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.]

The Age of Lucius Shepard

How old Lucius Shepard was when he died proved to be a controversial question here.

Shepard’s Wikipedia entry and the obit posted at the SFWA Blog listed 1947 as the year of his birth. However, I followed the Science Fiction Encyclopedia’s lead and reported he was born in 1943.

Which is right?

The 1947 date was favored by Shepard. It appears in his official bio. He also did not demur when Jason S. Ridler posed a question in a Clarkesworld interview that stated the writer was 33 when he went to Clarion – assuming a 1947 birth date.

However, with Dave Langford’s help I was able to learn more about the SF Encyclopedia’s preference for 1943, based on Mike Ashley’s search of the public record.

  • The 1945 Florida census includes a Lucius Shepard, age 2, listed as born in Virginia. (Shepard’s official bio states he was born in Lynchburg, VA.)
  • The US Public Records Office lists Lucius T. Shepard as living in Seattle in 1993, with a birth year of 1943.
  • Finally, Shepard said he attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill — and a Lucius T. I. Shepard is listed as attending there in 1962 aged about 20.

So there’s persuasive support in official records for a 1943 birth date, in which case Shepard was 70 years old when he died.

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