Pixel Scroll 8/26/18 Pixels Of Unusual Size? I Don’t Think They Exist

(1) ALL SYSTEMS WIN. Martha Wells posted a Worldcon 76 report including her experiences at the Hugo Awards ceremony —

Then we got to novella, and I was extremely nervous. I felt like I had a strong chance and was hopeful, but it was still awesome to win. I managed to get up the stairs to the stage, give my speech without crying (After the Nebula Awards I didn’t want to be the author who cries all the time.) (I saved it all up for Monday, when every time anyone said anything nice to me, I would start crying.) Managed to get down the Stairs of Doom backstage with the help of about four people, got stopped to get a photo outside the auditorium in the reception area, went back in the wrong door and could not get it open and had to thump on it until the backstage people heard me, and then got back to my seat in time to see Nnedi Okorafor win for Best YA novel and N.K. Jemisin win for Best Novel!

And she has some Worldcon photos on her Tumblr.

(2) DIGBY IN ONE PLACE. The Golds reminded readers today about the extended electronic edition of Tom Digby’s amazing fanwriting that’s available online, “Along Fantasy Way”. Originally produced for the 1993 Worldcon where Tom was a guest of honor, the collection was expanded in its 2014 digital version. What a treasure trove of wonderfully creative idea-tripping. Delightful poetry, too – for example:

…OR MINERAL(2/07/76)

Pet rocks are OK, but some people prefer more variety.
The guy upstairs from me
Has a 1947 Chevrolet engine block.
I think his apartment is too small for it,
But there it is.
And the family down the street
With the goldfish pond in the yard
Has an old ship’s anchor
To keep the fish company.

But of all the inorganic pets in the neighborhood,
The happiest is an old beer can
Belonging to a small boy.
It would never win a prize at a show:
Too many dents
And spots of rust
And paint flaking off.
And besides, it’s a brand of beer
Most people don’t like.
But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is FUN
Like afternoons when they go for a walk:
The can leaps joyously ahead
CLATTERDY RATTLEDY CLANG BANG!
Then lies quietly waiting for its master to catch up
Before leaping ahead again.
I may get a beer can myself some day.

But I still don’t think it’s right
To keep a 1947 Chevrolet engine block
Cooped up in such a small apartment.

The collection is illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

(3) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. A very nice set of Bradbury quotes at Blackwing666: “Ray Bradbury – Born August 22, 1920”

(4) GUNNED DOWN. You could see this coming. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Production Put on Hold”. The studio still expects to make the movie later on.

Sources say that crewmembers, which is, at this stage, a small group that was prepping for preproduction, are being dismissed and are free to look for new work.

The Marvel project was originally to have been directed by James Gunn and was to have begun principal photography in the winter, either in January or February. The project was crewing up and was to have gone into full preproduction mode in the fall.

But Gunn was let go as the director in July when old tweets were resurfaced in response to his vocal political posts. While some held out hope that the director would be given a reprieve by Disney, a mid-August meeting with Disney chairman Alan Horn closed the door on that.

(5) LAST DAYS OF BANG ON EARTH. Big Bang Theory has started production of its final season.

Let What Culture tell you Why The Big Bang Theory Just Got Cancelled.

(6) HUGO STATISTIC. I don’t have time to check. Could be….

(7) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong writes:

With the recent release of the TOC for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018 (BASFF), I’ve updated RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F Anthologies article with the 20 stories in that anthology plus their honorable mentions.

The grand total from five 2017 “year’s best” SF/F anthologies is 114 stories by 91 authors, from which we can make the following observations:

o   Magazines: Asimov’s (12), Clarkesworld (9), Lightspeed (9)

o   Anthologies: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities (3/7), Extrasolar(5/14), Infinity Wars (5/15)

o   Nancy Kress (3), Rich Larson (3), Robert Reed (3), Alastair Reynolds(3)

To see other outstanding stories that didn’t make it into the five “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, go to RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F article, which has also been updated with the BASFF stories for a total of 256 stories by 201 authors.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 26, 1953The War of the Worlds premiered. (“Welcome to California!”)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 26 — Katherine Johnson, 100. NASA mathematician and physicist awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2015. Her work made space travel possible. And yes she’s African-American as well! (Makers has a post celebrating her birthday.)
  • Born August 26 — Barbara Ehrenreich, 77. Social activist and author of one genre novel, Kipper’s Game which gets compared to the works of Connie Willis.
  • Born August 26 — Stephen Fry, 61. Narrator, all of the Harry Potter audiobook recordings, Col. K. In the animated Dangermouse series and any number of other delightfully interesting genre related undertakings.
  • Born August 26 — Wanda De Jesus, 60. Genre work includes Robocop 2, SeaQuest 2032, Tales from The DarksideBabylon 5, and Ghosts of Mars
  • Born August 26 — Melissa McCarthy, 48. Now starring in The Happytime Murders which apparently is the first film from the adult division of Jim Henson Productions. Also Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
  • Born August 26 — Chris Pine, 38. James T. Kirk in the current Trek film franchise; also Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film franchise as well as A Wrinkle in Time and Rise Of The Guardians.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brevity shows some movie dinosaurs who keep comic back.

(11) SPACE ANNIVERSARY. JPL celebrates “15 Years in Space for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope”, an instrument that has far outlasted its predicted useful life.

Launched into a solar orbit on Aug. 25, 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

 

(12) OH NO, WHERE CAN THE MATTER BE. Gizmodo reports “Scientists Will Soon Drop Antimatter to See How It Behaves in Gravity”.

In a new study, physicists attempted to find differences between matter and antimatter—confusingly, also a kind of matter, but with the opposite charge and other differences. It’s like an evil twin. Confusingly, the universe has way more matter than antimatter, for no clear reason. Physicists haven’t found the specific differences they were looking for when studying the antimatter version of hydrogen, called antihydrogen, but they have demonstrated a way to study antimatter better than ever before.

Mike Kennedy forwarded the link with the note, “It’s a complicated story, and mostly about recent measurements of the Lyman-? emission lines of anti-hydrogen… in particular it being the same wavelength as for hydrogen <http://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0435-1>. The bit about laser cooling anti-hydrogen and dropping it to observe how it reacts to gravity is IIUC speculative at this point.”

(13) MORE ON NEXT SHATNER RECORD. SYFY Wire brings us news that William Shatner is releasing a holiday album (“William Shatner teases Christmas cover record: Shatner Claus”):

Set phasers to jolly.

The legendary actor and musician William Shatner is giving us another reason to be excited about the holiday season. Shatner tweeted the Amazon link to pre-order his first upcoming record: Shatner Claus The Christmas Album. You can add the self-described godfather of dramatic musical interpretation’s album digital audio, CD, or vinyl in your letter to the North Pole. With vinyl record sales on the constant rise, it’s exciting to see if this will find Shatner Claus’ sleigh riding its way to the top of the Billboard charts.

(14) JURASSIC BLETCHLEY PARK. In “Dinosaur DNA clues unpicked by researchers at University of Kent”, scientists are theorizing-from-clues that dinosaur DNA, like birds’, had many chromosomes, making mix-and-match easier.

Researchers at the University of Kent say their work uncovers the genetic secret behind why dinosaurs came in such a variety of shapes and sizes.

This variation helped the creatures evolve quickly in response to a changing environment – helping them to dominate Earth for 180 million years.

But the researchers behind the DNA work say they have no plans to recreate dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style.

(15) FLAME OFF. BBC assures us, “Yes, Antarctica has a fire department”.

But fighting fires in freezing temperatures also calls for some specialist equipment.

Surprisingly, water is still an option. McMurdo’s fire engine has a pump, which cycles water constantly through the vehicle to prevent it from freezing.

Remembering to set the pump going is, says Branson, a lesson quickly learned.

“You do not want to be the person who freezes all the water in the fire engine. Then you’re stuck with a 500 gallon engine with an ice block in it… and nobody on base is going to like you.”

(16) BEARLY VISIBLE. BBC has video: “Bear roams ‘The Shining’ hotel in Colorado”. It’s a good thing Jack Nicholson didn’t try swinging an axe at this guest….

A bear was filmed going through the lobby of the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s classic horror novel in Colorado.

(17) YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. While excavating on YouTube, Carl Slaughter found Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965): “Frankenstein, ie, Frank the android, does battle with a Martian beast to prevent a Martian princess from replenishing Mars with voluptuous and sometimes bikini-clad Earth women.  The Pentagon monitors the situation and tries to lend Frank a hand.  Turns out Frank wears an Air Force uniform and holds military rank  – like Data.  This is in the so bad it’s good category.”

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

Pixel Scroll 8/4/18 Your Pixeled Pal Who’s Fun To Scroll With!

(1) AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE, DAY FOUR. Crusading investigative fanwriter Camestros Felapton has been trying to find out why the Dragon Awards ballot wasn’t released August 1, the date posted on the site, and when it will come out. Here’s what he’s been told:

The latest report is this. I got an email saying that the finalists will be announced this upcoming Tuesday (presumably US time). Don’t all get too excited at once.

(2) COME BACK, JEAN-LUC. “Patrick Stewart to star in new Star Trek TV series”Entertainment Weekly has the story.

Stewart will reprise his iconic character, Jean-Luc Picard, for a CBS All Access series that “will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life.”

Stewart himself just announced the news in a surprise appearance at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention.

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

And Michael Chabon will be one of the executive producers reports Variety.

The untitled series hails from Alex Kurtzman, James Duff, Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, and Kirsten Beyer. Kurtzman, Duff, Goldsman, and Chabon will also serve as executive producers on the series along with Stewart, Trevor Roth, Heather Kadin, and Rod Roddenberry. CBS Television Studios will produce. The new series does not currently have a premiere date

(3) BOREANAZ ON BUFFY. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo Entertainment story “David Boreanaz has no plans to be in controversial ‘Buffy’ reboot: ‘I just let it be and lend my support from afar'” says that Boreanaz is too busy with SEAL Team to worry about the forthcoming Buffy reboot (which is controversial because showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen might find a new actor to play Buffy) but he doesn’t have any objections to it.

 “I think it’s great,” says David Boreanaz, who played the ensouled vampire Angel on Buffy for three seasons before graduating to his own self-titled spin-off. “I’m sure they’ll find the right storylines and the right people to fill shoes of whatever characters they want to portray. It was great to be a part of it when it first started, and now to see it being revived is just another testimony to the hard work that we did. I congratulate that, and applaud that.”

(4) KRESS REQUEST. Nancy Kress announced on Facebook:

A few people have asked if I will autograph their books at Worldcn San Jose. However, I was disappointed that Programming Reboot has given me no panels, no autographing session, and no kaffeklatch. I do have one reading, at 4:30 on Sunday, which I cannot linger afterwards because of a Hugo dinner. So if anyone wants anything autographed, I will hang around the Hyatt lobby at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.

(5) REACHING OUT TO HUGHART. Mike Berro, who runs the Barry Hughart Bibliography website is asking for help:

If anyone knows how to contact Barry Hughart, please let me know. I run a fan page, and would constantly get emails from people wanting to contact him, mostly about doing a movie or theatrical adaptation of Bridge of Birds. I would forward them to him, and he would always politely reply (with “no thanks”). I haven’t had a reply now for over a year, and just got an email from someone who reported that even his publishers cannot contact him. I fear something unfortunate has happened.

Berro says neither SFWA nor Subterranean Press have been able to offer any help.

Mike Berro’s contact email address is — hughart@collector.org

(6) PRO ADVICE. Not certain who Mary Robinette Kowal had in mind, although JDA was sure it was about him. (Of course, he thinks everything is.)

(7) CLOUDS OF WITNESSES. Crisis Magazine recalls “When C.S. Lewis Befriended a Living Catholic Saint”.

When Luigi Calabria, a shoemaker married to a housemaid, died in Verona, Italy in 1882, the youngest of his seven sons, Giovanni, nine years old, had to quit school and take a job as an apprentice. A local parish priest, Don Pietro Scapini, privately tutored him for the minor seminary, from which he took a leave to serve two years in the army. During that time, he established a remarkable reputation for edifying his fellow soldiers and converting some of them. Even before ordination, he established a charitable institution for the care of poor sick people and, as a parish priest, in 1907 he founded the Poor Servants of Divine Providence. The society grew, receiving diocesan approval in 1932. The women’s branch he started in 1910 would become a refuge for Jewish women during the Second World War. To his own surprise, since he was a rather private person, his order spread from Italy to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, India, Kenya, Romania, and the Philippines.

With remarkable economy of time, he was a keen reader, and in 1947 he came across a book translated as Le lettere di Berlicche by a professor at the University of Milan, Alberto Castelli, who later became a titular archbishop as Vice President of the Pontifical Council of the Laity. Berlicche was Screwtape and “Malacode” served for Wormwood. The original, of course, had been published in 1943 as The Screwtape Letters and Calabria was so taken with it that he sent a letter of appreciation to the author in England. Lacking English, he wrote it in the Latin with which he had become proficient since his juvenile tutorials with Don Pietro.

… Lewis’s correspondence with Calabria went on for about seven years, and after the holy priest died, Lewis wrote at least seven letters to another member of Calabria’s religious community, Don Luigi Castelli, who died in 1986 at the age of 96. Learning of Calabria’s death, Lewis referred to him in a message to Castelli with what I suspect was a deliberate invocation of the phrase about “the dearly departed” that Horace used to console Virgil on the death of Quintilius Varo: tam carum caput. It appears as well in Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels. It was an unfortunate habit of Lewis to throw out letters he received when he thought he might otherwise betray confidences. So what we have are only what he sent. The letters are a radiant model of philia friendship that he described in his 1958 radio talks:

(8) WHO’S THE HERO? John Dilillo claims “Amazon’s Proposed ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Misses the Point of Middle-Earth” at Film School Rejects.

…Every conventionally heroic duty performed by Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings is performed in service of a greater act of heroism by Hobbits, characters who choose their own destiny instead of following the path their bloodline lays out for them. Without Hobbits, Middle-earth is just another cliched fantasy tapestry, painting with the same old tired strokes. What makes Aragorn special is not his heritage or his backstory; it is that he recognizes that he is not the hero of this story. Aragorn is the king who bows to the Hobbits. Stripped of that identity, he is indistinguishable from any other gruff sword-wielding badass.

On top of all this, we’ve already seen the type of story that results from a Tolkien adaptation that loses sight of true heroism in favor of grand tales of redeemed sons and doomed kings. The great failing of the Hobbit trilogy is that it abandons its titular character all too often in favor of the gloomy angst of Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield. Armitage does a fine job projecting gloomy wounded pride, and whoever assumes the lead role in Amazon’s series will doubtless give just as effective a performance. But all of that is ultimately wasted when the real appeal of a Middle-earth story comes from the Shire, not the Lonely Mountain. A Hobbit story that isn’t about Bilbo Baggins is a failure, and it’s a failure that should be learned from….

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 4 — Richard Belzer, 74. The Third Rock fromThe Sun series as himself, also the Species II film and an awful adaption of Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, along with series work too in The X-Files, The Invaders, Human Target, and acrecurring role in the original Flash series to name a few of his genre roles.
  • Born August 4 — Daniel Dae Kim, 50. First genre role was in the NightMan series, other roles include the Brave New World tv film, the second Fantasy Island series, recurring roles on LostAngel and Crusade, the Babylon 5 spinoff series, Star Trek: Voyager, Charmed and voice work on Justice League Unlimited.
  • Born August 4 — Abigail Spencer, 37. First genre role was in the Campfire horror anthology series, other roles include Ghost Whisperer, Jekyll, a film that’s an sf riff off that meme, Cowboys & Aliens, the Oz the Great and Powerful film and Timeless, the sf series recently allowed a proper ending
  • Born August 4 — Meaghan Markle, 37. Yes, Her Royalness. Appeared in Fringe and the newer Knight Rider. Also the near future legal drama Century City.

