Pixel Scroll 12/26/18 And The Fur Suit Of Happiness

(1) NEW BUJOLD NOVELLA ON THE WAY. Bujold announced it on Goodreads — a “new Lakerwalker novella impending”.

…I am pleased to report that I have finished the first draft of a new novella in the world of The Sharing Knife. Functionally a novella, anyway; its length, at the moment, is a tad over 49,000 words, so it’s technically a short novel. This falls in an odd limbo in categorization — the official cap for a novella is 40k or 45k words, but the minimum contractual length for a commercially published novel is usually 100k. (It was 80k back when I started, but word-count inflation has occurred since then.) Since it’s headed for original e-publication, I don’t have to care, so the main concern is to label it so readers won’t charge in expecting something twice as long.

The working title was “Barr & Lily”, which is also its subject matter, being a sort of slice-of-Lakewalker-life character study. However, that won’t do for the final, since it sounds a bit too much like the name of a tea company. The current front-runner is “Knife Children”, but I’m not sure yet if that is going to stick.

It takes place about a dozen years after the events of the tetralogy, but should be perfectly readable as a stand-alone. (Old readers will gratify me if they can refrain from fending off potential new readers by telling them they have to read four other books first.)…

(2) 9W HIATUS. On December 22, London’s Nine Worlds convention governance committee made a response to some recent critical tweets, and acknowledged there will be no 9W in 2019. Thread starts here.

(3) WHATEVER’S NUMBERS. While John Scalzi’s annual statistical roundup shows it’s getting very hard to measure anyone’s social media reach, I still read these breakdowns in rapt fascination: “Top Whatever Posts and Social Media Stats, 2018”.

 Every year I post stats on traffic for Whatever, and every year it gets harder to see how it accurately reflects my actual readership, because of the way people read things I post here. Bluntly, relatively few people visit the site directly at this point in time — As of this moment, for 2018, Whatever has had 2.82 million direct visits in 2018, down from last year’s 4.1 million, and substantially down from the 2012 high of 8.16 million. At the same time, Whatever has 30k+ followers through WordPress and email, another 10k+ on Feedly and other RSS aggregators, a few thousand though social media feeds, and there an unknown number of people reading the site’s content on mobile, through AMP versions of the site. None of those impressions/reads get tracked through the WordPress stats suite.

(4) SANS SERIF FACTOR THREE, MR. SULU. Hyperallergenic contends that “Many Stories Are Told Through the Typography in Science Fiction Films”.

In film, there is a shorthand for the future, the typeface Eurostile Bold Extended. It appears on the interface screens of the time-traveling Delorean in Back to the Future (1985), and in the logo of Lunar Industries at the lonely lunar station in Moon (2009). It adorns the exterior of the USS Enterprise starship in the Star Trek franchise, and the Federal Colonies intergalactic megacorporation branding in Total Recall (1990). It gives both the Battlestar Galactica series title and the credits of District 9 (2009) an ultramodern tone.

As blogger and designer Dave Addey explains in his new book Typeset in the Future, out now from Abrams, he first noticed the ubiquity of the typeface in 2013. 

(5) THE YEAR IN SCIENCE. BBC picked its “Ten big science stories of 2018”. Second on the list —  

The earliest animals

The one-million-plus animal species alive today are staggeringly diverse, from the giant oceanic blue whale to the wriggly earthworms beneath our feet. But their early evolution from single-celled ancestors remains shrouded in mystery.

In the hunt for the earliest animal life, much attention has been focused on a group of enigmatic life forms – known as the “Ediacaran biota” – from more than 500 million years ago. These were some of the first complex organisms to appear on Earth.

But their position on the tree of life is difficult decipher. These curious creatures have been variously categorised as lichens, fungi, and even as a halfway house between plants and animals.

In September, scientists were able to extract molecules of cholesterol from a fossilised Ediacaran life form called Dickinsonia, which resembled a flat jellyfish. Cholesterol is one of the molecular hallmarks of animal life, clearly demonstrating that the Ediacaran biota were animals.

(6) THE SIGN OF THE ZERO. A.V. Club is impressed, in a negative sort of way: Holmes & Watson crack the case of the 0 percent Rotten Tomatoes score”.

Entering into a robust fraternity of cinematic triumphs that includes such highlights as Gotti and Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly’s new comedy Holmes & Watson has joined the storied pantheon of movies rocking a 0 percent “rotten” score on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. For those unfamiliar with the site’s system, that means that not a single one of the 15 critics currently being polled for the film’s merits have said it’s even marginally worth the 89 minutes of your life it would take to watch, making this a real anti-Paddington 2 situation.

(7) DOA ON BAKER STREET. Here’s The Hollywood Reporter’s contribution to the funeral cortege: “‘Holmes & Watson’: Film Review”.

You can feel the flop sweat emanating from the third onscreen pairing of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Making their previous vehicles Step Brothers and Talladega Nights seem the height of comic sophistication by comparison, Holmes & Watson features the duo parodying Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous characters to devastatingly unfunny effect. Numerous talented British thespians are wasted in supporting roles in this Christmas turkey that, not surprisingly, wasn’t screened in advance for critics. Although making them troop out to theaters Christmas morning is something of which even Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t have approved.

(8) EISENBERG OBIT. Scientist and sff author Larry Eisenberg achieved his greatest fame writing limericks in comments to the online New York Times over the past decade: “Larry Eisenberg, 99, Dead; His Limericks Were Very Well Read”. Eisenberg died December 25 from complications of acute myeloid leukemia.

Dr. Eisenberg joined Rockefeller University in 1958 and later became a director of its electronics laboratory. Early in his tenure at Rockefeller, he helped develop a transistorized, battery-operated cardiac pacemaker, which was considered a vast improvement over the wire-laden earlier models. He taught at the university until 2000.

As a science-fiction writer, Dr. Eisenberg was best known for his short story “What Happened to Auguste Clarot?” The comic tale of a disappearing Parisian scientist, it was published in “Dangerous Visions” (1967), the noted anthology edited by Harlan Ellison.

He was also known for his stories featuring Prof. Emmett Duckworth, an amiably hapless Nobel Prize-winning scientist. (Duckworth’s inventions include an intensely addictive aphrodisiac containing 150,000 calories per ounce.)

…In a 2011 feature, Dr. Eisenberg was asked by The 6th Floor, a Times Magazine blog, to supply a brief biographical summary for readers. He replied — a mere 20 minutes later — in the form he knew best:

A nonagenarian, I,
A sometime writer of sci-fi,
Biomed engineer,
Gen’rally of good cheer,
With lim’ricks in ready supply.

(9) ISAACS OBIT. Boston area conrunning fan Fred Isaacs died December 26 after a long battle with COPD. Just a few items from his extensive resume — he chaired Boskone 9 (1972), and was co-inventor of the concourse format of organizing exhibits and fan tables for the 1989 Worldcon, which was frequently emulated by later Worldcons.  

(10) GRAU OBIT. Jorge Grau (1930-2018): Spanish screenwriter and director, reportedly died today, aged 88. Best known for the horror film The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974, aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie). Also directed The Legend of Blood Castle (1973, aka The Female Butcher) and Violent Blood Bath (1974).

(11) MOSIMAN OBIT. Billie Sue Mosiman (1947-2018) has died. She had her first fiction published in the 1980s, and went on to become an Edgar nominee for her novel Night Cruise and a Stoker nominee for Widow. She authored eight suspense novels and more than 150 short stories, and coedited six anthologies.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 26, 1911Milton Luros. Illustrator during the Golden Age of pulp magazines from 1942 to 1954 (yes I’ve expansive on what I consider to be to the Golden Age). His work graced Science Fiction Quarterly, Astounding Stories,  Future Combined with Science Fiction StoriesFuture Science Fiction StoriesDynamic Science Fiction and  Science Fiction Quarterly. He had an amazing ability to illustrate women in outfits in hostile environments that simply were impractical such as one for Science Fiction Quarterly (UK), October 1952 cover had a cut out in her spacesuit so her décolletage was bare. (Died 1999.)
  • Born December 26, 1930Donald Moffat. Yes he just passed on several days ago but his Birthday is today so he gets written up. Yes The Thing indeed was first SF undertaking followed by License to KillThe Terminal Man, Exo-Man, Monster in the Closet and Earthquake films, plus The Twilight Zone and Six Million Dollar Man series. (Died 2018.)
  • Born December 26, 1961 Tahnee Welch, 57. Daughter of Raquel Welch, she has  shows up in Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return; also in Sleeping Beauty, Johnny 2.0 and Black Light. She also appears in a SF video game called Ripper that took place in 2040 NYC and uses Jack as the basis for the plot there.
  • Born December 26, 1974Danielle Cormack, 44. Performer of New Zealander status so you can guess what that means — Ephiny on  Xena: Warrior Princess, a one shot as Lady Marie DeValle on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Ephiny on the same series, Katherine on Jack of All Trades (which I’ve mentioned before was one of Kage Baker’s fav shows), Raina on Cleopatra 2525 and Shota on the Legend of the Seeker. Genre television has been very, very good for the New Zealand economy! 
  • Born December 26, 1986Kit Harington, 32. Jon Snow on Game of Thornes of course but also voiced the Eret character in the How to Train Your Dragon films, a considerably lighter affair I’d say. Also played Bill Bradley in Seventh Son and is voicing Sir Gadabout In Zog, yet another dragon-centred film, I gather. 
  • Born December 26, 1960Temuera Morrison, 58. New Zealand performer known for being Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (and Commander Cody in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. He also voiced the clone troopers in both films. He is also voiced Chief Tui, the father of the title character in Disney’s Moana, and for playing Arthur Curry’s father in Aquaman.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • XKCD on feathered dinosaurs.

(14) SOMEDAY MY PRINTS WILL COME. Io9 has a cool décor suggestion: “Hang Iconic Doctor Who Moments on Your Wall With These Fantastic Framed Prints”.

