Pixel Scroll 3/12/18 Dammit, Jim, I’m A Filer, Not A Pixel-Scroller!

(1) MOOMIN FAN.  She remembers the Moomin scape her father made for her: “My family and other Moomins: Rhianna Pratchett on her father’s love for Tove Jansson” in The Guardian.

I don’t remember the precise moment I was introduced to the Moomins. They were always just there; a cosy, comforting and slightly weird presence in my childhood that has stayed with me. My father called Tove Jansson “one of the greatest children’s writers there has ever been”, and credited her writing as one of the reasons he became an author.

My father’s family were the kind of postwar, no-nonsense British people who didn’t really do hugs or talk about their feelings. Instead, they showed their love by building things: toys, puzzles, go-carts, treehouses. It was a tradition that my father, still very much the awkward hugger himself, would continue during my childhood. He built me a market stall, a beehive (complete with toy bees), a stove and, most memorably, Moominvalley.

It was crafted out of wood and papier-mache – a staple of all art projects in the 70s and 80s. It had a forest and a river and even a dark cave. He also made the Moominhouse and crafted all the Moomin characters out of clay; then painted and varnished them. Many years later we would turn over an entire attic full of junk trying to find a box that I thought might contain a solitary hand-made Moomin. He’s still out there somewhere.

(2) GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. Declan Finn says something’s missing from Amazon. It’s the reviews he’s written about people’s books, and some of the reviews others have written about his books. Why? He calls it “Amazon’s War on Users”.

Has Amazon declared war on authors?

It would seem so at first pass. Last week, I had 315 reviews spread out over my various and sundry projects. Honor at Stake, for example, had 63, 68 reviews.

Today, I only have 238 reviews over all of them. Honor at Stake in particular having only 45 now. When I ask Amazon via email, they know nothing. Could I be more specific? It’s literally EVERY BOOK. They need a road map?

The mystery depends when I looked at reviews that I myself have written. They’re all gone. Poof. Vanished.

What the Hell?

And I’m not the only one. In fact, one writer’s group I’m a part of has had a lot of the same problem.

The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.

Funny that. And the one person outside of CLFA who had also had problems is friends with three of us.

However, I’m not about to declare enemy action just yet. For that, I need your help, that of the average reader. Because there is a problem. We can’t ask people outside the group, that we don’t know, if they have the same problem. Why?  Because if we don’t know them, it’s hard to ask. And if we know them, it can be construed as guilt by association.

Camestros Felapton joined the investigation. The conspiracy-minded won’t find his thoughts nearly as pleasing as Finn’s: “Amazon Purging Reviews Again”.

(3) FEAST FOR THE EYES. A cover reveal for Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace, sequel to Archivist Wasp. Art by Jacquelin de Leon.

(4) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. BBC reports — “Black Panther film: ‘Game-changing’ movie takes $1bn”.

Marvel’s superhero film Black Panther has taken more than a billion US dollars (£794m) at cinemas worldwide.

It is the fifth movie based in Disney’s Marvel Universe to hit the milestone.

(5) WAKANDA. A group hopes to run Wakanda Con in Chicago, IL this summer. Right now they’re building a list of interested fans.

WAKANDA CON is a fan-driven, one-day celebration of Afro-Futurism, Tech, and Black superheroes in film, television, and comic books, and of course, Black Panther. Our event will be held in Chicago, IL in Summer 2018. Join fellow citizens of Wakanda for discussion, education, networking, and festivities.

Marvel’s Black Panther has ushered in a new wave of thought about issues surrounding the African Diaspora and a new future for Black people around the world. The image of an African country with advanced technology and equality has inspired some of the world’s greatest thinkers and all of Black Twitter to create, think, and respond. WAKANDA CON is chance to take the conversation about Black Panther offline and into the real world.

(6) BRING KLEENEX. John Scalzi gives people lots of reasons to want to see A Wrinkle in Time.

(And, you may ask, what do I think about the film’s multicultural and feminine viewpoint and aesthetic? I think it works very well, and it’s a reminder that things that are not designed specifically for one in mind may still speak significantly and specifically to one, if one is open to it. I would not have imagined A Wrinkle in Time the way DuVernay has — I seriously doubt I could have imagined it this way — and yet there I was crying my eyes out all the same. I do not need the world to be imagined as I would have imagined it. I want the world and the things in it to exceed my imagination, to show me things I cannot make for myself but can take into myself, hold precious, and make my imagination that much wider from that point forward. As I noted before, this movie was not, I think, made for me, and still here I am, loving it as much as I do.)

