Astronomer Christian Ready Will Livestream the New Horizons Flyby Beginning New Year’s Eve

[Bill Higgins forwarded this press release with a note, “I myself will be at the center, and hope to help Chris Ready with the program — I’ve already agreed to an interview.”]

Christian Ready is an astronomer whose presentations on the work of the Hubble Space Telescope, and other topics in spaceflight and astronomy, have been very popular at science fiction conventions for years. Chris is currently making astronomy videos on YouTube; on New Year’s Eve and the following day, he’ll be live-steaming coverage of the New Horizons mission, as the spacecraft that visited Pluto performs a flyby of an even more remote, even colder body at the edge of the Solar System.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, having cruised beyond Pluto for two and a half years, is approaching a small object technically designated “2014 MU69,” but nicknamed Ultima Thule. It’s an icy body about 30 kilometers in size; very little is known about it. But on New Year’s Eve, New Horizons will be close enough to begin gathering detailed data: pictures, spectra, and particle measurements. 

Chris Ready writes: “We’re going to be live at mission control at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. We’re going to talk with people from the New Horizons mission at APL and online during my first-ever remote livestream.

“I’m partnering with Tony Darnell from Deep Astronomy and TMRO to bring this to you live for 24 hours.”

To link to this YouTube livestream, visit https://youtu.be/0zzqOvJiSzE. (YouTube allows users to set a reminder to be notified when the stream begins or significant events occur.)

The livestream is expected to begin at noon, Eastern Standard Time, on Monday, 31 December. It’ll feature experts on planetary science, popularizers of science, and such SF writers as David Brin and Geoffrey Landis.  The moment of closest approach will be 33 minutes after midnight on Tuesday, New Year’s. A signal — indicating success, one hopes — is expected to be received on Tuesday morning at 10:30 EST. Coverage will end at noon on Tuesday. 

Because communication over 6.5 billion kilometers is limited to a slow rate, it will take days for the first detailed images of Ultima Thule to be downlinked to Earth. Nevertheless, a host of scientists and other guests will be gathered in Maryland to celebrate the moment of flyby, review our knowledge of the outer Solar System, and await the crucial signal indicating the spacecraft’s status.  

Chris Ready explains more about the event in a 6-minute video clip here: 

Pixel Scroll 12/7/18 Baby, It’s Scrolled Outside

(1) CARRYING ON. Pat Cadigan continues her series of Dispatches from Cancerland” with “Two Years Of Borrowed Time & I’m Still Not Dead”:

I’d love to write a lot of inspirational entries about still being alive but Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right when she said, ‘The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.’ It’s also the busiest. I’ve been so busy continuing to be alive, I haven’t had time to wax rhapsodic about continuing to be alive.

That my sound sarcastic but in truth, I wish I could. I wish I could tell you that every glitch and inconvenience, every little (and not so little) ache and pain, every boring chore and utterly grey day is a reminder that it’s still great to be alive and to know that I’m going to be alive for some indefinite period of time.

Cancer and I have reached a stand-off that puts it in the background of my life. In fact, it’s so much in the background that I really do forget I have it.

(2) MEXICANX INITIATIVE CELEBRATED. The “Mexicanx Initiative Scrapbook” brings back the memories:

This is a collection of memories, a spontaneous burst of creative works, a celebration of Mexicanx creators and fans, and a documentation of something that started with passion and a vision and grew into so much more.

The Mexicanx Initiative, started by Worldcon 76 Artist Guest of Honor, John Picacio, and sponsored by many wonderful and caring members of the Worldcon community, brought 42 Mexican and Mexican-American people to San Jose, California in August of 2018 to attend Worldcon 76.

Stories, essays, food, poems, art, and so much more were born of this experience….

(3) JEMISIN ON SHORT STORIES. Abigail Bercola discusses How Long ‘til Black Future Month with the author in “A True Utopia: An Interview With N. K. Jemisin” in The Paris Review.

INTERVIEWER

In the introduction to How Long ‘til Black Future Month?, you write that short stories presented a way for you to work out techniques and consider perspectives without the commitment of a novel. What else do short stories offer you that the novel doesn’t?

JEMISIN

Really, that’s the main thing. You’re still putting a pretty hefty mental commitment into making a short story. Even though it’s relatively brief, you still have to come up with a world that’s coherent. I find short stories almost as difficult to write as novels, it’s just less time-consuming. Short stories are hard for me. That’s why the collection is something like fifteen years worth of short stories. They asked me to write several new ones for the collection and I was just like, Not likely to happen. In fact, I can really only write them when I’m between novels because they take away from whatever energy I’m trying to pour into a novel.

(4) GATTS TAKES THE HELM. Giganotosaurus has someone new in charge: “Please Welcome Our New Editor, Elora Gatts”. Departing editor Rashida J. Smith makes the introduction —

I have the distinct joy to hand off the role of editor to Elora Gatts, recently of PodCastle. She is a keen and insightful reader and I can’t wait to read the stories she picks for the zine.

(5) A FUTURE WITHOUT HER. Wow. No sooner did she introduce The Verge’s “Better Worlds” than she was out.

(6) NYRSF’S TWELFTHMONTH. With the aid of C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez, the New York Review of SF Readings Series maintains its tradition of having families perform at the December gathering.

The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading Series provides performances from some of the best writers in science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, etc.  The series usually takes place the first Tuesday of every month,

C.S.E. Cooney lives and writes in the Borough of Queens. She is an audiobook narrator, the singer/songwriter Brimstone Rhine, a Rhysling Award-winning poet, and the author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories (Mythic Delirium 2015).  Her recent short fiction can be found in Sword and Sonnet, an anthology of battle poets, and in Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019).  By day, Carlos is an associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast.  Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.

The event takes place December 11 at the Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7

(7) THE HUMANITY BUREAU. A dystopian thriller set in the year 2030 that sees the world in a permanent state of economic recession and facing serious environmental problems as a result of global warming. The film, starring, Nicolas Cage, Sarah Lind, and Jakob Davies, [correction] was released in April 2018.

(8) NEW CAR SPELL. When John Scalzi went to shift to a higher gear he discovered he’d already used his quota.

And is he getting any sympathy?

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1945 – Clive Russell. Currently Brynden Tully in Game of Thrones. Other genre roles include but are not limited to Helfdane in The 13th Warrior (a retelling of Beowulf), Mr. Vandemar in the Neverwhere series, Lancelot’s Father in King Arthur, Bayard in the Merlin series, Maqueen in the 2010 remake of the classic 1941 film The Wolfman, and Tyr in
    Thor: The Dark World.
  • Born December 7, 1945 – W.D. Richter. As a screenwriter, he was responsible for Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and Big Trouble In Little China. As a director, he brought Late for Dinner and Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension to us. He was also co-writer with Stephen King on the adaptation of King’s Needful Things novel to film.
  • Born December 7, 1965 – Jeffrey Wright. Felix Leiter in the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which I rather liked, Beetee in The Hunger Games films which I’ve not seen, and played the real-life Sidney Bechet in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, a series I adored.
  • Born December 7, 1978 – Kristofer Hivju. His first genre role was as Jonas in The Thing, based on the John W. Campbell novella Who Goes There?, and it is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter. He next shows up as an unnamed security chief in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth. He’s currently Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones.
  • Born December 7, 1979 – Jennifer Carpenter. Ok, usually I pay absolutely no attention to Awards, but she got a nomination for her work as Emily Rose in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. It was the MTV Movie Award for Best Scared-As-Shit Performance. It later got renamed to Best Frightened Performance. She’s apparently only got two other genre credits, both voice work. One is as Black Widow in Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher which is a horridly-done anime film that I do not recommend; the other is as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, the animated version of the Mike Mignola Elseworld series which I strongly recommend. Possibly the Limitless series she was in is genre, possibly it isn’t…
  • Born December 7, 1989 – Nicholas Hoult. His first genre role was as Eusebios in Clash of the Titans which was a 2010 remake of of the 1981 film of the same name. He went on to play The Beast aka Hank McCoy in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse. Other roles included that of Jack in Jack the Giant Slayer, followed by a role in Mad Max: Fury Road as Nux, and he’s slated to be in the forthcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

(10) OSCAR BUZZ. The Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday interviews A Quiet Place director John krasinski, who says his film is worthy of an Oscar and voters should think of it as more substantial than the typical horror movie: “John Krasinski turned ‘A Quiet Place’ into a surprise hit. So how about an Oscar?”

John Krasinski knew he had a potential hit on his hands when he attended a test screening for “A Quiet Place.” A horror movie about a family battling largely unseen creatures who attack at the slightest noise, the film transpires with no verbal dialogue: The characters communicate with American Sign Language, or through meaningful glances and gestures. This wasn’t Krasinski’s first effort as a director; still, he and his wife, Emily Blunt — who play the parents in “A Quiet Place” — weren’t sure audiences would accept a genre picture that harked back to cinema’s silent roots more than its special effects-driven present.

(11) FUTURE PAST. Vintage Everyday remembers — “Closer Than We Think: 40 Visions of the Future World According to Arthur Radebaugh”.

From 1958 to 1962, illustrator and futurist Arthur Radebaugh thrilled newspaper readers with his weekly syndicated visions of the future, in a Sunday strip enticingly called “Closer Than We Think”.

Radebaugh was a commercial illustrator in Detroit when he began experimenting with imagery—fantastical skyscrapers and futuristic, streamlined cars—that he later described as “halfway between science fiction and designs for modern living.” Radebaugh’s career took a downward turn in the mid-1950s, as photography began to usurp illustrations in the advertising world. But he found a new outlet for his visions when he began illustrating a syndicated Sunday comic strip, “Closer Than We Think,” which debuted on January 12, 1958—just months after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik—with a portrayal of a “Satellite Space Station.” …


15. Electronic Home Library

The media library of the future was going to be rich and varied. But there’s something a bit off about this prediction from 1959. Maybe it’s the film canisters lining the shelves. Or maybe it’s the 3D-TV sans glasses that Pop is watching. Or maybe it’s the fact that Mother is reading a book on the ceiling in what looks like the most uncomfortable way to read a book of all time.

(12) TREK BEHIND THE SCENES. Titan Comics has released Star Trek: Epic Episodes, a special collection of the best of Star Trek Magazine focusing on the stunning 2-part episodes and landmark episodes of both Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Presenting cast and crew interviews, guides, behind the scenes exclusives and revelations on the making of everyone’s favorite epic episodes

(13) SPEAK, MEMORY.

(14) VADER WHIPLASH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] He’s alive! He’s dead! He’s alive! He’s Daaaaaaaaarth Vaderrrrrrrrr! (Gizmodo/io9: “Marvel Found a Replacement for Chuck Wendig’s Scrapped Darth Vader Comic Surprisingly Quickly”)

In the space of weeks, Marvel went from proudly announcing a new Darth Vader miniseries at New York Comic Con to scrapping the whole thing entirely. Now, less than a month later, they’ve already found a replacement.

Marvel has announced—via the official Star Wars websiteVader: Dark Visions, a new limited miniseries that will launch in March. That’s just two months after the Chuck-Wendig-penned Shadow of Vader miniseries was set to originally debut. Instead, days after its announcement in October, Marvel fired the writer from the project three issues in, with Wendig citing internal concern at the publisher over his political commentary on social media as a primary reason for his exit.

(15) TRAVELING MUSIC. Brian May, former lead guitarist for Queen and current astrophysicist, is writing a soundtrack for the New Horizons flyby of Ultima Thule scheduled for December 31/January 1 — Parabolic Arc has the story: “Brian May Creating New Music for New Horizons Ultima Thule Flyby”.

View this post on Instagram

TO BE CONTINUED !!! NEW !!! New Horizons ! Launched nearly 13 years ago from Cape Canaveral, this NASA probe made history with its spectacular fly-by of Pluto in 2015. Now it’s on course to fly close to Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Ultima Thule on New Year’s Day – 1st January 2019. This 60 second clip is the first of three brief tasters of my own new “New Horizons“ track, which will pay homage to this mission. We will reveal the song in full on 1st Jan. Visit the official NASA website at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ Image credit: NASA and APL. And watch this Space !!! Thanks to the mighty John Miceli for epic drums on this track. Thanks to the legendary Don Black for helping me write it. Also to my co-producers and engineers Justin Shirley-Smith and Kris Fredriksson. And respects to Kris for putting this clip together. And. Special thanks to NH Project Instigator Alan Stern. Bri

A post shared by Brian Harold May (@brianmayforreal) on

(16) SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Paul Weimer finds new frontiers of fantasy in “Microreview [book]: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri” at Nerds of a Feather.

Empire of Sand is an immersive and compulsively readable epic fantasy that draws on traditions and cultures and milieus, the Mughal Empire, a culture and heritage hitherto rarely seen in the Western fantasy tradition.

(17) HOW TO FIND THEM. Todd Mason’s book review link post, “Friday’s “Forgotten” Books (and Short Fiction, Magazines, Comics and more): the links to the reviews: 7 December 2018″, will get you connected.