Over the past few months, Classic Stills has been capturing high-res moments from genre faves like Jurassic Park and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as artsy prints you can frame on your wall. Now, it’s turning its hand to TV, in the form of another genre icon: 55 years of Doctor Who’s adventures in time and space….

(15) DO YOU PREFER LEINSTER OR JENKINS? Now’s your chance to find out. Murray Leinster’s daughter recently put together a short collection of mainstream short stories published under his real name of Will F. Jenkins which was, as Bruce D. Arthurs notes, was “Apparently the actual majority, and bread-and-butter, of his writing career.” Intro by Michael Swanwick. Available on Amazon. Link to Swanwick’s blog post: “The Mainstream Murray Leinster”.

…In a career that began in 1913 and ended with his death in 1975, Jenkins published some 1,800 stories in more than 150 periodicals, as well as 74 novels and collections. Only a small part of his output was science fiction — and that was written over the horrified objections of his agent. (SF didn’t pay as well as the slicks, which were his usual markets.) But Jenkins loved science and wrote science fiction for the fun of it, utilizing the Leinster pen name to protect his other fiction….

(16) SUCCESSFUL DEMONSTRATION. NPR asks “What’s Next For Tiny Satellites?” but doesn’t really have much of an answer yet.

On Nov. 26, as the probe known as InSight plummeted through the Martian atmosphere on its way to the planet’s surface, two miniature spacecraft — known collectively as MarCO — relayed telemetry from InSight to Earth, assuring all those watching that the landing of the probe was proceeding successfully and was soft.

In the past, spacecraft were only able to transmit back to Earth simple tones during a landing. Those tones would change for major milestones, such as parachute deployment, the firing of landing rockets or touchdown.

This time, as InSight team member Christine Szalai called out altitudes from the control room in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, she was reading off actual data from InSight’s onboard radar. It was live play-by-play, bearing in mind that the radio signal from Mars took approximately eight minutes to reach Earth.

… After its relay mission was over, the MarCOs sailed past Mars; they’ll go into orbit around the sun. Marinan says the research team on Earth will check in on the cubesats from time to time, just to see how long they last.

(17) I’VE SEEN THAT FACE BEFORE. A crossover comic brings together two characters played by actor Bruce Campbell: “Interview: Scott Duvall on How Ash Meets Bubba Ho-Tep in Dynamite’s New Army of Darkness Crossover”.

Worlds collide this February when Ash meets Elvis and a foul-mouthed mummy in Dynamite’s latest crossover Army of Darkness vs. Bubba Ho-Tep. The four-issue mini-series not only brings together two beloved cult classics, it also pits Bruce Campbell’s infamous character against another of his best personas (the actor played Ash in the Evil Dead series as well as Elvis Presley in Bubba Ho-Tep in 2002).

Written by Scott Duvall (They Called Us Enemy, Heavy Metal) and with art by Vincenzo Federici (Grimm Fairy Tales), the story follows Ash on a road trip through Texas in search of Elvis, who is rumored to be alive and taking down evil mummies. With a time-traveling Elvis jumpsuit and a new evil Book of the Dead, Ash must then come face to face with Bubba Ho-Tep, the soul-sucking mummy.

(18) THIS SCEPTRED ISLE. For those of us beyond the range of Her Majesty’s broadcast, Camestros Felapton helpfully supplies a transcript: “And now a message from the Queen to her commonwealth”.

When the creatures of the void break through the veil of cosmogyny and come to rend your essence from your bones and then marke sport with your skeleton while your howling soul looks on, to whom would you turn? Your milquetoast post-modernist professors? Your “Jeremiah Corbills”? Your “republicans” and constitutional reformers?

Or instead will you turn to a family that are the heirs to Boudicca, King Arthur, William the Conqueror, or my namesake Glorianna herself Elizabeth the First?

(19) TRANSFORMATIVE MURDERBOTS. Meredith advised:

For those who may not be aware: Transformative works fandom has a yearly secret santa gift exchange called Yuletide where people write small-fandom fanfiction for each other, and book fandoms usually make quite a good showing. This year’s collection can be found here.

(It’s also one of several fannish endeavours founded by Astolat, who also writes some really excellent and Hugo-nominated books when she’s not writing fanfic.)

Then JJ discovered –

There are 8 Murderbot fics!

And one of them features Timothy!

[Thanks to Steve Green, Bruce Arthurs, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Meredith, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Gary Farber, ULTRAGOTHA, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/17/16 The Second Fifth Season

(1) RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’RE A GREAT WRITER. Photos from George R.R. Martin’s sit-down with Stephen King last night in Albuquerque, in “The King and I” at Not a Blog.

(2) NON-ENGLISH SCHOLARSHIP AWARD. Through September 1, the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts is taking entries for the 10th annual Jamie Bishop Memorial Award for a critical essay on the fantastic written in a language other than English.

The IAFA defines the fantastic to include science fiction, folklore, and related genres in literature, drama, film, art and graphic design, and related disciplines.

The prize is $250 U.S. and one year’s free membership in the IAFA.

(3) FUTURE IAFA. In 2017, “Fantastic Epics” will be the theme of the 38th International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, to be held March 22-26 in Orlando, Florida. Guests of Honor: Steven Erikson and N.K. Jemisin; Guest Scholar: Edward James; and Special Guest Emeritus: Brian Aldiss.

(4) INVENTIVE SF WRITER. Mike Chomko salutes “120 Years of Murray Leinster” at the Pulpfest website.

Although magazines have been around since the seventeenth century, it wasn’t until the last month of 1896 that the pulp magazine was born. It was left to Frank A. Munsey – a man about whom it has been suggested, “contributed to the journalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money changer and the manner of an undertaker” – to deliver the first American periodical specifically intended for the common man — THE ARGOSY. In his own words, Munsey decided to create “a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout.”

That same year, on June 16, a child was born who would become one of THE ARGOSY’s regular writers for nearly four decades — William Fitzgerald Jenkins. Best known and remembered under his pseudonym of Murray Leinster, Jenkins wrote and published more than 1,500 short stories and articles, fourteen movie scripts, and hundreds of radio scripts and television plays. Active as a writer for nearly seven decades, Jenkins’ writing career began in early 1916 when his work began to be featured in H. L. Mencken’s and George Jean Nathan’s THE SMART SET.

(5) JEMISIN INTERVIEWED BY WIRED. “Wired Book Club: Fantasy Writer N.K. Jemisin on the Weird Dreams That Fuel Her Stories”.

We asked readers to submit questions. Here’s one: “I love how this storyline seemed to play with the idea that a person is fluid rather than static, especially when discussing the concept of mothering. Women tend to be judged very harshly on whether or not they want a family, and on the decisions they make when they do have a family. To see one person travel along all different points of the mother spectrum was very interesting. Am I reading too much into this?”

No! I’m glad that reader saw that. I tend to like writing characters that are not typical heroes. I have seen mothers as heroes in fiction lots of time, but they tend to be one-note. You don’t often see that they weren’t always that interested in having kids. They weren’t always great moms. You don’t often see that they are people beyond being mothers, that motherhood is just one aspect of their life and not the totality of their being. I had some concern about the fact that I am not a mother. It’s entirely possible that I made some mistakes in the way that I chose to render that complexity. But it’s something I wanted to explore.

(6) YOU CAN SAY THAT AGAIN. In fact, they have.

(7) JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER. Joe Zieja, gaining fame as a genre humorist, proves his mettle in “Five Books I Haven’t Read But Want To and Am Going to Summarize Anyway Based on Their Titles and Covers” at Tor.com.

The Grace of Kings—Ken Liu

The year is 2256. The Earth is a barren wasteland of oatmeal raisin cookies and hyper-intelligent cockroaches Everything is pretty much firmly settled in a dystopian, post-apocalpytic mess, and nobody can grow any plants. Except one girl: Grace King. This is the story of one girl’s attempt to grow a dandelion out of a really fancy upside-down ladle. As she struggles to find the courage inside herself—and maybe some water or fertilizer, or something—we recognize that her quest for the ladle is not unlike our own, deeply personal quest for soup.

This game sounds tailor made for Filers…

(8) FATHERS DAY READS. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog comes up with “5 Great Dad Moments in Science Fiction & Fantasy History”.

Aral Vorkosigan Saves His Son (The Warrior’s Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold) Aral Vorkosigan is not a man who easily bends his principles or behaves counter to his beliefs; you can probably count the number of times he’s actually used his power and influence for personal gain on one hand—remarkable considering how much power he wields at various times in his career. At the end of the second book in Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, his son Miles stands accused of raising a private army and is poised to be drummed out of the military and executed, but Aral influences the proceedings so that Miles is charged instead with the equally serious crime of treason. Why is having your son accused of treason a grand Dad Moment? Because Aral knew treason could never be proved—while it was pretty clear that Miles had indeed raised a private army (even if he had a really good reason). It’s a neat way for Aral to demonstrate his loyalty to his son without, technically, violating his own moral code.

(9) NOW WE HAVE FACES. Yahoo! News brings word that Supergirl has cast its Superman.

For Season 2, though, the Last Son of Krypton will finally have a face, and he’ll look a lot like Tyler Hoechlin. The Teen Wolf star takes flight in a role previously played on The CW by Smallville’s Tom Welling, who portrayed a pre-Superman Clark Kent for 10 seasons.

Hoechlin actually has comic book roots that pre-date his Supergirl assignment. At the age of 14, he won the coveted role of Tom Hanks’s son in Road to Perdition, the Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of an acclaimed graphic novel. In addition to his role as Derek Hale on Teen Wolf, the actor will also appear in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.

(10) QUALITY EMERGENT. At Amazing Stories, MD Jackson continues the series: “Why Was Early Comic Book Art so Crude? (Part Two)”.

