Pixel Scroll 10/20/16 Pixeled In The Scroll By My Own Pixel

(1) PLAYING WITH REAL NUMBERS. Aaron tests the idea that EPH will not distort the results when there is no slate in a new post at Dreaming of Other Worlds. Find out what changed on the 2014 final Hugo ballot.

E Pluribus Hugo was passed largely in response to the results of the 2015 Hugo nomination process. I outlined the background leading up to this in my previous post about the 2016 E Pluribus Hugo Revised Hugo Finalists, and I’m not going to repeat myself here. Anyone who wants a summary of the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns, the responses from non-Puppy Hugo voters, and an outline of the mechanics of E Pluribus Hugo can go read about that there.

The E Pluribus Hugo system had several goals. One goal was to dampen the influence of bloc voting. A second goal was to create a system that presented a nominating voter with a means of voting that was substantially similar to the one that voter had under the old system. The third was to create a system that would return results that were as close to those that the old system did in a year in which there was no bloc voting. To test this third goal, the system was used on the 2014 Hugo ballots, which was a year in which there was a Sad Puppy campaign, but no slate in any meaningful sense, and therefore no real bloc voting….

(2) SUMMERTIME. Chapter 10 of T. Kingfisher’s Summer in Orcus has now been released.

When the witch Baba Yaga walks her house into the backyard, eleven-year-old Summer enters into a bargain for her heart’s desire. Her search will take her to the strange, surreal world of Orcus, where birds talk, women change their shape, and frogs sometimes grow on trees. But underneath the whimsy of Orcus lies a persistent darkness, and Summer finds herself hunted by the monstrous Houndbreaker, who serves the distant, mysterious Queen-in-Chains…

(3) RIDERS OF THE PURPLE PAGE. Max Florschutz enters the perpetual debate about “literary” vs. “genre” in “You Just Keep Pushing Me Away…” .

Granted, I could write a whole thing on how genre fiction can (and does) approach the tough questions, demands intelligent thought and reason, and present ideas (and when it comes down to it, most who disagree are either cherry picking their examples or of the mindset of “that doesn’t support the message and ideas I want,” which doesn’t help). I could talk about that, pull examples, etc. But I won’t. Not at this point.

No, instead, I’m going to tackle a different point. The idea that “literary” fiction is automatically intelligent and thought-provoking. Because this isn’t accurate. No, more accurate would be that it’s fiction that thinks it’s intelligent or thought provoking, written by someone who thinks they’re presenting something much more “intellectual” than it actually is. When it really isn’t … but they’re too “smart” to do the research to know otherwise.

… What’s sad about this is I could see myself enjoying more “literary” works.  The writing is more tell, sure, and more purple, but sometimes that’s pretty good purple. Sometimes there’s some neat ideas buried in there.

But my issue is that they are buried in there. It’s like “literary” writers can’t be bothered to do the most basic of research. And that pushes me away. Back towards genre fiction, where, despite not being the “intelligent” fiction choice, the science is real, the facts are usually real (or pretty close), and even when I’m reading about fantasy kingdom of some kind, said kingdom is actually laid out like a real government and civilization would be. As opposed to the “literary” version, which comes off feeling like Disney-mythology in comparison.

It just keeps pushing me away. Especially with all the battles over how “literary” fiction is the “superior” fiction, or the more intelligent, or the more meaningful, etc. I just can’t take a story seriously that can’t grasp basic parts of life, like how a car works. Or a TV. Or science.

(4) ANOTHER MIDDLE-EARTH TALE ON WAY TO PRESS. “JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth love story to be published next year” reports The Guardian.

JRR Tolkien’s legend of the mortal man Beren and the immortal elf Lúthien – a story that meant so much to the Lord of the Rings author that the characters’ names are engraved on the headstone shared by him and his wife – is to be published next year.

The Middle-earth tale tells of the love between the mortal man and the immortal elf. Lúthien’s father, an Elvish lord, is against their relationship, and so gives Beren an impossible task to fulfil before the two can be married, said HarperCollins, which will publish Beren and Lúthien next May. The pair then go on to rob “the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril”, or jewel.

(5) PULITZER EXPANDS ELIGIBILITY. Crain’s New York Business reports print and online magazines are now eligible for Pulitzer Prizes in all journalism categories.

The Pulitzer Prize Board announced Wednesday that entries of work done in 2016 will be accepted beginning in December for the 2017 prizes.

The board says it made its decision after two years of experimentation.

New entry guidelines are posted at Pulitzer.org.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY VAMPIRE

  • Born October 20, 1882 — Bela Lugosi.

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(7) HORROR READING.Ellen Datlow’s photos of the “Children of Lovecraft Reading October 16, 2016” are on Flickr.

Laird Barron, John Langan, A. C. Wise, Siobhan Carroll, Richard Kadrey, and David Nickle all read wonderfully at the Lovecraft Bar on Avenue B in NYC’s east village.

chidren-of-lovecraft-reading

(8) PLAYTIME. I got a kick from John Scalzi’s first line in one of his mallet-is-out warnings:

  1. Hey, two political posts in the same day! Can you tell I finished my book?

(9) TIME TO LEVEL UP YOUR ALIENS. Motherboard’s post “The Way We’ve Been Imagining Aliens Is All Wrong” sets us straight.

Why do we always picture aliens as distorted humans?

Science fiction has failed to creatively, or even accurately, imagine alien life, said British science writer Philip Ball in an article, “The Aeon Idea: Why our imagination for alien life is so impoverished.” Now Aeon, a digital ideas and culture magazine, just released a video called Stranger Aliens, adapted from Ball’s theory and narrated by Ball himself.

 

(10) DIVERSITY ON DISCOVERY. Otaku-kun at Haibane comments on the proposal: “A Muslim crew member on Star Trek: Discovery?”

I think including an explicit Muslim would be jarring since tehre is no other “real world” religion represented in Star Trek, at least for the Human society. It was Roddenberry’s world and he chose to eliminate religion from it. Adding a character who is explicitly Muslim complicates canon and introduces tension that undermines Star Trek’s appeal to all of humanity. Then you also need canon explanations for the status of Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc. This mess is exactly why religion was introduced to DS9 using the alien Bajoran society rather than picking one from our own.

The solution is to recognize that Islamophobia is not an intellectual reaction to a religion’s precepts, but rooted in racial and ethnic fears. Having a stand-in on the crew for a “Muslim-y” ethnic type would be great because that way when someone sees a Muslim on the street, they should be able to counter their knee-jerk stereotype by relating that person to this crewmember. Therefore, the ethnic choice of the actor is relevant to maximize that stereotype-defeating analogy. Which ethnicity works best for this purpose?

(11) WHO’S THE GEEZER? selenay articulates the cross-generational stresses affecting fanfic writers in “Regarding all the AO3 bashing” (AO3 = Archive of Our Own).

Us olds remember the old days. The days when you had to label all slash–even when it was just hand-holding–as NC17 and plaster it with warnings. The days when only certain archives accepted slash at all, and you could get your FFN account or LJ suspended if someone objected to your boy kissing fics, so everything was locked down under f-lock or posted to the adult slash-friendly archives with a thousand warning pop-ups. The days when RPF was never to be spoken of because almost no archive accepted it. The days when we all danced around carefully because at any moment, our favourite fics could be deleted and never seen again if a site advertiser threatened to withdraw funding….

Current fandom has splintered and seems to have broken into generational buckets. The youngest part of fandom is on Tumblr and Snapchat. The older part of fandom is on Tumblr a bit, but not much, and many of us have stepped a long way back from it because we’re made so unwelcome. We’re still here on LJ, DW, Twitter, and Imzy, where the youngs aren’t so much. Due to those divides, there isn’t that interaction and mutual learning, so the younger fanfolk don’t know the history. They don’t know why AO3 exists and why we’re so passionate about not censoring it. They’ve never had to creep around on the edges of fandom because they were slashers, or RPF-ers, or wrote explicit fics after FFN banned them.

The divide is also contributing to the feeling that anyone over thirty shouldn’t be fannish anymore, and I suspect that’s part of the AO3 wankery. There aren’t many people from that very young end of the fandom involved with the OTW or AO3, so it feels like the olds run it. We created it, we fundraised for it, we continue to work on it and we’re old, by their standards. We should have shuffled off to our graveyards or our adult lives or something.

Except we haven’t, because when we were the fandom babies, there were all these fans older than us who were still active and we learned we’ll never be too old for fandom. With the divide getting so sharp between the youngest and everyone else, they’re not getting that part of the fannish experience, either. They can’t imagine being thirty (or forty, or fifty), never mind being that age and still being in fandom.

You’ve also got the problem that Tumblr-style activism is very different from what we were doing five or ten years ago. It’s all about protecting young eyes not just from the content, but from knowing the content is even there. About removing it so it doesn’t need to be thought of. For them, “don’t like, don’t read” isn’t enough. They don’t want anyone to read it or see it or write it.

(12) A VISIT TO ANTIQUITY. James Davis Nicoll has posted his latest Young People Read Old SF, assigning them “Snowball Effect” by Katherine MacLean.

Although she won a Nebula Award for The Missing Man, Katherine MacLean is hardly a household name these days. Her most productive period ran from the 1950s to the 1970s. That Nebula was won in 1971; other honours (such as being a professional guest of honor at the very first WisCon in 1977) are almost all of a similar vintage. She was admired for her ability to combine character with plot, character being an element of fiction many of her contemporaries seemed willing to do without.

In her heyday, MacLean was one of the few high-profile women working in the field. In the specific context of these reviews, she is remarkable in a different way: the first author selected who is still with us: born in 1925, she is but 91. Her birthday is January 22: join me in raising a glass to this grand figure of science fiction.

(13) LARPING FOR PEACE. In a piece on Vimeo called “Bjarke Pedersen:  Becoming the Story,”  Danish LARPer Bjarke Pedersen explains what “Nordic LARP” is and how in Scandinavia, LARPers work together to come up with stories they wouldn’t be able to create on their own.  Pedersen’s video was presented at the Future of Storytelling conference held in New York City two weeks ago.

As the Creative Director of Odyssé and one of the world’s experts on LARPing, Bjarke Pedersen has spent many years exploring the power of this collaborative form of storytelling. He’s observed that by getting a chance to engage with different characters, LARPers are also able to learn more about themselves. LARPing is also particularly powerful for the ways in which it relies on building trust among people. Many individuals are able to tell their own stories within a given framework, but it is the larger output of so many different stories being told at the same time that makes LARPing so unique and powerful.

 

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Aziz Poonawalla, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper.]

 

Pixel Scroll 7/26/16 I Am The Very Pixel Of A Modern Scrolling General

(1) WONDER WOMAN FOREVER. At the San Diego Comic-Con the Postal Service announced “Wonder Woman’s 75th Anniversary to be Celebrated on Forever Stamps”. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony will take place October 7 at New York Comic-Con.

wonder woman stamps

This new issuance showcases four different stamp designs on a sheet of 20 stamps depicting Wonder Woman during four eras of comic book history:  Golden Age (1941–55), Silver Age (1956–72), Bronze Age (1973–86) and Modern Age (1987–present).

On the first row of stamps Wonder Woman of the Modern Age wields a hammer with a power and determination befitting her roots in the heroic world of Greek mythology.

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The Bronze Age Wonder Woman’s bold stance empowers the second row of stamps. With her fist held high and bulletproof bracelets gleaming, the Amazon princess leads the charge against injustice.

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The third row of stamps depicts Wonder Woman during the Silver Age. Although she possesses great strength and speed, the world’s favorite superheroine prefers compassion to the use of brute force. With her golden lasso of truth close at hand, she compels honesty from her foes.

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In the last row of stamps, Wonder Woman from the Golden Age bursts onto the scene as originally envisioned by creator William Moulton Marston.

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Art director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA, designed the stamp pane.

(2) SIGNATURE TRAITS. Max Florschutz continues his “Being A Better Writer” series of posts with “Giving Characters a Leitmotif”.

….Now, to some of you long-time readers, this may sound somewhat familiar. After all, we’ve spoken before of ways to show a reader character through dialogue choice or body language. Here and now, however, I’m sort of pulling all of this together into a single, overarching idea: What leitmotif have you given your character? What element of their personality, attribute of their view of the world, are you going to weave into their parts (or perhaps point of view) in order to let the reader know exactly who they’re following even before you give them a name?

No joke. With strong enough characterization to a character’s perspective, it’s entirely possible to write a piece that, without ever mentioning a character’s name, is identifiable wholly as that character’s own. Through use of specific dialogue ticks, phrasing, complexity of language, or even things like catch phrases, general attitudes, or body language, you can inform a reader exactly who your character is.

Better yet, such an action will, if varied (we’ll talk about that in a moment) bring the character to life. Because let’s be honest here: We all have a “leitmotif.” Each of us has very recognizable traits that allow others to see who we are quite quickly(an old friend of mine once—no joke—identified me in the dark, only from my silhouette, on the explained logic of “no one else walks with that much casual swagger” … and come to think of it, that’s happened more than once).

Likewise, as you sit down to create—and then write—a character, what “leitmotifs” are you going to give them? What verbal cues, what methods of thought, or what reactions will they have. Will they be fight or flight? Will they be brusque to those they don’t know? Courteous? Do they think of themselves in first or second person when thinking?

Now, I know this all sounds like character design and development stuff—and it is! But what I’m bringing to the front here is not just the act of deciding all this stuff, but of picking the ones that you’ll weave into everything about the character….

(3) BOIL ‘TIL DONE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet Luca, the Ancestor of All Living Things”. At least, that’s the theory.

….Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old….

….Genes that do the same thing in a human and a mouse are generally related by common descent from an ancestral gene in the first mammal. So by comparing their sequence of DNA letters, genes can be arranged in evolutionary family trees, a property that enabled Dr. Martin and his colleagues to assign the six million genes to a much smaller number of gene families. Of these, only 355 met their criteria for having probably originated in Luca, the joint ancestor of bacteria and archaea.

Genes are adapted to an organism’s environment. So Dr. Martin hoped that by pinpointing the genes likely to have been present in Luca, he would also get a glimpse of where and how Luca lived. “I was flabbergasted at the result, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

The 355 genes pointed quite precisely to an organism that lived in the conditions found in deep sea vents, the gassy, metal-laden, intensely hot plumes caused by seawater interacting with magma erupting through the ocean floor.

…Dr. Sutherland, working from basic principles of chemistry, has found that ultraviolet light from the sun is an essential energy source to get the right reactions underway, and therefore that land-based pools, not the ocean, are the most likely environment in which life began.

