Pixel Scroll 6/14/19 Of All The Pixel Joints In All The Scrolls In All The World, She Files Into Mine

(1) DUBBED. The Daily Mail’s headline is apt: “The knight who says Ni! Actor Michael Palin receives his knighthood from Prince William in 50th anniversary year of Monty Python”.

Sir Michael Palin managed to suppress a joke when collecting the ‘unbelievable’ honour of a knighthood from the Duke of Cambridge for his post-Monty Python career.

The writer and broadcaster was dubbed a knight by William for services to travel, culture and geography, making him the first star of the sketch show to receive the honour.

(2) CHANGING FORMULAS IN STORYTELLING. In “Love isn’t what it was” on Aeon, graduate student Sophus Helle says that animated films Disney has released in this decade, including Brave, Frozen, Finding Dory, and Inside Out, show that in these films “the ideal of heterosexual romance has been replaced by a new ideal: family love. The happy ending of our most watched childhood stories is no longer a kiss.”

…It’s not just the word ‘love’ that has changed meaning over the past 10 years of Disney. The word ‘family’ has done the same. Neither Mother Gothel nor the fairy godmother of Maleficent are the biological parents of the films’ main characters, but they still end up taking emotional centre-stage because the actual biological parents are either cruel and psychotic, as in Maleficent, or distant and idealised, as in Tangled. Parenthood is determined by one’s emotional bonds. As a result, the very question of what counts as a ‘family’ in Disney has become more ambiguous and more modern.

(3) BOMBS AWAY. NPR’s Scott Tobias advises, “Erase The Awful ‘Men In Black: International’ From Your Mind”.

If Hollywood studios are content to cannibalize the vaults in search of new hits, the first thing they should remember is why the original films were hits in the first place. For all the bells and whistles that went along with the original 1997 Men in Black, with its cutting-edge alien effects, the reason it works is extremely old-fashioned, rooted in an effective cross-pollination between fish-out-of-water comedy and mismatched buddy comedy.

…There’s a lot of plotting in Men In Black: International, which makes room for a diabolical three-armed seductress (Rebecca Ferguson) and a compact weapon of planet-destroying power, but the more the story unfurls, the deeper the film sinks into quicksand. Director F. Gary Gray and his screenwriters, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, have made the crucial mistake of believing the franchise needs complex world-building instead of streamlined comedy. Even if the events in the film made any kind of sense, they were never going to matter as much as the good time Hemsworth, Neeson and the two Thompsons are supposed to be showing us. And yet that’s where the emphasis lies.

The Boston Globe gives it 2.5/4 stars.

(4) FIRE TWO. NPR’s Andrew Lapin says “‘The Dead Don’t Die’ In Jarmusch’s Latest, But Your Patience Will”.

“This is going to end badly,” Adam Driver says, over and over with slight variations, in the new zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die. It’s both the movie’s catchphrase and raison d’être. Things tend not to end well in general, because people have a habit of taking bad situations and making them worse, and there’s no reason to suspect that will change when the dead are rising from their graves and feasting on the bodies of the living. To the extent that the film has a joke, this is it: Humans mess everything up, and in the end probably aren’t worth saving.

All fair points. But does that sound fun to watch? Maybe it could have been, in another universe, with this exact cast and this exact director. Jim Jarmusch is a national treasure, after all, and he’s already proven himself a master of idiosyncratic, cracker-dry comedies that play with our love of dead or dying cultural icons, from Elvis to diners to samurai. But as The Dead Don’t Die smirks through its ironic corpse pile-up, dispatching a parade of beloved actors like rancid meat and playing the same original Sturgill Simpson tune on loop, it’s hard not to wonder if the joke is on us for watching it.

And the Boston Globe gives this one only 1.5 stars.

(5) THEY LOVE TOY STORY 4. But wait! BBC says this one’s getting good reviews — Toy Story 4: What did the critics think?” Out today in the UK, the fourth (and supposedly final) instalment of Toy Story has been warmly welcomed.

Woody, Buzz and Jessie are returning nine years after they said goodbye to Andy and settled into their new home with Bonnie at the end of Toy Story 3.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said: “It’s now certain what one of the summer’s blockbusters will be.

“More than that, how many other film series can legitimately claim to have hit four home runs in a row?” he added.

Variety’s Peter Debruge said the movie gives “satisfying emotional closure”, adding that “the fourth movie wraps up the saga beautifully”.

He added the film “explores the idea of purgatory: What’s it like for a plaything to be ignored, overlooked or entirely unused?”

(6) WOODY ON TOUR. Tom Hanks went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote the movie, and showed he didn’t think much of the heavy-handed guidance he was given by the marketing division: “Tom Hanks Shares Disney’s Strict Rules for ‘Toy Story 4’ Media Tour”.

Hanks also decided to poke more fun at the late-night host by reading a surprising note Disney gave him for any time he would make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “When doing Kimmel, please do not mention the Academy Awards. What’s that about?” Hanks asked. After Kimmel questioned why they would add that note, the actor replied: “You got bounced, my friend!” 

With fans anticipating the fourth installment of the popular franchise, Hanks celebrated Toy Story 4 for adding new talent in Tony Hale, Keanu Reeves and Carl Weathers. Though he’s starred as Woody since the original film, Hanks revealed that Toy Story 4 may be the best film in the franchise. 

“I know it sounds ridiculous because I’m in it, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life.” 

Hanks also revealed that he didn’t know Weathers was in the film. “We never see each other. We maybe will run into each other when somebody’s session finishes and the other is waiting to go on, but at the premiere I saw Carl Weathers and I had to go shake the man’s hand because not only was he Apollo Creed, he was Action Jackson,” said Hanks.

(7) FAMILIAR VOICE. The new Maltin on Movies podcast brings us “Alan Tudyk”.

Alan Tudyk is a gifted actor and a familiar face who achieved cult status as a costar of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and its follow-up feature-film Serenity…but he’s also become the man of a thousand voices. If you’ve seen Wreck-it Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, or even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story you’ve heard his facility with accents, dialects, and the ability to embody colorful characters. He also stars in one of Leonard and Jessie’s favorite unsung movies, Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. Alan is only too happy to demonstrate his vocal talents during our hilarious interview. Angelenos can currently see him onstage in Mysterious Circumstances at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 14, 1908 Stephen Tall aka Compton Crook. Stephen Tall was the most common pseudonym of American science fiction writer Compton Newby Crook. He wrote two novels, The Ramsgate Paradox (in his Stardust series) and The People Beyond the WallThe Stardust Voyages collects the short stories in that series. The Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Memorial Award was established by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society in his name for best first novel in a given year. He is not available in digital form in either iBooks or Kindle. (Died 1981.)
  • Born June 14, 1909 Burl Ives. No, I’m not including because of being him voicing  Sam the Snowman, narrator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in that film though I could argue it is  genre. No, I’m including him because he was on The Night Gallery (“The Other Way Out” episode) and appeared in several comic SF films, Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon and Earthbound. He also appeared in The Bermuda Depths which is more of a horror film. (Died 1995.)
  • Born June 14, 1914 Ruthven Todd. Scottish author of mostly children’s books whose series The Space Cats begins with Space Cat and features a cat who stows away on a spaceship.  He wrote several more conventional genre novels as well, Over the Mountain and The Lost Traveller. A Space Cats omnibusand The Lost Traveller are available at iBooks and Kindle. (Died 1978.)
  • Born June 14, 1921 William L. Hamling. He was a lifelong member of First Fandom. Editor of the Stardust fanzine in 1940, and Imagination and Imaginative Tales in the Fifties. He did the 1940 Chicon program book with Mark Reinsberg.  And his Regency publishing concern in the Fifties would do paperback editions of Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Bloch and Philip José Farmer. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 14, 1949 Harry Turtledove, 70. I wouldn’t know where to begin with him considering how many series he’s done. I’m fairly sure I first read novels in his Agent of Byzantium series and I know his Crosstime Traffic series was fun reading. 
  • Born June 14, 1972 Adrian Tchaikovsky, 47. He is best known for his Shadows of the Apt series, and for Children of Time which won an Arthur C. Clarke Award. The After War series is multi author. He wrote the first, Redemption’s Blade, and Justina Robson wrote the second, Salvation’s Fire

(9) THINKGEEK SALE. The ThinkGeek website is moving its business the main GameStop website, and they’re doing a 50% off sales-final sale on the whole site if you use the code MOVINGDAY. While supplies last, of course. As for the future —

IS THINKGEEK SHUTTING DOWN?

Nope. On July 2nd, 2019, ThinkGeek.com will be moving in with our parent company GameStop. After this move, you will be able to shop a curated selection of unique items historically found on ThinkGeek.com via a ThinkGeek section at GameStop

Daniel Dern returns from a personal scouting expedition to say, “Alas, the Con Survival Bag of Holding is out of stock, and I don’t even see the class Bag of Holding (which had been revised/updated in the past year, although I haven’t yet seen it up close and personal).”

(10) TROJAN APP. According to NPR, “Spain’s Top Soccer League Fined For Using App To Spy On Fans In Fight To Curb Piracy”.

On Tuesday, Spain’s premier soccer league, La Liga, was hit with a 250,000-euro fine — about $280,000 — for using its mobile phone app to spy on millions of fans as part of a ploy to catch venues showing unlicensed broadcasts of professional matches.

The country’s data protection agency said the league’s app, which was marketed as a tool to track game scores, schedules, player rankings and other news, was also systematically accessing phones’ microphones and geolocation data to listen in on people’s surroundings during matches. When it detected that users were in bars, the app would record audio — much like Shazam — to determine if a game was being illegally shown at the venue.

(11) VENICE OF THE NORTH. Like they say, if it’s not Scottish, it’s… “Scotland’s crannogs are older than Stonehenge”

Archaeologists have discovered that some Scottish crannogs are thousands of years older than previously thought.

Crannogs were fortified settlements constructed on artificial islands in lochs.

It was thought they were first built in the Iron Age, a period that began around 800 BC.

But four Western Isles sites have been radiocarbon dated to about 3640-3360 BC in the Neolithic period – before the erection of Stonehenge’s stone circle.

(12) BUILT TO LAST. BBC asks “How to build something that lasts 10000 years”.

Alexander Rose and a team of engineers at The Long Now Foundation are building a clock in the Texan desert that will last for 10,000 years. He explains what he’s learnt about designing for extreme longevity.

…Over the last two decades, I have been working at The Long Now Foundation to build a monument-scale “10,000 Year Clock” as an icon to long-term thinking, with computer scientist Danny Hillis and a team of engineers. The idea is to create a provocation large enough in both scale and time that, when confronted by it, we have to engage our long-term future. One could imagine that if given only five years to solve an issue like climate change, it is very difficult to even know where to begin because the time scale is unreasonable. But if you reset the scale to 500 years, even the impossible can start to seem tractable.

Building a 10,000-year machine required diving into both history and the present to see how artefacts have lasted. While we can slow the workings of the clock itself down so that it only ticks as many times in 10,000 years as a watch does in a person’s lifetime, what about the materials and location? Over the last 20 years I have studied how other structures and systems have lasted over time, and visited as many of them as I can. Some sites have been conserved by simply being lost or buried, some have survived in plain sight by their sheer mass, others have had much more subtle strategies.

(13) URSA MINOR. In Mission: Unbearable, Kuma Bear is tasked with a Mission to SpikeCon.

(14) DOCTOR SLEEP. The official trailer has been released for Doctor Sleep, based on Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/15/19 These Groots Are Made For Walking, Ent That’s Just What They’ll Do

(1) HOGWASH, POPPYCOCK & BALONEY. George R.R. Martin quashed a current rumor in his post “Idiocy on the Internet”.

…All of a sudden this crazy story about my finishing THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING years ago is popping up everywhere. No, I am not going to provide links. I don’t want to reward purveyors of misinformation with hits.

I will, however, say for the record — no, THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING are not finished. DREAM is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finish volume six

It seems absurd to me that I need to state this. The world is round, the Earth revolves around the sun, water is wet… do I need to say that too? It boggles me that anyone would believe this story, even for an instant. It makes not a whit of sense. Why would I sit for years on completed novels? Why would my publishers — not just here in the US, but all around the world — ever consent to this? They make millions and millions of dollars every time a new Ice & Fire book comes out, as do I. Delaying makes no sense. Why would HBO want the books delayed? The books help create interest in the show, just as the show creates interest in the books.

So… no, the books are not done. HBO did not ask me to delay them. Nor did David & Dan. There is no “deal” to hold back on the books. I assure you, HBO and David & Dan would both have been thrilled and delighted if THE WINDS OF WINTER had been delivered and published four or five years ago… and NO ONE would have been more delighted than me.

(2) BUT THIS STORY IS TRUE. Martin confirmed a different report quoting his opinion of two characters created by Tolkien and Rowling:

At the Q&A following the premiere of the new TOLKIEN film in Los Angeles last week, I did indeed say that Gandalf could kick Dumbledore’s ass.

Gandalf COULD kick Dumbledore’s ass. I mean, duh. He’s a maia, folks. Next best thing to a demigod. Gandalf dies and come back. Dumbledore dies and stays dead.

But if it will calm down all the Potterites out there, let me say that Gandalf could kick Melisandre’s ass too.

(3) HORRORMENTARY. The new drama Years and Years, which follows a British family over the next 15 years began Tuesday night on BBC1 in the UK, and will be screened on HBO in the US later in the year. BBC contemplates: “How the near future became our greatest horror”.

…But if [J.G.] Ballard’s thinking was subversive at the time, now we’re beset by the nearest of ‘near future’ narratives. They are intent on imagining not what will become of us in thousands of millennia, or even in a few decades’ time – à la dystopian works like Blade Runner and Soylent Green, previously understood as ‘near future’ – but in as little as the next few years. In doing so, these near-near-future stories create realities that feel immediately recognisable to us, but invariably with a pretty unpleasant twist or three. In literature, these have gone hand in hand with the rise of the ‘mundane science fiction’ movement – which began in the mid-noughties and was built on “not wanting to imagine shiny, hard futures [but give a] sense of sliding from one version of our present into something slightly alienated”, says Roger Luckhurst, a professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature at London’s Birkbeck College and an expert in science fiction.

And, at the moment, such stories are particularly prevalent on the small-screen….

(4) BLACK MIRROR. The show returns to Netflix on June 5:

(5) BEAUMONT REMEMBERED. Pulpfest’s Mike Chomko profiles “THE TWILIGHT ZONE’S Magic Man — Charles Beaumont”, who died too soon —

…At the height of his writing career, Beaumont began to suffer from a mysterious ailment. “By 1964, he could no longer write. Meetings with producers turned disastrous. His speech became slower, more deliberate. His concentration worsened. . . . after a battery of tests at UCLA, Beaumont was diagnosed as having Alzheimer’s Disease; he faced premature senility, aging, and an early death.” He died on February 21, 1967 at the age of thirty-eight.

(6) STORIES REBORN. Paula Guran’s anthology Mythic Journeys: Retold Myths and Legends was released yesterday by Night Shade Books.

The Native American trickster Coyote . . . the snake-haired Greek Gorgon Medusa, whose gaze turned men to stone . . . Kaggen, creator of the San peoples of Africa . . . the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend . . . Freyja, the Norse goddess of love and beauty . . . Ys, the mythical sunken city once built on the coast of France . . . Ragnarok, the myth of a world destroyed and reborn . . . Jason and the Argonauts, sailing in search of the Golden Fleece . . .

Myths and legends are the oldest of stories, part of our collective consciousness, and the source from which all fiction flows. Full of magic, supernatural powers, monsters, heroes, epic journeys, strange worlds, and vast imagination, they are fantasies so compelling we want to believe them true.

(7) FRIEDMAN OBIT. “Stanton Friedman, famed UFO researcher, dead at 84”CBC has the story.

A nuclear physicist by training, Friedman had devoted his life to researching and investigating UFOs since the late 1960s.

He was credited with bringing the 1947 Roswell Incident — the famous incident that gave rise to theories about UFOs and a U.S. military coverup — back into the mainstream conversation.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

Apparently a big day in the history of B-movies.