His talents did not go unnoticed. Everett M. “Busy” Arnold, publisher of Quality Comics, wanted to integrate the comic book format into the more prestigious world of the Sunday Funnies. He lured Eisner away from the studio to create a weekly comic book that would be distributed by a newspaper syndicate. Eisner agreed and came up with his most famous creation, The Spirit, which would continue to break new ground artistically, but also in the comic book business. Eisner insisted on owning the copyright to his new creation, a situation almost without parallel in comics at that time and almost without parallel on any popular basis for several decades to come. “Since I knew I would be in comics for life, I felt I had every right to own what I created. It was my future, my product and my property, and by God, I was going to fight to own it.” Eisner said. That was a watershed moment in terms of the artist being acknowledged as a creator of comics rather than just part of an assembly line.

(11) A LOONEY IDEA. A BBC video explains why Earth probably has more than one moon a lot of the time.

Or, as JPL explains it:

As it orbits the sun, this new asteroid, designated 2016 HO3, appears to circle around Earth as well. It is too distant to be considered a true satellite of our planet, but it is the best and most stable example to date of a near-Earth companion, or “quasi-satellite.”

“Since 2016 HO3 loops around our planet, but never ventures very far away as we both go around the sun, we refer to it as a quasi-satellite of Earth,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “One other asteroid — 2003 YN107 — followed a similar orbital pattern for a while over 10 years ago, but it has since departed our vicinity. This new asteroid is much more locked onto us. Our calculations indicate 2016 HO3 has been a stable quasi-satellite of Earth for almost a century, and it will continue to follow this pattern as Earth’s companion for centuries to come.”

(12) IT’S A THEORY.

(13) A DOCTOR ON DYING. Rudy Rucker Podcast #95 shares with listeners an essay/memoir by Michael Blumlein called “Unrestrained and Indiscreet” originally read at the SF in SF series in San Francisco.

And then all at once Blumlein … tells about learning that he himself has lung cancer, about having large sections of his lungs removed, and about learning that the treatments have failed and that he’s approaching death. Blumlein is a doctor as well as as science-fiction author, and he ends with a profound meditation on the process and experience of death…

(14) SCALES AND TALES. William Wu has released the final cover for Scales and Tales, the anthology created to benefit three different animal adoption programs in the LA area.

Wu’s small press is printing 500 copies. An e-version will follow.

There will be a signing at the San Diego Comic-Con in July, and another at Dark Delicacies bookstore in Burbank on August 28 at 2 p.m.

Scales-and-Tales-cover COMP

(15) SIXTIES HUGO WINNER. Nawfalaq at AQ’s Reviews is not the least blown away by Clifford D. Simak’s Way Station, a book that was at the very top of my list of favorite sf novels for a number of years.

Way Station by Clifford D. Simak (1904 – 1988) is the third novel by the author that I have read. It was published in 1963 and won the 1964 Hugo Award for best novel.  Off the bat, I have to say that this is the most polished of the three novels by Simak that I have read. Nevertheless, I admit that this was not an easy read for me to get through. The setting and the tone really caused the big slowdown with my reading of this novel.

The review makes me want to “revenge read” Way Station to prove to myself it is as wonderful as I remember. But what if it’s not…?

(16) SECURITY THEATRE? JJ calls this a “replicant check.”

(17) IT PAYS TO BE A GENIUS OF COURSE. In this installment of Whatever’s “The Big Idea” series, Yoon Ha Lee reveals the thinking behind Ninefox Gambit.

Not so fast. Both of them were also supposed to be geniuses: Jedao at tactics and psychological warfare, Cheris at math. It’s possible that writing geniuses is easy when one is a genius oneself; I wouldn’t know, because I’m definitely not a genius. (I have since sworn that maybe the next thing I should do is write slapstick comedy about stupid-ass generals, not brilliant tacticians.)

So I cheated.  A lot. One of the first things I did was to reread James Dunnigan & Albert A. Nofi’s Victory and Deceit: Dirty Tricks at War. I wrote down all the stratagems I liked, then tried to shove all of them into the rough draft. (And then there was too much plot so I had to take some of them out.)  And of course, their opponent also had to be smart. I’d learned this from reading Gordon R. Dickson’s Tactics of Mistake, a novel I found infuriating because the “tactical genius” mainly geniused by virtue of the opponent being stupid, which I’m sure happens all the time in real life but makes for unsatisfying narrative. Besides all the military reading I did, I also hit up social engineering and security engineering.

(18) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 17, 1955 — Bert I. Gordon’s King Dinosaur premieres in theaters.

ws_Vintage_Cinema__King_Dinosaur!_1440x900 COMP

(19) MONSTERKID. Rondo Award emcee David Colton presents Steve Vertlieb with the Lifetime Achievement, Rondo Award “Hall Of Fame” plaque at the Wonderfest film conference on June 4.

Vertlieb receives rondoRondo Hall of Fame

(20) STAR WARS 8 FINISHES SHOOTING IN IRELAND. Post-Star Wars filming in Ireland, the studio put an ad in a local Kerry newspaper complete with Gaelic translation of may the force be with you. The commenters tried to make it look like the translation was wrong. All I can say is Google Translate made nonsense of it.

Then local Credit Union decided to capitalize on the zeitgeist with Darth Vader as Gaeilgoir (Irish speaker).

(21) FURNISHING THE FUTURE. Stelios Mousarris is a designer with a fantastic imagination.

A Glass Coffee Table propelled by a team of rockets makes a nice Father’s Day gift.

table-1

Ever since I was a little boy, I loved playing with action figures and spent my weekend mornings watching cartoons on the TV. I have been collecting toys and action figures and anything nostalgic from my childhood until this day.

Every time I take a look at my collectibles I remember my childhood, when I used to play for hours on end without a care in the world.

I wanted to recreate that feeling of carefreeness and nostalgia with the Rocket Coffee Table. The design is visually playful bringing cartoon-like clouds and aerial rockets from a personal toy collection to life, in the form of a table.

Combining various techniques from lathe to 3d printing, resin casting and traditional hand curved pieces, this table is fashioned to draw a smile on the face of nostalgic adults, children, and children trapped in adult bodies.

The rockets are not attached to the glass giving the opportunity to each owner to form their own desired structure of the table.

Price: €5000

Or look at the Wave City Coffee Table:

another table 2 COMP.jpg

 

Inspired by a film this table is a well balanced mixture of wood, steel and 3D printed technology.

Price: €8500

[Thanks to Nigel, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Pixel Scroll 3/22/16 The Scrolls Are Alive With The Sound of Pixels

(1) MEDIA CON INFLATION. Rob Salkowitz at ICv2 says “As The 2016 Con Season Begins, Seams Are Starting To Show”.

Competition for big names is getting crazy. Every show wants the top names to draw fans, but the bidding war for A-list talent is starting to sound unsustainable. I’ve heard reliable reports that the appearance fees for the Wizard World Show in Philadelphia in June, which lists Chris Evans, Chris Helmsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie and the stars of Back to the Future, top $1 million in guaranteed money.

Well sure. Those are all the stars of what seems likely to be 2016’s biggest movie, all in one place.

But this is having a trickle-down effect. Because this is Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, the surviving original cast members and just about everyone associated with all versions of the show, are in unusually high demand. Competition to get these names on the marquee has reportedly led to cancelled contracts, bidding wars, waivers of exclusives, a shift from guaranteed revenues for autograph sales to straight appearance fees, and other cutthroat tactics.

Cons need to make that money back somewhere, and it’s coming from three places: fans, exhibitors and sponsors.

Costs are rising for attendees. Badges for 3- and 4-day events are starting to crack the $100 level, and that’s just the start. More and more events are not only adding VIP packages, which start around $195 and can go as high as $800-900, but are also requiring fans to pre-pay for celebrity photo ops and celebrity autographs in advance. SVCC even experimented with charging a $10 surcharge for admission to the Back to the Future Panel in its big room on Saturday afternoon, only to oversell the event and not have room for prepaid customers.

(2) PATHFINDER. Marion Deeds has an excellent report on FOGCon 2016 at Fantasy Literature.

Is 72 Letters Enough? In Search of the Perfect Language

I consider a panel “good” if I come away with new book titles to track down, or lots of ideas. By those two measurements, this panel was the best panel of the convention. Panelists included Ted Chiang, who took his inspiration from the Umberto Eco book In Search of the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe). The other panelists were Cathy Hindersinn and Steven Schwartz, with Michelle Cox moderating. There was another panelist but I don’t remember her name and it doesn’t appear in the program. Hindersinn studied linguistics before making a lateral move and becoming a computer programmer. Schwartz is part of the FOGCon committee and writes speculative fiction and epic poetry. He loves language and he loves to talk about language. Cox has an MA in Church History and theology and is a technical writer.

Chiang is scary-smart, articulate if a bit abstract at times, and serious, but he has a great wit, which was on display during the panel. This panel was held in the large room and, as near as I could tell, there was one empty chair. Several people were standing. The panelists were opinionated, and in some cases their passion outstripped their knowledge; the audience was the same way. It was brilliant.

Chiang used the Eco book as a jumping off point for a discussion and critique of the conceit of a “perfect” language; one that existed in the past, in humanity’s “golden age;” a language that all humans could speak and understand. There are two parts to that idea: universalism; the idea that there is one language every human on the planet can communicate in, (perhaps as a second language); and then a language that has the smallest possible divide between the signifier and the thing signified.

(3) STRANGE PUBLISHING TREND. The New Republic reports “The Mass-Market Edition of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Is Dead”.

We may never know what Lee’s will stipulates, but the estate’s first action in the wake of Lee’s death is both bold and somewhat baffling: The New Republic has obtained an email from Hachette Book Group, sent on Friday, March 4 to booksellers across the country, revealing that Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird…..

That said, mass-market paperbacks have been on a precipitous decline lately, though TKAM’s success, particularly in the education market, makes it a notable exception. But many publishers are moving away from the format. Pressed for further comment, a HarperCollins spokesperson informed me that “Like many American classics, To Kill A Mockingbird’s primary paperback format will be the trade paperback edition.” That’s an important distinction: The general trend in publishing has been against the mass-market and toward more expensive (and durable) editions—many American classics, including The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath no longer have mass-market editions.

(4) THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Murray Leinster’s warning is just waiting for tech to catch up. A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech. 70 years later, Murray Leinster’s disaster scenario is the internet you know and love.”

