Pixel Scroll 2/21/19 I Said I Didn’t Get Nothin’, I Had To Pay Fifty Dollars And Scroll Up The Pixels

(1) BAD BUSINESS. Kristine Kathryn Rusch sees disaster in store for those who will do anything to make their Amazon hamster wheel turn faster: “Business Musings: Ghostwriting, Plagiarism, and The Latest Scandal”.

… They will be dealing with this for months, maybe years. And I sure wish them the best.

That’s bad enough, but what this mess has revealed is that ugly underbelly of indie that I noticed a while ago, and decided to run away from.

This ghostwriting thing? It’s a disaster waiting to happen. For everyone. I expected the problems to be contractual with the writers who hired the ghostwriters, particularly the dumbfucks who don’t have a contract or any kind of written agreement with their ghostwriters.

I did not expect plagiarism although, given the contracts I’ve seen from traditional publishers, I should have.

I mean, what’s to stop the ghostwriters from plagiarizing? It’s not their name on the manuscript. And I know some of the writers who are hiring ghostwriters. Those writers aren’t vetting the books. They’re not doing the kind of due diligence that college professors and high school teachers do to see if the writing is plagiarized. (There are programs that search for similar wording all over the internet.)

The writers are not overseeing the projects at all, and are doing it for all the wrong reasons. These writers want more product out, to goose Amazon algorithms, not to get the best stories possible to their readers. …

(2) 20BOOKSTO50K AND THE NEBULAS. Cora Buhlert covers a range of topics in “Some Thoughts on the 2018 Nebula Award Finalists”, such as the professional connections of some newer nominees.

…Which brings us to the other notable trend on this year’s Nebula shortlist, namely the surprising amount of indie writers nominated. There are six indie writers and five indie books/stories nominated for Nebula Awards this year, which is a lot more than we’ve seen before. Now the SFWA opened membership to self-published writers a few years ago, so it was only to be expected that we would start to see more indie books on the Nebula shortlist (disclaimer: I’m not an SFWA member).

I also guess another disclaimer is in order: I don’t hate indie authors. I’m one myself, for heaven’t sake. I also promote a lot of indie books, both on this blog and over at the Speculative Fiction Showcase and the Indie Crime Scene. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I included Jonathan P. Brazee’s nominated novella Fire Ant in one of my new release round-ups last year – at any rate, the title rings a bell.

Because what’s really notable is how different the five indie finalists are from the rest of the finalists. For starters, the indie finalists are all space opera with strong military leanings or outright military science fiction. Again, this isn’t too surprising, since a whole lot of indie SFF writers, including the massively successful ones who are most likely to be SFWA members (there is a minimum income threshold for SFWA eligibility), write space opera and military SF.

Furthermore, most (five of six – I’m not sure about Rhett C. Bruno) of the indie Nebula finalists are affiliated with the 20Booksto50K group founded by Michael Anderle. For those who don’t know, 20Booksto50K started out as a Facebook group for business minded indie writers (the name implies that 20 books should bring you an income of 50000 USD), but by now they are also holding regular writers’ conferences. 20Booksto50K is a huge group – I think they have twenty thousand members or something – and because of their business focus, a lot of financially successful indie writers, i.e. the ones also most likely to join SFWA, are members….

Camestros Felapton shares screenshots and asks more questions in “The Nebulas & 20booksto50, not-a-nudge-nudge-slate”.

Cora notes the presence of several nominees associated with the 20booksto50 group. I discussed this group last year after they received several finalist positions in the Dragon Awards. The group is centered on helping indie writers write and promote their books and notable figures in the group are Craig Martelle, Michael Anderle and Jonathan Brazee.

So was there a 20bboksto50 slate? Well, they have a closed Facebook group but it’s not a particularly mysterious group or highly exclusive and I don’t thing it is a secret (but perhaps not well known) that they’ve had a recommended reading list for the Nebulas for a few years.

Here’s a screenshot of the start of the relevant post this year (I’ll post the text further on)….

(3) BALLANTINE TRIBUTE. TheSmithsonian Magazine says   “Sci-Fi Lovers Owe a Debt of Gratitude to Betty Ballantine”. Subheading: “‘Introverted and quiet’ Betty, who ran the editorial side of the Ballantine publishing companies, deserves her due for changing the industry.”