  • May 15, 1953 Phantom From Space premiered in theaters.
  • May 15, 1959Invisible Invaders debuted in movie houses.
  • May 15, 1969 Witchfinder General, starring Vincent Price, screened for the first time.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 15, 1856 L. Frank Baum. I adore The Wizard of Oz film and I’m betting you know that it only covers about half of the novel which is a splendid read indeed. I’ll confess that I never read the numerous latter volumes in the Oz series, nor have I read anything by him. What’s the rest of his fiction like? (Died 1919.)
  • Born May 15, 1877 William Bowen. His most notable work was The Old Tobacco Shop, a fantasy novel that was one runner-up for the inaugural Newbery Medal in 1922. He also had a long running children’s series with a young girl named Merrimeg whom a narrator told her adventures with all sorts of folkloric beings. (Died 1937.)
  • Born May 15, 1926 Anthony Shaffer. His genre screenplays were the Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man. Though definitely not genre, he wrote the screenplays for a number of most excellent mysteries including Death on the NileMurder on the Orient Express and Sleuth. (Died 2001.)
  • Born May 15, 1955 Lee Horsley, 64. A performer who’s spent a lot of his career in genre undertakings starting with The Sword and the Sorcerer (and its 2010 sequel Tales of an Ancient Empire), horror films Nightmare ManThe Corpse Had a Familiar Face and Dismembered and even a bit of SF in Showdown at Area 51. Not sure where The Face of Fear falls has a it has a cop with psychic powers and a serial killer. 
  • Born May 15, 1960 Rob Bowman, 59. Producer of such series as Alien Nation, M.A.N.T.I.S.Quantum LeapNext Generation, and The X-Files. He has directed these films: The X-Files, Reign of Fire and Elektra. He directed one or several episodes of far too many genres series to list here.  
  • Born May 15, 1966 Greg Wise, 53. I’m including him solely as he’s in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. It is a film-within-a-film, featuring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing themselves as egotistical actors during the making of a screen adaptation of Laurence Sterne’s 18th century metafictional novel Tristram Shandy. Not genre (possibly) but damn fun. 

(10) VIRGIN GALACTIC. The company’s press release, “Sir Richard Branson Announces Virgin Galactic Move to Spaceport America this Summer, as Company Readies for Commercial Service”, does not state when service will commence.

At a press conference [on May 10] at the New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe, hosted by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Galactic’s development and testing program had advanced sufficiently to move the spaceline staff and space vehicles from Mojave, California to their commercial operations headquarters at Spaceport America, New Mexico. The move, which involves more than 100 staff, will commence immediately and continue through the summer, to minimise schooling disruption for families.

Virgin Galactic partnered with New Mexico in an agreement which saw the state complete construction of Spaceport America, the world’s first, purpose-built commercial spaceport, and Virgin Galactic committing to center its commercial spaceflight activities at the facilities once its vehicles and operations were ready for service.

(11) ZUBRIN’S CASE. The Space Review hosts Jeff Foust’s coverage of Robert Zubrin’s new book The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility.

…The second part of the book tackles the question of why humanity should move out in the universe. The reasons are familiar ones, from scientific discoveries to new technologies to the survival of humanity itself. For example, Zubrin reiterates a belief, dating back to his The Case for Mars book more than 20 years ago, that a human settlement on Mars will require ingenuity to survive, stimulating new technologies from robotics to fusion power that might not be developed on Earth.

Zubrin offers a comprehensive plan, one rich in technical detail—perhaps too rich at times, with some passages filled with equations describing chemical processes needed to extract resources on Mars or other worlds or discussing the physics of advanced propulsion technologies. But it seems a little fanciful to talk about concepts for interstellar travel like antimatter and magnetic sails when we find it so difficult today simply to get to low Earth orbit reliably and inexpensively.

(12) DAGGERS. The longlists for the The Crime Writers Association Dagger Awards have been posted.

Lavie Tidhar’s “Bag Man”, in The Outcast Hours anthology, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin, is one of the works longlisted for the CWA Short Story Dagger Award.

(13) REBELS WITH A CAUSE. Marie Kondo really struck a nerve.The Independent had no trouble finding people who have no plans to winnow their book stacks: “Going against the decluttering craze: the book hoarers who defy Marie Kondo”. For one example —  

Jane Green, bestselling author who traded England for New England

I’ve run out of space. Books are starting to get stacked up on the floor, underneath tables, underneath chairs, on top of tables. They’re everywhere. With no more room on the bookshelves, I’ve been eyeing this gorgeous French armoire that takes up an entire wall. That wall is just perfect for shelves and would make the room warmer. I know, however, that my husband really likes the armoire. He sees: storage, storage, storage. I see: books, books, books. We’ll see who wins. 

For years, I couldn’t get rid of anything. I have had to learn to manage the flow. Paperbacks I tend not to keep unless I love them and know I’m going to reread them. Hardcovers are really hard for me to get rid of. They all signify a time in my life. They all have stories around the stories. I will sometimes just stand there and look at my books and remember.

(14) ANOTHER BRICK IN THE PAYWALL. Digiday elaborates on a trend that has made it more challenging for me to research Scroll items at sites that think I should pay for their material (the noive!): “Incognito no more: Publishers close loopholes as paywall blockers emerge”.

Subscription publishers have tightened their paywalls, plugging leaks and reducing the number of articles readers access before subscribing. But as reader revenue becomes more of a focus, more sophisticated ways of dodging paying have emerged.

There have always been a number of low-tech ways to circumvent cookie-based metered paywalls, where the same content is freely available in some but not all cases. For instance deleting cookies, using multiple browsers and copying the URL are go-to methods, and are near impossible to mitigate against. However, over the last 18 months, publishers have started plugging these gaps.

In February, The New York Times started tightening its paywall so readers couldn’t access paywalled content by switching their device to incognito mode. A New York Times spokesperson said it’s too early to glean the impacts of these tests.

(15) MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NOMMOS. The announcement of the 2019 Nommo Awards shortlist was followed by a press release with additional details:

The 2019 Nommo Awards for Speculative Fiction by Africans announce the shortlists for the Nommo Awards in all four categories – novel, novella, short story and comics/graphic novels.

The roughly 170 members of the African Speculative Fiction Society (ASFS) nominated works for the Awards long list and short lists.  They will now have a three-month period to read the works and vote for the winners of the Awards. 

The short-listed works must be speculative fiction created by Africans and published in calendar year 2018. The winners of the Ilube Nommo Award and the Comic/Graphic Novel award receive UD$ 1000.00.  The winners of the novella and short story awards receive US$ 500.00.  The ASFS thanks its patron Tom Ilube, CBE for his generosity.

The ASFS was founded in 2015. The creation of the Nommo Awards was announced at the Ake Festival in Abeokuta in November 2016.  The winners will be announced at the Ake Festival in Lagos Nigeria in November.

(16) DOES WHATEVER A SPIDER CAN. BBC:“Spider Uses Web As Slingshot To Ensnare Prey, Scientists Find”.

This high-velocity maneuver is a nightmare if you’re a fly.

There’s a type of spider that can slowly stretch its web taut and then release it, causing the web to catapult forward and ensnare unsuspecting prey in its strands.

Triangle-weaver spiders use their own web the way humans might use a slingshot or a crossbow. Scientists from the University of Akron say this is a process called “power amplification,” and they published their research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

(17) WWW. Cute name: “Wood wide web: Trees’ social networks are mapped”.

Research has shown that beneath every forest and wood there is a complex underground web of roots, fungi and bacteria helping to connect trees and plants to one another.

This subterranean social network, nearly 500 million years old, has become known as the “wood wide web”.

Now, an international study has produced the first global map of the “mycorrhizal fungi networks” dominating this secretive world.

Details appear in Nature journal.

Using machine-learning, researchers from the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and Stanford University in the US used the database of the Global Forest Initiative, which covers 1.2 million forest tree plots with 28,000 species, from more than 70 countries.

(18) ANCIENT PUNCH. “Chang’e-4: Chinese rover ‘confirms’ Moon crater theory” says the BBC.

The Chinese Chang’e-4 rover may have confirmed a longstanding idea about the origin of a vast crater on the Moon’s far side.

The rover’s landing site lies within a vast impact depression created by an asteroid strike billions of years ago.

Now, mission scientists have found evidence that impact was so powerful it punched through the Moon’s crust and into the layer below called the mantle.

Chang’e-4 has identified what appear to be mantle rocks on the surface.

It’s something the rover was sent to the far side to find out.

Chunlai Li, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, and colleagues have presented their findings in the journal Nature.

(19) GAME OF PYTHONS. Funny or Die shows why “Cersei isn’t the only hard-nosed negotiator Tyrion’s ever faced.”

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

Pixel Scroll 10/24/18 That’s One Sure Road To Mount Tsundoku Blues, Pixels On The Scrolls Of Your Shoes

(1) HUGO HISTORY BY WALTON. At Locus Online, “Gary K. Wolfe Reviews An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton”.

…So the value of Walton’s book – in some ways a companion piece to her other collection of Tor.com columns, What Makes This Book So Great – lies not in identifying such howlers – in fact, she con­cludes that Hugo voters got it more or less right some 69% of the time – but in the lively and opinionated discussions of the winners and losers, of which books have lasted and which haven’t, and why. Walton includes not only her original columns, but selec­tions from the online comments, and the comments, especially from Locus contributors Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton, are so extensive and thoughtful as to make the book virtually a collaboration….

(2) A GENEROUS SPIRIT. Rachel Swirsky had a great experience at “an unusually good convention, with a lot of space and help for new writers” — “Open-Hearted Generosity at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference”.

The administrators established an atmosphere of open-hearted generosity which reflected through everyone. The agents and editors were eager to find new clients, and also to help nurture new ones. The professional writers treated the new ones like colleagues, not supplicants or intruders who would have to prove themselves worthy before being given respect. The new writers were excited and respectful of the professionals’ time and experience.

I think one thing that really helped foster the positive environment was the expectation that presenters join the attendees for meals and announcements. It got everyone used to being around each other, and reinforced that we were all in it together as people at that conference, sharing the goals of telling stories and making art.

Anyone can have a worthy story to tell. Everyone seemed to have a strong sense of that, and to respect it.

I think the administrators also chose carefully–and wisely–presenters whose native inclination is to come to new people with warmth. My experience of the colleagues I already knew who were there–Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Nalo Hopkinson–bears that out. They’re all excellent teachers who are thoughtful and kind, and excited by teaching and learning. I can only aspire to match their generosity.

(3) ZICREE WINS INAUGURAL GOLDEN DRAGON. The Cardiff International Film Festival honored Space Command creator Marc “Mr. Sci-Fi” Zicree this past weekend. Wales 247 covered the festival’s award ceremony: “Winners announced for world class cinema in Cardiff”.

The highlights of the ceremony were the lifetime achievement award for Dame Sian Phillips and the naming of American science fiction writer and director Marc Zicree as the first recipient of a Golden Dragon award for excellence in cinema and the arts.

[Zicree said – ] …“The thing that’s wonderful about accepting this award here in Wales is that Elaine and I have received such a warm welcome here this weekend. My own writing career began as a teenager having watched The Prisoner television show, which was filmed in Portmeirion. So Wales is in part responsible for my career as a screenwriter.”

Marc Zicree and his wife Elaine, have sold over 100 teleplays, screenplays and pilots to every major studio and network, including landmark stories for such shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, The New Twilight Zone, and Babylon Five. Their work has been nominated for the American Book Award, Humanitas Prize, Diane Thomas Award, and Hugo and Nebula Awards, and they’ve won the TV Guide Award, the prestigious Hamptons Prize and 2011 Rondo and Saturn Awards. Their new production, Space Command, premiered at the Cardiff International Film Festival.

(4) STONY END. James Davis Nicoll gives pointers on “How to Destroy Civilization and Not Be Boring”. For example —

Large eruptions like Toba 70,000 years ago or the Yellowstone eruption 640,000 years ago are very sexy: one big boom and half a continent is covered by ash. But why settle for such a brief, small-scale affair? Flood basalt events can last for a million years, each year as bad as or worse than the 18th century Laki eruption that killed a quarter of the human population in Iceland. Flood basalts resurface continental-sized regions to a depth of a kilometer, so it’s not that surprising that about half the flood basalts we know of are associated with extinction events. In terms of the effect on the world, it’s not unreasonable to compare it to a nuclear war. A nuclear war that lasts one million years.

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series gives some idea what a world in the midst of the formation of a Large Igneous Province might be like.

(5) CARNEGIE MEDAL CONTENDERS. I’m easily spoiled. The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction 2019 Finalists were announced today. Last year, two of the three novels were of genre interest. This year, none, although Washington Black does include a trip in a hot air balloon. It’d be a shame to waste my research, though, so here’s the shortlist —

Fiction

Esi Edugyan
Washington Black
Knopf

This evocative novel, equally rich in character and adventure, tells the wonderfully strange story of young George Washington Black who goes from Caribbean slavery to Arctic exploration, via hot-air balloon, to search for his mentor in London.

Rebecca Makkai
The Great Believers
(Viking)

Makkai’s ambitious novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in meticulously realized settings––WWI-era and present-day Paris, and 1980s Chicago––while insightfully and empathically illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

Tommy Orange
There There
(Knopf)

Orange’s symphonic tale spans miles and decades to encompass an intricate web of characters, all anticipating the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow. Orange lights a thrilling path through their stories, and leaves readers with a fascinating exploration of what it means to be an Urban Indian.

Nonfiction

Francisco Cantú
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
(Riverhead)

Readers accompany Cantú to parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as he recounts his years working for the U.S. Border Patrol. Remaining objective without moralizing, he shares a heart-wrenching, discussion-provoking perspective on how a border can tear apart families, lives, and a sense of justice.

Kiese Laymon
Heavy: An American Memoir
(Scribner)

In his artfully crafted and boldly revealing memoir, writing professor Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.

Beth Macy
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
(Little, Brown)

Macy’s years of reporting on the still-unfolding U.S. opioid crisis earned her remarkable access to people whose lives have been upended by these drugs. Hers is a timely, crucial, and many-faceted look at how we got here, giving voice to the far-reaching realities of the addicted and the people who care for them.

(6) CALL ME ISHMAEL. David Brin posted an entertaining collection of “Fabulous First Lines of Science Fiction”.

