Pixel Scroll 8/25/20 Headless Pixel

(1) NEW BEOWULF. Maria Dahvana Headley’s “new, feminist translation of Beowulf“ was released today by Macmillan.


Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf—and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world—there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.

Read Headley’s Introduction here.

…And so, I offer to the banquet table this translation, done by an American woman born in the year 1977, a person who grew up surrounded by sled dogs, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and bubbling natural hot springs nestled in the wild high desert of Idaho, a person who, if we were looking at the poem’s categories, would fall much closer in original habitat to Grendel and his mother than to Beowulf or even the lesser denizens of Hrothgar’s court.

I came to this project as a novelist, interested specifically in rendering the story continuously and clearly, while also creating a text that feels as bloody and juicy as I think it ought to feel. Despite its reputation to generations of unwilling students, forced as freshmen into arduous translations, Beowulf is a living text in a dead language, the kind of thing meant to be shouted over a crowd of drunk celebrants. Even though it was probably written down in the quiet confines of a scriptorium, Beowulf is not a quiet poem. It’s a dazzling, furious, funny, vicious, desperate, hungry, beautiful, mutinous, maudlin, supernatural, rapturous shout.

In contrast to the methods of some previous translators, I let the poem’s story lead me to its style. The lines in this translation were structured for speaking, and for speaking in contemporary rhythms. The poets I’m most interested in are those who use language as instrument, inventing words and creating forms as necessary, in the service of voice. I come from the land of cowboy poets, and while theirs is not the style I used for this translation, I did spend a lot of time imagining the narrator as an old-timer at the end of the bar, periodically pounding his glass and demanding another. I saw it with my own eyes.

(2) RAISEDWULF. Raised By Wolves continues to look wild as hell in new trailer for Ridley Scott’s HBO Max series” says A.V.Club.

Members of the very small but very vocal group of Alien: Covenant supporters (and its smaller Prometheus chapter) are probably a little extra excited for Raised By WolvesHBO Max’s new sci-fi series is executive produced by Ridley Scott, who also directed the first two episodes of a story that definitely looks like it’s treading thematic territory similar to Covenant—or what might’ve come after Covenant if Scott had been allowed to complete his trilogy. Scripted and created by Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), Raised By Wolves follows a pair of androids (including one played by Amanda Collin, serving serious Michael Fassbender android vibes) raising human children on a distant planet, where they’re teaching the little kiddos to be atheists. Everything is just fine until some other humans show up with their strong religious views and hatred of robots:

(3) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN AT BAKER STREET. Netflix dropped a trailer for Enola Holmes, based on the novels by Nancy Springer about Sherlock Holmes’s little sister.

When Enola Holmes—Sherlock’s teen sister—discovers her mother missing, she sets off to find her, becoming a super-sleuth in her own right as she outwits her famous brother and unravels a dangerous conspiracy around a mysterious young Lord. Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, with Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham-Carter.

(4) FOCUS ON FEAR. S.M. Carrière lets everyone know “Fans Can Be Scary” at Black Gate.

…However, there is absolutely no way that fans should get to dictate the way a story unravels. They do not get to demand of an author to end the series in the way that is not what the writer envisioned, or what the story demanded of them. Fans have no right to force the inclusion of events that do not ring true for that author or the story they’re trying to tell.

Yet, large clusters of fans believe that it is, in fact their right. Those folks, it seems, are not above threatening to end the careers of the author(s) that displeased them, some even going so far as to send death threats. No example of this sticks in my mind than the threats sent to author Veronica Roth, who displeased fans by killing off her protagonist (bold move. I can respect that), leaving the love interest to deal with that trauma.

…What scares me even more, however, is the idea that someone with too much time and a deeply entrenched sense of entitlement might show up at my door one day. I’ve heard first hand accounts of this happening to YouTubers and other celebrities, and the idea alone is enough to make me hyperventilate. Perhaps my home in the country will be an underground bunker…

This fear is, of course, compounded by gender. I’ve worked my fair share of gigs in retail with overly amorous clientele. I’ve been stalked by blokes who thought that a friendly sales person was actually a flirt. I’ve been hounded by men insistent that I am their future wife and they would treat me so well, if only I could be made to see it. I’ve had some of those men turn aggressive and threatening when I state in no uncertain terms that I am not interested. I’ve lost sleep and had panic attacks (and before anyone decides to explain to me that it’s not that bad, I highly recommend a little site called When Women Refuse).

Fans showing up at my door, even if just for a chat or an autograph, would absolutely trigger all of this nonsense. They would be a thoroughly unwelcome presence in my space. The utter lack of concern they show for a person’s need for privacy and even their mental well-being is frightening. Just thinking about it is making me get clammy.

(5) NASA. A Dublin 2019 Worldcon Special Guest is in the news.

(6) GET UP TO SPEED. Nisi Shawl’s “A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction” is an annotated list of 40 black science fiction works that are important to an understanding of the history of Black Science Fiction. Shawl comments in the introduction —

…Just one caveat before you start ordering and downloading and diving into things: some of these works could be construed as fantasy rather than science fiction. The distinction between these two imaginative genres is often blurred, and it’s especially hard to make out their boundaries when exploring the writing of African-descended authors. Why? Because access to the scientific knowledge from which SF often derives has been denied to people of the African diaspora for much of history. And the classification of what is and is not scientific knowledge hasn’t been under our control–it’s frequently a matter of dispute. Also, it’s sometimes difficult to understand the history of black science fiction without reference to the history of black fantasy.