The story goes on to tell how “Joe,” a rogue logic with a slight manufacturing defect, becomes self-aware and resolves to provide his owners and all other “logic” users with whatever information they require. Leinster says of Joe:

Joe ain’t vicious, you understand. He ain’t like one of those ambitious robots you read about that make up their minds the human race is inefficient and has got to be wiped out an’ replaced by thinkin’ machines. Joe’s just got ambition. If you were a machine you’d wanna work right, wouldn’t you? That’s Joe. He wants to work right. And he’s a logic, an’ logics can do a lotta things that ain’t been found out yet.

This, in turn, leads to logics around the city providing tips on everything from poisoning spouses to covering up drinking binges and robbing banks. Only when Joe is taken offline is that information hidden away from humanity and order restored.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 22, 1931 – William Shatner. The whole internet is barely big enough to contain everything there is to know about his show biz career. Google revealed to me that Shatner was on the old What’s My Line? game show in January 1965.

He was there to plug the premiere episode of his (then) new lawyer drama series For The People — which fortunately for all concerned failed in time for him to be cast in Star Trek.

(6) TODAY’S OTHER BIRTHDAY BOY

trekkie-recipe-william-shatners-cappuccino-muffins_w654

(7) RECORD STRAIGHTENER. Larry Correia has been unfairly charged with abandoning the battlefield, as he explains in “The Guardian’s Village Idiot Declares Another Career Ruined”.

I wasn’t going to write anything about SP, but it has come to my attention that a new narrative has arisen amongst the mushy headed dope punditry of fandom, because they are always scrambling for something to get their collective panties in a bunch over. This time it is that Brad and I are cowards—and are probably misogynistic women haters too—because we abandoned poor female Kate to their mighty wrath.

Well, you’ll have to forgive Brad’s cowardice, because he has been deployed by the US Army to the Middle East for the last year, supporting missions against terrorists, but that’s nothing compared to the courage it takes to have a good fandom slapfight. (And really? Scared of what? There are only so many ways you guys can send out a press release alleging that somebody is a racist).

And you’ll have to forgive me too, because I thought I had made my point in 2014 that the system was biased, and I was done. Only Brad asked me to come back to help in 2015, so I did, and after the CHORFs proved my point for me far better than I ever could—wooden assholes and No Awarding the most deserving editor in the business—I said at the end of that I was done.

Why am I out? Mostly because it was a giant time suck, and I’ve got stuff to do. Unlike most of my detractors, I actually write books for a living. I wrote a novella worth of posts on SP in public, and another one worth of emails on the topic behind the scenes. Then there is the joy of spending an hour on the phone with reporters, so that they can quote one sentence from you, and then quote paragraphs from some dolt who knows jack about the topic but belongs to the right clique.

Honestly, in the time I spent on Sad Puppies, I probably could have gotten another book out the door. Plus in 2016 I’ve got my European research trip, I have a new business venture I’ve not talked about at all, I bought a big chunk of property, and mountain fortress compounds don’t build themselves. All that’s in addition to the three novels that are coming out this year, the short fiction collection I have to put together, and the MHI anthology I have to edit.

So I could either try to prove again the point that I’ve already proven, or I can get paid more. Hmmm…. Tough call.

(8) A PUPPY SURPRISE. Apparently Jeffro Johnson was the last person on Earth to realize this was the game plan from Day 1. “Comments on Sad Puppies IV and Rabid Puppies II” at Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog.

You know, I have to say… making the Puppies lists for Best Related Work was a real shock for me. That’s just not something that ever even occurred to me as being a possibility. Maybe it’s a bit ironic, but it’s actually humbling to have even a modest number of people think that well of me. I honestly don’t know what else to say, but “thank you.” So: thank you! 

(9) HONORED. Cheah Kai Wai (Benjamin Cheah) is also pleased to be included. See “Rabid Puppies Recommended”.

I am greatly honoured to accept such praise, and am deeply humbled by the fact that there are people who believe I am worthy of standing beside such luminaries as Stephen King and Andy Weir. Looking at the rest of the Rapid Puppies recommendations, I am fully confident that the recommendations will live up to the Rapid Puppies’ mission of making the Hugos great again.

Further, I am especially pleased by Vox Day’s inclusion of Space Raptor Butt Invasion. Science fiction is the literature of ideas, allowing radical concepts to be explored in great detail. This story is indubitably a masterwork that skilfully portrays interspecies non-heterosexual relations within a vividly-created science fictional universe, and would surely be a shoo-in for the Hugos among certain quarters.

(10) REMOVAL REQUEST. In revolutionary Boston the tea had to be thrown overboard. This time it jumped.

Emma Newman speaks “Regarding Tea and Jeopardy being included on a certain list”.

All I know is that I would like Tea and Jeopardy to be removed from this latest list. I don’t want something that Pete and I spend a hell of a lot of time and energy creating to be associated with anything like this. Our podcast has made it to the nominations shortlist two years in a row on its own merit and if we are lucky enough to be shortlisted for a third time, I want it to be because people listen to the show and are moved to nominate it. Nothing more.

Sadly, it seems that requests to be removed for the Sad Puppies 4 list are being ignored. Whilst part of me agrees that people can put whatever they like into a list on their own website, the part that values courtesy disagrees with the refusal to respect a creator’s requests to remove something from it. I’m sorry if this hurts the feelings of the people involved, but no matter what the intentions are this year, no matter the reasons why our podcast made it onto that list, I personally do not want my work to be associated with it.

(11) SECOND CUP. Peter Newman affirms the request in “Tea and Jeopardy, Hugo nominations and Sad Puppies”.

To be clear, I have never solicited the attention of this group, nor do I endorse it. I was not asked if Tea & Jeopardy could be included and I am told that requests to be taken off the list will be ignored. That said, I’d like Tea & Jeopardy to be taken off the Sad Puppies 4 list.

(12) SCHMIDT ASKS OUT. Bryan Thomas Schmidt tells Facebook readers he’s unhappy to find himself on the Rabid Puppies slate.

So apparently the abominable Vox Day put me on his Hugo list this year. First I heard if it. I have paid NO attention this year to lists, etc. I would demand removal but he clearly cares not what people think and states flat out he will not entertain removal requests. I “No Awarded” him last year and would again. I do not approve of this and see it as his attempt to do me further harm. Just going to ignore.

He’s also got an asterisk next to his name on the Sad Puppies 4 List now, too.

In fact, Schmidt says he would rather not be considered for the Hugo at all.

Although I am flattered when friends say they nominated me for the Hugo, please do not waste votes on me this year. I do not want to participate in this broken, biased process, at least until perhaps people of all creeds and levels can be fairly considered without politics ruling the day. I would decline a nomination if offered, though I highly suspect there will be no need. Instead, please consider MISSION: TOMORROW for the Locus Awards. Thanks.

(13) LIMITING DAMAGE. David D. Levine also got his short story “Damage” asterisked by asking to be removed from the Sad Puppies 4 List in a comment.

(14) SUPPORT FOR KATE PAULK. Amanda S. Green in “Cranky Writer is, well, cranky” said —

As for those who don’t want to be associated with SP4, I suggest you go back and look at what Kate has done throughout the year. The list is not something she pulled out of thin air. This is a list that is based solely on recommendations made by anyone who wanted to take part. By telling Kate you don’t want to be associated with the list, you are basically telling your readers — your fans and the people who buy your work — that you don’t value their support. You are letting fear of what a few in the industry might think of you override what should be important: keeping your fans happy. Unless, of course, you don’t give a flip what your fans think and you like slapping them in the face for daring to support your work and recommend it for what has been one of the most prestigious prizes in the industry.

(15) BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARDSHELL. Alexandra Erin brings back the field’s most insightful reviewer, John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired) – “Sad Puppies Review Books: Yertle the Turtle”.

The villain of the piece is a turtle named Mack who is so dissatisfied with his place in the world that rather than climbing the ladder and making something of himself, he instead blames society for such petty things as the pain in his back and his lack of food. Not content to merely complain, he uses his extraordinary power and privilege to impose his will upon all other turtles. Lacking the gumption and will to raise himself up, he instead only tears down, and will not be satisfied until all other turtles have been brought down to his level.

(16) DELVING. Alexandra Erin’s “Nineteen Puppy Four” contains her opinion of the Sad Puppy worldview and motivations.

Well, so much for the notion that this year’s litter of Sad Puppies were kinder, gentler, or even more moderate than last year’s. Over the past weekend, when the initial reactions to their new list were still more initial, Sarah Hoyt posted a response that was… well, we’ll say “typically hyperbolic”, but also quite telling.

A lot of it follows the “BUT MOM, I’m NOT Touching Him!” school of legalism that sprouts up whenever reactionaries try to argue with or by what they think is progressive logic, but as she goes on, she eventually compares Puppy critics to such nuanced things as German citizens whipped into a frenzy of anti-Semitism by the Nazi party, only “worse” because those who disagree with the Pups are doing it of our own free will. In the same piece, she refers to those who dissent from her party line as being slaves bound in chains.

(17) NOT THE DOG IN THE NIGHT. Paul Cornell can still hear them.

(18) AND NOW ABOUT SOME BOOKS. Book Smugglers Publishing thinks you will be interested in Superheroes in Space.

Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow has earned a Starred Review by Publishers Weekly, a super great review by Foz Meadows over at Hugo Award winner A Dribble of Ink and has sold TV rights. Broken is Book Smugglers Publishing’s first novel and the opening act in The Extrahuman Union Series….

Introducing readers to Susan Jane Bigelow’s sprawling series in which Extrahumans will fight wars, overthrow governments, fall in and out of love, have life-changing adventures and travel the stars in search of a home—and their promised freedom—Broken is out now and is available as a trade paperback and ebook (EPUB & MOBI) from all major retailers online. The print book contains the novel, two illustrations from Kirbi Fagan, and a sneak peek at Sky Ranger, the second book in the series (published this June). The ebook edition also contains a prequel short story, Crimson Cadet, as well as an essay from the author and a Q&A with the artist.