(7) HEARTFELT STORY. Charles Payseur is just as persuasive in getting people to read his short fiction reviews: “Quick Sips – GigaNotoSaurus March 2018”

GigaNotoSaurus offers up a beautiful short story for March that might have been a bit more appropriate for February and Valentine’s Day because it is adorable and wonderful and sweet and just good! I’m a sucker for romance, and so the focus of this story for me is refreshing, especially because it refuses to tread the same tired paths of angst and powerlessness that seem to dominate so many romantic story lines. It’s not without darkness or sadness, but it’s a story to me about the triumph of love and humans over despair, loss, and death. To the review!

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 12, 1971Andromeda Strain was first released theatrically.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock studied the canine cosmology in Pooch Cafe.

(10) COMEDIAN SECTION. Today’s relevant joke, from the just-late Ken Dodd: “Ken Dodd: 17 of his funniest one-liners”.

So it turns out that if you bang two halves of a horse together, it doesn’t make the sound of a coconut.

(Other 16 are NSF just about everything….)

(11) BEYOND THE FAIL FRONTIER. ScreenRant delights in finding these contradictions: “Star Trek: 17 Memes That Prove The Show Makes No Sense”. They begin with an infographic —

(12) INCLUSIVE OR NOT? Dave Huber, in The College Fix story, “MIT Librarian:  Tech Posters Plastered With Star Trek Posters, Other Geeky Stuff Is Non-Inclusive to Women,” says that MIT head librarian Chris Bourg has said that students should “replace Star Trek posters with travel posters…and generally just avoid geek references and inside nerd jokes” if they want to be inclusive for women.

Since the many incarnations of “Star Trek” are considered some of the most diverse shows in the history of television, not to mention that about half those attending Star Trek conventions are female, The College Fix contacted Bourg about this particular reference.

She responded by pointing out her advice “comes directly from the research,” and provided a link to the study: “Ambient Belonging: How Stereotypical Cues Impact Gender Participation in Computer Science.”

The 2009 study examined whether “stereotypical objects” like Star Trek posters “signal a masculinity that precludes women from ever developing an interest in computer science.” Or, as the authors dub it, how the “ambient belonging” of women is affected by tech-geek ware.

While conceding that the tech-geek “masculinity” in question may not refer to a “traditional definition” (think “strength, assertiveness, and sexual prowess”) the authors argue the “stereotypicality” of the group still has a “profound” effect on the ability to recruit people who do not see themselves as fitting that stereotype.

(13) PROPHET OF DOOM? “Tim Berners-Lee says net has ‘heaps of problems'”. [[Voice only]]

The inventor of the World Wide Web says the internet as we know it is “under threat” and faces “heaps” of problems.

Monday 12 March marks 29 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. This year is expected to be the first time that more than half of the world’s population will have internet access.

Sir Tim spoke to the BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones about the challenges faced.

(14) ELON MUSK. More blue-skying? “Elon Musk: Mars ship test flights ‘next year'”.

A Mars colony, he said, would reduce the chance of an extended new Dark Ages if a nuclear conflict was to wipe out life on Earth.

But, aware of his reputation, he added: “Sometimes my timelines are a little… y’know.”

But enough about reality.

Elon Musk is unquestionably the most interesting businessman in Silicon Valley – arguably the world – thanks to his almost single-handed reignition of the space race.

(15) MONITORING TV. Rich Lynch says tonight’s “Literary L.A.” Category on Jeopardy! had a Bradbury clue. It even showed a photo of him.

The contestant got it right.

(16) TENT TECH. It’s not your grandfather’s yurt — “To Fight Pollution, He’s Reinventing The Mongolian Tent”.

In Gamsukh’s office those possibilities seem endless. Books, papers and sketches cover a desk and table. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Gamsukh, whose dark hair has a slight orange tint, comes off as artistic. But the sketches he produces are not dreamy musings. They are technical drawings supported by mathematical calculations. They are solid, like the sturdily built Gamsukh. Many are already being implemented, including a partially completed passive solar heated immobile ger that adds windows, insulation and solar collectors to the traditional model. Passive solar heating design uses windows, walls and floors to collect, store and distribute heat in the winter and reject it in the summer. Designs vary depending on the climate in which they are built, but shade can be used to block the sun in summer without taking away from warmth in winter because the sun is higher in summer.