(10) INSTAPOLL. Survey says –

(11) KEN LIU TO TV. Andrew Liptak says an animated show is on the way: “AMC is developing a sci-fi show based on Ken Liu’s short stories”.

Ken Liu is one of science fiction’s most celebrated writers working today. In addition to translating Cixin Liu’s acclaimed Three Body Problem and Death’s End, he’s also earned numerous awards, most significantly for his short story, “The Paper Menagerie”. Now, it looks as though his works could reach a new audience: AMC is developing series based on his works called Pantheon, according to Deadline.

If it’s produced, Pantheon will be an animated show “based on a series of short stories by [Liu] about uploaded intelligence,” reports Deadline. Craig Silverstein, who created and produced AMC’s American revolution drama Turn, will serve as showrunner, producer, and writer.

(12) SOLO. Lela E. Buis points out the casting problems: “Review of Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

…The worst problem with this film, of course, was Alden Ehrenreich trying to step into Harrison Ford’s shoes. Ehrenreich did a workmanlike job with the character, but workmanlike just isn’t Han Solo. Donald Glover as Calrissian got glowing reviews, but it was really the charismatic Woody Harrelson as Beckett who lights up the film—an understated, low key performance notwithstanding. Also prominent was Lando’s co-pilot L3-37, an animated character fighting against the slavery of droids.

This brings up another question. Why isn’t Disney investing in flashier talent for these movies?

(13) BAEN CHALLENGE COINS. Baen Books is taking orders for the first pressing of its new Challenge  Coins commemorating iconic names or events in the books of Ringo, Williamson, Kratman and probably whoever else you’d expect to fill out a list that starts with those three names.

Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. Shipping and handling is a flat rate of $15, $45 international, for up to 13 coins. Write to info@baen.com for rates on bulk orders.

These coins were designed by Jack Wylder with the active participation of the authors. Here’s an example —

Front: I Read Baen’d Books

Reverse: RIP Joe Buckley

All profits from this coin will go to support two charities founded, supported, and run by Baen readers: Operation Baen Bulk, which provides care packages for deployed service members, and Read Assist, a 501c3 company that serves our disabled readers. http://www.readassist.org/ Each coin is $15. Buy all 13 author coins, and the “I Read Baen’d Books” coin comes free. “I read Baened Books” was first used by Chris French. “Joe Buckley” used courtesy of Joe Buckley. Don’t forget to duck

(14) A CENTURY OF STURGEON. Scott Bradfield tries to jumpstart the party — “Celebrating Theodore Sturgeon’s centenary – so should we all” in the LA Times. (Unfortunately, the Times initially failed to get David Gerrold’s permission to run his photo of Sturgeon with the post…)

I’ve always been a bit confused by these various centenary and multi-centenary celebrations that punctuate our discussions of literature, such as Thoreau’s recent 200th birthday (2017), or the centenary of James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (first published in 1917), or even the fourth centenary of the death of Cervantes (d. 1616), etc. (By the way, celebrating the anniversary of someone’s death strikes me as pretty grisly.) But while some writers seem to continually receive such posthumous honors, others suffer unfairly in silence. No cake, no candles, no old friends leaping out of closets, no nothing. And this year, that seems to be the case for one of America’s greatest and most original short story writers, Theodore Sturgeon, who was born on Feb. 26, 1918. From what I can tell, nobody has yet to pitch in and even buy him a decent card.

…Take, for example, the opening of his brilliant (and often poorly imitated) 1941 novelette, “Microcosmic God”: “Here is a story about a man who had too much power, and a man who took too much, but don’t worry; I’m not going political on you. The man who had the power was named James Kidder, and the other was his banker.”

Or this, from the aforementioned “The Dreaming Jewels” (1950): “They caught the kid doing something disgusting under the bleachers at the high-school stadium, and he was sent home from the grammar school across the street.”

Or even this, from his haunting and beautiful story, “The Man Who Lost the Sea” (1959): “Say you’re a kid, and one dark night you’re running along the cold sand with this helicopter in your hand, saying very fast witchy-witchy-witchy.”

Every opening plops you down bang in the middle of a story that is already happening and in the life of a character it is already happening to. And while many of his stories were collected in “horror” or “suspense” anthologies, they are rarely shocking or violent or grotesque. Instead, they begin by introducing you to a slightly strange world and a slightly strange character who lives there; then, before the story is over, you both feel at home in the world and compassion for the character who now lives there with you.

The greatness of Sturgeon’s stories reside in their almost inflexible, relentless unfolding of strangely logical events and relationships; each sentence is as beautiful and convincing as the last; and the science-fictional inventions never rely on tricks or deus ex machinas to reach a satisfying resolution; instead, a Sturgeon story always resolves itself at the level of the all-too-human.

(15) ACCESS. At io9 Ace Ratcliff asks “Staircases in Space: Why Are Places in Science Fiction Not Wheelchair-Accessible?”

I never used to notice stairs. They were simply a way for me to get from one place to another. Occasionally they were tiresome, but they never actually stymied or stopped me entirely. Eventually, I managed to get where I needed to go.

Then I started using a wheelchair. Suddenly, stairs became a barrier that prevented me from getting from here to there. One step was often enough to stop me in my tracks. It turns out that when you start using a wheelchair, you quickly realize that there are a lot of staircases and steps in our world—and a lot of broken (or nonexistent) elevators and ramps….

Once you start realizing how many stairs there are stopping you in real life, it becomes impossible not to notice them existing in the sci-fi you adore. Turns out they’re everywhere, in all of our sci-fi. Whether it’s decades-old or shiny and brand-new, our sci-fi imitates a real-world reliance on steps and stairs in our architecture.

When we think of sci-fi that’s run the test of time, Doctor Who immediately springs to mind. The inside of the TARDIS is littered with steps—from Christopher Eccleston to Peter Capaldi, there’s no way a wheelchair using companion would be able to navigate that beautiful blue time machine. Prior to the 2005 reboot, previous embodiments of the spaceship were no less inaccessible. You’d think that a spaceship that is regularly re-decorated could easily manage ramps in at least one iteration, but no set designers seem bothered enough to make it happen. I was pleased to learn that a quick finger snap seems to occasionally unlock the TARDIS doors—a quirky replacement for the buttons that exist in real-life, usually installed near closed doors and pressed by disabled people to assist with automatically opening them—but trying to scootch through the narrow opening of that British police box with an accessibility device looks nigh impossible, even without the need for a key.

(16) KERMODE ON SF FILMS. On August 7, BBC 4 airs an episode of Mark Kermode’s Secrets of the Cinema about science fiction.

SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says —

This is an excellent series for film aficionados but the August 7th edition will also appeal to SF fans as this episode will be on science fiction film.

Also the series is co-written by the genre critic Kim Newman whom,  some Worldcon fans will recall, with SF author Paul McAuley,  co-presented the last CalHab (formerly known as Glasgow) Worldcon Hugo Award ceremony (2005). So be assured this episode has a solid grounding.

Mark Kemode’s Secrets of the Cinema SF film episode should be available on BBC iPlayer for a few weeks after broadcast.

BBC 4’s intro reads —

Mark Kermode continues his fresh and very personal look at the art of cinema by examining the techniques and conventions behind classic film genres, uncovering the ingredients that keep audiences coming back for more.

This time Mark explores the most visionary of all genres – science fiction, and shows how film-makers have risen to the challenge of making the unbelievable believable. Always at the forefront of cinema technology, science fiction films have used cutting-edge visual effects to transport us to other worlds or into the far future. But as Mark shows, it’s not just about the effects. Films as diverse as 2001, the Back to the Future trilogy and Blade Runner have used product placement and commercial brand references to make their future worlds seem more credible. The recent hit Arrival proved that the art of film editing can play with our sense of past and future as well as any time machine. Meanwhile, films such as Silent Running and WALL-E have drawn on silent era acting techniques to help robot characters convey emotion. And District 9 reached back to Orson Welles by using news reporting techniques to render an alien visitation credible.

Mark argues that for all their spectacle, science fiction films ultimately derive their power from being about us. They take us to other worlds and eras, and introduce us to alien and artificial beings, in order to help us better understand our own humanity.

(17) GETTING BACK IN BUSINESS. “NASA Announces Crew For First Commercial Space Flights”NPR has the story.

NASA has announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first people in history to ride to orbit in private space taxis next year, if all goes as planned.

In 2019, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner are both scheduled to blast off on test flights with NASA astronauts on board. “For the first time since 2011, we are on the brink of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday, standing in front of a giant American flag at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Since NASA retired its space shuttles, the agency has had to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get its crews to the International Space Station.

(18) MUNG DYNASTY. FastCompany predicts “Plant-based eggs are coming for your breakfast sandwiches”.

When you order a breakfast sandwich or a scramble at New Seasons Market, a local chain in Portland, Seattle, and Northern California, you’ll bite into a yellow, fluffy food that tastes just like an egg, but did not, in fact, come from an animal. Instead, what you’re eating is a mung bean, a legume that people have been eating for thousands of years that, when ground into a liquid, happens to scramble and gel just like an egg.

Mung beans are the key ingredient in Just Egg, the latest product from Just, Inc.–the company formerly known as Hampton Creek, which manufactures plant-based alternatives to products like mayonnaise, cookie dough, and salad dressing. Just Egg, a liquid that scrambles in a way that’s eerily similar to an egg when cooked in a pan, is derived from mung bean protein, and colored with turmeric to mimic the light yellow of an egg. It’s slowly rolling out in stores and restaurants across the U.S., and New Seasons Market has gone as far as to entirely replace its regular eggs with the mung bean mixture.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Berro, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and David Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]

Pixel Scroll 8/3/18 That’s The Pixel Scroll Eraser Button, You Fool!

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman serves up a Sunday brunch with JY Yang in Episode 73 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

JY Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing, which so far includes The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and The Descent of Monsters, with a fourth still to come. Their short fiction has been published in more than a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. And not only had The Black Tides of Heaven been on the Nebula Awards ballot that weekend, but it’s also on this year’s Hugo Awards and World Fantasy Awards ballots as well.

In previous incarnations, they’ve been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers, and a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

We met for Sunday brunch that weekend at Casbah, which offered a Mediterranean-inspired menu filled with comfort food. I’d heard good things about those Sunday brunches, and what I’d heard turned out to be true, because that morning’s braised lamb and eggs was the most umami-filled meal I had all weekend, and probably my favorite dish while in Pittsburgh.

We discussed why they consider themselves “a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie The Great Wall gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing Star Trek and Star Wars fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.

(2) UNTOLD AI. At Medium.com there’s an interview with Chris Noessel, creator of the “What Stories aren’t we Telling Ourselves About AI” info graphic, which analyzed the themes of a large number of movies and shows about AI — “Untold AI?—?A conversation with Chris Noessel of SciFi Interfaces”

It goes quite a bit into the process behind creating the poster, “Untold AI: Poster”.

The AP: This was a pretty massive project, what was the scope and parameters of what you were going to look at?

CN: Oh my yes it was. It took nights and weekends for several months after Juvet. (And it’s still going!)

The scope was big by design. I wanted it to be pretty comprehensive. My authority and expertise in this domain is built on screen sci-fi, since you need to see a thing in use before you can evaluate it. That means movies and TV shows. There’s a lot of sci-fi literature that investigates AI (for instance, I’m reading the Culture series right now by Ian Banks, and it’s got AI baked deep into its worldbuilding), but I just don’t have authority in that domain. But still, screen sci-fi is massive, and I like to be as comprehensive as possible. So I looked back through all the movies and TV shows I could find that had an AI component: A robot, a spaceship AI, a disembodied one. I looked at lists people had collected online. I looked for keywords on IMDb. I don’t think I got them all, but I think I got most.

I’d have liked to include more narrow AI, but that would have expanded the survey of shows by an order of magnitude, and ultimately, the purpose of the project is to help guide sci-fi to be in-line with the science so we hedge our bets in the right way. Narrow AI is already here in the world around us (and less of an existential threat) so there’s not as much need to address it at scope.

(3) CREWED TALK. On Twitter, Karen James, a biologist, points out that instead of saying space missions are manned, one should say “crewed”, as outlined in NASA’s actual style guide: “All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic).”

Unsurprisingly, she gets a lot of pushback in the comments. She does have Phil Plait and Elizabeth Moon weighing in on her side. The thread starts here.

The Planetary Society wrote about non-gendered nomenclature in 2015: “Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans”:

Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words “manned” and “unmanned,” but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration. Since 2006, the NASA History Program Office Style Guide has stated:

All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spacecraft Center, the predecessor to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, or any other official program name or title that included “manned” (e.g. Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).

(4) POOH CRACKDOWN. Winnie’s a controversial bear there: “Disney’s ‘Christopher Robin’ Won’t Get China Release Amid Pooh Crackdown”.

For only the second time this year, a Disney movie has been denied release in China. Christopher Robin, a live-action/CGI family film that stars Ewan McGregor, received a no-go from the country’s film authorities.

No reason was given for the denial, but a source pinned the blame on China’s crackdown on images of the Winnie the Pooh character, which is featured in a central role in Christopher Robin. Last summer, authorities began blocking pictures of Winnie the Pooh on social media given that the character has become a symbol of the resistance in China with foes of the ruling Communist Party, namely Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Bloggers have drawn comparisons between the pudgy bear and Xi, which has put the country’s censors in overdrive. In June, Chinese authorities blocked HBO after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver mocked Xi’s sensitivity over being compared to Winnie the Pooh.

But an insider counters that the decision likely has to do with the size and scope of the film given the foreign film quota and the fact that there are several new Hollywood tentpoles in the Chinese market right now.

The New York Times explains the political significance of Pooh in this February 2018 article — “China’s Censors Ban Winnie the Pooh and the Letter ‘N’ After Xi’s Power Grab”.

…But the move to abolish term limits, announced on Sunday, has resurrected deeper fears in Chinese society, where memories remain of the personality cult of China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, and the fevered emotions and chaos that it conjured.

Anxious to suppress criticism, and maintain an appearance of mass support, the Communist Party’s censors have scoured the internet and social media for content deemed subversive. The sanitizing has included many images of Winnie the Pooh — Mr. Xi is sometimes likened to the cartoon bear — and search terms like “my emperor,” “lifelong” and “shameless.”

For a short time, even the English letter “N” was censored, according to Victor Mair, a University of Pennsylvania professor, apparently to pre-empt social scientists from expressing dissent mathematically: N > 2, with “N” being the number of Mr. Xi’s terms in office.

(5) CON MARKETING. Savan Gupta can’t stand it anymore [Facebook link].

Okay. I am going to give away some advice that I usually charge HARD CASH for, as part of my consulting services, as I need to stop seeing such mediocrity glut my feed….