This week’s books, unfairly (or sometimes fairly) neglected, or simply those the reviewers below think you might find of some interest (or, infrequently, you should be warned away from); certainly, most weeks we have a few not at all forgotten titles” —

  • Frank Babics: The Reality Trip and Other Implausibilities by Robert Silverberg
  • Les Blatt: Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh
  • Elgin Bleecker: Lie Catchers by Paul Bishop
  • Brian Busby: Maclean’s, December 1918, edited by Thomas B. Costain (and featuring Robert Service’s poem “The Wife”)
  • Alice Chang: All Your Worth by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi
  • Martin Edwards: On Suspicion by “David Fletcher” (Dulan Barber)
  • Peter Enfantino and Jack Seabrook: DC war comics: December 1973 and the best of ’73
  • Will Errickson: Winter Wolves by Earle Westcott
  • Curtis Evans: Scared to Death and Death in the Round by Anne Morice
  • Paul Fraser: New Worlds, June 1965, edited by Michael Moorcock and Langdon Jones
  • Barry Gardner: Beggar’s Choice by Jerry Kennealy
  • John Grant: The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich; A Grave Mistake by Ngaio Marsh; The House by the Lock by A. M. Williamson
  • James Wallace Harris: Friday by Robert Heinlein
  • Rich Horton: Where I Wasn’t Going (aka Challenge the Hellmaker) by Walt and Leigh Richmond; Absolute Uncertainty (and other stories) by Lucy Sussex; some short fiction by John Crowley
  • Jerry House: Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines by Ray Bradbury
  • Kate Jackson: Courtier to Death by “Anthony Gilbert” (Lucy Malleson); Murder by Matchlight by E. C. R. Lorac
  • Tracy K: Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger
  • Colman Keane; The First Short Story Collection by “Anonymous-9” (Elaine Ash)
  • George Kelley: The Great SF Stories 4 edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg
  • Joe Kenney: Glimpses by Lewis Shiner
  • Margot Kinberg: The Invisible Onesby Stef Penney
  • Rob Kitchin: Red Plenty by Francis Spufford
  • B.V. Lawson: Five Passengers from Lisbon by Mignon G. Eberhart
  • Evan Lewis: Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin; Carmine Infantino et al.: “Charlie Chan: The Hit and Run Murder Case” (Charlie Chan, June/July 1948)
  • Jonathan Lewis: The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin
  • Steve Lewis: Behold, Here’s Poison by Georgette Heyer; Blood Shot by Sara Paretsky; “Double Dare” by Robert Silverberg (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1956); “The Silver Mask Murders” by Erle Stanley Gardner (Detective Fiction Weekly, 23 November 1935)
  • Mike Lind: The Moving Target by “Ross Macdonald” (Kenneth Millar)
  • Gideon Marcus: Gamma, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch
  • Todd Mason: some 1963 and 1973 fantasy magazines: Gamma, July 1963, edited by Charles Fritch; Magazine of Horror, August 1963, edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes; Fantastic, September 1973, edited by Ted White; The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1973, edited by Edward Ferman; The Haunt of Horror, August 1973, edited by Gerard F. Conway
  • Francis M. Nevins: Q.E.D., Hell-Gate Tides and Dead End Street by [Emma] Lee Thayer
  • John F. Norris: Death at the Wheel by Vernon Loder
  • John O’Neill: The Fungus by “Harry Adam Knight” (John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle, in this case)
  • Matt Paust: Death of a Dissident by Stuart Kaminsky
  • James Reasoner: A Day Which Will Live in Infamy edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg
  • Richard Robinson: Stakeout on Page Street by Joe Gores
  • Gerard Saylor: The Zealot by Simon Scarrow
  • Jack Seabrook: “And the Desert Shall Blossom” by Loren D. Good (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 1958)
  • Steven H. Silver: “The Tweener” by Leigh Brackett; “Worlds within Worlds” by Roger Dee; “The Power of Kings” by John DeCles; “Intaglio” by Kurt R. A. Giambastiani; “In the Bosom of His Family” by John Dalmas; “Death in Transit” by Jerry Sohl; “Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction” by Jo Walton
  • Kerrie Smith: The Honourable Thiefby Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
  • Kevin Tipple: Snowjob by Ted Wood
  • “TomCat”: The Strawstack Murder Case by Kirke Mechem
  • Danielle Torres: Singing in Tune with Time: Stories and Poems About Ageingedited by Elizabeth Cairns
  • Prashant Trikannad: Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
  • David Vineyard: The Darkness at Windon Manor by “Max Brand” (Frederick Faust)
  • A.J. Wright: the work of W. C./William Chambers Morrow
  • Matthew Wuertz: Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1954, edited by H. L. Gold

(18) ROCKET MAN. iCollector is offering this item for another six days — “Bill Campbell “Rocketeer” costume ensemble with hero metal rocket pack”. They’re looking for a $125,000 bid.

Extraordinary ensemble includes the hero metal Cirrus X3 Art Deco-styled “flame” rocket pack with leather harness and buckles, glove with built-in ignition trigger, signature leather jacket, fireproof stunt jodhpur pants, and a production made signature Rocketeer helmet.

(19) SONGS FOR SCROLL SEASONS. Matthew Johnson reworked a carol in comments:

Hark! The herald pixels scroll
“The comment section’s free of trolls!
Double fifths and sevens filed
Dog and shoggoth reconciled.”
Joyful, all you Filers rise,
For new books are on half-price;
When a typo you proclaim
Of libations appertain.
Hark! The herald pixels file,
Rotating the WABAC dial,
“From Mount Tsundoku’s overlook
I see cats sitting on my books.”

And I’m told Anna Nimmhaus has been singing:

Pixel scroll,
Oh my little pixel scroll,
I’ll comment to you.

You were my first love,
And you’ll be my fifth love,
You won’t lack for egoboo,
I’ll comment to you.

In this whole world
Each day one scroll’s unfurled,
Let me help it unfurl.
I’ll comment to you.

Possibly inspired by the Shirelles’ hit song “Soldier Boy” (F. Green & L. Dixon, 1962)

(20) CALL ME WHATSISNAME. Could it be… Moby Dick in space? In theaters December 14.

When a deep space fishing vessel is robbed by a gang of pirates, the Captain (Holt McCallany) makes a daring decision to go after a rare and nearly extinct species. On the hunt, his obsession propels them further into space and danger as the crew spins into a downward spiral of mutiny and betrayal.

 

[Thanks to Paul Di Filippo, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/29/18 Scrollvolt Of The Pixeldestrians

(1) CASE DISMISSED. In May 2018, Fur Affinity, winner of the 2012 and 2013 Ursa Major Awards for Best Anthropomorphic Website, banned several dozen accounts for Code of Conduct violations — Section 2.7 “Do not identify with or promote real hate or terrorist organizations and their ideologies.”

Furry artist Scott Malcolmson (whose fursona is Roy Calbeck), filed suit in Arizona against IMVU, Fur Affinity’s parent company, on grounds of breach of contract and defamation of character.

The suit was dismissed on August 27. Boozy Badger analyzed the result in a Twitter thread which starts here.

IMVU is a Delaware corporation. The court did not find its connections to Arizona legally sufficient for IMVU to be sued there. The court further said:

Plaintiff objects that he is a per se litigant filing in forma pauperis. That may be so. However, in our legal system, there is but one law and it applies to rich and poor alike. That Mr. Malcomson is too impecunious to litigate in IMVU’s home state of Delaware cannot detract from IMVU’s constitutional right not to be sued in an improper forum.

Boozy Badger noted:

Jurisdiction, Forum, and Venue are literally most of a semester of Civil Procedure in law school. There are options OTHER than Delaware, but you can’t sue just anywhere.

Wikifur’s article on “History of Fur Affinity” has more background:

COC 2.7 bans (May 2018)[edit]

On May 15, 2018, several dozens FA accounts were banned from the site for presumed violations of the site’s updated Code of Conduct, Section 2.7 (“Do not identify with or promote real hate or terrorist organizations and their ideologies”).[68] This included personal and group accounts related to AltFurry (FurRight), Furry Raiders and other perceived Alt-Right connected accounts.

Complaints came in swift, from people claiming to be false positives[69][70] to banned and not banned users that argued that biased staff had failed to also struck down left-leaning “hate/terrorist” individuals and groups (e.g. Deo Tas DevilAntifa, “Far-Left”/”Alt-left” accounts and Communist Furs).[71][72] Instructions were passed among the affected and sympathizers to vacate to other sites, specifically, InkBunny,[73][74][75] and discussions were started to pin down who was to blame for the bans (from Antifa-cowered FA staff to outright ban demands/orders from the online news site Dogpatch Press).[76][77]

It would be three days later (May 18), when legal proceedings initiated by Roy Calbeck were to take the form of a lawsuit against FA’s parent company, IMVU, for:

Defamation/Breach of Contract against IMVU for actions taken by their wholly-owned subsidiary, @FurAffinity…

(2) GONDOLIN FALLS TOMORROW. Smithsonian says after two lifetimes of work this probably is it: “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Final Posthumous Book Is Published”.

Though J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973, he has never really stopped publishing. For decades his son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien has painstakingly catalogued and edited his father’s papers, creating new books out of unfinished and unpublished manuscripts. Most of those tales delve deep into the history of Middle-earth, the fantasy realm where Tolkien’s best known works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series take place. Now, it’s likely that work will come to an end with one last Tolkien book. Critic Andrew Ervin at The Washington Post reports that The Fall of Gondolin, which will be released tomorrow, is likely J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien’s swan song.

(3) SFF MARKETING. Cat Rambo appeared on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing podcast: “Writing Tips, Selling Short Fiction, and What SFWA Can Do for You with Cat Rambo”. Here are a few of the many topics touched on during the conversation:

  • How Cat ended up publishing her first two Tabat novels through Kevin J. Anderson’s Wordfire Press (which he talked about when he was on Episode 194 and Episode 138) and how marketing goes when working with a small press.
  • Some tips from her recent non-fiction publication Moving from Idea to Finished Draft.
  • What’s been going on at SFWA since we had MCA Hogarth on the show back on Episode 20 (more than three years ago!) and why both trad and self-published may find a membership useful.
  • What it takes to qualify for SFWA membership.
  • Benefits that come with SFWA membership and how the Nebula convention has changed over the years to have helpful panels for all.

(4) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series: “When We Were Patched” by Deji Bryce Olukotun.

The last time we ever spoke, my partner Malik asked me whether I believed speed or power made for the best athlete. I was puzzled, of course, feeling that neither could explain why some athletes excelled more than others, even in straightforward competitions like sprinting or the javelin. “There are enough variables to make it unclear,” I observed, “whether speed or power offers a better advantage in competition, or whether some other factor confers the greatest advantage.” It seemed to me an unanswerable question….

It was published along with a response essay by algorithmic bias expert Jeanna Matthews, “Algorithms Could Create an Even Playing Field—if We Insist on It”.

Big decisions about our lives are increasingly made jointly by humans and computer systems. Do we get a loan? Are we invited for an interview? Who should we date? Which news stories should we read? Who won the tennis match? This is our reality today. In “When We were Patched,” Deji Olukotun explores what the boundaries of these human and machine partnerships will be. Could we get the best of both, or will we end up with the worst of both? …

Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives—is publishing a story on a theme.

(5) FOLLOWING ARMSTRONG’S FOOTSTEPS. Slate compiles the early reviews: “Here’s What Critics Are Saying About First Man.

Space! Now that I’ve got your attention, the reviews of Damien Chazelle’s First Man, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, today are in—and fortunately, like the film itself, there’s really no way for them to spoil the ending. The space drama follows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) in his literal and metaphorical journey to become the first man on the moon.

It’s a story and a genre we know all too well, but this doesn’t hold the film back—it even improves upon its galactic forbearers. Critics agree that the story is masterfully handled by Chazelle, who mixes realism with reverence, without overblowing the drama.

And of course, it’s simply an irresistible opportunity to employ space metaphors, whether that’s about “soaring,” “sky-high expectations,” “slip[ping] the surly bonds of earth or “shoot[ing] the moon.” (Michael Nordine at IndieWire wins this space race: “Chazelle is an adept flight commander, guiding the action with the elegance of a space dance in one scene and the intensity of a rocket launch in the next … It may not be a giant leap for filmmaking, but it’s another small step for this filmmaker.”)

(6) A WRITER’S DAY. John Scalzi’s to-do list for Wednesday.

(7) NEW HORIZONS SPOTS TARGET. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft — which performed a Pluto flyby about three years ago — has officially spotted its next target (“Ultima in View: NASA’s New Horizons Makes First Detection of Kuiper Belt Flyby Target”). The craft took a series of long-duration images from which the star field was subtracted to pick out the Kuiper Belt object (nicknamed Ultima Thule) New Horizons is headed toward. The closest encounter with Ultima Thule is expected to be early (EST) New Year’s Day 2019.

Mission team members were thrilled – if not a little surprised – that New Horizons’ telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was able to see the small, dim object while still more than 100 million miles away, and against a dense background of stars. Taken Aug. 16 and transmitted home through NASA’s Deep Space Network over the following days, the set of 48 images marked the team’s first attempt to find Ultima with the spacecraft’s own cameras.

“The image field is extremely rich with background stars, which makes it difficult to detect faint objects,” said Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist and LORRI principal investigator from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “It really is like finding a needle in a haystack. In these first images, Ultima appears only as a bump on the side of a background star that’s roughly 17 times brighter, but Ultima will be getting brighter – and easier to see – as the spacecraft gets closer.”

This first detection is important because the observations New Horizons makes of Ultima over the next four months will help the mission team refine the spacecraft’s course toward a closest approach to Ultima, at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1, 2019. That Ultima was where mission scientists expected it to be – in precisely the spot they predicted, using data gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope – indicates the team already has a good idea of Ultima’s orbit.

(8) REMEMBERING WILLY LEY. Steven Levy’s WIRED article “385 Feet of Crazy: The Most Audacious Flying Machine Ever” is about Paul Allen’s effort to build a giant airplane called a Stratolaunch which he wants to use to carry rockets to the edge of space and then launch from the stratosphere. It includes this sentimental memory about a writer who was important to a lot of fans back in the day.