(19) ET TU PENTAWERE? Scanners do not live in vain when it comes to extracting secrets from the mummies of Pharoahs.

The New Kingdom Pharaoh Ramesses III was assassinated by multiple assailants — and given postmortem cosmetic surgery to improve his mummy’s appearance.

Those are some of the new tidbits on ancient Egyptian royalty detailed in a new book by Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and Cairo University radiologist Sahar Saleem, “Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies” (American University in Cairo Press, 2016).

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

Pixel Scroll 11/3 Ten Things I Slate About You

(1) Disney has optioned the movie rights to Ursula Vernon’s childrens book Castle Hangnail for an adaptation to be produced by Ellen DeGeneres.

DeGeneres will produce with Jeff Kleeman, her partner at A Very Good Production banner.

The book tells of a 12-year old witch who shows up at a dark castle that needs a master or be decommissioned by the bureaucratic Board of Magic and its many minions, such as a hypochondriac fish and a letter ‘Q’ averse minotaur, dispersed into the world. She projects confidence as she tackles the series of tasks laid forth by the board but underneath lie several simmering secrets, including one of her being an imposter….

DeGeneres and Kleeman are busy in the television world but Hangnail is their second notable move on the movie side and keeps their feet firmly in the fantasy field. Earlier this year the duo set up Uprooted, the novel from Temeraire author Naomi Novik, for Warner Bros.

(2) A magisterial essay by Ursula K. Le Guin at Tin House, “’Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?’”.

American critics and academics have been trying for forty years to bury one of the great works of twentieth-century fiction, The Lord of the Rings. They ignore it, they condescend to it, they stand in large groups with their backs to it, because they’re afraid of it. They’re afraid of dragons. They know if they acknowledge Tolkien they’ll have to admit that fantasy can be literature, and that therefore they’ll have to redefine what literature is.

What American critics and teachers call “literature” is still almost wholly restricted to realism. All other forms of fiction—westerns, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical, regional, you name it—are dismissed as “genre.” Sent to the ghetto. That the ghetto is about twelve times larger than the city, and currently a great deal livelier, doesn’t bother those who live in ivory towers. Magic realism, though—that does bother them; they hear Gabriel García Márquez gnawing quietly at the foundations of the ivory tower, they hear all these crazy Indians dancing up in the attic, and they think maybe they should do something about it. Perhaps they should give that fellow who teaches the science fiction course tenure? Oh, surely not.

To say that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to imply that imitation is superior to invention. I have wondered if this unstated but widely accepted (and, incidentally, very puritanical) proposition is related to the recent popularity of the memoir and the personal essay. This has been a genuine popularity, not a matter of academic canonizing. People really do want to read memoir and personal essay, and writers want to write it. I’ve felt rather out of step. I like history and biography fine, but when family and personal memoir seems to be the most popular—the dominant narrative form—well, I have searched my soul for prejudice and found it. I prefer invention to imitation. I love novels. I love made-up stuff.

(3) “The Call of the Sad Whelkfins: The Continued Relevance of How To Suppress Women’s Writing“ by Annalee Flower Horne and Natalie Luhrs in Uncanny Magazine #7 uses Joanna Russ’ text to diagnose some critics’ responses to Ancillary Justice.

I snorted. For the past week, Natalie Luhrs and I had been discussing the book in the context of the ongoing fight for the soul of the science fiction community, most recently played out in the failed attempt to take over the Hugo Awards. In HTSWW, Russ uses an alien species called the whelk–finned Glotolog to illustrate the methods by which human cultures control women’s writing without direct censorship (4). These days, the tactics the so–called “sad puppies” use to paint themselves as the true heirs of science fiction, bravely holding the line against the invading masses, are the very same tactics Joanna Russ ascribed to the whelk–finned Glotolog in 1983…

False Categorizing of the Work She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (HTSWW)

False Categorization is, essentially, bad faith. It allows the critic to shift the focus to something else—usually something trivial in the larger context, so as to dismiss the whole. So once again, we’ll look at the pronouns in Ancillary Justice. By focusing on the pronouns, the sad whelkfins are able to dismiss the entire work as nothing more than a political screed against men, as turgid message fiction that doesn’t even tell a good story.

That’s a massive tell to anyone who has actually read the book—because while the pronouns do take some adjustment, they’re a small part of the novel’s world–building and not a major source of plot or conflict. They just are, the way there is air to breathe and skel to eat.

(4) “Updates on the Chinese Nebula Awards and the Coordinates Awards” at Amazing Stories has the full list of award winners (only two were reported here on the night of the ceremony). Since Steve Davidson is able to reproduce the titles in the original language, all the more reason to refer you there.

(5) Liu Cixin participated in “The Future of China through Chinese Science Fiction” at the University of Sydney on November 3.

(6) Crossed Genres Magazine will close after the December 2015 issue reports Locus Online.

Co-publisher Bart Lieb posted a statement:

Two primary factors led to this decision. First, one of Crossed Genres’ co-publishers, Kay Holt, has been dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for more than two years. It’s made it extremely difficult for her to help with the running of CG, leaving the lion’s share of responsibilities on the other co-publisher, Bart Leib, who’s also working a day job. Magazine co-editor Kelly Jennings, ebook coordinator Casey Seda, and our team of first readers have all been heroic in their volunteer efforts, but we’ve still been unable to keep from falling behind.

The second factor is simply that the magazine has run out of funds to continue. In April 2014 we ran a successful Kickstarter to keep CG Magazine going, but once another year had passed, roughly 90 percent of those who’d pledged to the Kickstarter chose not to renew their memberships….

(7) Today In History

  • November 3, 1956 — On this night in 1956, CBS presented the first broadcast of The Wizard of Oz.  It was a major event for which the network paid MGM a quarter of a million dollars for the rights (over $2,000,000 in today’s dollars.)
  • November 3, 1976 — Brian De Palma’s Carrie is seen for the very first time

(8) Today’s Birthday Monster

  • November 3, 1954 — Godzilla was released in Japanese theaters.

(9) Today’s Belated Birthday

  • Lovecraft’s 125th birthday (in August) was celebrated in many ways in Providence. A new plaque was installed near his birthplace at 454 Angell Street, designed, created, and installed by Gage Prentiss.

(10) Today’s Yodeling Marmot

(11) “Transparent Aluminum: IT’S REAL!” at Treehugger.

Remember Star Trek: The Voyage Home, where Scotty talks into a computer mouse and then instantly figures out keyboards and gives away the formula for transparent Aluminum? And remember Galaxy Quest, where Commander Taggart tells the Justin Long character about the ship: “IT’S REAL!”

Mash those two scenes together and you have Spinel, described by US Naval Research Laboratory scientist Dr. Jas Sanghera as “actually a mineral, it’s magnesium aluminate. The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments—so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.” He likes it for the same reason Scotty did, according to an NRL press release

(12) Arlan Andrews told Facebook friends that Ken Burnside has answered the Alfies.

The Wreck of the Hugo

So, today I received this 3D-printed crashed rocket ship, titled “The Wreck of the Hugo” as created by artist Charles Oines and commissioned by Ken Burnside. Others went to Kary English, Mike Resnick, and Toni Weisskopf. According to Ken Burnside, the official 2015 Hugo voting tallies showed each of us recipients as runners-up to the 2500-vote NO AWARD bloc that wrecked the Hugos this year in many categories. I gratefully accept the gifted award in the spirit in which it was given, and sincerely hope that no future Hugo nominees are ever again voted off the island in such a fashion.

(That last part resonates strangely, at least in my memory, because “I accept this award in the spirit in which it is given” was Norman Spinrad’s answer when handed the Brown Hole Award for Outstanding Professionalism in 1973. And he was right to be suspicious.)

(13) Meanwhile, the curator of the Alfies, George R.R. Martin, is already making recommendations for the Dramatic Presentation categories in “Hugo Thoughts”.

In the past, I have usually made my own Hugo recommendations only after nominations have opened. But in light of what happened last year, it seems useful to begin much sooner. To get talking about the things we like, the things we don’t like. This is especially useful in the case of the lesser known and obscure work. Drawing attention to such earlier in the process is the best way to get more fans looking at them… and unless you are aware of a work, you’re not likely to nominate it, are you? (Well, unless you’re voting a slate, and just ticking off boxes).

Let me start with the Dramatic Presentation category. Long form….

(14) Damien G. Walter does best when the target is as easy to hit as the broad side of a barn. “Gus. A Case Study In Sad Puppy Ignorance”.

Firstly, is Gus actually asking us to believe that Frankenstein : A Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the famed early feminist icon, daughter of philosopher and political activist Mary Wollstonecraft, wife of romantic poet and political radical Percy Byshe Shelley, close friend of paramilitary revolutionary Lord Byron, and author of  seven novels (many science fictional) and innumerable other stories, essays and letters, all of them revealing a life of deep engagement with political and social issues of gender, class, sexuality and more, that this same Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein : A Modern Prometheus (a subtitle explicitly invoking the mythical act of stealing fire from the gods as an opening rhetorical reference to the risks of scientific endeavour) as, and I quote, “the sole purpose of…macabre entertainment”? Because I would suggest, on the basis of all available evidence, including every single thing ever written about Frankenstein, that Gus is in a minority on this one. In fact, I will go so far as to say that he is utterly, absurdly and idiotically wrong.

(15) John Thiel’s responses to Steve Davidson’s queries about “trufandom” appear in “The Voices of Fandom” at Amazing Stories.

Steve’s introduction notes –

I posed a series of interview questions to members of the Fan History group on Facebook.  I thought it would be a good place to start because that group is made up entirely of Trufans.

Today, I present the first in a series of responses to those questions and I should point out that, in typical Fannish fashion, the answers are anything but monolithic.  Apparently Fans have as many different ideas about what it means to be a Fan as there are Fans, which just serves to point out how difficult it is to get a handle on this question.

(16) A video interview with Dame Diana Rigg.