The next time you pick up a science fiction novel, you should take a moment to thank Betty Ballantine for helping bring the genre into the mainstream.

Ballantine and her husband, Ian, were two halves of a pioneering team that revolutionized the publishing industry in the 20th century. The couple was inseparable, says Beth Meacham, executive editor at science fiction and fantasy publishing company Tor Books, but it’s the “boisterous and charismatic” Ian, who ran the promotional and sales side of their publishing companies, who frequently is given the majority credit for their success. The “introverted and quiet” Betty, who ran the editorial side of the business, also deserves her due for changing the industry.

Meacham calls Betty, who died at her home in Bearsville, New York, at the age of 99 earlier this month, a “quiet magician, working behind the scenes with the writers.”

(4) CON CRISIS SOLVED. LibertyCon sold all its memberships, like they do, and everything was great. Then suddenly they had to find a new venue.

On Wednesday, 20 Feb 2019, at 2pm we received a call that no convention wants to get. Due to delays in their construction schedule, we will not be able to hold LibertyCon at the Read House this year on May 31 – June 2, 2019. After some very late night and early morning discussions and negotiations, we are relieved to say that we have a new home for the next several years, but with so many conventions using Chattanooga as a destination, we could not get the same weekend.

LibertyCon will now be held at the Marriott and the Chattanooga Convention Center on June 28 – 30, 2019.

(5) COSTUME DESIGNERS GUILD AWARDS. Genre took home some of the honors — Variety: “‘Black Panther,’ ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ ‘Westworld’ Among Costume Designers Guild Winners”.

“Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24.

[…] In the television categories, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” took the contemporary award, while Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and HBO’s “Westworld” won for period and sci-fi/fantasy, respectively. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” took the reality-competition prize.

“The Wife” star Glenn Close received the organization’s Spotlight Award, while Ryan Murphy received the Distinguished Collaborator Award. “Black Panther” costume designer Ruth E. Carter received lifetime achievement recognition.

(6) NETFLIX WILL AIR MOVIE BASED ON LIU CIXIN STORY. SYFY Wire: “Netflix bringing Chinese sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth to the U.S.”

China’s film industry is truly making itself known around the globe these days. Especially now that Netflix has announced it’s snagged the rights to release The Wandering Earth, the Chinese sci-fi blockbuster touted as the country’s first mainstream sci-fi hit on par with the production quality and thrills of a Hollywood tentpole.

[…] Netflix hasn’t issued a release date for the film on its platform, but considering the streaming giant doesn’t operate in China due to local regulations favoring homegrown streaming services, it marks a major acquisition for the U.S. streaming service.

(7) HEADLINER. What does it mean, anyway, for an AI to be dubbed “female”? “China Unveils the World’s First Female AI News Anchor”Futurism.com has the story.

On Tuesday, China’s state-run news outlet Xinhua announced the latest addition to its news team: Xin Xiaomeng.

But Xin never went to journalism school — or any school — because “she” is not a real person. Instead, she’s an artificial intelligence created by Xinhua and search engine Sogou — making her the world’s first female AI news anchor.

Xin will make her professional debut during March’s Two Sessions, the name given to a pair of annual meetings featuring China’s legislature and its top political advisory body.

She won’t be the only AI news anchor covering the event either….

(8) HULKAMANIA. From WIRED we learn: “Thor Is Going To Be Playing the Hulk”. Hulk Hogan, that is.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time once again for The Monitor, WIRED’s look at all the news coming out of the world of pop culture. What’s hot today? Well, Chris Hemsworth is set to play Hulk Hogan, The Wandering Earth is coming to Netflix, and Idris Elba is set to host Saturday Night Live. Pretty steamy, amirite?

(9) NEW MOON. Nature reports they discovered a “A new moon for Neptune”:

Hippocamp, a previously undetected moon of Neptune, has a peculiar location and a tiny size relative to the planet’s other inner moons, which suggests a violent history for the region within 100,000 kilometres of the planet.

The discovery of Hippocamp is intriguing because of the moon’s relationship to Proteus and the role that both objects might have had in the history of Neptune’s inner system. Hippocamp, the smallest known inner moon of Neptune, orbits just 12,000 km inside the orbit of Proteus, the planet’s largest inner moon (Fig. 1). Both moons migrate outwards because of gravitational interactions with Neptune, but smaller Hippocamp moves much more slowly than Proteus. Therefore, Hippocamp resides nearer to the location at which it formed than does Proteus, which suggests that the two bodies were much closer together in the past.