Branding – This is key. There are certain universal standards, of clean design. Your branding should reflect your event, your values, and your overall identity. It’s so much more than ‘just grab a font you like’. And yes, all of us have had a learning curve with this. Hell, I keep copies of my older foibles in my wallet, to remind me of where I’ve been, and the constant quest for improvement. The Key here is, you have to LOVE it. You and your team. Not ‘like’ it, LOVE it. To pine and suffer and STRIVE to bear that standard through thick and thin, and hold it above the dirt-and-water line, brandishing it. Without that, you WILL be surpassed by some upstart that simply CARES more about these things, and is willing to learn faster. Clean design be damned, speaking as that upstart that has repeatedly surpassed my contemporaries. Hell, we’ve seen “Fuzzy McDumpTruck” and his five-ring-Latrine fire parade march some EGREGIOUS HORSE SHIT, that disrespected his endeavors, his performers, and his vendors. To the point of getting names and web URLs wrong (having skipped and skimped on hiring the usual professionals who prevented him from looking *quite* like a bag of ass). And yet, the band played on, and he continued to fail upwards, due to some reject OSHO grade Cult-Leadership skills, and being zealously in love with every derpy idea his pop-rocks-and-soda brain excreted. Because yes, you can actually polish a turd with Heat and Pressure. It won’t be a diamond. But it will not longer be a turd.

I don’t know how much of this will be new to you, but it’s very lively writing….

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 3, 1904 – Clifford D. Simak
  • Born August 3 — Martin Sheen, 78. Uncle Ben in both the of The Amazing Spider-Man films. Roles also in Total Recall 2070Babylon 5: The River of Souls, The Outer Limits, The Dead ZoneBeyond the Stars (another riff on the Apollo mission), Spawn and voice work in the animated Captain Planet and the Planeteers series.
  • Born August 3 — John Landis, 68. Extensive genre work as producer or executive producer including the Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ video, Twilight Zone: The Movie, some episodes of the Honey, I Shrunk the KidsWeird Science and Sliders series, a one-off Munsters Christmas special, The Lost Worldgilm and series which are not related to each other and the forthcoming An American Werewolf in London. Oh and Clue which I adore even if it’s not genre.
  • Born August 3 — John C. McGinley, 59. Extensive voice work in such animated productions as Spider-Man, Justice League UnlimitedSuperman/Batman: Public Enemies and Justice League; live work in Highlander II: The QuickeningIt’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and the current demon hunting entered Stan Against Evil.
  • Born August 3 — Michael Ealy, 45. Dorian, an android police officer, in the short-lived Almost Human series, Leo the equally short-lived FlashForward series and the Underworld Awakening film in which vampires and werewolves team up to destroy humanity.
  • Born August 3 — Evangeline Lilly, 39. MCU films such as Ant-Man and the Wasp as The Wasp, two of the Hobbit films as Tauriel, and in the Lost series as Katherine ‘Kate’ Austen. Also in Freddy vs. Jason and in multiple nameless roles in the Smallville series.
  • Born August 3 — Hannah Simone, 38. A role in the film remake of The Greatest American Hero, The H+ series in which humanity is nearly wiped and addicted to the internet and host for several seasons of the WCG Ultimate Gamer series.
  • Born August 3 — Max Landis, 33. Son of Joe Landis. Wrote a run of Superman comics called ‘Superman: American Alien’, writer of the Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency series.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) THIRTEENTH DOCTOR LOOT. The Time Ladies will tell you about it: “Merchandise of the Thirteenth Doctor”. For example –

Titan Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor

If the adventure doll isn’t quite for you, then how about a cutesy, kawaii version of our first female Doctor? The Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor Titan figure is ADORABLE and brightens any shelf. With her huge painted eyes and exaggerated features, we couldn’t help but pop her straight into our basket. The 6” figure launched at SDCC a few weeks ago but is available to order from Forbidden Planet now.

Order Titan’s Kawaii Thirteenth Doctor figure here

(9) BEDROCK CONFIDENTIAL. NPR’s Mallory Yu reviews a comic-book reboot: “Yabbadabba-What? These Aren’t The Flintstones You Remember”.

…But before he could tackle that dark comedy, Russell says, he “really wanted to start with the characters and make them relatable and sympathetic, because they’re basically just living their lives.” He credits artist Steve Pugh with bringing humanity to his characters: “You can see the personalities, really, in their design. Fred’s a big beefy guy, looks like he played football in high school and has kind of let himself go since then, but he’s got a lot of love and sadness in his face.”

Fred’s an Everyman in Russell’s Bedrock, a veteran who’s haunted by his actions during the “Paleolithic Wars.” And remember his famous “Yabbadabbadoo?” Russell “sort of turned it into a nonsense mantra to help them deal with PTSD and stress of everyday life.”

Russell says he was able to bend and twist the Flintstones’ world because he didn’t have a lot of childhood nostalgia for the cartoons. “Nothing was sacred, in fact, that was kind of my mission. This was not going to be some reverential homage to The Flintstones.” So Fred works for a terrible boss at a terrible job, trying to make just enough money to afford the latest household appliance. Or, as Russell calls it, “the exploitation of animals as free labor, which to me it’s like they’re the interns of the prehistoric world.”

(10) HEAD SPACE. “Asgardia: the problems in building a space society” — liberal and not-so-liberal rules.

…The constitution also contains some other red flags for utopians:

“To ensure information security, the Government regulates the circulation of certain types of information”.

Asgardia’s “legal instruments” include not only “referendum decisions” and “Acts of Parliament”, but also “decrees of the head of nation”.

Also, Asgardia’s head of nation has the constitutional power to nominate his successor “on the basis of genealogy or on any other basis”. Candidates may also be nominated by the parliament and the Supreme Space Council”, but it’s the Head of Nation who appoints the Chairman of the Space Council, which “is a special governance body” that reports to, guess who, the Head of Nation.

The head of nation also “appoints and removes” the supreme justice of the court and the prosecutor general. Additionally, he or she “has the right to veto candidates” for other top positions, including the National Bank of Asgardia and justices of the court. And to “dissolve Parliament”.

(11) MORE FROM THE SHIRE. More from the Shire: “Small height evolved twice on ‘Hobbit’ island of Flores” – the island’s current short inhabitants are not descended from branch recently discovered.

Scientists decoded the DNA of modern-day “pygmy” people to find out if they might be partly descended from the extinct Hobbit species.

The remains of these Hobbits were found during an archaeological dig on Flores 15 years ago.

The new analysis, published in the journal Science, found no trace of the Hobbit’s DNA in the present-day people.

This is important because some scientists had wondered whether modern humans (Homo sapiens) could have mixed with the Hobbit population when they first arrived on the island thousands of years ago. In theory, this could have led to Hobbit genes being passed down into living people on the island.

(12) THUNDER TOES. Nature found a big foot, so to speak “A dinosaur that stomped the Jurassic scene on size XXXXL feet”.

Large reptile had bigger clodhoppers than any other dinosaur of its kind.

Enormous toe bones excavated in Wyoming belonged to a dinosaur whose feet were more than 1 metre wide — probably a record for dinosaur foot size.

The owner of the gargantuan feet was a sauropod, a group that includes the biggest known dinosaurs. No other known sauropod foot is bigger than the Wyoming animal’s, say Anthony Maltese at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado, Emanuel Tschopp at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and their colleagues. The fossils bear similarities to those of sauropods called brachiosaurs, which could measure 25 metres long.

The dinosaur, which lived roughly 150 million to 160 million years ago, walked on four legs, but the authors whimsically nicknamed it “the real Bigfoot”.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 7/19/18 And Then There Were 770

(1) DRAGON AWARDS. July 20 is the deadline to nominate for Dragon Con’s Dragon Awards. If you’re ever going to do it now would be a good time…. If you’re not, no hurry!

(2) “JUST WEAR CLOTHES, HONEY.” That’s the advice I got the time I called Arthur Bryant’s ribs place to ask if they had a dress code. I follow the same advice when I go to the Hugos.

(3) TOR TAKES LIBRARIANS BY SURPRISE. And not in a good way: “Tor Scales Back Library E-book Lending as Part of Test”Publishers Weekly has the story.

After years of relatively little change in the library e-book market, there has finally been some movement—unfortunately, librarians say, it is movement in the wrong direction. Leading Sci-Fi publisher Tor Books, a division of Macmillan, has announced that, beginning with July 2018 titles, newly released e-books, will be no longer be available to libraries for lending until four months after their retail on sale date.

In a statement to libraries through their vendors, Macmillan officials said the new embargo was part of “a test program” (although an “open ended” test, the release states) to assess the impact of library e-book lending on retail sales. But the statement goes on to say that the publisher’s “current analysis on eLending indicates that it is having a direct and adverse impact on retail eBook sales,” and that Tor will work with library vendors to “develop ongoing terms that will best support Tor’s authors, their agents, and Tor’s channel partners.”

…On July 19, American Library Association president Loida Garcia-Febo issued the following statement:

“The American Library Association and our members have worked diligently to increase access to and exposure for the widest range of e-books and authors. Over years, ALA made great strides in working with publishers and distributors to better serve readers with increasingly robust digital collections. We remain committed to a vibrant and accessible reading ecosystem for all.

I am dismayed now to see Tor bring forward a tired and unproven claim of library lending adversely affecting sales. This move undermines our shared commitment to readers and writers—particularly with no advance notice or discussion with libraries. In fact, Macmillan references its involvement with the Panorama Project, which is a large-scale, data-driven research project focused on understanding the impact of library holdings on book discovery, author brand development, and sales. For this reason, this change by Tor—literally on the heels of Panorama’s launch—is particularly unexpected and unwelcome.

“The ALA calls for Macmillan to move just as quickly to reverse its course and immediately lift the embargo while the Panorama Project does its work.”

(4) BIG REBOOTS TO FILL. Somebody thought this would be a good idea: “‘In Search Of’: Zachary Quinto Follows in Leonard Nimoy’s Footsteps… Again”.

We’re all very used to revivals and reboots these days but with the return of iconic sci-fi/mystery series In Search Of , one big reason to celebrate (besides its launch on the History Channel) is that actor Zachary Quinto is a part of this project.

Quinto, who first became known to TV fans for his role as the villainous Sylar on the original run of NBC’s Heroes, leapt to greater heights of fame in 2009 when he took over the role of the most famous Vulcan in the galaxy, Spock, in the updated Star Trek big-screen franchise. Of course, Spock was first played by Leonard Nimoy in the 1960s television series and, yes, Nimoy later hosted In Search Of.

 

(5) DROPPED IN POTTER’S FIELD. There’s an open question about why this happened: “London erects 25-foot Jeff Goldblum statue to commemorate ‘Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary”.

They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should build a 25-foot replica of Jeff Goldblum.

Londoners and tourists alike were puzzled Wednesday morning to find a statue of Goldblum, his shirt unbuttoned in a recreation of his famous “Jurassic Park” pose, staring seductively at them from the banks of the River Thames near Tower Bridge.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 19 – Benedict Cumberbatch, 42. Some of his sort-of genre and definitely genre roles include Stephen Hawking in HawkingThe Hobbit films as a certain cranky dragon, Star Trek into DarknessDoctor Strange, Sherlock, and possibly my fav role potentially by him as the voice of the title character in the forthcoming animated The Grinch film.
  • Born July 19 – Jared Padalecki, 36. Best known for his role as Sam Winchester on Supernatural, and not surprisingly, Supernatural: The Animation.

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) OKAY. Mad Genius Club columnist Kate Paulk makes everything as clear as she usually does in “Eschew Claytons Diversity”.

…Take the Mad Geniuses. We’re Odds. We don’t fit in. But every last one of us fails to fit in in a different way than every other one of us….

(9) UNDER NEWTON’S TREE. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler is getting to dislike F&SF’s 1963 incarnation almost as much as he loathes Analog“[July 18, 1963] Several bad apples (August Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.  

I’ve discussed recently how this appears to be a revival period for science fiction what with two new magazines having been launched and the paperback industry on the rise.  I’ve also noted that, with the advent of Avram Davidson at the helm of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the editorial course of that digest has…changed.  That venerable outlet has definitely doubled down on its commitment to the esoteric and the literary.

Has Davidson determined that success relies on making his magazine as distinct from all the others as possible?  Or do I have things backwards?  Perhaps the profusion of new magazines is a reaction to F&SF’s new tack, sticking more closely to the mainstream of our genre.

All I can tell you is that the latest edition ain’t that great, though, to be fair, a lot of that is due to the absolutely awful Heinlein dross that fills half of the August 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction.  See for yourself…

“Heinlein dross” turns out to be code for an installment of the novel Glory Road.

(10) SPACE SAILS. [Item by Mike Kennedy] An exploratory project at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville AL is examining metamaterials as the basis for a solar sail for CubeSat propulsion. The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is being developed by Marshall and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a candidate secondary payload to launch with EM-1 the first uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System.

NEA Scout would be a robotic mission to fly by an NEA and return data “from an asteroid representative of NEAs that may one day be human destinations.” The asteroid chosen will depend on the launch date; the current target is  1991 VG. Though this is still only a candidate mission (and thus may never happen), NASA explains the mission like this:

Catching a ride on EM-1, NEA Scout will deploy from SLS after the Orion spacecraft is separated from the upper stage. Once it reaches the lunar vicinity, it will perform imaging for instrument calibration. Cold gas will provide the initial propulsive maneuvers, but the NEA Scout’s hallmark solar sail will leverage the CubeSat’s continual solar exposure for efficient transit to the target asteroid during an approximate two-year cruise.

Once it reaches its destination, NEA Scout will capture a series of low (50 cm/pixels) and high resolution (10 cm/pixels) images to determine global shape, spin rate, pole position, regional morphology, regolith properties, spectral class, and for local environment characterization.

Popular Science article looks a little closer at the use of metamaterials for the sail, talking with Dr. Grover Swartzlander (Rochester Institute of Technology) who is the lead for the project.

The metamaterial Swartzlander is proposing would have several advantages over the reflective materials of the past. Swartzlander’s sails would have lower heat absorption rates due to their diffractive nature which would scatter solar rays, and the ability to re-use what Swartzlander told NASA was “the abundant untapped momentum of solar photons” to fly through the cosmos.

Swartzlander is leading an exploratory study through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. With nine months and $125,000, his research team will work on a NASA satellite called the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout for short. A robotic reconnaissance mission, NEA Scout is a CubeSat meant to explore asteroids. NEA Scout would be NASA’s first craft to be powered by sails.

(11) THEY SWORE A MIGHTY OATH. No “Second Variety”? “AI Innovators Take Pledge Against Autonomous Killer Weapons”.

The Terminator‘s killer robots may seem like a thing of science fiction. But leading scientists and tech innovators have signaled that such autonomous killers could materialize in the real world in frighteningly real ways.

During the annual International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Stockholm on Wednesday, some of the world’s top scientific minds came together to sign a pledge that calls for “laws against lethal autonomous weapons.”

“… we the undersigned agree that the decision to take a human life should never be delegated to a machine,” the pledge says. It goes on to say, “… we will neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.”

The moniker “autonomous weapons” doesn’t draw the same fear or wonder as a killer robot, but weapons that can function without human oversight are a real concern.

(12) NOT THE SIZE OF A PLANET. No one will ever be wondering this about sff fans. Gizmodo’s article “Did Neanderthals Go Extinct Because of the Size of Their Brains?” follows up a paper in Scientific Reports and a theory that Homo neanderthalensis may have gone extinct because their brains — though larger than that of Homo sapiens — had a cerebellum that was proportionately underdeveloped relative to H. sapiens.

Indeed, though scientists have many Neanderthal skulls to work with, none of them contain actual brains, making it difficult to know what the inside of their heads actually looked like. The next best option, therefore, is to look at their fossilized skulls and try to figure out the shape, size, and orientation of the Neanderthal brain.