“We didn’t set out with a preferred scenario; we deduced the scenario from the chemistry,” he said, chiding Dr. Martin for not having done any chemical simulations to support the deep sea vent scenario.

Dr. Martin’s portrait of Luca “is all very interesting, but it has nothing to do with the actual origin of life,” Dr. Sutherland said.

(4) PRINCESS CHARMING. Roby and Kreider have turned to Kickstarter to get their next project out of the starting gate – Princess Charming: for a Few Princesses More.

Josh Roby has been writing professionally for more than a decade (and writing unprofessionally for a long time before that), and has worked as an editor for curriculum development and a number of early reader titles. Nowadays, most of Josh’s time is spent as a home maker and raising two darling children.

Anna Kreider is a writer, game designer, and illustrator who spends a lot of time blogging about depictions of women in pop culture. She is also attempting to raise a toddler, despite the toddler’s best efforts to the contrary.

Here’s what they’re doing —

Princess Charming

We started the Princess Charming book series to make children’s books that feature active, competent princess characters who do more than wait around to get rescued. We’ve already published six books across three different reading levels, but we’re far from done.

Publishing the first six books was a great experience, and we’re ready to bring out the second batch, starting with Princess Rowan Charming.

Only one thing slows down our Rowan — her friend, Prince Sundara, who insists on coming along. Something about Rowan having only one hand and that he has to protect her. But he only gets in the way! Somehow Rowan has to make the boy understand that he’s not cut out for adventuring… before he gets hurt.

And In the Wings…

If we fund all of Princess Rowan’s titles, we’ve got two more princesses lined up and ready to go: Princess Chandra and Princess Nayeli are both penciled in for three books, which we will unlock as stretch goals.

With a week to go, the appeal has raised $1,875 of its $3,000 goal.

(5) SEVEN DEAD GODS. Westercon 67 alumnus Valynne Maetani has hit it big. Publishers Weekly has the story – “Two YA Authors Tweet Mutual Interests into Six-Figure Deal”.

What began as a casual Twitter conversation between two long-time friends who for years talked about writing a book together – Valynne Maetani and Courtney Alameda – has become a hot property that recently was sold to HarperCollins in a two-book, six-figure deal after an auction earlier this year in which four major publishers participated. The final contract was signed in June.

Seven Dead Gods, the YA novel co-written by Maetani and Alameda, who have both been represented by John Cusick (now with Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr.) since 2012, is scheduled to publish in winter 2018. While Cusick described Seven Dead Gods as a combination of “An Ember in the Ashes and Daughter of Smoke and Bone meets Akira Kurosawa,” Alexandra Cooper, the HarperCollins editor who acquired it, used more cinematic terms: “Mean Girls meets Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

According to the two co-authors, it’s simply the inevitable culmination of their mutual passion for horror, anime, comic book culture, and Kurosawa’s classic Japanese epic movies. In Seven Dead Gods, which is set in modern-day Japan, 17-year-old Kira, who is the victim of bullying at her school, finds solace working in her grandfather’s Shinto shrine. After realizing that she can see and commune with demons, Kira – with her younger sister in tow – partners with seven “death gods,” or “Shinigami” in Japanese, to save Kyoto from destruction.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 26, 1969 — First Moon rock samples analyzed.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 26, 1894 –Aldous Huxley
  • Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick

(8) MONUMENT TO A HUGO BALLOT. Lurkertype finished voting for the Hugos and Retro-Hugos and celebrated by using the Pulp-O-Mizer mentioned in yesterday’s Scroll to make this faux pulp cover.

(9) WILL JRRT FOLLOW GRRM ON HBO? That’s what iDigital Times would like to see: “’The Silmarillion’ TV Series: HBO Should Adapt ‘The Silmarillion’ After ‘Game of Thrones’”.

The Silmarillion would be an incredible successor to Game of Thrones on HBO, not least because the two would be so different. The Silmarillion is firmly set in the epic vein, in the realm of the mythic; Game of Thrones is a story of kings and princes, but has always been down to earth, even in its new epic fantasy phase. The battles in The Silmarillion are more elemental; these are wars between Elves and dragons, Balrogs, giant spiders and endless hordes of orcs, and sometimes the gods themselves intervene. But the story itself is incredibly interesting—it has the depth and complexity to carry a series, even one that’s more directly fantastical than Game of Thrones.

Could it happen? It’s not impossible. The Tolkien family still holds the film rights to The Silmarillion, and Christopher Tolkien has made it very clear that Peter Jackson isn’t getting those rights, not after the debacle of The Hobbit movies. But that doesn’t mean no one is getting them. HBO has shown itself a relatively careful steward of such properties, and it’s willing to invest in the money and talent to do such shows right.

(10) WHAT WILL DARTH SAY? After Tor Books announced its latest round of promotions, Elizabeth Bear voiced the joke that immediately came to some people’s minds —

(11) NEEDS A CLUE. Spacefaring Kitten is “No-Awarding Editors and Avengers”.

I don’t think that any of the novel editors does a bad job (ok, maybe one of them). This is strictly a protest vote against the insane category. How can anybody who is not an industry insider come to any conclusion about who is better than someone else in turning mediocre books into great ones? I have no clue.

So when you have no clue, why cast a vote that in principal can obstruct others who don’t feel that way from giving an award?

(12) ONE TRICK. Was there any question about this being the end times?

“Zombie Dog – The Barking Dead Messenger Pet”

zombie dog

(13) MASHUP. Brian Kesinger came up with a good one —

(14) PIONEER OF UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. Sir Julius Vogel, for whom New Zealand’s national sf award is named, was remembered at a special memorial service in London at the beginning of the month, though not for reasons to do with his fantasy writing, which was never mentioned.

Vogel had a visionary imagination. He wrote about air cruisers, driven by engines much like jet engines, the inventor of which was a young Jewish woman, niece of the spymaster. He envisages large irrigation schemes in the South Island, electricity as the prime source of domestic light and heat, hydro-electricity as a major source of power.

In political developments, he foresaw a global federation of financial interests that maintained world peace, taxation as the great divisive issue threatening to break up the empire, and the resolution of the issue of Irish Home Rule.

There is no limit to Vogel’s seemingly far-fetched ideas.

The Southland Times, reviewing Vogel’s book, said: “In Anno Domini 2000, it is easy to detect the hand of a beginner. The plot, if plot it can be called, is not very ingenious, the dialogue is not very brilliant and the characterisation is decidedly poor. The whole story is moreover ridiculously improbable.”

What is interesting is that Vogel, who was reminded of his Jewish identity throughout his life, whom his political opponents described as the “wandering Jew”, whose newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, was referred to as “that despicable literary dish clout”, “the Jew’s Harp”, created a positive image of Jewishness in one of the leading characters of his work of fantasy.

(15) A HUMMER. I must have missed this one the first time it came around in 2006.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, JJ, and James Davis Nicoll for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 5/19/16 I Am Not In The Scroll Of Common Men

(1) DATA AND YAR AT TANAGRA. Seattle’s EMP Museum is opening Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds to the public on May 21. Tickets required.

Plus, be among the first to visit Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds and get an up-close look at more than 100 artifacts and props from the five Star Trek television series, spin-offs, and films, including set pieces from the original series like Captain Kirk’s command chair and the navigation console (on display for the first time to the public); Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and McCoy original series costumes; and the 6-foot U.S.S. Enterprise filming model from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Opening day is also when Denise Crosby (Tasha Yar) and Brent Spiner (Data) will appear – additional charge for photos and autographs, naturally.

(2) OMAZE WINNER. SFWA’s Director of Operations Kate Baker learned during the Nebula conference that she was the Omaze winner, and will join Chris Pratt on the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 set.

Tired and sweaty after hours of work, I sat down to check my phone as we planned to grab something to eat. There in my Twitter feed was a message from a new follower; Omaze. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, they partner with a celebrity and charity, design a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a random donor, (and here is the most important part) — raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for deserving charities around the world….

I quickly followed them back and responded. That’s when I found out that I was a finalist for the grand prize and to satisfy their partners and sponsors, they wanted to do a short Skype interview that evening.

Unable to contain my excitement, I rushed around my room, curling my hair, refreshing make-up, doing cartwheels, moving furniture, opening blinds, you know — normal things.

As 6:00 CST hit, I took a deep breath and answered the call….. That’s when they sprung the surprise.

 

(3) CLARKE AHEAD. Award Director Tom Hunter has posted at Medium “14 ways I’m thinking about the future of the Arthur C. Clarke Award”.

8. Governance & succession planning

As mentioned in my section on charitable status, the Clarke Award is currently administered by just 3 volunteers. Could we do more if we had more people involved?

A fair few people have promoted themselves to me as viable candidates over the years, but while many have been keen to have a say in the running of the award (or just like telling me they could do a better job with it) right now one of the reasons the award has weathered its troubles so well has been because of our ability to move faster on key decisions than a continual vote by committee model would likely have allowed us.

Still, as I look to the future again, there are many potential advantages to be gained from our increasing our board membership, not least the fact that when I first took this role a decade ago I only planned to stay for 5 years.

I changed my mind back then because of the need to build a new financial resilience into the award to keep it going, but one day sooner or later I intend to step down after I’ve recruited my replacement.

Padawans wanted. Apply here.

(4) ANTIQUE ZINE. This APA-L cover by Bea Barrio glowed in the dark when it was originally made – in the 1970s. Wonder if it still does?

https://twitter.com/highly_nice/status/732782065591160833

(5) MASKED MEN. Comic Book Resources boosts the signal: “Dynamite Announces ‘The Lone Ranger Meets the Green Hornet: Champions of Justice”.

What is the connection between the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet? Dynamite Entertainment’s new “The Lone Ranger Meets the Green Hornet: Champions of Justice” series has the answer. CBR can exclusively reveal that writer Michael Uslan and artist Giovanni Timpano are reuniting for the new series, a crossover 80 years in the making.

According to an official series description,

The first chapter, entitled “Return With Us Now,” creates a world of carefully researched alternative history in 1936. Readers will learn whatever happened to The Lone Ranger and discover his familial link to the emergence of a man who is a modern day urban version of The Lone Ranger himself. What is the blood connection of The Green Hornet to The Lone Ranger? What is the link of Olympic runner Jesse Owens to The Green Hornet? What role does Bat Masterson play in The Lone Ranger’s New York adventure? What intense rift tears a family apart just when America desperately needs a great champion of justice? The shocking answers lie in the landmark new series ‘The Lone Ranger Meets the Green Hornet: Champions of Justice!’

(6) DEARLY BELOVED. Lit Brick has done a comic about “If you were a dinosaur, my love”.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born May 19, 1944 — Before Peter Mayhew was Chewy he was Minaton in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, his first role.

Peter Mayhew in character

(8) FLORSCHUTZ OUT. Max Florschutz explains why he pulled his book from a contest: Unusual Events Has Been Removed From SPFBO 2016”.

All right, guys, it’s official. I just heard back from Mark Lawrence, the head of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, and now that the competition has begun, my book could not be moved to another reviewer, so instead, I’ve elected to withdraw my entry from the competition (for the reasons for doing so, see this post here). It’s sad that it had to be done, but I feel my reasons were sound.

Florschutz outlined reasons for asking for his book to be reassigned in a previous post, “When Did Ethnicity and Sex Become the Most Important Thing?”

Bear with me for a moment, and take a look at these few excerpts from a book review I read this morning, posted on a fantasy review blog (which you can find here, though I’m loathe to give them a link after perusing the site since it’s a little messed up). I’d been poking around the place since they are a participating member of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, a contest between 300 different self-published fantasy books, and Unusual Events is one of those titles. This site is the one that will be handling Unusual Events review.

I’m not sure how I feel about that now. In fact, I may request to have it passed to another site, since I’m pretty sure I can already see how its going to go. Because I’ve been reading their other reviews, and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. Let’s look at some quotes:

Otherbound is that last sort of book.

I’m fairly certain I discovered it on Tumblr, recommended by one of those blogs which include lists of books that are commendable for their diversity.

Okay, that’s … interesting. A little background on the title. I guess that’s important? Let’s see what happens if we go further.

… fantasy novels are written by and about (and quite possibly for) white men who like running around with swords saving the world.

Uh-oh. Okay. Sensing a theme here, but—

As I said, it’s an incredible story, and honestly, I’d probably have loved the book even if both of the leads were white and straight.

Wait, what?

So they’re saying that it’s also likely that they wouldn’t have liked the book had the main characters been, to use their own words “white and straight”? The book would be inferior simply because of the color of the main character’s skin or their sexual orientation?

….Now, to get back to something I said earlier, I’m considering contacting the SPFBO 2016 ringleaders and asking to have my book moved to another reviewer. And no, it’s not because my book is “… written by and about (and quite possibly for) white men who like running around with swords saving the world.” because it isn’t. But more because now I know that there’s a very high chance that that fact is what the reviewer is going to fixate on regardless. My sex, and my ethnic heritage, as well as that of the characters I wrote, is going to matter to her more than the rest of what’s inside the book’s pages. More than the stories those characters experience, the trials that they undergo.

(9) TEACHING WRITING. “’Between Utter Chaos and Total Brilliance.’ Daniel José Older Talks About Teaching Writing in the Prison System” – a set of Older’s tweets curated by Leah Schnelbach at Tor.com.

(10) PURSUED. David M. Perry profiles Older at Pacific Standard “Daniel José Older and Progressive Science Fiction After Gamergate”.

The Internet trolls picked a bad week to call Daniel José Older “irrelevant.” As we meet in the opulent lobby of the Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago, his young-adult book Shadowshaper is sitting on a New York Times bestseller list. He’s in town because the book was been nominated for the Andre Norton Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America, which is holding its annual Nebula conference in Chicago. Best of all, he’s just signed a contract for two sequels. There’s also his well-reviewed adult fiction, the “Bone Street Rumba” series. By no standard of publishing is this person irrelevant.

So why the trolls? They’re coming after Older for the same reason that he’s succeeding as a writer?—?his urban fantasy novels actually look like urban America (including the ghosts) and he’s got no patience for the bros who want to keep their fantasy worlds white.

(11) DAMN BREAK. Kameron Hurley charts the history of hydraulic pressure in sf: “The Establishment Has Always Hated The New Kids”.

