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.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1/18 Knives, Pixels, Files, Scrolls Of Energy Raved Against The Screens Of The Dentless

(1) SPIDER STORY. Worldcon 76 GoH Spider Robinson’s hometown paper profiled him before the convention: see “Spider Robinson’s star shines in Worldcon’s sci-fi universe” in the Bowne Island Undercurrent.

In the waning charge cycles of a 12-year-old MacBook Pro, Spider Robinson is typing out his autobiography.

“I’m writing the serious, logical case that I’m the luckiest [person] who’s ever lived,” he said.

“My luck ran out, but all luck does.”

It’s extraordinary that a man who lost both his wife and daughter prematurely can still count himself as lucky.

But Robinson concentrates on the joy that his family and career brought to his life.

The well-known science fiction writer, winner of three Hugo awards and a Nebula award, has lived on Bowen Island since 2001.

This week, Robinson is one of the guests of honour at Worldcon, the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, this year held in San Jose.

(2) CANON FIRE. Foz Meadows’ “Trash and Treasure” column for The Book Smugglers does a recap on Worldcon 76, including thoughts inspired by the Author vs Fan Ownership panel there wasn’t enough time to unpack:

 …Afterwards, multiple audience members asked for my thoughts about the recent trend in claims by some fandom extremists that fans literally own the stories they love, whatever those stories might be, just by straight-up virtue of passion.

To give an example of two of the more toxic examples of this sense of fannish entitlement, taken from both ends of the fan-political spectrum, consider both the MRA Star Wars fans who tried to crowdsource funding for a new, lady-free version of The Last Jedi, and the lone Voltron: Legendary Defender fan who tried to blackmail Studio Mir into making their gay ship canon. In both cases, there’s a belief that wanting a personal, idealised, specific version of the narrative to exist in canon should not only trump the plans of the creators, but effectively constitute a shouted BECAUSE REASONS! override of their actual, legal ownership….

(3) MAINTAINING TWEET SILENCE. Is Wil Wheaton coming back to Twitter? Eh, no. He turned it off one day in August, for reasons he explains in “The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it.” Then he thought he found another social media home, but the administrators wearied of the flood of complaints (see post for explanation) and he left there too.

As most of you know, I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month. It had been a long time coming, for a whole host of reasons, but Twitter’s decision to be the only social network that gives Alex Jones a platform to spew hate, hurt innocent people, and incite violence was the final straw for me. But I haven’t regretted leaving for even one second. Having that endless stream of hate and anger and negativity in my pocket wasn’t good for me (and I don’t think it’s good for anyone, to be honest).

I was on Twitter from just about the very beginning. I think I’m in the first couple thousand accounts. I remember when it was a smallish group of people who wanted to have fun, make jokes, share information and tips on stuff that was interesting, and oh so many pictures of our pets. It was awesome.

It started to get toxic slowly at first, then all at once, starting with the misogynist dipshits who were behing the gate-which-shall-not-be-named. That was clearly a turning point for Twitter, and it never really recovered from it. I watched, in real time, as the site I loved turned into a right wing talk radio shouting match that made YouTube comments and CSPAN call-ins seem scholarly. We tried for a couple of years to fight back, to encourage Twitter to take a stand against bad actors (HA HA LIKE ME BECAUSE I AM A BAD ACTOR RIGHT YOU GOT ME HA HA HA). Twitter doesn’t care about how its users are affected by themselves, though. Twitter cares about growth and staying on the good side of President Shitler’s tantrums….

(4) LIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT. An event called KekCon set out to publicize itself at Dragon Con and drew criticism on social media. Lura Groen’s thread starts here.

Groen, who received at least one threat after tweeting her thread, reports the KekCon reps left Dragon Con.

(5) PRESCRIPTION FOR ENTERTAINMENT. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie thinks Filers may enjoy The Third Pill, which BBC Radio 4 has just put on iPlayer.

The Third Pill by James O’Neill

Greg works in children’s publishing but feels middle aged and out of touch. Then something pops up on his computer that will transform his life. A comedy about finding that elusive elixir of youth.

Surely it is a scam, or is it?  And if it works, what are the consequences….

(6) A STROLL DOWN MEMORY ROAD. “A graphic tale: the visual effects of Mad Max: Fury Road” is a nuts-and-bolts of how many of the shots were built over bits of reality. From 2015 – but may be news to you!

But the intense Namibian shoot, and further filming in Sydney, was only half the story in the creation of Fury Road’s insane stunt action and post-apocalyptic landscapes. Hundreds of visual effects artists, led by overall visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson, would spend considerable time crafting more than 2000 visual effects shots and helping to transform the exquisite photography into the final film that at times feels almost like a single car chase. Even more plate manipulation would also be carried out by colorist Eric Whipp, weaving in a distinctive graphic style for the film with detailed sky replacements and unique day for nights.

(7) A STACK OF REVIEWS, AND A STACK OF WAX. Links to the reviews below at Patti Abbott’s blog: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, August 31, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker. LOST LEGACY, Annette Dashofy
  • Yvette Banek, MURDER MAKES MISTAKES, George Bellairs
  • Les Blatt, AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW, Elizabeth Daily
  • Bill Crider, EPITAPH FOR A TRAMP, David Markson
  • Kate Jackson at CrossExaminingCrime, TILL DEATH DO US PART, John Dickson Carr
  • Martin Edwards, THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, Minette Marrin
  • Curtis Evans, THE MAN WITH TWO WIVES, “Patrick Quentin”
  • Rich Horton, THE FOUR FEATHERS, A. E. W. Mason
  • Jerry House, ELECTION DAY 2084, ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • George Kelley, THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS, 9th SERIES, T.E. Dikty and Earl Kemp
  • Margot Kinberg, FACES OF THE GONE, Brad Parks
  • Rob Kitchin, THE SHINING GIRLS, Lauren Beukes
  • Kate Laity, SWITZERLAND, Joanna Murray-Smith
  • Evan Lewis, WATERFRONT FISTS, Robert E. Howard
  • Steve Lewis, SEEING IS BELIEVING, Carter Dickson
  • Todd Mason, 1960s audio recordings: THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling
  • Matt Paust, LAST BUS TO WOODSTOCK, Colin Dexter
  • James Reasoner, THE WATER BEND FEUD, William MacLeod Raine
  • Richard Robinson, A FALL OF MOONDUST, Arthur C. Clarke
  • Kevin Tipple, BAD LITTLE FALLS, Paul Doiron
  • Tomcat, FLASHPOINT, John Russell Fearn
  • TracyK, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis

Links to online archives of some of the recordings under discussion at Todd Mason’s post: “THE ZOO STORY, Edward Albee; NO EXIT, Jean-Paul Sartre (translated by Paul Bowles); LUV, Murray Schisgal; JUST SO STORIES, Rudyard Kipling”

(8) EC COMICS REMEMBERED. The Society of Illustrators in New York City will exhibit “Tales from the Crypt: The Revolutionary Art of MAD and EC Comics” from September 5 to October 27, 2018.

For the first time in NYC, an exhibition of the EC comic book art that struck fear in the hearts of arbiters of good taste will see the light of day. Featured are more than 70 large original comic book art pages by comic art masters. On display September 5 through October 27 in the Hall of Fame Gallery….

A big business in the fifties, as many as 100 million comic books were sold monthly. Although the superhero and funny animal titles were popular in the forties the appetite had turned to subjects that reflected current trends and interests.

Perhaps the most prominent comic book publisher at the time was Entertaining Comics (EC), led by William M. Gaines. An aspiring high school teacher, Gaines found himself the 25 year old head of a struggling publishing company when his father died in a boating accident. Gaines knew little about the industry but hired young, creative editor/artists Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman to test new formats and launched a broad slate of revolutionary titles covering science fiction, horror, crime, war, suspense and humor.

The EC team would later be called among the most talented assembly of comic book artists and writers the industry had ever seen. While quickly copied because of their unprecedented success, EC stories were markedly different from the competition. They were expertly illustrated, written for an intelligent audience and offered an unexpected twist ending. Critics would point to the violence depicted in the crime and horror titles or the mature nature of the story subjects. Gaines had assumed an intelligent audience comprised of young adults and older readers and not children who would otherwise find little meaning in the work.

Titles presented in the exhibit include Aces HighCrime Suspenstories, Crypt of Terror, Extra!, Haunt of Fear, Frontline Combat, Impact, Piracy, MAD, Two-Fisted Tales, Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, Weird Science Fantasy, MAD 3-D art and more. Artists featured include Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, George Evans, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, B. Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Marie Severin, Angelo Torres, Al Williamson and Wally Wood.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 1, 1902A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) is directed by Georges Méliès is released.
  • September 1, 1954Tobor the Great premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 1, 1885 – Edgar Rice Burroughs. Pulp writer (and no I’m not being disparaging with my use of that term) of many series of which I’ll single out the BarsoomPellucidar, Tarzan and Venus series.  Both Rudyard Kipling and Ray Bradbury considered him to be an influential and entertaining writer. Edgar Hamilton in an interview said once that “We sort of grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs.”
  • Born September 1 — Diana Pleasance Case Gillon, 103. Only one novel, The Unsleep, but noted here for one hundred and three years old! Or at least that’s what three sources think.
  • Born September 1 – C.J. Cherryh, 76. Author of several major series set in different settings including the Alliance-Union universe, the Foreigner universe, the Russian stories, Heroes in Hell, the Fortress universe and Ealdwood. I think my favorites are the Russian stories, particularly Rusalka which was a Locus Fantasy Award nominee. Downbelow Station and Cyteen both won Hugo Awards as did her short story titled “Cassandra.”
  • Born September 1 – Timothy Zahn, 66. I’ll admit that I’ve not read anything by him on and only know of him by his work in the Star Wars Universe. His other work appears largely to be milsf and largely on Baen Books.
  • Born September 1 – Brad Linaweaver. His Moon of Ice novella was a Nebula Award finalist and the novel length version won a Prometheus Award

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Frank and Ernest decide it’s better to go with their second favorite name for a new invention.