Keeping in mind how inextricably the two genres are interwoven, I include works of fantasy in this history of black science fiction crash course reading list, though I’m careful to note their presence with a parenthetical F at the end of each entry, thusly: (F).

(7) STAY THE COURSE. And Worlds Without End has created a “A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction Reading List” to help readers track their progress, plus a “Roll-Your-Own Reading Challenge” on reading “Speculative Fiction by Authors of Colour”. (Note: You must be a logged in member of WWEnd to join this challenge. Join WWEnd).

(8) ESSENCE OF WONDER. This week’s Essence of Wonder with Gadi Evron features “Nisi Shawl on Music, Spirituality, and the Creative Process”.

Nisi Shawl will join Gadi to co-host a show on music and spirituality in the creative process. Nisi will be joined by Iya Oshunmiwa for a discussion of West African religious traditions and how Nisi’s work relates to those traditions. Oshun Miwa is a Priest of Oshun and professional storyteller?. Nisi and Gadi will explore the role of music in Nisi’s life and work, and we’ll also have a reading from Nisi’s work.

(9) CLASHING THE SYMBOLS. Ros Anderson holds forth “On the Difficulty of Finding a Distinct Human Voice for an AI heroine”, and finds help in a thousand-year-old book.

…I stopped reading the AI books once I hit the first unfathomable equation. Instead, I found myself carrying The Pillow Book around with me, as if it were a balm that I wanted always to have on hand. In Japan, The Pillow Book is a set school text. It has been hailed as one of the earliest works of literature by a woman. But I believe that what has truly given it longevity—across a whole millennium—is Sei’s own distinctive, seductive voice.

Her writing feels like a witty and perceptive friend, cutting in her opinions, but never too serious. Some have even called Shonagon—mistakenly—shallow. The Pillow Book has been described as a 1,000-year-old proto-blog. It has some of that same immediacy and intimacy. That sense of fun.

When I went to my friends’ café each morning to write my own book, The Pillow Book would be tucked in my bag. Something of its timeless narrator slipped a circuit and made it into my writing too. Sylv.ie’s voice began to emerge: a mix of politeness, restraint and disarming honesty. Naïve and rather snobbish, but with a clear, outsider’s eye.

(10) FANFUND AUCTION AT COLUMBUS VIRTUAL NASFIC. [Item by Michael J. Lowrey.] The Fanfund Auction at the Columbus in 2020 Virtual NASFIC has closed, with total sales of US$549.01. Items sold ranged from chapbooks, to naming rights in a new shared universe. to a knitted lace shawl, to private cocktail classes, to a crocheted Irish steampunk textile postcard.

Even though it was a NASFIC, participants included (at a minimum) fen from Germany, Ireland, Poland, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.

(11) DE-BOOK ‘EM, DANNO. Smithsonian Magazine has “The Inside Story Of The $8 Million Heist From The Carnegie Library”.

…There are two types of people who frequent special collections that are open to the public: scholars who want to study something in particular, and others who just want to see something interesting. Both groups are often drawn to incunables. Books printed at the dawn of European movable type, between 1450 and 1500, incunables are old, rare and historically important. In short, an incunable is so valued and usually such a prominent holding that any thief who wanted to avoid detection would not steal one. The Oliver Room thief stole ten.

Visitors and researchers alike love old maps, and few are more impressive than those in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, commonly known as the Blaeu Atlas. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s version, printed in 1644, originally comprised three volumes containing 276 hand-colored lithographs that mapped the known world in the age of European exploration. All 276 maps were missing….

