 1, 1976Sean Wallace, 43. Anthologist, editor, and publisher known for his work on Prime Books and for co-editing three magazines, Clarkesworld Magazine which I love, The Dark, and Fantasy Magazine which is another fav of mine. He won an impressive three Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. His People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy with Rachel Swirsky is highly recommended.

(4) GET STARTED DECORATING THE SET IN LA.

(5) NEW SPACEPLANE. Another spacecraft manufacturer is looking to start cargo runs to the International Space Station in the near future (ScienceAlert: “NASA Just Cleared The “Dream Chaser” Space Cargo Plane For Full-Scale Production”). The Dream Chaser had originally been conceived as a crewed vehicle, but was repurposed after it lost out on the commercial crew program to Boeing and SpaceX. The winged craft is projected to have payload capacities of 5,500 kg up to the ISS and 1,850 kg down.

Watch out space, there’s a new commercial cargo carrier entering the race.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been given the go ahead from NASA to begin full-scale production of its “Dream Chaser” commercial space cargo plane.

Scheduled to make its first mission in 2020, the company announced on December 18 that it had cleared the last milestone in its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract.

Now the company is able to move ahead with the full-scale production of the carrier which will be used to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

BRAINS CONNECTED. Science Alert: “Brains of 3 People Have Been Successfully Connected, Enabling Them to Share Thoughts”

Neuroscientists have successfully hooked up a three-way brain connection to allow three people to share their thoughts – and in this case, play a Tetris-style game.

The team thinks this wild experiment could be scaled up to connect whole networks of people, and yes, it’s as weird as it sounds.

It works through a combination of electroencephalograms (EEGs), for recording the electrical impulses that indicate brain activity, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), where neurons are stimulated using magnetic fields.

The researchers behind the system have dubbed it BrainNet, and say it could eventually be used to connect many different minds together, even across the web.

But apart from opening up strange new methods of communication, BrainNet could actually teach us more about how the human brain functions on a deeper level.

Preprint of the paper: “BrainNet: A Multi-Person Brain-to-Brain Interface for Direct Collaboration Between Brains”.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11/18 For The World Is Hollow And I Have Scrolled The Pixel

(1) PICARD. Entertainment Weekly got the word from Alex Kurtzman: “Star Trek producer explains how Picard spin-off will be ‘extremely different'”.

“It’s an extremely different rhythm than Discovery,” [writer-director Alex] Kurtzman told EW exclusively. “Discovery is a bullet. Picard is a very contemplative show. It will find a balance between the speed of Discovery and the nature of what Next Gen was, but I believe it will have its own rhythm.”

Continued Kurtzman: “Without revealing too much about it, people have so many questions about Picard and what happened to him, and the idea we get to take time to answer those questions in the wake of the many, many things he’s had to deal with in Next Gen is really exciting. ‘More grounded’ is not the right way to put it, because season 2 of Discovery is also grounded. It will feel more…real-world? If that’s the right way to put it.”

(2) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. Also,Variety says the Picard series will be made in California to take advantage of state tax benefits: “New‘ Star Trek’ Series to Shoot in California, Selected for Tax Credit”.

CBS’s new “Star Trek” series, with Patrick Stewart reprising the role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, will shoot in California and receive a $15.6 million production tax credit.

The California Film Commission announced Monday that the untitled “Star Trek” series and eight other TV series have been selected for the latest tax credit allocations totaling $90 million under the state’s expanded Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0.

Six recurring series already in the tax credit program and picked up for another season of in-state production have also been set for allocations — Fox’s third season of “The Orville” with $15.8 million, CBS’s second season of “Strange Angel” with $10 million, Fox’s ninth season of “American Horror Story” ($8.9 million),  and the second seasons of “MayansMC” ($7.6 million), “Good Trouble” ($6.6 million) and “The Rookie” ($4.5million).

(3) LULZINE. John Coxon and España Sheriff have launched a new online fanzine called Lulzine, focused on comedy, and comedy in science fiction and fantasy. Check out Lulzine Issue 1. The editors are still looking for material that suits the first issue’s theme. (Adding stuff makes sense because Lulzine presents as a blog. But don’t tell anyone I said so.)

We’re hoping to add more articles to the first issue before we start the second issue just before Ytterbium (the next Eastercon). The theme of the first issue is comedy in television, so if anyone wants to pitch us articles, they can contact us at editors@lulzine.net.

(4) BREAKFAST WITH EINSTEIN. At Whatever, Chad Orzel explains “The Big Idea” behind his book Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects.

Quantum mechanics is one of the most amazing theories in all of science, full of stuff that captures the imagination: zombie cats, divine dice-rolling, spooky actions over vast distances. Maybe the single most amazing thing about it, though, is that we think it’s weird.

That probably seems a strange thing to say, because quantum physics is so weird, but that’s exactly the point. These are the fundamental principles governing the behavior of everything in the universe, and yet they run completely counter to our intuition about how the world works. If these are the basic rules underlying everything, shouldn’t they make sense? How can the entire universe behave according to strictly quantum laws, and yet we’re not intuitively aware of it?

(5) GLOBAL VIEW. Here’s Mortal Engines’ fascinating “Explore London 360” video –

(6) STUDY IN THIS WORLD’S HOGWARTS. Buzzfeed displays photos of “16 Libraries That Look Like Hogwarts IRL”. One of them is —

2.The University of Washington Library in Seattle, Washington

(7) CREATING AN IMPRESSION. Dave Addey takes up book covers as part of his column’s “Typeset in the Future” sub theme at Tor.com: “Designing the Future: Deconstructing Five Sci-Fi Book Covers”. He doesn’t restrict the conversation to Tor publications, I just thought this one made a good excerpt for the Scroll —

“Loss of Signal” by S. B. Divya (A Tor.com Original,2018)

…The cover’s inverted planetary relationship evokes “Earthrise”, a famous NASA photograph taken onboard Apollo 8 by astronaut Bill Anders….

Like “Earthrise” and Loss of Signal, 2001’s intro shows our home planet far in the distance, small and insignificant when compared to the moon’s barren surface in the foreground. Both images require viewers to consider their place in the universe from an entirely alien vantage point, far from the comforts of home. It’s an entirely appropriate feeling for S. B. Divya’s story of the first human mind to circle the moon without a body in tow.

(8) UNSTINCTION. Shelf Awareness calls attention to Torill Kornfeldt’s “The Re-Origin of Species: A Second Chance for Extinct Animals”.

“There is no way in which a lost species can really be brought back to life,” writes Swedish science journalist Torill Kornfeldt in her fascinating debut, The Re-Origin of Species: A Second Chance for Extinct Animals. “The nearest thing we can manage is a substitute.” But as each chapter reveals, the “substitutes” that many scientists think are possible would be nearly identical to–and just as astonishing as–the originals.

Kornfeldt travels the world to meet scientists who are attempting “de-extinction,” the practice of bringing extinct animals back to life. In Siberia, she meets Sergey Zimov, a Russian scientist attempting to revive mammoths. And in California she speaks with Ben Novak, a young scientist trying to resurrect the passenger pigeon. Other scientists are working on the northern white rhino, a Spanish ibex called a bucardo and, yes, even a dinosaur. There are still advancements to be made in genetic research before any of these experiments could result in actual resurrected animals but, according to the scientists Kornfeldt interviews, breakthroughs are happening at an unprecedented pace. De-extinction is only a few years away from becoming reality.

(9) BUT THEN I TURNED ON THE TV, AND THAT’S ABOUT THE TIME SHE WALKED AWAY FROM ME. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Looks like Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy won’t be the only science fiction TV show based on a comic book by a famous Emo band member. Blink 182 guitarist Tom DeLonge’s sci-fi graphic novel Strange Times is being turned into a show for TBS. The show will follow all-American teen Charlie Wilkins who starts investigating when his dad is abducted by aliens. He’s helped by his skateboarding friends and the ghost of a girl. Of the show, DeLonge says: “My love for all things paranormal and skateboarding are sometimes only superseded by my love for offensive humor. This series combines them all into one.” “Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge is making his own sci-fi TV series”NME has the story:

…The show is in development at US network TBS and will follow “five dirty teenage skateboarders who solve paranormal mysteries while being chased by Deep State government agents.”

(10) WHEN IT ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HAS TO BE THERE OVERNIGHT. “Mark Hamill reveals script for Star Wars IX will be flown to him and then immediately taken back amid intense plot leak fears”Daily Mail has the story.

If you can’t trust a Jedi Master, who can you trust? Mark Hamill has revealed the script for Star Wars Episode IX will be flown to him and he must immediately hand it back after reading it.

Security around the finale is so tight that the 67-year-old is no longer allowed to keep a copy. He has yet to shoot his scenes.

The actor, who plays Luke Skywalker in the sci-fi saga, is currently in Prague where he is shooting the History Channel’s Knightfall. 

(11) LIGHTSABER AUCTION CANCELLED. Profiles in History responded to the controversy reported in an earlier Scroll by withdrawing the item: “Star Wars lightsaber auction pulled over origin dispute”.

…However, the Original Prop Blog posted a series of videos raising doubts about the weapon, including alleged discrepancies between the lightsaber shown in that letter and the lightsaber in the auction catalogue.

There were also claims this might be a replica or prototype prop.

But Mr Roger Christian told the BBC it was one of five original lightsabers made for the film, saying: “It is real – I’ve got the Oscar to prove it.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1957 – William Joyce, 61. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twelve books and growing. Now I’ve no interest in reading them but Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned them into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. 
  • Born December 11, 1959  — M. Rickert, 59. Usually I don’t cotton with listing Awards but she’s rather unusual in she’s has won or been nominated for several major awards despite working largely in short fiction with I believe The Memory Garden being her only novel. “Journey into the Kingdom” was nominated for the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and an International Horror Guild Award, and won the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction Her Map of Dreams won a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection and a Crawford Award, and the collection’s title story was nominated for the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. 
  • Born December 11, 1962Ben Browder, 56. Actor of course best known for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of  Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1” episode. He’d have an appearance in Doctor Who in “A Town Called Mercy”,  a Weird Western of sorts. His most recent genre appearance was as a character named Ted Gaynor on Arrow
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 53. Best for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now. I confess I’ve not read any, so I’m curious as to how they are. Opinions? (Of course you do. Silly me.)  She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • This is no job for the sommelier: Bizarro
  • Frosty the UFOman at Bizarro.
  • Why can’t Santa guest on Star Trek? Meme will explain.

(14) TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter has his eye on the tube. Tonight’s Jeopardy!, in the category “Posthumous Books,” gave the answer as: “After death, this horror author still talked about the Necronomicon in his novel, ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.'”

Wrong question: “Who is Asimov?”

(15) SKY’S THE LIMIT. In his latest Nerds of a Feather contribution,“Microreview [Book]: The Fated Sky, by Mary Robinette Kowal”, Joe Sherry declares —

The Fated Sky stands well on its own but, when coupled with The Calculating Stars, is a masterpiece.

After reading The Calculating Stars (my review) earlier this year, I wrote about how Mary Robinette Kowal did more than achieve a sense of wonder, she brought the dream of spaceflight beyond the page and directly into readers hearts. The Calculating Stars was a masterful novel that will surely find a place on many Year’s Best lists and a number of awards ballots. It’s a lot to live up to, but the near perfection of The Calculating Stars only serves to whet the appetite for The Fated Sky.

The Fated Sky picks up a few years after the end of The Calculating Stars. There is a fledgling base and colony on the moon, regular round trip missions from the earth to the moon, and the IAC (International Aerospace Coalition) is planning for its first Mars mission. Each of the two books are tagged as “Lady Astronaut” novels and Mary Robinette Kowal won a Hugo Award for her story “The Lady Astronaut of Mars“. We know how the progression of Elma’s story, where she ends up. It isn’t about spoiling the ending, the beauty of The Fated Sky is in the journey. In this case, a journey to Mars.

(16) BATWOMAN IN CW CROSSOVER. The Hollywood Reporter tells“How Batwoman Fit Into The CW’s DC Comics World in ‘Elseworlds'”.

Batwoman has finally arrived on The CW. Ruby Rose’s iconic lesbian superhero officially made her debut during Monday’s Arrow, part two of The CW’s three-part superhero crossover “Elseworlds.” 

With Earth-1 impacted by a magical book that altered reality, Monday’s Arrow installment of The CW’s big “Elseworlds” superhero crossover found The Flash’s Barry (Grant Gustin), Arrow’s Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Supergirl’s Kara (Melissa Benoist) in Gotham to try and get to the bottom of things. Unfortunately for the heroes, a mugging (and their inability to stand down) landed the trio in jail, where they were bailed out by a mysterious figure — Kate Kane (Orange Is the New Blackgrad Rose), aka Batwoman.

(17) JUST DO IT. Mars Society president Robert Zubrin argues in the Washington Post that “We have the technology to build a colony on the moon. Let’s do it.” The author of The Case For Mars takes aim at current NASA plans to build a mini-space station that would orbit the moon, and instead suggests that the time has come to set up a permanent habitable structure on the lunar surface.

…As for landing people on the moon, NASA is vague about that, too. Apparently, if we wanted to build a lander sometime in the future, it would rendezvous with the Gateway for some reason and then attempt a landing.

This is all just plain weird. It’s like building a big, expensive aircraft carrier, positioning it off the European coast and requiring passengers going from New York to Paris to land there first and do something (although what isn’t known) until another airplane is built to pick them up to carry them to their destination. This, we suspect, is not the best way to get to France.

Rather than build this murky Gateway, which we frankly doubt the American people will understand or support, we believe the best expenditure of time and money is to simply make it a national goal to build a base on the lunar surface. Such a base would be similar to the U.S. South Pole Station and constructed for the same reasons: science, exploration, knowledge, national prestige, and economic and technological development for the benefit of the U.S. taxpayer.