To do this, Ogihara’s team created virtual three-dimensional “casts” of brains using data derived from the skulls of four Neanderthals and four early modern humans (the skulls used in the study dated from between 135,000 and 32,000 years ago). This allowed the researchers to reconstruct and visualize the 3D structure of the brain’s grey and white matter regions, along with the cerebrospinal fluid regions. Then, using a large dataset from the Human Connectome Project, specifically MRI brain scans taken of more than 1,180 individuals, the researchers modeled the “average” human brain to provide a kind of baseline for the study and allow for the comparative analysis.

Using this method, the researchers uncovered “significant” differences in brain morphology. Even though Neanderthals had larger skulls, and thus larger brain volume overall, H. sapiens had a proportionately larger cerebellum, the part of brain involved in higher levels of thinking and action. Modern humans also featured a smaller occipital region in the cerebrum, which is tied to vision. Looking at these differences, the researchers inferred such abilities as cognitive flexibility (i.e. learning, adaptability, and out-of-the-box thinking), attention, language processing, and short-term and long-term memory. Homo sapiens, the researchers concluded, had better cognitive and social abilities than Neanderthals, and a greater capacity for long-term memory and language processing.

(13) FORTNITE. Brian Feldman, in “The Most Important Video Game on the Planet” in New York Magazine, looks at how Fortnite. since its introduction in July 2017, “has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence…obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people.”

Since it launched in July of last year, Fortnite has risen to become the most important video game currently in existence. The 100-player, last-man-standing video-game shooter is obsessed over by rappers and athletes, hotly debated in high-school cafeterias, and played by 125 million people. All this, not because of a major technical or graphical breakthrough, or for a groundbreaking work of narrative depth, but for, essentially, a simple, endlessly playable cartoon. On a colorful island peppered with abandoned houses, towns, soccer fields, food trucks, and missile silos, players don colorful costumes, drop out of a floating school bus, and begin constructing ramshackle forts that look like they’ve popped straight out of a storybook, before blowing each other to smithereens.

(14) TITANS. Official trailer —

TITANS follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find belonging in a gritty take on the classic Teen Titans franchise.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/17/18 Behold A Pale Pixel, And Its Scroller’s Name Was Cat

(1) 100 BELOVED BOOKS. PBS’ series The Great American Read will air it’s “Fall Kick Off” on September 11. The eight-part series explores the power of reading, told through 100 favorite American novels as determined by a national survey.

Promotion for the series includes an incredible set of travel poster-style ads for some of the titles, many of them genre works, like these —

PBS also has created a downloadable reading checklist of the hundred titles [PDF file].

(2) STRAIGHT OUTTA SWEDEN. Simon Stålenhag’s paintings will be the inspiration for a TV series: “Amazon Orders Sci-Fi Series ‘Tales From the Loop’”.

Amazon has given a series order to “Tales From the Loop,” a science fiction drama from “Legion” writer Nathaniel Halpern. The project is a co-production with Fox 21 Television Studios.

“Tales From the Loop” is based on the art of, whose paintings blend elements of futuristic science fiction with images of rural life in the Sweden.

“Simon Stålenhag’s paintings are renowned for their vision of a not-too-distant, futuristic landscape. We are looking forward to bringing that to life and sharing it with our Prime Video audience,” said Albert Cheng, co-head of television, Amazon Studios.

(3) GALILEO WOULD BE IMPRESSED. National Geographic explains the discovery of “12 New Moons Found Orbiting Jupiter”.

In a curveball of cosmic proportions, astronomers went looking for a hypothetical planet on the far fringes of our solar system, and instead found 12 new moons dancing around Jupiter.

To be clear, these moons are no Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system. They’re tiny, some barely a mile across, and they are tracing all kinds of weird paths around the giant world.

…Normally, spotting new moons around Jupiter is quite difficult. Anything small enough to still be hiding from our view is quite faint, and tracking those dim dots requires powerful telescopes that often have too small a field of view to capture the entire Jovian system. To make matters worse, Jupiter is quite bright, and its glare can obscure tiny moons.

But last year, the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Scott Sheppard and his colleagues were hunting a faraway planet rumored to orbit beyond Pluto—a planet so large its gravitational heft rearranges the orbits of smaller, distant objects. So, the team aimed a telescope at Chile’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory at the star fields surrounding our cosmic neighborhood, looking for faraway pinpricks of light moving in solar orbits.

(4) JAMES WEBB TELESCOPE COULD HAVE ROCKET ISSUES. The latest slips in the James Webb Space Telescope schedule have it launching no earlier than March 2021. The plan all along has been to use an Ariane 5 launch vehicle (in fact, key aspects of the JWST design were customized for the Ariane 5), which has a planned end of life in 2022. Ars Technica notes that any further slips in the JWST schedule could begin to threaten availability of the launcher. Quoting the article (emphasis added):

Back in 2015, when NASA formally reached an agreement with Arianespace to launch on the Ariane 5 rocket, the projected launch date was 2018. NASA partnered with the European Space Agency and its affiliated rocket company for the launch to keep costs down. Essentially, Europe provided a rocket in exchange for some of the observing time. The telescope’s massive heat shield was then designed to fold 12 times to fit within the Ariane 5’s payload fairing.

Last year […] the telescope’s launch date was delayed into 2019 […] [Now the] launch has since been delayed twice more: first into 2020 and then into 2021. The Ariane 5 can still launch during these years. Further delays, however, may prove problematic.
According to Alain Charmeau, who as the head of Ariane Group oversees a family of launch vehicles including the Ariane 5, European states have created a transition plan to the Ariane 6. A separate launch pad is being constructed at the European spaceport in French Guiana for the Ariane 6, and this will allow the Ariane 5 to continue flying for a few more years—but not indefinitely.

“One can back up the other one,” he told Ars. “We will have the Ariane 5 for at least until the end of 2022, but it’s not clear cut. If we need to have another launch in 2023, we can extend it, it is just a matter of maintaining the team and maintaining the infrastructure. But our plan today is to start Ariane 6 in 2020, and stop Ariane 5 at the end of 2022.”

(5) OVERLY FRESH PRINCE. Mashable reports “Will Smith tries to make out with Sophia the robot, and it does not go well”.

Budding YouTuber Will Smith isn’t afraid to churn out some weird content on his channel, including an attempt at getting frisky with a humanoid.

In his most recent clip, Smith sets himself on a date in the Cayman Islands with Sophia the robot, a humanoid robot from Hanson Robotics that uses artificial intelligence to interact with humans. After a few awkward moments and some burns from Sophia to Smith, he leans in for a kiss, and well, gets denied.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop debuted.
  • July 17, 1992 Honey, I Blew Up The Kid premiered.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 17 – Donald Sutherland, 83. Genre roles in the Hunger Games films, Billion Dollar BrainInvasion of the Body Snatchers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, And the Salem’s Lot series to name a few.  His first genre role was apparently in the 1964 Castle of The Living Dead.
  • Born July 17 – David Hasselhoff, 66. Genre roles in the Knight Rider franchise, Nick Fury: Agent of Shield film, as the title characters in Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, and in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.
  • Born July 17 – Jason Clarke, 49. Roles in the now filming version of Pet Sematary, Farscape series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and it  First Man, a look at the life of Neil Armstrong.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit is getting a lot of mileage from making puns on the name Space Force, like here and here.

(9) NOT JUST A PIE IN THE SKY IDEA. John King Tarpinian urged me to give you enough notice of the time and date when Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon — Friday, July 20 @ 7:56 p.m. PDT.  (3:56 a.m. GMT) – so you can plan your own ceremonial observance for the anniversary. John’s already been doing his for years – eating a Moon Pie.

(10) NO PROBLEM, THEY’RE GOING AT NIGHT. NASA touts its “Parker Solar Probe: Humanity’s First Visit to a Star”.

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to “touch” the Sun. The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the Sun’s atmosphere about 4 million miles from our star’s surface. Launch is slated for summer 2018.

  • Launch Window: July 31 – Aug.  19, 2018
  • Launch Site: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida
  • Launch Vehicle: Delta IV-Heavy with Upper Stage

In order to unlock the mysteries of the Sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun. The spacecraft will fly through the Sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.8 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before. (Earth’s average distance to the Sun is 93 million miles.)

Flying into the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona, for the first time, Parker Solar Probe will employ a combination of in situ measurements and imaging to revolutionize our understanding of the corona and expand our knowledge of the origin and evolution of the solar wind. It will also make critical contributions to our ability to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment that affect life and technology on Earth.

(11) SHUT UP AND KEEP SWIMMING. “Rising Seas Could Cause Problems For Internet Infrastructure” — bad enough that your home is gone — you won’t be able to blog about it either.

…The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years.

“It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the Internet run,” explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the research. The analysis estimates under the most severe model for sea level rise that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s.

The Internet is particularly susceptible to flooding because data travels through underground cables buried along roadways and through tunnels. While the massive deep sea cables that carry data under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are designed to be permanently underwater, other infrastructure such as copper wiring and power stations are not.

(12) LONG BEFORE THE EARL OF SANDWICH. “Prehistoric bake-off: Scientists discover oldest evidence of bread” — previous evidence was 9,000 years.

Scientists have discovered the earliest known evidence of bread-making, from a 14,000-year-old dig site.

The bake would have looked like a flatbread and tasted a bit like today’s multi-grain varieties, they say.

Our ancestors may have used the bread as a wrap for roasted meat. Thus, as well as being the oldest bread, it may also have been the oldest sandwich.

The find, from the Black Desert in Jordan, pushes back the first evidence for bread by more than 5,000 years.

(13) ROOTS. Popular Mechanics doubts these will ever be on the market, though — “Scientists Find ‘Quadrillions’ of Tons of Diamonds Beneath Earth’s Surface”.

Deep beneath the Earth’s surface, there’s a gigantic cache of diamonds, according to new research. While it’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to obtain these diamonds, knowing that they’re there helps us learn more about our own planet and what it’s made of.

To discover what lies beneath the surface, scientists can’t simply look with their eyes. Instead, they use sound waves and listen. Unlike light, sound can travel through solid rock, and by listening closely scientists can learn a great deal about what the inside of the Earth is like.

Typically, these sounds come from earthquakes or volcanic explosions, and by studying the resulting seismic waves scientists can determine what materials lie underground. One group of scientists was studying a strange anomaly that occurs when these seismic waves pass through underground structures called cratonic roots. These structures are ancient, highly dense rock formations shaped like inverted mountains that lie hundreds of miles beneath most tectonic plates.

Because these rock formations are so dense, sound waves move much faster through thes cratonic roots than through most other rock. But for some reason, many of the seismic waves measured over the last few decades move even faster than predicted. A group of scientists, led by MIT scientist Ulrich Faul, suspected that some material inside the cratonic roots was speeding up these waves.

(14) DON’T WASTE THE OPPORTUNITY. NASA wants your help taking out the trash. Well, “you” if you’re an aerospace development company. SYFY Wire has an article (If we’re going to go to Mars, this is how we’ll have to deal with trash) discussing NASA’s initiative to get industry help with the trash issue:

NASA wants to figure out how to get rid of all those freeze-dried food wrappers (and everything else) way before we land on Mars or venture into deep space. The space agency just announced that it will be seeking concepts for trashing space garbage through its NextSTEP program, so they can find new ways to compact and process trash so the waste situation.

Using the ISS, which sees literally tons of trash every year, as a testing ground for methods of waste management is the most obvious way to prepare for extended stays away from Earth. The floating space station already receives around 13 tons of supplies from cargo resupply missions every year, and periodically sends around 2 tons back to Earth in a commercial supply vehicle that either brings it to the surface or lets it burn up in the atmosphere.

NASA’s announcement (NASA Seeks New Ways to Handle Trash for Deep Space Missions) says that development will be in two phases, but companies must be prepared to invest some of their own funds. Quoting the NASA announcement:

In Phase A, selected companies will create a concept trash compaction and processing system, conduct design reviews with NASA, and validate concepts through prototype ground demonstrations. Throughout this phase, the companies may request use of NASA facilities to conduct subsystem tests. In Phase B, a flight unit will be developed to demonstrate a system aboard the space station as early as 2022.

Inherent with the NextSTEP partnership model, private companies must contribute their own corporate resources toward the development of their trash compaction and processing systems. In this case, responders are required to show a minimum of 20 percent contribution toward the overall development cost, or 10 percent for small businesses.

(15) STRAIGHT ARROW. Robin Hood , in theaters November 21.

Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) a war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander (Jamie Foxx) mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/14/18 Did You Feed Them After Midnight? Well, I Gave Them Some Pixels

(1) STOKERCON 2020 AWARDED TO UK. The Horror Writers Association will hold StokerCon in the UK for the first time in 2020.

The Horror Writers Association is very happy to announce that the 2020 StokerCon™ will be held April 16-19 at the historic Royal and Grand Hotels in Scarborough, England. For the first time, HWA’s annual gathering will be held outside of the USA, but will continue to incorporate such popular StokerCon programming as Horror University, the Final Frame Short Film Competition, the Ann Radcliffe Academic Conference and the presentation of the iconic Bram Stoker Awards®. HWA’s President Lisa Morton noted: “HWA is committed to celebrating horror around the world, so I’m especially pleased that our fifth annual StokerCon will be held in the UK, where we have such a committed, strong chapter.” More information on StokerCon UK, including website and ticket sales portal, will be announced soon.

(2) BRADBURY MURAL. The Chicago Tribune interviews the creator: “Artist behind Ray Bradbury mural in Waukegan hopes his work will inspire kids who don’t have access to art”.

The little boy wore white-framed sunglasses, his stance confident as he stared into the sun.

Everett Reynolds, a 23-year-old Waukegan resident, stood on a stepladder, adding detail and depth to one of the boy’s hands.

The boy, wearing a homemade astronaut suit with a matching backpack made with two-liter bottles, was the center of Reynolds’ original concept for the mural, which he’s been painting on the side of the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road.

“I wanted to put up something that symbolized forward thinking and to dream big,” he said….

Everett Reynolds, a Waukegan artist, paints a mural Thursday, July 12, on the Zuniga Automotive Service and Towing building on Belvidere Road. The mural aims to inspire kids “to dream big” and pays tribute to Waukegan native Ray Bradbury. (Emily K. Coleman / News-Sun)

(3) YA HORROR. The Horror Writers Association has revived its YA blog. The first installment, “Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael”, features interviews with author Bonny Becker and the appropriately-named illustrator Mark Fearing.

Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every other Thursday for new articles and interviews. Managing members Ally Russell, Mac Childs, and Shanna Heath have each graduated from Children’s Literature professional programs, and are eager to let you pick (not eat) their brains about Young Horror.

Future Young Horror feature topics include: weekly writing prompts; best horror picture/board books; author Q&A’s and podcast episodes; diseases in horror tips and tricks; secrets of a horror-loving children’s librarian; why write short-form horror for kids and teens; and more.

(4) VENERABLE AUDIENCE. James Davis Nicoll flips the script in “Old People Read New SFF: Tongtong’s Summer by Xia Jia”.

For the second entry in Old People Read New SFF, I chose Xia Jia’s Tongtong’s Summer. I selected it because of the authors in Ken Liu’s exemplary anthology Invisible Planets, Xia Jia’s skillful combination of fantasy and science fiction—what the author called porridge fiction—was the fiction I liked best. Of the three Xia Jia works on offer in Invisible Planets, Tongtong’s Summer (available here) was by far my favourite. I grant “I liked it so surely my readers will too,” generally blew up in my face over on the Young People of the project but if there’s anything experiences teaches me, it is that I don’t learn from experience! Surely the Old People will like this example of recent speculative fiction! After all, I did.

