Pixel Scroll 12/8/18 Science Fiction Is What I Yell “ZAP!” For When I Throw At People

(1) WHITTAKER SHALL RETURN.The Hollywood Reporter quashes rumors to the contrary: “Jodie Whittaker Confirms Return for ‘Doctor Who’ Season 12”. Shame on rumor-spreading clickbait sites that got fans all stirred up about this, like, uh — let’s go right to the story, shall we?

The first female Doctor Who, Jodie Whittaker, will be returning for another season. 

While it was largely presumed that Whittaker wouldn’t be handing over her sonic screwdriver anytime soon, the typically tight-tipped BBC hadn’t yet confirmed who would be playing Doctor Who for season 12 of the cult sci-fi series, and there was always the chance that she could go the way of Christopher Eccleston, who managed just one stint as the Time Lord. 

“I really can’t wait to step back in and get to work again,” Whittaker told The Hollywood Reporter.”It’s such an incredible role. It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and I’m not quite ready to hand it over yet.”

(2) NEW SFF ZINE DEBUTES NEXT WEEKEND. Future Science Fiction Digest, a new quarterly publication with a strong focus on translation and international fiction, will be available December 15, with the stories to be posted on the web over the next several months

It is a collaboration between Future Affairs Administration (a media and technology brand in China) and UFO Publishing (a small press from Brooklyn, NY) and is edited by Alex Shvartsman.

Our first issue features fiction from the United States, China, Nigeria, Italy, and the Ukraine, as well as several articles, totaling 65,000 words. It will be published on December 15, with stories posted on the web over the course of several months. The next issue will be published on March 15.

(3) TODAY’S BRADBURY REFERENCE. Dennis Howard got permission to share this image with File 770 readers:

My ex emailed me this photo she took at Walmart and asked if I remembered Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Jar”. Of course, I remembered that creepy episode based on a Ray Bradbury story. I wonder if the manufacturer of this thing remembers.

(4) KGB. The hosts of the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel, present Maria Dahvana Headley & Nicole Kornher-Stace on December 19.

Maria Dahvana Headley

Maria Dahvana Headley is a New York Times-bestselling author of seven books, most recently The Mere Wife,a contemporary retelling of Beowulf for the McD imprint at Farrar, Straus& Giroux, which will be followed in 2019 by a new translation of Beowulf, for the same publisher. She’s also the author of the young adult novels Magonia and Aerie. With Neil Gaiman, she edited Unnatural Creatures, and with Kat Howard, she wrote The End of the Sentence. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Awards, and included in many Year’s Bests, including Best American Fantasy & Science Fiction, in which, this year, she has two stories. @MariaDahvana on Twitter, or www.mariadahvanaheadley.com

Nicole Kornher-Stace

Nicole Kornher-Stace is the author of Desideria, The Winter Triptych, the Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp, and its sequel, LatchkeyHer short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex, and Fantasy, as well as many anthologiesShe lives in New Paltz, NY with her family. She can be found online at www.nicolekornherstace.com, on Facebook, or onTwitter @wirewalking.

Things begin Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs), New York, NY.

(5) PRATCHETT REFERENCE. Quoting an article by Simon Ings in the December 1 Financial Times about artists who have residencies at the CERN particle physics laboratory —

In The Science of Discworld 4: Judgment Day, mathematician Ian Stewart and reproductive biologist Jack Cohen have fun at the expense of the particle physics community.  Imagine, they say, a group of blind sages at a hotel, poking at a foyer piano.  After some hours, they arrive at an elegant theory about what a piano is–one that involves sound, frequency, harmony, and the material properties of piano strings.

Then one of their number, still not satisfied, suggests that they carry the piano upstairs and drop it from the roof. This they do–and spend the rest of the day dreaming up and knocking over countless ugly hypotheses  involving hypothetical ‘trangons’ and ‘thudons’ and, oh I don’t know, ‘crash bosons.’

(6) BUTLER. Samuel Delany encourages sff readers to get familiar with this Octavia Butler story and a parallel case of injustice.

Three years before she died, Octavia E. Butler wrote her last two science fiction stories: One of them, “Amnesty,” was published in 2003. Though it received no awards, it is arguably the most important SF story written in this the last quarter of a century. It is the penultimate story in the revised and expanded edition of this book (2005). You should have read it but if, for some reason, you haven’t; then you should learn who the models for the alien “Communities” were and the story’s general political inspiration. It is one of the last two story in the second edition of this book.
Wikipedia is a good start. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wen_Ho_Lee> After you familiarize yourself with this frightening case of injustice, probably you should read the story again.