Whether Hippocamp formed in place from material that did not originate from Proteus or was born of Proteus remains to be determined. Nevertheless, applying the techniques that were used to find it might result in the detection of other small moons around giant planets, or even planets that orbit distant stars.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 21, 1912 Peter Schuyler Miller. He wrote pulp fiction starting in the Thirties, and is generally considered one of the more popular writers of the period. His work appeared in such magazines as Amazing Stories, Astounding, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Marvel Tales, Super Science Stories, and Weird Tales to name but a few of the publications he appeared in. He began book reviewing beginning initially for Astounding Science Fiction and later for its successor, Analog. He was awarded a special Hugo Award for book reviewing. He had but two novels, Genus Homo, written with L. Sprague de Camp, and  Alicia in Blunderland. (Died 1974.)
  • Born February 21, 1913 Ross Rocklynne. The pen name used by Ross Louis Rocklin, an SF writer active in the Golden Age of the genre. He was a professional guest at the first WorldCon in 1939. Though he was a regular contributor to several SF magazines including Astounding Stories, Fantastic Adventures and Planet Stories, he never achieved the success of fellow writers Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp and Robert A. Heinlein. ISFDB lists two novels for him, The Day of the Cloud and Pirates of the Time Trail. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 21, 1935 Richard A. Lupoff, 84. His career started off with Xero, a Hugo winning fanzine he edited with his wife Pat and Bhob Stewart.  A veritable who’s who of who writers were published there. He also was a reviewer for Algol.  To say  he’s prolific as a professional writer is an understatement as he’s known to have written at least fifty works of fiction, plus short fiction, and some non-fiction as well.
  • Born February 21, 1946 Anthony Daniels, 73. Obviously best known for playing C-3PO in the Star Wars film series. He is the only actor to have appeared in all of the  films in the series. He has scant other genre creds but they are being in I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle as a Priest,  voicing C-3PO in The Lego Movie and the same in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Both Disney films I’d guess. Did you know that Season 4, Episode 17 of The Muppet Show is listed as “The Stars of Star Wars” and C-3PO apparently appears on it? 
  • Born February 21, 1946 Alan Rickman. I’ll single him out for his role on the beloved Galaxy Quest as Dr. Lazarus but he’s got an extensive acting resume in our community. Of course he olayed Professor Severus Snape in the Potter franchise, and his first genre role was in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as the Sheriff of Nottingham. (Bad film, worse acting by Costner.)  He voiced Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a role worthy of an Academy Award. Voicing Absolem in Alice Through the Looking Glass was his final role.(Died 2016.)
  • Born February 21, 1949 Frank Brunner, 70. Comics artist whose career started at such venues as Creepy, Web of Horror and Vampirella. Worked later mostly at Marvel Comics on such features as Howard the Duck where he did his artwork for his early features. He also did the art for the  Chamber of Chills, Haunt of Horror, and Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction anthologies. In addition, he and Moorcock collaborated on a adaptation of the latter’s sword-and-sorcery hero Elric in Heavy Metal magazine. 
  • Born February 21, 1950 Larry Drake. I know him best as Robert G. Durant in both Darkman and Darkman II: The Return of Durant. His other genre roles are largely in series one offs such as several appearances on Tales from the Crypt, an appearance on The Outer Limits and even an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. (Died 2016.)
  • Born February 21, 1961 David D. Levine, 58. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Short Story for his story “Tk’tk’tk” which you hear thisaway. He has the Adventures of Arabella Ashby series which currently is three novels strong. To date, he has had one collection titled Space Magic.
  • Born February 21, 1962 David Foster Wallace. I will openly confess that I was never even slightly inclined to read it. The sheer size was enough to put me off and reading the first chapter convinced me I was right in that belief. So who’s read it? ISFDB also lists The Pale King as genre as well. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 21, 1977 Owen King, 42. There are not quite legions of Kings though sometimes it seems like it. Owen, a son of Stephen and Tabitha, is early in his writing career. His first novel, Double Feature, was not genre and got mixed reviews. His second, Sleeping Beauties, written with his father is genre and getting much better reviews. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) BILL ON BIG BANG. Here’s a two-minute featurette about William Shatner’s Big Bang Theory appearance.