As a teenager, Paul Allen was a sci-fi and rocketry nerd. He dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but that ambition was scuttled by nearsighted­ness. His childhood bedroom was filled with science fiction and space books. Bill Gates remembers Allen’s obsession. “Even when I first met him—he was in tenth grade and I was in eighth—he had read way more science fiction than anyone else,” says Gates, who later founded Microsoft with Allen. “Way more.” One of Allen’s favorites was a popular science classic called Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel, by Willy Ley, first published in 1944. As Allen tells it in his memoir, he was crushed when he visited his parents as an adult and went to his old room to reference a book. He discovered that his mother had sold his collection. (The sale price: $75.) Using a blowup of an old photo of the room, Allen dispatched scouts to painstakingly re-create his boyhood library.

(9) OPTIMUS SOLUTION. Daniel Cohen’s Financial Times article “Tales from the storage unit: inside a booming industry”, in a survey of storage spaces, recommends Inner Space Stations in York:

A large model of the Optimus Prime character from TRANSFORMERS stands beide the entrance of its main store, on a busy road.  A Dalek is visible through a window; a model of a STAR WARS stormtrooper guards the reception.  The sizes of the units correspond to planet s in the solar system; the smallest lockers have an image of Mercury on the door, while the biggest show Jupiter.  ‘It’s just making fun,’ says Graham Kennedy, the owner.  ‘Quite often there’s a stressful reason for going into storage.  So I’ve decided to lighten it.’

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 29, 1898 – C.S. Lewis. Author of the Narnia books and The Space Trilogy, also The Screwtape Letters which I got assigned in University a very long time ago. Ardent Christian, he wrote three dense book on that religion, Mere ChristianityMiracles, and The Problem of Pain. There’s a Doctor Who episode with Matt Smith that riffs off the Narnia book entry way if memory serves me right.
  • Born August 29 — Nancy Holder, 65. Perhaps best known for her myriad work, fiction and non-fiction, based off the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. However I’ll single her out as a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award including Best Novel for Dead in the Water.
  • Born August 29 – Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 64. Extensive writing in the Star Wars genre but also has written such novels as The Quiet Pools which was a Hugo Award nominee and Emprise which was a Philip K. Dick nominee. Several of his short stories were adapted into episodes of theTales from the Darkside series.
  • Born August 29 — Lenny Henry, 60. Co-creator with Neil Gaiman and producer of the 1996 BBC drama serial Neverwhere. Narrator of Anansi Boys. Appeared, well appeared isn’t quite proper, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the voice of the Shrunken Head.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) HISTORY REVEALED. Michael Cassutt will be signing The Astronaut Maker at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on September 6. (More details at “Michael Cassutt discusses and signs The Astronaut Maker”).

One of the most elusive and controversial figures in NASA’s history, George W. S. Abbey was called “the Dark Lord,” “the Godfather,” and “UNO”–short for unidentified NASA official. He was said to be secretive, despotic, a Space Age Machiavelli. Yet Abbey had more influence on human spaceflight than almost anyone in history. His story has never been told–until now.   The Astronaut Maker takes readers inside NASA to learn the real story of how Abbey rose to power, from young pilot and wannabe astronaut to engineer, bureaucrat, and finally director of the Johnson Space Center. During a thirty-seven-year career, mostly out of the spotlight, he oversaw the selection of every astronaut class from 1978 to 1987, deciding who got to fly and when. He was with the Apollo 1 astronauts the night before the fatal fire in January 1967. He was in mission control the night of the Apollo 13 accident and organized the recovery effort. Abbey also led NASA’s recruitment of women and minorities as space shuttle astronauts and was responsible for hiring Sally Ride.   Written by Michael Cassutt, the coauthor of the acclaimed astronaut memoirs DEKE! and We Have Capture, and informed by countless hours of interviews with Abbey and his family, friends, adversaries, and former colleagues, The Astronaut Maker is the ultimate insider’s account of ambition and power politics at NASA. (Chicago Review Press)

(13) JUST DRAWN THAT WAY. Need a goat? Remember to smile: “Goats ‘drawn to happy human faces'”.

Scientists have found that goats are drawn to humans with happy facial expressions.

The result suggests a wider range of animals can read people’s moods than was previously thought.

The researchers showed goats pairs of photos of the same person, one of them featuring an angry expression, and the other a happy demeanour.

The goats made a beeline for the happy faces, the team reports in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

(14) THE ACME OF SOMETHING OR OTHER. Maybe this will be your cup of tea but I confess: I plan to be somewhere (anywhere) else when this picture is in theaters: “The ‘Wile E. Coyote’ Movie Has Ordered A Pair Of Writers Who Aren’t From ACME!”

The Roadrunner had better watch out as there is a new ‘Wile E. Coyote’ movie in the works and Warner Bros. has just tapped The Silberman Brothers (‘Living Biblically,’ ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’) to write it! Jon and Josh are going to have a lot of work ahead of them to bring this iconic character to the big screen for an audience base that had significantly changed from when the toon was originally popular.

While this “Super Genius” will always be known for creative inventions that pave the way for perfect slapstick humor, the lack of dialogue for a feature film might mean that we’re getting some massive changes to the Wiley cartoon. While there is no mention of his arch nemesis and his uncatchable meal of The Roadrunner being part of the film, it would be hard to imagine a story that doesn’t include him.

(15) DIAL EIGHT. Another thing I didn’t get done at Worldcon 76 – meeting Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus. By now he’s back in 1963 keeping track of the myriad developments in outer space: “[August 29, 1963] Why we fly (August Space Round-up)”.

Bridging the Continents

Communication satellites continue to make our world a smaller place.  Syncom, built by Hughes and launched by NASA late last month, is the first comsat to have a 24-hour orbit.  From our perspective on the Earth’s surface, it appears to do figure eights around one spot in the sky rather than circling the Earth.  This means Syncom can be a permanent relay station between the hemispheres.

It’s already being used.  On August 4 the satellite allowed Nigerian journalists and folks from two U.S. services to exchange news stories as well as pictures of President Kennedy and Nigerian Governor General Dr. Nnamdi Zikiwe.  Five days later, voice and teletype was exchanged between Paso Robles, California and Lagos, Nigeria.  This 7,7700 mile conversation represents the longest range real-time communication ever made.

I think he means 7,700 miles – but of course I would!

(16) GAMING, IT’S NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE. The BBC reports on the finding of an ancient gaming board and how it may be the clue to the location of an important lost monastery (“Medieval gaming board clue to lost monastery”).

The discovery of a medieval gaming board may have helped bring archaeologists closer to confirming the site of a lost early monastery.

Archaeologists have been actively seeking the Monastery of Deer in Aberdeenshire since about 2008.

Monks at the monastery wrote the important 10th Century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Deer.

Layers beneath the disc-shaped stone gaming board have been carbon dated to the 7th and 8th centuries.

Charcoal also found at the remains of a building uncovered by archaeologists during the latest dig at the site, near Mintlaw, has been dated to the same time, between 669 and 777AD.

Smithsonian follows up with more about the game board itself and its monastic connections (“Archaeologists Unearth Medieval Game Board During Search for Lost Monastery”).

According to The Scotsman’s Alison Campsie, monks likely used the board to play Hnefatafl, a Norse strategy game that pits a king and his defenders against two dozen taflmen, or attackers. As the king’s men attempt to herd him to safety in one of the four burgs, or refuges, located in the corners of the game board, taflmen work to thwart the escape. To end the game, the king must reach sanctuary or yield to captivity.

The board “is a very rare object,” archaeologist Ali Cameron of The Book of Deer Project, who is in charge of excavations, tells Campsie. “Only a few have been found in Scotland, mainly on monastic or at least religious sites. These gaming boards are not something everyone would have had access to.”

…The game board’s discovery and dating to the 7th and 8th centuries offer tantalizing indication that the dig site was, in fact, home to the medieval monastery, but as Mark Hall, a medieval games specialist at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, cautions, “This temptation remains just that until further evidence presents itself to make a valid link between the disc and the date.”

(17) MORE COMICS CROSSOVERS. Daniel Dern is keeping an eye open for these: “Sometime within the last year we got a great bunch, notably the Batman/Elmer Fudd (including the narrated-by-Denny-ONeil video). A bunch just came out today, including Lex Luthor/Porky Pig, Joker/Daffy Duck, and Catwoman/Sylvester.”

And io9’s James Whitbrook looks ahead to when “All the Incredible New Comic Series to Cozy Up With This Fall”.

DC/Hanna-Barbera Crossovers—DC’s bizarro mashups between its comics universe and the animated antics of Hanna-Barbera’s most beloved creations continues with another wave of weird and wonderful adventures.

Deathstroke/Yogi Bear #1—Frank Tieri, Mark Texeira

Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound #1—Mark Russell, Rick Leonardi

Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla #1—Heath Corson, Tom Grummett

Superman/Top Cat #1—Dan DiDio, Shane Davis

(18) GAME OVER. Camestros Felapton discovered spammers have taken over the abandoned Sad Puppies IV website  but kept most of the content to make it look like Kate Paulk is selling slot machines in Italian –

[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Joey Eschrich, mlex, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 8/13/18 I Can’t See Me Scrolling Nobody But You, For All My File

(1) SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT WORLDCON. Adam Rakunas is publicizing the availability of help for those who want it:

(2) NEWS CLIPPING. Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy reports that in 2019 Saga Press will publish Rivers Solomon’s novel inspired by a song from 2017 Hugo nominee Clipping,—a group that includes Tony-winner Daveed Diggs. Thread starts here.

(3) BEAM UP MORE GOLD. Borys Kit, in “Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth ‘Star Trek 4’ Future In Doubt as Talks Fall Through (Exclusive)”  in The Hollywood Reporter says that both Pine and Hemsworth (who was supposed to play Captain James T. Kirk’s father) have said they won’t be in Star Trek 4 because of pay issues.

The deal points came down to the usual suspect: money. Pine and Hemsworth, among Hollywood’s A-list when starring in DC or Marvel movies, are said to be asking the studios to stick to existing deals. Paramount, according to insiders, contends that Star Trek is not like a Marvel or Star Wars movie and is trying to hold the line on a budget.

The actors, according to sources, insist they have deals in place and that the studios are reneging on them, forcing them to take pay cuts as they try to budget a movie that is following a mediocre performer.

Pine, at least, has had a deal in place for several years. The actor, now a key player in the Wonder Woman franchise, signed up for a fourth movie when he made his deal for 2016’s Star Trek Beyond. Hemsworth has been attached to Star Trek 4 since Paramount, then run by the previous regime headed by Brad Grey, announced the fourth installment in 2016, although his exact status remains murky.

(4) SIGNING STORIES. Delilah S. Dawson gets a lot of great answers. Thread starts here.

Includes a RedWombat sighting –

(5) IT’S THAT DAY. In Pogo, Walt Kelly had a running gag: “Be careful, Friday the 13th falls on a Sunday/ Monday/ Tuesday, etc. this month.” Friday the 13th falls on a Monday in August.

(6) A MODERN SAGA. Brought to you by Amal El-Mohtar.

(7) THE BEST OF. James Davis Nicoll looks back at Del Rey Books’ “Best of…” series in “A Survey of Some of the Best Science Fiction Ever Published (Thanks to Judy-Lynn Del Rey)” at Tor,com, although some of the humor made me wonder if he really liked all the collections. (Which I suppose he did, otherwise why write the piece?) Like this note:

John Brunner’s fiction covered a spectrum ranging from morose to intensely gloomy. Readers intrigued by this collection who want to enjoy his strengths at novel length should seek out Brunner’s thematically-related SF standalone novels: The Jagged Orbit, The Sheep Look Up, Stand on Zanzibar, and The Shockwave Rider. Each book tackles One Big Issue (racial conflict, pollution, overpopulation, and future shock, respectively).

(8) HUGHART OKAY. The query about author Barry Hughart’s well-being in the August 4 Scroll (item 5) has been answered, and the news is good. Bill Schafer of Subterranean Press replied today —

Dear Mr. Glyer,

In response to your recent thread about Barry Hughart’s whereabouts…

I am happy to report I just got off the phone with Barry Hughart, who is very much still with us. (He is terrible about responding to emails, which led me into my email archives to dig out his phone number.)

Oddly enough, we’ve been doing business for ten years or more, and this is the first time we’ve spoken.

Best,

Bill

(9) ROHAN OBIT. A note about the passing of Michael Scott Rohan (1951-2018) at the SF Encyclopedia.

Michael Scott Rohan died in hospital in his home town of Edlnburgh on 12 August 2018; he was 67. Although his first novel Run to the Stars (1983, pictured) was a lively science-fiction adventure, his considerable reputation rests mainly on the Winter of the World fantasy sequence beginning with The Anvil of Ice (1986) and the Spiral science-fantasies beginning with Chase the Morning (1990).