Five decades since she first appeared as Emma Peel in The Avengers (1961-1969), fans of the show still approach Dame Diana Rigg to express their gratitude. Rigg joins BFI curator Dick Fiddy to reflect on the influence of Peel on real-life women and acting with Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry.

(17) Jon Michaud reviews Michael Witwer’s Empire of Imagination: Gary Gygax and the Birth of Dungeons & Dragons in The New Yorker and accuses the biographer of shielding Gygax rather than exploring more deeply the controversial topic of his religious views.

Dr. Thomas Radecki, a founding member of the National Coalition on TV Violence, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that the game Dungeons & Dragons is causing young men to kill themselves and others.” In her book “Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society,” Tipper Gore connected the game to satanism and the occult. All of this prompted a “60 Minutes” segment in which Gygax rejected these myriad accusations, calling them “nothing but a witch hunt.”

What was largely unknown or omitted from this brouhaha is that Gygax was an intermittently observant Jehovah’s Witness. This startling fact crops up about halfway through Witwer’s biography, when he notes that Gygax’s “controversial” game, along with his smoking and drinking, had led to a parting of the ways with the local congregation. Up until that point, the matter of Gygax’s faith had gone unmentioned in the biography, and it is barely discussed thereafter. (The book’s index does not have an entry for “Jehovah’s Witness” or “Gygax, Gary—religious beliefs.”) Given the furor that D. & D. caused, the absence of a deeper analysis of Gygax’s faith is a glaring omission. In a recent interview with Tobias Carroll, Witwer acknowledged that Gygax “was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness. He would go door-to-door and he would give out pamphlets. He was pretty outspoken about it, as a matter of fact.” The reason for almost completely excluding it from the biography, Witwer says, is that “I couldn’t find it [as] a huge driving force in his life.…I didn’t want to be too heavy-handed with that, because I’m not clear that, especially with his gaming work and even his home life, how big a factor that was on a day-to-day basis. But I do know he was practicing.”

(18) Galactic Journey visits the year 1960 where young Mike Glyer’s favorite TV series, Men Into Space, is still on the air, and there’s even a tie-in novel by Murray Leinster.

men into space cover COMP.jpg

“Men Into Space” consists of short stories following the career of Space Force officer Ed McCauley:

As a lieutenant, McCauley makes the first manned rocket flight.

As a captain, McCauley deals with an injured crewman while piloting the first space-plane.

As a major, McCauley deals with a potentially-fatal construction accident while in charge the building of the first space station.

As a colonel, McCauley deals with a murderous personnel problem while overseeing the establishment of a series of radio relays to the moon’s far side, then deals with a technical problem aboard a rocket to Venus, and another personnel problem on a Mars mission.

Lots of nuts and bolts details about ballistics, rocket fuels, radiation, the van Allen belts, and so forth.  And with each story, McCauley deals with progressively more complex human problems as he moves up in rank.

Although 7-year-old me would have loved the tie-in novel, 35 cents would have been a king’s ransom in my personal economy….

(19) Here’s a photo of the Cosmos Award presentation to Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Planetary Society 35th anniversary celebration on October 24.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (left) accepted The Planetary Society's Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. Bill Nye (middle) was on stage as Tyson accepted the award from Nichelle Nichols (right), who is best known for playing Lt. Uhura on "Star Trek" (the original series) and who is an advocate for real-world space exploration.

Neil deGrasse Tyson (left) accepted The Planetary Society’s Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. Bill Nye (middle) was on stage as Tyson accepted the award from Nichelle Nichols (right), who is best known for playing Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek” (the original series) and who is an advocate for real-world space exploration.

Before the award was given to Tyson, Nye reminisced about meeting Tyson through the organization. Nye then showed a photo of what Tyson looked like in 1980, when he was a wrestler (Tyson wrestled in high school and college), and Tyson joked that he kicked some serious butt.

Tyson had come prepared, and showed a photo of Nye in 1980, in a “Coneheads” costume, with a silver ring around his head.

(20) The Red Bull Music Academy website has published David Keenan’s “Reality Is For People Who Can’t Handle Science Fiction”, about the influence of SF on French progressive rock from 1969 through 1985.

In 2014 I interviewed Richard Pinhas of Heldon, still one of the central punk/prog mutants to come out of the French underground. I asked him about the influence of the visionary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick on his sound and on his worldview. “Philip K. Dick was a prophet to us,” Pinhas explained. “He saw the future.”

It makes sense that a musical and cultural moment that was obsessed with the sound of tomorrow would name a sci-fi writer as its central avatar. Indeed, while the Sex Pistols spat on the British vision of the future dream as a shopping scheme, the French underground projected it off the planet altogether.

When Pinhas formed Heldon in 1974 he named the group in tribute to sci-fi writer Norman Spinrad’s 1972 novel The Iron Dream, conflating his own vision of a mutant amalgam of Hendrix-inspired psychedelic rock and cyborg-styled electronics with Spinrad’s re-writing of history.

(21) At CNN, “Art transforms travel photos with paper cutouts”:

That’s what happened when Londoner Rich McCor began adorning pictures of British landmarks with whimsical paper cutouts and posting the results online.

Originally, the 28-year-old creative agency worker intended the photos for the amusement of himself and friends.

Then he got a lesson on the impact of “viral” when Britain’s “Daily Mail” publicized some of his photos.

 

arc-de-triomphe-paris-jpg-rich-mccor-exlarge-169

 [Thanks to Rob Thornton, Mark-kitteh, Will R., Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Janice Gelb, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Snapshots 151 Bacardi

Here are 26 developments of interest to fans.

(1) There’s been a lot of reaction to File 770’s latest motto, including a suggestion that I put it on a badge ribbon for distribution at the Worldcon.

But it’s too long to fit on one ribbon, and it might be a little presumptuous to ask people wear a set — “The 770 Blog, that Wretched Hive” “continued next ribbon” “of Scum and Villainy.” “continued next ribbon” “John C. Wright”…

(2) Meanwhile, Bronycon is pushing the envelope of convention socializing with a set of color-coded bages:

We’ve adapted the color-coded badges popularized by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) and made them available for people who want to express their communication preferences quickly and non-verbally. By doing this, you can notify everyone whether you want to be approached for interactions or not.

Here’s what the badges look like and what they mean:

  • “Come Talk To Me!” A person wearing a green badge is actively seeking interaction. They may have trouble initating conversations, but it’s okay to come up and start a conversation with them.
  • “Do I Know You?” A yellow badge means its wearer only wants to talk to people they recognize. Unless you’ve met this person face-to-face before, don’t start a conversation with them. If they start talking to you, you’re welcome to talk back.
  • “Not Right Now.” If a person has a red badge showing, they do not want anyone to talk to them. They may approach others to talk, in which case it’s okay to respond. But unless you’ve been told you’re on someone’s “red list”, don’t start interacting with them.

(3) Lou Antonelli visited Heinlein’s birthplace and blogged about it in a post titled “Pilgrimage to Butler (or how Robert Heinlein’s ghost pranked me)”:

When I drove on Friday Kansas City to attend ConQuest, I noticed that Butler, Missouri – the birthplace of Robert Heinlein – was on the way. I decided that on the way back I would stop and visit the house where he was born in 1907. Monday morning I pulled off southbound Hwy. 71 and drove into Butler. The city has a few small signs noting the direction to the house, and I found it fairly easily. It is located at 805 North Fulton Street; a sign – which apparently once hung from a post – marking the spot (“Birthplace of Robert Heinlein, Dean of Science Fiction writers”) was propped up against the bottom of the porch. I took the obligatory selfie – which was hard to do because the sign was so low to the ground – and then hopped back into my car to continue the journey home. Crank. Grind. It wouldn’t turn over! I was completely shocked, because the car hadn’t given me a lick of trouble all weekend. It sounded fine, but wouldn’t kick in. I said, “Bob, if this is a prank, it’s not funny!”

(4) Adam Nimoy had planned to make a documentary called For The Love of Spock even before his dad, Leonard Nimoy, passed away. He has launched a Kickstarter appeal to help pay for it.

The funding of this film through Kickstarter will enable us to continue with production — which will mostly take the form of filming interviews of Dad’s friends, colleagues and family members. It will also enable us to license the hundreds of film clips and still photographs of Mr. Spock as he has appeared on television and in feature films over the last fifty years. Funding will then buy us time in the editing room, where I will be poring over the film clips and photographs and never-before-seen home movies as well as Star Trek artifacts — some of which have not seen the light of day for nearly fifty years!

As of this writing there has been $400,448 pledged of the $600,000 goal.

(5) Actor Lon Chaney Jr. is the only person to play all of the classic Hollywood movie monsters — the Wolf Man (“The Wolf Man”), Frankenstein’s monster (“The Ghost of Frankenstein”), Kharis, The Mummy (“The Mummy’s Tomb”) and Count Anthony Alucard, Dracula’s son (“Son of Dracula”).

(6) Alex Pappademas on Grantland makes some novel comparisons between pop and high culture in his review “’Mad Max’ As Hell: The Masterful, Maniacal, Surprisingly Feminist ‘Fury Road’”

J.G. Ballard — who knew a thing or two about speed, wastelands, the human death drive, and the mortification of flesh by flying auto parts — once described 1981’s The Road Warrior, the second of George Miller’s Mad Max movies, as “punk’s Sistine Chapel.” Ballard was not as big a fan of 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. But even Michelangelo wasn’t immune to the impulse to sequelize, returning to the Apostolic Palace after nearly 25 years (and the Sack of Rome) to paint The Last Judgment above the chapel’s altar. It features a buff, wrathful Jesus, tons of un-fig-leafed full-frontal nudity, chaotic composition that rejected all notions of universal hierarchy, two-fisted angels clobbering wretched sinners, demons dragging the condemned down into hellfire, a likeness of one of Michelangelo’s critics with a snake’s jaws clamped on his nuts, and a cameo by the artist himself as a face on some flayed skin. The lesson here: If you have to come back, it’s best to come back hard-core.