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. – Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ, with guest appearance by Standback]

  • Born October 24, 1893 – Merian Cooper, Aviator, Writer, Director and Producer. After spending WWI in the Air Force, Cooper became a writer and researcher for The New York Times and later the American Geographic Society, traveling the world, and writing stories and giving lectures about his travels. He then turned some of his writing into documentary films. He had helped David Selznick get a job at RKO Pictures, and later Selznick hired him to make movies. He developed one of his story ideas into a movie featuring a giant gorilla which is terrorizing New York City. King Kong was released in 1933, and for reasons which are utterly unfathomable to JJ, the story has been sequeled, remade, comicbooked, and rebooted innumerable times in the last 85 years.
  • Born October 24, 1915 – Bob Kane, Writer and Artist who co-created, along with Bill Finger, the DC character Batman. Multiple sources report that “Kane said his influences for the character included actor Douglas Fairbanks’ movie portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro, Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s mystery novel The Circular Staircase.” He was inducted into Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The character he created has been featured in countless comic books, stories, movies, TV series, animated features, videogames, and action figures in the last eight decades.The 1989 movie based on his creation, featuring Michael Keaton in the title role, was a finalist for both Hugo and British Science Fiction Association Awards.
  • Born October 24, 1948 – Margaret “Peggy” Ranson, Artist, Illustrator, and Fan, who became involved with fandom when she co-edited the program book for the 1988 Worldcon in New Orleans. She went on to provide art for many fanzines and conventions, and was a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo every one of the eight years from 1991 to 1998, winning once. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a DeepSouthCon. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2016; Mike Glyer’s lovely tribute to her can be read here.
  • Born October 24, 1952 – David Weber, 66, Writer of numerous novels and short works in several science fiction series, most notably the popular Honor Harrington series, which has spawned spinoff series and numerous anthologies bearing contributions from other well-known SFF authors. He has been Guest of Honor at more than two dozen conventions, including the 2011 UK Natcon, and received the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement from Southern Fandom.
  • Born October 24, 1952 – Jane Fancher, 66, Writer and Artist. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black and white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black and white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions.
  • Born October 24, 1954 – Wendy Neuss, 64, Emmy-nominated Producer. As an associate producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, her responsibilities included post-production sound, including music and effects spots, scoring sessions and sound mixes, insertion of location footage, and re-recording of dialogue (which is usually done when lines are muffed or the audio recording was subpar). She was also the producer of Star Trek: Voyager. With her husband at the time, Patrick Stewart, she was executive producer of three movies in which he starred, including a version of A Christmas Carol which JJ says is absolutely fantastic.
  • Born October 24, 1956 – Dr. Jordin Kare, Physicist, Filker, and Fan who was known for his scientific research on laser propulsion. A graduate of MIT and Berkeley, he said that he chose MIT because of the hero in Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. He was a regular attendee and science and filk program participant at conventions, from 1975 until his untimely death last year. He met his wife, Mary Kay Kare, at the 1981 Worldcon. He should be remembered and honored as being an editor of The Westerfilk Collection: Songs of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a crucial filksong collection, and later as a partner in Off Centaur Publications, the very first commercial publisher specializing in filk songbooks and recordings. Shortly after the shuttle Columbia tragedy, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, on live TV, attempted to read the lyrics to Jordin’s Pegasus Award-winning song “Fire in the Sky”, which celebrates manned space exploration. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was named to the Filk Hall of Fame. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him can be read here.
  • Born October 24, 1960 – B.D. Wong, 58, Tony-winning Actor of Stage and Screen who has appeared in the Hugo-winning Jurassic Park films and The Space Between Us, had main roles in Mr. Robot and Gotham, had guest roles in episodes of The X-Files and American Horror Story, and voiced a main character in Disney’s Mulan films. He was also in Executive Decision, which is only borderline genre, but holds a special place in JJ’s heart for killing off Steven Seagal, and JJ feels that all of its cast members should be heartily applauded for that.
  • Born October 24, 1971 – Dr. Sofia Samatar, 47, Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is a twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website.

Guest birthday bio from Filer Standback:

  • Born October 24, 1970 – Vered Tochterman, 48, Israeli Writer, Editor, and Translator. From 2002-2006, she was the founding editor of Chalomot Be’Aspamia (“Pipe Dreams”), a science fiction and fantasy magazine for original Israeli fiction which has been massively influential on Israeli fandom and writing community. Her short story collection Sometimes It’s Different won the first Geffen Award for original Hebrew fiction; more recently, her novels Blue Blood and Moonstone depict vampires in modern-day Tel Aviv. As a translator, she has brought major English novels — from Tim Powers to Susannah Clarke to Terry Pratchett — to Israeli readers. One of her more eclectic contributions was a fan production she co-wrote, which is a mashup between Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the Buffy musical episode. She has been, and remains, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli fandom.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BANDERSNATCH. See video of Diana Glyer’s talk at Vanguard University last evening here on Facebook. (Warning — the image looks sideways.)

(10) NEXT YEAR’S MYTHCON. Mythcon 50 has announced its dates — August 2-5, 2019, in San Diego, California.

Theme: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Our theme is a head-nod to Roman mythology’s Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, gates and doorways, transitions and passages and duality. So we are moving forward into the future while also, at least for this Mythcon, looking backward toward the place from where we’ve come.

(11) TIM MOONLIGHTS. Timothy the Talking Cat takes his show to Amazing Stories: “timTalk: Tonight’s Episode – Schroedinger’s Cat”.

TimTALK: Tonight’s Episode – Schrodinger’s Cat.

[Theme music fades out and the title fade out to reveal a small studio. Two cats sit in comfortable chairs with a coffee table between them. Timothy the Talking Cat (for it is he) is looking at the camera, while his guest sits opposite.]

Timothy the Talking Cat: Good evening, hello and welcome to another edition of timTALK where I, Timothy the Talking Cat, ask the tough question of the day of the great, the good and the feline. Tonight, I’m talking to one of the Twentieth Century’s most notable thought leaders. A cat who has done more for surprisingly cruel thought experiments in physics than any animal since Zeno made a tortoise race Achilles. I am, of course, talking to Schrödinger’s Cat.

[Timothy turns to his guest]
Good evening. You’ll be eighty-three years old this November, shouldn’t you be dead already?

Schrödinger’s Cat: Ha, ha, let me just say that reports of my death have been exaggerated. No, wait…they haven’t been exaggerated at all.

(12) OCTOCON REPORT. Sara (“Not Another Book Blogger”) has written up Octocon, the Irish National Convention, held last weekend in Dublin –

(13) RUINING FANDOM. free to fanfic purports to show “how web 2.0 (and especially tumblr) is ruining fandom”.

how does the structure of web 2.0 socmed harm fandom?

in aggregate: it forces fandom[$], a diverse space where people go to indulge niche interests and specific tastes, into overexposure to outsiders and to one another, and exacerbates the situation by removing all semi-private interaction spaces, all moderation tools, all content-limiting tools, and all abuse protection.

(14) SHORT ON SENSE OF WONDER. Abigail Nussbaum reviews “First Man” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…I have to admit that I approached First Man in genuine puzzlement as to why it had even been attempted. 2016’s Hidden Figures, it seemed to me, provided a much better template for future fiction about the Apollo program, shining a light on little-known corners of the endeavor, and on the people who took part in it who were not white men. Why go back to Armstrong and Apollo 11, whose story has surely been covered from every possible angle?

First Man doesn’t really give you a satisfying answer to this question. It’s a fantastic piece of filmmaking, with some stunning visuals and set-pieces—particularly the long final sequence on the moon itself, though I couldn’t shake the sneaking suspicion that in shooting these scenes Chazelle was driven primarily by his crushing disappointment that none of the real moon landing footage is in HD. And there are moments in Josh Singer’s script where you can almost sense a unique approach to the material. Where, instead of Right Stuff hyper-competence, or even Apollo 13 improvisation, the film highlights the ricketiness of the edifice NASA built to take men into space, the flimsiness of the technology that Armstrong and his fellow astronauts trusted with their lives, and the danger and uncertainty they met when they left the earth’s atmosphere….

(15) WORLDS WITHOUT END. Mylifemybooksmyescape interviews Dave, administrator of the Worlds Without End sff book site.

DJ: Which feature or aspect of WorldsWithoutEnd.com do you actually like most/sets its apart from other sites in the community?

Dave: One of the things that we have tried to do is replicate the brick and mortar bookstore experience online.  We have set up the site to be browse-able in a way that sites like Amazon or other online bookstores just aren’t.  On those sites you go in already knowing what you want. You can’t really browse like you’re wandering around in a bookstore.  On WWEnd we present you with shelves of books in different categories that you can easily browse through.

You might start off looking through the Nebula shelves for something to read.  You spot a great looking cover, just like you might in a store, and click over to read about The Three-Body Problem.  You read the synopsis, just as you would flip the book over to read the back blurb. Then you read the excerpt as if you held the book in your hands.  Then you skim through the reviews to see what other folks are saying about that book as if there was someone else on the isle in the store you could talk to.  Then you notice that the book is also on the WWEnd Most Read Books of All-Time list so you wander over there to see what else is on that shelf. Then you see an author like N. K. Jemisin that everyone is talking about so you click her name and see what’s on her shelf.

And as you go you’re tagging books to put them on your to-read list for later examination or marking the ones you’ve already read and slowly but surely the site is getting color-coded to your reading history — suddenly you realize you’re only six books away from reading all the Campbell Award winners.  Or you find out that you haven’t read as many books by women as you thought you had. The experience is fun and intuitive and we provide an abundance of information so you can make more informed choices before you plunk down your hard-earned money.

(16) CLEANUP THE DEAD ON AISLE THREE. Gizmodo peeked behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall and discovered “The Urban Legend About Scattering Human Ashes at Disney Is True, and It’s Worse Than We Thought”. There’s even a special code to call for cleanup.

The Journal report continues with more specific details:

Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they’ve been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts.

“The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” said one Disneyland custodian.

(17) PYTHON TRIBUTE. BBC finds that “Dutch ‘silly walks’ crossing is a hit”.

The people of Spijkenisse have taken to the idea with great enthusiasm, and filled social media with clips of pedestrians crossing with a variety of outlandish gaits.

Aloys Bijl was also on hand to show passers-by the 12 steps of the traditional John Cleese silly walk.

(18) JOHN WILLIAMS SICK. He’s had to miss an engagement — “John Williams: Composer pulls out of concerts due to illness”.

The 86-year-old had been due to appear with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday.

But the venue said he had pulled out because of a “last-minute illness”.

(19) CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE A BOOKSELLER. One moment he was a customer, the next moment…. “Dutchman’s ‘pure shock’ after winning Cardigan bookshop”

Paul Morris and his wife Leila, owners of Bookends in Cardigan, are giving their beloved bookshop away.

The couple will now fulfil a lifetime ambition by travelling the world.

The winner of that draw, Dutchman Ceisjan Van Heerden, known as CJ, will run the shop with his Icelandic friend Svaen Bjorn, 23, who he had never met….

When he told CJ, who is from Vrij Bij Duurstede and a “regular customer” at the bookshop, Paul said “there was a lot of silence” and he could tell he was “stunned”.

“It was pure shock initially,” said CJ. “Then I thought ‘this is an amazing opportunity, let’s do it’.”

But CJ did not want to run the shop alone and called around some of his friends, one of whom had already shown an interest.

CJ had known Svaen Bjorn, a 23-year-old from Reykjavik in Iceland, for eight years through online gaming but the pair had never met in person.

“He got back to me and said ‘yeah, let’s do it’,” CJ recalled ahead of the official handover on 5 November.

(20) SOMETHING NEW AT THE BAR. Unlike Pohl and Kornbluth (Gladiator-at-Law), J.K. Rowling’s work has put down roots in the legal profession: “Harry Potter to ‘inspire’ budding India lawyers”.

A top Indian law university in the eastern state of West Bengal has introduced a course based on the fictional world of Harry Potter.

The course uses the role of law in the series to draw parallels between the stories and real-life situations.

Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha, who designed it, says it is an “experiment” to “encourage creative thinking.”

Several universities in the US and at least one in the UK also offer courses inspired by the famous series.

The course in India, which is entitled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse”, is expected to include a total of 45 hours of discussion-based teachin

Some of the topics mentioned in the course module point out how social and class rights in India can be equated with the “enslavement of house-elves and the marginalisation of werewolves” in the fantasy series.

(21) ALT-FLIGHT. There was a strange addition to the commute in the San Fernando Valley yesterday…. (Although marked as a WWII German fighter, the plane was a vintage U.S. Army trainer.)

The pilot, who flies for Alaska Airlines, walked away from the crash with minor injuries, according to AP News.

He told KTLA in a previous interview that he was interested in vintage airplanes because his father had flown in World War II. The single-engine model that crashed was a North American Aviation T-6 Texan, which was first developed in the 1930s and used by U.S. pilots to train during World War II, according to AP News.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 8/1/18 For I Must Be Scrolling On, Now Cause There’s Too Many Pixels I’ve Got To See

(1) THE COCKY SOLUTION. The hydra sprouts a new head in the Authors Guild’s report on “Quantumgate: Son of Cockygate”.

The Cockygate case is close to resolution: the parties have entered into a settlement agreement and author Faleena Hopkins has filed a request with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to withdraw her “cocky” trademark. Other recent applications to register questionable trademarks for book series, however, do remain a matter of concern. A recent misinformed attempt to register a common book cover template (which is not a trademark under any interpretation of the law) was withdrawn after some backlash, thank goodness, but a recent application to register “Big” as a series title is still under review.

Now, another romance writer has applied to register the term “Quantum Series” in connection with her “series of fiction books.” When the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, became aware of this application, they approached the Authors Guild for assistance. We recommended counsel to SFWA, and Eleanor Lackman of the law firm Cowan, DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP is taking up the case by filing an opposition to the proposed trademark on behalf of SFWA member Douglas Phillips, who has his own “Quantum Series” of books”…

The Trademark Office clarified that the owner of a trademark in a book series title cannot use that trademark against single book titles. Since single titles cannot serve as trademarks, they also cannot infringe series title trademarks. So, if another author or a publisher ever tries to stop you from using a single book title because of their series trademark, you can tell them to take a hike. Only series titles can infringe another series title. [emphasis added]

(2) BELLA NOVELLA. Wired’s Jason Kehe applauds “The Rise of the Sci-Fi Novella: All The Imagination, None of the Burden”.

…The form, after all, honors the genre: The novella traces its origins to fairytales and morality plays. Proto-fantasies, basically. In that sense, Tolkien’s world-building was never native to the genre. He simply blew up the balloon.

A balloon which is now about to burst. More than ever, successful world-building seems to require of creators a transmedia commitment to spin-offs and prequels and various other increasingly extraneous tie-ins like comic books and card games. Consumers are rightly overwhelmed. The joy of the sci-fi novella, by contrast, is in its one-off-ness, its collapsed space, its enforced incapaciousness. Authors can’t indulge family trees or maps; they must purify their storytelling. One or two main characters. A single three-act quest. Stark, sensible rules. (And no Starks.)

Containment need not mean compromise. In many cases, spareness heightens prose. My favorite of Tor’s wide-ranging catalog is Kai Ashante Wilson’s A Taste of Honey, a stunning romance that unfolds on the shores of a remote god colony. Something like math poeticized, or poetry mathematized, at novel size the book would’ve gone down way too rich. At 158 pages, though? Practically perfect. Deadlier serious but no less compelling is Laurie Penny’s Everything Belongs to the Future, in which the rich can extend their youth by centuries while the poor age and die naturally. The paltry page count lets Penny, in full author-activist fervor, get away with punking up the familiar biotech premise. Plus, you can read it in one sitting, the way the good lords of lit intended.

(3) CLARKE WINNER’S NEW STORY. Paul Weimer weighs in about “Expectations of Genre: The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky” in a review for Tor.com.

This novella’s contribution to that conversation is that, in order to colonize distant alien planets already full of life, change, severe change, is needed. This puts The Expert System’s Brother into dialogue with novels such as Stephen Baxter’s Flux (where humans are altered to live on a neutron star) and James Blish’s Surface Tension. All of these stories explore the idea that in the end, it is not easy to change people to survive and thrive on alien planets. There are severe costs and consequences to doing so, to the point that those who do so might lose most of their connection to who and what they are. But those costs are absolutely payable, and are worth doing. We are never so much human as we are exploring, heading out there, and changing ourselves and reinventing ourselves to do so.

(4) OKORAFOR. A BBC profile: “Black Panther spin-off author Nnedi Okorafor’s African inspiration”.

…Okorafor’s journey as a writer began at 19. That year, she was paralysed from the waist down after an operation to correct scoliosis.

Distraught as she realised her budding athletic career would be cut short, Okorafor began writing short stories to occupy her time.

When she recovered, she took a creative-writing class at university.

Her rise in the world of speculative fiction was “gradual”, she says, mainly because no one knew how to place her work.

By the time she published her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker in 2005, reviewers struggled to understand it, she says.

“It was young adult science fiction with Nigerian mysticism, blended with fantasy and written by a Nigerian American – I was confusing and many didn’t know how to read me.

“But over the years, the more I wrote, the more known I became. I was slowly somewhat understood, and thus enjoyed.”

(5) YOU COULD L**K IT UP. Laura Anne Gilman tells why research is a necessity in “A Meerkat Rants: History will F*ck You Up” at Book View Café.

Here’s the thing. I wrote urban fantasy for a long time .  A dozen+ books’ time, in fact.  Books set in New York, a city that I know reasonably well.  And I still had to pull out the map and get on the subway, and check shit out, to make sure I had my facts straight, because trust me, if I got it wrong, someone (probably many someones) would let me know.