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • August 25, 1951, Space Patrol’s “A Big Wheel Named Ferris” first aired. The series was created by Mike Moser who was the series writer along with Norman Jolley. The principal cast was Ed Kemmer, Lyn Osborn, Ken Mayer, Virginia Hewitt, Nina Bara and Bela Kovacs. Although aimed at children, it had a sizeable adult following for its fifteen-minute and half-hour versions. Books, comic books and a radio series were soon to be added. Even toys would be offered to the viewers. You can watch this episode here.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born August 25, 1909 Michael Rennie. Definitely best-remembered as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. He would show up a few years later on The Lost World as Lord John Roxton, and he’s got an extensive genre series resume which counts Lost in Space as The Keeper in two episodes, The Batman as The Sandman, The Time TunnelThe Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Invaders. (Died 1971.) (CE)
  • Born August 25, 1913 – Walt Kelly.  Having acknowledged Herriman’s Krazy Kat as immortal and unique, what does that leave for Kelly’s Pogo?  There is something sublime about the Kat; but Pogo is superb.  If the Kat is brandy, say Delamain, Pogo may be bourbon, say Willett.  Here is a sample.  Here is another.  Judith Merril put Pogo in No. 6 of her Year’s Best SF.  Fantagraphics is up to vol. 6 of a complete run.  (Died 1973) [JH]
  • Born August 25, 1930 Sir Sean Connery, 90. Best film? From Russia with Love. Best SF film? Outland. Or Time Bandits you want go for silly. Worst film? Zardoz. These are my choices and yours no doubt will be different. (CE) 
  • Born August 25, 1947 – Michael Kaluta, 73.  Fifty covers, two hundred fifty interiors.  Interviewed in Realms of Fantasy.  Artbooks The Studio (with Jones, Windsor-Smith, Wrightson), The MK CollectionMK Series 2Dream Makers (with Grant, Heller, Moore, Vess, Wrightson), EchoesWings of TwilightMK Sketchbook vols. 1-4.  Comics, music albums, role-playing games, collectible cards; airplane-nose art and flight-unit patches.  Here is the Baycon ’87 Program Book.  Here is Davy.  Here is Vector 276.  Here is Deep Signal.  Shazam Award.  Inkpot.  Chesley for Artistic Achievement.  Spectrum Grand Master.  [JH]
  • Born August 25, 1955 Simon R. Green, 65. I’ll confess that I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written save his NYT best-selling Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. (Shudder! I did see it.) Favorite series? The NightsideHawk & Fisher and Secret History are my all-time favorite ones with Drinking Midnight Wine the novel I’ve re-read the most. His only active series now is the Ishmael Jones fantasy mystery and it’s quite excellent. (CE) 
  • Born August 25, 1956 – Chris Barkley, 64.  Con-goer; several hundred including some three dozen Worldcons when I last tried to count; I often find him doing Press Relations.  Campaigned for a Young Adult award; we now have the Lodestar.  Accessibility and diversity, too, get his labors.  Vigorous contributor to File 770.  Fan Guest of Honor at Windycon 2019.  “You have to walk a fine line between your utter conviction that you are right AND feeling flexible enough in your beliefs that you can admit you are wrong or can compromise.”  [JH]
  • Born August 25, 1958 Tim Burton, 61. Beetlejuice is by far my favorite film by him. His Batman is interesting. Read that comment as you will. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is definitely more Dahlish than the first take was, and Sleepy Hollow is just damn weird. (CE)
  • Born August 25, 1959 – Georges T. Dodds, Ph.D., 61.  Essays, reviews, in ArgentusSF SiteWARP.  Edited The Missing Link and Other Tales of Ape-Men.  Did an adaptation of Lemina’s To-Ho and the Gold Destroyers.  Note that his reviews include The Ghost Book of Charles Lindley, Viscount Halifax; Mary Shelley’s Last Man; and Brooks’ Freddy the Detective.  [JH]
  • Born August 25, 1967 – Laura Anne Gilman, 53. Thirty novels, six dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors, some under other names; more outside our field.  Managed a wine-tasting room awhile.  Interviewed in After HoursApexElectric VelocipedeFantasyInterGalactic Medicine ShowStrange Horizons.  “Writer, editor, tired person”.  Amen.  [JH]
  • Born August 25, 1970 Chris Roberson, 50. Brilliant writer. I strongly recommend his Recondito series, Firewalk and Firewalkers. The Spencer Finch series is also worth reading. He’s also written two Warhammer novels, Dawn of War and Sons of Dorn, and Is publisher with his wife Allison Baker of Monkey Brain Books. He won a Sidewise Awards for Alternate History for his O One novella which I’ve not read. (CE)   
  • Born August 25, 1971 – Lisa Papademetriou, 49.  A dozen novels, some under another name; more outside our field; many for young adults, but your mileage may vary.  Ranks The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy about the same as The Wave in the Mind.  [JH]
  • Born August 25, 1987 Blake Lively, 33. She was Adaline Bowman in The Age of Adaline, a neat meditation upon life and death. She also played Carol Ferris in that Green Lantern film but the less said about it the better. Her very first role was as Trixie / Tooth Fairy in The Sandman at age eleven. (CE)

(14) COMICS SECTION.

(15) THEME PARK ON THE ROCKS. “Evermore faces financial ruin after failing to pay contractors”Utah Business has the story.

“My wife [Patrice] and I have cried many nights over this project,” says Ken Bretschneider, founder and CEO at Evermore Park. “This is not a position we wanted or should have gotten into.” 

Only eight years ago, Bretschneider invested more than $37 million (and counting) of his own fortune largely from the sale of his previous startup DigiCert in 2012 to build a sort of live-action theme park in Pleasant Grove, Utah. He hired dozens of contracted construction workers to bring his medieval vision to life, but as plans became more and more grandiose, Bretschneider found himself strapped for cash and unable to make payments to the teams building the park.

Bretschneider claims he’s been fighting for additional funding something he says has been hard to procure for a unique project such as this but until he does, he owes millions of dollars in construction, mechanic, and landscaping fees to workers across the valley who have yet to be paid, sparking a number of controversies across the state…. 

(16) DREAM FOUNDRY WRITING CONTEST. The Dream Foundry Writing Contest is taking submissions through October 11, 2020. The contest  will be judged by Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine. Full guidelines here.

We’re looking for complete and finalized stories of speculative fiction of up to 10,000 words. This year, we’re proud to announce monetary prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.

1st: $1000; 2nd: $500; 3rd: $200

There is no submission fee. All rights remain with the creators.

At the Dream Foundry blog there’s “An Interview with the Dream Foundry’s Writing Contest Coordinator Vajra Chandrasekera”.

Professional development spaces for emerging writers are not necessarily easily accessible to those who need it most. How do you see opportunities like the Dream Foundry’s writing contest fitting into the professional development of new and upcoming writers?

I think nine-tenths of “professional development” for a short story writer at the beginning of their career is learning how to make their own practice effective. This means figuring out what they want to write about and what they’re good at writing, and writing more stories where they do those things, ideally at the same time. Sometimes it’s just that a contest gives you a clearly defined set of constraints to work within, which can be very productive. Sometimes it’s good to hang out in a discord with a bunch of other people who are trying to solve the same problems you are—so you can commiserate and share experiences and animal pictures, if you’re into that sort of thing, and even if not, these are good spaces to eventually share knowledge about the industry, too.