(12) A COOKIE WITH MORE BITE TO IT. Oreo has introduced two new cookie flavors — wasabi and hot chicken wing. For now, they are only available in China.

(13) A LITTLE LIST. Kendall has read the comments here before and introduced this as “Another list for people to slam!”

Unbound Worlds, who posted a ‘100 Best Fantasy Novels of All Time’ list a while back, now has a 100 Best Sci-Fi Books of All Time list. As before, they’re clear they just asked staffers for top sci-fi recs…

Hey, there are a bunch of books on this list I like, and if I’ve read 41 of them, your count probably will be even higher.

(14) IT’S NOT EPIC BUT IT IS FANTASY. Camestros Felapton reviews Matt Groening’s new series for Netflix, Disenchantment.

A new series from Matt Groening of Simpsons and Futurama fame was bound to generate some excitement. Using an epic fantasy/fairytale faux-medieval setting sounds like a fun premise for the kind of genre subverting humour that worked for Futurama. I’m up to the last two episodes and well, it isn’t great. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t great.

There are two issues:

  • Quite a lot of Futurama wasn’t that great either but your brain edits in the best bits.
  • Disenchantment leans too much on standard jokes and tropes used in its predecessors, making the show feel less fresh and novel.

It gets better, mainly because the characters start working on you and sometimes because of basic plot development.

(15) DOCTORDONNA IS IN. Sometimes the unexpected happens at Dragon Con. Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams encountered actress Catherine Tate.

(16) SIDEBAR. Cat Rambo found comic relief at the SFWA business meeting during Dragon Con.

(17) RUGRATS. Airboy notes, “There was a ‘weird news’ story on the front page of August 31’s Wall Street Journal on the odd carpet design of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Atlanta that is one of the DragonCon Hotels.  It had an odd carpet that was eventually removed due to age.  Some fans obsessed over it creating dresses, camo outfits, and eventually a group of them marched together in the annual DragonCon parade in downtown Atlanta.”

The article is online behind a paywall at the Wall Street Journal, “‘We’re Spending Our Hard-Earned Money to Dress Up Like Carpet.’ The Tight-Knit World of Rug Fans”.

These are the people who are obsessed with carpet and rug patterns in hotels, airports and office buildings; Dragon Con at the Marriott

Here’s a lot more material (free!) at the Dragon Con Eternal Members site: “Marriott Carpet Pattern”, including the famous photo of two prone cosplayers whose camo military uniforms blend almost perfectly with the rug.

(18) IN CASE YOU’RE CURIOUS. I’d never seen a photo of Dragon Con CEO Pat Henry before (not that they aren’t available). Writers of the Future’s John Goodwin posted a photo of them together.

He also posted a photo of the Writers of the Future panel with Contest judges Kevin J. Anderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Mike Resnick and Jody Lynn Nye.

(19) MORE CON HEALTH ADVICE. In advance of this weekend’s PAX West convention, the Seattle’s Public Health Insider warned con crud is a thing: “Gaming, Cosplay, and Con Crud, Oh My!”

PAX West opens on Friday and will bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Seattle. Be prepared for legions of cosplayers and badge wearers in downtown, even if you aren’t attending.

So… what is “con crud”?

“Con crud” is an artificial term that refers to the common cold, mild flu, or other non-threatening illness that may strike towards the end of a convention, or soon after leaving. You might have also heard it called PAX pox, festival plague, or even nerd flu.

The balance of the post advises ways to avoid getting it. [Via Ron Oakes.]

(20) AIR APPARENT. Fixing a flat: “Astronauts tackle air leak on International Space Station”.

Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) are having to deal with an air leak from a possible collision.

It has been traced to a small hole in a capsule that was used to deliver a new crew to the laboratory 400km (250 miles) above the Earth in June.

It is thought the damage was caused by the impact of a high-speed rocky fragment flying through space.

(21) BACK ON THE RAILS. BBC tells “How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard”.

Emerging from the clouds of steam engulfing platform nine and three-quarters, the gleaming Hogwarts Express commands a special place in the hearts of Harry Potter fans.

Yet there was a time when the only place this engine could call home, was a south Wales scrapyard where it lay rotting among the hulks of a bygone era.

That is because the locomotive that entranced millions of Potter viewers and now sits proudly in Warner Brothers Studios, was once earmarked to be dismantled for the furnace.

Written off, abandoned and forgotten for 17 years, this lowly engine’s final destiny was originally far from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

(22) MORE THAN JUST ONLINE. “Telepresence: ‘My robot makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten'”. – about helping shut-ins keep up with school.

Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness.

Zoe Johnson, 16, hasn’t been to school since she was 12.

She went to the doctor in 2014 “with a bit of a sore throat”, and “somehow that became A&E [accident and emergency],” says her mother, Rachel Johnson.

(23) CASTING CONTROVERSIES. ScreenRant analyzes “10 Superhero Castings That Caused Fan Backlash.”

(24) ALMOST TIME. The House with a Clock in Its Walls – in theaters September 21.

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural). Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Todd Mason, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. And belated thanks to Joanna Rivers for an item the other day. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 8/16/18 Ralph12FifthC41+

(1) MUNDANE COVERAGE. The San Jose Mercury-News tells how “WorldCon brings science fiction’s best to San Jose”.

Thousands of fans and creators will celebrate science fiction and fantasy at the “World’s Fair of fandom,” which includes presentation of the prestigious Hugo Awards.

(2) WORLDCON 76 FASHION NOTES. I like these hats.

(3) MEXICANX INITIATIVE. Photo from W76 Opening Ceremonies:

(4) BIG HEART AWARD. Here’s Mike Glyer finding out from Greg Hullender that he won the Big Heart Award – at the File 770 meetup at the Forager. Photo by Eric Wong.

Greg Hullender and Mike Glyer

(5) IT’S ALIVE! Electric Lit features “Jeff VanderMeer and Nick Mamatas on the Death and Rebirth of the Short Story”. The occasion is the release of Nick Mamatas’ latest book, the story collection The People’s Republic of Everything.

Jeff VanderMeer: Short fiction was dead. Then it wasn’t. Let’s assume it’s alive. Why is it alive, if so?

Nick Mamatas: It’s alive for a couple of reasons. One is that just over a decade or so ago, bookstores finally understood that they could sell anthologies of short fiction by treating them as though they were non-fiction. People really do wander into bookstores and say things such as “I love The Walking Dead. Got any books about zombies?” or “I’ve been hearing a lot about steampunk?—?got anything that’ll explain it to me?” and a big anthology with reprints by prominent authors and new or at least obscure material by less well-known authors is basically a textbook designed to answer those questions. Phonebook-sized anthologies by you and Ann VanderMeer, or by John Joseph Adams, really grew a generation of readers.

(6) MARVEL, ESPN TEAM UP. These are pretty good. From CBSSports.com, “Look: ESPN, Marvel create College Football Playoff comic covers”. The headline is misleading. Not playoffs… opening weekend.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

Some cat humor (or is it?) at Maximumble.

(8) POUL ANDERSON ESTATE SALE. Karen Anderson passed away earlier this year, and all of Poul’s and her household items, books, pictures, etc., are on sale this weekend. Public notice on Facebook. Tons of pictures of items on sale here.

ESTATE SALE OF POUL ANDERSON

HUGO & NEBULA AWARD WINNING SCI-FI/FANTASY AUTHOR

SAT. & SUN. AUG 18 & 19

8:00am – 2:00pm

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SATURDAY AUGUST 18TH

SUNDAY AUGUST 19TH

8:00AM – 2:00PM

(SUNDAY 1/2 OFF EVERYTHING)

SUNDAY AT 2:00PM I WILL BE TAKING OFFERS FOR THE REST OF THE UNSOLD ITEMS (BUT MUST BE REMOVED BY 3:00PM MONDAY 20TH)

7129 SAMOA PLACE
TUJUNGA CA 91042

(9) TODAY IN THEOLOGY. The Guardian — among other sources — has noted that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not recognized as, well, as a church in the Netherlands (“Spaghetti injunction: Pastafarianism is not a religion, Dutch court rules”).

The Dutch council of state has ruled that Pastafarianism is not a religion, denying a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the right to wear a colander on her head in her passport and driving licence photo.

Mienke de Wilde is now considering taking her case to the European court of human rights.

The Netherlands’ highest court said de Wilde, a law student from Nijmegen, could not be exempted on religious grounds from a ban on headwear in official identity photographs, because Pastfarianism was essentially a satire and not a serious faith.

…De Wilde said the church was humorous but that did not mean it was not “very serious in what it stands for”. She was disappointed by the decision, which backed Nijmegen authorities’ rejection of her ID photos.

“I can imagine that it all looks very odd if you don’t believe,” she told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. “But that’s the case with many faiths if you don’t believe in them – people who walk on water or divide themselves in two, for example. I find other religions unbelievable.”

(10) MYSTERY AUTHOR. Wait, we’re not talking to JDA here?

(11) NO, THIS IS WHERE WE’RE HEARING FROM JDA. If you want to see footage of JDA wandering around the San Jose Convention Center today until he found somebody to kick him out, he’s happy to oblige:

(12) GROENING’S NEW SHOW. NPR’s Glen Weldon says: “In Matt Groening’s Fantasy Series ‘Disenchantment,’ The Humor Is Elf-Referential”

Disenchantment, Matt Groening’s new animated series that hits Netflix on Friday, August 17th, does for our mythical past what Futurama did for our imagined future, but it does so in a manner so closely reminiscent of that other show’s wryly cynical sci-fi hi-jinks that it could have just as easily been called Pastarama, if that didn’t sound quite so much like a seasonal promotion at Olive Garden.

(13) ANCIENT MIXOLOGY. Take 2 tbsp. myrrh… “Ancient Egyptian mummification ‘recipe’ revealed”. Major finding: mummification in Egypt is much older than was thought.

Examination of a mummy has revealed the original ancient Egyptian embalming recipe – first used to preserve bodies.

A battery of forensic chemical tests carried out on a mummy that dated from 3,700-3,500 BC revealed the recipe and confirmed that it was developed far earlier and used more widely than previously thought.

The Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy, is now home to the mummy in question.