As an aside, did you know that the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge is painted purple-ish?  Also, that if you start taking photos of the underside of a bridge, a cop may give you a very thorough side-eye?  Always bring your id and your business cards with you when you Research, kids.  Seriously.  I shit thee not.

But that’s fact-checking, Person with Opinion says.  That’s not research.  It’s all still made up.

At this point I usually stop to remind myself that the agency bail fund probably won’t cover even justifiable homicide, so I only ask my interrogator if they ever wrote a research paper in their lives, and if so how they gathered the material to do it.  If they say “Wikipedia,” I give up and drown my sorrows in whisky.

(6) A GRAIL-SHAPED ENDING. In The Hollywood Reporter: “Monty Python Archive Unveils Unused ‘Holy Grail’ Sketches”.

Michael Palin’s private archive, deposited at the British Library in London, is set to go on display to the public later this month, but The Times of London reports that its contents includes several major unseen scenes written by Palin and Terry Jones, his writing partner in the Monty Python group, whose other members included Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail famously ends abruptly when King Arthur (Chapman) is arrested by police just minutes before a final climactic battle. However, according to The Times, Palin’s draft scripts show that this decision was only made to cut costs, and that a mighty fight was due to take place between the knights of Camelot, the French and also the killer rabbit of Caerbannog (a much-loved character from a previous scene).

(7) COMPELLING CROWDFUNDING. Joe Stech has launched a Kickstarter to fund Compelling Science Fiction: The First Collection, a hardcover print collection. The table of contents with 27 fantastic short stories by 24 authors is at the link. Swag is available for heftier pledges.

(8) MEXICANX INITIATIVE ANTHOLOGY. Fireside has set up a Kickstarter for the “Mexicanx Initiative Anthology”. They’ve already surpassed their $1,500 goal with pledges totaling $2,382 as of this writing.

Contributors include: José Luis Zárate, David Bowles, Julia Rios,  Felecia Caton Garcia, Iliana Vargas, Angela Lujan, Raquel Castro, Pepe Rojo, Alberto Chimal,  Gabriela Damián Miravete, Andrea Chapela, Verónica Murguía, Libia Brenda, and Richard Zela.

Our goal is to raise $1,600 to cover printing and shipping costs. Any funds raised above the goal will be split evenly among all the authors and artists who graciously donated their time and words. The anthology has been edited and laid out and features a beautiful cover by Mexicanx Initiative founder John Picacio.

We plan to print 200 copies of the anthology; 80 will be held for members of the Mexicanx Initiative and contributors, and 120 signed and/or numbered will be available as backer rewards. All copies will be brought to Worldcon 76 in San José, California, where they will be signed and available for pickup. If you are not attending Worldcon we will ship your copy and any other rewards you purchase.

(9) WORLDCON DOORS OPEN THESE HOURS.

(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

More than 80 million years separated the Stegosaurus from the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But the so-called Age of Mammals — which began when the non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out — has been going on for about 66 million years. This means that we are closer in time to the T-Rex than the T-Rex was from the Stegosaurus. [Source: Smithsonian Institute.]

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 1, 1971 — Charlton Heston as The Omega Man premiered in theatres

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 1 – Oona Laurence, 16 Celebrity Ghost Stories, a Penny Dreadful short and the animated Pete’s Dragon series. 
  • Born August 1 – Jack O’Connell, 28. Role in 300: Rise of An Empire, also Robot & Scarecrow, an animated short about a robot and a scarecrow (voiced by him) who fall in love at a summer music festival, and the lion in Jungleland which or may be not be based on an Asian theme park.
  • Born August 1 – Jason Momoa, 39. DCU as Aquaman in of course Aquaman, Justice League, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Khal Drogo in Games of Thrones, Conan in Conan the Barbarian and Ronon Dex in Stargate: Atlantis. 
  • Born August 1 – Sam Mendes, 53. Producer of Penny Dreadful, Shrek the Musical, and Stage Director for the tv version of Cabaret (“Which allows me to note how much i really, really like Leiber’s The Big Time novella,” says Cat Eldridge.)
  • Born August 1—John Carroll Lynch, 55. Considerable genre work starting with the Voice from the Grave horror series, and including The Visitor series as well as the Apollo lunar landing series From the Earth to the Moon, Star Trek: VoyagerCarnivàle, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story.

(13) BIRTHDAY KING. Steven H Silver’s August 1 celebrant is Ray Palmer – “Birthday Reviews: Raymond A. Palmer’s ‘Diagnosis’” at Black Gate.

Although Palmer wrote short stories and novels, he was best known as an editor. From 1938-1949, he edited Amazing Stories and from 1939-1949 he edited Fantastic Adventures as well for Ziff-Davis, resigning when they moved production from Chicago to New York. He formed his own company, Clark Publishing, and began publishing Other Worlds Science Stories from 1949 to 1957, during which time he also edited and published Fate Magazine, Universe Science Fiction, Mystic Magazine, Science Stories, and Space World. His assistant in the early 1950s, and often times credited co-editor, was Bea Mahaffey. Palmer is perhaps best remembered for publishing the fiction of Richard Shaver and promoting Shaver’s stories as non-fiction. In 1961, comic author Gardner Fox paid tribute to Palmer by using his name for the DC character the Atom.

Did you miss any? Silver has cataloged last month’s work — “Birthday Reviews: July Index”.

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • Sheldon does another cartoon profile on an early leader in the science fiction genre. Given the breadth of his work, he may have founded an empire!
  • At PvP, Scratch wants to adopt an heir – but can’t seem to get through to his prospect, a dedicated book reader –

July 30
July 31

(15) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

(16) CATS SLEEP ON TWITTER. Claire O’Dell cuts out the middleman –

(17) HAYLEY ATWELL VISITED BRADBURY’S MARS. Nerdist lets you “Hear Derek Jacobi and Hayley Atwell Bring Ray Bradbury’s THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES to Life” (2017 post, but news to me!)

While the characters that Jacobi and Atwell are playing in this aural adaptation of The Martian Chronicles were arguably written as American, I somehow don’t think fans are going to hugely object to Captain Wilder and Spender suddenly sounding impeccably English (please don’t let me down by being petty, Internet).

(18) LEAVES HIS COMFORT ZONE. Sean Grigsby takes the challenge:

(19) BREWPRINT. It’s a rare piece of news that makes a person want to move out of the U.S. but not to Canada! From VinePair: “MAP: The Most Popular Beer In Every Country”.

Ed. Note on North America: Although Anheuser-Busch InBev still markets Budweiser as “the King of Beers,” in the U.S. Bud Light outsells Budweiser by a wide margin. Ironically, in Canada, where the company owns iconic local brand Labatt, the company has sold more Budweiser than any other brand for nearly a decade. In 2012, the Toronto Star published the article “‘Sniff of death’ taints iconic beer brands,” which provides analysis on how Budweiser came to be the best-selling beer in Canada.

(20) BESIEGING YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. As Seen On TV, as they say: “Game of Thrones castle can be yours for less than $1 million”.

If you’ve been bargain shopping for one of the Great Houses of Westeros, get ready for the deal of a lifetime.

Gosford Castle, a 19th-century country house in Northern Ireland that was used to portray the Riverrun castle on Game of Thrones, is for sale and accepting offers over £500,000 (or $656,452), according to its online listing.

Riverrun, first depicted in season 3 of the acclaimed series, is the former seat of House Tully, and the current lawful home to House Frey. While the castle itself is not often seen on the show, its occupation has long been the subject of strategic interest for the series’ main characters.

(21) SPACE OPERA PILOT. Robert Hewitt Wolfe of DS9 and Andromeda fame is doing something interesting on Twitter. Several years ago he wrote a pilot for a space opera on SyFy that would be called “Morningstar”. It ended up not being made. But under WGA rules he retains publishing rights, so he’s publishing the script for the pilot on Twitter, one page per day for 95 days. He’s already 2/3 of the way through. The thread begins here.

(22) SHARK JERKING. People used to do “Stupid Crook Reports” at LASFS meetings. This would have been prime material: “Shark kidnapped from Texas aquarium in baby’s pram”.

A shark disguised by thieves as a baby in a pram and abducted from a Texas aquarium has been found and returned.

The horn shark – called Miss Helen – “is in quarantine right now resting” and “is doing good so far”, San Antonio Aquarium said.

On Saturday, the shark was grabbed from an open pool by two men and a woman, then wrapped in a wet blanket and put in a bucket with a bleach solution.

The public helped track the thieves and one suspect is now in custody.

(23) NUMBER ONE. Marvel’s C.B. Cebulski introduces a new Captain Marvel comic book series.

Carol Danvers has been involved in some of the biggest adventures in the Marvel Universe…but in her new series, she’s going back to the basics with Margaret Stohl, Carlos Pacheco, and Marguerite Sauvage at the helm. Marvel is proud to present this behind-the-scenes look at THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #1, featuring Stohl and Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski! “This is a story about Carol Danvers. We’re taking Carol back to basics,” said Cebulski. “We hear that a lot, but this is something where we’re going to dance between the raindrops and find the secrets of Carol’s origins that are based in the roots of her family.” “It’s really a family story and it’s as much about the human instead of her as her Kree powers,” added Stohl.

 

(24) GET WOKE, GO FOR BROKE. ScreenRant ponders “What If Trump Was President When Captain America Was Woken Up?”

Before he was elected in 2016, Donald Trump had a small cameo appearance in New Avengers #47. In that comic, Trump failed to pull over to the side to let an ambulance go past, so Luke Cage gave him a hand by picking up his limousine and moving it out of the way. An irate Trump threatened to sue Luke, but then quickly thought better of it.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/13/17 Will Nobody Rid Me Of These Crottled Greeps?

(1) 2017 MANNING AWARD NOMINEES. Four of the five Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award nominees for 2017 are women:

  • Rafael de Latorre, artist of Animosity and Superzero (AfterShock)
  • Riana Dorsey, artist of Cloud Riders (Hashtag Comics)
  • Mindy Lee, artist of Bounty (Dark Horse)
  • Leila Leiz, artist of Alters (AfterShock)
  • Anne Szabla, writer/artist of Bird-Boy (Dark Horse)

(2) LEGENDARY BOOKSTORE TO CLOSE. Dark Carnival, SF bookstore in Berkeley, will soon go out of business, and may take the owner’s nearby comics store with it: “After 41 years, Berkeley sci-fi bookstore Dark Carnival is closing”.

After 41 years serving an enthusiastic customer base of sci-fi geeks and proud comic-book nerds in Berkeley, Dark Carnival, at 3086 Claremont Ave., is closing up shop. Its sister store, The Escapist, which is two doors down on Claremont, may also shutter if sales don’t pick up.

Owner Jack Rems describes himself as heartbroken. Speaking to Berkeleyside Monday, he said he had made the decision due to declining sales. He expressed gratitude to all his long-term customers and encouraged people to come by the store where he is holding a “progressive sale.” All stock is currently being offered at a 20% discount.

Rems doesn’t yet know when he will close the doors to the treasure-trove of a shop for the final time. “I need to pay bills, so as long as by selling off stock we are generating more than it costs [we will stay open],” he said.

(3) ARC AND PSA. The release of Ann Leckie’s Provenance draws closer. The author just got her advance reading copies.

It’s a real book! Sort of.

Just as a reminder–readers of this blog likely already know, but still–Provenance is set in the Ancillaryverse but does not concern the same characters and is not set in Radch Space. No, and not in the Republic of Two Systems either. It will be out September 26, 2017, and I’m given to understand there will be an audiobook, out on the same date. I have no further details about audio, though.

(4) STRANGE TAXONOMY. “The idea that the X Prize Foundation is funding sf is big news,” says Martin Morse Wooster about the news story below, “BUT if you look at the Science Fiction Advisory Council press release you will see that Neil Gaiman and Andy Weir are ‘novelists’ while Charles Stross and Mike Resnick are ‘science fiction writers.’”

From Slate, “Prototyping a Better Tomorrow”:

The fact that so many people are turning toward these dire visions of the future may seem like cause for worry, but it is also a sign of hope. Great dystopian works like The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984, in the words of one defender of dystopian fiction, can serve as self-defeating prophecies helping us to recognize and prevent the dark worlds they depict. Put another way, The Handmaid’s Tale actually is an instruction manual, meant to teach us what we must fight to avoid. But hope can’t live on dystopia alone. It requires positive visions, too.

Thankfully, an ambitious new project launched this month aims to use the vision and expertise of the science fiction community–including Atwood herself–to move past dystopian visions. The newly announced Science Fiction Advisory Council, composed of a stellar selection of 64 bestselling sci-fi writers and visionary filmmakers, has tasked itself with imagining realistic, possible, positive futures that we might actually want to live in–and figuring out we can get from here to there. The council is sponsored by XPRIZE, the nonprofit foundation that uses competition to spur private development of things like a reusable suborbital spacecraft. The advisers on the council will “assist XPRIZE in the creation of digital ‘futures’ roadmaps across a variety of domains [and] identify the ideal catalysts, drivers and mechanisms–including potential XPRIZE competitions–to overcome grand challenges and achieve a preferred future state.”

(5) DIVERGING PATHS. For everyone who read these books and thought they should do this except it would take so much time, Tor.com brings you “The Secret Maps Buried Beneath the “Choose Your Own Adventure” Books”.

“Choose Your Own Adventure” was a groundbreaking book series that prepared many of our child minds for the internet…or for keeping track of all the endnotes in Infinite Jest if you’re into that sort of thing. But did you know that each twisty, unforgiving story in the CYOA series has a map? The good folks over at Atlas Obscura have dug into the books and the maps they’ve generated.

The series original ran from 1979 to 1998, but since 2004, Chooseco, the company founded by one of the CYOA author, R.A. Montgomery, has re-released classic volumes and included the maps that are created by all the possible choices in each book! The official maps keep things fairly clear-cut. Pages are shown by an arrow, circles represent the choices the book offers its readers, each possible ending is represented by a square, and the dotted lines show the links between choices.

(6) ELECTRONIC ENTERTAINMENT EXPO. Follow this link to a roundup of game news from E3 2017.

There is a long list of announcements and news items in Tuesday’s individual post alone.

(7) ORGAN CONCERT. Daniel P. Dern was fascinated by the New York Times article about “The Liver: A ‘Blob’ That Runs the Body”.

The underrated, unloved liver performs more than 300 vital functions. No wonder the ancients believed it to be the home of the human soul.

Dern points to “fascinating stuff” like –

Scientists have also discovered that hepatocytes, the metabolically active cells that constitute 80 percent of the liver, possess traits not seen in any other normal cells of the body. For example, whereas most cells have two sets of chromosomes — two sets of genetic instructions on how a cell should behave — hepatocytes can enfold and deftly manipulate up to eight sets of chromosomes, and all without falling apart or turning cancerous.

“Not to mention the amusing term, ‘liverati’,” he continues. “Wonder if this organ was originally an alien symbiote, etc?”

(8) BEOWULF’S NEW NEIGHBOR. A Python’s diaries go to the British Museum.

Michael Palin has made a significant donation of written archives to the British Library, which documents his literary and creative career, covering the years 1965-1987.

Not much text, but some interesting video with commentary. Chip Hitchcock adds, “Note especially that the original contract paid one person in pounds and the rest in guineas; how very antique.”

(9) PUFF, PUFF, PUFF. What happened to Robert the smoking robot? A briefly-notorious private project from the 1930’s.

Today, the story of Robert the Robot is little known, even in the Northamptonshire town where he was once a celebrity.

Yet in the 1930s, his fame reached as far as Czechoslovakia and the United States, where he even featured in Time magazine.

And the reason he came to be?

“Someone bet me £5 I could not make a robot in three weeks,” inventor Charles Lawson, who had a radio shop, told a newspaper at the time.

“I won.”

… “The robot relied on a combination of motors, photoelectric cells, telephone relays and a record player to perform 26 pre-programmed routines, each one initiated by voice commands from a human co-star.