(17) DREAM FOUNDRY ART CONTEST. The new Dream Foundry Art Contest coordinator is Dante Luiz, an illustrator and occasional writer from southern Brazil. He is one of the two Art Directors for Strange Horizons, and his first graphic novel was published in 2020 by comiXology Originals (CREMA, written by Johnnie Christmas).

The Dream Foundry Art Contest will run from 1 September 1 to November 1, 2020. The first place winner for the art contest will receive $1000. Guidelines are located here.

(18) LIFESAVING APP. From the creator of The Oatmeal.

About

This app was designed by Matt Inman, creator of The Oatmeal.

It was built and developed by Nick Inman, Matthew’s brother.

FAQ

When will it be available in the Google Play store?
It will be available at some point in space and time.

The app didn’t work for me! What should I do?
Try vigorously shaking your phone and rebooting your router.
If that fails, try blowing profusely into your phone’s charge port.
If that fails, accept that the universe is fundamentally against you.
Just please don’t email us about it.

Does this app work on dogs?
No. That’s why it has the word “cat” in the title.

What about tigers?
Yes, it is tiger-compatible.

(19) ANOTHER ORDINARY DAY ON THE INTERNET. Think of your experiences on Facebook. Ever wonder how you got into arguments you don’t even want to be in? Ever had to block someone? Now think of having to deal with 800 times as much of it as you do. Okay. Now you’re ready to hear Larry Correia explain “About My ‘Tone’ On Social Media” [Internet Archive] on Monster Hunter Nation.

…I had one last month, with 8,000 comments, where I ended up blocking over 100 people in 24 hours. That was nuts.

Apparently, where all these people come from, blundering into a stranger’s living room and screaming in his face is a “conversation”. And if you don’t put up with their endless abuse, you’re obviously a bad person.

Awesome.  I’ll be the bad guy.

And it is bipartisan. Though I’d say 80% of the time I’m yelled at by annoying leftists, 15% it’s annoying right wingers, and 5% Too Fucking Insane To Register On Any Regular Political Scale.

That’s for controversial posts. For regular, boring, not controversial posts at all, I can count on getting lots of “helpful” suggestions. These mean well, but then never stop coming, and most of them are so awful they really make my head hurt. You’re right, sir, I should totally install more electrical outlets into my closet. Why thank you, ma’am, I should totally disregard my decade of professional experience and write my books according to your really awful suggestions.

Then there’s the people who think they are funny, who aren’t. I’ve heard the same tired jokes 10,000 times. I can’t post about the availability of a new product without Shut Up And Take My Money memes, and I can never mention food spicier than white bread without listening to dozens of people whine about how weak their bowels are…

(20) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Gizmodo warns “Trillions of Rogue Planets Could Be Careening Through Our Galaxy”. And none of them are insured.

A new estimate suggests the Milky Way contains more free-floating planets than stars. It’s a big claim, but an upcoming mission might actually prove it.

Rogue planets in our galaxy could number in the tens of billions and possibly even trillions, according to new research published in the Astronomical Journal. If confirmed, it means the Milky Way hosts more unbound, starless planets than it does stars. This estimate was developed in preparation for the Roman Galactic Exoplanet Survey (RGES), a five-year mission that’s scheduled to start in about five to six years.

(21) THE SHAPE OF THINGS THAT ARE PRESENT. “Johannes Kepler and COVID-19: 400 Years of Mathematical Modeling” on the Library of Congress Blog.

…Because viruses have such small genetic codes they have to be very efficient when it comes to building their shapes. Many, such as COVID-19, have polyhedral designs. A polyhedron is a three-dimensional shape with flat faces that are made of two-dimensional polygons. They have straight edges and sharp corners. As geometric figures, they have been studied since the time of the ancient Greeks.

In the early 17th century the astronomer Johannes Kepler, perhaps best known for his derivation of the laws of planetary motion, was fascinated by these shapes. In 1619, exactly 400 years before the outbreak of COVID-19, he produced a book called “Harmonices Mundi” (“Harmony of the Worlds”) that peered into and tried to understand these simple yet mysterious forms. The Library has copies of this work in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division.

(22) DOMESTIC FELICITY. What will SJWs think of the idea you can heat your home with cats? “Cat v panel heater: Which is better?” at New Zealand blog One Roof.

… How many cats do you need to heat an energy-efficient home?

It’s the question on everybody’s lips. Well, maybe not everyone’s lips, and it’s possible this is a niche topic, but it is relevant.

A 3kg cat has a heat output of 14.8 watts, or 129.65 kilowatt-hours – the metric commonly used by power companies to show you how much energy you’re using.

These numbers are important when it comes to the design and building of energy-efficient homes, as the heat output of random things like cats can lead to overheating.

For example, to be certified Passive House, a building must have an annual heating demand of less than 15kWh per square metre to maintain a comfortable temperature.

For a typical Kiwi house of 150sqm, the annual energy demand would be 2250kWh. The number of cats required, therefore, would be 17.35, but let’s avoid chopping cats and round up to 18 whole cats.

(23) WILL THEY MAKE YOU GLAZE OVER? Food & Wine  promises “These New Dunkin’ Beers Are Made with Actual Donuts”.

At this point, an endless parade of brands is dabbling in craft beer collaborations: bands like The Flaming Lips, clothing lines like L.L. Bean, and even the mustard maker French’s. But few companies have been as aggressive in their beer collab-ing ways as Dunkin’. After some early experiments in 2017 (a pumpkin brown ale with Catawba Brewing and a coffee stout with Wormtown Brewery), the donut and coffee chain found a lasting (and larger) partner in 2018 with the Massachusetts-based Harpoon Brewing. That year, the two brands released their Dunkin’ Coffee Porter. Then, in 2019, Harpoon Dunkin Summer Coffee Pale Ale hit shelves.