The findings are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Dr Stephen Buckley, an archaeologist from the University of York, told BBC News that this mummy “literally embodies the embalming that was at the heart of Egyptian mummification for 4,000 years”.

(14) WINGS OVER PANEGEA. “Winged reptiles thrived before dinosaurs”.

Palaeontologists have found a new species of pterosaur – the family of prehistoric flying reptiles that includes pterodactyl.

It is about 210 millions years old, pre-dating its known relatives by 65 million years.

Named Caelestiventus hanseni, the species’ delicate bones were preserved in the remains of a desert oasis.

The discovery suggests that these animals thrived around the world before the dinosaurs evolved.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Kendall, and James Davis Nicoll for some of these stories. Lots more material, but I’m tired tonight! Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 8/4/18 Your Pixeled Pal Who’s Fun To Scroll With!

(1) AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE, DAY FOUR. Crusading investigative fanwriter Camestros Felapton has been trying to find out why the Dragon Awards ballot wasn’t released August 1, the date posted on the site, and when it will come out. Here’s what he’s been told:

The latest report is this. I got an email saying that the finalists will be announced this upcoming Tuesday (presumably US time). Don’t all get too excited at once.

(2) COME BACK, JEAN-LUC. “Patrick Stewart to star in new Star Trek TV series”Entertainment Weekly has the story.

Stewart will reprise his iconic character, Jean-Luc Picard, for a CBS All Access series that “will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life.”

Stewart himself just announced the news in a surprise appearance at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention.

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

And Michael Chabon will be one of the executive producers reports Variety.

The untitled series hails from Alex Kurtzman, James Duff, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, and Kirsten Beyer. Kurtzman, Duff, Goldsman, and Chabon will also serve as executive producers on the series along with Stewart, Trevor Roth, Heather Kadin, and Rod Roddenberry. CBS Television Studios will produce. The new series does not currently have a premiere date

(3) BOREANAZ ON BUFFY. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “David Boreanaz has no plans to be in controversial ‘Buffy’ reboot: ‘I just let it be and lend my support from afar'” says that Boreanaz is too busy with SEAL Team to worry about the forthcoming Buffy reboot (which is controversial because showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen might find a new actor to play Buffy) but he doesn’t have any objections to it.

 “I think it’s great,” says David Boreanaz, who played the ensouled vampire Angel on Buffy for three seasons before graduating to his own self-titled spin-off. “I’m sure they’ll find the right storylines and the right people to fill shoes of whatever characters they want to portray. It was great to be a part of it when it first started, and now to see it being revived is just another testimony to the hard work that we did. I congratulate that, and applaud that.”

(4) KRESS REQUEST. Nancy Kress announced on Facebook:

A few people have asked if I will autograph their books at Worldcn San Jose. However, I was disappointed that Programming Reboot has given me no panels, no autographing session, and no kaffeklatch. I do have one reading, at 4:30 on Sunday, which I cannot linger afterwards because of a Hugo dinner. So if anyone wants anything autographed, I will hang around the Hyatt lobby at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

(5) REACHING OUT TO HUGHART. Mike Berro, who runs the Barry Hughart Bibliography website is asking for help:

If anyone knows how to contact Barry Hughart, please let me know. I run a fan page, and would constantly get emails from people wanting to contact him, mostly about doing a movie or theatrical adaptation of Bridge of Birds. I would forward them to him, and he would always politely reply (with “no thanks”). I haven’t had a reply now for over a year, and just got an email from someone who reported that even his publishers cannot contact him. I fear something unfortunate has happened.

Berro says neither SFWA nor Subterranean Press have been able to offer any help.

Mike Berro’s contact email address is — hughart@collector.org

(6) PRO ADVICE. Not certain who Mary Robinette Kowal had in mind, although JDA was sure it was about him. (Of course, he thinks everything is.)

(7) CLOUDS OF WITNESSES. Crisis Magazine recalls “When C.S. Lewis Befriended a Living Catholic Saint”.

When Luigi Calabria, a shoemaker married to a housemaid, died in Verona, Italy in 1882, the youngest of his seven sons, Giovanni, nine years old, had to quit school and take a job as an apprentice. A local parish priest, Don Pietro Scapini, privately tutored him for the minor seminary, from which he took a leave to serve two years in the army. During that time, he established a remarkable reputation for edifying his fellow soldiers and converting some of them. Even before ordination, he established a charitable institution for the care of poor sick people and, as a parish priest, in 1907 he founded the Poor Servants of Divine Providence. The society grew, receiving diocesan approval in 1932. The women’s branch he started in 1910 would become a refuge for Jewish women during the Second World War. To his own surprise, since he was a rather private person, his order spread from Italy to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, India, Kenya, Romania, and the Philippines.

With remarkable economy of time, he was a keen reader, and in 1947 he came across a book translated as Le lettere di Berlicche by a professor at the University of Milan, Alberto Castelli, who later became a titular archbishop as Vice President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity. Berlicche was Screwtape and “Malacode” served for Wormwood. The original, of course, had been published in 1943 as The Screwtape Letters and Calabria was so taken with it that he sent a letter of appreciation to the author in England. Lacking English, he wrote it in the Latin with which he had become proficient since his juvenile tutorials with Don Pietro.

… Lewis’s correspondence with Calabria went on for about seven years, and after the holy priest died, Lewis wrote at least seven letters to another member of Calabria’s religious community, Don Luigi Castelli, who died in 1986 at the age of 96. Learning of Calabria’s death, Lewis referred to him in a message to Castelli with what I suspect was a deliberate invocation of the phrase about “the dearly departed” that Horace used to console Virgil on the death of Quintilius Varo: tam carum caput. It appears as well in Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. It was an unfortunate habit of Lewis to throw out letters he received when he thought he might otherwise betray confidences. So what we have are only what he sent. The letters are a radiant model of philia friendship that he described in his 1958 radio talks:

(8) WHO’S THE HERO? John Dilillo claims “Amazon’s Proposed ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Misses the Point of Middle-Earth” at Film School Rejects.

…Every conventionally heroic duty performed by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings is performed in service of a greater act of heroism by Hobbits, characters who choose their own destiny instead of following the path their bloodline lays out for them. Without Hobbits, Middle-earth is just another cliched fantasy tapestry, painting with the same old tired strokes. What makes Aragorn special is not his heritage or his backstory; it is that he recognizes that he is not the hero of this story. Aragorn is the king who bows to the Hobbits. Stripped of that identity, he is indistinguishable from any other gruff sword-wielding badass.

On top of all this, we’ve already seen the type of story that results from a Tolkien adaptation that loses sight of true heroism in favor of grand tales of redeemed sons and doomed kings. The great failing of the Hobbit trilogy is that it abandons its titular character all too often in favor of the gloomy angst of Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield. Armitage does a fine job projecting gloomy wounded pride, and whoever assumes the lead role in Amazon’s series will doubtless give just as effective a performance. But all of that is ultimately wasted when the real appeal of a Middle-earth story comes from the Shire, not the Lonely Mountain. A Hobbit story that isn’t about Bilbo Baggins is a failure, and it’s a failure that should be learned from….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 4 — Richard Belzer, 74. The Third Rock fromThe Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an awful adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-Files, The Invaders, Human Target, and acrecurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4 — Daniel Dae Kim, 50. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World tv film, the second Fantasy Island series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4 — Abigail Spencer, 37. First genre role was in the Campfire horror anthology series, other roles include Ghost Whisperer, Jekyll, a film that’s an sf riff off that meme, Cowboys & Aliens, the Oz the Great and Powerful film and Timeless, the sf series recently allowed a proper ending
  • Born August 4 — Meaghan Markle, 37. Yes, Her Royalness. Appeared in Fringe and the newer Knight Rider. Also the near future legal drama Century City.

(10) INSTAPOLL. Survey says –

(11) KEN LIU TO TV. Andrew Liptak says an animated show is on the way: “AMC is developing a sci-fi show based on Ken Liu’s short stories”.

Ken Liu is one of science fiction’s most celebrated writers working today. In addition to translating Cixin Liu’s acclaimed Three Body Problem and Death’s End, he’s also earned numerous awards, most significantly for his short story, “The Paper Menagerie”. Now, it looks as though his works could reach a new audience: AMC is developing series based on his works called Pantheon, according to Deadline.

If it’s produced, Pantheon will be an animated show “based on a series of short stories by [Liu] about uploaded intelligence,” reports Deadline. Craig Silverstein, who created and produced AMC’s American revolution drama Turn, will serve as showrunner, producer, and writer.

(12) SOLO. Lela E. Buis points out the casting problems: “Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

…The worst problem with this film, of course, was Alden Ehrenreich trying to step into Harrison Ford’s shoes. Ehrenreich did a workmanlike job with the character, but workmanlike just isn’t Han Solo. Donald Glover as Calrissian got glowing reviews, but it was really the charismatic Woody Harrelson as Beckett who lights up the film—an understated, low key performance notwithstanding. Also prominent was Lando’s co-pilot L3-37, an animated character fighting against the slavery of droids.

This brings up another question. Why isn’t Disney investing in flashier talent for these movies?

(13) BAEN CHALLENGE COINS. Baen Books is taking orders for the first pressing of its new Challenge  Coins commemorating iconic names or events in the books of Ringo, Williamson, Kratman and probably whoever else you’d expect to fill out a list that starts with those three names.

Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. Shipping and handling is a flat rate of $15, $45 international, for up to 13 coins. Write to info@baen.com for rates on bulk orders.