…If we’re serious about going to the moon, let’s just go there. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, reminding us of the sort of things we as a nation once accomplished. We should resolve now to do no less.

(18) STOP AND GO. First story isn’t good news: Himalayan glaciers are slowing because they’ve thinned enough that there’s less mass to move them downhill, and their outflows provide inland water. Second story also isn’t good news: Satellite images show Antarctic glaciers getting more lubrication on their way to the ocean, where they’ll melt and raise ocean levels.

The glaciers that flank the Himalayas and other high mountains in Asia are moving slower over time.

Scientists have analysed nearly 20 years of satellite images to come to this conclusion.

They show that the ice streams which have decelerated the mostare the ones that have also thinned the most.

The region has long been considered stable and unaffected by some of the more dramatic changes occurring elsewhere on the continent.

But satellites have now shown that ice streams running into the ocean along one-eighth of the eastern coastline have thinned and sped up.

If this trend continues, it has consequences for future sea levels.

There is enough ice in the drainage basins in this sector of Antarctica to raise the height of the global oceans by 28m – if it were all to melt out.

(19) GAME CENSORS. From BBC we learn that “China’s new games censors take tough stance”.

A panel of censors set up to vet mobile video games in China has signalled it will be hard to please.

State media reports that of the first 20 titles it assessed, nine were refused permission to go on sale.

The Xinhua news agency added that developers of the other 11 had been told they had to make adjustments to remove “controversial content”.

There has been a clampdown on new video game releases in the country since March.

The authorities have voiced concerns about the violent nature of some titles as well as worries about the activity being addictive.

President Xi Jinping has also called for more to be done to tackle a rise in near-sightedness among the young – something that the country’s ministry of education has linked to children playing video games at the cost of spending time on outdoor pastimes.

(20) FILMING IN NEW ZEALAND. The Hollywood Reporter shows how Peter Jackson’s pioneer efforts have paid off for New Zealand: “‘Avatar’ to ‘Mulan’: Hollywood Movies Are Keeping New Zealand Busier Than Ever”.

…In addition to recently hosting summer blockbusters like Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible — Fallout and the giant shark thriller The Meg, the New Zealand production uptick is indeed evidenced by the volume of high-profile projects that are in varying stages of production right now.

James Cameron is gearing up for the monumental task of shooting all three of the Avatar sequels there simultaneously early in 2019. The films were brought to New Zealand via a government deal that requires 20thCentury Fox to spend no less than NZ $500 million (about $345 million)in-country and to hold at least one of the world premieres there.

Meanwhile, Disney is just wrapping production on its live-action adaptation of Mulan, with a budget north of $100 million and Kiwi director Niki Caro at the helm. The project shot on the new stages at Kumeu Film Studios in West Auckland as well as on locations across the country. Netflix, of course, also is active in New Zealand, having recently begun filming the family fantasy series The Letter for the King in Auckland; Amazon Studios, meanwhile, is shooting the YA series The Wilds in Auckland nearby. Also courtesy of Amazon, the franchise that made New Zealand synonymous with Middle Earth is tipped to be coming back to the island nation — for many in the local industry, it’s simply unthinkable that the streamer’s Lord of the Rings TV series, with a rumored budget of $500 million, won’t shoot there.

(21) BEST RESOURCE. Congratulations to Mark Kelly who has added contents of 15 best-of-year anthology series to his Science Fiction Awards Database site, with single-page composite tables of contents for each series, and all stories included on their authors’ individual pages. (He still has more such series yet to do, for example, the Datlow/Windling series.) See “Anthologies & Collections Directory”. The first 15 “bests” include–

1939 – 1963  • Asimov/Greenberg • The Great SF Stories (DAW, 1979 – 1992)

1948 – 1957  • Bleiler/Dikty • The Best Science-Fiction Stories and Novels (1949 – 1958)

1955 – 1967  • Judith Merril • Year’s Best S-F (1956 – 1967)

1964 – 1970  • Wollheim/Carr • World’s Best Science Fiction (Ace, 1965 – 1971)

1967 – 1975  • Harrison/Aldiss • Best SF (1968 – 1976)

1974 – 1975  • Lester del Rey • Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year (Dutton, 1972 – 1976)

1971 – 1989  • Donald A. Wollheim • Annual World’s Best SF (DAW, 1972 – 1990)

1971 – 1986  • Terry Carr • Best Science Fiction of the Year + Fantasy (1972 – 1987)

1976 – 1980  • Gardner Dozois • Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year (Dutton, 1977 – 1981)

1983 – 2017  • Gardner Dozois • Year’s Best Science Fiction (St. Martin’s, 1984 – 2018)

1995 – 2012  • Hartwell/Cramer • Year’s Best SF, Year’s Best Fantasy (1996 – 2013)

2001 – 2004  • Silverberg/Haber/Strahan • Science Fiction Best of, Fantasy Best of (ibooks: 2002 – 2005)

2003 – 2017  • Jonathan Strahan • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year (2004 – 2018)

2005 – 2017  • Rich Horton • The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy (Prime, 2006 – 2018)

2015 – 2017  • Neil Clarke • The Best Science Fiction of the Year (Night Shade, 2016 – 2018)

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

Pixel Scroll 11/26/18 Caution: Pixels In Scroll Are Closer Than They Appear

(1) POUNDING AWAY AT IT. Although I’ll never carry this much British cash, I’m interested in the story: “New £50 note scientist nominations released”.

 On the list are computing pioneers Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and astronomer Patrick Moore.

The Bank received 174,112 nominations, of which 114,000 met the eligibility criteria.

To be on the list, the individual must be real, deceased and have contributed to the field of science in the UK.

The list, which includes more than 600 men and almost 200 women, includes black holes expert Stephen Hawking, penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming, father of modern epidemiology John Snow, naturalist and zookeeper Gerald Durrell, fossil pioneer Mary Anning, British-Jamaican business woman and nursing pioneer Mary Seacole and Margaret Thatcher, who was a scientist before becoming prime minister.

Here’s the Bank of England’s eligibility list [PDF file]. Fred Hoyle is on it. (Don’t you think he looks darling in the mockup below?) Keep looking, probably lots more sf writer/scientists. And I see other unexpected names – like Jethro Tull….

The BBC story notes that there are a lot of women and minorities on the list, but not whether the bank intends to pick someone ignored rather than someone obviously famous. Hawking is the favorite of bookmakers, but women are #2, #3 (tied) and #6 on that list.

(2) EARLY START ON NEBULA WEEKEND PROGRAM. I’m hungry already.

(3) INSIGHT REACHES THE SURFACE OF MARS. CNN follows the headline with a full retrospective of the mission: “NASA’s InSight lander has touched down on Mars”.

After seven months of traveling through space, the NASA InSight mission has landed on Mars. A few minutes after landing, InSight sent the official “beep” to NASA to signal that it was alive and well, including a photo of the Martian surface where it landed.

Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory exploded into celebratory applause and cheers after the touchdown was confirmed. The landing was watched around the world and even broadcast live on the Nasdaq Stock Market tower in New York City’s Times Square.

(4) OUTASIGHT. Satirical Canadian news site The Beaverton suggests that the lander must be glad to be away from humans: “Mars probe glad to leave doomed Earth behind”.

“After the atmospheric entry procedure, InSight reported that it was ‘functioning normally, unlike your ill-fated Earth-bound governments,’” said NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a press release…

(5) SLOSHING ON THE RED CARPET. Elle’s R. Eric Thomas wasn’t a big fan of the stars’ red carpet outfits: “I Don’t Really Understand the ‘Aquaman’ Premiere’s Dress Code”.

Look, I don’t want to rain on the parade here. I’m not trying to dampen anyone’s spirits. I don’t want to be a wet blanket. I’m not trying to be a drip. But, what was the dress code for this event?

Amber Heard is going very literal with an Esther Williams realness water ballet lewk, complete with an embroidered cap. Loves it. She is giving me 1970s country club loungewear vibes. She just got a perm and she’s just trying to get some sun and maybe stick her feet in the pool. That all tracks.

But what is is Jason Momoa doing in this scenario? This look says less Son of Atlanna and more Son of Anarchy. Whereas Amber is giving us Busby Berkley balletics, Jason is serving Rizzo from Grease.

(6) LAST GEEKWIRE. Frank Catalano reports, “I’ve decided to end my GeekWire podcast series on science fiction, pop culture, and the arts. Or at least take a long pause that, hopefully, refreshes –”

After 18 stories and 14 episodes over about a year and a half, the “popcast” I hosted has run the gamut for now. GeekWire generally is rethinking its podcast strategy, so the timing is right. The episodes were great fun, and not only were the podcasts distributed through Google Play and Apple Podcasts, but they also aired in Seattle on KIRO-FM on the weekends.

Among the science fiction episodes were interviews with Greg Bear, Cat Rambo and Ramez Naam, a look at the history of Clarion West, how Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture looks for and preserves science fiction and fantasy artifacts, and how the SF and science fact site Scout uses science fiction as a business planning tool.

All episodes were recorded in real time and not heavily produced, on purpose, to make the guests and topics the star, not the production. However, the audio quality was always excellent.

I will continue to cover science fiction for GeekWire, but just not necessarily in audio form. (Unless Brian Herbert finally gives me that interview I’ve been pestering him about for 18 months, if he ever makes it into Seattle proper.)

All the episodes and stories can be found at this link: https://www.geekwire.com/tag/popcast

(7) JAY OBIT. Magician and actor Ricky Jay died November 24 reports Variety. BravoLimaPoppa3 notes: “For genre related works, he was in The Prestige, Mystery Men and an episode of the X-Files. Plus he could pull off stunts that made magic look real – as close to a real life wizard as you could get. He will be missed.”

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 26, 1986Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home had a whale of a time

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 26, 1919 – Frederik Pohl, Writer, Editor, and Member of First Fandom, who was active for more seventy-five years from his first published work, the 1937 poem “Elegy to a Dead Satellite: Luna” to his final novel All the Lives He Led. He edited Astounding Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction and Galaxy Science Fiction UK, If, Star Science Fiction Magazine (which I’ve never heard of), Super Science Stories which were a companion to Astounding Stories, and the list goes on. As a writer, he was amazing. My favorite was the Heechee series, though I confess some novels were far better than others; Gateway won Hugo Nebula, Campbell, Prix Apollo, and Locus Awards for Best Novel. Man Plus, I think, is phenomenal, the sequel less so. Your opinion, of course, will no doubt vary. The Space Merchants, co-written with Cyril M. Kornbluth in 1952, is damn fun. He wrote a lot of short fiction, some I think brilliant and some not – but that was true of most SF writers of the time. That he was great, and that he was honoured for being great, is beyond doubt — he won seven Hugo Awards (three as editor, three as author, and one as fan writer!) and two Nebula Awards; and for his 1979 novel Jem, he won a U.S. National Book Award in the special one-off category Science Fiction. SWFA made him its 12th recipient of their Grand Master Award in 1993, and he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 26, 1936 – Shusei Nagaoka, Artist and Illustrator from Japan who is best known for his music album cover art in the 1970s and 1980s. He designed covers for many of Earth, Wind and Fire’s albums, and many of his covers were very distinctively SFFnal; especially notable are Out of the Blue, by Electric Light Orchestra and When We Rock, We Rock, and When We Roll, We Roll by Deep Purple. His art also graced numerous genre books, including Tepper’s After Long Silence, Attanasio’s The Last Legends of Earth, and Reed’s Down the Bright Way. He helped to design the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair Expo, and had one of the first artworks which was launched into outer space and attained orbit, via the Russian Mir Space Station, in 1991. He won a Seiun Award for Best Artist in 1982. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 26, 1939 – Tina Turner, 79, Grammy-winning Actor, Composer, Singer, and Dancer. She rates being mentioned just for being the oh-so-over-the-top Aunty Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, but let’s not forget her as The Acid Queen in the musical Tommy, and a cameo as The Mayor in The Last Action Hero.
  • Born November 26, 1940 – Paul J. Nahin, 78, Engineer and Writer of numerous non-fiction works, some of genre interest, and at least 20 SF short fiction works. Time travel is certainly one of the intrinsic tropes of SF, so certainly there should be at least one academic that specializes in studying it. Oh, there is: I present this Professor Emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of New Hampshire who has written not one, but three, works on the subject, to wit: Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics, and Science Fiction, Time Travel: A Writer’s Guide to the Real Science of Plausible Time Travel, and Time Machine Tales: The Science Fiction Adventures and Philosophical Puzzles of Time Travel. No mere dry academic is he, as he’s also had stories published in genre venues which include Analog, Omni, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine.
  • Born November 26, 1949 – Victoria Poyser-Lisi, 69, Artist, Illustrator, Teacher, and Fan who was inspired at the 1979 World Fantasy Convention to become a genre artist. She did more than a hundred covers and interior illustrations for fanzines, magazines, and books, and won two of her three Hugo Award nominations for Best Fan Artist. She now works in collaborative children’s book illustration and instructional painting books, and teaches drawing and painting courses in Colorado.
  • Born November 26, 1961 – Steve MacDonald, 57, Musician, Writer, Singer, Filker, and Fan. He served for several years as the Evangelista for the Pegasus Awards (the Filkers’ most prestigious awards, given out by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest), and was responsible for many changes in the award process that led to greater participation among the voting base. In 2001, he attended ten filk conventions around the world and recorded filkers singing “Many Hearts, One Voice”, a song he had composed; the tracks were merged electronically for the WorlDream project to celebrate the new millennium. He has won six Pegasus Awards, for Best Performer, Writer/Composer, Filk Song, Adapted Song, Dorsai Song, and Myth Song. He has been Filk Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame in 2006, after which he emigrated to Germany to marry fellow filker Katy Droge, whom he had met eight years before at OVFF.
  • Born November 26, 1966 – Garcelle Beauvais, 52, Actor and Producer born in Haiti, whose first role was in Manhunter, the original adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon featuring Hannibal Lector. She has also appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, I Know Who Killed Me, and the steampunk Wild Wild West film, had a main role in the cybertech TV series Eyes, and played recurring roles in Grimm and The Magicians.
  • Born November 26, 1973 – Peter Facinelli, 45, Actor, Director, and Producer whose genre appearances include a main role in all of the Twilight movies, the first season of Supergirl, parts in The Scorpion King, The Damned, Angela, and Hollow Man 2, and as the oh-so-creepy villain in Supernova.