Now, for the 2020 fall season, Harpoon and Dunkin’ are releasing a full lineup of four beers—including three new brews, two of which are billed as the first beers to ever be made with actual Dunkin’ donuts. And tapping into craft beer’s biggest trend, one of those is even a donut-infused hazy IPA!

Arriving this September, Harpoon and Dunkin’ are bringing back their popular Coffee Porter for the third consecutive year—and it arrives alongside a trio of new creations: Harpoon Dunkin’ Pumpkin, Harpoon Dunkin’ Boston Kreme, and Harpoon Dunkin’ Jelly Donut. The first of the three is described as a “Spiced Latte Ale” inspired by the seasonal espresso drink. The “light in color and easy-drinking” 5.2 percent ABV ale is “brewed with real pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, and a splash of coffee” to create “a perfect blend of all the autumn flavors we love, with just a touch of espresso-like roast.”…

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Game Trailers:  Fall Guys, Ultimate Knockout” on YouTube, Fandom Games takes on a multi-player game where you “use five percent of your brain” to maneuver your character through a course “that’s somewhere between Battle Royale and a Japanese game show.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, David Doering, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 5/28/20 When There Is No Pixel Tossed, Nor Wind To Scroll.

(1) PETAL PUSHERS. The latest story in ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Fourth and Most Important,” a story about coded messages, clandestine drone deliveries, and surprising alliances by Nisi Shawl.

The fourth of the Five Petals of the New Bedford Rose, Integration, is called by some its most important. Primacy of place goes to the first petal, Thought, of course—but linear primacy is deemed by practitioners of the Five Petals to be overrated.

—From “A Thousand Flowers of Thought: Schisms within the New Bedford Rose”

On Monday, June 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Nisi Shawl in conversation with Ayana Jamieson, founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network.  

(2) FIRST FIFTH. Happy blogoversary Camestros! “Happy Five Years Today”. How could we have gotten through those puppy days without you?

…The very last post of May was the other thing I needed a blog to explain: how to vote in an era of trolls https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/hugo-voting-strategy-high-bar-no-award/ What I was anticipating was more spoilery/trolling tactics in the future. The idea was that we might end up with slates every year and on the slates there would be some stuff that actually was good put there to mess with our heads — what we would later call ‘hostages’.

(3) WHAT’S ON THE MENU? Scott Edelman invites listeners to join New York Times best-selling novelist Justina Ireland in Episode 122 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Justina Ireland

Once upon a time, I had a wonderful Persian lunch with Justina Ireland at Orchard Market & Cafe outside of Baltimore. The food was delicious, and the conversation on which you were meant to eavesdrop was delightful. Unfortunately, after that, things did not go as planned.

If you want to know what I mean by that, check out our chat on the latest episode of Eating the Fantastic.

Justina Ireland is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel Dread Nation, as well as the recently published sequel Dark Divide. She’s a World Fantasy Award-winner for her former role as the co-editor in chief of FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. She also written Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon: Lando’s Luck, several novels in the middle grade fantasy series Devils’ Pass, including Evie Allen vs. the Quiz Bowl Zombies and Zach Lopez vs. the Unicorns of Doom, and many more. Vulture has called her “the most controversial figure in young-adult literature.”

We discussed whether having written zombie novels has helped her deal with the pandemic, her biggest pet peeve when she hears other writers talk about writing, where she falls in the fast vs. slow zombies debate (and how she’s managed to have the best of both worlds), our very different reasons for not having read Harry Potter, the way she avoided sequelitis in Dark Divide, what it was like playing in the Star Wars sandbox, why it’s easier to lie when writing from a first person point of view, the franchise character she most wishes she could write a novel about, the main difference between science fiction and YA communities, how Law & Order gives comfort during these trying times, and much more.

(4) WHAT THE WELL-DRESSED BIRD WILL BE READING. The Bookseller applauds as “Penguin Classics boldly goes into science fiction”.

Penguin Classics is to launch a new series of science fiction—with livery designed by Penguin art director Jim Stoddart—which will aim “to challenge stereotypes about the genre and celebrate science fiction as the essential genre of modern times”. 

Penguin Classics Science Fiction will kick off with 10 titles in August, with a further 10 to follow in November. The launch list will include two books by giants of world SF who have not often been published in English: Andreas Eschbach’s The Hair Carpet Weavers (translated by Doryl Jensen) and Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar (Amelia Gladhart). German superstar Eschbach has only had three of his more than 40 novels translated into English; The Hair Carpet Weavers is his 1995 space opera debut. The 91-year-old Argentine Gorodischer is arguably Latin America’s best-known SF writer and Trafalgar follows the titular roguish intergalatic trader through a series of adventures. 

… Other titles on the August launch are Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Edwin Abbott’s Flatland and Ten Thousand Light-years from Home by James Tiptree Jr, the pseudonym of pioneering American feminist SF writer Alice Bradley Sheldon.

(5) WHERE ELSE CAN SHE SEARCH? [Item by Cmm.]  I recently read the story “A Witch in Time” by Herb Williams for a Librivox short SF collection. It appears to be his only publication, from If magazine, February 1955. He’s new to our catalog so I’ve been trying to find any birth or death date. He is not in Wikipedia or the Science Fiction encyclopedia, and I’m not sure his Goodreads listing is accurate — I think he may be lumped under another Herb Williams there. HIs name is too common to have much luck with searching obituaries or Find A Grave, which is another of my go-tos when I’m trying to track down info on an obscure author.