These coins were designed by Jack Wylder with the active participation of the authors. Here’s an example —

Front: I Read Baen’d Books

Reverse: RIP Joe Buckley

All profits from this coin will go to support two charities founded, supported, and run by Baen readers: Operation Baen Bulk, which provides care packages for deployed service members, and Read Assist, a 501c3 company that serves our disabled readers. http://www.readassist.org/ Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. “I read Baened Books” was first used by Chris French. “Joe Buckley” used courtesy of Joe Buckley. Don’t forget to duck

(14) A CENTURY OF STURGEON. Scott Bradfield tries to jumpstart the party — “Celebrating Theodore Sturgeon’s centenary – so should we all” in the LA Times. (Unfortunately, the Times initially failed to get David Gerrold’s permission to run his photo of Sturgeon with the post…)

I’ve always been a bit confused by these various centenary and multi-centenary celebrations that punctuate our discussions of literature, such as Thoreau’s recent 200th birthday (2017), or the centenary of James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (first published in 1917), or even the fourth centenary of the death of Cervantes (d. 1616), etc. (By the way, celebrating the anniversary of someone’s death strikes me as pretty grisly.) But while some writers seem to continually receive such posthumous honors, others suffer unfairly in silence. No cake, no candles, no old friends leaping out of closets, no nothing. And this year, that seems to be the case for one of America’s greatest and most original short story writers, Theodore Sturgeon, who was born on Feb. 26, 1918. From what I can tell, nobody has yet to pitch in and even buy him a decent card.

…Take, for example, the opening of his brilliant (and often poorly imitated) 1941 novelette, “Microcosmic God”: “Here is a story about a man who had too much power, and a man who took too much, but don’t worry; I’m not going political on you. The man who had the power was named James Kidder, and the other was his banker.”

Or this, from the aforementioned “The Dreaming Jewels” (1950): “They caught the kid doing something disgusting under the bleachers at the high-school stadium, and he was sent home from the grammar school across the street.”

Or even this, from his haunting and beautiful story, “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959): “Say you’re a kid, and one dark night you’re running along the cold sand with this helicopter in your hand, saying very fast witchy-witchy-witchy.”

Every opening plops you down bang in the middle of a story that is already happening and in the life of a character it is already happening to. And while many of his stories were collected in “horror” or “suspense” anthologies, they are rarely shocking or violent or grotesque. Instead, they begin by introducing you to a slightly strange world and a slightly strange character who lives there; then, before the story is over, you both feel at home in the world and compassion for the character who now lives there with you.

The greatness of Sturgeon’s stories reside in their almost inflexible, relentless unfolding of strangely logical events and relationships; each sentence is as beautiful and convincing as the last; and the science-fictional inventions never rely on tricks or deus ex machinas to reach a satisfying resolution; instead, a Sturgeon story always resolves itself at the level of the all-too-human.

(15) ACCESS. At io9 Ace Ratcliff asks “Staircases in Space: Why Are Places in Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?”

I never used to notice stairs. They were simply a way for me to get from one place to another. Occasionally they were tiresome, but they never actually stymied or stopped me entirely. Eventually, I managed to get where I needed to go.

Then I started using a wheelchair. Suddenly, stairs became a barrier that prevented me from getting from here to there. One step was often enough to stop me in my tracks. It turns out that when you start using a wheelchair, you quickly realize that there are a lot of staircases and steps in our world—and a lot of broken (or nonexistent) elevators and ramps….

Once you start realizing how many stairs there are stopping you in real life, it becomes impossible not to notice them existing in the sci-fi you adore. Turns out they’re everywhere, in all of our sci-fi. Whether it’s decades-old or shiny and brand-new, our sci-fi imitates a real-world reliance on steps and stairs in our architecture.

When we think of sci-fi that’s run the test of time, Doctor Who immediately springs to mind. The inside of the TARDIS is littered with steps—from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, there’s no way a wheelchair using companion would be able to navigate that beautiful blue time machine. Prior to the 2005 reboot, previous embodiments of the spaceship were no less inaccessible. You’d think that a spaceship that is regularly re-decorated could easily manage ramps in at least one iteration, but no set designers seem bothered enough to make it happen. I was pleased to learn that a quick finger snap seems to occasionally unlock the TARDIS doors—a quirky replacement for the buttons that exist in real-life, usually installed near closed doors and pressed by disabled people to assist with automatically opening them—but trying to scootch through the narrow opening of that British police box with an accessibility device looks nigh impossible, even without the need for a key.

(16) KERMODE ON SF FILMS. On August 7, BBC 4 airs an episode of Mark Kermode’s Secrets of the Cinema about science fiction.

SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says —

This is an excellent series for film aficionados but the August 7th edition will also appeal to SF fans as this episode will be on science fiction film.

Also the series is co-written by the genre critic Kim Newman whom,  some Worldcon fans will recall, with SF author Paul McAuley,  co-presented the last CalHab (formerly known as Glasgow) Worldcon Hugo Award ceremony (2005). So be assured this episode has a solid grounding.

Mark Kemode’s Secrets of the Cinema SF film episode should be available on BBC iPlayer for a few weeks after broadcast.

BBC 4’s intro reads —

Mark Kermode continues his fresh and very personal look at the art of cinema by examining the techniques and conventions behind classic film genres, uncovering the ingredients that keep audiences coming back for more.

This time Mark explores the most visionary of all genres – science fiction, and shows how film-makers have risen to the challenge of making the unbelievable believable. Always at the forefront of cinema technology, science fiction films have used cutting-edge visual effects to transport us to other worlds or into the far future. But as Mark shows, it’s not just about the effects. Films as diverse as 2001, the Back to the Future trilogy and Blade Runner have used product placement and commercial brand references to make their future worlds seem more credible. The recent hit Arrival proved that the art of film editing can play with our sense of past and future as well as any time machine. Meanwhile, films such as Silent Running and WALL-E have drawn on silent era acting techniques to help robot characters convey emotion. And District 9 reached back to Orson Welles by using news reporting techniques to render an alien visitation credible.

Mark argues that for all their spectacle, science fiction films ultimately derive their power from being about us. They take us to other worlds and eras, and introduce us to alien and artificial beings, in order to help us better understand our own humanity.

(17) GETTING BACK IN BUSINESS. “NASA Announces Crew For First Commercial Space Flights”NPR has the story.

NASA has announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first people in history to ride to orbit in private space taxis next year, if all goes as planned.

In 2019, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner are both scheduled to blast off on test flights with NASA astronauts on board. “For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday, standing in front of a giant American flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Since NASA retired its space shuttles, the agency has had to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its crews to the International Space Station.

(18) MUNG DYNASTY. FastCompany predicts “Plant-based eggs are coming for your breakfast sandwiches”.

When you order a breakfast sandwich or a scramble at New Seasons Market, a local chain in Portland, Seattle, and Northern California, you’ll bite into a yellow, fluffy food that tastes just like an egg, but did not, in fact, come from an animal. Instead, what you’re eating is a mung bean, a legume that people have been eating for thousands of years that, when ground into a liquid, happens to scramble and gel just like an egg.

Mung beans are the key ingredient in Just Egg, the latest product from Just, Inc.–the company formerly known as Hampton Creek, which manufactures plant-based alternatives to products like mayonnaise, cookie dough, and salad dressing. Just Egg, a liquid that scrambles in a way that’s eerily similar to an egg when cooked in a pan, is derived from mung bean protein, and colored with turmeric to mimic the light yellow of an egg. It’s slowly rolling out in stores and restaurants across the U.S., and New Seasons Market has gone as far as to entirely replace its regular eggs with the mung bean mixture.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/29/18 Winter Comes To Pixels, As Well As To Scrolls.

(1) BRONYCON TO END. Next year’s BronyCon is the last, it was announced at this weekend’s event in Baltimore.

BronyCon is the world’s largest family-friendly convention for and by fans of the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

(2) HELP HUGO AND CAMPBELL FINALISTS ATTEND WORLDCON. Mary Robinette Kowal is running a GoFundMe appeal to help get more award finalists to Worldcon 76.

Kowal says, “We’ve managed to get six finalists to the Hugos who otherwise would not have been able to attend.”

At this writing, “Worldcon Finalist Assistance” has raised $2,335 of its $10,000 goal.

Earlier this year we raised money to bring one of our Campbell Nominees to the Hugos and were met with astounding support! Now, we want to offer that same opportunity to the other WorldCon Awards Finalists so that they can participate in the celebration of their work.

Much like the previous fundraiser, we want to raise money for:

    • Plane tickets
    • Hotel stays
    • WorldCon memberships
    • Per diem
    • Ceremony attire rental
  • Other potential costs, based on individual needs

Thankfully, we have a strong community that is dedicated to celebrating authors, their work, and these awards. We want to hear from the folks we’re voting for, and they should be able to attend their own party!

What happens if we raise more?

That money will go towards an ongoing  fund dedicated to defraying the costs for future WorldCon Finalists.

(3) RINGBEARERS. David Doering is ecstatic, because of the LTUE connection:

BIG, BIG News here for Utah–INCREDIBLE NEWS in fact! Our own LTUE alumnus JD Payne and his writing cohort Patrick McKay will pen Amazon’s new The Lord of the Rings series. WOW! Those who met him last year know he’s one of the most approachable people and an inspired writer.

Deadline has the story: “‘The Lord Of the Rings’ Hires Writers JD Payne & Patrick McKay As Amazon Series Moves To Next Development Phase – TCA”.

As Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke previously has suggested, creating the big-scope fantasy drama will involve a writers room. Payne and McKay were selected from a shortlist of scribes considered for the job, most of them from features, in the talent search, overseen by Amazon’s head of genre Sharon Tal Yguado.

Payne and McKay are rising feature writers who recently worked on Star Trek 4 for producer J.J. Abrams. I hear Abrams was one of a number of high-profile filmmakers and producers who  recommended the duo for the LOTR job.

With the search for lead writers completed, the development of the series is moving to the next stage with the set up of . writers room to collaborate on Payne and McKay’s vision. It is unclear yet — but possible — that any of the other writers who made it to the short list for the gig would be invited and that the project would bring in a showrunner.

(4) STEP RIGHT UP. Nicholas Whyte has “Two small Hugo reforms looking for co-sponsors”. Full text at the link.

A couple of minor amendments to the rules that I’d like to put to this year’s WSFS business meeting, but I need at least one co-sponsor. I won’t be there myself, but I think that these are technical and uncontroversial, and encode existing best practice in order to remove ambiguity. Please let me know, in comments here or by other channels, if you are a Worldcon 76 member willing to add your name to the list of sponsors. The deadline is 2 August.