“Smoking was done using automated bellows which were also a feature of 19th Century automatons.

“Remember that this type of robot did not have access to a computer and so talking was done using a triggering mechanism for a record player playing old 78 RPM bakelite records.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 13, 1953 The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms hit theaters.

  • June 13, 1981Clash of the Titans was released.

(11) FORGOTTEN TV. Echo Ishii holds forth on a rare Seventies series with Edward Woodward in “SF Obscure: 1990”.

1990, made in 1977, posits a future Britain run by the Public Control Department (PCD)- an all powerful bureaucracy in which government regulations turn into social control. A few lone journalists walk a fine line between criticizing the government and being shut down.

It starts with an attempt at a military overthrow in the mid 1980’s in which the state took over. Emigration, not immigration, is Britain’s biggest problem as those with skilled jobs and higher education seek a life abroad.

(12) TRUE SCI-FI. John King Tarpinian says, “I’ve not heard of this artist but I love his work: “El Gato Gomez Painting Retro Mid Century Modern Atomic Ranch House Robot Sci -Fi” for sale on eBay.

(13) TALKING OVER. Rose Eveleth’s “What I Learned About Interruption From Talk Radio”, on her blog Last Word on Nothing, comes recommended by Martin Morse Wooster: “I think has a lot of good practical advice which panelists at conventions can use.”

On June 3rd, writer and philosopher Jim Holt was moderating a panel at the World Science Festival called “Pondering the Imponderables: The Biggest Questions of Cosmology.” …One of the panelists was a woman named Veronika Hubeny, a theoretical physicist. She was the only woman on the panel. Holt asked Hubeny a question about string theory. And then, without letting Hubby [sic] answer his question, Holt began to hold forth on string theory.

The exchange was caught on camera, so you can watch it here. Hubeny is clearly trying to answer Holt’s question, but he simply won’t stop talking to let her. At one point, a woman in the audience named Marilee Talkington, actually shouted “LET HER SPEAK” to stop Holt from interrupting (you can read her entire account of the panel here). After a pause that I’m sure felt like ages to Talkington, the audience burst into applause. Hubeny then finally got to speak.

I’m not here to adjudicate this exchange, and I’m sure if you want to read heated debates about it you can find those using your trusty search engine of choice. Or the YouTube comments, if you enjoy true pain.

But this, this thing where a man simply doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise, this doesn’t happen to me much. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of mansplainers (my favorite being a clone of Solnit’s book-explainer, the man who explained my own podcast to me). But I don’t generally have trouble getting a word in. And I think it’s because I learned how to handle men who talk over me by listening to all that talk radio.

So here are my tips for anybody who might find themselves in a situation like Hubeny, where someone simply isn’t letting you get a word in, as learned from many, many hours of talk radio.

Let’s start with some general rules. First, when you are dealing with a chronic over-talker, do not try to be subtle. This is not a situation in which you should “go high.” Politeness does not work here, nor does trying to “take the high road.” You will wait forever for them to notice that they are doing this. You will die or fall asleep or the universe will end in a white-hot explosion before they will stop and think “hm I have been talking a lot I wonder if I’m talking over this person.”

Second, there are no pauses in talk radio, no long moments of thinking, no silences while you try to formulate a thoughtful response. Think of this conversation like a rock climbing wall. Each breath and micro-pause is a foothold. Your interlocutor will grab every single one and climb to the top, and you will be left at the bottom staring up at his backside. And it is not a nice view, let me assure you. …

(14) THE CANDY MAN. Atlas Obscura argues that “C.S. Lewis’s Greatest Fiction Was Convincing American Kids That They Would Like Turkish Delight”. And American adults — as a Narnia fan it seemed de rigeur to try some why I was on a tour of Turkey in 2004.

Turkish Delight, or lokum, is a popular dessert sweet throughout Europe, especially in Greece, the Balkans, and, of course, Turkey. But most Americans, if they have any association with the treat at all, know it only as the food for which Edmund Pevensie sells out his family in the classic children’s fantasy novel The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Until I first tried real Turkish Delight in my 20s, I had always imagined it as a cross between crisp toffee and halvah, flaky and melting in the mouth.

Here’s what it really is: a starch and sugar gel often containing fruit or nuts and flavored with rosewater, citrus, resin, or mint. The texture is gummy and sticky, some of the flavors are unfamiliar to American palates, and the whole thing is very, very sweet. (In addition to the sugar in the mixture, it’s often dusted with icing sugar to keep the pieces from sticking together.) While some Turkish Delight newbies may find they enjoy it, it’s not likely to be the first thing we imagine when we picture an irresistible candy treat.

What I had matches the author’s description. And it was okay, but far from addictive.

(15) HOPS HORROR. “Don’t drink and dive,” says Andrew Porter after seeing this ad for The Temple from Narragansett Beer.

The Story

There was nothing we could do. It was just after 2pm on June 28th when we heard the explosion from the engine room. We were across enemy lines and we could do nothing but sink quietly to the ocean floor. Helpless and incapacitated, our submarine drifted for days — weeks. That’s when we found it aboard the ship — a very odd and seemingly ancient ivory medallion. As the men started to pass it around the ship for inspection, their minds began to fill with darkness and visions of those lost to the deep floating by the portholes of the ill-fated vessel in which we were trapped.

League by league, we fell into black nothingness, and with every league another member of my crew was stripped of his sanity. “MERCY!” they would begin to cry. Over and over. One by one they would turn. There was nothing else we could do… what else could we do? It needed to stop!

Today is August 9th. I have been resting on the ocean floor for nearly 3 weeks now alone and in complete darkness… except for… My mind has been tainted by hallucination. I swear it. Outside of the porthole lies a temple with a lone light shining over it’s door. The voices of my men have been chanting, pushing me to explore the impossible structure. I fell to their temptations, put my diving suit on, and stepped out onto the pitch black ocean floor and headed for the inconceivable glow. Once I arrived on the steps a voice hissed, “What do you seek?”

(16) CARTOON OF THE DAY/. In Martin, Sholto Crow reveals what happens if you use a metal detector on the beach and you dig up something that has a green flashing warning light!

[Thanks to JJ, DB, Cat Eldridge, Daniel P. Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/5/16 That’s Appertainment!

(1) BEST SERIES HUGO FLAW? Sami Sundell is dissatisfied with the 2017 Hugo test category, judging by his title: “Best Series is a popularity contest”.

Last year, Eric Flint wrote about the discrepancy between popularity in bookstores and winning (Hugo) awards. I then pointed out, that the big time bookstore magnets tend to write series. So, on the face of it, adding a new category could bring the awards closer to general populace…..

Re-eligibility of a nominee

The actual series proposal suggests a non-winning nominee for Best Series could become re-eligible after at least two additional tomes and 240 000 words. If the series is long enough and the writer prolific enough, you might see the same series popping up every few years, adding at least quarter of a million words to the reading effort every time.

You see, that’s another thing about the popular series: they hook their readers. Even if the quality wanes, it’s hard to let go of a series you’ve started – and some of those series have gone on for 40 years.

There’s nothing wrong with the same author and series being nominated multiple times; that happens regularly with other categories. In this case, however, it’s not just the latest installation that should be considered. It’s the whole body of work, which may span multiple authors, media, and decades.

More than any other written fiction category, Best Series has makings of a popularity contest in it: people will vote for whatever they are familiar with and attached to. That’s fine for selecting what to read next, but it shouldn’t be grounds for a Hugo.

(2) AUDIBLE INKLINGS. Oxford fellow Michael Ward (Planet Narnia) narrates Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings in the Audible Audio Edition, released September 26.

Bandersnatch cover

(3) MYTH BUSTED OR INTACT? Aaron Pound looks at the “2007 Hugo Longlist” and commences to bust what he feels is a Hugo voting “myth.”

Whenever a Worldcon is held outside of the United States, people suggest that genre fiction works produced by local authors and editors are going to receive a boost in the Hugo nomination process and subsequent voting. Nippon 2007, the Worldcon held in 2007, was located in Yokohama, and given that Japan has an active science fiction and fantasy scene, one would think that the ballot would have been filled with Japanese books, stories, movies, and television shows. At the very least, one would think the Hugo longlist would be filled with such works. With the exception of Yoshitaka Amano’s appearance on the Best Professional Artist category, the 2007 Hugo longlist appears to be entirely devoid of any influence from Japanese voters.

Based upon the evidence of the statistics from 2007, it seems that the “bump” for local writers and artists is negligible at best….

This question really requires a more nuanced investigation of ALL Worldcons held outside North America, not just the one in Japan (inexplicable as the result was).

Looking at the final ballots from UK and Australian Worldcons, you can see a number of nominees (especially in the fan categories) who don’t get that support when the con is in North America.

However, the membership of most Worldcons is predominantly US fans, which gives things a certain consistency, wanted or not.

(4) KNOW YOUR GENRE. Sarah A. Hoyt explains the traits of a long list of genres and subgenres in a breezy column for Mad Genius Club.

If I had a dime for every time someone approaches me and says “My erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy isn’t selling and I can’t tell why.”  And/or “I keep getting these really weird comments, like they’re angry at me for not being what I say it is.” I’d be buying a castle somewhere in England, as we speak.

And almost everytime I look into the matter, my answer is something like “But that’s not an erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy.”

I will say right here that most of the time the problem is that people don’t read the genres they’re identifying their books as.  They just heard of them, and think that must be what they are.  This also explains all the people who assure me I write romance (rolls eyes) and that’s why they won’t read Darkship Thieves, or Witchfinder, or…

Because there is a romance in the book, somewhere, and they think that’s what the romance genre is.

It’s time to get this figured out, okay?…

(5) LUKE CAGE’S SHORTCOMINGS. Abigail Nussbaum finds a new Marvel superhero series wanting — “Tales of the City: Thoughts on Luke Cage” .

“For black lives to matter, black history has to matter.”  A character says this shortly into the first episode of Luke Cage, Netflix’s third MCU series, and the fourth season of television it has produced in collaboration with Marvel as it ramps up for its Defenders mega- event.  It’s easy to read this line as a thesis statement on the nature of the show we’re about to watch, but it’s not until some way into Luke Cage‘s first season that we realize the full import of what creator Cheo Hodari Coker is saying with it, and how challenging its implications will end up being.  As has been widely reported and discussed, Luke Cage is the first black MCU headliner–not just on TV or on Netflix, but at all.  And, unlike the forthcoming Black Panther, whose story is set in a fictional African superpower, Luke Cage is explicitly a story about African-Americans in the more-or-less real world, at a moment when the problems and indignities suffered by that community are at the forefront of public discussion.  It is, therefore, a show that comes loaded with tremendous expectations, not just of introducing a compelling character and telling a good superhero story, but of addressing increasingly fraught issues of race, in both the real world and the superhero genre.  It’s perhaps unsurprising that Luke Cage falls short of these expectations, but what is surprising is how often it doesn’t even seem to be trying to reach them.  Or, perhaps, not surprising at all–as the first episode spells out, Luke Cage is less interested in black lives than it is in black stories.

(6) FINAL INSTALLMENT. Renay from Lady Business has produced her last column for Strange Horizons:

When I started this column back in 2013, I didn’t know a lot of things. I didn’t know a lot about the depth and breadth of the science fiction and fantasy community. I didn’t know what it felt like to have a wider audience. I didn’t know yet how many people would be kind to me and also didn’t know (thankfully, because I might have run the other way) that people would be cruel. I hadn’t done any of the things that would change my perspective as a fan: write a fan column, be paid for writing, be included in a fan anthology, edit a fan anthology, become a Barnes & Noble reviewer, start a podcast with another big name fan, be a Hugo nominee, or go to Worldcon. But I’ve done all those things now and here’s what I’ve learned….

(7) CHARACTER (ACTING) COUNTS. Edward L. Green’s website for his acting career is now online.

(8) SUPPORTING HOMER HICKAM. San Diego fan Gerry Williams is encouraging a boycott of the musical October Sky at the Old Globe Theaters in his hometown. He explains:

ROCKET BOYS author Homer Hickam is in a very serious dispute and lawsuit with the corporate establishment at Universal Studios and with The Old Globe Theaters. He has tried to have his name removed from the Old Globe’s production (to no avail) for their Rocket Boy’s version of his story. You can read about all the problems on his blog here: http://homerhickamblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/my-struggle.html Personally I’m urging our local Southern California space community to stand with Homer Hickam and BOYCOTT The Old Globe’s production.

Hickam’s many frustrations about the rights struggle include the effect it’s having on the musical adaptation he himself has written Rocket Boys, the Musical.

Meantime, if you’re curious about the version being produced at the Old Globe —

October Sky

Book by Brian Hill and Aaron Thielen Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler Directed by Rachel Rockwell Inspired by the Universal Pictures film and Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam,  Jr.

“A sumptuous production of an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser. October Sky feels good all over!” —Talkin’ Broadway

The beloved film is now a triumphant new American musical that will send your heart soaring and inspire your whole family to reach for the stars! In the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia, every young man’s future is in the coal mines, but after the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the world’s race to space inspires local highschooler Homer Hickam to dream of a different life. Against the wishes of his practical-minded father, he sets out on an unlikely quest to build his own rockets and light up the night sky. October Sky is an uplifting musical portrait of small-town Americana packed with youthful exuberance, and a sweeping, unforgettable new score.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

October 5, 1969  — Monty Python’s Flying Circus first appeared on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC-1

(10) TERRY JONES RECEIVES BAFTA CYMRU AWARD. The Guardian has video of this touching acceptance:

Monty Python star Terry Jones collects his award for outstanding contribution to television and film at the Bafta Cymru awards on Sunday. Jones announced last month he has a severe type of dementia which affects his speech. He was accompanied on stage by his son Bill who told the audience it was a “great honour”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 5 – Paul Weimer
  • Born October 5, 1958 — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

(12) WAYWARD FACULTY ADDITIONS. Who they are and what they’ll teach – the new faculty joining Cat Rambo’s Academy.

Now the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers (classes.catrambo.com) adds three new teachers to its roster: Ann Leckie, Rachel Swirsky, and Juliette Wade. Each presents both a live version of the class, limited to eight students and taught via Google Hangouts, as well as an on-demand version.

Swirsky’s class, Old Stories Into New (http://catrambo.teachable.com/p/old-stories-into-new/), discusses existing forms and how genre writers draw on the stories that have preceded them–particularly folklore, mythology, and fables, but also beloved literature and media. The class presents the best methods for approaching such material while warning students of the possible pitfalls.  Readings, written lectures, and writing exercises from Hugo and Nebula award winning writer Rachel Swirsky teach the student how to keep work original and interesting when playing with familiar stories.  A live version will be offered on October 29, 2016; the on-demand version is available here.

Wade’s class, The Power of Words (http://catrambo.teachable.com/courses/the-power-of-words-linguistics-for-speculative-fiction-writers), focuses on the study of linguistics and its relevance to genre writing. Wade shows how linguistics differs from the study of foreign languages, and gives a survey of eight different subfields of linguistics. The class examines principles of language at levels of complexity from the most basic articulation of speech sounds to the way that language is used to participate in public forms of discourse. Wade looks at how each subfield can be used to enhance a writer’s portrayal of characters and societies in a fictional world. Then she takes the discussion to the level of text to consider how principles of linguistics can hone point of view and narrative language in storytelling. A live version will be offered on December 17, 2016.

Leckie’s class, To Space Opera and Beyond, will centers on space opera: its roots as well as its current manifestations as well as how to write it.  Topics covered include creating and tracking multiple worlds, characters, and plots,  interlocking and interweaving plots, writing storylines stretching across multiple books, and developing engaging and distinct politics, languages, and other cultural institutions. Both live sessions of the class are sold out. The on-demand version will be available in November.

Live classes are co-taught with Cat Rambo; registration details can be found at: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/upcoming-online-classes/.