(10) TRUMP TREK. Reason’s Jonathan Rauch wastes no subtlety on “How Star Trek Explains Donald Trump”

Sociopaths have haunted fiction since fiction began, and no wonder. Sociopathy is civilization’s greatest challenge. Richard III and Iago; Raskolnikov, Kurtz, Willie Stark, and Humbert Humbert; J.R. Ewing, Frank Underwood, and even HAL 9000. How do we understand the narcissist, the demagogue, the liar, the manipulator, the person without scruples or conscience? The creative imagination can probe dark places that psychology and medicine can’t reach. So I am not being cute when I say that Star Trek is a source of insight into the universe of President Donald Trump.

….In “Mirror, Mirror,” the normal Kirk, realizing he has entered a barbaric parallel world, is able to impersonate a barbarian long enough to save himself and his shipmates. In our own universe, meanwhile, Kirk’s corrupt counterpart cannot fake values like empathy, trust, and fair play, and quickly finds himself locked in the brig. The sociopath may be charismatic, wily, and manipulative, but he lacks the moral depth and imagination to fool people who do not wish to be fooled….

This did not go over well with Reason readers, however, you need to register to read the comments. If you’re not willing, just think of a lot of comments that sound like Tank Marmot wrote them…

(11) FACE THE MUSIC. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Apropos item (6) (“Negative Feedback”) from the Pixel Scroll of this past Saturday (11/24), Gizmodo brings us news that “Facial Recognition Flags Woman on Bus Ad for ‘Jaywalking’ in China”. A businesswoman whose visage appeared in ads on busses was publicly shamed for jaywalking, before the authorities had to pull an Emily Litella.

China’s surveillance system is becoming increasingly omnipresent, with an estimated 200 million cameras and counting. While this state of existence alone is unsettling, it’s even more troubling that the machines are fucking up even the simplest task.

Last week, the face of Dong Mingzhu—the chairwoman of a leading air conditioner manufacturer in China—was displayed on a giant Billboard-sized screen in Ningbo, a major port city in east China’s Zhejiang province, to publicly shame her for breaking a traffic law. Zhejiang is one of the provinces that last year deployed facial recognition technology that humiliates citizens who jaywalk by putting their photos on massive LED screens. But the cameras didn’t catch Mingzhu jaywalking—they identified a photo of her in a bus ad, South China Morning Post reported.

The error was caught, acknowledged, and corrected and the police were even thanked by Dong Mingzhu’s company (Gree Electric Appliances) “for their hard work” in a blog post. One may be forgiven for wondering if the error would have been caught, acknowledged, or corrected had the citizen offended been of a less lofty station.

(12) CYBER MONDAY. Via KinjaDeals, “ThinkGeek’s Cyber Monday Sale Is a Bonkers 50% Off Sitewide”.

for Cyber Monday, ThinkGeek is taking 50% off sitewide via coupon code DOTCOM. Combined with the lowered free shipping threshold (today you have to spend only $35 pre-discount, rather than the usual $75)

Daniel Dern suggests: “If nothing else, grab a ’Bag of Holding – Con-Survival Edition’here’s an image — It quickly became my favorite day bag, not just for cons but also trade shows and general carrying of stuff during a day.”

(13) ROAR OF SKY. Jana Nyman praises Beth Cato’s trilogy-ending book in “Roar of Sky: A solid conclusion to this magical alternate-history trilogy” at Fantasy Literature. (Beware spoilers.)

…However, I do love everything about the magic system, and Cato’s exploration of geomancy and its potential uses for good and ill is thoughtful and feels sturdy, like it could actually exist. Madam Pele is literally awesome. The sylphs are fun without becoming twee….

(14) MALKA OLDER’S SERIES. Abigail Nussbaum looks over “A Political History of the Future: State Tectonics by Malka Older” for Lawyers, Guns & Money.

The point of the Centennal Cycle books, as I see it, is not to offer a plausible alternative to our current democratic system, but to encourage us to ask questions about how that system is organized, and whether we could make different choices that could lead to better outcomes. The idea of a non-contiguous political entity, for example, one that is united by shared policy preferences rather than ethnic or national identity, is an intriguing one. So is the notion of expanding the concept of political parties past national lines (though on a darker note, it also has its echoes in discussions we’ve had on this site about the trans-national nature of many far-right, supremacist movements). It’s not so much that you’d want to pursue any of these ideas in the real world, as that they provide an interesting thought experiment with which to expand your understanding of what government is and can be.

(15) REFINER’S FIRE. This is a hell of a story from the LA Times coverage of the Northern California fires: “As deadly flames approached, a mother called her daughters to say goodbye”. (Definitely skip the comments on this one.)

This is how I die.

She is standing in the driveway of a sand-colored house — she doesn’t know whose — and the air is choked with smoke.

The sky is a nuclear orange. Wind is hurling embers against her body and into her blond wavy hair.

She has just seen an ambulance melt. Transformers are blowing up around her. Homes are caving in and trees are bowing. Fleeing cars have jammed the roads, and flames dance on both sides of the asphalt….

[Thanks to Alan Baumler, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Olav Rokne, BravoLimaPoppa3, Mike Kennedy, Frank Catalano, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 11/6/18 Scroll it, Jake. It’s Pixeltown.

(1) KAIJU INSTANT CLASSIC. Adam Roberts spent the morning on a retelling of the story of Godzilla in the style of Pope’s Homer: The Godziliad.

It beginneth thus:

Book 1
Godzilla’s wrath, to Earth the direful spring
Of woes unnumber’d, heavenly goddess, sing!
What grudge could light the fierce atomic breath
That burnt so many citizens to death?
What move four mighty limbs to crush and tear
Whole city blocks and scatter them to air?

(2) STORYBOARDING PARTY. If you’d been at last weekend’s World Fantasy Convention you’d have seen a selection of original art from GoH Scott Edelman’s comics writing. He says, “I gave a docent tour for one hour during the con, and then talked endlessly about the pieces during the Art Reception.”

(3) DEADPOOL SAYS “FUDGE CANCER.” Why so restrained? Because charity will benefit from a cleaned-up re-release of Deadpool 2 — “‘Once Upon A Deadpool’: Ryan Reynolds (and Fred Savage) On Franchise’s PG-13 Plunge”.

All Fox wants for Christmas are 12 more days of Deadpool — that’s certainly one valid interpretation of the studio’s plan to revamp, rename and re-release the year’s biggest R-rated hit, Deadpool 2, as a PG-13 film called Once Upon A Deadpool. There’s more to it than that, however. Deadline has all the details about the studio’s unconventional plan — a plan that may have intriguing relevance when viewed through the prism of the Disney-Fox merger and the future of the red-hot Deadpool franchise.

First some of those details: Once Upon a Deadpool will have a limited-engagement that begins Dec. 12 and concludes on Christmas Eve, positioning it as a box-office play aimed at young teens on holiday break from school. The lion’s share of Once Upon Deadpool  is footage from Deadpool 2 that has been edited to meet PG-13 thresholds of violence and language. There’s also new footage in the form of a framing sequence that was conceived by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Working with a small film crew, Reynolds and his cohorts filmed all the framing scenes in a single hectic day of guerrilla-style filmmaking.

There’s a major charity component to the limited-engagement release, too, as Reynolds explained to Deadline that for every ticket sold $1 will go to the audaciously named F-ck Cancer campaign, which will be temporarily renamed “Fudge Cancer” for the purpose of tie-in fundraising effort….

(4) VOYNICH SPECULATIONS. Monica Valentinelli has a theory: “Why I Believe the Voynich Manuscript was Created by a Woman”.

I have a facsimile of the folios, and after reviewing all the theories I’ve realized the Voynich Manuscript may have been written by a woman.

For background, the vellum has been carbon-dated to the early 1400s, and illustrations potentially place its author in Northern Italy. Okay, so what was happening in Northern Italy at that time? The Italian Renaissance was flourishing despite the long shadow of the Holy Roman Empire and the established patriarchy. While it’s true that belief in witches during this time period was present, primarily among peasants and commoners, keep in mind the hysteria not peak until much later following the publication of the international best-seller Malleus Maleficarum in 1486.

Why write an untranslatable book about women’s health during the Italian Renaissance? One that has no overtly Christian or Catholic-specific symbols in it, either? On the one hand, you have an age of discovery and a period of enlightenment. On the other, you have the establishment of the Church and its political might. In between, however, you also have the birth of an Italian feminist movement that began in the late 14th century. Several Italian women of privilege were not only literate, they also taught at university, published books, and participated in the Italian Renaissance as thinkers of their age. Dorotea Bucca was a professor of health and medicine in Bologna, for example, for forty years from 1390-1430. As another example, Christine di Pizan challenged the idea that women were inferior to men by publishing the City of Ladies in 1404.

This, dear reader, points to my “who”. Who would be interested in writing a book that emphasized women’s health?…

(5) SKEIN POWER. Mary Robinette Kowal exercises hypnotic powers in this tweet –

(6) LLAMA LLAMA DUCK. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Did you get your flu shot yet this year? If not, stop reading this and go get it… but even when you do, each year’s shot is tailored to provide protection from a few strains of the influenza virus that scientific consensus says are probably going to be the ones going around. And sometimes they are wrong. Ars Technica has a story about antibodies that don’t have to be tailored to specific influenza strains and they depend on, of all things, llamas (“Llama ‘nanobodies’ might grant universal flu protection”).

Llama antibodies are different from ours. Our antibodies are a mix of two pairs of proteins, heavy and light, wrapped around each other. Llamas, camels, and sharks all use only a pair of heavy chains. Because they are smaller, they can wedge into molecular crevices that our larger antibodies can’t access. Perhaps that’s why scientists based at The Scripps Institute decided to use them as a basis for flu protection.

[…] Current flu vaccines generate antibodies to the head of the hemagglutinin protein [on the flue virus], which is highly variable. This is why we need to get a new shot every year: it ensures we make antibodies that bind to and counteract the strain in circulation that year. Broadly neutralizing antibodies that recognize all forms of hemagglutinin have been made and tested, but they don’t combat [some types of] influenza [at all], and they don’t last for very long in our upper airways.

[…] Each [of four llama] antibod[ies] neutralized a group of flu viruses, not just one; but the groups of viruses did not overlap. So the scientists made a composite antibody by fusing parts of different llama antibodies with a human antibody base (the parts are termed “nanobodies” and targeted two different regions on the hemagglutinin stem). In a test tube, the resulting fusion antibodies could neutralize flu strains that neither of their single constituents could alone. When given to mice intravenously a day before the mice were infected with flu, the fusion antibodies were protective against a panel of 60 different flu viruses. And when administered to the mice intranasally a month before infection, they were also able to confer protection.

(7) DESK SET. In “In Disney’s Golden Age, a Modernist Pioneer Designed the Perfect Animator’s Desk” by Ben Marks in Collectors Weekly, Marks looks at the animator’s desks designed by Kem Weber in 1939 and how they enabled Disney animators to do good work for nearly 50 years.