(5) LESSONS FROM SPACE. As part of their One Strange Rock series, National Geographic has published an interview with Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who holds the record for most cumulative days (879) spent in space.

Q: What can we learn from the way the space station is run?

A: During the last 20 years, I’ve been working in an international project. I visited the U.S. several times per year. Canada, Europe, Japan—all the countries that participated in this project. I have lots of friends. And being in space, flying above, we knew that whatever the situation is, we knew that the life of your friend depends upon you, too.

The major thing, actually, that I have gained during space training was friendship. I started it in 1989, the end of Cold War, and our first project was the Mir shuttle project. We started to meet with the Americans and European space people. And then ISS project, it has brought us even closer to each other. And we are tied up so tightly that we can’t live in space without each other.

This is probably my best discovery, that the people of different nations, from different countries, under very severe conditions, can work very successfully, can be friendly all the time, understand each other, though their situations are sometimes really stressful.

But there’s something wrong in the fact that only such difficulties as I’ve just mentioned unite people. This is wrong. There should be something else.

(6) CONTINUED NEXT ROCK. Vice headline: “This Bizarre Monument Is All That Will Remain of Humanity in 4,000 Years”. Sub-head: “Jacques André-Istel has written the history of the world on stone in the middle of the desert.”

Just across the California border from Yuma, Arizona, lies the town of Felicity, established in 1986 by now 89-year-old Jacques André-Istel. Pretty much the only reason you’d ever visit the town is to see another creation of his, the Museum of History in Granite.

The outdoor museum is made up of a series of 100 foot-long granite panels engraved with a history of civilization as a record for future generations, sorted into categories like History of California and History of Humanity. According to Istel, they’re designed to last for 4,000 years, to serve as a record of our time for future beings, whether from Earth or elsewhere.

(7) SOMETIMES THEY DO GET FURRY. At Green Man Review, Cat Rambo branches out: “An Armload of Fur and Leaves”.

In the last year or so, I found a genre that hadn’t previously been on my radar, but which I really enjoy: furry fiction. Kyell Gold had put up his novel Black Angel on the SFWA member forums, where members post their fiction so other members have access to it when reading for awards, and I enjoyed it tremendously. The novel, which is part of a trilogy about three friends, each haunted in their own way, showed me the emotional depth furry fiction is capable of and got me hooked. Accordingly, when I started reviewing for Green Man Review, I put out a Twitter call and have been working my way through the offerings from several presses.

Notable among the piles are the multiplicity by T. Kingfisher, aka Ursula Vernon, and two appear in this armload. Clockwork Boys, Clocktaur War Book One (Argyll Productions, 2017) is the promising start to a fantasy trilogy featuring a lovely understated romance between a female forger and a paladin, while Summer in Orcus (Sofawolf Press, cover and interior art by Lauren Henderson) is aimed at younger readers and will undoubtedly become one of those magical books many kids will return to again and again, until Vernon is worshipped by generations and prepared to conquer the world. Honestly, I will read anything Kingfisher/Vernon writes, and highly recommend following her on Twitter, where she is @UrsulaV….

(8) JENSON OBIT. Oscar-nominated visual effects artist George Jenson (1930-2018) died May 25. The Hollywood Reporter profiled his career: “George Jenson, Illustrator on ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Return of the Jedi,’ Dies at 87”.

George Jenson, an Oscar-nominated visual effects artist, illustrator and art director who worked on such films as Close Encounters of the Third KindReturn of the Jedi and Everybody’s All-American, has died. He was 87.

Jenson died May 25 in Henderson, Nevada, of complications from melanoma, publicist Rick Markovitz announced.

A native of Canada who specialized in science fiction, Jenson received his Oscar nomination for his visual effects efforts on the 1984 film 2010, Peter Hyams’ sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Jenson was hired by Steven Spielberg and served as the director’s production illustrator on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979), then worked on such films as 9 to 5 (1980), Looker (1981), Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983), Christine (1983), Romancing the Stone (1984) and Red Dawn (1984).

(9) PERRY OBIT. Occasional genre actor Roger Perry died July 12: “Roger Perry, Actor on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Munsters’ and ‘The Facts of Life,’ Dies at 85”.

Also, on a 1965 episode of CBS’ The Munsters, Perry played a young man with admirable intentions who’s out to rescue the beautiful niece Marilyn (Pat Priest) from a band of ghouls. However, they are, of course, members of her loving family.

On the big screen, Perry appeared in not one but two Count Yorga movies; was a doctor in the infamous Ray Milland and Rosey Grier classic, The Thing With Two Heads (1972); and played the father of Linda Blair’s flautist character in the musical drama Roller Boogie (1979).

On the first-season Star Trek episode “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” which debuted in January 1967, Perry starred as Capt. John Christopher, an Air Force pilot in the 1960s who is suddenly transported aboard the Enterprise in the future.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 14 – Joel Silver, 66. Producer of, among many projects, Weird Science, Streets Of Fire, Predator and Predator 2, Demolition ManTales from the Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt animated series, The Matrix and Sherlock Holmes franchises, V for Vendetta and an apparent forthcoming reboot of Logan’s Run.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Rudin, 60. Producer of the forthcoming Justice League Dark live action film (this being Warner, there’s already a splendid animated one) plus Annihilation, The Addams Family Values, Jennifer 8, The Truman ShowA Series of Unfortunate Events, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs to name some of his work.
  • Born July 14 – Jackie Earle Haley, 57. Roles in RoboCop,  Watchmen and A Nightmare on Elm Street; series work in The Planet Of The Apes, The Tick, Human Target, Valley of the Dinosaurs and Preacher.
  • Born July 14 – Matthew Fox, 52. Lost and Lost: Missing Pieces, other genre work includes World War Z, Speed Racer and the Haunted series.
  • Born July 14 – Scott Porter, 39. Roles in Scorpion and Caprica, the X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and myriad genre video games.
  • Born July 14 – Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events,  Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, also appeared in Once Upon a Time, War for the Planet Of The Apes, Android Employed, Supernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LIFE EXPECTANCY OF COMICS. The Los Angeles Times’ Geoff Boucher analyzes why “Superheroes are thriving in movies and on TV — but comic books lag behind”.

Few people in Hollywood have more history with comic books adaptations than Michael Uslan, who began writing comic books in the 1970s and used that expertise as an executive producer on Tim Burton’s “Batman,” the 1989 hit that launched a new generation of superhero movies. Uslan recalled recently that top Marvel Comics executives treated him to a lavish Manhattan meal after the movie stirred fan interest in all comics and gave Marvel a hefty spike in sales.

“That was the case for years, big superhero movies brought new fans to comics, but it’s not the case now,” Uslan said. “The biggest comic book movies now have little or zero impact on the comics sales. The movies aren’t rescuing the comics; they’re replacing them. So now I really worry about comics. Any entertainment medium that can’t connect with new generations, doesn’t it have one foot in the grave?”

(13) 55 YEARS AGO. At Galactic Journey, Victoria Lucas celebrates a Presidential visit: “[July 14, 1963] JFK gets a Ph.D.”.

I really wish I had been able to be there.  Fortunately my friend in San Diego came through again, and I’ve been drooling over the prints and tape she sent.  She was at the commencement ceremonies on the 6th of June at San Diego State College (SDSC) when President John F. Kennedy was presented with an honorary doctorate in the Aztec Bowl.  Kennedy is one of my favorite people, and I look forward to voting for him when I vote in my first presidential election next year….

Well that’s staying in character.

(14) RESCUE ANIMAL. His employer went out of business, and he almost ended up in the street: “Giant Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe starts second career at children’s hospital”.

Geoffrey the Giraffe, the 16-foot-tall fiberglass Toys R Us mascot, has made a move to a new home less than two weeks after the retailer’s U.S. toy stores closed their doors.

At one point, the future of Geoffrey — about as tall as a real male giraffe — was in doubt as the 70-year-old company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated operations, including its corporate headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey. Because of Geoffrey’s size and the cost associated with transportation and installation, the company struggled to find someone to buy him.

No one made a bid.

As the June 30 deadline to clear out and clean up drew closer, the Toys R Us liquidation adviser, Joseph Malfitano of Boulder, Colorado, bought the giraffe and paid $10,000 to have Geoffrey packed and shipped the 50 miles here to Bristol-Meyers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. Malfitano thought a children’s hospital would be an appropriate home for the beloved mascot.

(15) BET THE UNDER. It’s not being overlooked anymore: “In Ireland, Drought And A Drone Revealed The Outline Of An Ancient Henge”.

A drone flight and a lingering dry spell have exposed a previously unknown monument in Ireland’s Boyne Valley, forgotten for thousands of years and long covered by crops — which, struggling to cope with a lengthy drought, finally revealed the ancient footprint.

Photographer and author Anthony Murphy discovered the site. He was flying a drone near Newgrange, a famous prehistoric stone monument in County Meath, on Tuesday, taking pictures of the known archaeological attractions. Then he saw something strange — a perfect circle, etched in the color of the crops, in an otherwise unremarkable field.

Murphy runs the website Mythical Ireland (also the name of his latest book), which focuses on the megalithic monuments of the Boyne Valley. He knew the local sites well — every passage tomb, every banked enclosure, every archaeological dig. And he’d been flying drones here for months.

He’d never seen this.

(16) THIS JOB ISN’T EASY. Like you need teeny tiny branding irons…. BBC tells how “Source of cosmic ‘ghost’ particle revealed”.

Step One: Catch a neutrino

It all starts with IceCube, a highly sensitive detector buried about two kilometres beneath the Antarctic ice, near the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

“In order to get a measurable signal from the tiny fraction of neutrinos that do interact, neutrino physicists need to build extremely large detectors,” explains Dr Susan Cartwright, a particle physicist at the University of Sheffield.

Measuring cosmic neutrinos against those created closer to home is, she told BBC News, “like trying to count fireflies in the middle of a firework display”.

(17) THE TWO TOWERS. Long ad for a short clip of a bit of space history: “Nasa launch towers demolished in Florida”.

The two towers were used to assemble rockets for missions to Mars from 1957 until 2011.

(18) WHEDON’S NEXT. According to Variety — “HBO Lands Joss Whedon Sci-Fi Series ‘The Nevers’”.

HBO has given a series order to “The Nevers,” a science-fiction drama from Joss Whedon. The series is described as a sci-fi epic about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.

Whedon will serve as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner.

(19) MAN OF THE CLOTH. In Don Glut’s new Frankenstein film, Edward L. Green plays a Priest. Ed says, “While not as cool as a trading card, I guess ‘Father Florescu’ is worth his own postcard.” Order them from Pecosborn Press — “Tales Of Frankenstein Postcards (package Of 8)”.

(20) BE THE BEST VILLAIN. A new board game, Villainous (2–6 players, ages 10 and up), from Wonder Forge will let you play as one of six famous Disney villains (“Disney’s Villainous Board Game Debuts With Classic Characters”). The $35 game is expected to be in stores August 1. Quoting an io9 article:

In the game you can play as one of six infamous Disney villains: Captain Hook, Ursula, Maleficent, Jafar, Prince John, or the Queen of Hearts. The actual gameplay and goals mirror the events each character experienced in their corresponding movies: Peter PanThe Little MermaidSleeping BeautyAladdinRobin Hood, and Alice in Wonderland.

There aren’t any interactions between the various villains; each player remains on their own “realm” gameboard so it’s not like Captain Hook and Maleficent could team up to vanquish Robin Hood. […] But board games are really only fun when you can frustrate your fellow players, so Villainous includes hero cards featuring the protagonists that, at least in the original movies, foiled these villains’ plans. The hero cards allow other players to make it more difficult for your villain’s scheme to come to fruition […]

 

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

Pixel Scroll 7/8/18 My Friend, Can Your Heart Stand The Shocking Facts Of Pixel Scrollers From Outer Space?

(1) CASH THEFT AT MONTREAL COMIC CON. Peter Chiykowski, creator of Rock, Paper, Cynic, told fans that thieves took over $1,000 from his booth at Montreal Comic Con on July 7. He has written a long post on Facebook about the theft, its toxic emotional impact on him, plus a full description of the three perpetrators, who have hit other vendors, too.

Peter Chiykowski and Husein Panju at Montreal Comic Con booth.

Yesterday an organized group of thieves stole about $1,000 cash from my booth at comic con. (Fellow vendors: details at the bottom about how to recognize them and fight back.)

I’m feeling a lot of things right now. Angry. Hurt. Defeated. Spiteful. Grateful to all the people who helped me in the aftermath, including friends and fellow vendors and comic con staff.

…They stole $1,000 in 30 seconds.

I was one of about 4 booths they hit in an hour. I seem to have been hit the hardest. Apparently this is the 3rd con they’ve done this at.

This year has been personally terrible for me. There’s been a lot going in my personal and professional life that I haven’t discussed and that has made this by far the low point and most difficult and financially strained year of my career. On the way to this show I was very seriously questioning if I want to keep doing this.

I can’t help feel like yesterday was a sign. A big fuck you, because no matter how hard I work, there will always be shitty people who can take it away.

I am going to move on from this, because I have to move on from this, and in the grand scheme of my life, $1,000 is far from the biggest thing I’ve lost….

Rodney Valerio has set up a fundraiser with the goal of replacing the thousand dollars that was taken: “Peter’s Rock, Paper, Cyncic Dream”.

(2) SMOFCON SCHOLARSHIPS OFFERED. CanSMOF Inc. is taking applications for three scholarships for convention runners to be used towards the cost of attending SMOFcon 36, to be held in Santa Rosa, CA, November 30-December 2, 2018. SMOFCon is the annual convention about organizing Science Fiction conventions.

  • The first Scholarship of up to 500 CAD is open to a Canadian citizen or resident involved in running conventions with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
  • The second scholarship of up to 1000 CAD is open to anyone not residing in North America, involved in running conventions with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
  • The third scholarship of up to 500 CAD is open to anyone involved in running conventions, regardless of their place of residence with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.

Preference will be given to fans who have not previously attended a SMOFCon, but this is not necessary to be an applicant. The submission deadline is September 9.

To apply for a scholarship, follow this link: https://goo.gl/forms/4rNPJbZ7f2Vx1NMJ2

(3) KEPLER NEARS RETIREMENT. On July 6, NASA announced that they have put the Kepler space observatory in a “no-fuel-use safe mode” in preparation for downloading data from what may have been the final Kepler observational campaign. Kepler has been very successful at finding exoplanets (both confirmed and candidates) since commissioning in 2009. After 2 of the 4 reaction wheels failed (the second in 2013), the mission was replanned to use thrusters as well as the remaining reaction wheels to point the telescope. Now, however, thruster fuel is critically low. NASA currently “expects it to run out of fuel in the next few months.”

NASA plans to take Kepler out of safe mode on August 2. It will then be commanded to reorient and point its high-gain antenna at Earth so data currently stored onboard can be downloaded. This reorientation maneuver uses significantly more fuel than observation mode and NASA notes that, “Returning the data back to Earth is the highest priority for the remaining fuel.” If the download is successful, NASA will command one more observation campaign (the 19th), to begin 6 August.

(4) WONDER WOMAN DROPS BY. Syfy Wire, in “’Wonder’-ful surprise: Gal Gadot visited a children’s hospital in her full Wonder Woman costume”, reports Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot made a surprise appearance at Inova Children’s Hospital in Annandale VA on Friday 6 July… in her full battle armor costume.