(7) IMAGINING TECH. Brian Merchant covers the sci-fi/industrial complex for Medium: “Nike and Boeing Are Paying Sci-Fi Writers to Predict Their Futures”.

One of the most influential product prototypes of the 21st century wasn’t dreamed up in Cupertino or Mountain View. Its development began around a half-century ago, in the pages of a monthly pulp fiction mag.

In 1956, Philip K. Dick published a short story that follows the tribulations of a police chief in a future marked by predictive computers, humans wired to machines, and screen-based video communications. Dick’s work inspired a generation of scientists and engineers to think deeply about that kind of future. To adapt that same story into a $100 million Hollywood film 50 years later, Steven Spielberg sent his production designer, Alex McDowell, to MIT. There, a pioneering researcher?—?and lifelong Dickfan?—?named John Underkoffler was experimenting with ways to let people manipulate data with gloved hands. In 2002, a version of his prototype was featured in the film, where it quickly became one of the most important fictional user interfaces since the heyday of Star Trek. Bas Ording, one of the chief UI designers of the original iPhone, told me his work was inspired directly by the gesture-based system showcased in Minority Report.

For the past century, this messy, looping process?—?in which science fiction writers imagine the fabric of various futures, then the generation reared on those visions sets about bringing them into being?—?has yielded some of our most enduring technologies and products. The late sci-fi author Thomas Disch called it “creative visualization” and noted there was no more persuasive example of its power “than the way the rocket-ship daydreams of the early twentieth century evolved into NASA’s hardware.” Submarines, cellphones, and e-readers all evolved along these lines.

Minority Report produced a hundred patents and helped rapidly mainstream the concept of gesture-based computing?—?not just the iPhone but all touchscreen tablets, the Kinect, the Wii?—?and became cultural shorthand for anyone looking to point their ventures toward the future.

(8) SEIDEL OBIT. Myla Seidel, who more fans would have known as Anne Cox, died December 7 reports her son Kevin. Ed and Anne Cox were among the first fans I met in person in the Seventies. They later divorced. Ed died in 1997, and the last time I saw Anne was at a memorial gathering for him.

Ed Cox and Anne Cox (Myla Seidel).

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 8, 1954 Atomic Kid, starring Mickey Rooney, was released on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 8, 1861 Georges Méliès. Director of A Trip To The Moon which I know was one of Kage Baker’s most-liked films. It surely must be one of the earliest genre films and also one of the most visually iconic with the rocket ship stuck in the face of the moon. He did some other other genre shorts such as Baron Munchausen’s Dream and The Legend of Rip Van Winkle. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1894 E.C.Segar. Creator of Popeye who of course is genre.Who could not watch Altman’s film and not know that? Segar created the character who first appeared in 1929 in Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. Fantagraphics has published a six-volume book set reprinting all Thimble Theatre daily and Sunday strips from 1928–38. (Died 1938.)
  • Born December 8, 1950 Rick Baker,68. Baker won the Academy Award for Best Makeup a record seven times from a record eleven nominations, beginning when he won the first award given for An American Werewolf in London. So what else is he know for? Oh I’m not listing everything but his first was The Thing with Two Heads and I’ll single out The Exorcist, Star Wars, The Howling which I love, Starman for the Starman transformation, Beast design on the Beauty and the Beast series and Hellboy. 
  • Born December 8, 1951Brian Attebery, 67. If I was putting together a library of reference works right now, Attebery would be high on the list of authors at the center of my shopping list. I think The Fantasy Tradition in American Literature: From Irving to Le Guin is still essential reading and his Parabolas of Science Fiction recently published with Veronica Hollinger is very close to a Grand Unification Theory of the Genre. 
  • Born December 8, 1965David Harewood, 53. First genre appearance is the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North (Billie Piper plays the lead). He played Tuck in the BBC’s Robin Hood series and showed up as Joshua Naismith in Doctor Who’s ‘The End of Time ‘ episode. Currently he plays two separate characters on Supergirl, J’onnJ’onzz/Martian Manhunter / Hank Henshaw and Cyborg Superman. 
  • Born December 8, 1976 Dominic Monaghan, 42. He  played Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck in Peter Jackson’s version of the Lord of the Rings.He’s also the narrator of Ringers: Lord of the Fans, a look at the early days of the Tolkien fandom when it was part of the hippie culture. He has a role as Maverick in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and will be appearing in the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode IX.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Shoe questions the constant recycling of familiar movie franchises. Sort of.
  • Incidental Comics has a book lover’s holiday wish list.