As a filmmaker, Disney always had big plans. As a builder, though, Walt Disney may have been even more ambitious, spending much of 1938 and ’39 consulting with his new studio’s architect, Kem Weber. Together, they created a work environment that was designed expressly for animators. Weber’s low-rise buildings, which quickly filled with the company’s roughly 800 employees, were sited to maximize northern exposure, ensuring optimal natural light for Disney’s small army of animators. Even the birch plywood desks these animators sat at were customized for their tasks, whether they were sketching storyboards, executing the entry-level grunt work of the “inbetweener,” or painting backgrounds.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 6, 1981 Time Bandits was released

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 6, 1907 – Catherine Crook de Camp, Writer, Editor, Teacher, and Member of First Fandom. Most of her fiction, nonfiction, and anthology editing work was done in collaboration with her husband of 60 years, L. Sprague de Camp, but she was also a member of SFWA and an author in her own right, producing a number of genre short stories and poems, and editing the anthology Creatures of the Cosmos. She attended dozens of SF conventions, and in later years was Guest of Honor at a significant number of them. One of the people to whom Heinlein dedicated his novel Friday, she was nominated for a World Fantasy Special Award for Professional Achievement, and honored with the Raymond Z. Gallun Award for outstanding contributions to the genre of science fiction.
  • November 6, 1910 – Sarban (John William Wall), Diplomat and Writer from England whose writing career was early and brief, but he is notable for his 1952 novel The Sound of His Horn, one of the earliest alt-history stories describing a world where the Nazis won World War II, 10 years before Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.
  • November 6, 1947 – Carolyn Seymour, 71, Actor from England who is likely to be best known to genre fans for her roles as Romulans in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation; she also played a member of an alien race in another TNG episode, and a holodeck character in Voyager. Other genre roles in TV series include a main role in the BBC’s Survivors, a recurring role on Quantum Leap, and guest appearances on Babylon 5, The Greatest American Hero, Otherworld, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The (new) Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, and Blue Thunder, parts in the films The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and numerous voice roles in animated series and videogames, including Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Gears of War.
  • November 6, 1948 – Michael Dirda, 70, Pulitzer Prize-winning Writer, Journalist, and Critic, currently reviewing books for The Washington Post. He has numerous connections to genre, including providing the Introduction to the omnibus of Asimov’s Foundation series, an essay on Gene Wolfe in the Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 anthology, an Appreciation of Elizabeth Hand in the Readercon 20 Souvenir Book, and a ghost story in All Hallows magazine. On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling, won an Edgar Award for Best Critical / Biographical Works. Also worth bringing to your attention is Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books, which y’all should naturally be interested in reading.
  • November 6, 1955 – Dr. Catherine Asaro, 63, Physicist, Mathematcian, Writer, Poet, Dancer, Singer, and Fan who started out with her own fanzine in the early 90s  After having one short work published in 1993, she burst onto the SFF scene in 1995 with Primary Inversion, a Compton Crook finalist and the first of at least 16 novels and many shorter works in what was to become the acclaimed Skolian War Saga. Her works have accumulated numerous Hugo and Nebula nominations, and she has taken two of those lucite trophies home. She is popular with fans, and has been Guest of Honor at nearly two dozen conventions (and JJ caught her working enthusiastically at the New Zealand in 2020 promotional table at Worldcon 76).
  • November 6, 1961 – Kim Huett, 57, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Australia who has been editor of, and contributor to, numerous fanzines and apazines, as well as occasional posts for File 770. Although he has mostly gafiated from fandom, he blogs at Doctor Strangemind about forgotten stories of fantastic literature and those who have written it.
  • November 6, 1966 – Peter DeLuise, 52, Actor, Writer, Director, and Producer. After early genre appearances in Solarbabies, Children of the Night, and Bloodsuckers, and guest roles on TV series Supernatural, Highlander, Andromeda, SeaQuest DSV, Third Rock from the Sun, The New Outer Limits, and Stargate SG-1, he began working as producer, writer, director, and creative consultant for SG-1, and went on to do the same for Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe. Among his numerous other directing credits are the series jPod and the fantasy film Beyond Sherwood Forest.
  • November 6, 1970 – Ethan Hawke, 48, Oscar-nominated Actor, Writer, and Director who is best known to genre fans for lead roles in the Hugo- and Saturn-nominated Gattaca and Predestination, the adaptation of Heinlein’s “All You Zombies –”, as well as The Woman in the Fifth, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Explorers, and Sinister (his scenes in the Total Recall remake ended up on the cutting room floor).
  • November 6, 1971 – P. Djèlí Clark, 47, Historian, Critic and Afro-Caribbean-American Writer of speculative fiction who has produced numerous works of short fiction in the last seven years, including the particularly acclaimed novella The Black God’s Drums and the novelette “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”. His work has been published in Strange Horizons, FIYAH, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Tor.com, and various anthologies.
  • November 6, 1972 – Rebecca Romijn, 46, Actor who played Mystique in the X-Men films, but my favorite role for her is as Eve Baird, The Guardian of the Library that crosses all realities in The Librarians series. She also was a regular on Eastwick, yet another riff the John Updike novel about modern-day witches, she voiced Lois Lane in the animated The Death of Superman, and appeared in the Rollerball remake and S1m0ne. She has been cast as Number One in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.
  • November 6, 1972 – Thandie Newton, 46, Actor and Producer who has been playing a main role in the Saturn-winning TV series Westworld, for which she also received a Saturn nomination. She has also appeared in genre films Solo: A Star Wars Story, Mission: Impossible 2, The Chronicles of Riddick, the Hugo finalist Interview with the Vampire, Beloved, Vanishing on 7th Street, and 2012: We Were Warned.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Half Full concocts a holiday nightmare from leftover pumpkins.

(11) ANOTHER GHOST OF HALLOWEEN PAST. Here’s a relic. The episode of Route 66 aired October 26, 1962 featured guest stars Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney, Jr.

As first broadcast on October 26th, 1962, here’s the famous Halloween episode of ROUTE 66, complete with original network commercials, just as it was seen a half-century ago.

 

(12) WET AND WILD. Apparently, it takes two to tango; if you tango in a swamp (Deadline:‘Swamp Thing’ Finds Its Swamp Thing, Sets Derek Mears & Andy Bean For Roles”). The “DC Universe” streaming service is casting two actors to play the titular character in Swamp Thing—one wearing the suit and one not.

DC Universe’s upcoming Swamp Thing series is continuing to cast up, setting Power‘s Andy Bean to play biologist Alec Holland, who in the DC mythology as created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson transforms into the titular creature. Derek Mears, who played another horror icon Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th reboot, will play the bog monster.

The streaming series, which hails from James Wan’s Atomic Monster in association with Warner Bros Television, is set to premiere in 2019 on the DC Universe digital subscription service.

(13) MARTIAN CHRONICLE. Did you know that Google has now mapped Mars? And more than that, Google Mars performs an assortment of special searches – like the one that pinpoints where all the spacecraft on the planet’s surface currently are.

(14) DOG TREK. “Live Long And Paws-Per”  came out in 2016 but it’s news to me!

(15) FASHION STATEMENT. This could be the perfect gift for someone you know: Star Trek Airlock t-shirt.

(16) WORM RUNNERS. NPR inquires: “These Flatworms Can Regrow A Body From A Fragment. How Do They Do It And Could We?” Chip Hitchcock comments, “Older fans may remember The Worm Runners Digest, a mix of oddball humor and serious articles about the possibility that memory could be transmitted by consuming RNA — since disproved, but the basis of Niven’s ‘The Fourth Profession.’ Now flatworms might show us something usable.”

Other animals like starfish, salamanders and crabs can regrow a tail or a leg. Some planarians, on the other hand, can regrow their entire bodies — even their heads, which only a few animals can do.

Key to planarians’ regenerative ability are powerful cells called pluripotent stem cells, which make up one-fifth of their bodies and can grow into every new body part. Humans only have pluripotent stem cells during the embryonic stage, before birth. After that, we mostly lose our ability to sprout new organs.

(17) POWERING UP. Beyond “slow glass”: “How the humble lamp-post could help power our cities”. A new material can be both structural and photoelectric; another doesn’t require the processing that silicon does.

New materials certainly show promise. Cement mixtures made from power station waste could turn buildings in to batteries, for example.

These potassium-geopolymetric (KGP) composites are cheaper than ordinary cement and can store electricity. A six-metre tall lamp-post made from KGP and equipped with a small solar panel could hold enough energy to power itself throughout the evening, researchers say.

(18) DAM NUISANCES. Researchers say “Large hydropower dams ‘not sustainable’ in the developing world”; based on a paper here).

A new study says that many large-scale hydropower projects in Europe and the US have been disastrous for the environment.

Dozens of these dams are being removed every year, with many considered dangerous and uneconomic.

But the authors fear that the unsustainable nature of these projects has not been recognised in the developing world.

Thousands of new dams are now being planned for rivers in Africa and Asia….

The problem, say the authors of this new paper, is that governments were blindsided by the prospect of cheap electricity without taking into account the full environmental and social costs of these installations.

More than 90% of dams built since the 1930s were more expensive than anticipated. They have damaged river ecology, displaced millions of people and have contributed to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases from the decomposition of flooded lands and forests.

…”Large hydropower doesn’t have a future, that is our blunt conclusion,” said Prof Moran.”

(19) MR. DATA, WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE? More foaming at the mouth about this drive-by asteroid: “Scientists say mysterious ‘Oumuamua’ object could be an alien spacecraft”.

Now a pair of Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. As they say in a paper to be published Nov. 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.”

The researchers aren’t claiming outright that aliens sent Oumuamua. But after a careful mathematical analysis of the way the interstellar object sped up as it shot past the sun, they say Oumuamua could be a spacecraft pushed through space by light falling on its surface — or, as they put it in the paper, a “lightsail of artificial origin.”

Who would have sent such a spacecraft our way — and why?

“It is impossible to guess the purpose behind Oumuamua without more data,” Avi Loeb, chairman of Harvard’s astronomy department and a co-author of the paper, told NBC News MACH in an email. If Oumuamua is a lightsail, he added, one possibility is that it was floating in interstellar space when our solar system ran into it, “like a ship bumping into a buoy on the surface of the ocean.”

…But Loeb called the conjecture “purely scientific and evidence-based,” adding, “I follow the maxim of Sherlock Holmes: When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

(20) DINOCHROME. BBC discusses “Dinosaur world ‘more colourful than we thought'”.

…”We think that camouflage is one of the main drivers.”

Researchers detected the same two pigments that are present in colourful birds eggs in a group of dinosaurs called eumaniraptorans.

Comparisons with the eggs of modern birds suggest the clawed predator Deinonychus laid a blue egg with brown blotches.

The birdlike feathered Oviraptor had eggs that were a dark blue-green, like an emu.

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Dr. Evil Runs for Congress” on YouTube, Dr. Evil showed up on Fallon and says he is running for Congress on the Eviltarian Party to “Make America Evil Again.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/21/18 These Pixel Scrolls May Contain Apocalyptic Stories About The End Of Days

(1) CONGRATULATIONS MAYOR RODEN. World Fantasy Award winner Barbara Roden (1997, 2005) is the newly-elected mayor of Ashcroft, British Columbia – the first woman elected to the office. The population of Ashcroft is around 1,500.

(2) AWARD FOR SJW CREDENTIALS IN LITERATURE. The Stephen Memorial Book Award for books with distinctive cats is a literary award that will be of interest to many Filers.

The 2018 winner is a memoir:

The Three Kitties That Saved My Life by Michael Meyer

Cat: Sable, Coco and Pom Pom
Story: The Three Kitties that saved my life.

A biography of troubles and the rescued cats (& Kitty) that pulled him through it. Touching, raw and heart-warming.

The three runners up are all SFF books and are listed here:

Cat: Dascha
Story: Familiar Trials by Taki Drake and T S Paul

Learning to be a familiar is something Dascha was not expecting, but when she does begin, she shows bravery both in and out of the classroom, while learning what it means to be a familiar.

Awarded to Dascha, for bravery and determination in the face of dangerous trials. Stephen Memorial Award 2018

Cat: Purrcasso
Story: The Creatures of Chichester by Christopher Joyce

The cat from the art galley. Wrangling both teenagers and ghosts that came to the Sloe Festival in Chichester. Despite floods and fears, standing firm and proud as only a cat can.

Awarded to Purrcasso, for his assistance in the saving of several ghosts Stephen Memorial Award 2018

Cat: Sir Kipling
Story: Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Cat Magic by Lydia Sherrer

A magical cat who can talk to his wizard. While she is away, he decides that he should, of course, be keeping an eye on anything magical. Of course, when someone evil does try something, Sir Kipling is on hand to ensure that such plans go awry.

Awarded to Sir Kipling, for showing that it takes a good feline to be in charge. Stephen Memorial Award 2018

The award also has a charitable component – this year they partnered with CatChat.org, the cat rehoming charity, and donated £1 for each book entered. Bookangel reports the award raised enough to rehome twenty cats.

(3) KGB READINGS. Ellen Datlow posted her photos from the October Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings where the guests were Tim Pratt and Lawrence M. Schoen.

Lawrence Schoen and Tim Pratt

(4) GAME OF THROWNS. Channel your inner orc at “LA’s premiere ax-throwing facility” — LA AX.

Axe Throwing is a unique and exciting activity that was brought into existence just over a decade ago in the backwoods of Ontario, Canada. Since then, it has exploded into a sport that is making waves on the international stage. Yes, you read that correctly, Axe Throwing is an international sport! How does one become a professional Axe Thrower? Well there are few ways to break into this sport!  Whether you just want to be a casual thrower, a serious professional, or you have a group of friends looking for a fun night out; our LA AX coaches will give you the knowledge you need to become a professional in your own right!

(5) HONEST TRAILERS: SOLO. “The coolest new Star Wars character is… Never mind.” Got that right!

(6) IN THE VACUUM OF THEATER SPACE. According to Looper, First Man failed to gain an audience.

By all accounts, First Man is an excellent film, filled with great performances from stars like Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. So why isn’t anyone going to see it? Here’s a look at why First Man has bombed at the box office so far…

 

(7) WHAT IF? The Hugo Award Book Club launches its review of Mary Robinett Kowal’s The Calculating Stars with this wee bit of snark —

While we quite enjoyed Seveneves, many readers described it as a bit dry.

A comparison between the two books is apt. Seveneves and The Calculating Stars are books that explore many similar ideas, but they do so in very different ways that will appeal to different people.

(8) WTF? Umm….

(9) FORWARDING ADDRESS. James Davis Nicoll explores “(Semi-)Plausible Strategies for Moving a Whole Damn Planet” at Tor.com. It’s a lot easier if you have the help of supremely intelligent aliens.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re living on a perfectly good planet in orbit around a perfectly acceptable star—and then suddenly, the neighbourhood goes to crap and you have to move. For a lot of people, this means marching onto space arks.

Recapitulating Noah on a cosmic scale is such a pain, though. All that packing. All that choosing who to take and who to leave behind. And no matter how carefully you plan things, it always seems to come down to a race between launch day and doomsday.

Why not, therefore, just take the whole darned planet with you?