Speaking personally, Mike Rohan was an old and valued friend whose unexpected death leaves an aching hole in the world. — David Langford

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 13, 1942 — Disney’s Bambi premiered in New York City.
  • August 13, 1953 — The original War Of The Worlds was released in New York City.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 13, 1899 – Alfred Hitchcock. Let’s see… The Birds and Psycho. Y’all think anything else might be loosely be genre which I include horror in?
  • Born August 13 – Kevin Tighe, 74. First genre role was in This Immortal series, nearly fifty years ago; appeared also in The Six Million Dollar Man, Tales from the Crypt, Escape to Witch Mountain, The Outer Limits, Star Trek: Voyager, Strange World, The 4400, Lost and Salem. 
  • Born August 13 –Danny Bonaduce, 59. First genre role was in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir; later roles included acting in Bewitched, Shazam!, Fantasy Island (original series), Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Bigfoot. Voice work includes Dr. DolittleFred Flintstone and Friends and Goober and the Ghost Chasers.
  • Born August 13 – John Slattery, 56. Howard Stark in the MCU film franchise, appeared in The Adjustment Bureau film based loosely I suspect of the Philip K. Dick short story ‘Adjustment Team’, 3rd Rock, From the Earth to the Moon miniseries and Flashpoint.
  • Born August 13 – Michael De Luca, 53. Producer, second Suicide Squad film, Childhood’s End, Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Dracula Untold, Lost in Space, Blade and Blade II, Pleasantville and Zathura: A Space Adventure which is not a complete listing. Also writer for an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the first Dredd film (oh well), the Freddy’s Nightmares series and the Dark Justice series which though not genre was rather fun.
  • Born August 13 – Sebastian Stan, 36. Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier in the MCU film franchise; also appeared in Once Upon a Time series, The Martian, The Apparition, Ares III, and Kings, a contemporary alternate-history series about a man who rises to become the King of his nation, based on the biblical story of King David.
  • Born August 13 – Sara Serraiocco, 28. Currently in Counterpoint, a cross-universe Cold War thriller. That’s it.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) MEDICAL ADVICE. At Dorkly, “Two Doctors Figured Out How To Treat A Centaur Having a Heart Attack”. I hope Rick Riordan is taking notes.

Case in point: centaurs – what’s THEIR deal? Half man, half horse, and ALL anatomical mysteries. See, the way centaurs are broken down is that it’s the torso ‘n up part of a human combined with the whole body of a horse (minus the head and neck). But that presents a problem, because (anatomically-speaking) the two halves share a whole bunch of organs, namely the heart.

So a doctor (@FredWuMD) took to Twitter to ask fellow medical professionals an incredibly important question – if a centaur was in the midst of a cardiac arrest, where would you presume the heart is? Where would you use defibrillator pads?

(14) WHAT’S ON HIS MIND? Mike Alger says: “Weekend project: By combining a 3D scan with an MRI (don’t worry I’m fine), I can now step out of my body and legitimately look into my head at my own brain.”

Thread starts here. Mlex says, “This reminded me of Ted Chiang’s story, ‘Exhalation’, in Lightspeed Magazine.”

(15) COSTUMING HISTORY. The International Costumers Gallery continues its series, “Convention Costuming History: The Post WWII Years – 1946”.

…The Pacificon Convention News, issue #2 promised a Costume Ball, essentially acknowledging how much a part of the convention wearing costumes had become. Hearkening back to the pre-war events, it anticipated “BEMs and MONSTERS from every solar system and dimension; famous characters from the stories you have read and loved and every kind of costume that the fertile mentalities of fen (the best fertilized minds in existence) do be able to thunk up<sic>.”(2) Whether it was actually a “ball” or just a party is not clear.

Participants and costumes reported were Myrtle Douglas winning first prize for her Snake Mother dress (3)(4) and Arthur Joquel II (5) dressed as a “high priest”, winning a prize for “characterization”. Fan and fanzine writer Dale Hart’s “Gray Lensman” costume was judged “most ingenious”. (6)

(16) THE GREAT WALL OF HYDROGEN. The New Horizons probe is looking for evidence of it: “NASA spotted a vast, glowing ‘hydrogen wall’ at the edge of our solar system”.

There’s a “hydrogen wall” at the edge of our solar system, and NASA scientists think their New Horizons spacecraft can see it.

That hydrogen wall is the outer boundary of our home system, the place where our sun’s bubble of solar wind ends and where a mass of interstellar matter too small to bust through that wind builds up, pressing inward….

What New Horizons definitely sees, the researchers reported in a paper published Aug. 7 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is some extra ultraviolet light — the kind the researchers would expect such a wall of galactic hydrogen to produce. That replicates an ultraviolet signal the two Voyager spacecraft — NASA’s farthest-traveling probes, which launched in the late 1970s — spotted all the way back in 1992. [Images: Dust Grains from Interstellar Space]

However, the researchers cautioned, that signal isn’t a sure sign that New Horizons has seen the hydrogen wall, or that Voyager did. All three probes could have actually detected the ultraviolet light from some other source, emanating from much deeper in the galaxy, the researchers wrote.

(17) SEEING SPOTS. Lasers been berry berry good to me. NPR: “Growers Are Beaming Over The Success Of Lasers To Stave Off Thieving Birds”.

During every berry-picking season in the Pacific Northwest, blueberry and raspberry growers fight to prevent birds from gobbling up the crop before harvest. This year, some farmers are trying something new to scare away the thieving birds: lasers….

The lasers cross over in erratic patterns. The sweeping green laser beams emanate from what look like security cameras atop metal poles.

They also work during the daytime. But in sunlight, the human eye can only see green dots dancing across the berry-laden bushes.

(18) SFFANZ 500. Congratulations to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) on their blog’s 500th post – “SF Writer at the Manawatu Writers Festival + 500th Post”.

A heads up for SF fans about the Manawatu Writers’ Festival (Sept 7 – 11, 2018). This year they have a session with one of NZ’s longest running successful writers, Lyn Mc Conchie.

Lyn McConchie is an internationally successful author, who has had 44 books published, 300+ short stories, and 150+ articles. Her work has appeared in English, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and from publishers there as well as in America, Australia, New Zealand, and the Irish Republic. Lyn isn’t in any ruts, she writes mysteries, SF/F, animal tales, post-apocalypse, YA, picture books, and humorous and scholarly non-fiction and she has no plans to stop any time soon. Lyn’s latest book, Coal & Ashes, is is one of her apocalyptic stories, set in Australia, one of a series.

(19) THERAPEUTIC POOH. The LA Times profiles Christopher Robin: “With ‘Christopher Robin,’ Winnie the Pooh faces his greatest challenge yet: A marriage in crisis”.

So many Disney films follow a child or young adult suddenly thrown into a grown-up world and forced to overcome all of its headaches. “Christopher Robin,” however, turns a childhood hero of those who grew up admiring A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” tales into a depressed and overwhelmed adult — a man whose youthful imagination ultimately proved no match for the realities of war, fatherhood and a thankless job.

In the film, an old and familiar pal comes to the rescue, but is Winnie the Pooh — a plump stuffed bear whose biggest bothers often involved stealing honey from a bee — ready to fix the life of a workaholic whose marriage is entering crisis mode? Or, perhaps more accurately, are Pooh fans ready to see it?

Those who worked on “Christopher Robin” say the mission was to tap into the original Milne template, one that mixed comedy and complex emotions to deliver patient life lessons. The ultimate goal of the film: to dispel any notion that Winnie the Pooh is simply kid stuff.

“I wouldn’t be ashamed to be a grown man going to see a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ movie in the theater with no child next to me, so let’s make sure we’re making that movie,” said Alex Ross Perry, a filmmaker with several acclaimed indies under his belt and one of three credited screenwriters on the picture. “It has to be completely logical in that Pixar sense, where adults can go see it in a roomful of kids, but it doesn’t feel like you’re seeing a kids movie.”

(20) NOW YOU’RE TALKING. John Scalzi boosts a great idea —

(21) EYE-OPENING COLLECTIBLE. Something to find a Worldcon 76 –

(22) THE TRAVELER. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus will interrupt his daily commute to 1963 in order to appear at Worldcon 76 –

(23) RADIO ACTIVITY. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie tuned into BBC Radio 4 this weekend. He picked out highlights you can access online.

Looks like Dan Dare is a full blown radio series consisting of a number of linked  two-part adventures. Next up next Sunday will be on Radio 4 Extra and shortly after for a month on BBC i-Player linked off here.

Episode 1

Dan Dare, The Red Moon Mystery Episode 1 of 2

4 Extra Debut. Infected by the Mekon’s virus, Dan’s crew orbit Earth until the Inter-Planet Space Force orders them to Mars. Stars Ed Stoppard

Next Sunday 18:00

BBC Radio 4 Extra

Also this weekend we had on BBC Radio 4

Open Book  “Claire Fuller, Neil Gaiman, Iranian fiction”

Claire Fuller talks to Mariella Frostrup about her new novel Bitter Orange and the appeal of the crumbling country house as a setting.

Neil Gaiman explains why forgotten classic Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees deserves a wider readership.

What does the combination of sanctions and censorship mean for Iran’s writers? The Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan and publisher Azadeh Parsapour discuss.

And Carrie Plitt, agent at Felicity Bryan Associates recommends Sally Rooney’s Normal People for our monthly Editor’s Tip.

This is available to listen to for next 4 weeks

[Thanks to JJ, David Langford, Jonathan Cowie, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, Leo Doroschenko, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 5/7/18 The File And The Pixel-Scroll Went To Space In A Runcible Manxome File

(1) LUKE CAGE CONTINUES. From Netflix, “Marvel’s Luke Cage – Season 2 Official Trailer.”

After clearing his name, Luke Cage has become a celebrity on the streets of Harlem with a reputation as bulletproof as his skin. But being so visible has only increased his need to protect the community and find the limits of who he can and can’t save. With the rise of a formidable new foe, Luke is forced to confront the fine line that separates a hero from a villain.

 

(2) NICHELLE NICHOLS’ HEALTH. “’Star Trek’ Star Nichelle Nichols Is Living With Dementia”Madamenoir has the story,

Nichelle Nichols, who is known for her iconic role as Uhura in “Star Trek” is living with severe dementia.

Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson says that his 85-year-old mother needs protection to prevent people from taking advantage of her.

According to TMZ, Johnson filed documents nominating 4 fiduciaries to become his mother’s conservators—giving them control of her finances and authority to make decisions regarding her health.

(3) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. At the next Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Tina Connolly & Caroline M. Yoachim. Date and time: Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

  • Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly’s books include the Ironskin trilogy (Tor), the Seriously Wicked series (Tor Teen), and the collection On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories (Fairwood Press). Her books have been finalists for the Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod, and runs the flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. Find her at tinaconnolly.com.

  • Caroline M. Yoachim

Caroline M. Yoachim is the author of over a hundred short stories. Her fiction has been translated into several languages, reprinted in best-of anthologies, and is available in her debut collection Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories. Her 2017 short story “Carnival Nine” is a Nebula and Hugo finalist. For more about Caroline, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com

The KGB Bar id st 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.), New York, NY.

(4) NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. David Grinspoon, an astrobiologist who studies climate evolution and habitability of other worlds, and Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt, say “Yes, Pluto is a planet” in  Washington Post op-ed.

Three years ago, NASA’s New Horizons, the fastest spaceship ever launched, raced past Pluto, spectacularly revealing the wonders of that newly seen world. This coming New Year’s Eve — if all goes well on board this small robot operating extremely far from home — it will treat us to images of the most distant body ever explored, provisionally named Ultima Thule. We know very little about it, but we do know it’s not a planet. Pluto, by contrast — despite what you’ve heard — is.

Why do we say this? We are planetary scientists, meaning we’ve spent our careers exploring and studying objects that orbit stars. We use “planet” to describe worlds with certain qualities. When we see one like Pluto, with its many familiar features — mountains of ice, glaciers of nitrogen, a blue sky with layers of smog — we and our colleagues quite naturally find ourselves using the word “planet” to describe it and compare it to other planets that we know and love.

In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced an attempted redefinition of the word “planet” that excluded many objects, including Pluto. We think that decision was flawed, and that a logical and useful definition of planet will include many more worlds….

 

(5) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Because the International Space Station does not have a way to wash dirty clothes, astronauts shoot their laundry into the Earth’s atmosphere to be incinerated. Consequently, a crew of six can go through 900 pounds of clothing per year. (Source: Smithsonian.com)

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 7, 1950 Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles became the first new work of science fiction ever noted in the New York Times Book Review, breaking that glass ceiling via Rex Lardner’s “Fiction in Brief” column. As John King Tarpinian tells it, “Ray was not happy with Martian being described as Science Fiction but heck, who cares now…”

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Lise Andreasen says the lesson learned from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s “Soulmate” is never build a dating website.

(8) AFROFUTURISM. A BBC profile: “Afrofuturism: Why black science fiction ‘can’t be ignored'”.

Afrofuturism is perhaps best summed up by the queen of contemporary afrofuturism herself — Janelle Monae.

Her futuristic music videos and radical aesthetic (she even calls her fans “fAndroids”) are seen by some as a key force for pushing afrofuturism into the mainstream.

“Afrofuturism is me, us… is black people seeing ourselves in the future,” she explains in a 30-second video clip for Spotify.

It is no surprise then that Janelle cites the movement as the inspiration for her new narrative film, Dirty Computer: Emotion Picture, a visual accompaniment to her latest album (which is currently trending on YouTube).

(9) CATCHING UP. Here are “Some Pragmatic Picks by Foz Meadows” a 2018 Shadow Clarke juror.

In compiling my personal Shadow Clarke shortlist, I’ve opted to forego the pressures of dutiful or adventurous reading, and have stuck to a selection of books which, for various reasons, I’d already planned to read. Partially, I’ve done so out of pragmatism: it’s hard enough at the best of times to force myself to read something in which I have little to no existing interest and whose premise doesn’t appeal to me, and if I can’t actually bring myself to read my selected works, there’s little point in being a shadow judge at all. At the same time, I’d argue that the parameters of the Clarke Award are such that the final selection of any judge or judges, whether shadow or otherwise, is always going to hinge on personal taste. The submissions list, as the name suggests, does not come pre-curated: in order to be in contention for the award, eligible works need only be submitted for consideration by their publishers. While there’s invariably a fascinating conversation to be had about which of their titles particular houses either forget, neglect or actively decline to submit in the first place, the impact of those choices is at best a process of curation by collective omission. That being so, the contents of the submissions list as is become something of a crapshoot, running the gamut from obvious, big-name contenders to self-published indies to midlist titles flung at the wall to see what sticks. But then, science fiction, when not broken down into subgenres, is a spectacularly broad mandate – how else can it be honestly navigated except through personal preference?