(5) TOY STORY LAND. In the Washington Post, Steve Hendrix visits Toy Story Land at Disney World, which opened in late June, where  Baby Boomer favorites (Etch-a-Sketch, Yahtzee, Barrel of Monkeys) illustrate the rides and you can get snacks in a food station shaped as “Andy’s lunchbox propped open by Andy’s Thermos.” — “Larger-than-life charm at Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land”.

You only have to go a few steps into Toy Story Land to sense that big thinkers have made huge efforts to make you feel small. The pieces used to assemble this toy-dimensional universe are agreeably supersize, from the Tinker Toy fences the size of satellite dishes and water mains to the life-size (because they’re alive) green army men marching to and fro in this 11-acre Pixarian play yard.

Specifically, it’s a backyard. In Walt Disney World’s newest major addition, which opened in late June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in the Florida resort, the Imagineers are trying to place you between the very blades (in this case, soaring shoots of bamboo) of a grassy lot filled with the daily detritus of a child at play.

(6) ABU DHABI DOO! John King Tarpinian says he wants to visit Bedrock — LAist reports “Warner Bros. Just Opened A Billion-Dollar Theme Park! And It’s Air-Conditioned! (But It’s In Abu Dhabi)”.

…It’s part of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to become a world tourist destination. Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island (yaaaaas!) already features Ferrari World, which includes the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and Waterworld. (No, not that Waterworld.) You also have Dubai as a major travel center, with other local parks including Legoland, IMG Worlds of Adventure, and Motiongate.

Excited yet? Look, you can book a flight here! We’ve seen prices as low as $800 round-trip (though it’ll be around $2,500 if you want to leave, like, NOW).

You enter the park through Warner Bros. Plaza, which features old-school Hollywood style in an art deco setting. Like Disney’s Main Street U.S.A., it’s the portal to the rest of what this park offers. Then you can venture into the bright superhero world of Superman’s Metropolis or the darker realm of Batman’s Gotham City, as well as checking out the other cartoon-themed realms.

 

(7) PRESIDENTIAL MOMENT. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton is interviewed by The Witch Haunt.

WH: So many wonderful accomplishments so far! What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

I actually have another career that I love: I’m a bookseller. I work for a used and rare bookstore, where I get to catalogue some truly magnificent rarities.

WH: How awesome that you get to go through daily life surrounded by stories. Which of your written works are you most proud of?

I think my novel Malediction, which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (but lost to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep).

WH: Malediction, about curses, psychic powers, ghosts and such sounds like my perfect cup of horror. If you could have coffee with any horror author, gone or alive, who would it be?

He’s not primarily a horror author, but I have to say Philip K. Dick.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • Born July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

  • July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan premieres SIGNS

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) RIVER’S END. Paul Weimer at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: The Black God’s Drums by P Djelli Clark”.

The real richness of the novella is it is delight in invention, with an eye for creating a world that is rich for the potential for story and adventure. From the palpable existence of very active orishas, to an alternate history with a Confederacy, Haiti as a Caribbean power, and, naturally, airships, the world that Clark has created is a fascinating one that we only get a small short-novella taste of, but I want to read more of. The vision of New Orleans as a freeport where the Union, the Confederacy, Haiti and other powers all meet and trade, complete with extensive airship facilities is a compelling and fascinating one. There are hints that the world beyond what we see is similarly not the one we know, either, but really, Clark could tell many stories just in the North America and Caribbean around New Orleans. There is just simply a lot of canvas here for the author to unleash her protagonist and other characters upon.

(11) MIXED BAG. Adri Joy finds good and bad in this Fforde outing: Microreview [Book]: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde at Nerds of a Feather.

…while Early Riser is another magnificent entry in Fforde’s bibliography, it didn’t wow me to the same extent as The Eyre Affair or Shades of Grey did; I’m quite happy that it’s intended to be a standalone, and don’t feel a great need to explore any more of this particular world beyond what this volume offers. Everything just feels more constrained than Fforde’s other work, and while part of this is just the claustrophobic hibernal setting, I suspect it’s also just built on a smaller scale. The weird details and tangents are just interesting enough to carry the story they are in, without leaving much additional food for thought. It’s highly obnoxious to judge a work based on the timelines of the author’s unfinished series, but I suspect for a lot of long-time fans, Early Riser might be a mixed experience: great fun, a promising sign of more to come, and yet not quite what we were waiting for. That said, being a standalone at least means it doesn’t end with more tension, wrapping up Charlie’s story and its world-changing implications in a swift but ultimately satisfying conclusion.

(12) WHEN BEST MEANS BEST. Joe Sherry is on his way to a flying finish – “Reading the Hugos: Series” at Nerds of a Feather.

It’s time for another installment of Reading the Hugos and it’s time to either go big or go home. Since I’m already sitting at home while I write this, I think I’m going to go big and cover the abundance of excellence up for Best Series.

There is so much goodness here that it isn’t even fair.

Best Series last year was a trial run, a special one time category (pending the ratification at the WSFS business meeting at last year’s Worldcon) – which makes this the first full year of the category. I’m probably the only person who is going to think of things like this.

If last year was a proof of concept and this year represents the very high bar we should expect from the Best Series quality, we’re looking at one of the strongest categories on the ballot year after year. The series I ranked lowest on my ballot is exceptional. The only challenge here is that there is a lot of reading to do to at least get a brief overview of each series, let alone do a deep dive.

(13) SIODMAK’S BRAIN. Eric Leif Davin’s interview with Curt Siodmak, a chapter in his book Pioneers of Wonder (1999) has been posted at SF Magazines: “From Print to the Screen: A Conversation with Curt Siodmak by Eric Leif Davin”.

Upon graduation from the University of Zurich, Curt joined his brother in Berlin. There, the vagaries of the financial situation made it impossible to pursue his engineering career. Instead, he drifted into his brother’s film circle and wrote scripts for several of Robert’s films. Both brothers fled the Nazis in the early thir­ties and eventually ended up in Hollywood. Curt was quickly given a job writing a sarong picture for Dorothy Lamour and a succession of such assignments followed for the next two decades. A number of his assignments for Universal Pictures— The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Son of Dracula, and others—have since become horror classics. This, as he makes clear in the following conver­sation, was entirely accidental. He had no particular affection for or interest in either horror or science fiction—indeed, he never read the stuff. It was merely a job….

I see. Did you always think science fiction was gibberish?

Of course, it was always gibberish. You know, the human mind is so limited. We write about societies on other worlds, and they resemble us so much. You look at the paintings of Brueghel or Bosch10 and all those demons look like men with two eyes and two arms—hard to think of a new shape. The same with societies. You go into outer space and you find fascism or communism or the Roman Empire or feudal Europe. We don’t have much in our brains.
I wrote a few books about space, Skyport and City in the Sky.11 A friend took me to visit engineers at Lockheed because he thought talking with them would help give me ideas. They got their ideas from reading my books!
For instance, instead of launching rockets from the ground to reach orbit, why not have a huge elevator into space, miles high? Launch things from the top and they save so much on fuel!

Didn’t Arthur C. Clarke already write about that in The Fountains of Paradise?12

Who? I don’t know. I never read that.

(14) DRAGONS. Coming to the Worldcon 76 art show.

(15) FAMILY OKAYS CARRIE FISHER APPEARANCE. Members of Carrie Fisher’s family are expressing support for her appearance in the next main-line Star Wars movie (SYFY Wire: ”Carrie Fisher’s brother, Todd, couldn’t be happier for Leia’s return in Star Wars: Episode IX”). It had already been reported that Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, approved the plan to recycle unused footage shot for Episode VII in Episode IX. Now Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, has given has given his blessing, also.

“I couldn’t be more personally thrilled and happy that our Carrie will reprise her role as Princess Leia in the new and final Star Wars Episode IX, using previously unreleased footage of her shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” he said. “As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie’s Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film. J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!”

(16) AN ORVILLE TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Two Star Trek: TNG stars will unite on an episode of The Orville, albeit with only one of them in front of the camera (ComicBook.com: “‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Alum Marina Sirtis to Guest Star in ‘The Orville’ Season 2“).

It was previously announced that Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation and directed several episodes of Star Trek television and two movies, will direct an episode of The Orville Season Two. It seems Frakes is bringing his Imzadi with him, as Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, recently shared a photo of herself with Frakes and [Seth] MacFarlane asking, “Where am I?”

Frakes seemingly confirmed that Sirtis is on The Orville set in the photo by responding to the tweet, saying “Cat’s out of the bag now…”

Trek Movie has since also confirmed that Sirtis will guest star in an episode of The Orville

(17) FALL TV SCHEDULES. Did you know you can find these on the Wikipedia? Grids for the larger networks in each country, except for PBS in the USA.

(18) PLAGUE PRACTICE. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created a simulation of a “moderately contagious and moderately lethal” emergent virus that could decimate the world population—in the literal sense of killing 10% of humans (Business Insider: “Pandemic virus simulation from Johns Hopkins shows our vulnerability”). The “Clade X” simulation concerned a bioengineered virus, but a novel emergent natural virus could have the same effect. The fictional situation is described as killing 150 million in 20 months of simulated time, expected to rise to 900 million eventually if no vaccine could be created. At that 20-month mark of simulated time, researches paused for a real-time day:

On May 15th, when the  “Clade X” simulation  was played out real-time, the people acting out the scenario were the sorts of individuals who’d be responding to this situation in real life. The  players included  former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Indiana Representative Susan Brooks (R), former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, and others with extensive experience….

“I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this,” Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security and the designer of the Clade X simulation, told Business Insider. “And it’s not because they are not good or smart or dedicated, it’s because we don’t have the systems we need to enable the kind of response we’d want to see.”

(19) HEAVENLY ABODES. Business Insider has posted some 1970’s vintage NASA concept drawings for three variants of space habitats, designed to hold between 10,000 and 1,000,000 people each (“NASA once envisioned life after Earth in these fantastical floating cities”). They credit NASA Ames Research Center for the photos, making them public domain and fair game if you want an aspirational image for your computer or smart phone wallpaper. The ships range from a simple toroid to a massive cylinder.