I’m wondering if the name might ring a bell with you or some of the elders in the fan community as one of those authors who was mainly known as a fan but who published professionally once or twice? Anything that might give me a thread to pull, like a guy with that name who was in Chicago or something, would help.

Also if you or any of the other fandom and older-SF knowledgeable folks know of additional resources that I could try to see if I could figure out anymore would be really helpful, like maybe where If magazine’s archives are collected (if there is such a thing) or a person to reach out to who has done bibliographies or has a great memory for 50s SF authors or something?

The other possibility is if “Herb Williams” was a pseudonym used one time — sometimes taht seems to have happened in the 30s-50s era magazines when an author had two stories in the same issue. I tried searching on just the story title to see if it connects to any other author but no luck there.

(6) WOTW IS ON THE AIR. The LA Times’ Justin Chang calls “‘The Vast of Night’ is an ingenious, beautifully crafted ode to 1950s sci-fi paranoia”.

The first thing you see in “The Vast of Night,” Andrew Patterson’s ingenious and surprising debut feature, is an old 1950s-style TV set broadcasting a show called “Paradox Theater.” It’s clearly modeled on classic anthology series like “The Twilight Zone,” complete with portentous Rod Serling-esque narration that ushers us into “a realm between clandestine and forgotten,” then goes on to rattle off nearly half a dozen charmingly overwrought synonyms, including “a frequency caught between logic and myth.”

Forced to supply my own description, I’d say that “The Vast of Night” exists somewhere at the intersection of radio, television and cinema, and that it excavates some of our fondest old-timey memories of all three in order to build something playfully, strikingly new…. 

…There are lengthy passages in “The Vast of Night” when you could close your eyes with little loss of dramatic impact. And Patterson, perhaps eager to test the limits of his experiment, sometimes cuts to a black screen mid-dialogue, an audacious touch that allows the dialogue to carry the story. Elsewhere, however, the director gives you a lot to look at. Adam Dietrich’s production design is a marvel of vintage automobiles and analog recording equipment. The gifted cinematographer Miguel I. Littin-Menz pulls off a handful of arresting transitional moments, his camera showily traversing the New Mexico nightscape in sinuous extended tracking shots.

(7) DIAGNOSIS GENRE. Rob Latham surveys a specialized field in “Zones of Possibility: Science Fiction and the Coronavirus” in LA Review of Books.

…   In any case, no form of literature has more boldly confronted the possibility of global crisis and catastrophe than SF has, from its outset in the 19th century. Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel The Last Man is the quintessential tale of a worldwide pandemic — an outbreak of plague that gradually kills off the entire population, leaving at the end a single, lonely survivor. A recent essay on the novel in TLS shows how its conception emerged, in part, from a massive cholera outbreak that was exacerbated by incompetent public health measures, leading Shelley to conclude that “humanity is the author of its own disasters, even those that seem purely natural or beyond our control.” With its geographic sweep, attention to the interplay of science and politics, and vivid rendering of deserted cities and depopulated landscapes, The Last Man established a template that has been followed by most subsequent narratives of apocalyptic pandemics, in and outside the SF genre, from Stephen King’s The Stand (1978) to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014).

(8) NOVIK NEWS. Deadline reports another popular sff author’s work may get adapted into a motion picture: “Universal & Mandeville Films Partner On Naomi Novik’s ‘Scholomance’ Series”.

Universal has won the film rights for Naomi Novik’s YA novel Scholomance Random House series, putting the first novel A Deadly Education into development with Mandeville Films’ Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman.

The first book takes us into a dangerous school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die. 

(9) SAVED FROM KRYPTON’S CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. We Got This Covered says there’s yet another bonus in the director’s cut: “Justice League Snyder Cut Will Reportedly Feature Supergirl”.

Given that he recently claimed up to 75% of the movie will be footage that we’ve never seen before, Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League already looks to have enough plot threads to resolve without the possibility of introducing any more. However, the filmmaker’s time at the helm of the DCEU wasn’t exactly characterized by light and breezy narratives, with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in particular packed with enough content to fill three movies, and now that he’s finally got the chance to realize his original vision, he may as well go for broke.