(13) EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES. That’s what this Gizmodo story made me think of: “Japanese Spacecraft Hayabusa2 Touches Down on Asteroid Ryugu”.

The Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft has completed one of its most exciting challenges yet: On Thursday evening, it touched down on the asteroid Ryugu, fired a tantalum bullet into the rocky surface, and ascended back into orbit around the tiny world, according to updates from the mission’s English-language Twitter account.

During its brief contact with the asteroid, the spacecraft should have attempted to collect rock samples kicked up by the bullet, the Planetary Society explained. The return of these samples to Earth is a major goal of the mission. 

(14) TOY FAIR. This Uproxx.com has a good con going — “We Went To Toy Fair And Looked At Lots Of New ‘Star Wars’ Toys, Which Look A Lot Like Old ‘Star Wars’ Toys”.

Every year I find it more and more difficult to make up excuses that I can send to my editor so that I can cover Toy Fair. As far as I can tell, Uproxx isn’t a toy collecting website (not yet, at least, but if I ever get my way…) and I don’t know much about the intricacies and nuances of toy reporting except that, sometimes, I like looking at new toys. (Watching the toy reporters at work is truly something. They will spend hours taking painstakingly detailed photographs of every single flake of paint on a new action figure. I only wish I could be that detailed about anything.)

But, whatever, I like going! Especially, of course, to look at Star Wars toys. One of my last “pure” memories of being a little kid was turning that corner into the toy aisle of whatever department store we happened to be at that day, then seeing rows and rows of vintage Kenner Star Wars action figures on that now-classic packaging. (Toys ‘R’ Us was never really in the equation for me. I’ve been seeing a lot of Toy ‘R’ Us nostalgia lately, but, in the greater St. Louis region at the time, our toy store was Children’s Palace. If I remember correctly, the store looked kind of like a castle. I wish there were Children’s Palace nostalgia.)

(15) SIPPY ACTION. Charles Payseur made me click! “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2018! The “Time to Run Some Red Lights” Sippy for Excellent Action!!! in SFF”.

These are stories that got my blood pumping, that made me want to run outside and punch an eagle in the face. Or, perhaps more accurately, they made me want to climb into a mech suit and punch the moon! I mean, come on, the moon is pretty smug up there, always looking down on everyone. Just saying. Anyway, the action doesn’t always have to be traditional battles and brawls. Some of these stories are about a chase, or a race. Some are about war and the struggle of the individual against the weight of history and press of injustice. But these stories run hot, fast, and furious, and I think that stories like that deserve to be seen, because they do show how much fun and thrilling short SFF can be without sacrificing nuance or meaning.

(16) BEE SERIOUS. The world’s biggest bee has been re-discovered, after decades thought lost to science — “World’s biggest bee found alive”.

The giant bee – which is as long as an adult’s thumb – was found on a little-explored Indonesian island.

After days of searching, wildlife experts found a single live female, which they photographed and filmed.

Known as Wallace’s giant bee, the insect is named after the British naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace, who described it in 1858.

Scientists found several specimens in 1981, but it has not been seen since.

(17) WHAT A DRAG. BBC has research that shows “Stonehenge: Preseli stone ‘transported over land'”.

Stones from Pembrokeshire used in the construction of Stonehenge may have been transported by land rather than sea, archaeologists have found.

A study found some of the stones were taken from the northern part of quarries in the Preseli hills, making it easier to transport them over land.

The findings were published in the journal Antiquity.

Earlier research suggested the bluestones were taken south to the coast.

…However, the new study of crops at Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin found the stones were removed from further north in the Preseli hills – making it easier for ancient people to go over the hills rather than around them.

The referenced Antiquity paper opens —

Geologists and archaeologists have long known that the bluestones of Stonehenge came from the Preseli Hills of west Wales, 230km away, but only recently have some of their exact geological sources been identified. Two of these quarries—Carn Goedog and Craig Rhos-y-felin—have now been excavated to reveal evidence of megalith quarrying around 3000 BC—the same period as the first stage of the construction of Stonehenge.

(18) CUE TWILIGHT ZONE THEME. Two minor league pitchers with identical names and heights and hair color and beards and glasses and Tommy John surgery (with the same doctor no less) and a distinct resemblance had their DNA checked to show that they are not, in fact, related. They do, however, share that they are 53% of Germanic ancestry. “2 Baseball Players Named Brady Feigl Take DNA Tests To See If They’re Related”.