In the 1970s, physicists from Princeton University, the NASA Ames Research Center, and Stanford University created fantastical illustrations of massive orbiting cities for life after Earth. The scientists imagined a worse-case scenario in which our planet would be destroyed, and humankind would move to space.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/27/18 Why Do Pixels Scroll? …Because They’re Made Of Wood?

(1) DRAGON AWARDS FINALISTS NOTIFIED. This year the Dragon Awards administrators are asking for acceptances. Finalist K.C. Seville confirmed on Facebook, “They’re still notifying and letting people accept or decline.” Last year they started out refusing to let authors withdraw, then reversed that policy.

Finalists are not being asked to hold back the news until the release of the final ballot. Here are links to some of the announcements:

(2) KOWAL’S W76 PROGRAM UPDATE. Mary Robinette Kowal shared news about progress and the process in her “Worldcon 2018 Programming Update”.

With the challenges surrounding WorldCon 2018’s programming, I offered to bring in a small team to help reimagine the schedule. That team was chosen to address a range of identities, marginalizations, and key stakeholders. Together, we’ve spent the past 48 hours diving into this huge, complicated beast.

One note we would like to add here is that there was an enormous amount of good work done by the existing programming team. We are not diminishing or dismissing the errors that were made or the harm that was caused and we are focused on building a stronger program that addresses those concerns.

Process

We have evaluated the existing programming into three categories: Keep, Repair, Replace.

  • Keep is self-explanatory. We like them. Good job!
  • Repair – The core idea was good, but the panel description, staffing, or title needed attention. Most of our effort was here.
  • Replace – These are getting swapped out for another panel for a variety of reasons.

Timeline
We have finished Repairing and Replacing.

Our next task is to contact the finalists and Guests of Honor to offer them first dibs on panels. We recognize that, while efforts were made by the committee to reach out to the finalists, communication was a major issue. We are working within the time constraints to make this as seamless a process as possible while ensuring we don’t accidentally miss anyone who should be included.

Team members who have chosen to be public are: John Picacio, Sarah Gailey, Jason Stevan Hill, Nibedita Sen, Alexandra Rowland, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Merc Rustad, Stacey Berg, Julia Rios, Ace Ratcliff, Derek Künsken, Jennifer Mace, Nilah Magruder, Alyshondra Meacham, K Tempest Bradford, Steven H Silver.

Kowal’s post emphasizes –

At 2:45 Central today, I have emailed the finalists. We’ve received a number of bouncebacks. We are working on getting in touch with these individuals but given the extreme time pressure we are operating under, we ask you to please get in touch with us. If you are part of a group nomination and think that one of your co-nominees may not have received this e-mail, please feel free to forward it to that nominee and let us know the nominee’s name and e-mail if you can.

If you are a finalist and did not receive an email with the subject line “[WorldCon76] Hugo finalist programming query”, please contact me: maryrobinettekowal@worldcon76.org.

(3) RETURNED FROM THE FRONT. Rosemary Kirstein makes observations about the panelist purge at Readercon, and compares that controversy to the latest one about Worldcon 76 programming in “Two kerfuffles for the price of one”.

Well, the kerfuffle surrounding Readercon’s disinvitation sweep (AKA “geezer purge”) — as, um, interesting as it was — has now paled in comparison to the new kerfuffle surrounding WorldCon’s programming.

The interesting thing about them is that they seem to be flip-sides of the same general issue:

The geezer purge, while claiming to be about making room for more diversity, had the effect of targeting a specific group (elders), and thus apparently actively discriminating — going against Readercon’s explicit, written policy of inclusion.

While the Worldcon newbie snub favored the established writers over unknowns even when those new writers are among this year’s Hugo finalists.  Yeah, that’s just nuts.  They are Hugo finalists!  People will want to see them, don’t ya think?  And how exactly do you think people become established writers?

One seemed to say: You’re old, get out of the way!  The other seemed to say: Never heard of you, don’t waste our time.

Well.  Mistakes were made, as the saying goes.

(4) ACTION, REACTION, OVERREACTION. David Gerrold analyzes reactions to Worldcon 76 program and life problems in general:

…Examples: The conventions in the sixties had numerous panels about “the new wave.” In the seventies, there were numerous panels about “women in science fiction.” In the 90s, cons had panels about LGBT+ characters in SF. More recently, conventions have felt it necessary to have panels on diversity. These panels were usually well-intentioned efforts to expand the awareness of the audience that SF could do more than just nuts-and-bolts engineering — that the technology of consciousness is a science as well.

So where I sit — right now at my desk, staring into a giant glowing lightbulb with text on it — it seems to me that a) a well-intentioned convention committee will make a sincere effort to address the needs of as many attendees as possible, and b) kerfuffles are inevitable, because that’s what human beings (especially fans) are good at.

Because, bottom-line, we go to the con to have fun. If we want to be self-righteous, angry, and bitter, we stay home and fume about fannish injustices, real and imagined.

Now … before I sign off, let me repeat the disclaimer I began with. None of the above (with the exception of Milo Yiannopoulos and the Rabid Puppies) is meant to demean, diminish, or discredit any individual or group in the science fiction community. I believe that the issues raised about this year’s con-programming are legitimate and worthwhile. And the con-committee is making a sincere effort to address those issues.

I also believe that some people might have overreacted. Don’t take that personally. I think that almost every Worldcon squabble is tainted by overreaction. (Especially those I was personally involved in.) People make mistakes. Never ascribe to malice what can just as easily be explained by stupidity or ignorance.

Perhaps this is a fatal flaw in my character, but I like to believe that serious issues can be resolved without a firestorm of outrage — and in fact, it’s my experience that firestorms of outrage tend to get in the way of resolution, sometimes delaying all possibility of resolution until all the emotional fires have been exhausted. Rationality dies in fire, it’s found only in the ashes…..

(5) WHAT SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT? Hey, here’s four hours worth of programming ideas in this tweet alone –

(6) UDOFF OBIT. It may have been his idea that resulted in the Adam West Batman series says The Hollywood Reporter: “Yale Udoff, ‘Bad Timing’ Screenwriter and ‘Batman’ TV Booster, Dies at 83”.

Udoff began his career at ABC in New York working with producers/executives Douglas Cramer, Edgar Scherick and Roone Arledge, and he is credited by some for coming up with the idea to transform the Batman comic books into a TV series in the 1960s.

“Udoff came in and said we ought to do Batman,” Scherick told author Bob Garcia in the 2016 book Batman: A Celebration of the Classic TV Series. “We threw him out of the office, but he persisted and we decided to look into it.”

Udoff wrote up a formal proposal for Scherick, who then took it to higher-ups at the network. “Suddenly, all these executives were flying back to New York from L.A. reading Batman comic books hidden in their Fortune magazines so that they could get an idea of what was happening,” Udoff says in the book. “Eventually it got on the air.”

Udoff also co-wrote the 1991 feature Eve of Destruction, a sci-fi thriller starring Gregory Hines, and penned episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (in 1967) and Tales From the Crypt (in 1992) and a 1974 ABC movie of the week, Hitchhike!, starring Cloris Leachman.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 27 – Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 41. Dracula in the 2013 – 2014 Dracula series, other genre roles includes being in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the Gormenghast series and Killer Tongue, a film with poodles transformed into drag queens.
  • Born July 27 – Seamus Dever, 42. A role in the DC’s forthcoming Titans series as the Demon Trigon, father of Raven. Also roles in such genre shows as Ghost Whisperer, Legion, Threshold and Charmed.
  • Born July 27 – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, 48. Jaime Lannister in Game Of Thrones and Game of Thrones: Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms; as the lead in the short lived New Amsterdam series which is not based on the series by the same name by Elizabeth Bear; also genre roles in the Oblivion and My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure films.
  • Born July 27 – Bryan Fuller, 49. Let’s see…There’s credits as either Executive Producer, Producer or Writer for Voyager and DS9, American Gods, Mockingbird Lane, the  last being a reboot of The Munsters, Pushing Daisies, a Carrie reboot, Heroes and Dead Like Me. And adaptor of a quirky Mike Mignola graphic novel entitled The Amazing Screw-On Head.
  • July 27 – Cliff Curtis, 50. Avatar film franchise now numbered at six at least, plus the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys series, Mysterious Island series that was very loosely based on the Jules Verne work, 10,000 BC, The Last Airbender and the Fear the Walking Dead series.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Always funny in a quiet way, this time Tom Gauld nails the future commute.

(9) MARTHA WELLS INTERVIEW. Amazing Stories scored an “Interview with Martha Wells, author of The Murderbot Diaries”. conducted by Veronica Scott.

Veronica for Amazing Stories: What were your major influences when writing the series?

Martha: Even though most of my work up to this point has been fantasy, I’ve always really loved reading SF too, particularly far-future space opera. One recent influence was Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice trilogy, which I think has been a big influence on stories and books about AI in the last few years.

Another influence was the SF I read while I was growing up in the 70s and 80s.  Like Tanith Lee’s The Silver Metal Lover and Don’t Bite the Sun, and John Varley’s early stories.  Also, though their books didn’t usually deal with AI or robots, the SF of Phyllis Gotlieb, like A Judgement of Dragons, about far future aliens coping with human technology, and F.M. Busby’s SF series with Zelde M’tanna and Rissa Kerguelen, which are about a massive rebellion against an oppressive corporate-controlled oligarchy that has taken over Earth and its colony planets and enslaved most of the population.

I’d also read/seen a lot of stories with AI who want to become human, like Data in ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’.  I wanted to write about an AI that wasn’t interested in becoming human at all, and who wasn’t particularly interested in revenge against humans, either.  An AI that just wanted to be left alone.

(10) HUGO AWARD BOOK CLUB. According to Olav Rokne, “After a fair amount of debate and argument, it seems Edmonton’s Hugo Award Book Club came to an impasse about which book they preferred for the Hugo this year. As a result, they’ve published two competing blog posts, one arguing that New York 2140 deserves to win, the other in favour of The Stone Sky.”

The Stone Sky is presented as “the most artful” of the shortlisted works: The Stone Sky is the most artful book, and that’s why it deserves to win”

… the most ambitious of this year’s Hugo shortlisted novels, succeeds admirably. As such, it is the work that deserves to be recognized with the award….