In a recent watch party for Man of Steel, Snyder confirmed that a glimpse of an open pod on the Kryptonian ship was a deliberate nod towards his plans to expand the mythology and eventually introduce Supergirl into the shared universe, even though he’d already denied the very same thing two years previously….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 28, 1847 – Bithia Croker.  Irish horsewoman who hunted with the Kildare; married, moved to British India, wrote for a distraction during the hot season.  Forty-two novels (17 set in India, 1 Burma, 7 Ireland), translated into French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian; we can claim Beyond the Pale and her seven collections of shorter stories. (Died 1920.)  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1908 – Ian Fleming.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is about a flying car.  Of IF’s James Bond books, Moonraker is SF, as we discussed at Boskone L, with Peter Weston testifying where the British rocket program was at the time; at the end of the story, Bond and the girl (as she would have been called in 1955) – oh, I won’t spoil it.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1919 — Don Day. A fan active in the 1940s and ’50s In Portland, Oregon, and a member of the local club.  He was editor of The Fanscient (and of its parody, Fan-Scent), and perhaps the greatest of the early bibliographers of sf. He published bibliographies in The Fanscient and also published the Day Index, the Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950.   He ran Perri Press, a small press which produced The Fanscient and the Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950.  He chaired NorWesCon, the 1950 Worldcon, after the resignation of Jack de Courcy. (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1923 Natalie Norwick. She had a number of genre roles in the Sixties including being Martha Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a Trek episode, and appearing as Josette duPres Collins on Dark Shadows. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1929 Shane Rimmer. A Canadian actor and voice actor,  best remembered for being the voice of Scott Tracy in puppet based Thunderbirds during the Sixties. Less known was that he was in Dr. Strangelove as Captain “Ace” Owens, and Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die in uncredited roles. He even shows up in Star Wars as a Rebel Fighter Technician, again uncredited. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1930 – Frank Drake, 90.  Astronomer and astrophysicist.  National Academy of Sciences, American Acad. of Arts & Sciences.  Co-designed the Pioneer Plaques; supervised the Voyager Golden Records; thus our next-door neighbor.  Lapidarist.  Raises orchids.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1936 Fred Chappell, 84. Dagon, his first novel, retells a Cthulhu Mythos story as a realistic Southern Gothic tale. His Falco the Shadow Master’s Apprentice series has a handful of excellent stories, uncollected so far as I can tell, plus a novel, A Shadow All of Light, which is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1954 – Kees van Toorn.  Dutch fan, translator, publisher.  Chaired 48th Worldcon, at the Hague.  Served on con committees in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Canada. Two European SF Awards.  This Website https://confiction1990.com is about his Worldcon and a planned reunion.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1954 – Betsy Mitchell.  Long fruitful career at Baen, Bantam, Warner, Del Rey, editing 150 titles, several becoming N.Y. Times Best Sellers; now, Betsy Mitchell Editorial Services.  Guest of Honor at Archon XIV, 4th Street Fantasy Con (1992), Armadillocon XXII, Bosone XLI, Ad Astra XXV, Loscon XL.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1977 – Ursula Vernon.  Oor Wombat has published two dozen novels, as many shorter stories, and as many covers too, sometimes as T. Kingfisher.  Two Hugos, a Nebula, two Mythopoeic and two WSFA (Washington, D.C, SF Ass’n) Small Press awards.  Here’s her Amazon author page.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1984 Max Gladstone, 36. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novella this year. (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1985 Carey Mulligan, 35. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) UH, FELLOWSHIP, THAT’S THE WORD. End the month on a high note – Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart brings together the cast of Lord of the Rings on Sunday, May 31 at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET. Here’s a teaser with Sean Astin.

SYFY Wire reports Josh Gad has already delivered a mermaid reunion: “Splash Stars Tom Hanks & Daryl Hannah Dive Into Charity Reunion (And Talk Tail Tales)”

After posting a teaser video in which he demanded Ron Howard — who directed the classic fantasy rom-com back in 1984 — deliver Tom Hanks to viewers, both Gad and Howard made good on their tease Tuesday when they convened for a chat that included Hanks himself, as well as costars Daryl Hannah and Eugene Levy, co-writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and producer Brian Grazer. The chat doubled as a fundraiser for DIGDEEP, a nonprofit working to provide water and sanitation access to more than two million Americans who still don’t have those utilities.

(13) THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS. Bob Madle’s about to celebrate his 100th birthday on June 2. First Fandom Experience turned back the pages to acquaint readers with “Robert A. Madle In 1930s Fandom”. Lots of scans of photos and fanzine items.

… In a 2006 conversation with John L. Coker III, Madle recalled:

“My very first letter appeared in the July 1935 Pirate Stories.  I was a Gernsback fan, and anything he published I picked up.  I read his editorial in the first issue.  He said that they will publish pirate stories of the past, the present, and yes, even of the future.  So, I wrote a letter saying that they ought to publish a novel about a space pirate and they should get Edmond Hamilton to write it.  They printed the letter and I won a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories.  I was fourteen years old and I thought that this was one of the greatest things that ever happened.”

(14) BOK TALK. “Rediscovered: A Letter from Hannes Bok” at Don Herron’s website. The scan of a typewritten letter from 1943.

[Noted] book and pulp (and autograph, and letter, and miscellania) collector Kevin Cook thought some of you might like to peruse a letter the legendary fantasy artist Hannes Bok… 

(15) THEY STAB IT WITH THEIR STEELY KNIVES. James Davis Nicoll “Five SF Stories That Mix Swords and Starships” at Tor.com.

Inspired by an engaging time-filler meme on social media , my thoughts returned to that venerable roleplaying game Travellerprofiled on Tor.com earlier this year. Anyone who has played Traveller (or even just played with online character generation sites like this one) might have noticed that a surprising number of the characters one can generate are skilled with blades. This may see as an odd choice for a game like Traveller that is set in the 57th century CE, or indeed for any game in which swords and starships co-exist. Why do game authors make these choices?

(16) SOMETHING TO DO. “Ministry of Silly Walks comes to Sonning during lockdown”, a BBC video.

The residents of a Berkshire village have been filmed re-enacting one of British comedy’s most famous sketches.

Monty Python fan James Ruffell put up signs outside his house in Sonning informing people they were entering the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

He filmed the results with a motion-controlled webcam and uploaded the subsequent silliness to Facebook.

(17) WEIRD, NOT SILLY. LA’s NBC affiliate recommends you “Walk Haunted Pasadena (While Staying at Home)”.

So you’ve popped by Old Pasadena in the past, to pick up dinner or to find the perfect scarf for your mom or to search for something rosy for that one cousin who is obsessed with what happens along Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day each and every year.