(12) KEY INGREDIENTS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Have you ever felt the need to spend $250 on a set of replacement keycaps for your computer keyboard? If so, Novel Keys has you covered with this set captioned in Aurebesh characters. SYFY Wire has the full story (“Star Wars keyboard senses a great disturbance in your command of Aurebesh”). The keycaps are expected to ship“late April 2019” for preorders through 5 January. Two models are available,with only Aurebesh or with English legends added.

Alright, C-3PO, it’s time to break out those awesome translating skills you’re always humblebragging about — and while you’re at it, break out your wallet, too. Star Wars has just licensed its first-ever official computer keyboard replacement set, coded in Aurebesh, the written version of the official language spoken throughout the Galactic Empire.

This new key replacement set is color-themed to appeal more to the Death Star crowd than to supporters of the gauzy-hued Rebellion. That means don’t even bother looking for X-Wing symbols and Yoda silhouettes here; rather, the Galactic Empire DSA Set sports the cool iconography of the galactic alphabet, plus some killer stand-in Dark Side symbols (like TIE Fighters, AT-ATs, and Darth Vader helmets) for commonly used commands. A red lightsaber in place of an enter/return key? Swish, swish.

(13) THOSE WERE THE DAYS. An article in the December 1 Financial Times by David McWilliams about the possibility that Brexit would lead to the unification of Northern Ireland with Ireland includes this ST:TNGreference:

In 2990 an episode in the third series of Star Trek:  The Next Generation was deemed so incendiary that it was censored in Britain and Ireland.  In that Episode, “The High Ground,’the Starship Enterprise’s android officer data, musing on terrorism, noted from the vantage point of the year 2364 that Ireland had been unified in 2024. The episode was pulled for fear it might encourage more political violence; 1990 was the year the IRA bombed the London Stock Exchange, assassinated Conservative political Ian Gow and when 81 people on both sides of the conflict were murdered in Northern Ireland.

(14) EVEN OLDER DAYS. At theinferor4, Paul Di Filippo shared an antique poem he rediscovered: “Lament for 1999 from the Year 1911”.

…Think of the thrill to him who first took flight,

When all the vast familiar continent

Of air was unexplored….

(15) PLASTIC RAPS. A character who debuted in 1941 might be getting his own movie. The Hollywood Reporter thinks “‘Plastic Man’ Could Be DC’s Answer to ‘Deadpool'”.

And not just because both characters are dressed in red, have criminal backgrounds and smart mouths that don’t know when to shut up. That Warner Bros. is developing a Plastic Man movie perhaps shouldn’t come as quite the surprise that it does; after all, not only did the DC superhero headline his own ABC animated series for a couple of years, but he’s also the perfect choice to give Warners something that it never even knew it needed: A comedic foil to the rest of the DC cinematic universe.

This wouldn’t be a new role for Plas, as the character’s often called for short. Unusually for a superhero — and especially one whose origin involves having been a criminal who was left for dead by his gang after being exposed to some mysterious chemicals— Plastic Man has traditionally been a comedy character throughout his 75-plus year career. Indeed, his 1970s animated series underscored this appeal by being called The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show. (The series ran from 1979 through 1981; he’s also appeared in other DC animated shows, including Batman:The Brave and the Bold and Justice League Action.)

(16) HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL HAGGIS. NPR interviews the star of “‘Anna And The Apocalypse’: The Scottish Zombie Christmas High School Musical”.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a [checks notes] Scottish zombie Christmas high school musical.

It drew raves in Great Britain, and has now been released in the United States. It’s based on a short film by the writer-director Ryan McHenry, who died of bone cancer at age 27, and did not get to complete this feature-length production.

Anna and the Apocalypse is directed by John McPhail. Ella Hunt (who is English) stars as the young Scottish teen who’s about to graduate from school, but first has to contend with the zombie takeover of her village and perhaps the world — with a little help from her friends.

“I love that this film glorifies teenage friendship and not teenage romance,” Hunt says in an interview. “To me, it’s a much truer thing to glorify.”

(17) BONDING. In the Weekly Standard, Tony Mecia visits the James Bond museum in Murren, Switzerland, which was built to be Blofeld’s lair in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and which gives visitors the chance to pick up a red phone to hear instructions from M and “graft a photo of your face onto (George) Lazenby’s face as he aims a pistol.” —“High-Altitude Hideout”

In real life, the filming location called Piz Gloria was not destroyed. For decades, it was merely an observation point and restaurant. In 2013, its owners decided it needed more. They added a small museum, known as“Bond World 007,” and have been adding Bond-related features ever since.