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

Planet Stamps – And Pluto Too

Pluto Explored

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Pluto—Explored! and Views of Our Planets Forever stamps took place on May 31 before a crowd of 500 at the World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

The Pluto—Explored! souvenir sheet contains two stamp designs, an artist’s rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft, and the spacecraft’s image of Pluto taken at its closest approach.

Honoring Pluto with its own stamp helps skate around sentimental attachments to the former ninth planet, now reclassified, which might have prevented some fans from enjoying the Views of Our Planets stamp set, with just eight planets…. *sniff*

Views of Our Planets

Pixel Scroll 9/23 Pixel Exigente!

(1) Today in History —

1846 – Eighth planet discovered — “German astronomer Johann Gottfriend Galle discovers the planet Neptune at the Berlin Observatory”.

Neptune, generally the eighth planet from the sun, was postulated by the French astronomer Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who calculated the approximate location of the planet by studying gravity-induced disturbances in the motions of Uranus. On September 23, 1846, Le Verrier informed Galle of his findings, and the same night Galle and his assistant Heinrich Louis d’Arrest identified Neptune at their observatory in Berlin. Noting its movement relative to background stars over 24 hours confirmed that it was a planet.

(2) A judge checked in with the Salt Lake Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con folks this week, who assured him they are working on a settlement:

Settlement talks are under way between San Diego Comic-Con and Salt Lake Comic Con over the use of the words “comic con,” FOX 13 is told.

Lawyers for both conventions met with a federal judge in San Diego on Tuesday to update the status of the lawsuit. Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg said both sides were working to reach an agreement.

“The judge wanted us to check in to see if progress had been made in the settlement. We reported the parties are still working out an agreement, but that we haven’t reached settlement, at least not yet,” he told FOX 13.

Brandenburg would not reveal any details about a possible settlement. The judge scheduled another hearing next month.

(3) Forbes writer Scott Mendelson theorizes a trailer will help draw people to theaters when The Martian opens this weekend in “’X-Men: Apocalypse’ Trailer Is Hyping ‘The Martian’”

If the rumor mill is to be believed, and in this case it makes sense, 20th Century Fox will be debuting the first much-anticipated teaser for X-Men: Apocalypse over the next week alongside the theatrical debut of Ridley Scott’s The Martian….

Back in the old days, you attached an important trailer to a big movie so that lots of people would see that big movie. Or at least you attached the trailer for your next big movie before your current big movie. That of course still happens, was we’ve seen from Universal/Comcast Corp. all summer long (Furious 7 trailers Straight Outta Compton or Fifty Shades of Grey trailers Crimson Peak)….

But here is a situation where the presence of a trailer for an upcoming blockbuster acts as major marketing not just for the movie in question but for the current (and arguably less commercial by default) release. At this point, a X-Men trailer helps The Martain more than it helps X-Men: Apocalypse. None of this is problematic in any real way, it just amused me.

(4) SF Signal’s new “MIND MELD: The Translated Books and Why We Love Them”, curated by James Aquilone, discusses the favorite translated sf of Aidan Doyle, Justin Howe (10badhabits.com), Tiemen Zwaan , Rachel S. Cordasco (facebook.com/bookishlywitty), Anatoly Belilovsky (http://loldoc.net), Sylvia Spruck Wrigley, Amy Sisson, and Matthew Johnson (www.irregularverbs.ca).

(5) I tend to be interested in what Mad Genius Club columnists say specifically about the craft of writing,such as Sarah A. Hoyt’s advice about revisions.

[First of eight points.]

1- when polishing a story limit yourself to three passes: sense, wording and typos.  Chances are if you go on (and boy, could you go on) you’ll take all the flavor and individuality out of the piece.  Flavor and individuality is why we read your story, rather than someone else’s.  Yes, I know it’s not perfect. Let it go.  No story is ever perfect.

(6) In her post “Harassment: What do we do?” dated August 20, Lydy Nickerson took Sasquan’s recent experience as a starting point to analyze the handling of harassment at conventions.