…Though there has been momentum building for some time, a backlash against the backlash, I’d say it wasn’t until about 2013 when publishing started to catch up. Ann Leckie wrote a space opera (a woman wrote a space opera! With women in it! AND PEOPLE BOUGHT IT SHOCKING I KNOW AS IF NO ONE HAD BOUGHT LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS OR ANYTHING BY CJ CHERRYH OR OCTAVIA BUTLER), and it swept the awards. We Need Diverse Books was able to organize the conversation about the overwhelming whiteness of publishing, bringing together disparate voices into one voice crying out for change in who writes, edits, and publishes books, while the first Muslim Ms. Marvel comic book (written by a Muslim, even!) broke sales records.

The water has been building up behind the damn for a long time, and it’s finally burst.

Watching the pushback to this new wave of writers finally breaking out from the margins to the mainstream has been especially amusing for me, as I spent my early 20’s doing a lot of old-school SF reading, including reading SFF history (I will always think of Justine Larbalestier as the author of The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction). I was, of course, especially interested in the history of feminist science fiction. Women have always written SFF, of course, but the New Wave of the 60’s and 70’s brought with it an influx of women writers of all races and men of color that was unprecedented in the field (if still small compared to the overall general population of said writers in America). This was the age of Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, Sam Delany, and nutty young upstarts like Harlan Ellison. These writers brought a much needed and refreshing new perspective into the field. They raised the bar for what science fiction was. And so the writing got better. The politics and social mores being dissected got more interesting and varied, as one would expect when you introduce a great wave of writers into a field that was happy to award the same handful of folks year after year. They shook up the field. They changed science fiction forever. The established pros had to write their hearts out to catch up….

(12) KEN LIU’S OPINION OF HOGWARTS. Rachel Swirsky did a “Silly Interview with Ken Liu who HAS THE SCHEMATICS for a Time Turner!”

RS: Speaking of Harry Potter, if you could send your kids to Hogwarts, would you?

KL: I’d have to ask my kids. Personally, I’m not a big fan of sending them away to boarding school because I want to spend more time with them. Parents get so little time with their children as is… But if they really want to go and learn magic, I’ll support them. And I hope they work hard to challenge the rather authoritarian system at Hogwarts and engage in campus activism.

(13) THERE WILL BE WALRUS. Steve Davidson did a silly interview of his own — with Timothy the Talking Cat, at Amazing Stories.

ASM: What kind of cat are you (alley, purebred,,,?), or is that kind of inquiry offensive?  Do cats themselves make such distinctions?

TTTC: I’m glad you asked. Some people have claimed that I am a British Shorthair cat. However, my cousin had a DNA test and apparently my family are actually the rare French Chartreux breed. This is an important distinction and finally shows what liars those people are who have accused me of being a Francophobe, ‘anti-French’ and/or in some way prejudiced against France, the French and anything remotely Gallic. People need to understand that when I point out that France is a looming danger to all right thinking people in America and other countries as well, like maybe Scotland or Japan. I really can’t stress this enough – the French-Squirrel axis is real and it is plotting against us all. This why Britain needs to leave the European Union right now. I have zero tolerance for those who say we should wait for the referendum – that is just playing into their hands. But understand I am not anti-French as my DNA proves. Squirrels like to say ‘Timothy you are such a Francophobe’ as if that was a dialectical argument against my well thought out positions. They have no answer when I point out that I am MORE French than Charles DeGaulle. Squirrels just can’t think straight about these things. Notice that if you even try and type ‘Francophobe’ your computer will try to turn it into ‘Francophone’ – that is how deep the Franco-Squirrel conspiracy goes. Squirrel convergence happens at high levels in IT companies these days – that is how I lost my verification tick on Twitter.

I don’t talk to other cats these days. Frankly many of them are idiots….

(14) HENRY AND ERROL. The editors of Galactic Journey and File 770. Two handsome dudes – but ornery.

(15) CRITERIA. Dann collects his thoughts about “That Good Story” at Liberty At All Costs.

In a conversation I am having at File 770, I was asked to define what makes a science fiction/fantasy book “great” for me.  Rather than losing these radiant pearls of wisdom to the effluence of teh intertoobery, I thought I would cement them here in my personal record….

Stay Away From Check Boxes Whoo boy.  I can smell trouble burning at the other end of the wire already.

“Check box” fiction really undermines the quality of my reading experience.  What is “check box” fiction?  It is a story that includes elements indicating diversity in the cast of characters that has zero impact on the the story.

In a reverse of the above, I’d like to suggest N.K. Jemisin’s “The Fifth Season” as a good example of not doing “check box” fiction.  One cluster of protagonists included a character that is straight, one that is seemingly bi-sexual, and one that is decidedly homosexual.  They have a three-way.

And while the more patently descriptive passages of those events didn’t do much for me, the fact that their respective sexuality helped inform their motivations and moved the story forward made the effort in describing their sexuality worthwhile reading.  She also did a reasonable job at expressing how physical appearances differed based on regionalism.  [There were one or two other moments that could be considered “check box(es)”, but for the most part it wasn’t a factor in this book.]

IMHO, including a character that is “different” without having that difference impact the story is at the very least a waste of time that detracts from the story and at the very worst insultingly dismissive of the people that possess the same characters.

(16) IT AIN’T ME BABE. The Guardian got some clickbait from speculating about the identity of Chuck Tingle. Vox Day denies it’s him. Zoë Quinn doesn’t know who it is. The reporter, despite taking 2,000 words of interview notes, also is none the wiser.

Theories abound online: is Tingle Lemony Snicket? The South Park boys? Some sort of performance artist – perhaps the “Banksy of self-published dinosaur erotica” as someone once called him on Twitter? Last year, Jon Tingle – apparently the son of Chuck – appeared on a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread to share unsettling insights into his father: “Yes, my father is very real. He is an autistic savant, but also suffers from schizophrenia. To make it very clear, my father is one of the gentlest, sweetest people you could ever meet and is not at all dangerous, although he does have a history of SELF harm … I would not let him be the butt of some worldwide joke if I didn’t have faith that he was in on it in some way. Regardless, writing and self-publishing brings him a lot of joy.” If this is all a joke, it’s hard to know where it starts or where to laugh….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., JJ, and Tom Hunter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 5/17/16 There and Gernsback Again

(1) I WONDER WHAT THE KING IS DOING TONIGHT. Kameron Hurley observes that fame and fortune don’t go hand-in-hand: “Dancing for Dinner: Fame, Publishing, and Breakout Books”.

In my own life, I find I have to remind people often that I have a day job. I actually had a client email me after a conference call one time and ask, “Are you THE Kameron Hurley?” and I had to admit that I was. I had to have a conversation with my boss about online harassment, and how the release of my upcoming essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution, might create some pushback at my job, and how we should handle that should it happen. The whiplash you get in going to an event where people literally scream with happiness when you walk into a room and back to private life where you’re just another cog is really weird (to be truthful, I greatly enjoy my anonymity in Ohio, and don’t want it another way, but the dissonance is weird).

Yet this balancing act between public and private life, or public personae and private day job, is something that many thousands of other writers and artists struggle with every day. I was reading that Joe Abercrombie kept his day job for a lot longer than you might have thought (and even then, picked up freelancing jobs until a few years ago), and Gene Wolfe has had a day job his whole career. Most of us have to do this. It’s just… increasingly awkward to find that the fame part comes so much faster than the money part (if the money comes at all). There’s this strange assumption that by being an artist, you have traded away your private life in exchange for money. But what about those of us who never have the money to keep ourselves safe from the fame?

(2) HILL’S DARKSIDE. Coming in October from IDW, “Joe Hill’s Terrifying Scripts For Tales From The Darkside Collected”.

Originally planned as a reboot for the storied series, Hill’s scripts for these never-broadcast television episodes allow the New York Times bestselling author to stretch his creative muscles, his effortless mastery of the twisted subject matter injecting new terrors into this silver screen legend.

Joining Hill in resurrecting this classic is Charles Paul Wilson III, known to many Joe Hill fans as the artist responsible for the nightmare vision made real in their most recent collaboration…

“When I was offered a chance to reinvent Tales from the Darkside, I leapt,” said Hill. “This was a landmark show for my generation: our Twilight Zone, our Outer Limits. Right away, I wanted to do something that honored the spirit of the original Darkside… and at the same time I wanted to go bigger, to do something fresh, something with scope. In the end I wrote three scripts and sketched a vision for a whole Darkside universe. I envisioned a series of individual horror stories that would, ultimately, turn out to be connected by a single mythology. I really wanted to do something with the scale of Locke & Key. TV is tough and in the end we didn’t quite make it to the little screen. But it’s a delight and a thrill to share the scripts alongside Charles Paul Wilson’s beautifully sick illustrations. Here’s the show that could’ve been, now playing in your imagination.”

Tales From The Darkside was created by George A. Romero.

(3) MONSTER CENSUS. Max Florschutz, in “Being a Better Writer: Micro-Blast #3”, answers the question “Do I Need Fantastic Creatures in My Fantasy?”

No, actually.

All right, let me explain a bit more. Usually when we think of fantasy we think of fantastic creatures: Beings like dragons, unicorns, monstrous beasts, etc. Such creatures fill the realm of myth and legend the world over, and are a common sight in fantasy stories. But do you need one in your story?

Well, no. There are plenty of stories out there where the fantastic and the incredible happen without any sort of mythical, shocking, or otherwise out-of-the-ordinary beasts and creatures entering the narrative. A lot of stories are about human interaction, no beasts needed. You can still write a fantastic fantasy without any indication or even mention of fantastic beasts, and there are plenty of fantasy books that prove this as well. For example, take the success of GRRM’s Game of Thrones books. Granted, they pull in dragons and other fantastic beasts as the series moves on, but such elements only, if I recall correctly, appear right at the end of the first book—the rest of that introduction to the series draws more on the characters and the goings-on of a political kingdom to keep you reading (as well as lots of incest and other elements, which is why I only ever read that first book and didn’t care to move on).

My disinterest in the series aside, the first title in the series shows that your fantasy doesn’t need to have fantastical beasts in order to be gripping. You can write a fantastic amount of drama, magic, and excitement without ever needing a fantastical creature.

(4) STRAW WARS. Bence Pintér, editor-in-chief of the Hungaran SF portal Mandiner.sci-fi, recommends a funny video from Hungary. Public workers created Star Wars sculptures from bales of straw in Tiszaigar, a small village in the Great Hungarian Plain.

(5) PLANETARY SOCIETY. Robert Picardo’s Planetary Post, “A Visit to JPL.”

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Planetary Post, our monthly newsletter from Robert Picardo featuring the most notable space happenings. This month we head to JPL for a tour with two young friends.

 

(6) LONGLIST. Aaron Pound is gathering data for “The Hugo Longlist Project” at Dreaming of Other Worlds.

As I noted a few days ago, it does not appear that anyone is tracking the nominees on the Hugo longlist. There are plausible reasons for this, the most important of which is that it is entirely informal and unofficial. The Hugo administrators usually do not even bother to determine if a particular nominee is eligible in the category they have been nominated in unless it makes the list of finalists. This does not mean, however, that this data is not without value. Thus far, however, it has not been compiled into a coherent whole. This project is intended to fill in this gap by compiling all of the Hugo longlist data into a series of posts so it is all accessible in one location. Some notes:

  1. Though the Hugo statistical data that is released concerning the top fifteen nominees lists the total number of nominations each work received and ranks them accordingly, they are presented here in alphabetical order. Perusing the statistics, it is not uncommon for a work to receive the most nominations in the nominating round, but not win the Hugo award in the award selection round. This indicates to me that the raw number of nominations is not a worthwhile guide to whether one work is “better” than another in the eyes of the Hugo voters.

(7) NEBULA TRIP REPORT. Zak Zyz filled in readers about “My trip to the Nebulas, Installment 1: Cry Havoc and let slip the Blogs of War”.

I was sick as hell on Thursday but made a point to get out to see at least @MikeRUnderwood’s sales panel. Very valuable info, he first went into an explanation of a few retail-style presentation techniques useful for displaying books when working a booth at a con.

Two presentation points I plan to implement:

  1. Have bookstands, a tablecloth, and ideally a banner or a sign that complement your brand
  2. Have a stack of books underneath yours, so people know they aren’t taking your last copy.

Mike Underwood has a lot of sales and retail experience and it shows. He talked about a flowchart method to his sales pitch, favoring a soft-sell approach with a lot of emphasis on gauging the comfort and interest level of a prospective buyer. He talked about the importance of genre familiarity, knowing what’s popular for comparison not just to your own genre, but to build bridges to people who aren’t necessarily SFF readers (or even big readers at all) in larger conventions with a more diverse crowd. A final tip was offering people who were interested but not willing to commit to a sale a chance to join your email list.

This was a valuable panel that taught me a few things that will make it easier to sell books in person. He also fielded my question about selling books to independent stores, with some great advice about talking to book buyers. Just the information in this one panel was worth the price of admission to me.

I should also note Mike has an active Kickstarter going for Genrenauts.

(8) CAMERA ARTISTE. John Scalzi announced on Whatever that he posted an exquisite set of photos of the Nebula Awards banquet in this Flickr album.

(9) ZERO YOBS. Nigel battled Damien Walter on Twitter.

I don’t think Walter is actually wrong. Those looking for WSFS rules permitting an action should try the thought experiment of looking instead for rules that will prevent that action. The WSFS rules give great latitude to the committee in all matters that aren’t specifically addressed in the WSFS constitution. The necessary ingredient is for the corporate entity running the con to have the political will to act — I have no idea whether MACII has even discussed the idea. Also, it would cost money to refund memberships — don’t underestimate that issue.

(10) S.H.I.E.L.D. TRAVELS IN TIME. Comic Book Resources reports “ABC Bumps ‘Agents of SHIELD to New Timeslot”.

When “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns to ABC this fall, the show will air in a new timeslot: Tuesday nights at 10 pm EST. This pushes the show back an hour from its original 9 pm slot, which will now be filled by “Fresh Off the Boat” and “The Real O’Neals.”

The news follows the cancellation of “Agent Carter,” which aired during “S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” past two winter hiatuses, and ABC’s decision not to move forward with the Mockingbird-centric “Marvel’s Most Wanted” spinoff.

(11) INNOVATION. The Valley Forge in 2017 NASFiC bid has posted a new progress report on Facebook.

We’re pleased to announce the Valley Forge 2017 Mobie Fund!

Mobie Fund Mission: The Mobie Fund will provide monetary assistance to those fans who have difficulty attending NASFIC due to the financial burden of mobility scooter rental. We will seek donations from all who want to help make NASFiC accessible. Valley Forge 2017 will match donations to the fund, up to $500.