(10) WHERE DO THEY ALL COME FROM. “Cat Rambo’s Ideas For The Asking: A Guest Post!” at Sue Bursztynski’s blog.

Where do you get your ideas, my youngest brother asked as we were driving to dinner. I shrugged and said, Everywhere. He eyed me sideways, as though to say, it has to be harder than that.

But the truth is that I’ve always tried to look at the world in different ways. As a child, a favorite activity was looking at the ceiling and imagining what it would be like to live from that angle — not so different from our own life, but with much more inconvenient doors, for one. Or later, looking at public spaces to imagine what a superhero battle would be like staged there — where was cover, where the blind spots or perches? …

(11) RAMBO TRIVIA. Time to cram for the quiz:

(12) FAAN STATS. Click on the link to download Nic Farey’s FAAn Awards voting statistics and analysis publication.

(13) MINIATURE WORLDCON BID. Kate Secor (bid chair) and Michael Lee (bid treasurer) have announced a bid for “Worldcon 84: The Minimal Viable Worldcon” to be held in Charlottesville, VA in 2026. This is probably supposed to be funny.

W84 is targeting lovely Charlottesville, Virginia as a site. We will be capping attending memberships at 125 (not including staff) in order to fit in our chosen venue, the Charlottesville CitySpace. …

We are currently looking at dates in early October, so as to take advantage of Virginia’s long fall season and lovely natural scenery. We expect there to be sufficient hotel rooms to accommodate all our members at various price points. There will be no official con hotel, although W84 may be able to work with Charlottesville’s Visitor Bureau to change this.

…W84 will be administering the Hugos entirely online and via postal mail, and announcing the results via press release. Trophies will be mailed to the winners. W84 will be administering Site Selection largely via mail, but will accept hand-carried ballots and also allow on-site voting for all members even if they do not have attending memberships.

(14) MODERN WARRIOR. James Breakwell reporting:

(15) READY PLAYER THREE. And right after —

(16) GOOD DOG. At Middle-Earth Reflections, Olga Polomoshnova a series of posts finishes with “Reading Roverandom /// Chapter 5”.

The closing chapter of Roverandom is a good example of a happy turn of events when you least expect it. Moreover, it is where we can see the results of Rover’s moral journey and how he has changed over the course of the story.

Once out of the sea depths, Rover again addresses Artaxerxes with his request: to change him into his proper size and shape. He does not hesitate to use the word “please” abundantly. The wizard is happy to help the dog as he has become wiser and kinder, too, following his failure as PAM and the anger of mer-people.  But, alas, all his spells were destroyed at the bottom of the ocean. Artaxerxes is truly miserable, and he really means it being eager to change Rover back into his normal self. Things would have been pretty bad had it not been for the wizard’s shrewd wife. She kept some spells and now has exactly the one he needs to grant Rover’s request.

(17) DECODING HEINLEIN. Does the BBC know this was the source of the ship name in Citizen of the Galaxy? — “Sisu: the Finnish art of inner strength”.

“Sisu will get you even through granite,” my Finnish mother-in-law used to say. If you look at the enormous grey outcrops of granite scattered since the ice age through the Finnish countryside and forests, you’ll realise that getting through them is not just difficult, it is pretty well impossible.

‘Sisu’ in Finnish means strength, perseverance in a task that for some may seem crazy to undertake, almost hopeless. My mother-in-law experienced the bombings of the Winter War (1939-1940) when Finland was attacked by the much superior Soviet army but managed to mount a resistance to remain independent. The New York Times ran an article in 1940 with the headline “Sisu: A Word that Explains Finland”.

So, what is this almost mythical quality that appears to be so Finnish? “It is a special thing that is reserved for especially challenging moments. When we feel that we came to the end point of our preconceived capacities. You could say that sisu is energy, determination in the face of adversities that are more demanding than usual,” says Emilia Lahti, a researcher of sisu from Aalto University in Helsinki.

(18) CELEBRATING HEINLEIN’S BIRTHDAY.  A Barcelona club plans to celebrate Heinlein’s birthday on July 7. Juan Miguel de la Torre Quesada, Vice-President of Barcelona’s Otium Club sent out an English translation of their press release with the schedule. Here are a few highlights.

H-Day – Heinlein’s Day

Saturday, July 7nth, 2018 – from 10: 00 to 14:00.

Civic Center Joan Oliver “Pere Quart”

C/ Comandante Benítez, 6 – Barcelona (Spain)

About the event:

On the day of his 111nth birthday, this July, the seventh, we’re gathering to celebrate the life and work of Robert Anson Heinlein in a event we have baptised as “Dia H – Heinlein’s Day”. With this activity we wish to present to the greater audience, beyond the limits of fandom, this seminal autor and his influence within the genere of SF as well as in the cultural fabric of our times.

Robert Heinlein is considered one of the greatest and most essential writers in the SF cannon, not only because of his excellent narrative and literary qualities, but as a pioneer in the field, a paladin of critical thinking and of rational pragmatism, owing perhaps to his formation as an engineer, whose ideas and reflections, poured into a hundred Works, remain relevant today and are worth debating.

10:00 Introduction.

Ángel.F. Bueno, founder and President of the Otium Club will welcome the attendees with a brief exposition about the activities, presneting the author and his work, and then introducing the main guest speaker, Salvador Bayarri.

10: 20 – 11:40 Conference : “Robert Heinlein: a libertarian in science fiction”.

Salvador Bayarri, Doctor in Physics and Master Degree in Philosophy, as well as an SF writer, will expound on a complete exploration and biographical analysis on the thought, themes and work of the autor, in a light and humorous manner.

11:40 – 11:45 “The attendees will be invited to blow the candles on a birthday cake customised for the occasion”.

11:45 – 13:13 Screening of “Predestination” (2014) , The Spierig Brothers.

Salvador Bayarri and Ángel F. Bueno will introduce this excellent movie based on the short story “All you zombies!” (1958) by Robert A. Heinlein….

(19) TAGGING ALONG. The latest Mars mission has company: “WALL-E and EVE on their way to Mars with InSight”.

NASA’s InSight lander is on its way to Mars, after a successful launch on Saturday morning.

The lander was launched by an Atlas V rocket taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California shortly after 4 a.m. local time. It successfully separated from the upper stage more than an hour later.

Because InSight is a lander — not a rover — it will stay put on Mars as it carries out “an $813.8 million mission to study the interior of the Red Planet.”

Two CubeSats, or miniature satellites about the size of a briefcase, were launched by the same rocket, basically hitching a ride with the Insight. Named after the characters in the 2008 animated movie, WALL-E and EVE are each about the size of a briefcase or large cereal box. They popped out from the rocket’s upper stage after liftoff and are hightailing it to Mars, right behind InSight. This is the first time CubeSats have set sail for deep space.

[Thanks to Keith G. Kato, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, John King Tarpinian, Mark Hepworth, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Lise Andreasen, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]

Butler, Clarke, Kubrick Honored in First Official Feature Names for Pluto’s Largest Moon

Octavia Butler, Arthur C. Clarke, and Stanley Kubrick are among the real and fictitious sff figures honored in the first dozen names for surface features on Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, that were proposed by NASA’S New Horizons mission team and now have been made official by the IAU. 

The International Astronomical Union (IAU), the internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features, recently approved some of the names the New Horizons science team had been using informally to describe the valleys, crevices and craters discovered during that first close-up look at Charon’s surface.

Many of the feature names in the Pluto system pay homage to the spirit of human exploration, honoring travelers, explorers and scientists, pioneering journeys, and mysterious destinations. The approved Charon names focus on the literature and mythology of exploration. They are listed here:

Argo Chasma is named for the ship sailed by Jason and the Argonauts, in the epic Latin poem Argonautica, during their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Butler Mons honors Octavia E. Butler, the first science fiction writer to win a MacArthur fellowship, and whose Xenogenesis trilogy describes humankind’s departure from Earth and subsequent return.

Caleuche Chasma is named for the mythological ghost ship that travels the seas around the small island of Chiloé, off the coast of Chile; according to legend the Caleuche explores the coastline collecting the dead, who then live aboard it forever.

Clarke Montes honors Sir Arthur C. Clarke, the prolific science fiction writer and futurist whose novels and short stories (including “2001: A Space Odyssey”) were imaginative depictions of space exploration.

Dorothy Crater recognizes the protagonist in the series of children’s novels, by L. Frank Baum, that follows Dorothy Gale’s travels to and adventures in the magical world of Oz.

Kubrick Mons honors film director Stanley Kubrick, whose iconic “2001: A Space Odyssey” tells the story of humanity’s evolution from tool-using hominids to space explorers and beyond.

Mandjet Chasma is named for one of the boats in Egyptian mythology that carried the sun god Ra (Re) across the sky each day – making it one of the earliest mythological examples of a vessel of space travel.

Nasreddin Crater is named for the protagonist in thousands of humorous folktales told throughout the Middle East, southern Europe and parts of Asia.

Nemo Crater is named for the captain of the Nautilus, the submarine in Jules Verne’s novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Mysterious Island (1874).

Pirx Crater is named for the main character in a series of short stories by Stanislaw Lem, who travels between the Earth, Moon and Mars.

Revati Crater is named for the main character in the Hindu epic narrative Mahabharata — widely regarded as the first in history (circa 400 BC) to include the concept of time travel.

Sadko Crater recognizes the adventurer who traveled to the bottom of the sea in the medieval Russian epic Bylina.

“Charon is among the 10 largest bodies in the Kuiper Belt, a world unto itself, with a fascinating geological history and many kinds of geological features beyond the craters seen on most moons,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “Now those features, and some of Charon’s most important craters, have official names.”

In moving the names through approval, Stern lauded the work of the New Horizons Nomenclature Working Group, which along with Stern included science team members Mark Showalter – the group’s chairman and liaison to the IAU – Ross Beyer, Will Grundy, William McKinnon, Jeff Moore, Cathy Olkin, Paul Schenk and Amanda Zangari. The team gathered most of their ideas during the ”Our Pluto” online public naming campaign in 2015.

“The names reflect the diversity of recommendations we received during the Our Pluto campaign,” noted Showalter, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. “We are delighted that so many people from all over the world have contributed to the new names on the map of Charon.”

[Click for larger image]

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story. Post is based on the NASA press release.]

Pixel Scroll 12/13/17 It’s Crackers To Scroll A Rozzer The Pixel In Snide

(1) RECOMMENDED BY NINE OUT OF TEN. The BBC scanned the media and concluded: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi has critics in raptures”. (Except for Variety and The Verge.)

“Rousing.” “Thrilling.” “Addictively bold.” Just a few of the superlatives the critics are using to describe the latest film in the Star Wars saga.

The Last Jedi, writes the Telegraph, is “enormous fun” and “will leave fans beaming with surprise”.

The Guardian calls it “an explosive sugar rush of spectacle” possessing “a tidal wave of energy and emotion”.

Variety, though, swims against the tide, describing it as “the longest and least essential chapter in the series”.

Rian Johnson’s film, says Peter Debruge, is “ultimately a disappointment” that “gives in to the same winking self-parody that is poisoning other franchises of late.”

Writing in The Verge, Tasha Robinson tends to agree: “Audiences will likely come away from The Last Jedi with a lot of complaints and questions.”

(3) SPACE BALONEY. A history of fake Star Wars news — “Inside the ‘Star Wars’ Fake News Con That Tortured Fans for 20 Years” from Thrillist.

There was little legitimate movie news on the internet in early 1997, most tidbits trickling down from Hollywood’s print trade magazines, but the pioneering gossips and rumormongers of today’s post-and-verify-later model of online journalism hustled to find scoops and stake a claim with the eager readership. In its infancy, Ain’t It Cool News dished out flashy updates from its network of film industry spies; Corona’s Coming Attractions was a meticulous clearinghouse of rumors on just about every movie in development; for those that required all Star Wars, all the time, there were laser-focused sites like TheForce.net and RebelScum.com, which aggregated the latest Star Wars news (while occasionally dropping scoops of their own).

There was an embarrassment of rumor riches, and though a high percentage of the Star Wars scoops were bunk, people dove right in, elated that the most beloved film franchise of their youth had blasted back to the fore of pop culture. There was no reliable editorial oversight, only a treasure hunt, and the burden of bullshit detection fell on the reader. Which is how ludicrous stories — like the howler that nearly half the footage shot for The Phantom Menace came back from the lab out of focus — gained real traction in 1998.

(3) LICENSE TO SHILL. Techdirt’s Timothy Geigner began his coverage of last week’s SDCC v SLCC jury trial with some brutal criticism for Rose City Comic Con, who accepted a free license from SDCC to use the “comic con” name: “Opening Statements In The Trademark Battle Of The Comic Cons, While Other Regional Cons Go Full Judas”.

Of course, the problem with this study is that no matter what the public in the SDCC’s sample indicated, the simple fact is that comic conventions throughout the country have been using the term “comic con” with wild abandon. As they did so, it seems that the SDCC was in some sort of trademark hibernation for years, with no action against all of these national comic cons that I can find. SLCC made the same point in its opening argument, their defense seemingly settling on the notion that the term “comic con” had become generic….