(10) BRADBURYIANA. On display at the Ray Bradbury Center in Indianapolis —

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 21, 1904 – Edmond Hamilton, Writer and Member of First Fandom who was one of Weird Tales’ most prolific early contributors, providing nearly 80 stories from the late 20s to the late 40s. Sources say that in the late 1920s and early 1930s he had stories in all of the SF pulp magazines then in publication. His 1933 story “The Island of Unreason” won the first Jules Verne Prize as the best SF story of the year; this was the very first SF prize awarded by the votes of fans, and one source holds it to be a precursor of the Hugo Awards. From 1940 to 1951, he wrote at least 25 Captain Future stories (a universe recently revisited by Allen Steele). From the early 40s to the late 60s, he did work for DC, in stories about Superman and Batman, and he created the Space Ranger character with Gardner Fox and Bob Brown. He was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1964 Worldcon. He was married to fellow science fiction author, screenwriter, and fan Leigh Brackett for more than 30 years, until his death at age 72.
  • Born October 21, 1929 – Ursula K. Le Guin, Writer, Editor, Poet, and Translator. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer – instead preferring to be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brillance, be it it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home; her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, with a home library full of SF, showed in her writing. She wrote reviews and forewards for others’ books, gave academic talks, and did translations as well. Without counting reader’s choice awards, her works received more than 100 nominations for pretty much every genre award in existence, winning most of them at least once; she is one of a very small group of people who have won both Hugo and Nebula Awards in all four fiction length categories. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1975 Worldcon; was the second of only six women to be named SFWA Grand Master thus far; was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; and was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In later years, she took up internet blogging with great delight, writing essays and poems, and posting pictures and stories of her cat Pard; these were compiled into a non-fiction collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which won a posthumous Hugo for Best Related Work.

  • Born October 21, 1952 – Don Davis, 66, Artist and Illustrator known for his portrayals of space-related subjects. In addition to providing covers for several SFF magazines in the 70s, he worked for the U. S. Geological Survey’s branch of Astrogeologic Studies during the Apollo Lunar expeditions, and has since painted many images for NASA and provided texture maps for JPL’s Voyager computer simulations. He was part of the team of space artists who provided the visual effects for Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos – for which he received an Emmy – and he painted the cover of Sagan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Dragons of Eden, as well as contributing artwork to Sagan’s Comet and Pale Blue Dot. He received the Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. The asteroid 13330 Dondavis is named after him, and in 2000 he was elected a Fellow in the International Association of Astronomical Artists.
  • Born October 21, 1956 – Carrie Fisher, Saturn-winning Actor, Writer, and Comedian who is best known to genre fans for playing Leia Organa in the Hugo- and Saturn-winning Star Wars films, a role she started at the age of 19. With her quick mind and sharp wit, she was well-known in Hollywood as the go-to script doctor for films with scripts in trouble. She became an outspoken advocate for the de-stigmatization of mental illness, having struggled her entire adult life with bipolar disorder and the substance abuse it engendered. One of her autobiographies, The Princess Diarist, was a finalist for a Best Related Work Hugo, and she won a Grammy for her audiobook narration of it. She died suddenly and far too soon in December 2016 at the age of 60.
  • Born October 21, 1958 – Julie Bell, 60, Artist and Illustrator who has provided covers for more than 100 science fiction and fantasy books, as well as covers for videogames and Marvel and DC trading cards. She sometimes collaborates on art with her husband, Boris Vallejo; they have done many paintings for worldwide advertising campaigns, and together they put out a Fantasy Art Calendar every year. She has been nominated for the Chesley Award four times, winning three of them. She is also (I did not know this!) the mother, with first husband SF scholar Donald Palumbo, of SFF artists David Palumbo and Anthony Palumbo.
  • Born October 21, 1967 – Jean Pierre Targete, 51, Artist and Illustrator whose early work was cover art for many Avon paperback editions, including Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, the Second Foundation Trilogy, and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat stories. More recently, he has produced a lot of artwork for RPG books and materials, including for publishers Wizards of the Coast and Paizo. His works have garnered ten Chesley Award nominations, winning once. Some of his work has been collected in the book Illumina: The Art of J. P. Targete.
  • Born October 21, 1971 – Hal Duncan, 47, Computer Programmer and Writer from Scotland whose first novel, Vellum: The Book of All Hours, won a Spectrum Award and received nominations for World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Kurd Laßwitz, Prix Imaginaire, and Locus Best First Novel Awards, as well as winning a Tahtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction novel published in Finnish. His collection Scruffians! and his non-fiction work Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions were also both finalists for British Fantasy Awards. An outspoken advocate and blogger for LGBTQ rights, he was a contributor to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.
  • Born October 21, 1974 – Christopher J Garcia, 44, Writer, Editor, Filmmaker, Historian, Conrunner, and Fan who was the TAFF delegate to the UK Natcon in 2008. He has been editor and co-editor of several fanzines, and has been a finalist for the Fanzine and Fan Writer Hugos several times, including for The Drink Tank with James Bacon, which won a Hugo in 2011; his shall-we-say-effusive acceptance speech was nominated for Dramatic Presentatation Short Form Hugo the following year. He is a past president of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, and is known for running the fan lounges at cons. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Westercon.

(12) REASON TO READ. The Chicago Tribune advises, “Worried about the international panel report on global warming? Go read Octavia Butler’s ‘Earthseed’ books”.

…“Parable of the Sower,” published in 1993 when it was still possible to heed its warning, tells the story of a world collapsed due to climate change, economic inequality and unchecked corporate power. Resources are scarce, and only gated communities are safe.

Set near what used to be Los Angeles, the novel focuses on teenager Lauren Oya Olamina, who has “hyperempathy,” both a gift and an affliction that allows her to feel the pain she witnesses others experiencing. Spurred by her worldview, Lauren develops a new belief system called “Earthseed,” which posits that humans’ time on Earth is a kind of childhood and that they will emerge as adults once they travel to other planets.

It is a story of two diasporas, first as Lauren and other refugees are forced out of Los Angeles, and then as they look toward finding an extraterrestrial home.

(13) LOOK ALIVE. Rolling Stone asks just how far AR startup Magic Leap has gotten toward crossing the Uncanny Valley (“Is This Creepy New AI Assistant Too Lifelike?”).

Some people already talk to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa like she’s a real person, setting her up for jokes, and having conversations that go way beyond the basic commands like “Alexa, play ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails.” And that’s how people are treating a disembodied voice. But what if you could see her — and what if she looked disturbingly human?

Magic Leap, an augmented-reality startup, introduced the next evolution of the virtual assistant at their conference earlier this month. Mica performs many of the same functions as Alexa or Apple’s Siri, but when users wear Magic Leap’s augmented reality glasses, they can also see her incredibly life-like avatar. Mica smiles, makes eye contact and even yawns, making the interactions even more convincing. “Our focus was to see how far we could push systems to create digital human representations,” John Monos, Magic Leap’s vice president of human-centered AI, said at the conference. “Above all else, her facial movements are what connect you to her.”

(14) PAUL ALLEN AT THE BEGINNING AND THE END. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport has an article about the Stratolaunch, a gigantic airplane funded by Paul Allen — “Paul Allen spent years building the world’s biggest airplane. He’ll never see it fly.”.  This passage explains why Allen was one of us:

Allen grew up knowing all the names of the Mercury 7 astronauts as if they were his favorite baseball players, he wrote in his memoir, “Idea Man.” And like many kids of his generation, he grew up wanting to become an astronaut. But then in the sixth grade he couldn’t see the blackboard at school, he told me in his office, and he knew that meant “my dreams of being an astronaut were over.”

His father was the associate director of the University of Washington Library, a second home of sorts for Allen. “My Dad was just letting me loose in the stacks,” he recalled. “I loved it.”

He devoured not just science fiction, but books about Wernher von Braun, the German-born architect of NASA’s might Saturn V rocket, which sent men to the moon. Once, Allen tried to build a homemade rocket of his own using the arm of an aluminum chair packed with powdered zinc and sulfur and firing it from a coffee pot. It didn’t work.

(15) FOUND AGAIN. There were huge losses in the museum fire, but at least the oldest human fossil found in Latin America was mostly recovered — “Brazil museum fire: Prized ‘Luzia’ fossil skull recovered”.

Most of the skull from a prized 12,000-year-old fossil nicknamed Luzia has been recovered from the wreckage of a fire in Brazil’s National Museum.

The 200-year-old building in Rio de Janeiro burned down in September, destroying almost all of its artefacts.

But on Friday the museum’s director announced that 80% of Luzia’s skull fragments had been identified.

The human remains – the oldest ever found in Latin America – were viewed as the jewel of the museum’s collection.

The museum staff said they were confident they could recover the rest of Luzia’s skull and attempt reassembly.

(16) A CAUTIONARY TALE. With many overseas fans contemplating a trip to Dublin for the 2019 Worldcon, this report from Forbes (“How To Handle Getting Ripped Off On Auto Insurance When Traveling Overseas”) could be of interest. Such a situation can happen anywhere, but this particular situation—where a Hertz clerk insisted wrongly on bundling an overpriced insurance product as a condition of renting a car—happened to be in Dublin.

[Rick] Kahler: As soon as we got back to the U.S., I filed a dispute with my credit card company on both the initial $424 car rental cost and the $584 insurance charge. My grounds were that Hertz violated their contract, which only required me to accept full financial responsibility or to have verified that I had insurance that would cover a loss. They violated the contact by demanding that I prove having coverage in excess of the value of the car and by refusing to accept that proof when I produced it. I eventually got my money back after I complained. But that doesn’t make up for the time and stress they caused me.

(17) ANOTHER SWORD FINDER. Unlike the girl Saga, this one is fictional…. The Kid Who Would Be King is coming to theaters January 25, 2019.

Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic adventure THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Alex (Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/3/18 I’ve Got Pixels To Scroll, And Pixels To LOL, And Pixels To Stir Up Yet More Strife

(1) CORDWAINER GENESIS. Ashley Stimpson and Jeffrey Irtenkauf trace the career of the man behind Cordwainer Smith in “Throngs of himself” for Johns Hopkins Magazine. “Paul Linebarger wrote science fiction as Cordwainer Smith. His multiple selves did not stop there.”

The notebook belonged to Paul Linebarger, who under his own name played many roles: U.S. Army colonel, CIA operative, psychological warfare expert, scholar of Asia, teacher, adviser to an American president. He was a husband twice and a father twice. His godfather was the first president of modern China, Sun Yat-sen. He may have been the central unhinged character in a famous psychiatric case study. But it was his science fiction—published as Cordwainer Smith—that gilds his legacy today.

Smith published about 30 short stories, all of which take place over a 14,000-year future history that Linebarger labored over in a lifetime of notebooks. Smith’s work is startling and violent, remembered for its originality and its weighty subject matter. In a letter to his agent, Linebarger explained that his stories “intended to lay bare the human mind, to throw torches over the underground lakes of the human soul, to show the chambers wherein the ageless dramas of self-respect, God, courage, sex, love, hope, envy, decency, and power go on forever.” Pulpy tales of little green men these were not.

(2) DISNEY’S STREAMING STAR WARS SERIES. When Disney’s new streaming service launches, here’s what one of its offerings will be: “Jon Favreau’s streaming ‘Star Wars’ series is ‘The Mandalorian'” at Engadget.

We still don’t know the name of Disney’s subscription streaming service, but we do have some details for a live-action Star Wars show that will appear on it. Jon Favreau announced on Instagram that The Mandalorian is set “after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order,” with a “lone gunfighter” emerging in the tradition of Jango and Boba Fett on the outer reaches of the galaxy.

 

View this post on Instagram

#starwars #TheMandalorian

A post shared by Jon Favreau (@jonfavreau) on

(3) SAVING GRACES. James Davis Nicoll admires “Women Who Save Themselves (and Everyone Else)” for reasons explained in his post for Tor.com.

… Having accepted the burden of her late father’s Letter of Marque, Bodacious Space Pirates’ Marika Kato balances the demands of school work with the challenges of commanding a privateer starship. Although years of peacetime has reduced privateering to a tourist attraction, from time to time Kato’s Bentenmaru finds itself in action, including the time Kato and friends set out to rescue Jenny Doolittle from an arranged marriage.

The single flaw in their plan was assuming that Jenny would wait to be rescued, rather than taking matters into her own hands….

(4) ARTIFICIAL CHICKEN INTELLIGENCE. In what the ad writers must think is a hilarious (non-) deception, Burger King’s latest commercials are written by Artificial Intelligence. Well, actually not (The Verge: “Burger King’s ‘AI-written’ ads show we’re still very confused about artificial intelligence”).

Each of Burger King’s new ads starts with an anachronistic burst of noise from a dial-up modem and a solemn warning: “This ad was created by artificial intelligence.” Then, over shots of glistening burgers and balletic fries, a robotic-sounding narrator deploys exactly the sort of clunky grammar and conceptual malapropisms we expect from a dumb AI.

…They’re good ads! And, of course, they’re lies. In a press release, Burger King claims the videos are the work of a “new deep learning algorithm,” but an article from AdAge makes it clear that humans — not machines — are responsible for the funnies. “Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for a great creative idea coming from a real person,” Burger King’s global head of brand marketing, Marcelo Pascoa, told the publication.

Here’s an example –

(5) PARTY CRASHERS. Olga Polomoshnova studies the consequences of “Feasts Interrupted” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

…Tolkien used socially important intrusions into realms, and thus their societies, in The Silmarillion, but his approach was different from Beowulf’s poet’s with an important detail: the most meaningful intrusions were one-time rather than continuous actions, and they took place during prominent feasts, thus increasing their social impact and significance manifold….

(6) CLARION 2019 FACULTY. The Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop faculty for 2019 will be — Carmen Maria Machado, Maurice Broaddus, Karen Lord, Andy Duncan, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer, and Shelley Streeby (Faculty Director).

Applications for the 2019 Workshop reopens December 1.

The Workshop runs June 23, 2019 – August 3, 2019.

(7) OVER THE MOON. Astronomers at Columbia University think they have evidence of the first moon orbiting an exoplanet (The Verge: “Astronomers may have discovered the first moon ever found outside our Solar System”).