After the site selection vote at MidAmeriCon II, the 2016 WorldCon, we will accept donations in cash or through Paypal via our website. At the same time, those who wish to apply for financial assistance for mobility scooter rental can contact us through our website.

Please note: The Mobie Fund is first-come, first-serve. We will confirm that your spot is available, but it won’t be secured until we receive your registration for the con. Upon arrival at the hotel, you can pick up your pre-paid mobie at the mobie rental spot. If, at the end of the con, the Mobie Fund still has a balance, we will reimburse that money among the other mobie riders at the con.

(12) SUICIDE SPINOFF. According to Yahoo! Movies, “Margot Robbie Spearheads Proposed Harley Quinn Movie With More Female DC Comics Characters”.

Months ahead of the opening of Suicide Squad, Warner Bros. is already contemplating a spin-off for the DC Entertainment anti-heroine, Harley Quinn.

Margot Robbie, who stars as the villainess in Suicide Squad, is attached to reprise the character and would also produce the untitled spin-off, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

But in an interesting twist, the project is not a Quinn solo movie. Rather, it would focus on several of DC’s female heroes and villains.

Details are being closely guarded but names such as Batgirl and Birds of Prey have surfaced, although in what capacity, it’s not clear. Warner Bros. isn’t commenting.

There is also a scribe penning the script but those details, too, are being kept secret, although it is known that the writer is female.

(13) STANISLAW LEM HONORED. A Kraków Science Festival will be named after Stanislaw Lem says Radio Poland.

Late science-fiction writer, philosopher and futurologist, Stanislaw Lem, is the patron of the 16th edition of the Science Festival, which begins in Kraków, southern Poland, on Thursday.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Lem’s death. The slogan of this year’s festival is “Time and Space”. “Lem’s work strongly refers to the concept of time and space, which are also the domain of science,” the chairman of the festival’s organising committee, prof. Robert Stawarz, said.

(14) OLDIE BUT GOODIE. Just discovered this 2011 Robot Chicken video today: “Aliens Acid Blood.“

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Bence Pintér, JJ and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Leslie C.]

Pixel Scroll 5/10/16 Who Scrolls There?

(1) GO RIGHT TO THE SOURCE. Joe Hill will bring his comic series to the air — see “Locke & Key TV Show Happening with Original Creator Joe Hill” at MovieWeb.

IDW Entertainment (IDWE) announced today that the award-winning, fan-favorite property Locke & Key is being developed as a television series. Author/creator Joe Hill will be writing the pilot and serving as an executive producer. Locke & Key has garnered both awards and acclaim during its five-year run.

Following the titular Locke family as they encounter magic beyond belief and evils beyond redemption, Locke & Key quickly won over readers and has since become a staple in introducing new readers to the medium. With the series adapted in dozens of languages across the globe, and more than a million copies sold worldwide, Locke & Key is an obvious choice to make the transition to the screen. New York Times bestselling author, Joe Hill, has continually captivated readers through his gripping novels and award-winning comic series.

(2) DIG HERE. According to The Independent, a 15-year-old boy believes he has discovered a forgotten Mayan city using satellite photos and Mayan astronomy

William Gadoury, from Quebec, came up with the theory that the Maya civilization chose the location of its towns and cities according to its star constellations.

He found Mayan cities lined up exactly with stars in the civilization’s major constellations.

Studying the star map further, he discovered one city was missing from a constellation of three stars.

Using satellite images provided by the Canadian Space Agency and then mapped on to Google Earth, he discovered the city where the third star of the constellation suggested it would be….

(3) DISABILITY METAPHORS. The Our Words launch included reposting “Corinne Duyvis on Minding Your Metaphors”, which first appeared on SF Signal in 2014.

I’m a co-founder of the website Disability in Kidlit as well as an author who regularly writes disabled characters; both my recently published fantasy novel Otherbound and my upcoming sci-fi novel On the Edge of Gone feature disabled protagonists. On top of that, I’m disabled myself. It’s pretty safe to say I’m a huge fan of disability representation. Specifically, I’m a fan of accurate, respectful, and textual disability representation.

However, when writing science fiction and fantasy, it doesn’t just stop at featuring textually disabled characters. Many SFF stories contain disability metaphors. These span a wide range—from purposeful to unintentional, from obvious to subtle, and from well-done to inadvertently offensive.

(4) SWIRSKY ASKS. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly interview with Spencer Ellsworth whose bedpost notches are real people”.

…Every time I see Spencer, I always ask the same question. You see, several years ago when Ann Leckie was running Giganotosaurus, I sometimes did first-round reading for her. And while Ann and I have very similar taste, we don’t have identical taste. So once in a while we’d come up against a story that I was jazzed about, but that didn’t quite cross her threshold. So every time I see Spencer, I ask about that one story that got away…

(5) PKD COMES TO TV. io9 has the story: “Philip K. Dick Is Getting an Anthology Show, Courtesy of Bryan Cranston and Ronald D. Moore”.

“Ronald D. Moore, Bryan Cranston, and Philip K. Dick” are three names you probably never expected to see in the same sentence together. But that’s what’s happening as the longtime scifi producer and the acclaimed actor are teaming up to bring the legendary writer’s work to TV in a new anthology series for the UK.

Electric Dreams: The World of Philip K. Dick will be a 10-part miniseries written by Moore, who will executively produce alongside Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex) and Bryan Cranston, who will also star in the series itself. Each episode will be a standalone story that illustrates Dick’s “prophetic vision” and “[celebrates] the enduring appeal” of the writer’s past work. Isa Dick Hackett, whose past work includes The Adjustment Bureau and The Man in the High Castle and is Dick’s daughter, will also produce the show.

(6) WILLIAM SCHALLERT OBIT. His best known role was as the dad in The Patty Duke Show, but William Schallert appeared in dozens of series in a career that spanned eight decades (1947-2014). He passed away May 8.

Most fans would consider the peak of his sf career to be playing Nilz Baris, under secretary in charge of agricultural affairs for the United Federation of Planets, in Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode.

Schallert on Star Trek

His genre work started with many bit parts, like the uncredited Gas Station Attendant in Mighty Joe Young (1949), and most of the time he was a supporting actor. IMDB shows he was in The Man From Planet X (1951), Space Patrol (1951-52), Invasion U.S.A. (1952), Gog (1954), Them! (1954), Tobor the Great (1954), Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe (1955), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), The Monolith Monsters (1957), Men into Space (1960), The Twilight Zone (1960), One Step Beyond (1959), The Wild, Wild West (1967-69), Land of the Giants (1969), Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), The Six Million Dollar Man (1974), The Bionic Woman (1976), Legends of the Superheroes (1979), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), The Twilight Zone (revived series) (1986), Quantum Leap (1989), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993), and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1994).

Schallert recorded this promo for MeTV in April 2014 when he was 91 years old.

Schallert featured in one of the Patty Duke Show themed PSA’s the Social Security Administration put online in 2010.

(7) SLATE THOUGHTS. Gary Denton of the Nightly Nerd News said as part of a long comment on Facebook:

I agree that slates violate the intention of the Hugo Awards that individuals should only nominate what they enjoyed and thought worthy of an award for best of the year. I also believe all elections eventually come to be dominated by parties and people have a right to oppose parties or support parties. Just don’t vote blindly folks, have an opinion on each item, don’t follow orders.

I believe that E Pluribus Hugo will only lessen the problem with slates, 20% of voters all following orders on how to vote even with votes on each ballots fractionalized will still allow disciplined Fascists treating this as a show of strength to dominate the ballot. Fascist is the correct term here, they are blindly following orders on what to vote for.

A digression, I dislike the editor nominations. Samples of what they actually did that year need to be included and that seems problematic. On all awards you need to have samples if not the whole thing to cast an informed vote, otherwise it is a popularity contest. If I can’t determine what they worked on last year and make a guess at how well they did they won’t get a vote from me. It is easier with short form editors. Wow, that magazine or anthology had a lot of amazing stories, that editor deserves an award…

(8) IT AIN’T ME. Max Florschutz processes a conflict some young writers have: “Being A Better Writer: Author Morals and Character Morals” at Unusual Things.

…Think about the last book that you read or movie that you watched that has a dangerous, unstable, or otherwise alarming character in it. Maybe they were a sleazy scumbag, or maybe a serial killer. A ruthless businessman, or an unscrupulous social worker. Basically, a character that was dangerous, alarming, or perhaps just unstable.

Now think about that character in relation to the author. And here’s where today’s topic comes into play. Do you think that because the author created a character like that, it means that they are, in some way, like that character?

The obvious—and correct—answer is no. I’ll say that again for emphasis, no, it does not. And this is where we run once more back into the question that plagues so many young writers: how can they write characters like that despite being nothing like them?

The trick is that for many this is not a question of being able to write good characters or filling their pages with creative prose. That’s not the consideration at all.

No, what a lot of these young writers are asking is how you deal with writing a character that’s not just different from themselves, but is different in a way that they find morally objectionable….

Yeah, some of you might be chuckling right now or even laughing and shaking your heads, but this is a real barrier that a lot of young writers run into. There’s a real question of where they stand on their own feet while writing characters that may hold different views than the, attitudes, or morals than them….

These characters are not you. They will swear. They will fight. They will make poor choices and good ones. As the author writing these characters, separate what they believe from what you believe because, unless you’re writing self-inserts (common enough), these characters are going to be as different from you as anyone else you meet in your life, and their emotions, thoughts, and other assorted things are theirs, not yours. That distinction is important. Your morals, ethics, and concepts, the stuff that makes you a person is not the same as theirs.

For instance, I am not a sociopath serial killer who stalks young couples. But one of my characters, Amacitia Varay, is. That doesn’t mean that I agree at all with her mentality, or the things that she says, or at all in any way what she does (all of which you can read about in the pages of Unusual Events). But I wrote the story … and it was her story, from her perspective and about her beliefs.

(9) MEET THE NEIGHBORS. Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn has learned Anime Midwest (July 8-10) will be sharing space with a porn convention:

In a bizarre coincidence, this year Anime Midwest will end up sharing the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center [in Rosemont, IL] with the Exxxotica Expo, a touring convention for “Adult Entertainment.” Exxxotica bills itself as “the Largest Adult Event in the USA Dedicated to Love & Sex.”

While Anime Midwest’s management (I’m just guessing) probably wants to distance themselves from Exxxotica publicly, Exxxotica management has embraced the proximity between events. Apparently, anyone with an Anime Midwest badge is being offered discounted admission to the porn expo and is planning “adult anime” events including a cosplay contest and “sexy anime seminars.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

This is… probably terrible? Pretty sure this is terrible. Frankly, many anime convention attendees are under the age of 18, and the idea that these underage attendees are going to be in immediate proximity of this kind of event doesn’t really do anyone any good. There are a list of bad things happen from the merely uncomfortable to the dangerous that are racing through my head.

I want to be clear that this is patently not Anime Midwest’s fault. It’s not a big enough event to rent the entirety of the Stephens Convention Center (which also is the home to the much larger Anime Central), and they cannot control what the owners of the site do with the space they don’t have under contract. We’re not huge fans of AnimeCon.org around here (for both obvious and not so obvious reasons), but honest to god there is no way they could have seen this coming.

(10) HOGWARTS. Costume sketches from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

(11) WILLIS, WHITE, AND IAN MCDONALD. Visual Artists Ireland says Richard Howard will speak about The Secret History of Northern Irish Science Fiction at the Centre for Contemporary Art Derry~Londonderry on May 19 at 7:30 p.m.

Using the exhibition Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone (ending May 21st, info here) as a point of departure, this talk will sketch the history of a science fiction tradition in Northern Ireland. Beginning in the late nineteenth century with Robert Cromie, it will trace the development of this tradition in the region, a tradition solidified by Belfast natives Walt Willis and James White, who instigated the Irish Fandom science fiction group in the 1940s and produced the fanzines Slant and Hyphen. Willis and White were eventually joined by Bob Shaw, one of the most prolific science fiction authors the region has produced. Shaw and White’s own efforts in the genre from the mid-twentieth century to its end will also be discussed; short stories and novels that were received in the context of the international science fiction community, but that extrapolated from and estranged the material conditions of Northern Irish society. As the latest iteration of the tradition, there are many schisms within the genre that separates the work of Ian McDonald from those that came before him. The paper will nevertheless attempt to propose a unified theory of Northern Irish science fiction, if only to detect the remainders and contradictions that might answer the questions: to whom is Northern Irish science fiction a secret and why?

(12) IS CAPTAIN JACK COMING BACK? Den of Geek speculates whether Captain Jack will be appearing on Doctor Who.

After he brought back Alex Kingston’s River Song for last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, it’s starting to look like Steven Moffat may repeat the trick this year by bringing back another long-time absentee from the supporting cast for a festive reprive.

John Barrowman has teased that he has work in Cardiff in the near future, which has led the internet to suggest that he could be appearing in the 2016 Doctor Who Christmas special. Or maybe even the spin-off series, Class.

For the record, all Barrowman said – while promoting his new book in a Welsh Waterstones – was that “I will be back in Cardiff in about a week and a half… but I’m not telling you what for!”

That’s enough to get a rumour started, since the Welsh capital is synonymous with the production of Doctor Who at this stage. Perhaps it’s a bit soon to get excited, but the idea of Captain Jack Harkness bantering with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is a tantalising proposition, isn’t it?

(13) LONDON ROBOT EXHIBIT NEXT YEAR. The London Science Museum’s 2017 show about robots in the Daily Mail is accompanied by a small photo gallery.

Throughout history, artists and scientists have sought to understand what it means to be human and create machines in our own image.

Soon, a new exhibition will explore our obsession to recreate ourselves, revealing the remarkable 500-year history of humanoid robots.

The forthcoming show at London’s Science Museum will include a collection of more than 100 robots from a 16th-century mechanical monk to robots from science fiction and modern-day research lab.

Set in five different periods and places, this exhibition will explore how robots and society have been shaped by religious belief, the industrial revolution, 20th century popular culture and dreams about the future.

As well as celebrating machines of the past, the exhibition will examine scientists’ quest to build ever more complex and human-like robots that are able to learn from their mistakes and express emotions.

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group said: ‘This exhibition explores the uniquely human obsession of recreating ourselves, not through paint or marble but in metal.

Seeing robots through the eyes of those who built or gazed in awe at them reveals much about humanity’s hopes, fears and dreams.’ …

The Science Museum has also launched a Kickstarter campaign that will pay to rebuild Eric, the UK’s first robot.