Among serious Bond fans, the site “is the Holy Grail of Bond film locations,” says Martijn Mulder, a Dutch journalist who leads occasional Bond tours and coauthored On the Tracks of 007: A Field Guide to the Exotic James Bond Filming Locations Around the World. That’s because filmmakers bankrolled construction of Piz Gloria, which looks just as it did in the late 1960s.

Bond enthusiasts list other prime destinations, too, such as a site near Phuket, Thailand, that has come to be called “James Bond Island” after appearing in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. Last year, Mulder led 40 people on a two-week tour of Japan to visit locations used in 1967’s You Only Live Twice. He was forced to scrap a two-hour hike to a volcano crater that was an earlier Blofeld hideout because the volcano showed signs of erupting.

(18) MAN’S BEST FIEND. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett begins “Bad Mad Vlad” with this unusual comparison —

Vampires are a lot like dogs, you know.

No. Don’t scoff. They really are if you think about it in just the wrong way (that’s always been the Doctor Strangemind way of course).

Here, let me explain.

So what is the single most noticeable feature of the animal known as dog? That’s right, the seemingly endless plasticity of the species.The fact is humanity has been able to twist and turn and breed dogs into a startling wide array of forms from poodles to corgis to dobermans. If the average Martian visited our planet what are the chances that this visitor from space would guess right off that all dogs are of the same species? Not likely is it? Instead the average Martian would probably decide that dogs make no sense to them. Which is probably why they don’t visit Earth all that often,they find this planet too weird and confusing to be a satisfactory holiday destination.

So what has this to do with vampires I’ve no doubt you’re wondering. Well, the answer to that is to point out how humanity has been able to twist and turn and write vampires into a startling wide array of types and situations, far more than any other supernatural creature….

(19) FIGHT TO THE FINNISH. NPR hopes “World’s First Insect Vaccine Could Help Bees Fight Off Deadly Disease”.

Bees may soon get an ally in their fight against bacterial disease — one of the most serious threats the pollinators face — in the form of an edible vaccine. That’s the promise held out by researchers in Finland, who say they’ve made the first-ever vaccine for insects, aimed at helping struggling honeybee populations.

The scientists are targeting one of bees’ most deadly enemies:American foulbrood, or AFB, an infectious disease that devastates hives and can spread at a calamitous rate. Often introduced by nurse bees, the disease works by bacteria feeding on larvae — and then generating more spores, to spread further.

(20) BREAKING MARTIAN WIND. BBC shares a sound clip: “Nasa’s InSight probe listens to Martian winds”.

The British seismometer package carried on Nasa’s InSight lander detected the vibrations from Martian air as it rushed over the probe’s solar panels.

“The solar panels on the lander’s sides are perfect acoustic receivers,” said Prof Tom Pike, who leads the seismometer experiment from Imperial College London.

“It’s like InSight is cupping its ears.”

Prof Pike compares the effect to a flag in the wind.As a flag breaks up the wind, it creates oscillations in frequency that the human ear perceives as flapping.

(21) DRAGONS HAVE GAS. Space flatulence is a real problem closer to home. Wired lays out the story: “A SpaceX Delivery Capsule May Be Contaminating the ISS”. Evidence is accumulating that the Dragon capsule is outgassing and the contaminants are, well, accumulating on the outside of the International Space Station.

In February 2017, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted through low clouds, pushing a Dragon capsule toward orbit. Among the spare parts and food, an important piece of scientific cargo, called SAGE III  rumbled upward. Once installed on the International Space Station, SAGE would peer back and measure ozone molecules and aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere. Its older siblings (SAGEs I and II) had revealed both the growth of the gaping ozone hole and,after humans decided to stop spraying Freon everywhere, its subsequent recovery.

This third kid, then, had a lot to live up to. Like its environmentally conscious predecessors, SAGE III is super sensitive. Because it needs unpolluted conditions to operate optimally, it includes contamination sensors that keep an eye on whether and how its environment might be messing up its measurements. Those sensors soon came in handy: When the next three Dragons docked at the Space Station, over the following months, SAGE experienced unexplained spikes in contamination. Something on these Dragons was outgassing—releasing molecules beyond the expected, and perhaps the acceptable, levels. And those molecules were sticking to SAGE.

(22) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Artificial Intelligence That Deleted a Century” on YouTube, Tom Scott shows what happened when a program released in 2028 to hunt down copyright violators on YouTube achieves artificial general intelligence.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/13/18 It Was The Time Of The Pixel In The Year Of Scroll One

(1) DALEK WITH A COIFFURE. Look familiar? No, it’s not Davy Crockett…

(2) W76 MEMBER COMMUNICATIONS ASSET. Kevin Roche, Chair of Worldcon 76 in San Jose, announced: “Several members of the convention volunteered to moderate a Worldcon 76 resource sharing/membership transfer group for us on FaceBook. We happily took them up on the offer!”