When it is finished, Gamsukh plans to call it home. He is also testing another modified ger that uses solar power and those underground pipes he tried to dig in winter for heat.

(17) SHORT ORDER ROBOT. “Burger-flipping robot begins first shift” at Cali-Burger in Pasadena, CA. See a video of the robot in action, at the link.

Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, has begun work at a restaurant in Pasadena, Los Angeles.

It is the first of dozens of locations for the system, which is destined to replace human fast-food workers.

The BBC’s North America technology reporter Dave Lee saw it in action.

(18) BUSTED. To go with the recent Pixel on Iceland running out of energy due to Bitcoin generation: “Iceland police arrest suspected Bitcoin server thieves”.

Police in Iceland have arrested 11 people suspected of stealing more than 600 computers that were being used to mine crypto-currencies, reports AP.

The computers were stolen during four raids on data centres around Iceland.

The country is a popular location for data centres because almost 100% of the power generated there comes from renewable sources.

(19) THE OTHER JJ. ScreenRant says this JJ Abrams sketch was cut from Saturday Night Live for time.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Allen, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Lynch, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Niall McAuley.]

Pixel Scroll 11/8/16 When We Scrolled The Pixels On Board, We Thought They Were Cute

(1) FAR FROM THE MADDING POLLING PLACE. In the market for non-election news? Cat Rambo has you covered at her blog.

As part of recent updates at SFWA we recently revamped the Nebula Recommended Reading list to show up in alphabetical order. It’s a stopgap measure until the website gets re-designed, and to my mind has some of the same problems as presenting by order of number of recommendations. In musing that over, I mentioned to webmaster Jeremy Tolbert that I looked forward to the new school of aardvarkpunk we were inspiring. A half hour later this story appeared in my head.

I thought, however, it would be useful perhaps for people grappling with novels to see what the last bits of work involve. I’ve been incorporating edits from the hardcopy manuscript but still have lots and lots of comments in the e-copy to address. In the process of adding those, I was able to look at the manuscript from a high-enough level that I could sort out all the chronology (oh dear GODDESS please let that statement be true, because that’s been the biggest pain in the rear so far) and make sure that everything made sense, that storylines were resolved, and that all the hidden plotlines got bubbled up in a meaningful way.

(2) SEE THESE SPOTS. Suzanne Johnson shares her knowledge of “Five Magical Spots in New Orleans” at Tor.com.

New Orleans is a place of myth and mysticism. It’s a city of rich, bon temps rouler party culture with a dark undercurrent of cynicism and violence. It’s the most haunted city in America (or so the tourism bureau would have you believe) and one of the most haunting cities for those who fall under its spell.

I am one of those people.

So I had a lot to consider in choosing my five most magical spots in my adopted hometown…

The most supposedly haunted? I’d need to include Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a legitimate business behind which my favorite pirate hid some of his illegitimate activities. Or the Hotel Monteleone (where the undead Jean Lafitte lives in my Sentinels of New Orleans series). Or just about any building in the French Quarter.

I could also go for the most infamous spots—scenes of horrific violence and mayhem. Or perhaps romantically magical spots like the streetcars rumbling down St. Charles Avenue or the trill of jazz along the riverfront. Maybe I could go with the scariest spots—surely led by the rusting ruins and clowns of Six Flags still abandoned a decade after Hurricane Katrina.

— And those are all things that didn’t make her list of five, which she discusses following that introduction.

(3) WHEN IN ROME. Matt Mitrovich covers a time travel novel at Amazing Stories “Book Review: The Emperor’s Men: Arrival by Dirk van den Boom”.

Arrival was an enjoyable read… but it has issues. On one hand, I though Dirk did a good job on the historical details with both the 1914-era Germans and the 4th century Romans. I liked how he spent time discussing how people dressed, how they prepared their food and even how they went to the bathroom (which is something most books leave out, but hey, there is history behind the toilet even if you don’t want to think about it). Additionally, while Arrival falls squarely into the time travelling ship trope, I still thought Dirk did a good job by using the trope in a setting that not many alternate historians go to (in fact Uchronia lists Dirk’s series as the only alternate history that diverges in 378).

(4) THE TIES THAT BIND. Madeleine E.  Robins tells Book View Café readers how she is going to take her mind off the election in  Respect the Process.