Originally built in 1928 by Captain Richards and AH Reffell, Eric was one of the world’s first robots and travelled the world to amaze curious crowds in the UK, US and Europe before disappearing.

If the full £35,000 ($50,596 is raised, the historic replica will become part of the museum’s permanent collection, as well as featuring in the Robots exhibition. It will also travel the world as part of the exhibition’s international tour, just like the original Eric did 90 years ago.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., James H. Burns, JJ, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peace Is My Middle Name.]

Pixel Scroll 3/28/16 I Want One Pixel, One Scroll, and One Freer

(1) THEMES. For the next 29 days, BBC  has the concert celebrating the music of Barry Gray available for free listening — “The Music of Barry Gray”

Stuart presents the iconic music of TV composer Barry Gray performed by Charles Hazelwood’s All Star Collective at St George’s Bristol. Barry Gray created some of the most memorable music on British television and film from the 1960s onwards including Thunderbirds, Joe 90, Captain Scarlet and Stingray. His style combines big band swagger, sci-fi strangeness and soaring theme tunes. Conductor Charles Hazelwood is joined on stage by a stella cast of musicians including Jarvis Cocker and members of the British Paraorchestra.

(2) IT’S TIME. Geoff Willmets advocates “The necessity of deadlines” at SF Crowsnest.

Being creative to a deadline is actually good for you because it prevents your mind wandering from what is essentially a lot of hard work. As the deadline approaches, your brain becomes extremely focused on getting things done correctly. I’ve seen myself go into super-drive doing it and at the same time, knowing that giving myself a little distance from the work as well, actually helps as well. The early drafts often look slightly out of focus and polishing them just sharpens them up to what you want to achieve.

(3) JIM ANSWERS. Raymond Bolton interviewed Jim C. Hines about his novel Revisionary and life as a writer.

Most writers will envy your new situation. Why do you write and when did you first realize you were a writer?

I write because I enjoy it. I love inventing stories and sharing them with people. There are days when it’s frustrating or painful trying to get the story in your head onto the screen, and it’s just not coming out right. But then there are the moments when it comes together, or when you come up with a clever twist or idea, or you hit on something powerful. Those moments are amazing.

Plus I like fantasizing about swords and magic and robots and all that other cool, shiny stuff.

When did I realize I was a writer? That’s hard to say. I toyed with writing a bit as a kid. Started doing it more seriously toward the end of my undergraduate degree. To some extent, I started to really feel like a writer after my first fantasy novel Goblin Quest came out.

And then there are the days when I still don’t entirely feel like A Real Writer. Like I’ve been playing a trick on the world for 20+ years and having a blast with it, but sooner or later someone’s going to catch on.

(4) A CERTAIN GLOW. “Unexpected changes of bright spots on Ceres discovered”EurekAlert! – Chemistry, Physics and Materials Sciences does not think the explanation is an asteroid having  teenage complexion problems.

(ESO) Observations made at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile have revealed unexpected changes in the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres. Very careful study of its light shows not only the changes expected as Ceres rotates, but also that the spots brighten during the day and also show other variations. These observations suggest that the material of the spots is volatile and evaporates in the warm glow of sunlight.

(5) IT’S FIVE! At Tor.com, Myke Cole lists “Five Books About the Ancient World” – fiction books, that is.

The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough

This book has a dated prose style that requires some plowing, but it’s worth the work for the incredibly compelling and well researched account of the genesis of Rome’s “Social War” that spelled the end of the Republic.

McCullough’s book is so respected that it’s often cited as a source in secondary scholarship. It’s particularly valuable for those seeking to understand daily life in ancient Rome, from the vaulted heights of the Capitoline Hill to the filth of the Subura, McCullough covers it all.

As with Graves, there’s more if you want it. The First man in Rome is the flagship offering in McCullough’s Masters of Rome series, a seven volume sweeping epic that will take you all the way from Marius and Sulla in 110 B.C. to Mark Antony and Cleopatra in 27 B.C.

(6) SURPRISING A LIFETIME ACHIEVER. Rowena Cory Daniells calls winning the Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award “Another Lovely Surprise”.

It would be honest to say that I was stunned.

When I went up to accept the award and had to stand there while Sean read out my list of achievements. It was excruciating.

In my acceptance speech I told the story of my meeting with Robert Silverberg at the Australian World Con in 1999. We’d been wedged in a corner at an industry party where, being the socially awkward creature that I am, I’d said, ‘How does it feel to be the Grand Old Man of Speculative Fiction.’ To which he said, ‘Pretty strange considering that I used to be the Bright Young Thing.’

And there I was, giving an acceptance speech for a Lifetime Achievement Award when I used to be one of the vanguard of new faces.

 

Future Hugo by Taral Wayne

Future Hugo by Taral Wayne

(7) DEBUNKING DISQUALIFICATIONS. K. Tempest Bradford advances “4 Reasons Why You (Yeah, You) Are Qualified To Nominate for the Hugos”.

The Hugo Award nomination period closes in just a few days. You’ve seen my recs, and over the weekend the #hugoeligible hashtag showcased so many more. But I know some of you are still thinking that you aren’t qualified to nominate because:

  1. You haven’t read/watched/listened widely enough (according to you).
  2. You don’t have enough nominations in every category to fill ever slot you’re allotted.
  3. You don’t have time to read all the cool stuff recommended here and elsewhere and on the tag.
  4. You’re “just a fan” and not anyone fancy.

I’m here to tell you that none of those things disqualifies you from nominating for the Hugos. None. Zip. Let’s break it down.

(8) PRELUDE TO A BALLOT. Abigail Nussbaum reveals “The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Best Novel and Campbell Award”.

There are three whole days left before the Hugo nominating deadline, but I’m traveling starting tomorrow, so the final post in the series listing my Hugo nominees goes up today.  As tends to be the case, the best novel category is the one I put the least effort into.  I don’t tend to read most books in the year of their publication, so I’m only rarely sufficiently up to date that I have a full slate of nominees in this category.  There are, in fact, more books that I would have liked to get to before the nominating deadline than there are on my ballot–books like Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings (which I may yet finish before the deadline), Ian McDonald’s Luna: New Moon, and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora.  Meanwhile, the always-interesting Campbell award is one that I tend to dedicate to short story writers–usually those who have impressed me over the year even if their stories didn’t quite cross the bar to make it onto my ballot.

(9) EBOOKS. Max Florschutz continues the debate about ebooks in “The Question of Value Part 2 – Responses”.

The market is failing the readers.

Okay, now that might sound like a harsh judgement to pass, and perhaps I could voice it differently (also, that could be taken way out of context, so aggregate sites, you do not have permission to use that line without context). When I say market, for the most part, I’m not referring to the books themselves, or what the authors are producing, though in a way, we share part of the blame.

No, what I’m referring to here is the actual market and the way ebooks are being handled. That is what is failing the readers.

I went though all those comments again this morning, this time armed with a pen and paper, and I wrote down each concern as I encountered them. When multiple concerns presented the same topic, I made check-marks next to each one. And at the end, almost all of them fit neatly into one of three areas:

  1. Misconceptions about ebooks that are not being properly explained to the readers, often overlapped with 2 and 3.
  2. Mishandling of ebooks by publishers.
  3. A general failure of the “User Interface” of ebook stores.

With these, maybe now you can see why I say the market is failing the readers. Granted, there’s a little bit of equal blame there. After all, it doesn’t help the market when readers go around spreading misinformation rather than learning about the topic, but at the same time, if the market is deliberately making this information difficult to glean, and in some cases actively working to obfuscate things from the reader’s eyes, well, then I would say it’s definitely failed.

So, I want to take a look at some of these concerns that were given, heading them under these three points, and see if we can’t cast a bit more light on things.

(10) BANDERLOVE. Mark Sommer at Examiner.com reviews Bandersnatch in “Creative collaboration demonstrated in the Oxford writers group the Inklings”.

“Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings” is the newly published adaptation of her 2007 book, re-written for a wider audience. “The Company they Keep” was meant for academic use. However, although the earlier book has been described as “easy and enjoyable to read” with “plenty to enjoy” for new fans and scholars alike, Glyer realized the “fundamentally academic” work should be updated. Besides being of interest to fans of Tolkien, Lewis, and the other Inklings, “Bandersnatch” also is also helpful to aspiring writers, artists, and inventors, providing suggestions on how to interact with others in the same kind of creative collaboration the Inklings did.

The title of the book comes from an often quoted line from a letter Lewis wrote to Charles Mooreman in 1959. Mooreman was researching a book about “the Oxford Christians,” which came out in 1966. After admitting the influence Charles Williams and he had over each other, Lewis writes, “No one ever influenced Tolkien—you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.” (A “bandersnatch” is a creature created by Lewis Carol. Lewis was undoubtedly borrowing from a quote from “Through the Looking-Glass” where the White King describes his Queen: “She runs so fearfully quick. You might as well try to catch a Bandersnatch!”)

(11) PUPPY COUNTING. Brandon Kempner introduces a series at Chaos Horizon, “Estimating the 2016 Hugo Nominations, Part 1”.

I’m going to start with my estimates from the end of the 2015 Hugo season using the final vote statistics. Here’s what I estimated back then:

Core Rabid Puppies: 550-525 Core Sad Puppies: 500-400 Sad Puppy leaning Neutrals: 800-400 (capable of voting a Puppy pick #1) True Neutrals: 1000-600 (may have voted one or two Puppies; didn’t vote in all categories; No Awarded all picks, Puppy and Non-Alike) Primarily No Awarders But Considered a Puppy Pick above No Award: 1000 Absolute No Awarders: 2500

I think those numbers are at least in the ballpark and give us a place to start modelling. Since you can’t vote against a pick in the nomination stage, we don’t need to know the difference between “No Awarders” and other more traditional Hugo voters. I’m going to combine all the non-Puppy voters into one big group, called the “Typical Voters.” I’ll initially assume that they’ll vote in similar patterns to past Hugo seasons before the Puppies. I’ll have more to say about that assumption later on.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

Pixel Scroll 3/23/16 You’re on Canid Camera

(1) SUPERGIRLS. Carrie Goldman writes “An Open Letter To Supergirl Stars Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh, From An Adoptive Mom” in Chicago Now.

Her relationship with her younger sisters is complicated. They are our biological daughters, and this creates deep and unavoidable conflict for her. No matter how much we reassure her that we love her the same as the younger girls, she tests us.

During the scenes in Supergirl where Alex and Kara explore the painful aspects of their relationship as sisters through adoption, our whole family absorbs every word, every expression, because seeing this dynamic on mainstream television makes our family feel less alone.  The fact that both Alex and Kara are kickass, strong, smart, flawed, beautiful women who work hard, cry, laugh, yell, fight, and make mistakes has been an incredible model for all of our girls.

(2) READING RESOURCES. The 1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide database includes several sf/f titles.

[From Marley’s Welcome.] Welcome to the #1000blackgirlbooks Resource Guide. I started this campaign because I wanted to read more books where black girls are the main characters. With your help we have collected over 4000 books; many of them are have the same title, but we do have lots of unique ones as well. This guide includes 700 of those books and more is coming.

I believe black girl books are really important because when you are young you want to read lots of books, but you especially like to read books with people that look like you. While I have books at home about black girls, the books at school were not diverse. Children do most of their reading in schools or because of schools. Teachers assign books that you must read. If those books are not diverse and do not show different people’s experiences then kids are going to believe that there is only one type of experience that matters. Also, if books are not diverse then kids will not learn about the experiences of other members in their community.

(3) BELGIUM CALLING. Nicholas Whyte checks in from Brussels, in “Losers” at From the Heart of Europe.

I finally made it to the office at 1022, those last two kilometres having taken me 90 minutes to drive, to find most of my colleagues gathered ashen-faced in the lobby, greeting me tearfully – I was the only person who was unaccounted for, due to my phone being out of order – and giving me the headlines of what had happened. It’s nice to feel appreciated, still more so when I logged on and saw many concerned messages from friends and family, and even more so when people responded to my posts confirming that I was safe. One of the great things about the interconnectedness of today’s world is that we can often catch up with our friends quickly – Facebook’s check-in system in particular is a source of reassurance.

The horror has hit very close to home. I have flown out of Brussels airport in the morning five times this year, and was originally due to do so again on Friday to go to Eastercon in Manchester (in fact my plans have changed and I’ll take the Eurostar to London for work tomorrow and travel on up by train). My wife was flew out on Monday for a funeral in England and was due to fly back last night; her flight was cancelled and she will now return by Eurostar this evening. Maelbeek metro station (the four-pointed star on my map) is in the heart of the EU quarter, and I go past it almost every day and through it several times a month; a former colleague was actually on the train that was bombed, but fortunately escaped without injury; another former staffer (from before my time) was in the departure hall of the airport, and is recovering well from minor injuries.

… This happened because they [the terror movement] are losing. Less than a week ago, a major figure in the terror movement was arrested in Brussels; perhaps yesterday was revenge for his arrest, perhaps it was rushed into because they were afraid he would start talking (or knew that he already had). On the ground, their allies and sponsors are losing territory and resources in Syria and Iraq. I wrote a week ago about violence as story-telling, in the Irish context. This is an attempt to write a story about the weakness of our interconnected world, attacking places where people travel and meet, where many nationalities and cultures join together and build together.

It is a narrative that must not and will not win…

(4) MIND MELD. SF Signal’s current Mind Meld, curated by Andrea Johnson, asks —

Q: What non-mainstream Scifi/fantasy Graphic Novels do you recommend?

The answers come from: Matthew Ciarvella, Sharlene Tan, Taneka Stotts (Full Circle), Stacey Filak, Carl Doherty, Myisha Haynes (The Substitutes), Pipedreamergrey, Christa Seeley (Women Write About Comics), Martin Cahill, Larry Gent, and Jacob Stokes.

(5) VERICON. Ann Leckie has captioned a set of photos of Ancillary cosplayers from Vericon.

It’s obvious what’s going on here, right? That’s Hamilton/Breq in the middle, and she’s recruited Agent Carter, Lieutenant Peepsarwat, and Translator Zeiat in her search for the Presger gun. That case Agent Carter is carrying?

(6) INHUMAN PASSENGERS. “More ancient viruses lurk in our DNA than we thought” reports Phys Org.

Think your DNA is all human? Think again. And a new discovery suggests it’s even less human than scientists previously thought.

Nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA—left by viruses that first infected our ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago—have just been found, lurking between our own genes.