WorldCon 76 Membership Transfer and Resource Sharing

This is the official page for WorldCon76 attendees seeking to connect with each other in order to transfer memberships and to share resources and information.

(3) SUPER SHRINKAGE. Kinky Data compares “Superheroes’ Height Vs
the Actor’s Actual Height”
. (Carl Slaughter wonders, “How exactly did they discover the height of so many comic book superheroes?”)

(4) WITH NO CLINCHES. The author of Archivist Wasp explains it all to you at The Book Smugglers: “Alternatives to Romance: Nicole Kornher-Stace on writing platonic relationships in Archivist Wasp and Latchkey (& a Giveaway)”.

In the three years since Archivist Wasp was published, there’s one thing about it that keeps coming up in reviews and reader comments/questions again and again. Which is fine by me, since I haven’t gotten tired of talking about it yet! (Hilariously, after signing up to write this post, I got put on a Readercon panel on the same topic. They said: Tell us why you should be on this
panel
. I said: I never shut up about this topic. Ever. It is the soapbox I will die on. And they gave me the panel! Readercon = BEST CON.)

And so, without further ado! The full, entire, possibly long story of why I write all my close relationships as friendships instead of romances, the pros and cons of same, and how I wish more books/movies/shows/etc would do so. (I do. So much. Universe, take note.)

(5) VALUES. A WisCon panel writeup by KJ – “Creativity and ‘Productivity’: A Panel Report and Meditiation”.

…One of the most interesting things to happen was also one of the first: as the panelists were introducing themselves, the moderator, Rachel Kronick, wondered out loud why, in these situations, we introduce ourselves with our resumes. Whether she’d planned to say it or was struck by inspiration in the moment, it was the perfect thing to get me thinking about how much we in fandom tend to define ourselves by our work, by our accomplishments. An immediate mindset shift, in the moment. I only had one panel after this one, and although I still gave the “resume” introduction, it was definitely in my mind.

One of the first topics for the panelists was the source of productivity as a measure of worth. Capitalism came in for a lot of the blame, of course, but the panelists also brought up Puritanism: if something is fun, it can’t be valuable. It’s the work ethic baked into American society (which I’ve most often heard called the “Protestant work ethic“: a tenant of Calvinism claiming you can tell who will be “saved” by their dedication to hard work and frugal living). When we measure our value by how much we produce, and how much we are paid for that production (whether that be in money, goodwill, or fandom attention), it’s really easy to think of any time not spent “producing” as “wasted.” This is absolutely a trap that I fall into, and although I fight it, I know I don’t succeed very well.

On the flip side, we have fandom as a capitalist activity: measuring your dedication as a fan by how much money you spend on Stuff. Books, movie tickets, video and other media, branded merch, costumes, going to cons… fannishness can get really expensive, and too much gatekeeping goes on around activities that cost money and time. Although this didn’t come up at the panel, as I type up these thoughts now I see a tension between the work ethic that values austerity on one hand, and a culture that demands voracious consumption on the other. This double bind isn’t unique to fandom, of course, but I’ve never really thought to apply it in this context before.

(6) THREATS. CBR.com reports “Vertigo Writer Receives Veiled Death Threats Ahead of SDCC Appearance”.

Comic-Con International in San Diego is a place where fans from all across the world gather to share their love of all things pop-culture, from comic books to movies to video games, etc. However, some fans, sadly, choose to share hate instead, as evidenced by a social media post from Border Town writer Eric M. Esquivel.

“I woke up to death threats (‘We’re not sending I.C.E. to Comic Con, we’re sending exterminators’),” Esquivel’s tweet reads. Even in the face of verbal assault, though, the writer remained positive, instead choosing to focus on the joy of holding the first issue of his and artist Ramon Villalobos’ soon-to-be-released Border Town in his hands….

(7) WE INTERRUPT YOUR FOOTBALL. For this important announcement:

Comparable information appears in this brief commercial:

(8) PRISONER COLLECTIBLE. Titan Comics is publishing The Prisoner: Kirby & Kane Artist Edition HC Vol.1 this week, “a hard cover edition of never-seen-before work based on the iconic TV series, created by two legends of comic book art.”