The thing that’s most recently caught my attention has been Lou Antonelli and Sasquan. For those of you who haven’t been making a hobby of the Great Puppygate Train Wreck, the extremely short version is that some guy, in this case Lou Antonelli, sent a letter to the Spokane police alleging that David Gerrold, one of the GoH for Sasquan, was dangerously mentally unbalanced and might incite violence. He then bragged about it on a podcast. There was a round of shock, awe, and horror; an apology to Gerrold from Antonelli; and other things. Sasquan was notified, as is proper. David Gerrold accepted Lou Antonelli’s apology. Sasquan issued a statement saying, very roughly, that Antonelli had violated the Code of Conduct, but for Reasons, including a request from Gerrold, they’ve decided not to ban him.

So, then there’s a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacking from just about everybody. Which is fine by me, I like detailed analysis, outrage, and train wrecks. But I’m paying special attention, because on a much smaller scale, this could be me. A lot of people were very upset, and there were two things that caught my eye. The first was a demand for consistent application of the rules, and the second was for transparency. There’s a lot of variation on those two themes, but those were the two I am currently noodling on. Consistent application was often equated with zero tolerance.

So, let’s start with the actual, root problem. People who feel vulnerable to harassment at science fiction conventions do not trust those conventions to fairly and justly administer the rules. I cannot come close to doing justice to how very reasonable it is for them to feel that way. That distrust? We’ve built it, brick and mortar, over years. It’s not just well deserved, it’s hugely massively utterly deserved. Harassment policies have been non-existent, or poorly explained or hugely badly enforced. We have multiple known cases of people being allowed to fuck up because they were well connected, or because the concom didn’t want to be arsed, or because concoms just didn’t think there was a problem….

(7) Paul Weimer on “Orwellian unpersoning on the Sad/Rabid Puppies Part” at Blog, Jvstin Style.

You know, its rich that Sad Rabid Puppies would go so far as to unperson someone they accused of being a “Social Justice Warrior”

http://leogrin.com/CimmerianBlog/your-cimmerian-bloggers/ http://www.scifiwright.com/2015/09/leo-grin-grins-when-he-slays/

Sure, freedom of association and all that…but this looks awfully…Orwellian?

The actual thing that caused this seems to be that one of the former bloggers said something bad about someone and their association with super genius Theodore Beale.

(8) John Scalzi in “eBook Sales and Author Incomes and All That Jazz” at Whatever.

I’ve noted before that I think in general there are three kinds of authors: Dinosaurs, mammals and cockroaches, where the dinosaurs are authors tied to an existing publishing model and are threatened when it is diminished or goes away, mammals are the authors who rise to success with a new publishing model (but who then risk becoming dinosaurs at a later date), and cockroaches are the authors who survive regardless of era, because they adapt to how the market is, rather than how they want it to be. Right now, I think publishing might be top-heavy with dinosaurs, and we’re seeing that reflected in that Author’s Guild survey.

What we’re missing — or at least what I haven’t seen — is reliable data showing that the mammals — indie/self-publishing folks, in this case — are doing any better on average. If these writers are doing significantly better on average, then that would be huge. It’s worth knowing.

(9) Deborah J. Ross in “Gossip and Controversy”

I have refrained from any commentary on the Hugo Awards and all the events that led up to them. This does not mean I have not had opinions. Excuse me, Opinions. Only that I saw no point in adding gasoline to the burgeoning wildfires. Now various voices are urging everyone to play nice, to not harbor grudges. To get on with the business of writing (and reading) the best stories we can. Here’s a post I composed a few years ago on the subject of gossip. I should add that I am not entirely innocent, and I have been on the receiving end of some vile accusations, as have folks I care about. It is helpful to me to consider my own behavior (both passing on gossip and being appalled by it) in a larger — and hopefully, more compassionate — context:…

A huge piece of the problem, in my experience, is that we are inundated with role models of gossipers. We are told overtly and covertly that it is not only acceptable but enjoyable to speak ill of others and to relish their misfortune. If they have no discernible misfortune to begin with, well then we will create some! If media portray the pain of those who are gossiped about, it is often to glorify retaliation in kind. Almost never are we taught what to do when we speak badly. Saying “I’m sorry,” or “Shake hands and make up,” (as we’re forced to do as small children) does not make amends.

Certainly, we must begin by looking fearlessly at what we have done or said (or left undone and unsaid), but we must also be willing to accept that there is no justification for our behavior. It doesn’t matter if what we said was true or not if it harmed someone. It doesn’t matter if we were hurting or grieving or too Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired.