It seems that the SDCC fully anticipated this defense and decided to attempt to undermine it by finding a comic con out there, any comic con, to enter into a laughably cheap licensing agreement. That SDCC is doing this only at the same time it is bringing this suit to trial makes its motive plain and naked. It’s a shameless attempt to give its long-abandoned trademark the imprimatur of now having an actual licensee. As disappointing as the SDCC’s actions are, those of the sellout cons are all the more so. Just read the press release from Rose City Comic Con in Portland about how it licensed the “comic con” mark and you’ll get an idea of just how likely it is that the SDCC basically scripted this thing for them.

“Rose City Comic Con, Portland, Oregon’s largest comics and pop-culture convention, is proud to announce its association with San Diego Comic Convention for its three-day event taking place September 7-9, 2018 at the Oregon Convention Center. Rose City Comic Con received the license at no additional cost to the show, and acknowledges the trademark owned by San Diego Comic Convention and is excited to affiliate itself with the prestigious event.”

“Comic-Con, the San Diego convention, is without question the biggest and most important event in the comics and popular arts industry every year. To have the respected event recognize the hard work of Rose City Comic Con by providing a license agreement is really remarkable for the city of Portland and the incredible community of creators we’re lucky to have here,” said Rose City Comic Con founder Ron Brister.

So moist does Rose City seem to be over its free license that it must have failed to understand the motive for this free gift by the SDCC and the damage it might do to all of the other comic cons out there that are now or might in the future be under threat by SDCC. Now, I don’t believe that SDCC managing to squeeze a few licensees from this national barrel of turnips suddenly means that it didn’t long ago abandon the “comic con” mark, but it seems obvious that these sorts of free licenses aren’t for everyone. I expect the SLCC, for instance, would have jumped at a free license early on in this process. Perhaps it would instead have stood its ground on principle, but given the enormous cost in time and money, not to mention that this thing has dragged out now for several years, I doubt it.

So nice job, Rose City. While one con fights not just for its life, but for the common sense notion that “comic con” should no longer be considered a legit trademark, you went full Judas. Hope those 30 pieces of silver are worth it.

(4) DEAD ON ARRIVAL. The train left Helsinki on December 13 on its way to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. One of the passengers won’t make it alive. Adweek reveals how “TBWA Is Turning a Speeding Train Into an Escape Room for Murder on the Orient Express”.

The “Escape Train” will travel 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) over 13 hours. The plot follows thus: A mysterious death has occurred aboard the train. Which player can identify the killer among them?

…The game was designed and built by InsideOut Escape Games, an escape room game pioneer in Finland. Challenges and puzzles will be movie-inspired, with two train carriages reserved exclusively for execution, but over a dozen cabins will be available for players to explore over its 13-hour run.

Online, people will also be able to watch the action as it happens.

“This is a rare opportunity to build a whole new type of game—it taking place on an actual train, with other passengers on board, adds a lot to the dynamics of an escape room experience,” says InsideOut’s Ágnes Kaszás. “To my knowledge, it is the longest-running game ever made, and we are very excited to be able to design it in the spirit of the new hit movie. It’s a dream come true, both for us and the players!”

 

(5) HELPS TO MAKE THE SEASON BRIGHT. Kim Huett asks, “What about a bonus full-colour Doctor Strangemind post given we’re heading into Christmas? Sure, why not.” So in “Virgil Finlay & Fungi! In Colour!”, Huett gives one of sf’s great artist a little help:

Hopefully this seasonal fungi will help to brighten up the lives of those of you currently trudging through winter. I like to think a dead fir festooned with such colourful parasites would look every bit as festive as the traditional sort.

(6) JUSTICE LEAGUE NEEDS A DOG. In “(Super)man’s Best Friend”, Claremont McKenna College fellow Steven J. Lenzner tells Weekly Standard readers that recent movie and TV versions of Superman have neglected Krypto, who is a good dog who wants to protect Superman.

We readers are shown Krypto’s thoughts—and those thoughts, both in form and content, show him to be a model dog. Krypto thinks only in the present tense, employing—to the extent possible—one-syllable words with concision; that is to say, he thinks as one would imagine a dog thinking. Moreover, the content of his thoughts goes far toward explaining the old adage that dog is a Kryptonian’s best friend. Krypto is, as befits a good American dog, deeply concerned with his happiness—and what makes him happy, above all, is his master’s praise: “Good boy.” The first word of the story is Krypto’s (“Man”), as is the last word (“Happy”). And in between Krypto displays the cardinal canine virtues: loyalty, courage, and affection. Krypto loves his friends and hates his enemies. And his circle of friends has a limited radius. He has none of that easy and indiscriminate affection that diminishes the charm of a dog’s love for its master.

(7) IT’S BULL. In “Hitler banned it; Gandhi loved it: ‘The Story of Ferdinand,’ the book and, now, film”, the Washington Post’s Karen McPherson discusses the classic children’s book written by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson, which has just been remade as Ferdinand.  She discusses how the previous animated version of the film, Disney’s 1938 Ferdinand the Bull, won an Academy Award and how Leaf and Lawson’s book was praised by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and denounced by Adolf Hitler, who called the book “dangerous democratic propaganda.”

Leaf wrote “The Story of Ferdinand” in less than an hour one rainy fall afternoon as a gift to his good friend Lawson. Contending that “dogs, rabbits, mice and goats had all been done a thousand times,” Leaf focused his story on a Spanish bull named Ferdinand who eschews fighting for flower-sniffing, refusing to fight even when forced to face the matador in the ring. Instead, Ferdinand sits down to enjoy the fragrance of the flowers adorning the hair of women spectators.

(8) PEDAL TO THE MEDAL. Pretty soon it’s the robots that will be citius, altius, fortius: “A humanoid robot carried the Olympic torch in South Korea”.

One of the traditions of the Olympics is the torch relay, in which people carry the flame from Olympia, Greece to the location of the Games. In 2018, the Olympic Games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the torch relay is currently underway. Earlier this week, the HUBO, the humanoid robot, carried the flame for part of its journey.

HUBO only covered 150 meters (about 500 feet) with the torch, but its presence was largely symbolic. As part of its torch duties, HUBO performed an example of a disaster rescue operation in which it cut a hole in a brick wall (while still holding the torch). It was intended as a “display of innovation and creativity,” according to PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee President LEE Hee-beom.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 13, 1951 The Day The Earth Stood Still received its theatrical premiere in the UK.
  • December 13, 1996 — Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! came out on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CHIMNEY SWEEP

  • Born December 13, 1925 – Dick Van Dyke

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Usually you look in the Bible for what happened “In the beginning…” but Chip Hitchcock found the answer at Mr. Boffo.

(12) BIG BIRD. When they had happy feet, you got out of their way: “Giant Prehistoric Penguins Once Swam Off The Coast Of New Zealand”.

An international team of scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of prehistoric penguin.

The bird waddled around off the east coast of New Zealand between 55 and 60 million years ago. And it was a giant as far as penguins go. The researchers estimate that it probably weighed about 220 pounds and was around 5 feet 10 inches tall.

“That’s about as tall as a medium-sized man,” says Gerald Mayr, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum in Franfurt, Germany, and the lead author of the new study published today in Nature Communications. “This particular specimen is one of the largest known fossil penguins.”

The largest living penguin, on the other hand, the Emperor penguin, is a good bit shorter — around 4 feet.

The scientists have named the new species Kumimanu biceae, which means ‘monster bird’ in the Maori language. (Kumi is the name of a monster in Maori mythology and manu means bird.)

The new finding is really cool, says Julia Clarke, a paleontologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who wasn’t involved in the study. “I mean, what’s not cool about a human-sized penguin?” she says.

(13) THANKS FOR YOUR TECH. Despite their service being blocked, Google will open an artificial intelligence centre in China.

Google is deepening its push into artificial intelligence (AI) by opening a research centre in China, even though its search services remain blocked in the country.

Google said the facility would be the first its kind in Asia and would aim to employ local talent.

Silicon Valley is focusing heavily on the future applications for AI.

China has also indicated strong support for AI development and for catching up with the US.

(14) DOZOIS REVIEWS. The title of his December 13 entry is “Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction” but most of it is brief descriptions of stories recently on Tor.com or in F&SF. Should that be what you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Locus Online.

(15) GLOBAL SWARMING. The BBC expects “Robot swarms to map the seafloor”.

It’s one of those truisms that we know the shape of the surface of Mars and the Moon far better than we know our own planet.

The reason for this is Earth’s oceans: they cover 71% of the globe and are impenetrable to the satellite mapping techniques we use so capably on those other worlds.

The scientific community has set itself the ambitious goal of correcting this anomaly.

The aim is to have no feature on the ocean floor larger than 100m unmapped by 2030.

It’s a huge task when you consider at the moment the vast majority of the water-covered parts of Earth are known to a resolution no better than about a kilometre.

Some big technological shifts will be required in the next 10 years to correct the picture. And that is really the raison d’être behind the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.

A $7m pot has been offered to find the systems and strategies that will bring about a step change in bathymetric (depth) mapping.

(16) PIPE DOWN. Kameron Hurley talks back to that Bitter Midlister Voice in her head, in “What Comes Next? Everything”.

… We have all met or heard from bitter midlisters. These are the people who publicly rant about how the success of their bestselling peers has nothing to do with quality, but with luck, or favoritism, and how the game is rigged against them. They bloviate on forums and social platforms about how they didn’t get the sort of success they were owed. This is often how you can differentiate the bitter midlister from those simply exhausted by the –isms inherent in publishing. Bitter midlisters feel that they are owed success by virtue of their existence, instead of simply that they understand they need to work harder in a system rigged to favor certain types of books and authors….

It used to be that when I wrote, I’d be railing against all the outside voices, the supposed gatekeepers, the editors and agents who rejected my work. As I’ve become more skilled, I realize that my greatest enemy isn’t them at all, and never was. My greatest enemy these days is just myself, and the BMV™.

I have a great deal to achieve in this, the second half of my life. The last year of horror had led me to double down on my worst tendencies, to withdraw, to simply endure. But I want the next thirty years of my life to be more than mere endurance. I want to truly thrive. I want to come into my own as a skilled artist, as a novelist. It’s always been my goal to be an exceptionally skilled novelist, the best, and I won’t get there by hiding in my house in Ohio with a pillow over my head and nursing the BMV™

(17) COULD HOLD A THOUSAND ROSETTAS. “Nasa’s New Horizons probe strikes distant gold” — the target past Pluto is at least two objects.

The American space agency’s New Horizons mission has struck gold again.

After its astonishing flyby of Pluto in 2015, scientists have just discovered that the probe’s next target is not one object but very likely two.

Earth-based observations suggest the small icy world, referred to simply as MU69, has a moonlet.

It seems New Horizons will now be making a two-for-the price-of-one flyby when it has its encounter on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, 2019….

(18) TICKETY BOO. “Dracula ticks in amber tell ancient blood-sucking tale”. The BBC report reminded Chip Hitchcock of Brian Aldiss’s “Poor Little Warrior,” which describes human-size parasites (possibly ticks?) on a Brontosaurus; these are more typical in size.

Scientists say the discovery, which has echoes of Jurassic Park, is the first direct fossil evidence that ticks fed on the blood of dinosaurs.

The research is published in the journal, Nature Communications.

”Ticks parasitised feathered dinosaurs; now we have direct evidence of it,” co-researcher Dr Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History told BBC News.

…Together, these findings suggest that ticks have been sucking the blood of dinosaurs for almost 100 million years.

(19) RENDEZVOUS WITH…? Is the weird shape unnatural? Stand by, while “Interstellar asteroid checked for alien technology”.

A project searching for intelligent life in the cosmos is going to check the first known interstellar asteroid for signs of alien technology.

The odd-shaped object was detected as it sped towards the Sun on 19 October.

Its properties suggested it originated around another star, making it the first such body to be spotted in our cosmic neighbourhood.

An initiative backed by billionaire Yuri Milner will use a radio telescope to listen for signals from it.

The team’s efforts will begin on Wednesday, with astronomers observing the asteroid, which is currently speeding away from our Solar System, across four different radio frequency bands.

(20) BATTLE OF THE SJW CREDENTIALS. It’s a Conestoga catastrophe.

(21) THE SHAPE OF WATER. The Shape of Water director Guillermo del Toro appeared with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. He begins by saying his manager’s call about the Golden Globe nominations woke him up “it took me four nominations to find the glasses.”

(22) LEGO ANNIHLATION. Mark Hepworth sent the link with a note: “Either genius, or a tragic waste of Lego. The main event starts at about 2:50.”

David, Henrik and Sylvia plays with Lego. This time it’s the giant 1.2 meter, 3152 piece, 3.5 kg heavy Star Wars – Super Star Destroyer. This episode has a twist to it. We mount the Super Star Destroyer on the rocket sled and accelerate it up to 108km/h. Very rapid disassembly follows.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 11/8/17 If You Can Scroll This Pixel, You Are Driving Too Close

(1) VISIT A BRADBURY HOME. The house Ray Bradbury lived in when he was 11 years old will be included in Tucson’s Armory Park home tour, which will be happening November 12.

From the outside, Dolores and Jerry Cannon’s house looks like an antique dollhouse with a white picket fence — not the kind of place one would think the author of such celebrated books as “Farenheit 451” or the “Martian Chronicles” once lived.

But it is — Ray Bradbury called the Armory Park home in 1931, when he was just 11. You can imagine where he might have gotten some of his early inspiration on the Nov. 12th Armory Park Home Tour which will include 15 homes.

The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona at two different times during his boyhood while his father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan.

(2) NO ENVELOPE, PLEASE. Adrian Tchaikovsky’s guest post for SFFWorld, “Mad Science and Modern Warfare”, describes the tech in his MilSF novel Ironclads.