And one stretch of newfound DNA, found in about 50 of the 2,500 people studied, contains an intact, full genetic recipe for an entire virus, say the scientists who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Whether or not it can replicate, or reproduce, it isn’t yet known. But other studies of ancient virus DNA have shown it can affect the humans who carry it.

In addition to finding these new stretches, the scientists also confirmed 17 other pieces of virus DNA found in human genomes by other scientists in recent years…

(7) LUNAR POLE DANCING. “Earth’s Moon wandered off axis billions of years ago, study finds” at Phys Org.

A new study published today in Nature reports discovery of a rare event—that Earth’s moon slowly moved from its original axis roughly 3 billion years ago.

Planetary scientist Matt Siegler at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and colleagues made the discovery while examining NASA data known to indicate lunar polar hydrogen. The hydrogen, detected by orbital instruments, is presumed to be in the form of ice hidden from the sun in craters surrounding the moon’s north and south poles. Exposure to direct sunlight causes ice to boil off into space, so this ice—perhaps billions of years old—is a very sensitive marker of the moon’s past orientation….

“The moon has a single region of the crust, a large basaltic plain called Procellarum, where radioactive elements ended up as the moon was forming,” Siegler said. “This radioactive crust acted like an oven broiler heating the mantle below.”

Some of the material melted, forming the dark patches we see at night, which are ancient lava, he said.

“This giant blob of hot mantle was lighter than cold mantle elsewhere,” Siegler said. “This change in mass caused Procellarum—and the whole moon—to move.”

The moon likely relocated its axis starting about 3 billion years ago or more, slowly moving over the course of a billion years, Siegler said, etching a path in its ice.

(8) INDICATION OF TOR. John C. Wright still has one last book on the way from Tor – The Vindication of Man. Rather a dim-looking cover on the preorder page. The release date for the hardcover is November 22.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 23, 1952 — Kim Stanley Robinson. The other great sf writer born in Waukegan!

(10) HE WRITES ABOUT THEY. Although John Scalzi’s post about gender-neutral pronouns is interesting, I found his personal demonstration in the comments even more so:

Also, for the record, my stance on pronouns, as they regard me:

He/him/his: My preferred set. Please use them in all things involving me.

They/them/their: Not my preferred set, but I don’t mind them being used for me.

It/it/its: This is a non-gender construction but generally isn’t used for individual humans (excepting, from time to time, infants), and is mostly used for animals and objects. Please don’t use them for me; if you do I’ll wonder why you are, and also wonder if you see me as an object, which would make me wonder if you’re a sociopath of some sort.

She/her/her: Not my gender! Be aware that in my experience when someone uses these for me, they’re usually trying to insult me in one way or another. So unless you want my default impression of you to be that you’re a sexist twit, please don’t use this set for me.

Other constructions: Really, no. “He” or “They” is fine. Thanks.

(11) DO YOU FEEL LUCKY? Claire Rousseau’s series of tweets ends on a rather optimistic note, considering the 2016 Hugo ballot isn’t out yet.

(12) GEOMETRIC LOGIC.

(13) A SELECTED QUOTE. Sarah A. Hoyt takes time out from moving to post at Mad Genius Club.

And after being selectively quoted by Jim Hines who pretended I was calling anyone not with the puppies worse than those who abetted the holocaust and the holodomor, by cutting out the part where I addressed those who destroy lives and reputations for a plastic rocket, we have at least established what Jim Hines is.  He’s not duped by those destroying reputations and lives.  He’s one of the principals.  I have only one question for him: But for Wales, Jim?

(14) PUPPYING WITHOUT UMLAUTS. Some of Declan Finn’s days are better than others. “The Evil of the Puppy Kickers” at A Pius Geek.

But last time I checked, Vox Day has really never dismissed his enemies as being subhuman. Nor has he suggested murdering any of them. Not even NK Jemisen, who has her own little war with Vox going that stretches back at least two years. He’ll still debate, or reason, or scream right back at her, but he’ll at least reply to whatever is thrown his way.

You may not like what he says, but he at least acknowledges that she’s someone worth having a fight with.

Can’t say that for the Puppy Kickers. They like being the ubermensch of their own little Reich, and it’s getting tiresome, really. The ones who are really in charge rarely, if ever, acknowledge any argument outside of their own little echo chamber.

(15) KEEP BANGING ON. Michael Bane, the producer of Outdoor Channel’s Gun Stories hosted by Joe Mantegna, announced Larry Correia will appear in an episode.

Did I mention that the MAIN MONSTER HUNTER HIMSELF, LARRY CORREIA, will be joining us on GUN STORIES WITH JOE MANTEGNA this season? The MONSTER HUNTER books are modern classics. I just finished reading SON OF THE BLACK SWORD, the first book in his newest series, and it was excellent.

(16) CROWDFUNDED CON. The Museum of Science Fiction in Washington, DC is running a Kickstarter appeal to fund guests for Escape Velocity, a convention it plans to hold July 1-3. At this writing, people have pledged $14,348 toward the $18,000 goal.

Something special is coming to National Harbor, Maryland – a science fiction convention on a mission. This July 1st to 3rd, the Museum of Science Fiction will be launching ESCAPE VELOCITY, a micro futuristic world’s fair where STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) and science fiction will collide to create a geeky-fun, educational, and above all, fascinating spectacle for kids and adults alike!

A couple of the guests they expect to have are —

Rod Roddenberry, recently announced executive producer for the new Star Trek TV series for 2017 will make a keynote presentation to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary and discuss his work with the Roddenberry Foundation.

Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, is coming to Escape Velocity to discuss his father’s legacy and his new documentary film, For the Love of Spock.

In addition to screening parts of the documentary, Nimoy will join Rod Roddenberry on an Escape Velocity discussion panel moderated by screenwriter and Museum of Science Fiction advisory board member, Morgan Gendel, who wrote the Hugo Award-winning Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “The Inner Light.” “I’ve known both Adam and Rod for years and it’s fascinating to see how each has found a way to celebrate the work of their famous fathers,” said Gendel. “I expect the panel to be a very insightful look into the lives and legacies of two Trek icons.”

 

(17) BALLARD REMEMBERED. Malcolm Edwards will guest on The Guardian’s live webchat about JG Ballard on March 25 at noon (UK time).

Malcolm Edwards was JG Ballard’s editor for several years and worked with him on Empire of The Sun, among other classics. He should be able to give invaluable insights into Ballard’s working methods and the wonderful books he produced – and so is uniquely placed to talk about this month’s Reading Group choice, High-Rise, not to mention the recently released film.

(18) NOT WORTH THE PAPER THEY’RE NOT WRITTEN ON? Max Florschutz takes a deep dive into the value of ebooks at Unusual Things.

You don’t see articles from music sites talking about how MP3 downloads are worthless and shouldn’t cost more than ten cents. You don’t see game review sites asking how dare Steam or Origin have a digital game on launch day cost the same as its physical compatriots.

So why in the book industry is this such a problem? Why is it that a person will look at a digital MP3 download from their favorite artist and buy it without a second of remorse, but then look at a digital book from their favorite author and send them an angry message about how that ebook shouldn’t be more than a dollar?

I don’t actually have an answer to this question. All I have are theories based on what I’m reading and hearing from other people around the internet. Maybe you’ll agree with some of these, maybe you won’t. But all of these are things I’ve heard expressed in one way or another….

1A- Physical books have physical difficulties that imply value to their purchasers. Yes, this much is true. While the story inside the pages remains the same, the trick with an ebook is that it’s hard to compete with an observation of value when looking at one. A physical book? Well, for one, you can pick it up and feel the weight of it, which, to most people, does imply a value. But you can also flip through it, jostle it, check a few pages, see how long it is.

You know what’s interesting? We can do all these things with an ebook. You can flip through it and read a sample. You can see how many pages there are. You can even check reviews—something you can’t do at a bookstore.

And yet … people don’t value that either. And why? Because it’s easy. It’s fast.

(19) GOTHIC INSPIRATION. Paul Cornell starts watching all the Hammer movies in order: “My Hammer Journey #1”.

The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

The first thing that strikes one is how much of a Val Guest movie this is, and how much, therefore, as a director, Val Guest establishes the Hammer ethos.  Guest’s forte is a kind of poetic modernist postwar British craft, a deceptive air of understated hard work that nevertheless not only gets everything right, but elevates, through the little details, the whole thing into art.  (Again, that reminds one of the best years of Hammer all in all.) ….

(20) FURY FURIOUS. This was new to me, although it has been making the rounds for several years…

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Dawn Sabados, Mark-kitteh, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 3/8/16 I Want To Tell You About Texas Pixel And The Big Scroll

(1) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Iain Clarke’s image of astronaut Mae Jemison, created for the Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid, makes a great reminder that March 8 is International Women’s Day.

(2) THE FRANCHISE. And the BBC marked the occasion with its article “International Women’s Day: Why women can thrive in sci-fi”.

While the Star Wars expanded universe has a number of popular, female characters, the cultural impact of seeing a female Jedi’s hero journey on the silver screen can not be overstated. “For years we’ve been hearing that women couldn’t front a sci-fi/action film,” Jenna Busch, founder of Legion of Leia.

“The fallacious perception is that they just won’t sell. But, now we have Katniss, Furiosa, and Rey to prove that attitude wrong. There is something about seeing the box office numbers that might be a step in the right direction.”

(3) THERE IS ANOTHER. Last November, James H. Burns saw a van tricked out as the Mystery Machine on Long Island. Now, on the other side of the country, California authorities are seeking a different fan of the Scooby gang who’s been speeding around in her own version of those wheels — “Redding police: Suspect flees in ‘Scooby-Doo’ Mystery Machine”.

On Sunday, March 5, the Redding Police Department was alerted by Shasta County Probation Department about a subject who had allegedly violated their probation around 12:50 p.m. The subject was identified as Sharon Kay Turman, 51, Sgt. Ron Icely said in a news release.

According to the report, officers spotted Turman in the Mystery Machine, a 1994 Chrysler Town and Country minivan, at California and Shasta streets. Turman fled when officers tried to pull her over, traveling at high speeds. A CHP helicopter and Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies joined the pursuit. Turman is reported to have reached speeds of over 100 m.p.h.

(4) FAKE FAN. A fake GalaxyQuest fan site, created to promote the movie, can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine. One of its features is ”Travis Latke’s” interview with Gwen DeMarco, replete with fannish typos. (I think Travis learned copyediting from me).

TL: How do you do it? How d you deliver one blockbusting performance after another?

GDM: It’s all about the craft. As an actor I try put myself inside the head of my character. Since I sgtarted acting, I always try to become the charactere, that sometimes is very trying. For instance I once played Medea in summerstock in the Hamptons and, gosh, for weeks I hadthey nauseating feeling of having done all the bad things Medea does in the Euripides play.

With Galaxy I delved into scientific research that by the time the show was cancelled I knew enough for a PhD in astrophysics. I mean, it’s a fascianting subject. I made some great friends at the Pasadena Jet Prupolsion Lab who I still consult whenever I have a question aboput quassars and wormholes.

(5) WINE PRESS. To this day, fake fans are still being used to promote things. Hats off to Trae Dorn, who’s been drilling to the bottom of “Wine Country Comic Con’s Bizarre Litany of Lies” at Nerd & Tie. There is no end to it!

Last week we published a piece on Wine Country Comic Con. A first year convention currently scheduled for April 23-24 in Santa Rosa, CA, we were alarmed to find they were using a fake Facebook account to spam groups and talk with potential attendees.

But the more we looked into this event, the more we discovered that this story went further than just the fictional “Frida Avila.” Wine Country Comic Con organizer Uriel Brena has constructed a complex charade of lies, fake staffers, and a whole bunch of weirdness.

This rabbit hole runs deep.

A Full Complement of Fake Staffers

The first thing we found out was that “Frida Avila” wasn’t the only weirdly complex fake staffer created by Wine Country Comic Con. Thanks to some email tips (and a bit of our own digging) we found several more:….

(6) A ROBOT WITH KEANE EYESIGHT. Kirsty Styles at TNW News says “Aido is pretty much the robot they promised everyone back in the 1950s”.

Aido will be friends with your weird kid, act as a security guard, remember your schedule and project movies onto the wall to help with anything from cooking to plumbing.

This is the robot to kill all robots. With kindness.

 

(7) ROWLING ON NORTH AMERICAN MAGIC. Will there be anything left to say about this topic by the time I post it to the Scroll? We’ll find out. Today Pottermore ran the first installment of J. K. Rowling’s revelations about wizardry in the New World.

The first piece of writing from ‘History of Magic in North America’ by J.K. Rowling is here, and we can also give you a taster of what’s to come this week.

Today’s piece goes back through the centuries to reveal the beginnings of the North American magical community and how witches and wizards used magic before they adopted wands.

Wednesday’s piece will divulge more about the dangers faced by witches and wizards in the New World, and on Thursday you’ll discover why the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) took steps to move the magical community deeper underground.

The last piece will take us right up to the Roaring Twenties, when the magical community in North America was under the watchful eye of MACUSA President, Madam Seraphina Picquery – played by Carmen Ejogo in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

These stories will give you some idea of how the wizarding world on this continent evolved over the years, and of the names and events that lay the foundation for the arrival of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November.

(8) TROPE TRIPE. Arguing over Rowling should put everyone in the mood for Mark J. Turner’s post at Smash Dragons, “Five Fantasy Tropes That Should Be Consigned to History”.

2. The Chosen One

In fantasy books the protagonist often begins life as Mr A.N.Other, minding his own business in some nowhere village doing nothing in particular. Then we discover that he is the son of a king or a powerful wizard or warrior, and suddenly he is able to take on the world, no training required. Or if there is training, the author presses the fast forward button on the process, and our protagonist learns in a year what it would take others a lifetime to master.

And the transformation in our hero doesn’t end there. He has spent his formative years as a farm boy or a swineherd, yet for some reason that has prepared him perfectly for the demands of running a kingdom. When he rises to the throne, everyone lives happily ever after. There seems to be a sub-text in these books that in order to stop the world slipping into chaos, all you have to do is put the “right” person in charge. It’s as if the natural order is somehow disturbed if there isn’t a man or a woman ruling everything. Whereas in reality we don’t have to look too far in our own world for examples of where putting all the power in the hands of one person isn’t necessarily a good idea.

(9) ON STAGE. James Bacon reviews The Ghost Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore at Forbidden Planet. The play features segments written by authors Christopher Fowler, Stephen Gallagher, Kim Newman, Robert Shearman, Lynda E. Rucker and Lisa Tuttle, alongside a wraparound story by director Sean Hogan.