What we have done does not make us unworthy, unlovable, inadequate, or anything except wrong. Good people can be wrong. Good people, when wrong, strive to make things right.

(10) Ruth A. Johnston, author of Re-Modeling the Mind: Personality in Balance, was interviewed by L. Jagi Lamplighter at Superversive SF about the psychology of science fiction. In “The SF Culture War Posts – Part Two” Johnston applies her theory to characters in John C. Wright’s Night Land stories.

Part Two of our multi-part look at the psychology of Science Fiction, as explained by Ruth Johnston, author of Re-Modeling the Mind, a new book that takes a fresh look at Jung’s work on personalities…

Q: Let’s talk about the ideas you share in your new book. What light can they shed either on the original Night Lands or on John and his version?

Science fiction fans are usually personalities in which Intuition is a very strong part, often the strongest and most dominant. When it’s Extroverted, the universe seems full of possibilities waiting to be connected. Under every rock or behind every star could be a great invention or cure. When it’s Introverted, the personality usually has an innate feeling of knowing the truth of the world, so that exploring ideas is a matter of looking inward, following an inborn map of meaning. It’s also a bit more pessimistic and idealistic: under every rock there might be a rattlesnake, not a cure for cancer. But the rocks do need to be turned over, because it’s terribly important to find truth and roll away anything that covers and hides.

William Hope Hodgson’s original story seems full of Extroverted Intuition to me. Technology keeps mankind alive and there’s no real downside. His dark world is filled with evil spirits and creatures, but mankind’s ability to solve problems keeps one step ahead so that they can build a good way of life. The optimism of his Intuition feels so powerful in the story that I believe he probably had this kind of Intuition in his personality. It creates a sort of worldview.

I think this is some of what charmed John when he read the 1912 novel, and because I know John from college, I can say without guessing that he has that kind of Intuition. In his mind, the world is full of dots to be connected, and we’ve barely begun to connect them all.

Now the other half of the polarity I’m calling A is Introverted Sensing, which can show up as an intense idealism about human social roles. In fantasy and science fiction, it comes out in taking fairy-tale roles like king and knight very seriously. It also believes strongly in archetypal images like mother and father, male and female. When someone with A writes SFF stories, the setting and events can become wild and even chaotic, but the human roles never move much from archetypes. We see this clearly in both Night Land versions, the original and John’s. Anyone walking in the Night Land is going to be surprised by whatever comes next, whether it’s a fire pit, a dangerous creature, an oddly detached spirit, a living stone monument, or a cluster of blind worms. The stories depend strongly on human thought, activity, and roles to give them structure: like putting a snail into its shell. Human roles are stable, not flexible and random like the setting and ideas….

(11) Vivienne Raper asks “Do the Hugo Awards have a short fiction problem?” at Futures Less Traveled

At least one person complained that the Sad/Rabid Puppy nominees kept award-worthy short stories off the 2015 Hugo ballot… So I was curious. Was this true? Were these stories better than the stuff I’d read? An experiment was in order. I’ve now read the nominees on io9’s Puppy-free ballot. Here’s how I’d have voted.

#1 WINNERWhen it Ends, He Catches Her, Eugie Foster

When It Ends, He Catches Her has a tale behind it, and it’s the saddest in the Hugos. The day after Daily Science Fiction published the story, Eugie Foster died. It was her last chance to win the award.

There is no doubt – to me – that When It Ends, He Catches Her should have won Best Short Story. It is a story I wish I could have written. That – to me – is the purpose of the Hugos, to showcase work that I know I can’t… Perhaps can never write.

But don’t stop there – Vivienne ranks No Award in second place, then goes on to discuss several proposed runners-up.

(12) Prometheus and Alien sequels are expected.

Ridley Scott set tongues wagging the other day by suggesting he might make as many as three more Prometheus sequels before tying it up with the Alien franchise, reports Comicbook.com.

Scott has promised that Prometheus 2 will answer many of the questions left open in the 2012 film. However, Scott has told German website FilmFutter (via bloody-disgusting) that he won’t show how the Prometheus franchise connects to Alien in the next film. He’s saving that reveal for … Prometheus 4?!

“It won’t be in the next one. It will be in the one after this one or maybe even a fourth film before we get back into the Alien franchise…,” explained Scott. “The whole point of it is to explain the Alien franchise and to explain the how and why of the creation of the Alien itself. I always thought of the Alien as kind of a piece of bacterial warfare. I always thought that that original ship, which I call the Croissant, was a battleship, holding these biomechanoid creatures that were all about destruction.”