While New York 2140 is argued as the most relevant book to today: New York 2140 is the book that people need to read, and that is why it deserves to win”.

… not only the most worthy work on this year’s Hugo shortlist, but possibly the most important novel published last year: It forces us to ponder questions that humanity will have to — and is starting to — grapple with…

Says Rokne, “It might be noted that these are not entirely contradictory opinions …”

(11) WHO’S IN EPISODE IX? It’s official: “Star Wars: Episode IX Cast Announced”. Also, J.J. Abrams will direct, and John Williams will score.

Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018….

Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.

The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

(12) THIEVES LIKE THEM. Gobsmacked or outraged, YOU decide!

(13) TEEN TITANS REVIEW. NPR’s Glen Weldon on “‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies’: Joke! Gag! DC Films Aren’t Just For Mopes Anymore!”

Call it the Anti-Snyder Cut.

Let’s be clear: One silly animated film aimed squarely at kids won’t be enough to admit light and joy into the dour, dolorous and dun-colored DC Cinematic Universe.

(We’re not supposed to call it that anymore, by the way. The company announced last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con that we are to refer to it exclusively as [checks notes] the “Worlds of DC.”)

(You know: Like it’s a theme park.)

(Where it always rains.)

(And if you want to ride the rides, one or both of your parents must be named Martha, and they must be at least this dead.)

The animated film in question, Teen Titans GO! To The Movies, is, well … worlds apart from the bleak portentousness of Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League. It’s smaller in scope and brighter in tone. Also, it’s simply a feature-length version of a popular Cartoon Network series, albeit one boasting a bigger line-item for name voice-talent.

(14) CRUISE MISSION. NPR’s Chris Klimek says: “Spectacular Real-World Stunts Make Mission: Impossible – Fallout A Blast”.

In the opening moments of the 2.5-hour Mission: Impossible — Fallout, producer/stuntman/star Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt shares a tender moment with Julia Meade-Hunt (Michelle Monaghan), the woman for whom he tried to retire from the impossible mission business 12 years and three movies ago, and who’s rated only a silent cameo since. Our Man Hunt’s reverie is swiftly ended with the arrival of yet another soon-to-self-destruct assignment. This one comes in a hollowed-out book concealing an antique reel-to-reel tape recorder.

With those two elements, the the most enrapturing plainclothes action flick since the previous Mission: Impossible three years ago is calling its shot. They promise that Fallout shall 1) attend to the continuity of the six-film series in a way its predecessors seldom have, and 2) honor the longstanding Mission tradition of achieving its stunts and giving us our kicks the hard way. The analog way. The more dangerous and exponentially more exciting way.

(15) A DIFFERENT BREED OF KILLER SHARK. The BBC discovered “Sean Connery co-wrote a Bond film that was never made”.

James Bond has done some memorable things in his time, from dodging laser blasts on a space station to driving an invisible car across a glacier. One thing he hasn’t done, however, is deactivate a robot shark which is carrying an atom bomb through a Manhattan sewer. But he very nearly did. In 1976, a Bond screenplay revolved around a shoal of remote-controlled, nuclear-weaponised robo-sharks. Its title was Warhead. And one of its three screenwriters was none other than the original big-screen 007, Sean Connery.

(16) EARL GREY’S BICENTENNIAL MOMENT. James Artimus Owen admits everything about how he got his friends to believe they were drinking 200-year-old tea out of Boston harbor.

A confession: once while in Boston, I convinced some friends that SO MUCH tea had been dumped into the harbor during the infamous Tea Party that in certain places, at certain times of the year, you could scoop up water in a cup and it would taste like tea….

(17) POOH. Ads and featurettes from Disney promoting Christopher Robin.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Eric Franklin, Lise Andreasen, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Kowal To Assist Changing Worldcon 76 Program

The Worldcon 76 program revisions promised yesterday will be aided by Mary Robinette Kowal and a team she is in the process of assembling.

Chair Kevin Roche tweeted –

Mary Robinette Kowal asked for breathing space to get started. (Thread begins here.)

John Picacio announced on Facebook:

Well, here goes nothing. I just got off the phone with my friend Mary Robinette Kowal and agreed to join her select team to help Worldcon 76 in San Jose with programming. Yes, all of us have witnessed problems in recent days, but there’s a lot of AMAZING work that is in the foundation that Christine Doyle and team has constructed, with the support of Kevin Roche. Our team is not here to trash and burn, but to chisel, refine, and include. LET’S DO THIS. #GameOn #Worldcon76

Despite the dramatic statement “We are tearing the program apart and starting over,” as John Picacio indicates, the program is being fixed, not done over from scratch.

PANELS DECLINED. Additions to File 770’s list of creators who tweeted yesterday that they were dropping off Worldcon 76 program:

  • Charlie Jane Anders

  • Annalee Newitz

  • Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden

PERSPECTIVES. Representative examples from a broad spectrum of responses to the controversy that have appeared since last night —

Foz Meadows: “Worldcon 76: More Than Technical Difficulties”

Right now, my personal suspicion is that Worldcon 76 has been afflicted by a combination of bigotry – some likely subconscious, some very likely not – and poor coordination, with the latter significantly enabling the impact of the former. As much as I appreciate Kevin Roche stepping in to issue apologies and redo the programming, that these actions were necessary at all speaks, at absolute best, to an administrative setup wherein the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing, and at worst, to a gross case of insincere, post-facto ass-covering.

Even from the outside, it seemed clear well before yesterday that the programming for Worldcon was disorganised and running behind schedule. The “very preliminary programming” email I received on July 9 had me listed for no panels at all, confirming only that I’d be attending the Hugo Awards. When I queried whether I’d be on any panelling, the reply I received from Christine Doyle stated that, while I was “pencilled in” for some panels, “We were in the “get something out now” vs “get everyone scheduled” phase — and opted for the get something out now.” This didn’t exactly alleviate my worries, given that the con is due to start on August 16. (By comparison, the first full program schedule for MidAmericon II in 2016 was sent out on July 6, well in advance of the August 16 start date, with final corrections issued by August 4.)

I was more encouraged by the July 22 email I received from Leigh Ann Hildebrand, the LGBTQ+ content lead for programming, which listed 27 separate queer panel topics and asked which ones I’d like to be a part of. Thinking that these would be the only panels on which I might appear, I listed four but gave no order of preference; when the original program was sent out yesterday, I was therefore surprised to find that I’d been given two of the four, plus three other panels and a reading. In honesty, I was happy with the panels I’d been given – both in terms of topics and fellow panellists – but once it became apparent that other Hugo nominees had been offered far less, it was difficult not to feel angry on their behalf. Campbell Award nominee Rivers Solomon, whose expenses for attending Worldcon were crowdsourced by the SFF community, was offered only one item; to the best of my knowledge, JY Yang was given only a reading – or at least, this is what I inferred from their saying that they’d been left off the panelling items that they requested. Either way, it ought to be Worldcon 101 to try and accommodate both guests and award nominees from the outset instead of letting their contributions be afterthoughts, and whatever other factors are in play, it doesn’t escape notice that, overwhelmingly, those slighted by the programming are POC, non-American, queer or a combination of all three.

L.E.H. Light of Black Nerd Problems responds to the controversy and proposed solution in “Worldcon Starts Over: But Will It Be Enough?” . (I’m linking to this even though the post was publicized in a tweet with a dumpster fire GIF…)

…With only a month left to the convention, can the trust be regained? Can WorldCon 76 get itself together and present the event they promised us?

I’m not feeling hopeful.

Full disclosure, I’m attending WorldCon 76. I’ve paid my money, booked my room, and planned my cosplay. WorldCon is the best chance for me to meet some of my favorite authors without me having to book an international flight. And to attend the Hugos? That will be fantastic. I submitted panel ideas and have been placed on a few. Every step of that process has been delayed and challenging far beyond what I expected, even from a volunteer-run event. All along I had a voice in the back of my mind telling me something was wrong, and now, with all the evidence in front of me, I have to confront a real possibility: That my presence at the con is one of tokenism and not inclusion.

I say that while keeping in my mind all of the white people, whom I know personally, who invited me, and the people of color who stood up for me to get the placements I did. I don’t want to insult their work or say they did this purposefully. I do want to say that when they added me to a panel, for some the “Black critic with a sassy mouth” box was checked and they went on to schedule a bunch more white guys with conscious clear.

The old gatekeepers of book sci-fi/fantasy continue to be in full control of the keys to mainstream readers. I say that knowing that many of these people consider themselves “allies”, but they remain small-c conservative. They are fundamentally change resistant. While we readers may nominate an inclusive slate of writers and artists for the Hugo awards, the folks planning the conventions don’t really want to have us around, to socialize with queer fans, fans of color, immigrant fans. How can people who haven’t put out new fiction in 10 years have panels, but you can’t find room for new talent? They want our art, but they don’t want to make room at the con table for our concerns, our fan fiction, and our #ownvoices panels.

Larry Correia is one of several Sad Puppy authors delighted to hear about these problems — “My Official Comment on WorldCon 2018’s Social Justice Cannibal Feeding Frenzy” [Internet Archive link].

James Pyles: “An Outsider’s Point of View: Why Did WorldCon 76 Implode?” Despite taking Declan Finn’s and Richard Paolinelli’s posts as his jumping-off point, Pyles is an unusual commenter from the right who isn’t verbally abusive.

So far, I have no skin in the game, but if I ever have some body of my work published and become even marginally established, the Cons will start to become more significant in my life. My concern, and I’ve expressed it before, is by the time I get there, I will be considered an artifact from the “bad old days,” unworthy to have my #OwnVoice.

I don’t think it ever occurs to very many people that you don’t have to exclude “traditional” voices to include “underrepresented” ones. However, in this era of reflexive and wholly visceral panic attacks demonstrated on the far left side of the aisle, it seem virtuous to exclude, marginalize, or even actively express hostility toward “white baby-boomers,” if for no other reason than we’re old and white. And as those who tout the values of social justice and progressiveness continue to dominate the entertainment industry (including publication of SF/F genre material), the shoe, very much, is being put on the other foot.