This special oversized collectors edition will contain the entire 17 page Jack Kirby strip, the first six pages of which were inked and lettered by Mike Royer, as well as 18 pages of pencils drawn by artist Gil Kane. In addition to reprinting these rare pages, this collection also features unmissable bonus archive material including facsimiles of the original script as written by Steve Englehart.

This book is part of several releases from Titan to mark the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner – join us in celebrating this cult classic!

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 13, 1984 The Last Starfighter premiered on this day

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 13, 1940 – Sir Patrick Stewart. Various Trek affairs but also roles in the X-Men franchise and Dune, and myriad voice work such as The Pagemaster, Steamboy, The Snow Queen and Gnomeo & Juliet. Yeah another animated gnome film.
  • Born July 13, 1942 – Harrison Ford. The Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises, also Cowboys & Aliens and Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049.
  • Born July 13 – Steve McQueen, 30. Yes the grandson of that actor. Genre roles in The Vampire DiariesThreshold, Piranha 3D and the forthcoming Legacies series which apparently features werewolf / vampire hybrids.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • I read the news today — PVP.

(12) WALKING HOUSEPLANT.

(13) LANGUAGE CREATOR. Lauren Christensen takes you “Inside
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Notebooks, a Glimpse of the Master Philologist at Work”

in her New York Times review.

From Qenya to Gnomish to Sindarin, the “high elven-speech” J. R. R. Tolkien uses amply throughout the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy was the product of almost 40 years of what the English author once referred to as his “secret vice”: glossopoeia, or language creation. As Carl F. Hostetter writes in an essay in Catherine McIlwaine’s “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth,” his was a labor “performed and preserved on thousands of manuscript pages containing Tolkien’s minutely detailed description and unceasing elaboration (and revision) of not just one but rather of a family of invented languages, which can be collectively called the Elvish tongues.”

Although not alone in this practice, Tolkien was the first philologist to establish such a network of evolving dialects that derive from one another “by slowly accumulating changes and divergences in form across time from a common ancestor species.” Tolkien drew this partial table of sound-correspondences among five Elvish languages — Qenya, Telerin, Noldorin, Ilkorin and Danian — around 1940….

(14) LOAD THE CANON. EpicPew gives a Catholic perspective on “Saint Tolkien’:
Why This English Don Is on the Path to Sainthood”
.

Evangelizing through beauty

J.R.R. Tolkien, in this writer’s opinion, has one of the best innate grasps of evangelizing through beauty of anyone writing in the 20th century. Why? Because his work is permeated with a Catholic understanding of beauty. That which is beautiful is pleasing to the senses, but doesn’t stop at a surface level, rather acting as an icon that draws you into deeper realities and encounter with the Divine.

The world Tolkien created in Middle Earth is steeped in this beauty and nobility that raises your mind upwards and calls you to higher things. You can’t readhis epic work without feeling stirred to your very bones to live a life of greatness, rather than comfort.

Is it possible that even Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI himself was thinking of the small hobbit Frodo Baggins when he exhorted us that “we are not made for comfort, but for greatness”?

Well, maybe not.

But it certainly applies, and the story is a grace of inspiration and encouragement for those who wish to take the path less traveled and embark on that narrower road which leads to salvation….

…Tolkien’s potential patronage

Who would turn to Tolkien with prayer requests? He’s the potential patron saint of the hopeless, the wanderers, and (of course) romantics.

(15) STRANGE HORIZONS. Charles Payseur’s short fiction reviews resume with: “Quick Sips – Strange Horizons 07/02/2018 & 07/09/2018”.

Two new issues of Strange Horizons means two new pieces of short fiction (one short story, one novelette) and two new poems, all of which look at distance and drive, humans and aliens. For the fiction, there’s not a whole lot to link the pieces together, one of which looks at language and abuse, the other at speed and drive and competition. Similarly, the poem isn’t incredibly similar either, one looking at the inhuman at the end of a long mission, the other at changes in body and relationship while also showing those changes striking toward a more stable truth. What does link everything together, though, is a wonderful and moving style, and a range of speculative visions all reflecting back the ways people are hurt by others, and the way people hurt themselves, all reaching for connection, community, and belonging. To the reviews!

(16) SHADOW SUN SEVEN. Paul Weimer has a “Microreview [book] Shadow Sun Seven by Spencer Ellsworth” posted today at Nerds of a Feather.

The complex tale of Jaqi, reluctant opposition to a Resistance that has in turn just toppled an oppressive human galactic empire, continues in Shadow Sun Seven, sequel to Spencer Ellsworth debut novella A Red Peace. This second novella jumps off not long after the first. It should be said that discussion of this second volume, a short novel, does necessarily spoil the first novella.