(13) THIS WASN’T A TEST WHERE I WANTED TO SCORE WELL. “10 Habits of extremely boring people”. Send help — it’s alarming how many of these I checked off…

(14) BUCKAROO BANZAI CAN’T GET ACROSS THE AMAZON. Joseph T. Major in concerned. He looked at this article and said, “It looks like the World Crime League is making a score.” — “Rights Issues Stymie BUCKAROO BANZAI Amazon Series”.

Buckaroo Banzai may be in trouble and this time it is not from the machinations of evil Lectroids from Planet Ten or the World Crime League, but from something far more vexing – rights issues.

In an interview, W. D. Richter, director of the 1984 cult classic The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The Eight Dimension, revealed that it is possible that the rights to the actual character of Buckaroo Banzai actually lie with screen writer Earl Mac Rauch. And that could impact the television version of the film that writer/director Kevin Smith is currently developing with MGM for Amazon Studios.

(15) WHERE DID YOU GET MY NUMBER? I don’t make a lot of phone calls, but when I do the person on the other end seems more surprised to be getting a call than that it’s from me, and that may be part of  trend – Slate explains: “The Death of the Telephone Call, 1876-2007”.

The phone call died, according to Nielsen, in the autumn of 2007. During the final three months of that year the average monthly number of texts sent on mobile phones (218) exceeded, for the first time in recorded history, the average monthly number of phone calls (213). A frontier had been crossed. The primary purpose of most people’s primary telephones was no longer to engage in audible speech….

Calling somebody on the phone used to be a perfectly ordinary thing to do. You called people you knew well, not so well, or not at all, and never gave it a second thought. But after the Great Texting Shift of 2007, a phone call became a claim of intimacy. Today if I want to phone someone just to chat, I first have to consider whether the call will be viewed as intrusive. My method is to ask myself, “Have I ever seen this person in the nude?” The sighting doesn’t have to be (indeed, seldom is) recent. Nor is it necessary that I remember it. I need only deduce that, sometime or other, I must have seen this person naked. That clears phone calls to a wife or girlfriend, to children, to parents, to siblings, to old flames, to former roommates from college, and very few others.

(16) TREKKIE STONELORE. UPI tells us Redditor Haoleopteryx posted a photo of the business cards he had specially printed to deal with constant jokes about the name of the profession.”

I’m a volcanologist and I really don’t know how it took me so long to actually get around to making these

 

View post on imgur.com

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day — Heather Rose Jones because I noticed her post it, and Kip W. because he actually suggested it first eight hours earlier. The bar is open — everybody appertain your favorite beverage!]

Pixel Scroll 9/24/16 The Scroll Glows White On The Mountain Tonight, Not A Pixel To Be Seen

(1) INTERNMENT DRAMA. Courtesy of Fathom Events, “Broadway Musical ‘Allegiance’ Starring George Takei to Screen in Cinemas”.

Allegiance,” the Broadway musical that starred George Takei in a four-month run last season, will come to movie theaters around the country in a one-night-only December screening presented by Fathom Events, the distributor of alternative cinema content.

“Allegiance” tackles the serious historical subject of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, in a story loosely inspired by Takei’s childhood. Also starring Lea Salonga (“Miss Saigon”) and Telly Leung, the musical has songs by Jay Kuo with a book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione. Stafford Arima directed the production.

(2) HOLLYWOOD POWER COUPLE SPLITS. Did you wonder why Leia and Han broke up? Now we know: “Carrie Fisher’s Hilarious Reasons Why Leia and Han Solo Broke Up” from CInemaBlend.

Carrie Fisher was the guest of honor at the Saskatoon Comic and Entertainment Expo (via NB), and in front of a crowd of Star Wars fans she revealed why Han and Leia put an end to their relationship. Apparently, Han spent too much time smuggling with the “hairy guy” and not enough at home with his wife. While hyperspace is a pretty good metaphor for a breakup, I’m not sure that it’s a particularly flattering one with regards to Han’s powers as a husband (hyperspace is awfully fast). Of course, it’s pretty safe to say that this is non-canonical, but it’s always nice to hear from Fisher. She’s typically hilarious and sarcastic about everything, and hearing her version of Star Wars events is almost always entertaining.

(3) PYTHON MEDICAL UPDATE. Monty Python’s Flying Circus member Terry Jones has been diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, the BBC reports.

The news was confirmed as Bafta Cymru announced the Welsh-born comedian is to be honoured with an outstanding contribution award….

Jones, who is from Colwyn Bay in north Wales, was a member of the legendary comedy troupe with Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and the late Graham Chapman.

He directed Monty Python’s Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life and co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam.

The surviving members reunited for 10 reunion performances at the O2 Arena in London in 2014.

(4) FRAUGHT WITHOUT MEANING. Joshua Rivera ponders the meaning of Bill Hader being cast as Alpha 5 in the Power Rangers movie for GQ readers.

No upcoming movie confounds me more thaJoshn 2017’s Power Rangers remake. In an era of Hollywood where every studio needs a franchise, it’s kind of a foregone conclusion that the Teenagers With Attitude would get another at-bat sooner or later, but it’s hard to figure out who this movie is going to be for. Is it something chill enough for modern teens, like this super cool Instagram-ready group shot suggests? Is it going for pure outrageous spectacle, like those goofy-ass costumes and giant CGI robots suggest? Or is it somehow trying to get even our attention, by casting Bryan Cranston as Zordon the floating space wizard head and Elizabeth Banks as villain Rita Repulsa.

Oh, and Bill Hader’s here now too….

(5) TECH APPLICATION. Motherboard suggests “Google Glass Could Be a Social Gamechanger For Kids on the Autism Spectrum”.

“While reading facial expressions is difficult for all of us at times (Was that a smile or a grimace?), for people with ASD, social interactions and friendships can be especially nerve-wracking. People on the spectrum may avoid eye contact and therefore fail to recognize and interpret facial expressions, challenges that also have far-reaching repercussions in school or at work.”

JJ noted, “Several Filers have said that they have to deal with prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces). I have to wonder if this would have positive applications for that, as well.”

(6) IN NO TIME. ”Quantum Teleportation Just Happened For Real”, Gizmodo tells us.

Quantum teleportation is the mystical, far-off in the future idea where quantum information encoded into particles of light can be transferred from one place to another remotely. Except it’s not far-off in the future — it just happened. Teleportation is real and it is here.

The teleportation occurred over several kilometres of optical fibre networks in the cities of Hefei in China and Calgary in Canada.

The two independent studies show that quantum teleportation across metropolitan networks is technologically feasible, and pave the way towards future city-scale quantum technologies and communications networks, such as a quantum internet.

(7) UNKNOWN CONTRIBUTORS TO SPACE AGE. Tor.com invites fans to “Meet the Hidden Figures of NASA in New Trailer”.

While the first trailer for the forthcoming NASA biopic Hidden Figures takes a wide look at how three black female mathematicians launched John Glenn into space, the second trailer tightens its scope, reintroducing you to Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe).

Called the “colored computers” and tucked into a corner of NASA’s offices, these women weren’t given their due—neither within nor outside of NASA’s walls, as everyone from engineers to the police cannot fathom women of color working in the space program

.

(8) NYRSF FALL SCHEDULE. The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings announces its schedule for the beginning of its 26th season — http://www.hourwolf.com/nyrsf/.

(9) SOMEWHERE IN TIME TRIVIA. The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island is hosting a “Somewhere in Time” Weekend on October 28-30.

Somewhere in Time Weekend is one of our most popular and special weekends at Grand Hotel. The movie Somewhere In Time was filmed at Grand Hotel and on Mackinac Island in 1979 and the movie was released in 1980

Movie Trivia from the Wikipedia:  Richard Matheson, who wrote the original novel and screenplay, appears in a cameo role as a 1912 hotel guest. He is shocked by Richard’s (Christopher Reeve) having cut himself shaving with a straight razor.

A then-unknown William H. Macy has a bit role as a critic in the 1972 scene before Elise hands the watch to Richard. George Wendt is credited as a student during this same scene, but his appearance was omitted from the final cut of the film. Richard Matheson’s daughter, Ali, is similarly credited as a student.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 24, 2004 Shaun of the Dead is released in theaters in North America.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 24, 1936 – Jim Henson

(12) HELP DRAFT WORLDCON 75 PROGRAM. Worldcon 75 open for programming suggestions.

Do you know somebody who would be a perfect programme participant for Worldcon 75?

We want suggestions on everything and anything SF-related: books, movies, science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, urban fantasy, translations, science, fandom, dance, music, writing, authors, graphic novels, plays, cosplay, anime etc.

The theme of Worldcon 75 is WORLD in all its many, many meanings! We are especially interested in programming items which fall under that theme, as well as those covering “Erilaisuus” (difference/diversity/alien – this word does not translate well into English), “Music” and “100 years of Finland”.

(13) INTERIOR DECORATION. N. K. Jemisin found a happy place to park her Hugo.

(14) ONLINE AND OFFLINE. How John Scalzi strikes the balance: “Who We Are Online, Who We Are Offline, How They’re Different and How They’re the Same”.

Over on Facebook, a person who claims to have met and interacted with me (and he may have! I meet and interact with a lot of people) suggests that he wouldn’t want to associate with me because, among other things, there’s a difference between how I present myself online and how I present myself offline, which this fellow takes to mean that I say things here, that I wouldn’t say there. Which means, apparently, that I’m false/dissembling/a coward and so on.

This is interesting to me! I have thoughts on this! I am going to share them with you now!

One: Of course, and I think obviously, people who don’t want to associate with me should not associate with me. Whatever reason you have for not wanting to associate with me — including having no reason at all! — is perfectly acceptable. It’s your life, and life is too short to associate with people with whom you have no desire to spend time, even if that person is me. Maybe I’ll be sad about that, if you are someone I like or admire or thought I might one day like to get to know. But I’ll just have to be sad about that. If you don’t want to associate with me, I celebrate your choice. Go! Be associative with others who are not me….

(15) THE LASAGNA STRATEGY. Why is Lou Antonelli “Staying at Home”? Well, he wasn’t invited to be a guest of FenCon this weekend. To avoid this happening too often, he offers this incentive —

Those of you who attended Conquest in Kansas City may recall I brought home-made lasagna for the reception held in the con suite for the debut of the “Decision Points” anthology. That was on a Friday night; I’ve been told that for the rest of the convention people kept coming into the con suite asking “Is there any more lasagna?” I will bring lasagna to any con I go to next year – unless I fly – so there is an incentive to invite me right there. If you have never tasted my lasagna, it’s universally conceded to be the best in the world.

As we say in Texas, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”

[Thanks to Dawn Incognito, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Kyra.]

Pixel Scroll 10/27 Return To Hedgehogwarts

(1) Bad science in sf I’m used to. On the other hand, this expose of Monty Python by medievalist Kathleen E. Kennedy is shocking! Her post for The Mary Sue, “Coconuts in Medieval England Weren’t as Rare as Monty Python and the Holy Grail Made You Think”, claims England was practically awash in coconuts – had he existed, King Arthur would have had no problem acquiring one.

(2) As a fan, when I see something like “15 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Original ‘Ghostbusters’”, I start jonesing to tell the headline writer that the original Ghost Busters was the working title of a Bowery Boys movie. But carry on….

Imagine Eddie Murphy and his fellow paranormal firefighters battling a motorcycle-riding skeleton and a giant lizard monster from their gas-station base in a futuristic New Jersey. Who you gonna call? Ghost Smashers!

By the time it became an instant classic upon its release in 1984, Ghostbusters had morphed through radically different iterations, featuring bonkers plot points and unrecognizable creatures. Those mind-blowing details are chronicled by Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, author Daniel Wallace’s revelatory, self-explanatory new book due out this week, just in time for Halloween.

(3) I stopped to watch Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters music video while researching the previous item. That 1980s video did some nice things with neon lights. But it can’t hold a candle *coff* to the Halloween Light Show set to his vocals in this YouTube video — four singing pumpkin faces, tombstones, hand carved pumpkins, strobes, floods, two Matrix boards and thousands of lights.

(4) At this hour it may be hard to find anyone who hasn’t already read John Scalzi’s Whatever post titled “Here’s the Egregious, Mealy-Mouthed Clump of Bullshit That is the 2015 World Fantasy Convention Harassment Policy”.

I am not a lawyer, but I expect that ReedPOP, the company that runs [New York Comic Con] (among many other conventions around the US) has maybe a few lawyers on its staff. If NYCC is utterly and absolutely unafraid to promulgate a harassment policy even though there is a legal statute defining what harassment means in the state of New York, I expect it might have been possible for World Fantasy to have done likewise, if they chose to do so.

And I recommend reading Jesi Pershing’s comment on the post. (I’m unable to link to specific comments on Whatever, despite both it and File 770 running on WordPress….)

(5) Trae Dorn’s story at Nerd & Tie, “World Fantasy Convention writes the worst harasssment policy ever” doesn’t live up to the hyperbole of the headline, but it reflects the prevailing mood of the internet.

(6) Jim C. Hines weighed in with “Trying to Fix WFC’s Harassment Policy Problem”.

Can this actually be fixed?

Well, no. Not completely. You’ve pissed off a lot of people, and you’ve got nine days before the start of the convention. You can’t fix it. But you can work to make it better. Here are my suggestions, for what they’re worth.

A compelling observation was quoted from Natalie Luhrs’ post —

Keep in mind that, as Natalie Luhrs pointed out, “three of the last five World Fantasy Conventions had harassment incidents that were publicized: 20102011, and 2013.” This doesn’t include incidents that weren’t publicized.

However, it should be noted that other recent WFC’s have had genuine anti-harassment policies – the 2015 committee is an aberration in that respect.

(7) The headline for Arthur Chu’s post captures just what I think was really controlling SXSW’s decision to have these panels at all – “This Is Not a Game: How SXSW Turned GamerGate Abuse Into a Spectator Sport”. Chu also is very informative about the history about the anti-harassment panel proposal.

  1. Any “both sides” narrative is nonsense. Whatever harassment and abuse there was cannot have been at all symmetrical.

SXSW acknowledges this when they tell Randi Harper in an email they’ve “received numerous threats of violence regarding this panel (Level Up)” and a “civil and respectful environment seems unlikely.” You can see with your own eyes the degree of incivility and disrespect likely to occur at her panel by looking at the comment thread GamerGate left on PanelPicker. This started up in August and has only had time to fester since then.

By contrast, I don’t think anyone “anti-GamerGate” I’ve spoken to other than my fellow panelists was even aware a GamerGate panel was in the cards until it was announced last week. Feel free to search my own history on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc. to see if you can find any mention of it.

(8) Chris Kluwe went straight for the jugular.

What you did, what you’re doing, is providing the blueprint for harassers and hatemongers as to how they win. From this point forward, any fringe group of spiteful lunatics can point to this moment and say, “We will silence the voices of anyone we dislike at SXSW, any view we disagree with, because we know the mewling slugs in charge have not the backbone to stop us. All we need to do is confront them with our vileness, and they will fold.”

And the worst part?

YOU are solely the ones responsible for this.

YOU decided that it was appropriate to give a group of harassers a platform to continue their wretched campaign of ignorance. No one forced you to bypass the application process, to slide this selection of charlatans and liars along back alley channels into the conference. (And by the way, it is beyond ironic that a group ostensibly about ‘ethics in journalism’ required such an unethical route.)

YOU chose to ignore the warnings of the women targeted, to dismiss their voices as unworthy of respect or consideration, and then had the gall to act shocked that a ‘movement’ known for its corrosive toxicity slimed its oh-so-predictable foulness in your direction after you invited them in.

(9) Today In History:

October 27, 1938 – Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre of the Air broadcasts its adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Joe Bloch comments —

People have debated for decades just why the country was so willing to be fooled by the broadcast, and the question of whether or not Welles had an inkling of what would happen was never answered. It is certain that he denied it at a later Congressional hearing, but in subsequent interviews he answered the question rather coyly, implying that he might have known what could happen.

(10) Stop snickering about aliens, d’ye hear me? Astrophysics profession Adam Frank, co-founder of the 13.7 blog, says “Maybe It’s Time To Stop Snickering About Aliens”.