(7) Trek-themed garden gnomes from ThinkGeek will give the Little People a laugh

Did you realize there’s a whole subculture of Star Trek horticulturists? There are daylilies named after Trek, a handful of hostas, and even a Star Trek begonia.

The perfect statuary to go with your newly-acquired Star Trek plants? Why, that would be the Star Trek Garden Gnomes, of course! They come in four flavors. Here’s how the base reads on each:

  • Kirk – To boldly go where no man has gone before
  • Kirk & Gorn – I shall be merciful and quick – Gorn
  • Redshirt – Join Starfleet they said. It’d be fun they said
  • Spock – Live long and prosper

hujt_trek_garden_gnomes(8) The star of Hannibal is a huge draw at the Shanghai Comic Convention?

Unlike many of her counterparts at the first Shanghai Comic Convention, she had decided to forgo a costume. But the 23-year-old automotive quality-control clerk nevertheless was living out her personal fantasy, plunking down $115 — 20% of her monthly salary — for a fleeting meeting with her idol, Mads Mikkelsen of the NBC show “Hannibal.”

Bashfully clutching photographic proof of her star encounter (“I look terrible next to him,” she lamented), Yang struggled to compose herself. She seemed unsure of whether she had just made the best decision of her life — or the worst.

“All fans are idiots, in a way,” she said, laughing at her profligate ways. “We will do anything to meet him, to talk to him, even for a few seconds.”

(9) Very amusing artwork by Murray Groat showing what it would be like if the adventures of Hergé’s classic comic character Tintin took place in a universe created by H.P. Lovecraft.

(10) Who ya gonna call? The firehouse from Ghostbusters will close for renovation,

The  Ladder 8  company firehouse at  14 North Moore Street  in Tribeca is about to be closed for a three-year gut renovation, despite having a received a perfectly good renovation circa 1984 from Drs. Venkman, Stanz, and Spengler,  in the movie Ghostbusters . A  Fire Department spokesperson claims  that the renovation is being done so that the house will be better able to accommodate modern firetrucks, which are larger and heavier than they used to be.

But we know the real reason:  Walter Peck from the Environmental Protection Agency  tipped somebody off to the fact that there are dangerous and possibly hazardous waste chemicals, in the form of liquified ghosts, being stored in the basement.

(11) Anne Lamott, the writer’s writer, turned 61 and decided to share everything she’s learned with her Facebook followers:

  1. Chocolate with 70% cacao is not actually a food. It’s best use is as bait in snake traps.
  2. Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born

(12) Amy Sterling Casil’s business is perfecting a system for producing fixed format and flowable ePubs and perfect print books. Here’s her argument why it matters:

I just happened to buy the Stephen Jay Gould book not long after finishing the Bone Music ePub, and we spent plenty of time on that. I knew exactly what was wrong with the Gould book (W.W. Norton) and could tell the exact errors they made in producing it. Errors they would have seen immediately if they’d spent 1 second testing it on an actual device! And there are editing errors like typos etc. For $9.99. A disgrace.

(13) Doug Faunt, who was among those rescued when the HMS Bounty went down in a storm in 2012, is back at sea aboard a new tall ship.

(14) Larry Correia has a good cover story:

People ask me how much say an author has over their cover. At first? Zip. And by the time you are successful enough that your opinion actually does count, that means you’ve sold enough books that you trust the people who sell them for you.

(15) In Kenneth Turan’s coverage of the Cannes Film Festival includes interesting observations about the host city.

It’s not just the films that change here from year to year here, it’s the city as well.

The oldest gay bar in the south of France is now a gelato emporium. The once-spacious post office is now a luxury hotel. And the Cannes English Bookshop, a landmark for three decades, is going to be sold and possibly go out of business.

(16) Nick Mamatas on Storify shares some wisdom about short stories:

I’ve been reading a few short stories from students lately, and this is what I have noticed about them.

(17) Murray Leinster’s “Runaway Skyscraper” is coming back as a fancy hotel. Andrew Porter observes, “Rooms starting at $500 a night, so maybe not a good venue for an SF convention.”

(The Wikipedia can fill you in about the original 1919 Murray Leinster story.)

(18) Daniel Dern sends along a brief rumination on Neal Stephenson’s new book Seveneves. (The title of which, a friend pointed out, is a palindrome.)

I
have been reading Seveneves,
The new big book from Neal Stephes[1]:
The moon
breaks in seven peaze,
Each piece has seven paths,
Each path has seven maths.
Some maths are delta-Vs, and
The plot has many keys[2].
Characters,
sub-plots and lots of peaze,
Many pages is Seveneves.
[1] Stephenson, that is, of course
[2] Including hams doing Morse code, and some, cough, paper pads

(19) John J. Miller would like to tag some newly discovered planetoids with Lovecraftian names:

I’m starting to think of the places we haven’t reconnoitered. Last year, when astronomers announced the existence of 2012 VP113 — a tiny planetoid well beyond the orbit of Pluto — I took to the website of National Review and made a suggestion: “Its name should be Yuggoth, in tribute to the writer H. P. Lovecraft.” I e-mailed the idea to Leslie S. Klinger, editor of The New Annotated Lovecraft. He replied that this wasn’t quite right, because Lovecraft clearly defined Yuggoth as Pluto, rather than as another thing. Then he mentioned an overlooked line from a fevered passage in “The Haunter of the Dark,” the last story Lovecraft ever wrote: “I remember Yuggoth, and more distant Shaggai, and the ultimate void of the black planets.” It recalled something that the astronomer Gerard P. Kuiper (of Kuiper-belt fame) once said to Clyde Tombaugh: “The finding of Pluto was an important discovery, but what you did not find out there is even more important.” Pluto may come into the clutches of our scientists and engineers, but the rest of us can always dream of Shaggai — a permanently undiscovered country.

(20) Alastair Reynolds may yet get the hang of writing filksongs.

(21) A Canadian library has documentary evidence that Han Solo shot first.

According to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), while trying to digitize the University of New Brunswick Library’s science fiction collection, librarian Kristian Brown stumbled upon an early draft of the “Star Wars” script.

The script, which is marked as a “fourth draft,” is dated March 15, 1976, well ahead of the film’s eventual 1977 release.

The most striking revelation centers around one of the most famous scenes in the film.

While at the Cantina Bar, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is confronted by Jabba the Hutt’s henchman Greedo, who demands Han finally pay Jabba the money he owes him. The two of them come to blows, and Han Solo emerges as victorious. While that isn’t disputed, the real debate lies in whether Han or Gredo shot first.

 

(22) CBS Sunday Morning did a nice profile of the person who sat-in for Ray at the last Ray Bradbury Creativity Award — Bo Derek.  Bo gave the award to Kirk Douglas.  Bo and Ray were lifelong friends, who met in France.

By the way, Bo Derek will be in Sharknado 3. (So added to the Ray Bradbury reference this paragraph counts as a score for two File 770 narratives… )

(23) The LA Weekly enthusiastically reviewed Universal Studios’ new Simpsons-themed Springfield Area

Built to surround and enhance the Simpsons Ride, which opened in 2008, the fully-immersive environment includes over a hogshead’s worth of living references. Some of them as huge and obvious as the Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern and Krusty Burger. Others are smaller and subtler, the kind of nerdy nuggets that give us geeks an extra special spring in our steps (Smilin’ Joe Fission!? Stools around Moe’s pool table in a nod to Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag!? Yes.)

….Things just went full bizarro from there. We walked into a perfectly recreated Moe’s Tavern behind producer/animator/director David Silverman and the theme-park bartender asked him if he wanted a Duff…and he had one.  All we could think was, “It’s the local lug who fills your mug with the drug you chug! And the guy who conceived it….drinking it….in it…b-b-but what about the dank? If Uncle Moe threatens ya, do you get a free steak?” Words can’t describe the feeling of self-referential meltdown that happened in that moment — so we won’t even try.

Universal’s food folks took their best shot at the artery-clogging victuals of Springfield (“The World’s Fattest Town”) with Krusty Burgers, Ribwiches, donuts and even Cletus’ Chicken Shack. Cletus’ employees didn’t know if they had anything that could flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds, and that’s ok. All the food was awesomely outrageous (and full of secret hobo spices). Just don’t get on that gut-buggering jumble of a ride right afterward, you’ll probably regret it.

Besides the food, the gallons of Duff and the non-alcoholic (and presumably cough syrup-free) Flaming Moe’s, they packed the place with all sorts of crazy crap, a further immersive Krustyland, a Kwik-e-Mart and, yes, even a Disco Stu’s Disco (facade only, sadly). For the folks who might not get everything, or for those folks who need the reassurance, screens throughout the are played carefully curated snippets of Simpsons episodes. Satire piled upon satire, surrounded by hints and attribution…wrapped in riddles…wrapped in unexplained bacon.

On our way out, we were invited to take one of the larger-than-life-but-actually-real giant iconic pink donuts. To keep us in the spirit, and as if on cue, some slack-jawed yokel asked if these donuts, branded as Lard Lad, came in a “gluten free form.” No. No they do not. Where’s a good satirist when you need one?

(24) On the opposite coast, Anthony Bourdain plans to open a giant Blade Runner-themed food market in NYC.

Hidden throughout New York City are bustling food halls like Gansevoort Market or Smorgasburg. But for those who ever said, “I had in mind something a little more radical,” Anthony Bourdain has the solution. The celebrity chef will soon open a 100,000-square-foot International Food Market at the newly renovated SuperPier on Pier 57. Oh, and did I mention it’s inspired by Blade Runner?

Yes, the chaos and clamor of the market place from Ridley Scott’s dystopian masterpiece will be coming to Manhattan’s West Side. “It is meant to be crowded and chaotic because that’s what hawker centres should be,” said Bourdain’s partner Stephen Wether at the 2015 World Street Food Congress in Singapore. “It should activate all of your senses.”