That novella, which posited, explored and depicted a wide ranging universe with half-Jorians, lots of biological weapons and creatures that would fit in a Kameron Hurley novel, and a net of complicated characters. By the end of the first novella, Jaqi, Half-Jorian, and Half Human pilot, had managed to spirit away two children from the Resistance that are looking for them at any cost, and had slowly started to learn that she has a destiny and power that she never knew, a destiny and power tied to the original, extinct race of which she is just a hybrid descendant gene engineered cross. Or is she?…

(17) WOMEN OF SFF IN THE SEVENTIES. James Davis Nicoll reaches names beginning with the letter R in “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part IX” at Tor.com.

Pamela Sargent first caught my eye with 1976’s Cloned
Lives
, which takes a refreshingly mundane look at the lives of the world’s first clones.
Their unusual parentage does not confer on them any particular special abilities like telepathy or telekinesis. Her Venus terraforming epic (Venus of Dreams, Venus of Shadows, and Child of Venus) may have been denied its proper place in the public psyche due to a somewhat troubled publication history; all three are in print and worth consideration. Also of interest is Sargent’s Women of Wonder series (Women of Wonder, More Women of Wonder, and The New Women of Wonder, followed in the 1990s by Women of Wonder: The Classic Years, and Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years). The difficulty of tracking down the rights at this late date probably precludes reprints, but used copies are easily obtained.

(18) HUGO NOMINEE RANKINGS. Joe Sherry’s series reaches the nonfiction: “Reading the Hugos: Related Work”. Surprisingly, he hasn’t read Ellison, but now he has read the Ellison bio —

A Lit Fuse: Here’s my genre confession: I can’t be sure if I’ve actually read Harlan Ellison before…

Nat Segaloff’s biography is necessarily a slanted one, biased towards Ellison. Segaloff doesn’t hide Ellison’s flaws, but he does minimize them and give them Ellison’s context and Ellison’s shading. As a biography, it’s a fairly well written and comprehensive one. If I were a fan of Ellison, I would probably be thrilled by detail of the man’s life. Also, a
person doesn’t need to be likeable to be interesting or to be worth writing about. This is good, because I’m not sure I would have liked him much. I’m quite sure he wouldn’t have liked me. The problem is that there is a bit of tedium to the writing and the recounting of Ellison’s life. Time will tell if A Lit Fuse turns out to be an important science fiction biography in the long run, but it is certainly a less vital and immediate work on the Hugo ballot.

(19) RETRO FAN HUGO RESOURCE. And when you’re all done with this year’s Hugo reading, you can get started deciding what to nominate for next year’s Retro-Hugos. The Fanac.org site has hundreds of zines already available.

Fan History Spotlight:

Next year’s Retro Hugos will cover 1943, and we’ve been focusing on that year as we put up additional fanzines. We have almost 250 zines from 1943 already online. Remember, before the internet, before inexpensive long distance phone calls, before air travel was common, the world came to your door by the mailbox, twice a day. The byplay, the chatting, the fannish flame wars were all conducted on paper. In 1943, FAPA (aka the Fantasy Amateur Press Association) sent out over 1,200 pages of fannish writing in 4 mailings. We have 1,196 pages of those online for you now. FAPA is a real window on the fannish world of that era, with contributions by all the BNFs of the time, including Ackerman, Ashley, Joquel, Laney, Shaw, Speer, Tucker, Warner, Widner, Wolheim and more. There’s the first publication of Lovecraft’s “Fungi From Yuggoth” Cycle. There’s a “Decimal Classification of Fantastic Fiction” by Sam Russell, and interesting in-context materials and commentary on Degler and the Cosmic Circle controversy. But wait! There’s more. See for yourself at http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/FAPA_Mailings/.

(20) 95 IS THE NEW 79. The Stan Lee hype machine gets back in gear – Syfy
Wire
has the story:“Stan Lee in first of new series of videos: ‘I’m back again with new energy'”

In a tweet posted on Thursday, Lee appeared in the first video since POW! Entertainment reasserted control over the creator’s social media channels. He joked about his age (“It’s taken me a while to get used to being 79 years old,” said the 95-year-old Lee) and promised his fans that he’s back.

(21) HARLAN STORIES. Ted White’s piece for the Falls Church News-Press,
“Remembering Harlan Ellison and His Place in My Life”, is not exactly a eulogy.