A pair of astronomers believes they’ve found a moon orbiting a planet outside our Solar System — something that has never before been confirmed to exist. Though they aren’t totally certain of their discovery yet, the find opens up the possibility that more distant moons are out there. And that could change our understanding of how the Universe is structured.

The astronomy team from Columbia University found this distant satellite, known as an exomoon, using two of NASA’s space telescopes. They first spotted a signal from the object in data collected by the planet-hunting telescope Kepler, and then they followed up with the Hubble Space Telescope, which is in orbit around Earth. Thanks to the observations from these two spacecraft, the team suspect this moon orbits around a Jupiter-sized planet located about 4,000 light-years from Earth. And this planet, dubbed Kepler-1625b, orbits around a star similar to our Sun.

(8) SLOWING DOWN. Mary Robinette Kowal discusses her health and a reduction in her schedule: “On why I’m cancelling some events…”

…I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been home. I was in the middle of twenty days of travel and hand been home for a single day before that, with only three days at home at the end. I was leading a workshop of 150 students.

He stopped me and said, “You have to slow down.”

So, I am. We’re canceling some events and nothing else goes on my calendar for next year. Because the show doesn’t actually have to go on.

And to reassure you, we caught the shingles early so it stayed pretty mild. I got the anti-virals. Yes, I’ll do the vaccine when this is cleared up to stave off a recurrence. If you see me, please don’t hug me. I’m in the super-sensitive skin phase right now, which means contact with my back feels somewhere between a sunburn and a cheesegrater….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 3, 1889 – William Elliott Dold, Jr., Artist. In the early years of SF right through the 70s, he did cover art for such magazines as Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories and Cosmic Stories. Between 1923 and 1975, he also contributed hundreds of interior art pieces to magazines and books, ranging from Harold Hersey’s poetry collection Night to work for the weekly British comic magazine 2000 A.D. I don’t see that his art has been collected yet.
  • Born October 3, 1927 – Donald R. Bensen, Writer and Editor. He is credited with a genre novel, And Having Writ…, which received an Honorable Mention for the Campbell Award, and created a couple of The Unknown anthologies for Pyramid Books, but his work as a consulting editor for Dell Books and The Dial Press from 1976 until 1981, where works by Spider and Jeanne Robinson, Gregory Benford, Joan Vinge and John Varley were published, is I think his true contribution to the genre. He also contributed editorially to Dell’s paperback science fiction and fantasy publications during those years.
  • Born October 3, 1931 – Ray Nelson, 87, Writer, Cartoonist, and Member of First Fandom who did many cartoons and articles for fanzines but is perhaps most known for his 1963 short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was used by John Carpenter as the basis for the 1988 film They Live. He also co-authored The Ganymede Takeover with Philip K. Dick. Blake’s Progress, in which the poet William Blake is a time traveler, is claimed by Clute to be his best work. His novel The Prometheus Man received a Philip K. Dick Special Citation, and he was a finalist for the 1951 Retro Hugo for Best Fan Artist in 2001, and the winner of the Rotsler Award in 2003. He is credited with the invention of the infamous SF fan propeller beanie.
  • Born October 3, 1944 – Katharine Kerr, 74, Writer best known for the 15 novels in her Deverry Cycle, and recipient of World Fantasy and BSFA Award nominations. Author of many series including Westlands, Dragon Mage and the Silver Wyrm. I’d be remiss not to note her Urban Fantasy series entitled Nola O’Grady which is a great deal of fun and which leads off with, I kid you not, License to Ensorcell. She’s done a number of essays, including one with the intriguing title of “The Hedgehog’s Lair”.
  • Born October 3, 1950 – Pamela Hensley, 68, Actor who played Princess Ardala in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century movie and TV series, starred in the original Rollerball movie, and had guest roles in several episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man.
  • Born October 3, 1964 – Clive Owen, Actor from England who starred in the Oscar- and Hugo-nominated Children of Men, the not-so-acclaimed Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Sin City, and the upcoming time travel movie Gemini Man.
  • Born October 3, 1967 – Denis Villeneuve, 51, French-Canadian Writer and Director who turned Ted Chiang’s short “The Story of Your Life” into the Oscar- and Hugo-winning film Arrival, garnered more Oscar wins and a Hugo nomination with the sequel Blade Runner 2049, and is currently working on a remake of Frank Herbert’s Dune.
  • Born October 3, 1973 – Lena Headey, 45, British Actor and Producer who is well-known to genre fans as Cersei Lannister in the Hugo-winning series Game of Thrones. She also played the titular character in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, and had roles in The Brothers Grimm, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the 300 movies, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, and one of JJ’s favorite so-bad-it’s-good horror films about subterranean scuba diving, The Cave.
  • Born October 3, 1975 – Jason Erik Lundberg, 43, Writer and Editor. He’s published several collections of his own short stories, edited several anthologies, and has edited Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction for the last 5 years. Writer of such critical essays as “The Old Switcheroo: A Study in Neil Gaiman’s Use of Character Reversal” and “Embedded Narrative in the Fiction of Kelly Link”; he also wrote the nonfiction work Embracing the Strange: The Transformative Impact of Speculative Fiction.
  • Born October 3, 1978 – Shannyn Sossamon, 40, Actor in the TV series Sleepy Hollow, Wayward Pines, Moonlight, and genre films One Missed Call, Catacombs, and Ghost Light.
  • Born October 3, 1983 – Tessa Thompson, 35, Actor, Singer, and Producer. She had an early guest role in 3 episodes of Heroes, and has played main roles in Thor: Ragnarok, Annihilation, and the TV series Westworld. She co-starred in Janelle Monáe’s 49-minute genre musical film Dirty Computer.
  • Born October 3, 1986 – Joonas Suotamo, 32, Actor from Finland who has played Chewbacca in the newest Star Wars trilogy and associated videogames.
  • Born October 3, 1988 – Alicia Vikander, 30, Swedish Actor and Producer who starred in Ex Machina, Seventh Son, and the newly-rebooted The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Tomb Raider films, as well as providing a character voice for Moomins and the Winter Wonderland.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Yoda’s SJW credential makes a confession: Half Full.

(11) EXOMOON. Yahoo! News reports “In a surprise, first alien moon discovered is big and gaseous”. (Wait a minute, didn’t I already report this item?)

Astronomers have pinpointed what appears to be the first moon detected outside our solar system, a large gaseous world the size of Neptune that is unlike any other known moon and orbits a gas planet much more massive than Jupiter.

The discovery, detailed by researchers on Wednesday, was a surprise, and not because it showed that moons exist elsewhere – they felt it was only a matter of time for one to be found in another star system. They were amazed instead by how different this moon was from the roughly 180 known in our solar system.

“It’s big and weird by solar system standards,” Columbia University astronomy professor David Kipping said of the moon, known as an exomoon because it is outside our solar system.

(12) ARPANET. Slate dubs it “The Very First Social Network”. And I think it’s entirely likely someone reading this blog is acquainted with whoever started this….

That is, until 1979.
That fall, [Vint] Cerf logged on to his workstation to find an unopened message from the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It had been sent over the network using the recently developed “electronic mail” system. Because more than one person was using each computer on the network, the scientists had conceived of “e-mail” (now commonly styled email) so they could share information directly from one person to another, rather than just between computers. As with regular mail, they realized they needed a system of addresses to send and receive the messages. Thus the @ symbol was born: It served to separate the mailbox identifier from the serving host, and the single character saved typing time and scarce computer memory, an early version of what one might think of as a “hack.”
But the message sent to Cerf’s email wasn’t a technical request. And it hadn’t been sent just to him. Instead, an email with the subject line “SF-LOVERS” had been sent to Cerf and his colleagues scattered across the United States. The message asked all of them to respond with a list of their favorite science fiction authors. Because the message had gone out to the entire network, everybody’s answers could then be seen and responded to by everybody else. Users could also choose to send their replies to just one person or a subgroup, generating scores of smaller discussions that eventually fed back into the whole.
About 40 years later, Cerf still recalls this as the moment he realized that the internet would be something more than every other communications technology before it. “It was clear we had a social medium on our hands,” he said.

(13) IN ACTION. “Nobel Prize In Chemistry Honors Work That Demonstrates ‘The Power Of Evolution'” – “If I read the tables in Wikipedia correctly,” says Chip Hitchcock, “this is the first year that women have gotten even a piece of two of the three tech Nobels.”

American Frances H. Arnold has won half of the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work in changing how chemists produce new enzymes, sharing the prize with another American, George Smith, and Sir Gregory Winter of the U.K. for research that has led to new pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments.

“This year’s prize is about harnessing the power of evolution,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in announcing the winners. This year’s laureates have “re-created the process in their test tubes … and make evolution many times faster.”

Arnold is only the fifth woman to win the prize in its 117-year history. She conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. Enzymes produced through “directed evolution” in laboratory settings are used to manufacture everything from renewable fuels to pharmaceuticals.

(14) ACROBOTIC. “Hayabusa 2: German-led lander drops to asteroid’s surface” — this one flips instead of bouncing like the Japanese-built rovers.

Japan’s space agency (Jaxa) has put another lander on the surface of asteroid 162173, or Ryugu.

The Hayabusa-2 probe ejected the German-French Mascot “rover” on Wednesday for its 20-minute journey down to the space rock.

Contact was confirmed in the early hours, Central European Summer Time.

Mascot is designed to move across the surface of Ryugu and analyse its surface properties, including its mineral composition and magnetic field.

… Mascot has a swing arm inside to generate a torque that will throw the lander to a new location.

(15) TAGGERS REJOICE. Another thing sff failed to predict — “Disney ‘graffiti drone’ tags walls”.

Disney is known for its clean and tidy theme parks so it may come as a surprise to see it has developed a graffiti-spraying drone.

Its research and development division has been working on a drone equipped with a spray-paint gun that can tag walls and even paint 3D objects.

The researchers hope the idea will result in drones that can paint walls quickly and accurately.

(16) CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN BLACK MIRROR. “Netflix Is Planning a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure ‘Black Mirror’”. Bloomberg has the story.

Netflix Inc. is about to let you decide how your favorite show will end.

The streaming service is developing a slate of specials that will let viewers choose the next storyline in a TV episode or movie, according to people familiar with the matter. The company expects to release the first of these projects before the end of this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are still private.

Viewers will get to choose their own storylines in one episode of the upcoming season of “Black Mirror,” the Emmy-winning science-fiction anthology series. The show is famous for exploring the social implications of technology, including an episode where humans jockey to receive higher ratings from their peers. The fifth season of the show is expected to be released in December.

(17) PLANET NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] A newly discovered minor planet—nicknamed the Goblin—is one of only three known minor planets in certain extremely distant, highly elliptical orbits… and in some ways it’s the most extreme of the bunch (Smithsonian: “New Discovery Stirs Up Signs of the Elusive Planet 9”).

The new object, officially called 2015 TG387, orbits with a special class of celestial bodies known as Inner Oort Cloud objects, or extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs). The body of rock and ice, nicknamed “the Goblin” by the discovery team, is currently about 80 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, or about twice as far as Pluto’s average distance. However, the Goblin travels on a highly elongated orbit that takes it to the extreme outermost reaches of our solar system, looping out as far as 2,300 AU during its 40,000-year journey around the sun.

Like the other two objects in the class (Sedna and 2012 VP113), it does not come close enough to the outer planets to really be influenced by Jupiter and its lesser kin. But, if the mooted Planet 9 (aka Planet X) exists and is as massive as some astronomers believe, it could be an influence.

When considered together, these three objects start to produce a tantalizing picture of their distant realm. They are decoupled from the rest of the solar system, immune to its influence, and yet they all appear in the same part of the sky.

Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, who was on the team that discovered the Goblin, believes in Planet 9. Mostly. Others are more convinced.

How likely the existence of an undiscovered massive planet is, slowly circling the sun every tens of thousands of years at extreme distances, depends on who you ask. For his part, Sheppard, who has discovered dozens of minor planets, comets and moons, would place the odds of Planet 9 existing at about 80 or 85 percent—and he’s not even the most optimistic.

“My confidence is about 99.84 percent,” says Konstantin Batygin, a planetary astrophysicist and assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology. Batygin creates theoretical models of the outer solar system to search for hints of Planet 9, crunching the numbers on numerous minor planets that cluster into various groups and the influences of dozens of orbital factors. His 2016 paper with Caltech colleague Michael Brown laid out perhaps the strongest case for Planet 9 yet, concluding that there was only a fraction of one percent probability that the groupings of these objects occurred randomly.

Not everyone is convinced, of course, even those on the Goblin team/

“[…] There are conflicting lines of evidence,” says David Tholen, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii who was part of the team that discovered the Goblin. He points to the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn for more than 13 years, measuring the dynamics and forces of the outer solar system. “That serves as a very sensitive detector of other things out there, and the analysis of that data suggests that we don’t see any evidence for [Planet 9].”

Are there more objects like Goblin (and Sedna and 2012 VP113) out there? Well, if they aren’t near their closest approach to the Sun we probably couldn’t find them.

The only reason we have been able to find smaller distant objects like the Goblin is because they are near their closest approach, visible for just an instant of stellar time before they sling back out into the shadows.

“Ninety-nine percent of their orbit, we would not find them,” Sheppard says. “So, we just find the tip of the iceberg.”

And, if Planet 9 exists it may well be too far out and too dim for us to see.

If the minor planets are in a gravitational dance with Planet 9, however, it could mean that the big planet is far, far away—near the aphelion of its orbit roughly 1,000 AU from the sun. We have only a rough idea of Planet 9’s size—between two and four times that of Earth, if it exists—and no way to determine its how much light it reflects, which makes it incredibly difficult to search for.