Surgeon Dr. Lucas Collazo posted a photo to his Twitter account of Gadot posing with nearly a score of staff members and thanking her for brightening the day of many of the children (and staff).

Other pics were posted on Twitter (@WonderWomanHQ) and on Reddit (/u/oligarchyoligarchy). Gadot was apparently in the area while shooting Wonder Woman 1984, the upcoming sequel.

(5) PREMIERE. The Verge posted an excerpt of Rich Larson’s debut novel from Orbit: “A transgender girl rises up against alien invaders in Rich Larson’s novel Annex”. Previous work from Larson includes short genre fiction in Apex Magazine, in Clarkesworld Magazine, at Daily Science Fiction, on Tor.com, and in the anthology War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.

Later this month, Rich Larson will publish his debut novel, Annex, the start to his Violet Wars trilogy. The book is set in the aftermath of an alien invasion, and follows Violet, a transgender girl who has escaped capture and discovered that an alien parasite has given her strange powers. The aliens have tagged the adults of the world with a device that leaves them in a zombie-like state. She and a group of children called “Lost Boys” struggle to survive in order to take the fight back to the otherworldly invaders.

(6) SF V. LITERATURE. Gautham Shenoy interviews Adam Roberts in his 100th sff column for Factor Daily: “‘We’re Winning the War’: A Q&A with SF writer, critic and historian, Adam Roberts”.

Shenoy: I remember a few years ago, Kim Stanley Robinson angrily (I’d presume) calling the judges of the Man Booker Prize ignorant for ignoring science fiction, singling you out as the author who should’ve won that year, for your book, Yellow Blue Tibia. How did that make you feel? Which leads me to the second part of this question, where do you stand on this ‘literary apartheid’ if I can call it as such, where the ‘literary establishment’ tends to ignore if not sneer at ‘low brow’ science fiction, which in turn one could say has become ghettoised.

Roberts: Stan was being kind (really, incredibly kind and flattering) rather than wholly accurate when he said that. I’m never going to win the Man Booker, and I’m content with that. By the same token, I wonder if the ghetto doesn’t figure the opposite way to how it’s often invoked. It’s not that SFF is a ghetto inside the glorious city of ‘Literary Fiction’, but the reverse. “Literary” novels sell abominably badly, by and large; popular culture in the main belongs to SF and Fantasy, eighteen of the top twenty highest grossing movies of all time are SFF, everybody recognises SFF icons and memes, and not only popular bestsellers like Andy Weir’s The Martian but the best in contemporary experimental fiction is now SF. Nicola Barker’s Goldsmith’s Prize-winning H(a)ppy is SF; Kim Stanley Robinson’s own New York 2140 is as stylistically and formally innovative as Dos Passos, and so on. We’re winning the war.

(7) NEWS TO ME. Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is “a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary academic journal published by the The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research.”

Fafnir aims at serving as an international forum for scholarly exchange on science fiction and fantasy and for discussion on current issues on the field. Fafnir welcomes contributions from a wide range of perspectives.

(8) TRIBUTE TO DITKO. Sam Thielman, in “Steve Ditko’s Genius Made Him Something He Disdained–A Beloved Celebrity” in The Daily Beast, offers an appreciation of Ditko, and explains that many comics fans made the trip to 1650 Broadway, Suite 715 (an address that was in the phone book) only to find that Ditko refused to give interviews to anyone, including Neil Gaiman, who left Ditko’s office with a bag of comics and no interview.

For this beloved artist, the focus was entirely on his work, and he wanted other people’s focus there, too. “I never talk about myself,” he said when his own editors asked for a promotional interview after he’d created a new character, The Creeper, for DC Comics in 1974. “My work is me. I do my best, and if I like it, I hope somebody else likes it too.”

Pretty much everybody else did like it. There is a peculiar grammar to comics, a way that one panel suggests the next panel, that is ephemeral and hard to learn; some people intuitively understand it and reading their comics is like watching actual movement. Ditko is their patron saint.

(9) VANZINA OBIT. Carlo Vanzina (1951 – 2018): Italian screenwriter and director, died July 8, aged 67. Often collaborated with his brother Enrico. Genre work included Nothing Underneath (1985), A spasso nel tempo (1996), A spasso nel tempo – L’avventura continua (1997), 2061: Un anno eccezionale (2007).

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Why are UFO sightings down? Mike Kennedy learned the answer in Brewster Rockit.

(11) SHE LIGHTS UP THEIR LIVES. Mark Jenkins in the Washington Post reports on a forthcoming concert by Hatsume Miku, who is a hologram (her name means “first sound of the future” whose manga-loving fans have composed 100,000 songs in at least five languages for her, some of which have gotten 25 million hits on YouTube. “This singer is part hologram, part avatar, and might be the pop star of the future”.

When Japanese pop idol Hatsune Miku makes her Washington debut at the Anthem on Thursday, fans will be asked to use the official glow sticks for sale at the show instead of the regular brighter ones. The thing is, if too much light shines from the audience, Miku might simply disappear.

That’s because Miku is a hologram — at least when she performs in concert, backed by a quartet of flesh-and-blood musicians. She’s also an anime character, a video-game avatar, a bundle of sophisticated “vocaloid” code and a fascinating experiment in crowd-sourced pop art.

(12) AN INCREDIBLE NUMBER. ComicBook.com has pointed out that Incredibles 2 is about to set a record—the highest domestic gross for an animated film. According to BoxOfficeMojo’s Domestic Gross table, as of 5 July 2018, I2 was sitting at $475,361,414 (and #13 overall for all films), just behind Finding Dory at $486,295,561.

On the other hand, I2 would have a long way to go to gain the same distinction internationally. On BoxOfficeMojo’s Worldwide Gross chart, Frozen is the highest ranked animated film (#12 overall; $1,276.5 million) while I2 is way down the rank (#109 overall; $693.4 million). Animated films between them include Up (#96), Monsters University (#94), Madagascar 3 (#91), Shrek Forever After (#89), Maleficent (#85), Shrek the Third (#74), Coco (#73), Inside Out (#63), The Secret Life of Pets (#57), Ice Age: Continental Drift (#56),  Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (#52),  Shrek 2 (#49), Finding Nemo (#45), The Lion King (#38), Despicable Me 2 (#37), Zootopia (#32), Finding Dory (#29), Despicable Me 3 (#27), Toy Story 3 (#23), and Minions (#16).

Of course, when adjusting Domestic Gross for inflation, no animated film can beat out Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (#10 overall) or even 101 Dalmatians (#12 overall). And those two films together don’t add up to the inflation adjusted Domestic Gross for #1 Gone with the Wind. [Item penned by  Mike Kennedy.]

(13) SDCC PROGRAM. Comic-Con has released its program. They’ve finally found something for all the Hollywood lawyers to do.

(14) ELLISON TRIBUTE AT SDCC. San Diego’s Comic-Con International also will host a panel discussion about the late Harlan Ellison on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Room 6DE.

Josh Olson, Bill Sienkiewicz, William Stout, Erik Nelson, Steve Barnes, Nat Segaloff, Jude Meyers, Scott Tipton, J. K. Woodward, Christine Valada, Jason Davis will honor the memory of Harlan Ellison and the lasting effects of his work.

(15) PIERS ANTHONY ON ELLISON. Piers Anthony devotes a long section of his latest Newsletter to reminiscing about Ellison.

Yet there are limits. When Harlan made comments that could be dangerous to my career, I wrote to him privately saying in essence that I did not want trouble with him, as we were on the same side in so many cases, but if he repeated some of the things in print I would have to take legal action to protect my reputation. He was dismayed, listing three things that I should have said and had not. I replied by quoting all three things from the first page of my letter. Again he had accused me without cause. It was apparent that he was incorrigible, simply not capable of getting such things straight; he was a loose cannon, possibly more dangerous to friends than to enemies. Strike Three. I decided to disengage. “Fare well, Harlan,” I wrote, and cut him off.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/28/18 Stay Scrolled, Pixelboy… Stay Scrolled…

(1) FUTURE TENSE. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager at ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and the Assistant Director, Future Tense, forwards the latest entry in the Future Tense Fiction series: “A Brief and Fearful Star” by Carmen Maria Machado.

Mama did not talk about her journey west very much; the circumstances had to be right. When she did—in the electric moments before rainfall, if a rabbit crossed clockwise against our path, if she found me flipping through the battered almanac from the year of my birth—she described it like a painting she was viewing through a fever.

“The light,” she said once, when we encountered a set of twigs that had fallen into the shape of a cross. “It was like being underwater, all blue and soft and bright.”

It was published along with a response essay, “Could the Experiences of Our Ancestors Be “Seared Into Our Cells”?” by science journalist Erika Hayasaki.

Our memories are made up of the stories we come to believe about our past, about how we got here and who we are, a running inner-narrative of scenes, summary, and anecdotes colored with bits of truth and speculation. We tend to define our lives through largely made-up memories, to decipher what makes us resilient, or what makes us weak.

There’s something seductive in believing we could also inherit memories in a biological sense, too. An ancestor passing down the experience of endurance or trauma, for example, transmitting traces of a distant past that does not belong to us and yet might be built into us before we are born. A coding that primes decedents to fear, to cope with, to prepare for, or to survive through the same perils. It makes for an uncomfortable solace, thinking that the memories of generations before may reside within our genes. It gives us explanations….

(2) FUTURE LAW. The Institute for Information Law at the Universiteit van Amsterdam invites English-language entries in the inaugural “’Science Fiction & Information Law’ Essay Competition”. The deadline is December 15.

We welcome essays that reflect on our possible data-driven future, where data has been firmly established as an economic asset and new, data-driven smart technologies can change the way we live, work, love, think and vote. How will AI change politics, democracy or the future of the media? What will life be like with robot judges and digital professors? What is the future of transportation in the wake of drones, the autonomous car and perfect matching of transportation needs? Is there a life beyond the ubiquity of social media: Is there bound to be an anti-thesis and if so, what will the synthesis look like? What will happen when social media corporations start fully-fledged co-operation with the police? Or unleash the power of public engagement to solve or prevent crime by themselves? How would crime respond to all this? What could be the true implications of the ‘data economy’ and if we really can pay our bills with our data? How will future information law look like in the age of AI?

The authors of the best five essays will compete for the IViR Science Fiction & Information Law Award. The award will be granted by an independent jury, and the five authors will be invited to Amsterdam for a public symposium…..

We welcome essays between 5000-8000 words in English. We encourage contributions from sci-fi authors but also from all scholars, thinkers, lay-philosophers, bloggers and interested citizens who like to think about technology and society, and maybe have been toying with the idea of writing something for quite some time but never did. This is your opportunity!
Please send your essay to n.helberger@uva.nl by 15 December 2018.

(3) NEEDLE FOUND AT LAST. The Portalist asks Robert Silverberg about the forthcoming film adaptation of one of his short stories: “Interview: Sci-Fi Great Robert Silverberg Talks Time Travel”.

The director, John Ridley, is best known for the movie Three Kings, for which he wrote the story, and 12 Years a Slave, which earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Do you know what attracted him to “Needle in a Timestack”? 

He read it in Playboy long ago—it was published there in 1983—and said, “I want to make a movie out of that.” But once he got into a position to do that he couldn’t, because it had been optioned and later bought outright by Miramax. So it was tied up, and he was not a Miramax person, so it was in limbo for years. Vince Gerardis, my lovely Hollywood agent, managed to get the rights back. At that point John had had a huge success with 12 Years and Miramax asked him, is there anything else you want to do, and he said, “Needle in a Timestack.” So they optioned it the second time, hired Ridley, and then let the option run out. But he was hooked, and went and found another producer, who is now producing. He’s deeply attached to the project—not just in the Hollywood sense, he really loves it. He wrote the screenplay and apparently the screenplay is quite faithful to the story.

(4) YEARS AGO AT DRAGON CON. Two days ago, SF/F author K. T. Katzmann tweeted, “Also, I once watched one of the most famous SF/fantasy authors in the world pull off an act of conspiracy to commit murder over their microphone in a convention panel, but my lips are sealed until they die.”

That author was Harlan Ellison. Now that he has died, Katzmann tells the whole story in this thread:

(5) APPEAL. File 770 commenter Lurkertype could use some help after getting medical help for a cat:

One of my credentials had surgery this morning, and it’s going to cost $7,000.

Seven. Thousand. Dollars.

Which we don’t have — that’s over 2 months’ total living expenses — and we’re living off (premature, thus heavily taxed) IRA withdrawals. We get the credit to pay our Obamacare premiums, which… who knows if that will continue? Basically we are poor, and as you know, it’s not a swell time to be poor.

So I am begging for money.

You can send it to my PayPal account, which is under lurkertype (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Any amount, no matter how small, will be deliriously accepted.

I promise to send a photo of him on some SF. He is a handsome tuxedo beastie of 17 pounds. I don’t know if he’ll have a cone of shame or not.

I know many of you don’t have any spare money, but I know how much File 770 loves cats, so any kind thoughts towards him or me, prayers to your favorite deity, or just grumpy thoughts towards the universe to shape up for once are also accepted.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 28 – Mel Brooks, 92. Writer, actor and producer in, and this is a very selective listing, Get Smart, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs and Spaceballs: The Animated Series, the Hotel Transylvania animated films and Blazing Saddles.
  • Born June 28 – Kathy Bates, 70. Performer, among many genre roles,  in Dick Tracy, The Stand, Hansel and Gretel, The Golden CompassDolores Claiborne and the American Horror Story series.
  • Born June 28 – Felicia Day, 39. Performer in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,  Eureka, Supernatural, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and LARPs which is not a complete accounting. Also writer and theme song singer (!) for Mystery Science Theater 3000. 
  • Born June 28 – Jon Watts, 37. Director of Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man Homecoming, screenplay of latter as well

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen sends the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip “Evolution” with the cryptic recommendation, “I like ‘’I like big butts and cannot lie’ and cannot lie.” I have the cryptographic section working on this….
  • On the other hand, JJ’s Incidental Comics pick “Books are….” will be readily understood by every Filer.

(8) ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT FROM DC. Io9 shares DC’s plan: “The New DC Universe Streaming Service Will Bundle Superhero Comics and TV Shows All in One Place”.

As more and more people have begun reading comics digitally, DC’s fans have been wondering when (if ever) the publisher was going to get in on the all-you-can-read subscription service game much in the same way that Marvel has. As it turns out, that time is now.

Today, DC Comics and Warner Bros. announced the impending arrival of DC Universe, the new, fan-oriented platform where many of company’s upcoming shows like Young Justice: Outsiders, Titans, and Harley Quinn will live alongside a deep back catalog of curated DC comic books, TV shows, and films.

(9) GRIM FATE. Comics artist Warrick Wong has been producing fan art of the somewhat grim future of The Incredibles and posting on his Instagram feed. Gizmodo’s io9 has taken note (“Artist Envisions The Incredibles’ Future, and It’s Powerfully Bleak”). He’s gone into the future a decade or more where “Violet has taken over as the matriarch of the Parr family following the death of their parents [with] a facial scar and full-body tattoos” or “Dash [is] a reckless and rebellious teenager, while Jack-Jack explores his powers as a polymorph, figuring out how to control all of his abilities.” He’s also looked in the nearer term where “Old Man Incredible” has “a bitching beard” and “some awesome tattoos,” but is locked on “a path of vengeance after Mrs. Incredible was supposedly killed.”