I am, in my day job, employed by the American Bookbinders Museum, a small museum focused on the shift from hand- to mechanical bookbinding as part of the greater Industrial Revolution. It’s fascinating, if you like books, or history, or art, or craft, or the history of women or unions or… As we’re a newish museum, we’re always looking to find ways to reach people who would be a natural audience for us. And as part of our outreach, I’m going to be spending weekends at Dickens Fair, an annual recreation of Dickens’s London on Christmas Eve. I’ll be sewing book signatures (the part of bookbinding that wasn’t mechanized until the mid-1870s) and attempting to interest passers-by in the subject, the craft, and, well… the museum.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born November 8, 1836 — Games producer Milton Bradley
  • Born November 8, 1847 – Bram Stoker, of Dracula fame.

(6) TREKKING BY THE BOOK. Scott Dutton is at work on Star Fleet Technical Manual 2.0 and has posted online all the pages he’s completed to date.

In 1975, Franz Joseph’s Technical Manual was the perfect companion to his Enterprise blueprints. While there are more accurate sources now, these were two of the best items to have during the time after The Original Series went off the air and before the movies began.

I’ve been working on an updated edition off and on for the past year-and-a-half or so. I’ll continue to work on it as time permits, and I wanted to share the work in progress as a way to get the word out there about it. It’d be nice to see this as an official licenced product in ebook or printed form, or both.

star-trek-technical-manual-5

(7) THE WEED OF CRIME. “Warning for all travelers to Worldcon 75,” says Hampus Eckerman – “373 police reports in Finland were connected to Moomin Mugs (Translation.) Seems like they are the entrance to heavy drugs. Be careful!”

moomin-mug

(8) LONG LIST UPDATE. David Steffen still plans on a mid-December release for Long List Anthology Volume 2, provided he gets all the following done:

I’ve finished drafting up a manuscript for the entire anthology, with all of the stories formatted, with a foreword and acknowledgments, copyright page, previous publications page, table of contents etc.  This is one of the more time-consuming components of putting together the book, since the individual story manuscripts may be in widely varying formats (none of which actually match what is needed for any version of the book).  So there’s a lot of fiddly little details trying to pound out the dents in the formatting, make sure the table of contents is in the same order as the stories in the book, make sure the biographies are attached to the correct stories, and so on.  This manuscript has been handed off to Polgarus Studio for producing the final version of the interior layouts for both print and ebook formats.

I’m working with Pat Steiner to work on final details of the cover layout.  A bit of a chicken-and-egg there, because I need to give an ebook cover to Polgarus for them to make the ebook, but I need the print layout from them for Pat to produce the full print cover (because the print cover image includes the binding, and the binding depends on how many pages the book is).  So there is some back and forth there to get those important details sorted out, but I love the work Pat does, he makes the covers very sharp and readable.

Skyboat Media is hard at work producing the audiobook now.

Next I’ll be working on inputting all the information into Amazon, Kobo, and other book/ebook sources for the book so that hopefully when I get the formatted files back the listings will be ready to just plug in the manuscript files.

(9) EIGHT MILES HIGH. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler reviews a prozine while jetting to the Orient — “[November 8, 1961] Points East (Air Travel and the December 1961 Galaxy)”.

I have to tell you, things are so much faster these days.  The jet engine has cut flight times in half, taking much of the tedium out of travel.  Oh, sure, I always had plenty to do in the air, between writing and reading and planning my next adventures, but for my poor fellow travelers, there was little to do but drink, smoke, and write letters.  For hours and hours.

These days, the Journey is my primary occupation.  I can do it from anywhere, and I often do, bringing my family along with me.  As we speak, I am writing out this article with the roar of the Japan Airlines DC-8’s jets massaging my ears, music from pneumatic headphone cords joining the mix.  It’s a smooth ride, too.  It would be idyllic, if not for the purple clouds of tobacco smoke filling the cabin.  But again, I suffer this annoyance for half the time as before.  I’ll abide.

… Speaking of reports, I’ve just finished up this month’s Galaxy Science Fiction.  I almost didn’t recognize this December issue as it lacks the usual fanciful depiction of St. Nick.  Instead, it features an illustration from Poul Anderson’s new novel, The Day After Doomsday, whose first part takes up a third of the double-sized magazine.  As usual, I won’t cover the serial until it’s done, but Anderson has been reliable of late, and I’ve high hopes.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day lurkertype.]