Jon Spaihts’ original script for Prometheus was a direct prequel to Alien. In it, David (Michael Fassbender) the android comes across and revives the Space Jockey (also referred to as The Pilot) who was last seen as a fossil in the 1979 film. We would’ve seen how The Pilot ended up dead on LV-426 from a Chestburster, but that storyline was jettisoned during extensive rewrites. Instead, Scott chose to have David and the rest of the crew end up on a whole other moon and come upon the Last Engineer.

Prometheus 2 will begin filming in February of 2016.

“Maybe the next Alien will burst out halfway through the third Prometheus sequel??” joked Will R.

Earlier than that, figuratively speaking, There is an Alien sequel aiming for release in 2017.

Director Neill Blomkamp got media attention last February when he released concept art images from a new Alien movie he was working on, reportedly without authorization from any studio.

Variety reports separately that Blomkamp has a deal with 20th Century Fox to direct the movie, which will be a different project altogether to Fox’s Prometheus sequel with Ridley Scott. According to The Wrap, the untitled Blomkamp movie will be produced by Scott and take place after the events of Prometheus 2.

And he generated some more word-of-mouth for the project in July by repeating the stunt. First Showing then recapped what it knew about the prospective movie.

We don’t know too much about Blomkamp’s new Alien movie yet, however we’ll recap what we do know. Between this concept art and the last piece, it definitely looks like Sigourney Weaver will be back as Ripley. A few months ago, Blomkamp explained that “She knows about it, and part of it was just inspired by speaking to her on set when we were filming Chappie, and getting her thoughts on Alien and what she thought of the movies that came after Aliens and what she felt about Ripley and what was incomplete for her about Ripley. There was so much fuel in what she was telling me.” Fellow filmmaker Ridley Scott is also producing this new Alien, so he is directly involved in it and working with Blomkamp. The film is currently aiming for release in 2017, so stay tuned for any more updates.

 

A photo posted by Brownsnout (@neillblomkamp) on

[Thanks to Will R., L. Jagi Lamplighter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day James H. Burns.]

Neptune, But Not Soon

Science requires much more patience than science fiction. NBC never let Star Trek finish its five-year mission, yet NASA has two teams developing missions to Neptune that would take 12 to 20 years just to reach the planet and begin collecting data.

Each team proposes to use a different propulsion system and its own distinctive schemes for exploring Neptune and its unique moon, Triton.

John Newman commented in a 1958 science article for Nebula Science Fiction, “Curiously enough, we know less about the conditions on the surfaces of most of the planets of the System than we do about the surfaces of many of the stars… Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have so highly compressed and deep atmospheres that their true surfaces are invisible.”

Recent missions have explored the first two planets mentioned. Neptune is the favored target between the last two because of the oddities about its moon, Triton — for example, it has a retrograde orbit, in the opposite direction of Neptune’s rotation, a fact that encourages speculation Triton may be a Kuiper Belt object captured by planetary gravity.

NASA’s first Neptune team envisions something like the Cassini Mars mission that could use conventional rocket propulsion and gravity assists to reach the planet in 12 years. Orbit would be achieved through aerocapture , which puts the vehicle in orbit after one pass, in contrast to the aerobraking technique used for Cassini Mars which requires multiple orbits and repeated burns by a spacecraft’s engine.

The second team’s plan would use a nuclear fission reactor and ion propulsion to arrive at Neptune in 20 years, because an ion engine takes time to build up enough thrust. However, an ion thruster is 10 times more efficient than a chemically powered engine. One has been powering the Deep Space 1 spacecraft since its launch on Oct. 24, 1998.

Both missions would land probes on Neptune, but deploy them in a different manner according to each team’s own ideas about probe survival and usefulness.

Neptune hasn’t attracted a lot of interest from sf writers. On the other hand, scientists have yet to learn enough about the place to disqualify the science used in what few stories are set there. Indeed, Sydney fans noticed in 1999 that the passage of time has actually been kind to one space opera, Edmund Hamilton’s The Universe Wreckers, in which Neptunians terrorize the solar system. When the book was written, Pluto hadn’t been discovered. But by the time the Sydney Futurian Society got around to discussing the story, in 1999, Neptune was further away than Pluto anyway.