(10) A VISIT FROM VESTA. Mike Kennedy felt this news deserved a dramatic introduction: “Aaaaaaah! We must be dooooooomed! A massive asteroid is so close to Earth you can see it with the naked eye!”

After he calmed down, Kennedy continued — “Well, closer than it’s been in a number of years… but close is a relative term here. Vesta (full name “4 Vesta”) is the second largest asteroid in the main belt and is currently in approximate opposition to Earth and about 106 million miles from our planet. That makes it bright enough to be seen with the naked eye for the next couple of weeks if you have excellent viewing conditions (such as having clear skies and being well away from a city or other source of light pollution).

“Of course, being in the main belt it’s in a nearly circular orbit (its eccentricity is only 0.08874) and isn’t going to pose any threat to Earth in the foreseeable future… not that that a lack of a threat will stop some people from trying to whip up a panic.

Newsweek reports “Vesta: Asteroid the Width of Arizona Makes Close Approach to Earth—And It’s Visible With the Naked Eye”.

Stargazers will be able to view it in both the northern and southern hemispheres until about July 16 or 17 “but only as a point of light, and only in dark skies,” Massey said. For optimum viewing, binoculars or telescopes are recommended.

Vesta will appear near the constellation Sagittarius until June 28, after which it will move into the vicinity of the constellation Ophiuchus.

The asteroid is so large, that it accounts for nearly 9 percent of the total mass of all asteroids in the asteroid belt, with only the dwarf planet Ceres being more massive, according to NASA.

Inverse says “Massive 4 Vesta Asteroid Is Zooming by Earth — Here’s How You Can Spot It”.

You can see 4 Vesta every night until July 16 or 17, which means you’ve got just weeks left to catch a glimpse of the asteroid this close to Earth until after the year 2040.

(11) CATASTROPHE AVERTED. Business Insider invites us to remember when “NASA literally saved us from a planet-wide apocalypse”. In the 1980’s NASA was one of the leading organizations that pushed to sharply reduce chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) use because of the damage to the ozone layer that could have led to ecological collapse due to doubling of the UV radiation reaching the ground. Dr. Susan Strahan (Senior Research Scientist with the Universities Space Research Association/NASA Goddard) is featured in a video that helps explain the problem. Because politicians listened to scientists (an almost unimaginable thing in some parts of the world today) the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed in 1987 and production of CFCs was curtailed and eliminated entirely in developed countries.

Quoting the article’s conclusion:

By 1996, CFCs were banned completely in developed countries. And today, Now satellite data indicates that the ozone hole is on the mend. And if we keep it up, it could be completely healed by the end of this century.

So it looks like the world won’t crumble by 2065 anymore. Well, at least not from a depleted ozone layer.

However, some evidence has surfaced semi-recently that someone is cheating on the Montreal Protocol and producing/releasing CFCs. See The Japan Times’ article “Scientists detect probable cheating on ozone treaty as drop in key CFC slows”.

The decline in the atmosphere of an ozone-depleting chemical banned by the Montreal Protocol has recently slowed by half, suggesting a serious violation of the 196-nation treaty, researchers revealed Wednesday.

Measurements at remote sites — including the government-run Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii — of the chemical, known as CFC-11, point to East Asia as the source or renewed production.

“We show that the rate of decline of atmospheric CFC-11 was constant from 2002 to 2012, and then slowed by about 50 percent after 2012,” an international team of scientists concluded in a study.

“This evidence strongly suggests increased CFC-11 emissions from eastern Asia after 2012.”

(12) IT’S TIME. Jack Black’s next flick — The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

In the tradition of Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black and two-time Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett star in The House with a Clock in Its Walls, from Amblin Entertainment. The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead. Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth and written by Eric Kripke (creator of TV’s Supernatural). Co-starring Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Vanessa Anne Williams and Sunny Suljic, it is produced by Mythology Entertainment’s Brad Fischer (Shutter Island) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac), as well as Kripke.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/27/18 What Has It Got In Its Retro Packet?

(1) ANAHEIM EVENT GOES DOWN THE TUBER. With dreams of rivaling VidCon, YouTuber Tana Mongeau tried to stage her own event in Anaheim. How did that go? New York Magazine titled its coverage “A Mouth to Hell Opened This Weekend at Tanacon, a Fyre Festival for the YouTube Set”.

Tana Mongeau wanted to throw an alt-VidCon. Instead, she threw a Fyre Festival redux.

Mongeau is a YouTuber. She has 3.5 million followers and her name might sound vaguely familiar if you’re at all versed in the surprisingly engaging world of vegan YouTube drama. VidCon is an annual YouTube-centric convention organized by brothers and YouTube royals Hank and John Green. Tanacon is the event that Mongeau organized — and named after herself — last week in California.

Tanacon was inspired by Mongeau’s self-professed dislike of VidCon. In a video you can watch if you have an hour and eighteen minutes to kill, Mongeau explained she would not be attending VidCon this year, citing drama over not being designated a featured creator at the event. And so, Tanacon was born. And, in a way, so Tanacon died. The event was barely six hours into its first day when it was shut down by officials for overcrowding, sending thousand of teens — many who had been waiting hours outside in the sun — into a tizzy. A dehydrated tizzy we can now recount for you to gleefully relive from the relative comfort of wherever you’re presently posted up. (We can only assume it’s not still the parking lot of the Anaheim Marriott Suites.)…

…The fan horde did not take well to the event cancellation. “After the lady said it was canceled, everyone started screaming, complaining, and cussing her out,” 13-year-old Alyssa, who bought a VIP ticket and waited six hours to be turned away empty-handed, said. “Everyone ran to the registration tent and threw the merch … pop sockets, Tanacon bags, stickers, Tanacon condoms, badges. This led to everyone destroying everything.”

Mongeau eventually came outside to calm the crowd. This, reader, will you believe … also did not end well, as evidenced by clips of screaming fans, phones raised above their heads with cameras at the ready, running through the parking lot to spy their queen….

 

(2) AND A BAD TRACK RECORD GETS WORSE. Louisville’s Fandomfest, which unaccountably did not go out of business last year after the loss of more than half its celebrity guests and a last-minute move to an old Macy’s store, (“Louisville’s Fandom Fest Shambles On”), has failed its attempt to relaunch in 2018. Co-promoter Myra Daniels announced on Facebook yesterday they’re “rescheduling” Fandomfest 2018 and plan to divide it into two more affordable events.

Hey Guys!!!

We are rescheduling Fandomfest 2018 this year.

A number of reasons why.

When we picked the date last year it was a different date range then we normally pick. It was the date closest to the previous few years of Fandomfest. The Omni is a great hotel and we wanted to have it there this year.

Unfortunately several things happened. The date we chose made it very difficult to get vendors and bigger named celebs for that date because there were 6 other big conventions on that date.

So many of our normal vendors had already paid and booked other shows for that date. That made it difficult to procure vendors which helps to pay for everything.

Another reason is the pre-sale tickets were at a lower rate then ever. The guests we have chosen to bring in to the event weren’t a big enough pre-ticket purchase draw for the fans.

Putting these shows on costs money. A lot of money. The idea is to have an idea of the excitement for your guest list and the pre-sales are a huge way for us to gauge that in our plan.

We worked with the great people at The Omni to try and find another date there at their beautiful facility but they are completely booked all the way into 2019.

So we are excited to announce that we are working to reschedule and instead of bringing one show in the summer we are going to bring 2 events to better serve you guys. We know we hear all the time how expensive the shows are getting with the autograph prices and the photo op prices as well as admission. We think the time is right to have shows that don’t cost the fans as much money.

All of us love meeting our favorites from our Superhero Movies or favorite TV Shows out there but lets face it, it can get expensive.

Daniels says they’ll “be refunding the few ticket purchases and vendor booths” starting on June 30.

(3) STILL EARTHBOUND. It was an open secret that the launch of James Webb Space Telescope would be delayed again; now it’s just plain open. The schedule now calls for a launch on March 30, 2021. Once launched, the JWST will be inserted into a solar orbit at the Earth-Sun L2 point.

NASA says

The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope, with longer wavelength coverage and greatly improved sensitivity. The longer wavelengths enable Webb to look much closer to the beginning of time and to hunt for the unobserved formation of the first galaxies, as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming today.

Quoting The Verge’s article “NASA’s next flagship space telescope is delayed again”:

NASA has again delayed the launch of its next-generation space observatory, known as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the space agency announced today. The telescope now has a new launch date of March 30th, 2021. It’s the second delay to the program’s timeline this year, and the third in the last nine months.

“We’re all disappointed that the culmination of Webb and its launch is taking longer than expected, but we’re creating something new here. We’re dealing with cutting-edge technology to perform an unprecedented mission, and I know that our teams are working hard and will successfully overcome the challenges,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video statement. “In space we always have to look at the long term, and sometimes the complexities of our missions don’t come together as soon as we wish. But we learn, we move ahead, and ultimately we succeed.”

(4) TAKE NOTE. The Guardian answers the question:  “Who is Segun Akinola? The composer reinventing the Doctor Who theme”.

Segun Akinola has been announced as the sci-fi show’s new composer, and he’s in for a challenge almost as significant as hers: reinventing one of TV’s best-known theme tunes. The British-Nigerian musician’s unveiling continues the trend for bringing in fresh blood all around for the show’s new era. Composer Murray Gold worked on all 10 series of the revived show, winning acclaim for his blockbustery orchestral scores – despite many fans complaining they became invasive and overbearing.

Akinola, an alumnus of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and part of 2017’s Bafta Breakthrough Brit programme, could prove an altogether different prospect for a remodelled show. Could fans look forward to hearing something a little more pared down, modern and minimalist?

…Yet his latest challenge sets the bar high. Composing soundtracks for all 10 episodes of Whittaker’s debut series might provide the lion’s share of his workload – but he is also tasked with providing a ‘fresh take’ on the show’s theme music. That’s one of the most iconic elements of Doctor Who – just like the show itself, it’s always changing while remaining, broadly, the same.

Composed by Ron Grainer, the eerie, warping titles first emerged in 1963 in an arrangement now synonymous with Doctor Who’s renegade spirit….

(5) TRAVEL BAN CONSEQUENCES URGED. In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision upholding Trump’s travel ban, several leading sff figures voiced a new resolve to deprive the United States of future Worldcons. Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s Twitter thread starts here. Adam Roberts carried on the theme in his Twitter thread, and Paul Cornell ratified it.

(6) CHRISTOPHER STASHEFF REMEMBERED. The daughter of the late Christopher Stasheff gave an interview about the author to the Champaign, IL News-Gazette.

A daughter of the prolific author who brought literary depth to the science fiction and fantasy genres with books like “The Warlock in Spite of Himself” said he used the people of Champaign as his muse.

“He gained inspiration from the people around him,” said Eleanore Stasheff, whose father, Christopher Stasheff, died June 10 at age 74.

“He always believed home is where the heart is, which is Champaign,” she said. “He found beauty anywhere we were at, but to him, people were more important than nature.”

(7) HEART OBIT. Frank Heart (1929-2018), a U.S. engineer who led the team that built the Interface Message Processor, heart of internet precursor ARPAnet, died on June 24 aged 89. The New York Times recalls his achievements: “Frank Heart, Who Linked Computers Before the Internet, Dies at 89”.

Data networking was so new that Mr. Heart and his team had no choice but to invent technology as they went. For example, the Arpanet sent data over ordinary phone lines. Human ears tolerate low levels of extraneous noise on a phone line, but computers can get tripped up by the smallest hiss or pop, producing transmission errors. Mr. Heart and his team devised a way for the I.M.P.s (pronounced imps) to detect and correct errors as they occurred.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 27 – Tobey Maguire, 43. Spider-Man films of course.
  • Born June 27 — J.J. Abrams, 52. Executive Producer of Alias, Lost: Missing Pieces, Star Trek, Lost, Fringe, Star Trek Into Darkness, Almost Human… Well you get the idea.
  • Born June 27 – Samuel George Claflin, 32. Performer, the Hunger Games film series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Snow White and the Huntsman

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian spotted a Return of the Jedi joke in Brewster Rockit.

(10) KING KONG V GODZILLA. At Galactic Journey, The Young Traveler gives a blow-by-blow account of monstrous showdown: “[June 26, 1963] Double or Nothing (King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962))”.

Though the epic monster fight was the main spectacle of the movie, it also managed to have a plot too. Well, sort of. The movie follows a dying Pharmaceuticals company whose executive is trying to get business by gaining traction on TV. Obviously the best way to get TV viewership is to send two of your employees to a small exotic island in search of giant monsters you can exploit. So that’s just what they do, discovering King Kong in the process. An awesome fight breaks out between King Kong and a giant octopus, for some reason, and after a much too long “exotic” dance sequence from the island’s “natives” King Kong drinks some special juice and falls asleep.

(11) READY FOR ITS CLOSE-UP. BBC reports “Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft reaches cosmic ‘diamond'”.

A Japanese spacecraft has arrived at its target – an asteroid shaped like a diamond or, according to some, a spinning top.

Hayabusa 2 has been travelling toward the space rock Ryugu since launching from the Tanegashima spaceport in 2014.

It is on a quest to study the object close-up and deliver rocks and soil from Ryugu to Earth.

It will use explosives to propel a projectile into Ryugu, digging out a fresh sample from beneath the surface.

(12) HISTORY ONLINE. Did you know the BBC once sold a home computer? “BBC releases computer history archive”.

A slice of computing history has been made public, giving people the opportunity to delve into an archive that inspired a generation of coders.

The Computer Literacy Project led to the introduction of the BBC Micro alongside programmes which introduced viewers to the principles of computing.

It included interviews with innovators such as Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak.

The BBC hopes the 1980s archive will encourage today’s youngsters to become involved in computing.

With the release of the archive, viewers can now search and browse all of the programmes from the project.

They will be able to:

  • watch any of the 267 programmes
  • explore clips by topic or text search
  • run 166 BBC Micro programmes that were used on-screen
  • find out the history of the Computer Literacy Project

(13)  DRAGON CON LOSES POC PARTICIPANT. Gerald L. Coleman, who withdrew as a ConCarolinas guest, has decided Dragon Con isn’t suitable either.

Here’s a little thread I just sent. I still haven’t heard back from Cisca Small after emailing her twice this month about whether #DragonCon intends to invite John Ringo. According to Ringo he’s been invited. If that’s true I’ll be withdrawing my participation as an Attending Professional. I don’t have the luxury of pacifying, appeasing, or normalizing these decisions with my presence. I’m sure a number of authors who aren’t people of color or women will find all kinds of justifications for why it’s ok to attend but still call themselves “allies”. Just know I don’t buy it. I understand though, selling a few copies of your books is more important than letting a Con know that who they invite says everything about who they are.

Coleman also wrote a Twitter thread, which starts here.

(14) MANIFESTUNG. The Daily Dot’s Michelle Jaworski shows that “‘The Last Jedi’ backlash ‘campaign’ demands to be taken seriously “.

More than six months after the theatrical release of The Last Jedi, just about every aspect of the backlash against it has already been argued and debated to death. But that hasn’t stopped old arguments appearing in new formats.

Last week, we saw an almost certainly fake campaign “raise” millions of dollars to remake a film that earned more than $1.3 billion at the box office. This week, we’re seeing a “manifesto” written by “We the fans of Star Wars” go viral several weeks after it was originally posted. The emergence of the post, which didn’t get that much traction when it was first posted, is almost solely so people can mock it.