…Proximity to me reinforced in Harlan his need to settle his
debt to me. But Harlan was scuffling as a freelance writer; he had no regular income and coming up with an extra several hundred dollars wasn’t easy for him. But one August evening we went to a party in the Bronx and there encountered Ken, whom Harlan hadn’t seen in nearly five years. Harlan braced him for the money. Ken had effectively stolen the typewriter after all, and clearly owed Harlan, who owed me. Harlan was forceful in his demands, but Ken, still without a real income of his own (later he would edit a movie magazine), gave Harlan no
satisfaction.

But he did something else. He told his best friend about Harlan’s demand, and the colorful threats Harlan had made. His best friend told his mother. The mother was a crackpot who routinely complained to the FBI that her son’s antagonists were “Commies.” She called the NYPD and told them Harlan was a heroin dealer.

Ironically, Harlan did not use drugs or intoxicants of any kind, abstaining from both alcohol and caffeine (but he did sometimes smoke cigarettes or a pipe, I think for the image more than any other reason). When we went to jazz clubs together he ordered a glass of orange juice, which he could pass off as a Screwdriver.

When the police arrived at his door, Harlan was flabbergasted at the notion that he was a drug dealer, and freely allowed them to search his small apartment. In his closet, on a high shelf and in a box, they found three things: a small revolver, a set of brass knuckles, and a switchblade. They promptly arrested Harlan for possessing an unlicensed gun. New York City had very tough gun laws….

(22) TIME CAPSULE. Joe Siclari says the 1992 MagiCon time capsule will be opened this year in San Jose.

At closing ceremonies for MagiCon, the 1992 Worldcon, we created a time capsule. It was loaded with convention publications and the like, but at the ceremony something unexpected happened. Folks in the audience wanted to have their part of fandom memorialized in the time capsule, and came forward with all kinds of things to put in it. Well, at this year’s Worldcon, the time capsule will be opened. The contents will be put on exhibit. Has fandom really changed that much? If you are at the con, come and find out. We’ll also have a FANAC table with some interesting materials, so come get your contributor ribbon or sticker, and say hi.

(23) STALKED BY SFWA. Cue the Jaws theme…

(24) INSTANT MASTERPIECE. Camestros Felapton recently graced the comments section with this example of Bohemian Rhap Music:

Is this more sci-fi?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a pixel
No escape to reality
Open your files
Look up on the web and see…

I’m just a pixel
Not a John Williams symphony
Because I’m easy come, easy go
Scrolling high, scroll low
Any way the pix scrolls
Doesn’t really matter to me, to me

Mamaaa just filmed a cat
Put a phone just near its head
Pushed the shutter, as it fed
Mamaaa, my likes have just begun
But now I’ve gone and thrown them all away
Mamaaaaaa, ooooooooh
Didn’t mean to make you share
If I don’t tweet this time again tomorrow
Carry on, carry on as if nothing viral matters

Too late, my GIF has gone
Of cat shivers down its spine
Like it’s eating the sublime
Goodbye, everybody
I’ve got to mute
Gonna leave social media to face the truth
Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, oooooooh (Anyway the pix scrolls…)
I don’t want these likes
Sometimes wish I’d never posted it at all

[Epic Guitar Solo]
[Sudden change of tempo]

I made an animated GIF of a dog
Scary pooch, Scary pooch, will you do the Fandango?
Bad contrast and lighting, very, very frightening me
(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo is irrelevant
Irrelevant-ant-ant
I’m just a pixel nobody loves me
He’s just a pixel from a scroll family
Spare him his life from this GIF travesty

Easy come, easy go, will you post this scroll?
Pixellah! No, we will not post this scroll
(Post this scroll!)
Pixellah! No, we will not post this scroll
(Post this scroll!)
Pixellah! We will not post this scroll
(Post this scroll!)(Will not post this scroll)
(Post this scroll!)(Will not post this scroll)
(Never, never, never, never)
Post this scro-o-o-oll
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
(Oh mama mia, mama mia) Mama Mia, ABBA is in this scroll!
The iTunes Store put soundtrack aside for me, for me, for me!

[Heavy rock break]

So you think you can quote me and make fun of my cat?
So you think you can repost that picture of it in a hat?
Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here

[Guitar Solo]
(Oooh yeah, Oooh yeah)

Nothing viral matters
Anyone can see
Nothing viral matters
Everything viral matters to me

Any way the pix scrolls….

[gong]

[Thanks to Kathy Sullivan, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Kevin Roche, James Davis Nicoll, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has Amazon declared war on authors?

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

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

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

What the Hell?

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

The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

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

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock studied the canine cosmology in Pooch Cafe.

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

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

(Other 16 are NSF just about everything….)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But enough about reality.

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

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

The contestant got it right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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