(18) GIRL IN A LAKE DISTRIBUTING SWORDS. Courtesy of Hampus Eckerman, translated from the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan, October 2. Headline: “Eight-year-old took a bath – found iron age sword.”

An eight-year-old girl made an unexpected find when she bathed this summer. A bit out into the water, she trampled on what proved to be an unusually well-preserved iron age sword.

“I thought, ok, so a sword, it could be anything, but then I got the pictures and then I got goose bumps,” says Archeologist Annie Rosén to TT [Newspapers Telegram Service].

The girl’s family contacted Annie Rosén at Jönköping County Museum. She found that the sword was surprisingly well-preserved with, among other things, a sheath in wood and leather. That so much organic material is preserved is very rare.

– It’s 1,000 years, maybe up to 1,500 years old. At the same place we found a dress ornament dating back to the 300’s or 400’s, says Annie Rosén.

The girl, aptly named Saga, found the sword at a half-meter depth at the bathing area in Lake Vidöstern, south of Värnamo, which SVT News Jönköping was the first to report.

…The sword is still at the conservator and they have as yet not been able to make a proper age determination. How it got into the lake is unknown to the archaeologists. It could be graves that eroded into the lake, sacrifices in water or that someone simply lost it. There are no known settlements nearby, but archaeologists are now looking for more objects in the lake.

“It would be cool to find something more that’s from the 4th century,” says Annie Rosén.”

(19) USE THE DELOREAN LUKE. Movieweb spots an “Amazing Empire Strikes Back to the Future Mashup Shared by Mark Hamill”.

The worlds of Star Wars and Back to the Future collide in a new mashup photo that Mark Hamill posted on social media, which he calls The Empire Strikes Back to the Future. Hamill uses social media often to engage with fans, and he’s pretty good at it. The Luke Skywalker actor often takes time out of his day to share things that he deems important or humorous, and even answers the burning questions of hardcore Star Wars fans pretty often.

View this post on Instagram

#EmpireStrikesBackToTheFuture (#RetroRerun)

A post shared by Mark Hamill (@hamillhimself) on

[Thanks to JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Susan de Guardiola, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 9/22/18 I’ll Scroll You Nine-O, Bright Glow The Pixels, Oh

(1) KBOARDS RIGHTS GRAB. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] KBoards is a forum for e-reader owners which eventually developed a vibrant self-publishing subforum. The owner died approximately a year ago, and now his widow has sold the forum to a company called VerticalScope, which first plastered the forum with problematic ads and then tried to sneak in a Terms of Service with a massive rights grab. The self-published authors are up in arms, an employee of VerticalScope made things worse and now the forum is imploding.

There is a post about the issue at the publishing blog The Passive Voice: “Dumpster Fire at Kboards?” It quotes from the new Terms of Service –

…PG hasn’t had a chance to comb through this document in detail, but a quick scan revealed the following interesting (at least to PG) provisions. VerticalScope doesn’t include paragraph numbers, so if you want to see any of this in context, you’ll need to do a word search. Other than the section headings, emphasis is PG’s:

…You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM….

Here is a post from Julie Ann Dawson, horror writer and editor of Bards and Sages Quarterly: “VerticalScope’s Overreaching TOS”

For over nine years, I have been a member of a site called Kboards.com. Many of you, in fact, may recall me directing folks to the site, particularly the Writer’s Café, for support and guidance on all things indie publishing. Over the years, the site has attracted some of the smartest, most successful indie authors in the industry. And I have always been happy to be a part of it.

Until now. In August, the site was sold to a company called VerticalScope. It was recently discovered that the new owners made significant changes to the site’s terms of service without notifying members….

Here is more from Julie Ann Dawson: “Selling Forum Users: What the VerticalScope TOS Allows”

… My first instinct was that really wasn’t my concern, and I started explaining to him my concerns regarding the use of my name and such.

“Julie, stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a black hatter.”

He then told me about an incident on a graphic designer forum he used to frequent. The site was sold (he didn’t remember to who and I’m not saying it was VerticalScope), but with the exception of more ads nothing really changed. It wasn’t until one day he was Googling a topic that had been discussed on the forum that he came across a post of his on a different forum. At first, he thought maybe someone had quoted him and that the topic was being discussed on this other forum, but when he read the link he found several posts that were verbatim from topics on the graphic designer forum. Apparently, a bot had lifted the comments from the forum he frequented and other forums and reposted them on a new forum under a new username.

See, apparently you can buy forum posters, just like you can buy Twitter or Facebook followers….

Here is a post from paranormal romance author Marilyn Vix: “The Death of Kboards.Com: My Indie Publishing Home Implodes”

… IT IS A SCARY SITUATION for CREATIVES! I have never seen anything like this. There are many people that have visited the board, including top Indie authors, like Hugh Howey and Jasinda Wilder, that have made Kboards.com home in the past. So, the legal repercussions are astounding. Plus, many EU citizens on the board are already exerting their GDPR rights, but many Canadian, US and Australian citizens are left trying to figure how to sort through this downward spiral of our online home.

I cannot even put into words how I am feeling–almost. Because there is one word coming to mind awfully clearly–betrayed. More comes to mind like trying to say the sale date of the board was in May, but the announcement was made in August this year. The new owners and their scathing disregard for the intelligence and knowledge of the Kboard users, and the utter jumping of ship of many of my good friends I’ve known for years is the reality of what has happened. The shock is disappearing, and the dust is settling. Writers are leaving Kboards and the Writer’s I in troves. And this makes me ultimately sad….

(2) NEBULA READING LIST. SFWA members have added a large number of titles to the “Nebula Reading List”.

The Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List is produced through the collaborative effort of SFWA’s 1800+ members, with new listings appearing as members make recommendations. For this reason, works are occasionally introduced in error and may later be corrected or removed from the list if deemed ineligible by the Nebula Awards Commissioner. The list is provided to the public as a service in finding the year’s most noteworthy fantasy and science fiction works.

Please note this list is not the preliminary ballot or nomination tally and does not affect the Nebula Award nominations or final results in any way.

(3) HELP FOR WRITERS. SFWA’s Information Center is open to all. Sixteen linked articles on the main post alone!

(4) ANOTHER TRADEMARK NOPE. The Cockybot is on the job…

(5) TITLE SEARCH. Ursula Vernon received helpful suggestions in response to this tweet, whether she really wanted them or not….

(6) WRITING EXCUSES BY LAND AND SEA. Amal El-Mohtar and her mother planned to fly together to attend the Writing Excuses cruise until TSA created a problem. Thread starts here.

The Writing Excuses crew had a workaround ready. Thread starts here.

(7) GETTING READY FOR SPACE. In “The Next Great Leap” in the Financial Times, Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees suggests that humans preparing to explore space will have to have substantial genetic and biological modifications if they are going to survive. (No link because it’s behind a paywall.)

The space environment is inherently hostile for humans.  So because they will be ill-adapted to their new habitat, the pioneer explorers will have a more compelling inventive than those of us on Earth to redesign themselves.  They’ll have to harness the super-powerful genetic and cyborg technologies that will be developed in coming decades.  Those techniques will, one hopes, be heavily regulated on Earth, on prudential and ethical grounds, but ‘settlers’ on Mars will be far beyond the clutches of the regulators.  We should wish them good luck in modifying their progeny to adapt to alien environments.  This might be the first step for divergence into a new species.  Genetic modification would be supplemented by cyborg technology–indeed there may be a transition to fully inorganic intelligences.  So it is these spacefaring adventurers, not those of us comfortably adapted to life on Earth, who will spearhead the post-human era.

(8) CRUISE NIGHT. In this clip from Colbert’s show, Stephen and Neil deGrasse Tyson take NASA’s Mars Rover for a ride around Midtown Manhattan.

(9) TODAY’S DAY.

  • September 22  — Hobbit Day, sponsored by the American Tolkien Society.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 22, 1973 – The Harlan Ellison conceived, Canadian-produced, sci-fi series The Starlost aired its first episode.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born September 22, 1971 – Elizabeth Bear, 47, Writer. Her first series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer;  I’m fond of her Promethean Age, New Amsterdam and Karen Memory series.  She won a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”.
  • Born September 22, 1946 – John Woo, 72, Director. His genre films include Mission Impossible II, Face/Off, and the Philip K. Dick-written Paycheck (which JJ loved, even if no one else did).
  • Born September 22, 1952 – Paul Kincaid, 66, Writer, Editor, and Critic. He was the chair of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 20 years, helping to transform it into a respected genre award. In addition to being a former editor of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, his critical work has appeared in numerous scholarly, genre, and mainstream publications. He won the 2018 BSFA for Best Non-Fiction book for Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Iain M. Banks, which was also a Hugo and Locus finalist.
  • Born September 22, 1982 – Billie Piper, 36, Actor. Known to Doctor Who fans as the Companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played Lily Frankenstein in the TV series Penny Dreadful, and the titular character in the Sally Lockhart mystery series based on the novel quadrilogy written by His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman.
  • Born September 22, 1985 – Tatiana Maslany, 33, Actor. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the TV series Orphan Black, for which she received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards.
  • Born September 22, 1987 – Tom Felton, 31, Actor. Played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, followed by a role in the TV series The Flash.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • You have to know Wonder Woman to get the joke in this installment of Half Full – fortunately, you probably do!
  • The kids in Baby Blues explain why they just can’t believe the ending of The Wizard of Oz.

(13) THE BELLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC. SYFY Wire is on top of the story: “William Shatner tweets Jingle Bells track from his new album ‘Shatner Claus’”. The tweet contains a link to the song on SoundCloud.

(14) THE FAMILY BUSINESS. The Guardian reports “Liam McIlvanney wins Scottish crime fiction award named after his father”:

…Two years after the award for the best Scottish crime novel was renamed in honour of the “godfather of tartan noir” William McIlvanney, his son and fellow crime writer Liam McIlvanney has landed the prize.

William McIlvanney, who died in 2015, was the author of the acclaimed DI Jack Laidlaw series, set in Glasgow. In 2016, the Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival renamed its prize, citing McIlvanney as “the man who, more than anyone, established the tradition of Scottish detective fiction”.

Liam, an academic at a New Zealand university as well as an author, won ahead of shortlisted writers including former winners Chris Brookmyre and Charles Cumming, and Lin Anderson, one of the festival’s co-founders.

Liam took the £1,000 McIlvanney award for The Quaker….

(15) SUPERHERO. Adri Joy concludes this book is “enjoyable, but the flaws are hard to ignore” – “Microreview [Book]: Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang” at Nerds of a Feather.

Though it’s new to print this year, Zero Sum Game was already on my radar in its previous, ebook only self-published incarnation, although it never made the leap from the ever-growing collection of Kindle Samples I keep around to inform potential purchases onto my actual TBR. This new version, published by Tor, has been revisited and polished up, and is now being released much more widely as part of the publisher’s #Fearlesswomen initiative, bringing this unconventional superhero thriller to a bigger audience, and also to me.

(16) GAME DEVELOPERS SUDDENLY OUT OF WORK. According to The Verge, these employees were told to start walking, too – “The Walking Dead developer Telltale hit with devastating layoffs as part of a ‘majority studio closure’”.

Telltale Games, creators of episodic adventure games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Enemy Within, laid off approximately 250 employees today as part of what the company is calling a “majority studio closure.” According to multiple sources The Verge spoke with, employees were let go with no severance.

“Today Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” the company said in a statement. “A majority of the company’s employees were dismissed earlier this morning.” The company will retain a small team of 25. These remaining employees will stay on “to fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners,” according to Telltale.

The final season of Telltale’s award-winning series, The Walking Dead, kicked off last month. The second episode is slated to launch next week. Staff were informed of the layoffs today and were given roughly 30 minutes to leave the building, according to one source.

(17) ON THE MOVE. BBC reports “Japan’s rovers send pictures from asteroid”.

The two small “rovers”, which were despatched from the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on Friday, will move around the 1km-wide space rock known as Ryugu.

The asteroid’s low gravity means they can hop across it, capturing temperatures and images of the surface.

“Both rovers are in good condition,” the agency confirmed on Saturday.

(18) BABY NAMES. In England and Wales “Game of Thrones baby names still proving popular” – though interestingly, 76 girls called Khaleesi and only 3 called Daenerys….

But if baby-naming is a reliable indicator, Game of Thrones’ most popular character appears to be Arya, with 343 newborns given the same name as Maisie Williams’ sword-wielding Stark.

That’s a big increase on 302, the number of Aryas named in 2016.

Eleven baby boys, the same number as in 2016, ended up being called Tyrion, almost certainly in tribute to Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister – perhaps the show’s most intelligent character.

(19) PACIFICON 1946. [Item by David Doering.] More choice quotes from the Pacificon 1 (1946 Worldcon) progress report.

BADGES–NONE GENUINE WITHOUT AN OFFICIAL NAME-PLATE

These Badges will be cellophane with a safety pin attachment so they can easily be worn at all times.

They have a place in which can be inserted your name and home city, and the name of your local club if you belong to one.

Interesting that we still use such badges (name plates??) at smaller events! (I kind of like the “club name” space, if only to describe which branch(es) of fandom you are keen on. Current badges don’t give you a clue.)

The con was held at the Park View Manor, an event space at 2200 W 7th Street. According to the LA Building Permits records, it looks like the same building remains there, although as offices. The con thought this an ideal location:

Nothing small about the Pacificon Hall — It will hold up to 750 persons!

I think the Pacificon was in fact somewhat smaller than this.