The writing is hilarious, within moments of our travellers sitting down and their unpleasantness becoming clear, the audience are laughing at dark contemporary humour, riffing off recent well-known scandals, while smart language and profanity reflect more closely the mores and morals of modern society. Using traditional ideas of what we consider horror monsters, the authors skilfully show what monsters really are, that nothing is as monstrous as humanity, and the writers with their sharp razor-like ability to find angles in people, left the audience contemplating where the horror truly lies and what being a monster really is….

The framing worked well – a fancy dress party, as one’s favourite monster on a vintage steam train, a very nice little conceit to create the right atmosphere for the portmanteau of stories. Strobe lights, sudden intrusions, the chimey tinkley creepy music as the stage went dark for the changes, the sound effects and stage work, props and masks/costumes all were just right, adding the perfect amount of tangibility for a lively suspension of belief….

(10) OVER THERE. Larry Correia’s next tour stop is —

(11) SAVE GAME OF THRONES FAVORITES. George R.R. Martin’s characters face “Danger! Peril! Death!” Only this time, it’s not because he’s writing scenes for them in his next novel.

Suvudu is doing another one of their Cage Match tournaments. This time the theme is Dynamic Duos. Jaime (one-handed) and Brienne have been paired together. In the first round they are facing Garth Nix’s Sabriel… and a pussycat.

http://suvudu.com/2016/03/cage-match-2016-round-1-jaime-lannister-and-brienne-of-tarth-vs-sabriel-and-mogget.html

In the first Cage Match, lo these many years ago, Jaime defeated Cthulhu (with a little help from Tyrion). Surely he cannot lose to a fluffy little ball o’ fur (and fleas). Not with the mighty maid of Tarth by his side.

(12) TYSON HOSTS DEBATE. Panelists for the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate will engage the question: “Is the Universe a Simulation?”

What may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the universe as we know it is actually a computer simulation—has become a serious line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists, astrophysicists, and philosophers. Join host and moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson and his panel of experts for a lively discussion and debate about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative and revolutionary idea.

The Asimov Debate panelists are: David Chalmers, Professor of philosophy, New York University; Zohreh Davoudi, Theoretical physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; James Gates, Theoretical physicist, University of Maryland; Lisa Randall, Theoretical physicist, Harvard University; and Max Tegmark, Cosmologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The debate takes place April 5 at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. Check the website for tickets. The debate also will be livestreamed via <amnh.org/live>.

(13) BOOKS SCIENTISTS LOVE. Charlie Jane Anders at io9 pointed to a forum in reddit’s Print SF Resources where scientists talk about their favorite books and the scientific problems they find in SF. Filer Greg Hullender makes an appearance there.

(14) STEAMPUNK RULES WHERE STEAMBOATS DOCKED. The Riverfront Times was there when “The Science Center Went Steampunk on Friday – and Everyone Had a Victorian Good Time”.

The St. Louis Science Center takes Fridays very seriously, with a themed evening of special events the first Friday of each month. Last Friday was no exception, as the Science Center hosted a night entirely devoted to steampunk science. The event drew everyone from families to costumed fanatics. All enjoyed a night of demonstrations (did someone say “escape artist”?), activities (where else can you try a steampunk shooting range?), films and more devoted to this take on Victorian-era science fiction.

(15) HYPNOTIC SCULPTURES. Everybody with a quarter-of-a-million spare dollars is going to want one of these.

(16) SUPERGIRL WILL BE BACK. The Mary Sue has deduced Supergirl will get a second season.

While technically nothing official’s been announced, while speaking at Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, CBS President Les Moonves pretty much stated that Supergirl is getting another season. Well, specifically he said:

We have about five new shows on this year. Of those five, I believe all five of them will be renewed, and we own four of them.

[Via Nerd & Tie.]

(17) A NEW SUIT. Another Comic Con is being sued for trademark infringement – but the mark involved is not “Comic Con,” as the Houston Chronicle explains — “Convention bureau sues comic convention over ‘Space City’ trademark”

Houston’s convention bureau is suing the operators of a popular local convention over the use of “Space City” in its name, claiming it infringes on a 12-year-old trademark.

The convention in question, Space City Comic Con, also happens to compete with a similar event that is half-owned by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau itself. The bureau acquired a 50 percent stake in the more established Comicpalooza last September, spokesman A.J. Mistretta said….

Houston has billed itself “Space City,” a boastful nod to its founding role in U.S. space exploration, since the 1960s. Over the decades, dozens of local companies from plumbers to construction outfits to tattoo parlors have used the moniker as part of their name. But they are not affected by the trademark registered by the convention bureau in 2004, said Charles S. Baker, an intellectual property lawyer with Locke Lord in Houston who is representing the bureau in its lawsuit.

The trademark is narrowly constructed and applies solely to efforts that promote tourism, business and conventions in the greater Houston area, Baker said.

(18) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 8, 1913 – The Internal Revenue Service began to levy and collect income taxes in the United States. (Go ahead, ask me what that has to do with sf. They’re raising money for the space program, okay?)

(18b) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

Born March 8, 1967 — Tasha Turner

(19) MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson makes an ingenious comparison in “The 7 Levels of Recommending”.

Maimonides, a Jewish scholar and Rabbi (which are pretty much the same things: he was an astronomer too…) once developed a “hierarchy of charitable giving”.  He essentially analyzed the different kinds of charity that people extended and attempted to define the different types and then ordered them from least to most selfless.  He ended up with 8 different levels of giving.  The lowest form of charity is giving grudgingly – forced to hand over a dollar to the street bum because he’s blocking your path.  The highest form is giving before it is even needed (my father thought that included my allowance….).

I mention this because, as a result of all of the discussion regarding slates vs recommended readings lists, I thought that a similar hierarchy of the levels of recommending might be instructive.

(20) SHUT UP, PLEASE. Max Florschutz uses “The Loud Neighbor” as a social media analogy. I found his argument appealing until he decloaked his attack —

And this is where a lot of “social” groups these days get it wrong. A lot of what’s being touted online and in social circles these days is the act of calling the landlord to complain about noise, while being just as loud on one’s own, but giving one’s self a free pass to be loud because you have the “right.” It’s wanting the freedom to do what you want, produce as much friction as you want, while not being willing to extend that same courtesy to others. It’s the kind of mentality that leads to things like “safe spaces” where only individuals of one sex or skin tone are allowed entry. Freedom to produce as much friction as possible while denying others the same freedom. One group is allowed to be “loud” while simultaneously “calling the landlord” to complain that the other group needs to be silent.

Is it a perfect allegory? No. But it still holds. We can’t be as loud as we want and expect that no one else be given the same treatment. We need to extend the courtesy that we give ourselves to others. If we don’t do that, then what are we doing but putting ourselves on a pedestal and pushing those around us down?

(21) IS THIS A GOOD THING? You can now pre-order 2113: Stories Inspired by the Music of Rush, edited by Kevin J. Anderson and John McFetridge, at various places including Amazon. (My header, there, is just a joke. A message board I used to follow had a devoted Rush fan, and yanking his chain about it was an indirect way of expressing affection.)

Ron Collins drew my attention to the book in a promotional e-mail —

I’m super-thrilled to announce that you can now pre-order copies of 2113, an anthology of stories inspired by Rush songs that includes my work “A Patch of Blue.” I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this one. I’ve spent a lot of good times listening to those guys. [grin]

My story is one inspired by Rush’s “Natural Science,” which is a monstrous work in three acts that’s just cool as all get-out. It was a total blast to write, partially because I got to put it on endless loop while I did it–so, yeah, the song is pretty much indelibly inked onto my brain now.

(22) ENERGIZE – THEN DIE! This is freaking alarming — The Trouble with Transporters.

(23) RAVEN MANIAC. From Amoxtli, the poetic masterwork of the day.

A sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore:

Lenora Rose, people are bound to confuse us, given the name similarity (or not notice that our names were autocorrected to the other version, as my computer tried to do to your name just now).

As I was on the File a-tapping on my keyboard, posts o’erlapping
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
Suddenly there came a fwapping: “The Rose and Jones are not for swapping.”
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
When the accurs’d hour tolls our doom, shall we mistake the name Lenore?”
Said the Filers, “Fear no more.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, David K.M. Klaus, James Bacon, Martin Morse Wooster, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 3/4/16 Mellon Scrollie and the Infinite Sadness

(1) ABCD16 AWARDS. Ben Summers’ cover design for Lavie Tidhar’s novel A Man Lies Dreaming has won an Academy of British Cover Design Award in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category.

a-man-lies-dreaming

The complete shortlist with images of all the covers is at ABCD16 Shortlist and Winners. There are more sf/fantasy books among the finalists in other marketing categories.

(2) MAC II LEADERSHIP REORGANIZES. The 2016 Worldcon decided its communications will be better with a single voice at the top and replaced its three-co-chair structure (“Team LOL”) with a single chairperson, Ruth Lichtwardt.

Diane Lacey, another of the co-chairs, will become a Vice-Chair, and the third, Jeff Orth, is said to be deciding among several options for continuing his work on the con. The decision was shared with the division heads at a meeting last weekend.

(3) AMAZING CELE. Mike Ashley chronicles the reign of Amazing editor Cele Goldsmith in “The AMAZING Story: The Sixties – The Goose-Flesh Factor”. Pulpfest is serializing Ashley’s history of the magazine, first published in its pages in 1992.

[Cele] Goldsmith chose all the material, edited everything, selected the title and blurb typefaces and dummied the monthly magazines by herself. [Norman] Lobsenz, who arrived for an editorial conference usually once a week, penned the editorials, read her choices, and wrote the blurbs for the stories. They did cover blurbs together, and Goldsmith assigned both interior and cover art.

Goldsmith had no scientific background but had a sound judgment of story content and development, and this was the key to her success. She accepted stories on their value as fiction rather than as science fiction. “When I read something I didn’t understand, but intuitively knew was good,” she said, “I’d get ‘goose flesh’ and never doubt we had a winner.” That “goose flesh” was transmitted to the readers. I know when I encountered the Goldsmith AMAZING and FANTASTIC in the early 1960s, I got goose flesh because of the power and originality of their content. As I look now at the 150 or more total issues of those two magazines that Cele Goldsmith edited, that thrill is still there.

Other installments already online are:

(4) JAR JAR JERSEYS. The Altoona Curve minor league baseball team will host another Star Wars night – if the team isn’t too embarrassed to take the field….

Last year, the team wore these beautiful Jabba the Hutt jerseys. For our Star Wars Night, we’re following that up with a jersey featuring another controversial Star Wars character, Jar Jar Binks. Like last season, we will have appearances by the Garrison Cardida of the 501st Legion.

 

Meanwhile, the Birmingham Barons have enlisted fans to pick the Star Wars-themed jersey their players will wear during a game this season.

(5) GREAT POWERS. An interview with Tim Powers conducted by Nick Givers has been posted at PS Publishing.

NICK GEVERS: In your new novel, Medusa’s Web, you set out a very interesting and mesmerizingly complex metaphysical scheme, of spider images that draw human minds up and down the corridors of time. What first suggested this scenario to you?

TIM POWERS: I thought it would be fun to play around with two-dimensional adversaries after reading Cordwainer Smith’s short story, “The Game of Rat and Dragon.” I decided that since such creatures would be dimensionally handicapped by definition, why not have them be fourth-dimensionally handicapped too? I.e. they don’t perceive time, and therefore every encounter these creatures have with humans is, from the creature’s point of view, the same event. So by riding along on the point of view of one of them, you can briefly inhabit whatever other encounters it’s had with humans, regardless of when those encounters happened or will happen.

This seemed like an opportunity for lots of dramatic developments, and even one very intriguing paradox for our protagonist to blunder through.

(6) A MOVIE RECOMMENDATION. Zootopia is getting a lot of buzz, and Max Florschutz agrees it’s a winner in a review at Unusual Things.

First, a quick summary for those of you who just want the yay or nay: Zootopia is an excellent, wonderful film with a lot of heart, a lot of adventure, and a wonderful moral at its core that wraps up everything in a fantastic way. Put it on your list.

Now, the longer explanation….

(7) TIM BURTON PROJECT. Entertainment Weekly has a report on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (film)”, due in theaters September 30.

In Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the latest fantasy from director Tim Burton, Asa Butterfield plays Jake, a 16-year-old plagued by nightmares following a family tragedy.

On the advice of his therapist, the teen embarks on an overseas journey to find the abandoned orphanage where his late grandfather claims to have once lived. Not only does the place turn out to be real, it also serves as the gateway to an alternate realm where children with strange powers are looked after by a magical guardian (Penny Dreadful star Eva Green) and time moves of its own accord.

 

(8) POLITICAL SCIENCE FICTION. At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Andrew Liptak names “6 Political SF Novels as Bingeable as House of Cards”. One of them is –

Jennifer Government, by Max Barry

Max Barry’s second novel is a fantastic satire of globalized trade and the deregulation of industry. In this alternate future, the United States has taken over much of north and south America, with government and its services privatized. Citizens take on the names of their employers, and the titular Jennifer Government is an agent tasked with tracking down the perpetrators of a series of murders . The crime turns out to be an attempt by Nike to drum up notoriety for a new line of shoes, but the plot quickly escalated beyond what anyone planned. It’s a ridiculous, often funny book that shows off a very different, but scarily plausible, hyper-commercial world.

(9) ONCE MORE INTO THE SPEECH. MD Jackson touts favorite examples of “The Rousing Speech” at Amazing Stories.

There’s always a rousing speech.

When the odds are against you, when the forces of darkness, or the alien invaders, or the giant lizards have gathered and your pitifully small band of heroes stand against them, the single vanguard against annihilation, what does your leader do?

Well, if he’s any kind of leader he starts talking.

Motivational speeches keep your team together and focused. Rousing speeches keep your smallish army from losing soldiers due to desertion rather than the upcoming decimation. And it’s got to be a doozy of a speech in order to make otherwise sensible men and women stand with you against almost certain death….

One of my favorite rousing speeches comes from an episode of Star Trek. In Return to Tomorrow, a second season episode from 1968, William Shatner throws all the weight of his dramatic acting into a rousing speech: The infamous “Risk is our business…” speech. It doesn’t come before a battle, but before three of the crew, including Kirk, decide to have ancient powerful aliens take over their bodies. Despite the context and the odd placement of the speech which doesn’t really further the plot, the speech has become iconic for its application to the entire Star Trek universe through all the series and movies. It kind of sums up what Star Trek is all about.