The creators of the manifesto believe that “those in charge of a Franchise derives its power as a creative force from the consent of the fandom of that Franchise.” The creators take umbrage with the direction that Lucasfilm has gone since being purchased by Disney and the perceived “misguided political agenda” that it’s pursuing with the new films. It includes grievances against The Last Jedi and the newer films as a whole, characterizing the films as desecrating the legacies of characters we’ve known for decades. And they certainly have an issue with people assuming that they’re racist, sexist, or part of the alt-right for disliking a movie.

“To these ends, we pledge our merchandise, our honor, and our wallets,” the manifesto stated in its final line.

These Star Wars fans, you see, demand to be taken seriously.

For the historians among us, this June 3 Twitter thread contains both the manifesto and a flag (complete with explanation of all its symbolism).

(15) A FORK IN THE ROAD. NPR’s Jason Sheehan reviews Laura Anne Gilman’s novel: “‘Red Waters Rising’ Leads Old Friends Into New Trouble”.

In the Devil’s West trilogy, Laura Anne Gilman has given us an imagined history of the United States — one that feels nearly as true as facts, both crazier and more reasoned than our Old West reality. Silver On The Road defined that world. One where the Devil — the actual Devil, smelling warmly of whiskey and tobacco, dressed in a prim cardsharp’s suit — holds dominion over everything in the United States west of the Mississippi, and defends it and its people from the predation and influence of Washington, Spain, the French and all of the East. From a town called Flood, he makes his deals and sends his chosen out into the world — one of them being Isobel, a teenaged girl, raised at the Devil’s knee and then sent forth (along with her mentor, Gabriel) into the Territory as his Left Hand. She is the Devil’s cold eye, final word and, when necessary, his justice.

(16) LUKE CAGE. The Orlando Sentinel interviews “’Luke Cage’ showrunner on its controversial killing”.

Before Cheo Hodari Coker began plotting Season 2 of Netflix‘s “Luke Cage,” he had to address the elephant in the room.

Actually, it was more like a snake in the room. A Cottonmouth to be specific.

Coker, a director, writer and producer who can frequently be found on social media answering both positive and negative questions and comments from viewers of his works, had frequently seen comments online saying that the killing of Season 1 villain Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) was a huge mistake.

There was a method to Coker’s perceived madness. One reason he gleefully accepted working on “Luke Cage” in the first place was his love of superhero comics. Coker still remembers vividly how he felt the moment he read the 12th issue of “Alpha Flight” (published by Marvel Comics in 1983), when legendary comics scribe and artist John Byrne killed the character Guardian.

“When (Bryne) killed Guardian I was verklempt,” Coker told The Washington Post. “I wanted to bring that kind of thing to Marvel television. I wanted to kind of do what Hitchcock did with ‘Psycho,’ because it was a big deal to kill Janet Leigh. And so, that was the thing. Cottomouth in that structure was always going to die. Even though people liked him a lot.”

(17) NIGHTFLYERS. Syfy Wire was terrified: “Nightflyers: George R.R. Martin goes ‘Psycho’ in new teaser”.

In the latest intense and unnerving teaser for George R.R. Martin’s upcoming sci-fi/horror series, Nightflyers, a young girl seems to recite some sort of incantation while we’re treated (if that’s the right word) to brief flashes of the rest of the cast in tight, dark spaces looking concerned, being set on fire, being dragged across the floor by some unseen force, and running for their lives. It’s all pretty terrifying, to tell the truth.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 6/15/18 Pitch Pixel With His Pals Scroller And Paddlefile In Another Exciting Adventure, The Case Of The Appertaining Explorer!

(1) VARIATION ON A THEME. James Davis Nicoll launches a new theme with a new panel reading some newish sff in “The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin”:

Welcome to the first post in the Old People Read New SF project, in which I will present my volunteers with a selection of recent (online) speculative fiction to see how they react.

Few authors are as representative of the modern face of SF as N. K. Jemisin. Similarly, few venues are as representative of modern SF in short form as tor.com. It seems only logical, therefore, to begin this project with Jemisin’s The City Born Great. The City Born Great was nominated for a Hugo and won the 2017 Eugie Award.

The City Born Great is available here.

(2) THE RIGHT ANSWER. This Jeopardy! champ will be 2020’s Arisia chair — Diana Hsu has won the past two days.

Malden’s Diana Hsu, a legal records assistant, outlasted a software developer from Santa Clara, Calif. and a political science professor from York, Penn. to become the new Jeopardy! champion last night, June 13.

Hsu won a total of $24,001 on the program, as she defeated returning champion Catherine Ono, a two-day champion, who ended up in second place.

Going into Final Jeopardy, Hsu was in the lead with $16,000, ahead of Ono by $4,600 and ahead of Nick Anspach by $11,000.

The Final Jeopardy clue on the episode, in the category of 1990s Animated Films, was: “Though it draws elements from ‘Hamlet,’ Disney says this was their first all-animated feature based on an original story.”

The correct response was, “The Lion King.” All three contestants answered correctly.

(3) NERDIST ERASES FOUNDER. Deadline reports “Chris Hardwick Wiped From Nerdist Website He Founded Amid Allegations By Ex-Girlfriend”.

Chris Hardwick, the Nerdist founder and host of NBC’s game show The Wall, AMC’s Talking Dead aftershow and a regular emcee in Hall H at Comic-Con, has been scrubbed from the Nerdist website he founded after being accused of sexual abuse and “long-term abuse” by his former girlfriend Chloe Dykstra.

Legendary Entertainment, which owns Nerdist Industries where Hardwick launched his career as a comic and podcaster, just released a statement.

“Chris Hardwick had no operational involvement with Nerdist for the two years preceding the expiration of his contract in December 2017,” it reads. “He no longer has any affiliation with Legendary Digital Networks. The company has removed all reference to Mr. Hardwick even as the original Founder of Nerdist pending further investigation.”

The move comes after Dykstra, a TV personality and host, penned a first-person account of their three-year relationship that posted on Medium. Dykstra never mentioned Hardwick by name, but details about the “mildly successful podcaster” who grew into “a powerhouse CEO of his own company” suggest she was referring to him.

Chloe Dykstra’s Medium article is here: “Rose-Colored Glasses: A Confession.”

(Trigger warning: If abuse, sexual assault, or anorexia makes you uncomfortable, you might want to avoid this one.)

Over the years, I’ve attempted to write this, quite literally, 17 times. I’ve spoken to friends, therapists, lawyers, publicists. The drafts have ranged from cathartic, angry letters to litigious, hardened accounts of inexcusable treatment. Until I got one piece of advice from a friend: Write from your heart. You’ll know it’s right when it’s right. So, here I go.

(4) MEME WARS. Yahoo! Entertainment says you can add Millie Bobby Brown to the list of the sci-fi actresses run off social media by the rabid dogs. “Millie Bobby Brown of ‘Stranger Things’ leaves Twitter after becoming an antigay meme. She’s 14, y’all.”

Millie Bobby Brown, who found fame as Eleven in Netflix’s sci-fi show Stranger Things, has left Twitter because of Photoshopped images that have turned her into a homophobic meme.

The 14-year-old actress, like most people her age, is active on social media, including Twitter and Instagram.

For whatever reason, and there usually isn’t one when the internet gets involved, the new trend is Photoshopping fake antigay images on Brown….

In reality, Brown is an antibullying advocate and an LGBTQ rights supporter.

(5) DAWN OF THE DEAN. Cartoonist Patrick Dean revealed he has ALS – in a cartoon. His Twitter bio: “I draw comics that no one reads and talk about the weather a lot. I also believe in ghosts. I will be one soon.”

(6) SECRET AGENT MAN IN THE MOON. At World of Indie, “McMoon: How the Earliest Images of the Moon Were so Much Better than we Realised” tells how some of the (very) high-resolution images of the moon were taken and transmitted to Earth prior to the Apollo missions, and how they are being preserved and restored:

Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were locked away from the public, as at the time they would have revealed the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the orbiters cameras were designed from. Instead the images from that time were grainy and low resolution, made to be so by NASA.

(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites the internet to join A. M. Dellamonica for an Italian lunch in Episode 69 of Eating the Fantastic.

A.M. Dellamonica

It’s time to return to Pittsburgh for another episode of Eating the Fantastic recorded during last month’s Nebula Awards weekend, following up on my Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree and dinner with Kelly Robson. On the Friday of that event, I snuck away with A. M. Dellamonica for lunch at Senti, which my research told me was one of the best places to go in the city for classic Italian.

Dellamonica‘s first novel, Indigo Springs, won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her fourth, A Daughter of No Nation, won the 2016 Prix Aurora. She is the author of more forty short stories on Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and most recently Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She was also co-editor of the Heiresses of Russ anthology.

We discussed how a long list of random things she liked eventually grew into her first novel, the intricate magic system she created for her series, how her novel Child of a Hidden Sea taught her she was less of a plotter and more of a pantser than she’d thought, the doggerel she wrote when she was five years old (which you’ll get to hear her recite), how discovering Suzy McKee Charnas at age 15 was incendiary, which run of comics made her a Marvel fan, what it was like attempting to live up to the pioneering vision of Joanna Russ while editing the anthology Heiresses of Russ, which YouTube series happens to be one of her favorite things in the world, the way John Crowley’s teachings might have been misinterpreted by her class during the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, the three mystery novels of her you’ll hopefully be reading in the future, and much more.

(8) IRON WOMAN ON STAGE. The Bookseller brings word: “Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre to stage Ted Hughes’ The Iron Woman”.

 The Other Palace, a London theatre owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Theatres Group, will this autumn stage an adaptation of Ted Hughes’s classic children’s book The Iron Woman (Faber Children’s).

The story, first published 25 years ago as a sequel to The Iron Man, is about how a girl called Lucy fights back against pollution, caused by a waste factory in her town, with the help of an Iron Woman who has emerged from the marsh.

Carol Hughes, Ted Hughes’ widow, said she approached Andrew Lloyd Webber about doing a play to mark 20 years since the poet’s death.

“I wanted to mark that anniversary in a positive way by highlighting his writing for children and also his lifelong passion for the environment,” she said. “This story of Lucy and the Iron Woman is a gripping, magical fable of what we can achieve once we, and the generations of children who follow us, realise we do have within us the power to fight back against the seemingly-relentless pollution that is blighting our lands, rivers and seas.”

The play will be written by Mike Kenny, whose previous stage adaptations include one for The Railway Children, with music by songwriter Pippa Cleary. It will open at The Other Palace theatre on 9th October.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 15, 1948Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in movie theaters.(Where else would they meet him?)
  • June 15, 1955 The Beast With A Million Eyes premiered.
  • June 15, 1973 — The original series concludes with Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

(10) UNKISSED FROGS. Something else for Jurassic World? “Prehistoric frogs in amber surface after 99 million years”.

Frogs trapped in amber for 99 million years are giving a glimpse of a lost world.

The tiny creatures have been preserved in sticky tree resin since the end of the Age of the Dinosaurs.

The four fossils give a window into a world when frogs and toads were evolving in the rainforests.

Amber from Myanmar, containing skin, scales, fur, feathers or even whole creatures, is regarded as a treasure trove by palaeontologists.

(11) STARTING POINT. Mary Robinette Kowal, author of The Calculating Stars, analyzes “The Responsibility of Narratives” on the Tor/Forge Blog.

As mainstream culture becomes increasingly vocal about the politics of gender, it makes me aware of all of the damaging narrative that I’ve internalized and which has created internal biases in myself. Those show up in my fiction. So when I sit down to write, I now assume that I have a bias.

Why is this a problem?

Kowal will tell you.

(12) UNEXPECTED VACANCIES. Star Trek: Discovery discovers it needs new showrunners. The Hollywood Reporter, in “’Star Trek: Discovery’ Showrunners Out; Alex Kurtzman to Take Over (Exclusive)”, cited unnamed sources who told them ST:D has made another change at the Producer level. Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg are out because of “budget woes and complaints of staff mistreatment.” Executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman will step in as “showrunner” (basically, producer) as well as heading the writers’ room. Harberts and Berg had replaced original showrunner Bryan Fuller. All this in less than two seasons.

(13) ANTIQUE SJW CREDENTIAL. “137 in Human Years: Thought to Be the Oldest Cat in the World, Rubble Celebrates His 30th Birthday”. People speculates:

Is this the oldest domestic cat in the world? The lucky feline in the photo above has lived nine lives and then some. Rubble, a long-haired ginger-and-white kitty living in the U.K., may just be the newest cat contender for the O.G. title. His owner, Michele Foster, recently celebrated her super-senior pet’s birthday in Exeter, Devon, reports Bored Panda.

Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment: “My Ex got Mabinogion aka. Mibble when we divorced. We rescued her from a gat station after we heard a very pitiful cry and found her near the pumps, her all black bod covered in tiny cuts and smelling strongly of diesel. We know that she was at least twenty-six years old when she passed on as we’d had her for twenty-five years. My current SJW creds are (I think) eleven years old, Freya, a tortie, and Taliasen who’s prolly three years younger.”

(14) MUSICAL MARVEL. Variety says “‘Captain Marvel’ to Be Scored by Female Composer, Marking Major Breakthrough”.

In a major breakthrough for women composers, Pinar Toprak has been signed to score “Captain Marvel,” the superhero movie due for release in March 2019.

Toprak, who just finished scoring the first season of SyFy’s “Krypton” and who penned additional music for the DC film “Justice League,” is the first female composer to score a major comic-book movie.

Captain Marvel” also happens to be about a female superhero (played by Brie Larson). It’s slated for release in March.

(15) THE HECK YOU SAY. Lucifer has risen from…wherever he was before. Infernal Dis, perhaps. “‘Lucifer’ Rises! Netflix Has Ordered The Fourth Season For Axed FOX Series”.

Praise ‘Lucifer’!  Or rather, ‘Lucifer’ fans should praise Netflix as the streaming service has rescued another cancelled series– FOX’s ‘Lucifer’ which was cancelled last month.  Though neither Netflix nor Warner Bros. Television would officially comment, insiders have divulged that 10 new episodes have been ordered for the show’s fourth season.  This is particularly odd since Netflix has never offered episodes of ‘Lucifer’, but presumably the existing three seasons will surface on the streamer soon.  (FOX shows are pretty much exclusively available on Hulu.)

(16) GOT MIA. Two popular shows will pass on this year’s SDCC. The Wrap has the story: “‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Westworld’ Won’t Present at San Diego Comic-Con, HBO Says”.

This is the first time “Game of Thrones” will be absent from the convention. The wildly popular drama will air its eighth and final season in 2019. “Westworld” made its Comic-Con debut at last year’s convention, and its Season 2 finale airs June 24. Production on Season 3 has yet to begin on the drama, so there would probably be little to promote for “Westworld.”

(17) WHO AND WHO ELSE? ScreenRant posted its feature “New Doctor Who Cast Making First-Ever Panel Appearance at SDCC 2018” today. Will Chris Hardwick still be the moderator when SDCC comes round?

Introducing a brand new era of Doctor Who, this summer’s SDCC panel will include Whittaker; two of her co-stars, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill, who will play two brand new characters in the series named Ryan and Yasmin, respectively; the series’ new showrunner Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch); and executive producer Matt Strevens (who also produced An Adventure in Space and Time, the made-for-TV movie based on the making of Doctor Who). The panel will be moderated by The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick, an outspoken, diehard fan of Doctor Who.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Eric Franklin, Cat Eldridge, rcade, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Rich Lynch, Carl Slaughter, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]