Plans for the space, which eats up pretty much all of the SuperPier’s retail allotment, include a farmers market, hawker-style street food stalls, a 1,500-square-foot oyster bar, a bakery, butchers, a tapas bar, a tea shop, a pastry shop, and potentially even an outdoor Asian-themed beer garden. As Bourdain put it, foodies will be able to enjoy “expertly sliced Iberico ham and some Cava or Kuching-style laksa [soup], Chinese lamb noodles, Vietnamese pho or a decent barbecue brisket all in one place.”

(25) Whatever happened to “No shirt, no pants, no service”?

I guess the rules are different for Spartans:

Fortunately, during this unusual detachment no one fought and all survived. In the subway, “Spartans” advertised access to DVD movie “300: Dawn of empire.”

(26) Harlan Ellison was interviewed by The Jewish Advocate on the occasion of his 81st birthday.

Like any good Jewish son, Ellison had a Jewish mother. Serita Ellison survived her husband by 27 years, all of which were spent trying to figure out her increasingly famous author-screenwriterlecturer son.

“If something happened that was adventurous,” he says, “I would tell my mother. My mother would be very pleased, but I’m not quite sure she realized what it meant. She was more concerned with ‘Was I healthy? Was I working? Was I happily married? Was I unhappily married?’ She would come and visit me and tidy up the house. She was a regular Jewish mama.”

An autodidact, Ellison took pleasure in lecturing at hundreds of colleges that he never attended. The only person happier at his countless college appearances was Serita. “The moment I made my mother proud of me was when she came up from Florida in the middle of winter and was sitting in when I spoke at Yale. People would come up and present one of my books to her and would say, ‘Would you sign my book?’ My mother was in heaven. Afterward, we walked in the snow to a luncheon with a group of eminent scientists and she said, ‘I’m very proud of you.’ I swelled twelve times my size. I had made my mother proud.”

[Credit for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, Amy Sterling Casil, David K.M. Klaus,Martin Morse Wooster,  and John King Tarpinian.]

Murray Leinster House on the Market

Leinster house GloucesterAlthough the listing doesn’t mention it, this Virginia house currently offered for sale was the home of Murray Leinster/Will F. Jenkins from 1921 until his death in 1975.

“Clay Bank”, c.1700 Wonderful historic waterfront retreat. Sited on high ground with commanding view across York River to the Williamsburg area. This property is loaded with charm & grace, and offers a great opportunity for a family compound.

Murray_LeinsterLeinster was born in Norfolk, VA on June 16, 1896, and lived and worked in Gloucester County most of his life. This house is where he invented front projection and wrote most of his science fiction – doubtless including “Sidewise in Time,” for which the Sidewise Award for Alternate History (established in 1995) is named.

Leinster’s first writings appeared in The Smart Set and pulp magazines such as Argosy, Amazing Stories and Astounding Stories. He produced 1,500 published short stories and 100 books during his career.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story.]

Reasons to Visit PSFS

Those interested in the history of the SF field who can make it to the next two meetings of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society will be in for a treat.

March 9: SF author Michael Swanwick will interview Billee Jenkins Stallings, daughter of Will Jenkins, best known as Murray Leinster, the original “Dean of Science Fiction”. Leinster/Jenkins invented the alternate world story and the first contact story. Stallings and her sister, Jo-An Evans, have written a memoir about their father titled, Murray Leinster: The Life and Work ( McFarland, 2011).

April 13: On this Friday, fans who defy superstition will be lucky enough to hear from critic Michael Dirda.

These are General Meetings, open to the public. See the club website for location, starting time and other information.

Leinster, Dean of SF, Topic of 11/1 NYRSF Readings

Murray Leinster, known as “the Dean of Science Fiction” until his death in 1975, will be celebrated at the November 1 New York Review of Science Fiction Readings. Leinster was a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins who wrote and published over 1,500 short stories and articles during a prolific career.

He is the subject of a recently published biography authored by his daughters. One of them, Billee Stallings, will participate. So will David G. Hartwell, a senior editor of Tor/Forge Books, Barry N. Malzberg, sf author and essayist, and Michael Swanwick, acclaimed winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial awards

The full press release follows the jump.

[Thanks to Jim Freund for the story.]

Continue reading

He Was the Dean

Promotional copy for the new Murray Leinster biography says he was known as “The Dean of Science Fiction.”

I should not have been surprised: I read this in Sam Moskowitz’ Explorers of the Infinite: Shapers of Science Fiction way back in the Seventies. However, I’d managed to forget it since. Or possibly repressed it, because as a young fan my fannish loyalties were to that rival claimant of the title: Robert A. Heinlein.

Heinlein acquired the title “Dean of Science Fiction” sometime around 1960, says J. Daniel Gifford in Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader’s Companion.

How? Thomas Clareson suggests in his essay for Voices for the Future (1976) that whoever wrote the jacket copy on his books was responsible:

Today Heinlein is known to many, thanks to paperback advertising techniques at least, as the “Dean” of science fiction writers, not so much because of his length of service as because of his relationship to the corporate body of science fiction.

Certainly a book cover was the first place I saw Heinlein called “Dean.” On the other hand, Leinster was called “Dean” in 1949 by no less an authority than Time Magazine

In the U.S., Will F. Jenkins, a 27-year veteran, who also writes under the pen name of Murray Leinster, is regarded as the dean of writers in the field.

Leinster was rather humble about the whole thing. In his introduction to Great Stories of Science Fiction (1951) he explained that he was sometimes called “’Dean’ of science fiction writers by virtue of my having outlived a number of better men. This wholly accidental distinction is perhaps the reason I was given the opportunity to compile this book.”

And as Leinster makes clear, the term “Dean” was primarily associated with seniority, length of service in the sf field. Lester Del Rey in The World of Science Fiction, a survey of the genre published in 1980, echoed the choice of Leinster:

…Murray Leinster, whose work remained popular in science fiction for more than fifty years and who was rightly named “the Dean of science fiction writers.”

I don’t know whether Heinlein liked being called “Dean” or thought it mattered at all. Maybe Bill Patterson can answer this in a later volume of his Heinlein bio. From a fan’s viewpoint I thought the name suited RAH because so many of his stories involved mentoring, the acquiring of self-discipline, or were delivered in the voice of a respected elder who has things to say about life, like Lazarus Long.

After Leinster died in 1975 some of the writers who acknowledged him as the “Dean” thought the title deserved to be perpetuated, which meant picking a successor. Isaac Asimov made it clear he preferred length of service as the criterion for naming someone the “Dean.” In his 1979 essay for IASFM “The Dean of Science Fiction,” Heinlein was not a finalist. Asimov listed Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp and Lester Del Rey. And just a few years later – even while all four were still alive – Asimov seemed to have narrowed his list to two, saying in The Hugo Winners: 1980-1982 (1986) “the only writer who can possibly compete with [Clifford D. Simak] as ‘dean of science fiction’ is Jack Williamson, who is four years younger than Cliff but has been publishing three years longer.”

Both Simak and Heinlein died in 1988. Del Rey died in 1993. De Camp died in 2000.

Williamson seems to have been the writer most people felt comfortable calling the “Dean” in later years. Several of his peers labeled him by some version of the title both before and after Heinlein died. Interestingly, when Algis Budrys dubbed Williamson the “Dean of Science Fiction” in a 1985 essay for The Science Fiction Yearbook the usage even passed muster with the volume’s editor, Jerry Pournelle, a good friend of Heinlein’s. Williamson lived on until 2006, continuing to produce, his last novel The Stonehenge Gate published just the year before he died.

Some others regarded Arthur C. Clarke as the true heir to the title. Gerald K. O’Neill in The High Frontier (1989) called Clarke the dean of science fiction, and so did a contributor to a 1989 volume of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Clarke passed away in 2008.

People outside the field have always bandied the title about – Ray Bradbury was called the Dean on a TV show in the Sixties. Now he practically qualifies, though not quite – I imagine Fred Pohl has the edge in years as a professional writer.

Other specialties in the science fiction field have their “Deans.” Google tells me Frank Kelly Freas was called the “dean of science fiction artists,” though I must say I managed to go my entire time in fandom up to today without ever hearing him called that.

The New York Times once referred to Donald Wollheim as the “Dean” of science fiction editors, according to a 1981 article in The Bloomsbury Review.  Campbell had been so-called at least as early as 1947 — in Samuel Stephenson Smith’s How to Double Your Vocabulary, of all places — but he’d been dead almost ten years before The Bloomsbury Review took up the subject.

And let’s not forget that in Ann Arbor in 1975, Dean McLaughlin, author of “Hawk Among the Sparrows,” was who trufans called “Dean of Science Fiction.”

Of course, many will have become aware that no woman author’s name has been mentioned at any point, even in touching on the most recent decade. Ursula K. LeGuin regularly offers wisdom about topical issues in the field, and until death ended her long career Andre Norton was respected and influential, so there are women who might have been nominated to the role. However, I suspect the whole notion of a “Dean of Science Fiction,” which was never more than of anecdotal significance, is fading from fannish awareness too rapidly for a real sense of injustice to take hold.

[Thanks to John Lorentz, Google Ngram and Steven H Silver’s SF Site for help with this story.]

Murray Leinster Bio On the Way

Will F. Jenkins was so successful writing science fiction under the name Murray Leinster that it’s his nom de plume who’s the subject of a biography.

Murray Leinster: The Life and Works by Billee J. Stallings and Jo-an J. Evans is forthcoming from McFarland. James Gunn provides a foreword, and the volume includes 40 photos

The authors are Jenkins’ youngest daughters. Stallings, who lives in Moorestown, New Jersey, will be on the Readercon program July 14-17. She is active in historical preservation. Her sister, Jo-an J. Evans, has written about fashion and design. She lives in London.

Murray Leinster’s private and literary life are examined, from his first writings for The Smart Set and early pulp magazines such as Argosy, Amazing Stories and Astounding Stories, through SF’s Golden Age and to his death in 1975. He produced 1,500 published short stories and 100 books during his career. The biographical volume also features a short story and essay by Leinster, as well as previously unpublished poetry and letters.

[Thanks to John Hertz for the story.]

Update 06/29/2011: Corrected spelling of publisher — thanks Bill Warren!