The answer? I’ve said this before, too and it’s so, so simple. Definitely include Bogi Takács, JY Yang, and others who are from “marginalized” groups, and treat them in a humane manner and with respect, but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t torpedo those writers and editors who aren’t considered “marginalized,” even if you feel that somehow they (we/me) have “done you wrong,” because, in all likelihood, the vast majority of us haven’t. At the end of the day, all we want to do is tell a good story.

David Gillon’s suggestion —

Pixel Scroll 7/23/18 A Double Negative Pixel

(1) WHERE THE IDEA CAME FROM. Nebula winner Rebecca Roanhorse discusses her work with Juliette Wade at Dive Into Worldbuilding: “Rebecca Roanhorse and Trail of Lightning”. (Video at the link.)

I’m so thrilled we could have Rebecca Roanhorse on the show to talk about Trail of Lightning! This is an exciting book and the advent of a really cool new world that you should totally check out.

Rebecca told us that she describes it as an indigenous Mad Max Fury road. It features an exciting adventure through Navajo country after a climate apocalypse. You’ll discover gods, monsters, and heroes of legend in a story featuring Maggie, a monster hunter.

I asked Rebecca where this idea was born. She explained that indigenous representation is very important, and she wanted to see a story where gods and heroes were in North America instead of Scandinavia or Ireland, etc. She also wanted a native/indigenous protagonist, a main character grounded in culture. The story takes place entirely “on the reservation” and uses some tropes of urban fantasy. The post-apocalyptic setting felt natural because, Rebecca says, “we’re headed there anyway.”

In terms of the mythologies referenced in the book, Rebecca says she kept it very Navajo. It’s important to keep in mind that not all native/indigenous stories are for public consumption. The advantage of working with Navajo material is that it’s a very large group with fifty thousand members, and many stories already out in the public consciousness.

(2) VALUABLE CONVERSATIONS. Amal El-Mohtar saw this was something people needed today —

“WisCon Guest of Honour Speech, 2017”

This convention drew me into an awareness of beautiful, hard, necessary conversations, and showed me how much feminism – something I thought of as a monolith, then, a common sense principle – was in fact a tapestry of conversations, many of them very difficult, many of them struggling to find a common language to address the very different problems we face at the intersections of race, class, disability, queerness, immigration status, indigeneity. This convention – by being, explicitly, a place where women come together to talk, to share histories and realities and speculations, to challenge each other and dream together of better, more just worlds – taught me most of what I know about these things.

I want to make you feel how precious that is – and how powerful. Because I am terrified of losing it.

*

We exist at a time when technology has made it easier than ever for us to talk to each other, and harder than ever for us to have conversations. We exist at a time when the internet has been colonized by capital, where every article plays a clickbaity game of “Let’s you and her fight.” We exist at a time when we’re encouraged to see conversations as slapfights, where titles read like mockeries of conversation: “No, So & So, You’re Completely Wrong About the X-Men” – “Yes, Such & Such, Wonder Woman is in Fact Feminist.” Why do we do this? Why is conversation forced into confrontation, into a battleground of winners and losers? Why do we talk about “losing” an argument instead of learning a truth?

To be perfectly honest, I think it’s a con – and not the good kind, not what we’re attending. A Mr. Wednesday con. A grift. A trick. A new, insidious way for the evil systems of our societies to continue preventing us from talking to each other, learning from each other, and loving each other.

(3) BACK FROM EUROCON. Edmund Schluessel’s “Eurcon 2018” report pays close attention to conrunning issues, for example:

…Eurocon 2018’s experiment in simultaneous translation, though, could have gone better. The quality of the program item translation was not an issue at all: well-established translator Thomas Bauduret was on hand. The issue was that M Bauduret would appear at the beginning of an English-language item unscheduled and offer translation, and if he was engaged then, by the simple nature of the beast, all the discussion that followed would move at half-speed, and a panel which was planned for 45 minutes suddenly had ninety minutes of material.

This issue of timing ran throughout Eurocon. Perhaps, having mostly attended either US conventions or things in the Nordic countries, I’ve become overly habituated to the appearance of a gopher holding up a “STOP” card to make sure the program ran to schedule. There was no such provision at Eurocon, nor did the program participants often feel a great need to follow the schedule closely. There were only four program rooms, but all it takes is one person claiming their 67 minutes of their allotted hour–and there were far more than one doing this–and the entire schedule becomes gummed up.

Sometimes it can even look really bad for the convention. I need to preface again: Eurocon 2018 put African SF discussions at the center of its programming, made a point of having African authors on hand, and this is a superb thing to focus on given many factors. The first expression of this track, though, was a presentation about African SF given by a white Canadian, Geoff Ryman, who overran, in large part due to the surprise simultaneous translation; and an immediate consequence of this running over was that the following program item, a talk introducing Afrofuturism by Black SF author Yann-Cédric Agbodan-Aolio, started late and was cut short. I’m not for one second claiming any sort of negative intent by the Eurocon organizers, but mindful of how things are going with Worldcon 76 I think it is important to emphasize the importance of elevating marginalized voices, and being seen to help elevate them. I saw a couple of program items that were about African writing, where African authors were on hand, but where organizers had chosen all-white or all-European/North American/Australian panels….

(4) PROGRAMMING TECHNIQUES. Mary Robinette Kowal outlines how she organizes Nebulas programming in a thread that starts here. Features of her plan include –

(5) MORE ADVICE. And Sarah Pinsker was inspired to say –

(6) MASON OUT OF HOSPITAL. Lisa Mason was attacked while walking in Oakland on July 11. She writes about it here — “Update: 7.23.18//Been Off the Internet Since July 11. A Man Violently Attacked Me; I’ve been in Highland Hospital”.

I was walking on the remodeled bridge of Lakeshore Boulevard where the sidewalk angles around the back of 1200 Lake Shore, a midcentury high-rise apartment and a switchback heads down to the lake. Suddenly I heard yelling. I looked to my left and saw an Hispanic man running up the slope amid the flowering bushes, his face and eyes filled with hate. I was shocked. I’ve never seen hate like that on a person’s face.

In one second he was up on the sidewalk with me. He pulled his fist back to punch my face. I ducked. Then he shoved me as hard as he could toward a pedestrian ramp leading to East 12th Street and two lanes of oncoming cars speeding around the curve onto Lakeshore. I back-pedaled with my feet, lost my balance, and, fell, hard, on my right hip on the concrete half in the street. I rolled over to a sitting position, but I couldn’t stand or move. My right leg lay at an odd angle.

Three bicyclists surrounded me with their bikes, shielding me from him. I looked to my left and saw him striding down the sidewalk, yelling, about to accost another woman, an Asian-American. She witnessed the Attack and backed away. Then he advanced on a white man and they exchanged yells. Then he ran down the sidewalk to the lake….

(7) SDCC REMEMBERS ELLISON. Via Amazing Stories I learned that Jan Schroeder recorded the Celebration of Harlan Ellison’s life held at San Diego ComicCon and uploaded the recording to SoundCloud.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 23 – Shawn Levy, 50. Executive Producer of Stranger Things and the Imaginary Mary series, also a forthcoming reboot of Starman; Producer of The Night at the Museum films.
  • Born July 23 – Tom Mison, 36. The Sleepy Hollow series lead, also the forthcoming Watchmen series, and a role in The Continuing and Lamentable Saga of the Suicide Brothers which is described as a fantastical gothic fairytale. Oh, and his Sleepy Hollow character appeared in the Bones series, a very weird episode that was.
  • Born July 23 – Paul Wesley, 36. Ongoing role in The Vampire Dairies, lead role in Fallen miniseries, also appeared in  Tell Me a Story, a contemporary twisted fairy tales series, and minor roles in such series as Smallville and Minority Report. Oh and in addition to being in a vampire series, he’s been in a werewolf series, Wolf Lake. 
  • Born July 23 – Daniel Radcliffe, 29. Harry Potter of course. Also Rosencrantz in National Theatre Live: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. 
  • Born July 23 – Lili Simmons, 25. Westworld and an ongoing role in The Purge series.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TOOTLE PLUNK AND BOOM. Mariella Moon in Engadget.com discusses the PixelPlayer, a new device that “can recognize instruments in a video, identify specific ones at a pixel level, and isolate he sounds they produce” — “MIT’s music AI can identify instruments and isolate their sounds”. How could Filers NOT be interested in a PixelPlayer?

If you’ve ever played a YouTube video for what it seems like the thousandth time to listen to your instrument’s part of a composition, you’ll love MIT’s new AI. PixelPlayer, which hails from the institution’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), can recognize instruments in a video, identify specific ones at pixel level and isolate the sounds they produce. If there are several instruments playing in a video, for instance, PixelPlayer will allow you to pick the one you want to listen to — it will play the sounds coming out of that instrument the loudest and will lower the volume or everything else.

(11) HANDLING SOCIAL MEDIA. Fresh advice from the front.

(12) HOFFMAN WORKS MAGIC. Jo Niederhoff reviews “The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman” for Fantasy-Faction.

Lately I’ve been getting into fantasy that either crosses genres or plays with the rules of its own genre. Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic are two excellent examples of the former. In my review of Practical Magic, I described it as magical realism, and I stand by that. It hovers just on the edge of fantasy and literary without giving in too much to either side, which can be a delicate balancing act, considering how the two genres tend to feel about each other. The Rules of Magic has the same feel, but at its heart it is a book about growing up, so much so that I hardly noticed Frances and Bridget growing older to become the aunts from the first book.

(13) YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Charles Payseur wants readers to know this won’t be one of his more sober book assessments: “LIVER BEWARE! You’re in for a Drunk Review of Goosebumps #9: WELCOME TO CAMP NIGHTMARE”.

But first thing’s first. I’m drinking. Given then ending of this book, I’m drinking A LOT. I started with some regular Leinies a while ago and have now refined my palate with some IPA from Blue Oskars Brewing, which is pretty good. If I make it that far some Java Lava and bourbon is on the horizons after this, so forgive me if I descend into incomprehensibility. So now that you’ve been warned, onward to the book!

(14) ORVILLE. Tune in to The Orville Panel At Comic-Con 2018:

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