Risk. Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.

And with Shatner`s just-shy-of-bombast delivery, the speech is kind of powerful.

(10) TONY DYSON OBIT. The builder of the original R2-D2, Tony Dyson, died March 4 reports the BBC.

The 68-year-old Briton was found by police after a neighbour called them, concerned his door was open.

He is thought to have died of natural causes. A post-mortem is being carried out to determine cause of death.

Dyson was commissioned to make eight R2-D2 robots for the film series. He said working on it was “one of the most exciting periods of my life”.

The look of R2-D2 was created by the conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie who also created Darth Vader, Chewbacca and C-3PO.

Prof Dyson, who owned The White Horse Toy Company, was commissioned to make eight models plus the master moulds and an additional head.

He made four remote control units – two units for the actor Kenny Baker to sit in with a seat fitted inside and two throw away units to be used in a bog scene in Empire Strikes Back where a monster spits out the droid onto dry land, from the middle of the swamp.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 4, 1967 — Neal Hefti won a Grammy for our favorite song, the “Batman Theme.”

(12) YO, GROOT! According to the Daily News, Sylvester Stallone has joined the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who might Stallone be playing? Perhaps, Peter Quill’s (Pratt) father. We know that coveted role will appear in the sequel. However, most people assume Kurt Russell already snagged that part and a source for the Daily News says Stallone’s role is just a cameo.

(13) KRYPTON ENNOBLED. As Yahoo! News tells the story, “Polish chemists tried to make kryptonite and failed, but then made a huge discovery”.

Avert your eyes, Superman, because according to news out of Poland this morning, a team of chemists just got awfully close to actually creating the fictional substance of kryptonite. Don’t sweat too much though, Clark — the scientists were only able to bond the element of krypton with oxygen (as opposed to nitrogen) which wound up creating krypton monoxide. Inability to create real kryptonite notwithstanding, the fact the chemists successfully bonded krypton with anything is a revelatory achievement for an element previously known to be entirely unreactive. In light of the success, krypton (which is a noble gas like helium and neon) is no longer considered inert.

Conducted at the Polish Academy of Sciences, a team of chemists ran krypton through a series of various tests to build off a previous study positing that the chemical may react with hydrogen or carbon under extreme conditions. What they discovered — and subsequently published in Scientific Reports — was that krypton, while under severe pressure, also has the ability to form krypton oxides after bonding with oxygen. Thing is, the chemists didn’t actually see the reaction happen, but rather, used genetic algorithms to theorize its likelihood.

(14) GUESS WHY ZINES ARE COMING BACK? News from Australia — “Sticky Institute: Internet trolls sparks resurgence of zines ahead of Festival of the Photocopier”.

Photocopied zines are making a comeback, with some young self-publishers keen to escape the attention of online trolls.

While the internet has democratised publishing, allowing anyone to potentially reach a global audience with the click of a button, vitriolic internet comments are pushing some writers back to a medium last popular in the 1990s.

Zines, or fanzines, are self-published, handmade magazines usually produced in short runs on photocopiers or home printers.

Thomas Blatchford volunteers at Melbourne zine store Sticky Institute, which is preparing for its annual Festival of the Photocopier later this month….

While unsure of the exact reason for the resurgence of zines, Mr Blatchford said it was more than just a “weird nostalgia thing”.

He said some zine-makers had been scared away from online publishing because of unkind comments from people on the internet.

“There’s some horrible people on there,” he said.

(15) BATTLE OF THE BURRITO. John Scalzi is engaged in a culinary duel with Wil Wheaton.

Some of you may be aware of the existential battle that Wil Wheaton and I are currently engaged in, involving burritos. I am of the opinion that anything you place into a tortilla, if it is then folded into a burrito shape, is a burrito of some description; Wil, on the other hand, maintains that if it is not a “traditional” burrito, with ingredients prepared as they were in the burrito’s ancestral home of Mexico, is merely a “wrap.”

Expect someone to write a post soon complaining that Scalzi is doing to Mexican food what he did to sf, by which I mean someone longing for the days when you could tell what you were buying by looking at the tortilla cover…

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/3/16 What’s Scroll Got To Do, Got To Do With It?

(1) CANCER SMACKDOWN IN PROGRESS. Pat Cadigan has a great update — “That’s Right, Cancer, I Said You Better Run ‘Cause There Ain’t Nothin’ For You Here”.

Yes, in case you can’t tell, the level of cancer in my body continues to decline. I did a little math and the current level is 3% of what it was when I started chemotherapy in January 2015. I saw one of the doctors on my consultant’s team, a young Asian doctor that I’ve seen before. He was so genuinely happy for me, I kinda choked up.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I had the bad luck to have my cancer recur in the worst possible form but the good luck to have the drugs work better than anyone expected them to. I’d like to tell you attitude is half the battle. I mean, then I could really pat myself on the back (no pun intended, I swear) and say I kicked cancer’s arse. The truth is, I got lucky; the drugs work. My attitude lets me enjoy it.

I would like to be more profound but at the moment, I’m just kinda dazed. Six months ago, I was terminal, at least as far as anyone knew. Today I’m no longer dying of cancer, I’m living with my technicolor Doc Martens boot on its neck.

You know, I don’t think that will ever get old.

(2) OVER TIME. An interview with Lois McMaster Bujold in the New Zealand Herald.

Gentleman Jole And The Red Queen is precisely to do with what happens when a woman refuses to be constrained by the assumptions of the people who think they know her. Cordelia is 76, in a future society where she can expect to live to 120.

“This, of course, has metaphorical import for our own times, with more people living longer. What should we do with ourselves? Is something genuinely new possible, that isn’t just a variant of things we were doing earlier in life?”

It will not spoil the book if I tell you the answer is that it depends on your perspective; which does indeed change with age.

Bujold, 66, remarks she was once part of a book club discussion of her fantasy novel, The Curse Of Chalion, with a group of junior high students, “where it gradually became apparent that the hero was far more alien to them by being an old man of 35 – practically like their parents! – than by being a demon-ridden medieval fantasy nobleman.”

(3) SPECIAL DEFECTS. From LiarTown USA

(4) SCHOLARSHIP ABOUT SPANISH SF. Science Fiction Studies, published three times per year by DePauw University, is looking for contributions to the monographic issue on Spanish SF, to be guest edited by Sara Martín and Fernando Ángel Moreno. (Via Europa SF.)

By ‘Spanish SF’ we mean SF novels and short fiction written specifically in Spain, excluding other Spanish-language areas.

Science Fiction Studies is particularly interested in articles dealing with writers Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo, Rafael Marín, Rodolfo Martínez or Javier Negrete and with SF women writers (excluding Elia Barceló).

All submissions must be in English and conform to SFS submission policies, which includes a rigorous peer-reviewing process.

Abstracts (150-200 words) are due by March 30, complete papers by 1 September (maximum 7000 words).

Please, email your proposals to Sara Martín : Sara[dot]Martin[at]uab[dot]cat

(5) NEW GAME IN TOWN. The “Storium” play-by-post forum has just gone live. A number of fairly-well-known writers and game companies have kicked in worlds, including File 770 regular Ursula Vernon, Seanan McGuire, Chuck Wendig, etc. Chris Meadows has details in “Storium storytelling game launches for public view” at Teleread.

The Kickstarter game worlds include quite a few intriguing settings, including some by fairly well-known authors or game companies. For example, the default universe for the HERO system “Champions” RPG is one of those worlds—so if you have some favorite old characters from a “Champions” setting, why not bring them back to life? Hugo-winning webcomic artist and author Ursula Vernon has a humorous setting called “Weird Fruit” (pictured above), and multiply-Hugo-nominated author Seanan McGuire has a setting called “Chambers of the Sea” in which merfolk take part in Atlantisian politics. Matt Forbeck has adapted his Monster Academy young-adult series into a Storium setting as well.

And that’s only scratching the surface. Well-known gaming or fiction writers such as Tobias Buckell, Robin D. Laws, N.K. Jemisin, J.C. Hutchins, Richard Dansky, Elizabeth Bear, Sam Sykes, Mur Lafferty, Kenneth Hite, Chuck Wendig, Stephen Blackmoore, Jordan Weisman, and Charles Stross have settings either ready or under preparation. Steve Jackson Games and Green Ronin Publications are also readying Storium worlds based on their “In Nomine” and “Mutants & Masterminds” RPG settings, respectively.

(6) YOUR TUMBLR DEEP THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Weird Deer, this quote by Erin Bow:

“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”

(7) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY. Max Florschutz launched his blog Unusual Things a year ago this week.

Views

So, where to start? How about with the number of views Unusual Things has landed in its first year of operation? A quick look at the site’s stats board and some simple addition says …

10,207 Views

Hey, you know what? That’s not bad. Not bad at all. Ten thousand views, while nothing to those with heavy advertising budgets and ten thousand fans, is pretty good for a one-year blog on writing, a subject not a lot of people care about.

Actually, let’s dig into that one a bit more. What’s been the post with the highest number of views, the one that’s caught the most attention?

I’m Not a Fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy? from May 30th, 2015, with 741 views.

You might remember that post. That was the post where I reacted to a number of statements from the Insular crowd during last year’s Hugo insanity, statements that, well, in line with their given moniker of “Insulars,” was all about how certain “casual” fans needed to be kept out of the Hugos, suggesting that they weren’t “real” fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy because they hadn’t passed some invisible, societal conscientious litmus test that made them a “real fan.”

(8) CHAINS OF LOVE. There’s everything else, so why wouldn’t there be books where “Science Fiction Romance Goes To Space Prison”? Victoria Scott tells you about several of them at Amazing Stories. Ann Aguirre’s Perdition, for example, gets this valedictory:

OK, I have to warn you that “bleak” is an understatement. This series has some of the darkest stuff I’ve ever read, much more to the horror side than I normally will go (I have nightmare issues, ok?) but I found the characters so fascinating, I was compelled to read on. I was rooting so hard for Dred and Jael to make it –  as a couple, out of Perdition, on to a Happily Ever After – that I was willing to stay with them through all the travails. The grim world of Perdition is well drawn and comprehensively thought out, and learning the many details of the worldbuilding backstory was another good reason to continue reading.

(9) NOT PLAN 8 OR PLAN 10. Before he can discuss Plan 9 From Outer Space, Jay McDowell needs to explain what a Bad Movie is:

A real, honest to goodness, grade Z modern Bad Movie is a movie where the creator, be it due to A) technical ineptitude (Manos: The Hands of Fate); B) budget limitations (pretty much anything cranked out by Roger Corman and/or AIP [American International Pictures]); or C) the creator’s overinflated sense of self (vanity projects like Battlefield Earth, Star Trek V, and Glitter), failed spectacularly and inadvertently, made a movie that has become endearing to the viewer. Simple, run-of-the-mill bad movies are, usually, movies that are just bad and not in a fun way; they’re sub-par or heavy handed with their message or, perhaps worst of all, purposely trying to be a true Bad Movie.

(10) WILL SHE PREORDER? My daughter has mentioned several times how excited she is that the eighth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pts. I & II, is on the way. Will I ever get a clue that I’m supposed to buy it for her? 🙂

Directly following the play’s premiere in London, a play script will be released in both print and digital finally, finallyFINALLY giving readers the story of Harry’s life 19 years after he defeated the Dark Lord.

The book will be published by Little Brown Book Company on July 31, 2016, marking Harry’s 36th birthday.

(11) BAEN NEWS. Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf sent readers a message: they’re going to synchronize the release dates of ebooks and paper books.

From the publication month of April 2016 onward, the release dates will be the same (that is, the ebooks will not be available two weeks earlier than the paper books).

We will not be changing the time the Monthly Bundles are initially offered for sale, we will continue to offer eARCs as usual, and all other policies regarding ebook bundles will remain in place. We will not be making the period you can buy Monthly Bundles shorter, but longer.

The April 2016 bundle contains the ebooks that will be available in print on April 5th. The final versions of these ebooks would have been scheduled to go live as ebooks on all retail venues on March 16, 2015, and will now be available in their entirety April 5, 2016. At that point, the Monthly Bundle will become unavailable for sale.

We will continue to publish two newsletters per month to help you keep track of our offerings, one highlighting the print books which will come out two weeks in advance of the release date, the other highlighting ebook and website offerings on (or very close to) the release date itself.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 3, 1920 – James “Scotty” Doohan

(13) KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY. Rod Roddenberry is executive producing CBS’ new Star Trek series.

Roddenberry Entertainment President Rod Roddenberry and Chief Operating Officer Trevor Roth are serving as executive producers on the new Star Trek television series.

Other executive producers include Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Bryan Fuller, who was previously announced as showrunner.

(14) AT LSE. Literary Festival 2016 at the London School of Economics featured a number of discussions about sf/f-related topics.

There’s a podcast of “To Boldly Go: what Star Trek tells us about the world”, with participants Michèle Barrett, Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary University, London and author, Duncan Barrett, a best-selling author, Barry Buzan, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the LSE, Steven French, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, and Bryan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE.

And tweets about several other items have been collected at Storify.

(15) SCOTT KELLY RETURNS FROM THE ISS.

Astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston early this morning where he was reunited with his family after a whirlwind year-long mission in space.

Waiting for Kelly, 52, in Houston were his two daughters and girlfriend, along with his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and his sister-in-law, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

After living for nearly a year aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is two inches taller than his identical twin brother Mark.

One of the main goals of his groundbreaking mission is to study how well humans can endure — mind, body and spirit — on a long-duration spaceflight.

From his perch 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the earth’s surface, Kelly snapped hundreds of beautifully abstract photographs of our planet’s landforms and waterways. He spotted hurricanes ominously swirling on sapphire-blue oceans. He gazed out at the aurora’s glittering fog. He consistently turned Earth’s lands and waters into an abstract artist’s dream, with shots of beaches, deserts, forests, and everything in between.

(16) GHOSTBUSTERS TRAILER BONUS. Russ discovered this website was apparently hidden in the trailer… http://www.paranormalstudieslab.com/#/

(17) THAT’S BAT-MA’AM, TO YOU. In 1974 Yvonne Craig gave an equal pay pitch to a captive audience…

Will Batgirl save Batman and Robin from the bomb? Or will she stand for her rights and get the same pay as a man? If they say no to equal pay…bombs away! 1974 Public Service Announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor–Wage & Hour Division.

 

[Thanks to Will R., John King Tarpinian, Steven French, JJ, Robotech_master, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]