Boyajian and her co-authors considered a wide range of possibilities to explain the strange dips in the light coming from KIC 8462852. Nothing they dreamed up provided a really, really good explanation. And in the absence of that really, really good explanation, at least a few others have been thinking: “Aliens!” As Ross reports, Jason Wright of Penn State is already working on a paper suggesting we might be seeing a signature of extraterrestrial construction, a “swarm of mega-structures,” on a planetary system scale.

Now, at this point, I could start telling you about Dyson spheres and Kardashev Type II civilizations that engage in solar-system-spanning building projects (or even Vogon Constructor Fleets).

But I won’t.

That’s because the point today is not what KIC 8462852, in particular, might be telling us. The odds are high that a natural explanation will be found for the star’s flickering that has nothing to do with aliens.

Why take that stance? Well, aliens are always the last hypothesis you should consider. Occam’s razor tells scientists to always go for the simplest explanation for a new phenomenon. But even as we keep Mr. Occam’s razor in mind, there is something fundamentally new happening right now that all of us, including scientists, must begin considering.

Kepler and the many exoplanet-hunting missions coming next (JWST, PLATO, etc.) represent an entirely new way of watching the sky.

Telescope time has always been expensive — and there’s a lot of sky. In the past, astronomers didn’t have the technical capacity to continuously watch zillions of stars for long periods of time. The suns we astronomers did come back to again and again tended to be remarkable in one way or another (they flared or blew up periodically). But the exoplanet revolution means we’re developing capacities to stare deep into the light produced by hundreds of thousands of boring, ordinary stars. And these are exactly the kind of stars where life might form on orbiting planets.

(11) Tom Knighton says it’s only a “Supergirl Kinda-Review” but he covers a lot of ground as he fills in readers about last night’s series debut.

First, the casting was interesting, and I mean that in a good way.  Kara (aka Supergirl for those who don’t know) is, like her cousin, raised by human parents.  Her parents were played by…*drum roll please* Dean Caine of Lois and Clark and Helen Slater, the original live-action Supergirl.  Honestly, it make my inner geek giddy right there.

(12) All the other old-timers showed up in the latest Star Wars trailer. Where was Mark Hamill? The director has an answer — “J.J. Abrams addresses Luke’s absence from Star Wars trailers”

When asked what’s going with Luke’s lack of appearance in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailers, director J.J. Abrams stated it’s part of the plan.

“These are good questions to be asking. I can’t wait for you to find out the answer,” he said. The fact Luke is being kept away from the promotional materials is “no accident,” he continued.

It actually goes a bit deeper than that. There was a leaked image of Luke Skywalker wearing what seemed to be standard Jedi robes that made the rounds, but Disney went to work pulling as many copies of the image from the internet as possible, including Twitter embeds.

(13) Gail Z. Martin suggests “Five Reasons Why Authors Do Blog Tours (And Maybe You Should, Too)” at Magical Words.

What’s a blog tour and why should you consider doing one?

A blog tour provides the opportunity for an author to be featured in guest posts on a number of other blogs, thus gaining visibility to the readers on all those sites. Likewise, an author who has a blog can do a tour on his/her own site by featuring a number of other authors on the site in a given period of time.

Two crucial elements separate a ‘blog tour’ from merely being a guest for the day on someone else’s blog. First, a blog tour generally involves guesting on multiple blogs or hosting multiple guests on your blog. And secondly, the activity occurs within a pre-defined (and advance-promoted) time period—perhaps a week or a month. In fact, blog tours work best when the bloggers and the guests promote the upcoming post—much like when a celebrity promotes being interviewed on TV. The author gets visibility, and perhaps new readers. The blogger gets traffic and well as visibility—and perhaps some of those visitors will come back time and again.

(14) Harlan Ellison is among the contributors to Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds, to be published November 1.

The stories explore such issues as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-20th-century United States, and the dark side of the Diaspora (e.g., the decline of revolutionary fervor, the passing of generations, the Golden Ghetto, etc.).

(15) And rather like Harlan Ellison, Wil Wheaton thinks the writer should get paid. His post “you can’t pay your rent with the ‘unique platform and reach our site provides’” tells why he told HuffPo to take a hike.

(16) Here’s somebody you don’t see at fan-run conventions every day… but he’ll be at Gallifrey One in 2016:

Sir John Hurt, who brought the ‘missing link’ in the Doctor’s past — the War Doctor, from the 50th anniversary special “The Day of the Doctor” — to life, will be headlining the 2016 Gallifrey One convention, in an appearance sponsored by Showmasters Events.

(17) Remember that how that old statue of Lenin in a Ukraine town was rededicated to Darth Vader the other day? Well, sounds like old Darth is up to no good – just check out this story: “Chewbacca Arrested During Ukraine Elections”

The Wookiee is handcuffed and detained after supporting Darth Vader’s bid to be elected as Mayor of Odessa.

Yes, my friends, there’s trouble in unpronounceable city!

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Francis Hamit, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15 Trial by Filers

(1) Martin Morse Wooster opened my eyes to a previously unrealized fact — Wil Wheaton is a celebrity homebrewer.

On November 7, 2015, the American Homebrewers Association hosts Learn to Homebrew Day across the country. This year, celebrity homebrewers Wil Wheaton and Kyle Hollingsworth have teamed up with the AHA to promote the celebration! Kyle and the AHA created a video together, which can be viewed here.

Wheaton even has a dedicated blog for his homebrew activities – Devils Gate Brewing. He’s also appeared on Brewing TV.

(2) While researching the homebrew story, I observed Wheaton deliver this absolute home truth —

(3) Crowdfunding conventions doesn’t always work. The fans who’d like to hold Phoenix Sci-Fi Con 2016 have only managed to raise $50 of the $12,500 goal in 13 days. The last donation was almost a week ago.

(4) “Neiman” has launched a new science-fiction and fantasy news aggregator, Madab, which is the word for “sci-fi” in Hebrew. (Says Neiman: “It fits, since I’m an Israeli in origin.”) The website focuses on books and written stuff, and follows more than a hundred sources.

(5) Zoë Heller, in “How Does an Author’s Reputation Shape Your Response to a Book?” for the New York Times Sunday Book Review, said about her experience as a slush pile reader:

The important thing was to send back manuscripts at a steady rate and to keep the slush pile low. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Under my supervision, the slush pile grew and grew until it became several tottering ziggurats of slush. I’d like to say that it was the thought of dashing writers’ hopes that paralyzed me. But I was quite heartless about that. What stopped me in my tracks was the dread of having to make independent literary judgments. I had never before been asked to evaluate writing that was utterly ­reputation-less and imprimatur-less. In college I had read I.A. Richards’s famous study, ‘Practical Criticism,’ in which Richards asked Cambridge undergraduates to assess poems without telling the students who had written them. The point of the experiment was to show how, when deprived of contextual clues, students ended up making embarrassingly ‘wrong’ judgments about what was good and bad. I was convinced that the slush pile was my own ‘Practical Criticism’ challenge and that I was going to be revealed as a fraud, with no real powers of literary discrimination.

Andrew Porter made a comment about his own experiences, which the Times published:

I read the slush pile at “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction” for 8 years, from 1966 to 1974, going in once a week to sort through anywhere from 100 to 140 unsolicited manuscripts. The ultra-short stories of under 500 words were usually rejected—none of the writers measured up to Fredric Brown, master of the short-short—while poetry, seldom published, also got the boot. Holiday stories sent in during the holidays were also rejected; most authors have no idea what sort of lead time magazines require. Then there were so many stories with punchline endings: “We’ll go to the third planet: the natives call it ‘Earth'” or “Eve? Gosh, my name’s Adam!” Some of those were 25,000 words, and most ended badly.

Occasionally there was a gem among the dross; I pulled Suzette Haden Elgin’s first published story from the piles, and it went on to be published and anthologized many times.

I was paid a pittance, yes ($25 a week), but did my best by the magazine and the authors. We sent them rejection forms, with sometimes a note encouraging more submissions—which was usually a mistake; they sent in their vast files of unpublishable stories. But sometimes…

All life is a is a judgement call, whether of unpublished stories, where to live, who to marry, or what to have for dinner. Heller failed the writers and her employers. I hope her subsequent life judgements have been wiser.

(6) Aaron Pound’s well-written CapClave report on Dreaming About Other Worlds ends with this insight:

After the convention, I spoke with my mother on the phone. She had traveled to New York to visit my sister for the weekend, and she was somewhat perplexed that the redhead and I had gone to CapClave rather than New York ComicCon. While the redhead and I enjoy big conventions with tens of thousands of attendees every now and then – we have been to DragonCon once, and we go to GenCon every year – there is simply no substitute for the congenial and friendly atmosphere of the smaller fan run conventions like CapClave, Balticon, Chessiecon, and the hundreds of other small conventions that take place every year. The blunt truth is that the large professionally run media conventions like New York ComicCon are simply exhausting. New York ComicCon had about 170,000 attendees this year. CapClave had about 400. To attend almost any panel at New York ComicCon, you have to wait in line, often for hours. You might be able to see stars like Chris Evans, George Takei, or Carrie Fischer, but you’ll likely see them from the back of an auditorium as they speak to a couple of thousand people. Or if you want a personal interaction you’ll pay for the privilege, and you will likely only be able to interact with them for a minute or two. At CapClave, on the other hand, the panels are small and interactive. I have never had to spend any appreciable time waiting in line for anything. Most of the authors who attend are more than happy to sit down and talk with you, whether after a panel, sitting in the con suite, or simply while hanging out at the hotel bar. An event like New York ComicCon is a spectacle, while CapClave, by contrast, is a conversation. There is room for both in the genre fiction world, but as for myself, I prefer the conversation.

(7) A Brian K. Vaughn comic may be made into a TV series.

After years of trying, Hollywood finally threw in the towel last year and stopped trying to make a movie version of Y: The Last Man. Brian K. Vaughan’s epic 60-issue series recounts the adventures of Yorick Brown, his pet monkey Ampersand, and all the ladies on Earth who want a piece of him because he is—spoiler alert—the last man, after a mysterious plague kills everything with a Y chromosome except for him. After the rights were returned to Vaughan following New Line dropping the ball on the films, it was unclear if anything would ever happen with it, given the creator had left television and was concentrating on comics once more.

But much like astronauts returning to Earth from the International Space Station, Y: The Last Man has returned to the world of filmed adaptations. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the sci-fi comic is being developed into a series for cable channel FX. Along with producers Nina Jacobsen and Brad Simpson, the network is looking for a writer to develop the show with Vaughan.

(8) Ross Andersen reports on “The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy” for The Atlantic.

Between these constellations sits an unusual star, invisible to the naked eye, but visible to the Kepler Space Telescope, which stared at it for more than four years, beginning in 2009…..

The light pattern suggests there is a big mess of matter circling the star, in tight formation. That would be expected if the star were young. When our solar system first formed, four and a half billion years ago, a messy disk of dust and debris surrounded the sun, before gravity organized it into planets, and rings of rock and ice.

But this unusual star isn’t young. If it were young, it would be surrounded by dust that would give off extra infrared light. There doesn’t seem to be an excess of infrared light around this star.

It appears to be mature….

Jason Wright, an astronomer from Penn State University, is set to publish an alternative interpretation of the light pattern. SETI researchers have long suggested that we might be able to detect distant extraterrestrial civilizations, by looking for enormous technological artifacts orbiting other stars. Wright and his co-authors say the unusual star’s light pattern is consistent with a “swarm of megastructures,” perhaps stellar-light collectors, technology designed to catch energy from the star.

“When [Boyajian] showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked,” Wright told me. “Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.”

Boyajian is now working with Wright and Andrew Siemion, the Director of the SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. The three of them are writing up a proposal. They want to point a massive radio dish at the unusual star, to see if it emits radio waves at frequencies associated with technological activity.

If they see a sizable amount of radio waves, they’ll follow up with the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, which may be able to say whether the radio waves were emitted by a technological source, like those that waft out into the universe from Earth’s network of radio stations.

(9) George R.R. Martin announces that Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive…

…is Emilia Clarke, our own Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea.

The Esquire magazine article is here..

(10) Tom Knighton reviews the novel The Martian:

I’d heard all about the science, how it was supposed to be so accurate.  I’d heard that Weir wrote a pretty compelling story.  While I’m not sure about the former, I do agree with the latter, they left out one key piece of commentary on The Martian.  It’s actually funny!

Mark Watney, the main character, is a natural smart ass and an independent spirit…in addition to a mechanical engineer and botanist.  Honest, if you’re going to strand a guy on Mars, it might have been the perfect choice, which some may perceive as a chink in Watney’s armor on this story, but I disagree.

(11) SFFWorld interviews Seanan McGuire:

SFFWorld: With so many interesting universes that you create, you have fans who like them all. But do you ever have fans getting mad at you because you are working on one series and they want a new book in their favorite series?

McGuire: Fans are people, and people sometimes get mad at air.  I know I do.  So I have people huff at me because I’m not doing what they want, but I also have people get mad because I use profanity, or because I exist in material space, or because I was at Disneyland when they thought I should be writing.  I just keep swimming.  I need to switch between projects to keep from burning myself out, and I like to think that my true fans would rather have me writing for a long time than get exactly what they want the second that they want it.  Unless what they want is a puppy.

(12) “Most of the story team for the next Star Wars film is female” reports Fortune.

Today, Kennedy is president of Lucasfilm, producer of the next installment in the Star Wars series, The Force Awakens. Still, she believes the challenges for women have remained much the same since the late 1970s. “I don’t think things have changed much for women for jobs in the entertainment industry, especially in technical roles,” she said. Kennedy added that at a recent Saturday Night Live taping she attended, she saw no women operating the cameras….

“People in powerful positions are not trying hard enough [to bring women into the industry] and there are an alarming number of women who are not able to get those jobs,” she explained.

And — “Kathleen Kennedy Promises She’ll Hire A Female Director For A Star Wars Movie” reports GeekTyrant

“I feel it is going to happen — we are going to hire a woman who’s going to direct a Star Wars movie. I have no doubt. On the other hand, I want to make sure we put somebody in that position who’s set up for success. It’s not just a token job to look out and try to find a woman that we can put into a position of directing Star Wars.”

(13) No matter what William Shatner told the Australians, Justin Lin is directing Star Trek Beyond — and people are leaking photos of the aliens from Lin’s movie.

(14) “One step closer to Star Trek: New 3-D printer builds with 10 materials at once” from Christian Science Monitor.

It’s built from off-the-shelf parts that cost about $7,000 in total, and is capable of printing in full color with up to 10 materials at a time, including fabrics, fiber-optics, and lenses.

Traditional multi-material printers use a mechanical system to sweep each layer of the printed object after it’s laid down to ensure that it’s flat and correctly aligned. The extreme precision of such a system is a big part of the reason that printers are so expensive. But the MultiFab uses a machine-vision system instead of a mechanical one, which allows for precise scanning – down to 40 microns – without the need for so many pricey components, project engineer Javier Ramos told Wired.

(15) All six Bonds together, that is, at Madame Tussaud’s!

(16) Frock Flicks: The Costume Movie Review Podcast, does a serious, in-depth study of historical costuming in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – which gets high marks despite having been done cheap, cheap, cheap!

The Historical Setting of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The movie is supposedly set in 932 A.D., and, of course, the story is King Arthur, which is quasi-fictitious anyway. The person who might be the historical basis for the Arthurian legends could have lived in the 5th to 7th century, and 932 is right around the reign of Æthelstan, who was a king of the Anglo-Saxons and the first to proclaim himself King of the English in 927. But hey, whatever this is a comedy, who pays attention to the title cards, right? Other than all those moose and llamas…

In a way, it doesn’t matter because medieval clothing, at least for men, is somewhat vaguely defined from the 5th though 12th centuries, being mostly belted tunics and such. But for reference, here are a few examples of how ruling men were depicted in documents of the period in England. The garment shapes are simple, and the higher up in status a man was, the more decorative trims and jewelry he got. It’s also interesting to note the hair and beard styles.