Ironclads is set in the near future. There’s a lot in the geopolitics and social elements of the book that is a direct, albeit very negative extrapolation from the way things are now. The technology, though, goes to some odd places, and I was conscious of not just pushing the envelope but ripping through it a few times. I like my science fiction, after all, and some of what Ted Regan and his squad face up against has more fiction than science to it.

“Designed for deep insertion.”

Most of Ted’s own kit, and that of his squadmates Sturgeon and Franken, is not much different to a modern military payload, but then the chief lesson Ted’s learnt about the army is that they get yesterday’s gear compared to the corporate soldiers. Hence their vehicle, the abysmally named ‘Trojan’, is not so far off a modern armoured car – resilient and rugged but, as the Englishman, Lawes, says, “what soldiers get into just before they get ****ed”. Most of the rest of their kit is drawn direct from cutting edge current tech. Their robotic pack-mule is a six-legged version of the “Big Dog” robots currently being developed, and the translation software in Ted’s helmet isn’t much beyond what advanced phone apps these days are being designed to do.

(3) BREAKTHROUGH ARCHEOLOGY. “Unearthing a masterpiece” explains how a University of Cincinnati team’s discovery of a rare Minoan sealstone in the treasure-laden tomb of a Bronze Age Greek warrior promises to rewrite the history of ancient Greek art.

[Jack Davis, the University of Cincinnati’s Carl W. Blegen professor of Greek archaeology and department head] and Stocker say the Pylos Combat Agate’s craftsmanship and exquisite detail make it the finest discovered work of glyptic art produced in the Aegean Bronze Age.

“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later,” explained Davis. “It’s a spectacular find.”

Even more extraordinary, the husband-and-wife team point out, is that the meticulously carved combat scene was painstakingly etched on a piece of hard stone measuring just 3.6 centimeters, or just over 1.4 inches, in length. Indeed, many of the seal’s details, such as the intricate weaponry ornamentation and jewelry decoration, become clear only when viewed with a powerful camera lens and photomicroscopy.

“Some of the details on this are only a half-millimeter big,” said Davis. “They’re incomprehensibly small.”

…“It seems that the Minoans were producing art of the sort that no one ever imagined they were capable of producing,” explained Davis. “It shows that their ability and interest in representational art, particularly movement and human anatomy, is beyond what it was imagined to be. Combined with the stylized features, that itself is just extraordinary.”

The revelation, he and Stocker say, prompts a reconsideration of the evolution and development of Greek art.

(4) GRRM’S ROOTS. George R.R. Martin will make an appearance on a PBS series:

Day before last, I spent the afternoon with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr, taping a segment for his television series, FINDING YOUR ROOTS.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of my roots, but Dr. Gates and his crack team of DNA researchers had some revelations in store for me… and one huge shock.

PBS is currently airing Season 4 of Finding Your Roots, with episodes featuring guests Carmelo Anthony, Ava DuVernay, Téa Leoni, Ana Navarro, Bernie Sanders, Questlove, and Christopher Walken.

(5) PKD: STORY VS TUBE. Counterfeit Worlds, a blog devoted to exploring the cinematic universes of Philip K. Dick, has published a series of weekly essays comparing and contrasting each episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (which has been airing in the UK) with the original Philip K. Dick short story. The series will soon be available in the U.S. on Amazon.

Here’s a sample: “Electric Dreams Episode 1 The Hood Maker”.

The Short Story: Published in 1955, ‘The Hood Maker’ was—like the majority of Philip K. Dick’s work—incredibly prescient of the world we now live in. It opens with a scene of an old man attacked on the street by a crowd. The reason? He’s wearing a hood that blocks his mind from telepathic probe. One of the crowd cries out: “Nobody’s got a right to hide!” In today’s world where we seem happy to ‘give away’ our privacy to Facebook or Google in return for access, the world of Philip K. Dick’s hood maker is not all that alien….

The Television Episode: In bringing ‘The Hood Maker’ to television, screenwriter Matthew Graham faced a challenge. The material would obviously have to be expanded to fill an entire 50-60 minute episode of television, but exactly how that expansion was realized could make or break the show. The television version of ‘The Hood Maker’ is, as a result of that expansion, a mixed success.

Richard Madden stars as Clearance Agent Ross (using his natural Scottish accent, for a welcome change), while Holliday Grainger is the teep, Honor, assigned to him as a partner with special skills. This is a world, visually and conceptually, that is reminiscent of Blade Runner. Madden is dressed and acts like a cut-rate Rick Deckard, while the shanty towns, marketplaces, and urban environments (some shot in the Thamesmead estate made famous by Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange—instantly recognizable, despite an attempt to hide it through all the murky cinematography and constant rain) all recall scenes from the first ever Philip K. Dick big screen adaptation. It seems, as ever, that any take on Dick’s work has to somehow pay homage to the foundation text of Blade Runner….

(6) BETANCOURT NEWS. John Betancourt has launched a membership ebook site at bcmystery.com (to go with their new Black Cat Mystery Magazine).

The model is subscription-based: for $3.99/month or $11.97/year, you get 7 new crime and mystery ebooks every week. We’re going through the Wildside Press backlist (currently about 15,000 titles) and digitizing new books from estates I’ve purchased. Wildside owns or manages the copyrights to 3,500+ mysteries. For example, this year I purchased Mary Adrian’s and Zenith Brown’s copyrights (Zenith Brown published as Leslie Ford and David Frome — she was a huge name in the mystery field in the 1950s and 1960s.)

(7) HE DIDN’T GO THERE. Did John W. Campbell kill his darlings? Betancourt reports discovering a new segment of a famous old science fiction classic:

Of SFnal interest, an early draft of John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” has turned up amidst his papers. It’s 45 pages longer (!) with 99% of the new material taking place before the events in the classic story. I’m discussing what best to do with it with my subrights agents. I’m thinking of publishing it myself as a 200-copy limited hardcover edition.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 8, 1895 – X-rays discovered
  • November 8, 1969 Rod Serling’s Night Gallery aired its pilot episode.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 8, 1847 – Bram Stoker

(10) THE VIEW FROM INSIDE THE GLASS HOUSE. S.T. Joshi devoted 5,600 words to ripping the work of Brian Keene, as reported here the other day, leading to this priceless observation by Nick Mamatas:

(11) LTUE BENEFIT ANTHOLOGY. The annual Life, the Universe, & Everything (LTUE) academic symposium has been a staple of the Utah author community for decades. LTUE helps students of all ages by providing them with greatly discounted memberships. So that practice may continue, Jodan Press—in conjunction with LTUE Press—is creating a series of memorial benefit anthologies.

The first will be Trace the Stars, A Benefit Anthology in Honor of Marion K. “Doc” Smith. It will be edited by Joe Monson and Jaleta Clegg, and they have put out a call for submissions.

Trace the Stars, is a hard science fiction and space opera anthology created in honor of Marion K. “Doc” Smith. Doc was the faculty advisor to the symposium for many years before his passing in 2002. He had an especially soft spot for hard science fiction and space opera. From his nicknamesake, E.E. “Doc” Smith to Orson Scott Card, and Isaac Asimov to Arthur C. Clarke, these tales inspired him. This anthology will contain stories Doc would have loved.

We invite you to submit your new or reprint hard science fiction or space opera short stories to this anthology. Stories may be up to 17,500 words in length. Those wishing to participate should submit their stories to joe.monson.editor@gmail.com by July 31, 2018. Contracts will be sent to those whose stories are accepted by September 30, 2018. Stories not accepted for this anthology may be considered for future benefit anthologies for LTUE. The anthology is projected to be released during the LTUE symposium in February 2019 in electronic and printed form.

As this is a benefit anthology, all proceeds beyond the basic production costs (such as ISBN and any fees to set up distribution) will go toward supporting the symposium in its goals to inspire and educate authors, artists, and editors in producing the next generation of amazing speculative fiction works.

(12) MONSTROUS BAD NEWS. Dangerous games: “Caught Up In Anti-Putin Arrests, Pokemon Go Players Sent To Pokey”.

To be sure, Sunday’s arrests at Manzeh Square near the Kremlin are serious business: Authorities say 376 people described as anti-government protesters linked to the outlawed Artpodgotovka group were rounded up. The group’s exiled leader, Vyacheslav Maltsev, called the protest a part of an effort to force President Vladimir Putin to resign.

“We showed them that we’re all really trying to catch Pokémons. Police asked us why we all gathered together. One of us answered. ‘Try catching it on your own,'” one player, identified as a 24-year-old history studies graduate named Polina, told The Moscow Times.

What we might call the “Pokémon 18” now faces court hearings next week on charges of violating public assembly rules. The infraction carries a fine of 20,000 rubles ($340), according to the newspaper.

(13) A STITCH IN TIME. The BBC profiles another set of women who make significant contributions to the space program in “The women who sew for Nasa”

Without its seamstresses, many of Nasa’s key missions would never have left the ground.

From the Apollo spacesuits to the Mars rovers, women behind the scenes have stitched vital spaceflight components.

One of them is Lien Pham, a literal tailor to the stars – working in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s shield shop to create thermal blankets, essential for any spacecraft leaving Earth.

It may not sound glamorous, but Lien does work with couture materials.

The Cassini mission, her first project at Nasa, went to Saturn cloaked in a fine gold plate for durability over its 19-year journey.

(14) RECOGNIZABLE TRAITS. Sarah A. Hoyt’s survey of the characteristics of various subgenres of science fiction is interesting and entertaining — “Don’t Reinvent The Wheel”. Here are a few of her notes:

Hard SF comes next.  It’s usually — but not always — got some element of space.  Even if we’re not in it, this change whatever it is, relates to space.  Again, not always, but the ones that sell well seem to have this.  I’ve talked a bunch about the genre above, so no more on it need be said.

Next up is Time Travel science fiction.  This differs from time travel fantasy in that the mechanism is usually explained in science terms, and from time travel romance in that there are usually (but not necessarily) a lot fewer hot guys in kilts.  Either the dislocated come to the present, or we go to the past.  Your principal care should be that there should be a semi-plausible mechanism for time travel, even if it’s just “we discovered how to fold time” and if you’re taking your character into historic times, for the love of heaven, make sure you have those correct.  My favorite — to no one’s surprise — of these is The Door Into Summer which does not take you to past times.  Of those that do, the favorite is The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.  My one caveate, re: putting it on Amazon is for the love of heaven, I don’t care if you have a couple who fall in love, do not put this under time travel romance.  Do not, do not, do not.  You know not what you do.

Next up is Space Opera — my definition, which is apparently not universal — Earth is there (usually) and the humans are recognizably humans, but they have marvels of tech we can’t even guess at.  The tech or another sfnal problem (aliens!) usually provides the conflict, and there’s usually adventure, conflict, etc.  My favorite is The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.  (And by the knowledge of his time I think it was hard SF except for the sentient computer which we STILL don’t have.  Yes, I cry when Mycroft “dies” What of it?)

(15) POPPYCOCK. Shaun Duke is touchy about the notion that there is such a thing: “On the “Right” Kind of Reviews”.

One of the things that often bothers me about the reviewing process is the idea that some reviews are inherently more valuable than others. By this, I don’t mean in the sense of the quality of the writing itself; after all, some reviews really are nothing more than a quick “I liked it” or are borderline unreadable. Rather, I mean “more valuable” in the sense that different styles of reviewing are worth more than others. While I think most of us would agree that this is poppycock, there are some in the sf/f community who would honestly claim that the critical/analytical review is simply better than the others (namely, the self-reflective review).

Where this often rears its head is in the artificial divide between academia and fandom-at-large (or “serious fandom” vs. “gee-golly-joyfestival fandom”). I don’t know if this is the result of one side of fandom trying desperately to make sf/f a “serious genre” or the result of the way academics sometimes enter sf/f fandom1. But there are some who seem hell bent on treating genre and the reviews that fill up its thought chambers as though some things should be ignored in favor of more “worthy” entries. I sometimes call these folks the Grumble Crowd2 since they are also the small group of individuals who appear to hate pretty much everything in the genre anyway — which explains why so much of what they do is write the infamous 5,000-word “critical review” with nose turned up to the Super Serious Lit God, McOrwell (or McWells or McShelley or whatever).

(16) ICE (ON) NINE. Amazing Stories shared NASA’s explanation about “Giant Ice Blades Found on Pluto”, our (former) ninth planet.

NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery.

 

(17) MARVEL’S LOCKJAW. Call me suspicious, but I’m inclined to be skeptical when I see that the author of a comic book about a dog is named “Kibblesmith.”

He’s been a breakout star since he could bark, a faithful sidekick to his Inhuman masters, and has helped protect an empire. Now, he’s got his own mission to take on — Marvel is excited to announce LOCKJAW #1, a new four-part mini written by Daniel Kibblesmith with art by Carlos Villa.

When Lockjaw finds out his long-lost siblings are in danger, he’ll embark on a journey which will result in a teleporting, mind-bending adventure. “We’re super excited about this book. Daniel Kibblesmith—a hilarious writer who works on The Late Show and recently published a book called Santa’s Husband—has cooked up an incredibly fun, heart-filled romp around the Marvel Universe,” said series editor Wil Moss. “Back in BLACK BOLT #5, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Frazer Irving finally settled the mystery of Lockjaw’s origin: He’s definitely a dog, birthed by a dog, who happens to have the power of teleportation. But now we’re going even further: How did Lockjaw obtain that power? And is he really the only Inhuman dog in the universe? So in issue #1, we find out that Lockjaw’s got brothers and sisters. From there, we’ll be following everybody’s best friend around the universe as he tracks down his siblings—along with a surprising companion, D-Man! It’s gonna be a fantastic ride, all beautifully illustrated by up-and-comer Carlos Villa! So grab on to the leash and come with!”