There are double rooms available at $3.00 and $3.85 each, per day, which would be but $1.50-1.93 per day for each occupant,

Oh, to find anything at a con hotel today–even soda–for under $2! Amazingly enough, the two con hotels, the Mayfair and the Commodore, are still extant! The Mayfair in fact remains a hotel (you might book a room now where a famous fan stayed even!) while the Commodore is condos.

We will do our level best to help you find a room if your reservation reaches us after the 20th of June – but we cannot promise you anything definite. However, we do have some nice parks here in LA, with the most comfortable benches in the country – one of them is right across the street from the official Convention Hall.

Given that the Denvention progress report provided instructions on how to “ride the rails” to get to Denver, I can’t be sure they were kidding about using these “comfortable benches” in the park across the street.

(20) ANIME VIBE. Io9’s James Whitbrook, in Star Wars: A New Hope, But as a Classic ‘80s Anime”, praises this short video to the skies –

… this delightful fan trailer by YouTuber Dmitry Grozov takes Star Wars as we know it—in the form of A New Hope—and transforms it into an old-school anime style cartoon, evoking the likes of Macross or Mobile Suit Gundam, complete with Japanese voice acting.

Alan Baumler comments, “I liked how they made Obi-wan sound like Toshiro Mifune.”

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

Pixel Scroll 9/18/18 When Lessa Told Me To Do It, I Succumbed To Weyr Pressure

(1) BIGFOOT’S POLITICAL OPINIONS. Registration is required to read Adweek’s article “Bigfoot Tries to Get Footage of an Elusive Congressman in This Enjoyably Odd Political Ad”. Fortunately, the commercial itself is available at YouTube.

Congressional hopeful Dean Phillips, a Democrat running in Minnesota, says Republican incumbent Erik Paulsen is so detached from his home district, he’s practically impossible to find.

 

(2) STORMY WEATHER. Mur Lafferty’s Hugo win (with Matt Wallace) for Ditch Diggers was not completely washed out by Hurricane Florence, but the news did get bumped to fifth place in her latest post at The Murverse Mothership (where you can also see a photo of her wearing a chicken hat at the Hugo Losers Party).

Florence: We are fine. Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina and South Carolina last weekend, and wandered slowly through the state, dumping lots and lots of rain. The flooding was catastrophic. Oddly enough, when we thought our area would get hit with the eye, the storm turned and moved south of us, then turned north. We got wind, rain, Fiona’s school lost a big tree, but our area is largely unscathed. We did have some excitement yesterday when the last tail end of the storm whipped around and smacked us, letting Durham get a taste of the flooding and tornadoes that the rest of the state has suffered, but that didn’t last too long. If you can give to hurricane relief to help the eastern part of the state, please do.

(3) OBSERVATIONS ABOUT SF IN FRENCH. Matthew Rettino reports on “Congrès Boréal 2018: Differences between Anglophone and Francophone SF” at Archaeologies of the Weird, including the panel “L’imaginaire a-t-il une langue? Différence culturelle dans l’imaginaire anglophone et francophone” (“Does the imagination have a language? Cultural differences in the anglophone and francophone imaginary.”)

…One interesting idea that arose: language does not inherently carry the values of a society. Rather, culture does. The different traumas and schisms that define a society do have a much greater influence on national literature. For example, Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem, remarked one of the panelists, is marked by the impact of the Cultural Revolution in China. This echoes how French SF is marked by the policy of laïcité (state secularism), the origins of which go back to the French Revolution. There did seem to be truth to this observation, given how French-language SF is in a sense more “secular” in its embrace of violent and sexual themes that would religious people shiver. On the other hand, anglophone SF retains a more “puritanical” attitude in the literature it produces and censors, particularly in the United States.

This being said, certain attitudes to the French language itself do influence French SF. Patrick Senecal pointed out later in the discussion that French-language editors have a tendency to homogenize the different registers of the language, leading to less linguistic diversity. When editing dialogue, French publishers often edit out regional dialect in favour of “le Français internationale.” The result is a banal, grammatically correct French, where all characters sound the same. These editing decisions do not accommodate the regional French spoken in certain regions of Québec, for example, which leads to a more monovocal (as opposed to polyvocal) body of literature. This is not just unappealing; it’s unrealistic and unrepresentative of how French is actually spoken. As Senecal quipped, “Il n’y a personne qui parle comme Radio Canada!”

(4) BELGIAN INFLUENCE ON SPACE PROGRAM. “Elon Musk Says SpaceX’s BFR Design Is Inspired by Tintin Comics”Inverse has the story.

Elon Musk unveiled a new design for SpaceX’s BFR rocket on Thursday, and he’s taking inspiration from a famous series of Belgian comics. The CEO confirmed on Twitter that the new design “intentionally” bears resemblance to the vehicles depicted in The Adventures of Tintin, the whimsical series that depicts Tintin and his friends embarking on far-flung trips to find new stories.

…The redesign shared with the moon announcement bears similarities to rockets as featured in Hergé’s comic series. The 1950 comic Destination Moon shows a red-and-yellow checkered rocket with three giant fins on the base, elevating the rocket above the ground, which Tintin and his friends use to visit the moon and explore a secret government project.

(5) THE ACADEMY. At Quills, Fretful Porpentine’s new discourse is: “On the performativity of ‘What have you been reading lately?’” Here’s the kind of thing college professors are supposed to say when asked what they have been reading:

– If you are a humanities professor, you say something that is clearly pleasure-reading, but at least vaguely cerebral. Witty mysteries about British academics are good, or the sort of science fiction that doesn’t have aliens on the cover.

– If you work in tech support, you are allowed to read the kind of books with aliens on the cover.

(6) YOU ARE HERE. A new version of a reference frame for the universe is being released (Gizmodo: “Where Are We in Space? Astronomers Update Their Celestial Frame of Reference”). The third International Celestial Reference Frame is based with (0,0,0) at the center of mass of the Solar System, with the axes fixed in relation to a number of distant quasars.

“Nitty-gritty stuff like this is super important when you’re sitting on an Earth moving 70,000 mph around a star that is moving 450,000 mph around a galaxy center,” Grant Tremblay, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told Gizmodo.

…The ICRF-3 […] places the center of the reference frame at the Solar System’s center of mass, and is oriented based on the position of distant bright radio sources called quasars. Those measurements were made using Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), essentially a method of using the entire Earth as a telescope, collecting data from multiple radio telescopes and combining them to get the highest-resolution image possible.

This most recent frame derives from measurements of 4,536 quasars, all between 100 million and 10 billion light-years away. […] The most recent edition also takes the motion of our own Milky Way galaxy into account for the first time, according to a press release from the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam.

(7) MEXICANX INITIATIVE. The second installment of Hector Gonzalez’ report — “My Road to Worldcon 76. Part 2: Who the hell is John Picacio?”

I even remember the first conversation I had with my dad about being a Mexicanx recipient. He was initially wary, doubting a stranger on the internet would give away something like that. I explained the situation and mentioned John’s name. “¡Si! ¡John es un monstruo de la ciencia ficción!” Translation note: If I tried to literally translate what my dad meant to say, it would sound as if John was a monster. My dad meant it more as “He is HUGE in the science fiction world.” Bottom line, he knew more about John than me.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 18, 1964 The Addams Family premiered on television.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 18 – Lynn Abbey, 70. Author best known for her Thieves World fiction though her first works for was for TSR games including stories set in the Forgotten Realms and the Dark Sun games. Daughter of the Bright Moon was edited by Gordon R. Dickson and I’ll let someone here tell that  story.
  • Born September 18 – Caitlin Kittredge, 34. Author of the Black London urban fantasy series featuring Jack Winter and Pete Caldecott which I think is one is the finest such series ever done. Also wrote the Iron Codex, Nocturne City and Hellhound Chronicle series.  Currently writer on Witchblade series.

(10) W76 PANEL RESOURCES. Bogi Takács has released notes prepared for use when appearing on two panels at Worldcon 76.

I promised the writeups of my notes for Worldcon 2018 panels! The first one is for Queer Joy. I am honestly not sure which of these works I actually mentioned on the panel, these were my advance notes and I just tidied them up and hyperlinked them.

[At the post are lists of works under each of these categories — ]

  • Presents oppression / discrimination and/or suffering, but also joy:
  • Recent-ish anthologies with related material (not all stories might be related):
  • More grim SFF which is still queer-inclusive and queer people are not persecuted in-universe:

Queer Families

These are my advance notes, but I also mentioned on the panel how queer families seem to be non-multigenerational in SFF, and we had a fairly lengthy discussion about that. So I tried to add which of the works buckle that trend.

Contemporary work…

(11) IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND THERE LIVED A WRITER. The latest Brandon Sanderson newsletter talks about constructing his office – which is epic, just like his books. (See photos at the link.)

I always like to include something about my life in these newsletters—something unrelated to the books. So today, I thought I’d post some updates on my office, which we’re building in the empty lot beside my house.

I’m building it underground, because…well, what else would you expect from a fantasy novelist? It’s been an interesting process, since the city really has no idea what to do with someone like me. I call it my Underground Supervillain Lair, something that the suburbs in Utah really aren’t that equipped to deal with. But, after some work, we’ve gotten permissions. Peter has been taking pictures of it.

First, we dug out a huge pit. I don’t go halfway on underground lairs—so we’re doing 20-foot ceilings. The kids had a wonderful time digging in this hole, and I’m convinced they’d have loved it if we never put anything in it.

(12) PUNCH-CARD-PUNK. Mary Robinette Kowal is writing two new lady astronaut novels. Andrew Liptak interviews the author for The Verge“Return to an alternate history space race with two new Lady Astronaut novels”

After signing a six-figure deal with Tor Books, author Mary Robinette Kowal will expand to her Lady Astronaut series over the next several years with two new novels, The Relentless Moon and The Derivative Base, as well as a standalone sci-fi murder mystery novel, The Spare Man. The new Lady Astronaut titles will join this summer’s fantastic The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, which followed pilot and mathematician Elma York through an alternate history 1950s space race aimed at sending humanity to off-world colonies after an extinction-level asteroid strike on Earth. The Relentless Moon is expected to drop in 2020, with The Spare Man to follow in 2021, and The Derivative Base in 2022.

Both novels are set in the “punch-card-punk” world that Kowal established in her 2013 novelette, “The Lady Astronaut of Mars.” The Calculating Stars begins in 1953, as the asteroid lands off of Washington, DC, devastating the US East Coast. York and her colleagues quickly realize that the incident has started a chain reaction that will change the climate of the Earth in decades, making it inhospitable to human life. In response, a coalition of nations forms the International Aerospace Coalition (IAC), which works to first reach space, and then figure out how to live there.

(13) WHEN PERFECTION ISN’T ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE. James Davis Nicoll discusses “Six Stories That Find the Drama in Utopian Settings” at Tor.com.

Tanith Lee’s classic duology Don’t Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine is set on a desert world hostile to unprotected life. Not that this matters, because all of its human inhabitants live in one of three domed cities: Four BEE, Four BAA, and Four BOO. Within those cities, virtually every need and desire is met. Even death is only a momentary inconvenience before one is incarnated in a new designer body.

The nameless protagonist, offered material paradise, commits the unforgivable sin of realizing that while the options offered are pleasant, none of them are meaningful. That realization is the border between life in paradise and life in a cossetted hell. Unfortunately for our hero, the Powers That Be in the three cities are determined to maintain the status quo of their cozy societies, keeping them just as they are…which means crushing (by any means necessary) any pesky aspirations for personal fulfillment.

(14) YOUNG VETERAN ACTOR. Sandie Angulo Chen in the Washington Post interviews seventh-grader Owen Vaccaro, star of The House With a Clock in Its Walls, about how he became an actor and what it was like to work on the film: “Sports didn’t interest Owen Vaccaro, but a theater class sparked a passion for acting”

Soon, the theater classes led to his first auditions, which eventually landed him his first film gig, “A Product of Me,” at age 7. In the years since, Owen has been in eight more movies, most notably acting opposite A-list stars Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg in the comedies “Daddy’s Home” and “Daddy’s Home 2.”

(15) BACK LOOKING FOR SUNSPOTS. In a September 16 press release (“AURA Statement about the Status of the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico”), the sponsoring organizations (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the National Science Foundation) have released some information on the mysterious closure of the Sunspot Solar Observatory.

On September 6th, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) made the decision to temporarily vacate the Sunspot Solar Observatory at Sacramento Peak, New Mexico as a precautionary measure while addressing a security issue. The facility closed down in an orderly fashion and is now re-opening. The residents that vacated their homes will be returning to the site, and all employees will return to work this week.

AURA has been cooperating with an on-going law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred at Sacramento Peak. During this time, we became concerned that a suspect in the investigation potentially posed a threat to the safety of local staff and residents. For this reason, AURA temporarily vacated the facility and ceased science activities at this location.

The decision to vacate was based on the logistical challenges associated with protecting personnel at such a remote location, and the need for expeditious response to the potential threat. AURA determined that moving the small number of on-site staff and residents off the mountain was the most prudent and effective action to ensure their safety.

In light of recent developments in the investigation, we have determined there is no risk to staff, and Sunspot Solar Observatory is transitioning back to regular operations as of September 17th. Given the significant amount of publicity the temporary closure has generated, and the consequent expectation of an unusual number of visitors to the site, we are temporarily engaging a security service while the facility returns to a normal working environment.

We recognize that the lack of communications while the facility was vacated was concerning and frustrating for some. However, our desire to provide additional information had to be balanced against the risk that, if spread at the time, the news would alert the suspect and impede the law enforcement investigation. That was a risk we could not take.

(16) CAN’T SAY THAT. Ryan George discovers “Being a Motivational Speaker in the MCU Sucks.”

[Thanks to JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Michael J. Walsh, Alan Baumler, Andrew Liptak, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]