(17) John Hertz offers a piece he entitles, “Do you, Mister Jones?” —

All this throwing round of the word “geek” recalls a handy little acronym I had published a while ago in The MT Void 1279 (or you may have seen it later in Vanamonde 956, where I added “Among reasons to form one’s own opinions, people can be vigorous in accusing one of one’s virtues”; not to burden the File 770 Reference Director, I allude to Aesop, H. Andersen, B. Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man”, and “The Marching Morons”).

Grapes are sour.
Emperor has no clothes.
Each put-down of you means I win.
Kornbluth didn’t tell the half of it.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 10/14 The pixel will see you now…

(1) What could be more appropriate to continue a discussion launched in yesterday’s Scroll than Jurassic Park: High Heels Edition! Thanks to Cathy for dropping this into the comments.

(2) “Emperor Palpatine and Sauron in the Afterlife” by Steve Ogden. Here is the first frame of the comic —

Sauron COMP

This crazy comic sprung from a Twitter conversation I was having with Scott King. He said he was considering writing an essay, the events of Star Wars as seen from Emperor Palpatine’s point of view. I said it would be a terrible idea, but really funny, to have a conversation in the afterlife between two dead bad guys, sort of swapping horror stories about how badly everything went for them at the hands of the Good Guys. Scott admitted it was both terrible and funny, and why don’t I go write it then. So I did, and here you have it.

(3) That was a strange experience – reading Alexandra Erin’s “Millennial Pledge: Trouble Edition”, which translates “Trouble in River City” into a bullet-pointed blog post.

(4) Recommended: Ty Templeton’s comic ”What if Bob Kane has created Bat-Man without Bill Finger?”

(5) Most of “The 20 Biggest Bombshells J.K. Rowling’s Dropped Since ‘Harry Potter’ Ended” are less cheerful than —

chocolate frogs COMP

Chocolate Frogs

Harry, Ron and Hermione all wound up with their own chocolate frog cards, which Ron reported as his “finest hour.”

Harry’s card says that he is “the first and only known wizard to survive the Killing Curse, most famous for the defeat of the most dangerous dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort.”

Ron’s card gives him credit for “destroying the Horcruxes and subsequent defeat of Voldemort and revolutionizing the Ministry of Magic.”

On hers, Hermione gets credit for being “the brightest witch of her age” and that she “eradicated pro-pureblood laws” and campaigned for “the rights of non human beings such as house-elves.”

(6) Remember the Star Wars blooper reported by Screen Rant that I posted here the other day? Io9 checked with Mark Hamill who says it never happened.

Instead of calling Carrie Fisher’s name out, Hamill insists that he started to say “There she is!”—dialogue provided in ADR that was cut short by Leia and Luke’s embrace.

(7) “Make Sure to Check Your Camera Settings” — a funny Flash reference at Cheezburger.

(8) Today In History –

(9) John ONeill profiled The Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak, Volumes 1-3 at Black Gate.

The lack of a complete collection of Clifford D. Simak’s short stories has been keenly felt among many old-school fans. So as you can imagine, I was delighted to discover that Open Road Media has undertaken the first comprehensive collection of all of Simak’s short stories — including his science fiction, fantasy, and western fiction. The first three books, I Am Crying All Inside, The Big Front Yard, and The Ghost of a Model T, go on sale later this month.

All three, like all six volumes announced so far, are edited by David W. Wixon, the Executor of Simak’s Literary Estate. Wixon, a close friend of Simak, contributes an introduction to each volume, and short intros to each story, providing a little background on its publishing history and other interesting tidbits.

As a special treat the first volume, I Am Crying All Inside, includes the never-before-published “I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air,” originally written in 1973 for Harlan Ellison’s famously unpublished anthology Last Dangerous Visions, and finally pried out of Ellison’s unrelenting grip after 42 very long years.

(10) Margaret Hamilton’s pioneering work on NASA computers is covered by Wired in “Her code got humans on the moon – and invented software itself”.

Then, as now, “the guys” dominated tech and engineering. Like female coders in today’s diversity-challenged tech industry, Hamilton was an outlier. It might surprise today’s software makers that one of the founding fathers of their boys’ club was, in fact, a mother—and that should give them pause as they consider why the gender inequality of the Mad Men era persists to this day.

As Hamilton’s career got under way, the software world was on the verge of a giant leap, thanks to the Apollo program launched by John F. Kennedy in 1961. At the MIT Instrumentation Lab where Hamilton worked, she and her colleagues were inventing core ideas in computer programming as they wrote the code for the world’s first portable computer. She became an expert in systems programming and won important technical arguments. “When I first got into it, nobody knew what it was that we were doing. It was like the Wild West. There was no course in it. They didn’t teach it,” Hamilton says.

She’s an unsung heroine of Apollo 8, because she got them home after a fatal input error in the spacecraft somebody at NASA insisted would never happen.

(11) Scientists measured the erosion of terrestrial river rocks to deduce — “Pebbles on Mars Shaped by Ancient Long-Gone Rivers Dozens of Miles Long”.

Using publicly available images of the rounded pebbles on Mars from the Curiosity rover mission, the scientists calculated that those rocks had lost about 20 percent of their volume. When they factored in the reduced Martian gravity, which is only about 40 percent of Earth’s, they estimated that the pebbles had traveled about 30 miles (50 km) from their source, perhaps from the northern rim of Gale Crater.

(12) NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been used to produced new maps of Jupiter – the first in a series of annual portraits of the solar system’s outer planets.

New imagery from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is revealing details never before seen on Jupiter. High-resolution maps and spinning globes (rendered in the 4k Ultra HD format) are the first products to come from a program to study the solar system’s outer planets each year using Hubble. The observations are designed to capture a broad range of features, including winds, clouds, storms and atmospheric chemistry. These annual studies will help current and future scientists see how such giant worlds change over time.

 

(13) Well, this is bizarre, but extremely well-edited (NSFW) humor video, a mashup of Hitchcock’s movies with Jimmy Stewart and Kubrick’s sf/horror movies.

(14) Free Nick Mamatas!

No, no, you don’t need to bail him out — just read his story free on the Glittership webpage (or listen to it on the podcast) — Episode #18 — “Eureka!” by Nick Mamatas.

Adam hadn’t worn the crushed velvet blouse in his hands for a long time. It was from his goth phase, twenty pounds and twenty years prior. He shuddered at the thought of it distending around his spare tire these days, but he couldn’t bring himself to put it in the box he’d set aside for Out of the Closet either. And not only because it would be embarrassing if anyone saw it.

There were memories in the wrinkles of the velvet—well, not memories exactly. Half-memories, images and glimpses and smells. Two decades of gimlets and bad decisions and a few teeth and a trio of cross-country moves. What was the place? It was Huggy Bear’s on Thursdays, when they played disco for a majority black clientele, but on most nights it was just The Bank. A real bank, in the sepia-toned days when great-grandma worked in an Orchard Street sweatshop, a goth/darkwave club now….

(15) Kameron Hurley interviewed at SFFWorld:

With The Mirror Empire, you’ve challenged many genre assumptions/expectations/tropes, most notably genre roles and expectations.  What other genre expectations did you seek to challenge but instead readers accepted easily?

So far readers have pretty much balked at everything I thought they would, though I admit I’ve been surprised at the reactions to Anavha, which were far more perplexed and passionate than I anticipated. It seemed like a fairly straightforward plotline to me, but putting characters with unexpected genders into those roles surprised people. I think it really made them think hard about reading abusive relationships like that in other books.

(16) Steve Davidson, taking as his sample the recommendations made so far at Sad Puppies 4, theorizes quite reasonably that works available for free are more likely to be recommended for awards. By implication, he wonders what will happen to authors who like to get paid.

I do believe that there is a distinct trend represented:  freely available, easily accessible works may very well swamp the nominations – if those works are given a little initial traction by readers, like including them on a recommendation list, because (I belabor), the fewer “objections” you place between a consumer and a potentially desirable product, the more likely they are to “buy”.  In other words, “click here and invest a few minutes” is far more attractive than “click here, pull out your credit card, wait for delivery, invest a few minutes”.

(17) Brandon Kempner latest survey “Hugo/Nebula Contenders and Popularity, October 2015” for Chaos Horizons. I’m late picking this up, and as Kempner notes in the post, Leckie’s book was still on the way when he wrote it.

Last year, I tried to track Goodreads stats a measure of popularity. This year, I’m tracking both Amazon and Goodreads.

I’ve been disappointed in both of those measures; neither seems particularly accurate or consistent, and they don’t seem to predict the eventual Hugo/Nebula winner at all. What is useful about them, though, is getting at least an early picture of what is popular and what is not. I do believe there is a minimum popularity cut off, where if you fall below a certain level (1000-2000 Goodreads votes), you don’t have much of a shot at winning a Hugo or Nebula. This also allows good comparisons between books that are similar to each other. If you think Uprooted and Sorcerer to the Crown are both contenders as “experimental”-ish fantasy books, one of those (Uprooted) is 10 times more popular than the other. If you had to pick between one of them being nominated, go with Novik.

(18) Dawn Witzke, in “Taking Sides” , says George R.R. Martin has convinced her to pick a side.

[GRRM] I have no objection to someone starting a people’s choice award for SF. Hell, I might even win it, since I have the sort of mass following that tends to dominate such awards. But it would not be as meaningful to me as winning a Hugo.

[Nitzke] There is no need to start a people’s choice award for SFF, one already exists. You may have heard of it, it’s called the Hugo Awards. And, I believe you might have won one of those once. After reading Game of Thrones, I can say it was definitely worthy of Hugo. (Trust me, that’s not a good thing.)

I do want to thank you, Mr. Martin. Without your rich elitist bullshit, I might have continued to sit on the sidelines again this year. Instead, I will be forking over the cash for a membership, because those of us who can’t afford to blow money on cons are just as much true fans as those who can. So you can go stuff it in your asterisk.

(19) Not everyone is tired of the subject —

https://twitter.com/horriblychris/status/654462570842091520

(20) Talk about a really sad puppy – William Shatner:

William Shatner is exploring strange new worlds in trash-talking his former “Star Trek” co-star George Takei.

Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk on the iconic sci-fi series, lashed out at Takei in an interview with Australia’s news.com.au published Monday.

“He is a very disturbed individual, the truth of the matter is,” Shatner said of Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu on the series and subsequent movie franchise. “I don’t know him. I haven’t seen him in 25 years, I don’t know what he is up to. It is not a question that has any meaning to me. It is like asking about George Foreman or something.”

And when asked about director J.J. Abrams, who is currently filming Star Trek Beyond, he told the Australian press:

“No matter what plans I make it is J.J. Abrams who makes the plans and no I don’t think he is planning anything with me,” Shatner said. “I would love to. In one year it will be our 50th anniversary and that is incredible.”

(21) “California nixes warrantless search of digital data”

In what’s being called a landmark victory for digital privacy, California police will no longer be able to get their hands on user data without first getting a warrant from a judge.

Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday signed the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA), SB 178, which requires state law enforcement to get a warrant before they can access electronic information about who we are, where we go, who we know, and what we do.

US privacy rights groups have long been concerned that law enforcement hasn’t considered it necessary to get a search warrant before they can search messages, email, photos and other digital data stored on mobile phones or company servers.

States such as California, tired of waiting around for Congress to update 29-year-old federal electronic privacy statutes, are taking reform into their own hands.

(22) H.G. Wells took a shot at foretelling the future — “A Peek Ahead” at Futility Closet tells you how well he scored.

Readers of the London Evening Standard saw a startling headline on Nov. 10, 1971: “The Prophecy H.G. Wells Made About Tonight’s Standard.” Wells had published a story in 1932 in which a man unaccountably receives a copy of the newspaper from 40 years in the future. “He found himself surveying a real evening newspaper,” Wells wrote, “which was dealing so far as he could see at the first onset, with the affairs of another world.”

Most of “The Queer Story of Brownlow’s Newspaper” is devoted to Wells’ prophecies regarding world events in 1971, and most of these, unfortunately, are misses. Newspapers today are printed in color and the Soviet Union has fallen, but geothermal energy has not replaced the age of combustion, body clothing has not (quite) been reduced to a minimum, finance and nationalism still thrive, gorillas are not extinct, the human birthrate has not dropped to “seven in the thousand,” and there are no plans to add a 13th month to the year.

(23) Here’s a massive cosplay photo gallery from New York Comic Con. (Activate by clicking on arrows in upper right corner of image displayed for Slideshow #1 and Slideshow #2.)

Look for an amazing Raiden, an outstanding Mr. Freeze, a spot-on Nosferatu, and a glorious Muto from Godzilla. Spider-Woman, Hawkgirl, Princess Amidala, Mystique, gender-swapped Booster Gold, Ratchet, Venom… the list goes on and on! Take a look at the slideshows below and share your favorites in the comments!

(24) The sf magazine market contraction predicted by Neil Clarke is not far off, but L. Jagi Lamplighter doesn’t want it to begin with Sci Phi Journal, so she is making an appeal for donations.

Jagi, here.  I learned this morning that Sci Phi Journal needs help.

For those who don’t know it, Sci Phi Journal offers science fiction stories that have a philosophy to them. It is one of the few periodicals offering a place to the kind of stories that Sad Puppies stood for…in fact, it was on the Hugo ballot this year, as was one of the stories that appeared in it (“On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli).

Sci Phi offers a venue for the very kinds of stories that we all want to read but seldom get to see. It features some of the best new authors, like Josh Young and Brian Niemeyer, and a number of others. Both John and I have had stories appear in its pages.

It would be a real shame if it folded!

What can you all do to help?

If you should feel moved to make a donation, you can do so here. (The donate button is on the right. You may need to page down.)

(25) Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam will appear at Live Talks Los Angeles on October 19, 2015 at the Alex Theatre. It’s the launch event for Gilliam’s memoir. He gave an interview to a local paper to promote the appearance.

Terry Gilliam

What led you to write the book?

It really was supposed to be a book about just my art — whatever my art is — starting with childhood cartoons. My daughter Holly assembled a chronology of the work I’ve done. I would sit with a microphone and talk about it. Somewhere along the line, the publisher says “Oh, God, this is better as an autobiography.” It ended up being that, even though it’s a very incomplete one. I refer to it as my “Grand Theft Autobiography.” It’s a high-speed chase, crashing around the place, a lot of bodies left all over the place. It’s not the great summation of my life in the last hours of my life.

What was your reaction when you started digging into the art you had made?

I was surprised because I don’t linger in the past. Things I’d done over the years had been filed away. Holly had been archiving and dredging this stuff out. The other day I found something and I thought, “God, I can’t believe I could draw that well 20 years ago!” I can’t draw that well anymore.

(26) A Back To The Future prediction still has an opportunity to come true.

At one moment in the 1989 film a billboard reveals the Chicago Cubs have won the 2015 World Series, the joke being that the Cubs hadn’t won the baseball World Series since 1908 and likely never would do.

“A hundred-to-one shot,” the charity fundraiser jokes with Marty, “I wish I could go back to the beginning of the season and put some money on the Cubs!”

But now it’s looking like the Chicago team could actually win the 2015 World Series.

The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals this week to proceed to the National League Championship Series (NLCS) and will face the New York Mets or LA Dodgers on Saturday for the chance to play in the coveted World Series. Think of it as a sort of regional semi-final for the biggest game of the baseball season.

The film’s writer Bob Gale said he chose the Cubs as the winning 2015 team as a joke, saying: “Being a baseball fan, I thought, ‘OK, let’s come up with one of the most unlikely scenarios we can think of’.”

The Dodgers, if they advance, will have to start the back end of their rotation which would really boost the Cubs’ chances. No time-traveling DeLorean will be swooping in from 1963 delivering Koufax and Drysdale to save LA.

(27) A high-tech prank — Real Mjolnir (Electromagnet, Fingerprint Scanner)

A replica of Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer) from The Avengers that’s pretty much unliftable unless you’ve got my fingerprints!

 

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