You heard us: Grab a leash, prepare your mind, and teleport along with Lockjaw when LOCKJAW #1 hits comic shops this February!

(19) ANOTHER OLD NEIGHBORHOOD. See photos of “The birth, life, and death of old Penn Station” at NY Curbed. Andrew Porter recalls that the hotel across the street from the station was the site of numerous comics and SF conventions, including the 1967 Worldcon and SFWA banquets, etc. Porter says:

The Pennsylvania Hotel was built directly across the street, to capture the trade of those using the Pennsylvania Railroad to get to NYC. At one time, the hotel had ballrooms (replaced with TV studios), swimming pools, etc. Renamed the Statler-Hilton in the 1960s, re-renamed the Pennsylvania Hotel in recent decades. The hotel’s phone number remains PEnnsylvania 6-5000, also a famous swing tune written by Glenn Miller, whose band played there before World War Two.

The current owners of the hotel planned to tear it down, replace it with an 80-story office building (shades of Penn Station!) but those plans fell through a couple of years ago.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/29/17 Have Space Suit, Would Travel, But Ain’t Got No Visa

(1) SLOWER THAN EMPIRES AND HALF VAST. It all seems to obvious now. CheatSheet explains: “’Star Wars’: Why Delaying ‘Episode VIII: The Last Jedi’ Was the Right Call”.

From there, the plan was to release Episode VIII  (now officially titled The Last Jedi) a quick five months later, with each subsequent sequel and spinoff releasing in May of their respective years. Recent events though have put that schedule in jeopardy, culminating in a massive seven-month delayOur first hint at this possibility came courtesy of Meet the Movie Press, with host Jeff Sneider reporting on rewrites for Rian Johnson’s script that pushed the beginning of production out to February (initial plans had production scheduled to begin in September 2015). Already under the gun with the minuscule five-month gap between Rogue One and Episode VIII, the call was made official by Lucasfilm: The sequel to The Force Awakens will now release December 17, 2017.

…More than anything, the May release of Episode VIII would have been a nightmare from the marketing side. The Force Awakens released its first teaser almost exactly a year before its premiere. To follow a similar plan, Episode VIII would need a teaser by May of this year, all while Rogue One tries to get itself heard above the din of the main trilogy ahead of its own December release. The end result would have drowned out Rogue One and kept everyone’s eyes fixed on May 2017. With a year of spacing now between the two films, Lucasfilm no longer runs the risk of making people feel inundated by a revived franchise that’s already permeating every facet of our pop culture.

(2) KICKSTARTER SUCCESSS. Matt Godwin’s crowdfunded Latin@ Rising gets favorable notice from a San Antonio news outlet — “Anthology gathers best Latino sci-fi stories” in MySA.com.

Matt Goodwin compares “Latin@ Rising,” the new anthology of science fiction from San Antonio’s Wings Press, to an eclectic literary mix tape or playlist “in which there is an ebb and flow as you move through the loud and the brash, the quiet and the thoughtful.”

The latter might be Carmen Maria Machado’s “Difficult at Parties,” a first-person, present-tense story told as if through a camera lens about a woman struggling to return to some semblance of normal life after a sexual assault. As tension builds, she discovers she has developed a disturbing new psychic power.

On the other hand, Giannina Braschi’s “Death of a Businessman” is the cacophonous opening to a novel titled “The United States of Banana,” which is the author’s response to 9/11: “I saw the wife of the businessman enter the shop of Stanley, the cobbler, with a pink ticket in her hand. The wife had come to claim the shoes of the businessman. After all, they had found the feet, and she wanted to bury the feet with the shoes.”

(3) BOYCOTT WHEN CONVENIENT. Charles Stross says he’s canceling GoH appearance at Fencon XIV and won’t be making any other US appearances after that — “Policy change: future US visits”. However, he’s not cancelling a business trip to New York or attendance at Boskone because that would cost him money.

…Consequently I’m revising my plans for future visits to the United States.

I’ll be in New York and Boston for business meetings and Boskone in mid-February (I unwisely booked non-refundable flights and hotel nights before the election), but I am cancelling all subsequent visits for now. In particular, this means that I will no longer be appearing as guest of honor at Fencon XIV in Texas in September.

…As for why I’m cancelling this appearance … I have two fears.

Firstly, at this point it is clear that things are going to get worse. The Muslim ban is only the start; in view of the Administration’s actions on Holocaust Memorial Day and the anti-semitism of his base, I think it highly likely that Jews and Lefists will be in his sights as well. (As a foreign national of Jewish extraction and a member of a left wing political party, that’s me in that corner.)

Secondly, I don’t want to do anything that might be appear to be an endorsement of any actions the Trump administration might take between now and September. While it’s possible that there won’t be any more bad things between now and then (in which case I will apologize again to the Fencon committee), I find that hard to believe; equally possibly, there might well be a fresh outrage of even larger dimensions right before my trip, in which case my presence would be seen by onlookers as tacit acceptance or even collaboration.

As for my worst case nightmare scenario? Given the reshuffle on the National Security Council and the prominence of white supremacists and neo-nazis in this Administration I can’t help wondering if the ground isn’t being laid for a Reichstag Fire by way of something like Operation Northwoods. In which case, for me to continue to plan to travel to the United States in eight months time would be as unwise as it would have been to plan in February 1933 to travel to Germany in September of that year: it might be survivable, but it would nevertheless be hazardous….

(4) DICKINSON OBIT. Andrew Porter reports —

Originally from Leeds, England, fan Mike Dickinson, 69, died from cancer on January 20th. He had been in poor health for a year since being hit by a car, and then was diagnosed with lung cancer.

With David Pringle, he co-chaired Yorcon, the 1979 Eastercon, in Leeds, and was toastmaster of Yorcon II in 1981..

Among fanzines he published were the one-off fanzine Adsum in 1978; with Alan Dorey the one-off Sirius; three issues of Bar Trek with Lee Montgomerie; in 1979, the 95-97th issue of Vector for the British SF Association; and, in 1984, Spaghetti Junction.

David Pringle writes, “He was a mainstay of the Leeds SF group which met every Friday evening from some time in 1974 onwards, initially in a pub called The Victoria and later in one called the West Riding. That petered out in the 1980s — after I’d left Leeds in 1982, and after Mike and his partner Jackie went abroad for a couple of years, teaching English as a foreign language in Italy.”

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 29, 1845 — Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven,” beginning “Once upon a midnight dreary,” is published on this day in the New York Evening Mirror.
  • January 29, 1924 — Carl Taylor’s ice cream cone-rolling machine patented.
  • January 29, 1964 Stanley Kubrck’s timeless Dr. Strangelove opens simultaneously in the UK and USA. It was James Earl Jones’ first movie role.

(6) QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” ~ George Orwell

(7) ALL THE ROAD RAGE. My daughter liked playing on Wii, but I drove off the road so many times in one of those Mario Bros. games I would never be the kind of customer for this platform that this collector is — “Guy completes entire Wii library, and it’s massive”

Your stack of old Wii games pales in comparison to this guy’s collection. Nintendo Age forum user Aaron Norton, who goes by Nintendo Twizer, has posted pictures of his entire Wii library collection, and it’s ridiculous.

According to Norton, the Wii had 1,262 game releases in North America. His collection doesn’t include variants, like different cover arts, collector’s editions, or Nintendo Selects, which were discounted re-releases of popular games. It also doesn’t include demo discs or games that were released in two-packs later on, like the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy bundle.

(8) JUST DROPPING IN. What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? NASA’s video “A Colorful ‘Landing’ on Pluto” simulates the ride down.

This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto — starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon — and leading up to an eventual ride in for a “landing” on the shoreline of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planitia.

To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.

After a 9.5-year voyage covering more than three billion miles, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto. Carrying powerful telescopic cameras that could spot features smaller than a football field, New Horizons sent back hundreds of images of Pluto and its moons that show how dynamic and fascinating their surfaces are.

 

(9) RHYME AND REASON. The Science Fiction Poetry Association has started a blog, SPECPO, with a flurry of interesting posts. SFPA President Bryan Thao Worra introduced it on Facebook:

Some of you may have noticed we had a soft-launch of the new blog for the Science Fiction Poetry Association, SPECPO. This will be where we hope to share and archive more member news, interviews, reviews, readings, announcements, and shareable items with one another in a more timely and entertaining way.

To keep it clear: From an organization standpoint, SPECPO does NOT replace Star*Line as the official newsletter of the SFPA for more formal matters that require members atte…ntion, such as voting or other issues outlined in our bylaws and constitution. But SPECPO can serve as a space to post reminders and clarifying commentary and frequently unofficial viewpoints, particularly from guest posters (which will be clearly marked as such when appropriate).

The hope is that this will facilitate conversations on speculative poetry for those who aren’t actively on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, and to provide diverse content that’s reasonably easy to search back for, given the often overwhelming flurry of items that can come up on our list-serv and other forums. This is a work in progress, but I hope you enjoy what we’re putting together and that many of you will volunteer to be guest contributors! 🙂

Keep inspired and keep creating!

(10) DEFINE SPECULATIVE. Just like defining science fiction gives rise to controversies, so does the effort to define speculative poetry. SFPA’s Shannon Connor Winward asked people what is and isn’t “speculative” in a poll on her website. Now the results are in.

In November 2016, the SFPA officers published an informal online survey entitled “What Is Speculative Poetry”. The main purpose of this survey was to determine whether there is an overall consensus among the membership regarding what genres or sub-genres of poetry belong under the heading “speculative”, assuming no other genre elements are present. The results are posted below.

Survey Results

As indicated in the graph and table below, the results of the “What Is Speculative Poetry” survey represent a wide spectrum of opinion regarding what counts as “speculative”.  On the upper end of consensus, we find categories that are understood across the literary landscape as falling within the speculative umbrella, including Science Fiction, Space science & exploration, Fantasy, Magic, Supernatural Horror, Myth and Folklore, Fairy Tales, Alternative History, SF&F pop culture, Superheroes, Surrealism, Slipstream, Fabulism, and Weird and “What If”.

Genres that fell more towards the middle of the spectrum—that is, those receiving support by 40-65%  of responders, included Science (physics, chemistry, biology, etc), Domestic Fabulism, Dinosaurs, “Interstitial” works, biographies of speculative poets, and poems in which traditional SF&F tropes as literary device (analogy, simile).

On the lower end of the spectrum—those genres that are most controversial, according to responders—we find Bizzaro, SF&F tropes as metaphor (bit of inconsistency there), biographies of scientists and (non-speculative) poets, Mundane Horror, Nature, Religion, Gender, Real history, Cowboy & Western, and Romance.

… Based on the results, the answer to that question is clear as mud–yes, there is consensus, and no, there really isn’t.  Are we surprised? Not really!

Nevertheless, it is the consensus of the SFPA executive committee that this survey was, at least, an interesting experiment.  We feel that you, our members and colleagues, will also find it interesting, and that, in regards to eligibility for our awards and publications, this survey can also be a useful tool to future SFPA editors and award Chairs, who are tasked with answering the practical question, “What is speculative poetry?

(11) HOUSE DIVIDED. Shannon Connor Winward has also released the results of a poll about a more specific question – “SFPA ‘Rhysling Maximum Length’ Survey Report” . Despite the narrower question, there was even sharper division.

One such discussion pertained to the Rhysling award “Long Poem” category – specifically, what, if anything, should be done with especially long poems that are nominated for the award.  Several members voiced concerns that poems above a certain length might strain the budget for the Rhysling anthology by adding in extra pages and printing costs.  Others expressed the idea that particularly long poems might be better considered as a distinct genre, rather than competing against poems of a more easily-consumed length.

In response to these concerns, the SFPA officers published an online survey entitled “Rhysling Maximum Length”, in November 2016.

Question #1: Should there be an upper line limit to long length Rhysling nominated poems?

While not every participant responded to all six questions; this fundamental question received exactly 100 responses, revealing a pure 50/50 split in member opinion:

No – 50 (50%)

Yes – 50 (50%)

Question #2: If yes, what should the upper limit be?

Assuming the membership voted in favor of an upper line limit for poems in the “Long Poem” Rhysling category, it would be necessary to define said limit.

The first option, “9 pages / 5K words / 500 lines” was designed to dovetail upper length limit for Rhysling “Long Poems” with the minimum length requirements for the SFPA’s Elgin Award for book-length works.  Out of 51 responses, this option received a majority vote.

9 pages / 5K words / 500 lines – 30 (59%)

Other – 21 (41%)

(12) TRADING PRICES. If you already ordered this Gauntlet Press at the original $150 price you saved $50. Maybe more

When we priced the lettered edition of John Russo’s Night of the Living Dead we were told that George Romero would not be signing the lettered edition (even though we had a preface he wrote). Now Romero has agreed to sign that edition. His signing makes this an event book, therefore we are increasing the price of the lettered edition to $200. The only reason we would increase the price of a book is if we had someone sign our lettered edition we hadn’t expected; someone truly collectible. The good news is that anyone who has already purchased the lettered edition for $150 won’t have to pay a penny more. We don’t believe we should make those who pre-ordered a book pay more if we increase its price. Those who pre-ordered get the same lettered edition, signed by Russo and Romero, as anyone who orders now. And, a word to the wise…we are trying to get other major names to sign the book so the price might increase again. Order now and you get the book for $200 regardless whomever else we get to sign.

(13) MARTIAN CHRONICLER. In 2009, Ray Bradbury made his last visit to JPL to celebrate the success of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andew Porter, and Mark-kitteh for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

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