But while strolling through the century-old alleys, on the way to the restaurant or shop, you suddenly feel a chill, a skin prickle, a sense that something vaporous or strange is nearby.

Is it a ghost? Or the knowledge that the historic city is a favorite among phantom fans?

Venture deeper into the strange and chilling tales of the Crown City on Friday evening, May 29.

That’s when Pasadena Walking Tours will lead its “Haunted Pasadena” tour, an at-home adventure that you can enjoy from your couch.

So, for sure: Stay in your slippers for this one and leave the sneakers by the front door.

(18) LOST AND FOUND. “Half the matter in the universe was missing – we found it hiding in the cosmos” reports Yahoo! There were several steps in finding the solution. One of them was —

…In 2007, an entirely unanticipated opportunity appeared. Duncan Lorimer, an astronomer at the University of West Virginia, reported the serendipitous discovery of a cosmological phenomenon known as a fast radio burst (FRB). FRBs are extremely brief, highly energetic pulses of radio emissions. Cosmologists and astronomers still don’t know what creates them, but they seem to come from galaxies far, far away.

As these bursts of radiation traverse the universe and pass through gasses and the theorized WHIM, they undergo something called dispersion.

The initial mysterious cause of these FRBs lasts for less a thousandth of a second and all the wavelengths start out in a tight clump. If someone was lucky enough – or unlucky enough – to be near the spot where an FRB was produced, all the wavelengths would hit them simultaneously.

But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down. The longer the wavelength, the more a radio wave “feels” the matter. Think of it like wind resistance. A bigger car feels more wind resistance than a smaller car.

The “wind resistance” effect on radio waves is incredibly small, but space is big. By the time an FRB has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths.

Therein lay the potential of FRBs to weigh the universe’s baryons, an opportunity we recognized on the spot. By measuring the spread of different wavelengths within one FRB, we could calculate exactly how much matter – how many baryons – the radio waves passed through on their way to Earth…

(19) GETTIING THE POINT. Charles Veley and Anna Elliott, in “Sherlock Holmes And The Womanly Art Of Self-Defense” on CrimeReads, discuss their series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches with Holmes and his daughter, Lucy James, and what sort of self-defense skills Victorian women had.

…A woman’s chief weapon, as the female self-defense movement began to gain traction, was the hat pin. These long (up to 6 inches), frequently jeweled pins were used to secure the elaborate hats of the day to a woman’s hair, but they could also be wielded with dangerous purpose in the event that a woman was attacked or threatened by a “masher.” In 1912, a hatpin was even used to foil an attempted robbery. Elizabeth Foley, an 18-year-old bank employee, was walking home with a male colleague who carried the entire payroll for the bank staff. They were attacked by a robber who knocked the male colleague down. But Elizabeth, undaunted, reached for her hatpin and jabbed at the robber’s face. The attacker ran away.

(20) NOT DESPICABLE THIS TIME. Gru and the Minions have made a PSA.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundation and Illumination have partnered to release a public service announcement featuring the famous Minions characters and Gru, voiced by actor Steve Carrell, to show how people can stay safe from COVID-19

[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Jon Ault, Martin Morse Wooster, John King TArpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 4/28/20 A Scroll As Small As A Footnote Is Rising From The Pixels

(1) WHAT’S THAT YOU SAY? “Majority of authors ‘hear’ their characters speak, finds study”. Details in The Guardian.

Some writers have always claimed they can hear their characters speaking, with Enid Blyton suggesting she could “watch and hear everything” and Alice Walker describing how her characters would “come for a visit … and talk”. But a new study has shown this uncanny experience is very widespread, with almost two-thirds of authors reporting that they hear their characters’ voices while they work.

Researchers at Durham University teamed up with the Guardian and the Edinburgh international book festival to survey 181 authors appearing at the 2014 and 2018 festivals. Sixty-three per cent said they heard their characters speak while writing, with 61% reporting characters were capable of acting independently….

(2) DISCOVERING ANIME. Mark Merlino, co-founder of the first furry con, has written “A brief history of the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, America’s first anime fan club” at Dogpatch Press.

… At some point (in 1977), we had managed to add material to our screenings, thanks to Marc Kausler, an animator and film collector. People with contacts in Japan began trading tapes with other fans. By that time I had my own VCR (a Sanyo V-Cord II, because it had still frame and slow-motion features, which no other consumer VCR had), and I began making copies for our (my) own video library. In May (I believe) Wendall, Judy, Robin, Fred and I met in a park near Judy’s house and decided to become the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization. I remember the weird name was Fred’s idea (but he later denied it). The reason it was called “cartoon-fantasy” is because they (not me) believed that the term “animation” was too “insider” for typical fans, though everyone knew about “cartoons”. The “fantasy” part was because we were also getting live-action adventure shows from Japan (like Ultraman, Spiderman (Jp), Tiger Mask and many 5 member “transforming ninja” team shows), which were also popular at our screenings. 

(3) BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. The April 2020 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “Daffodil’s Baby,” by Alyssa Virker. Tagline: “What if you could have a baby using an egg from your favorite celebrity?”

It was published along with a response essay, “What’s Missing From Conversations About Designer Babies” by David Plotz, former CEO of Atlas Obscura and author of the book The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank.  

The modern eugenics movement was born when Francis Galton mapped the close genetic connections between the most “eminent” men of England for his 1869 book Hereditary Genius. Ever since then, eugenicists have been scheming up ways to save society by getting the “best” among us to have more children.

And ever since then, those same eugenicists have been fretting that the rest of us—the pig-brained masses—have the wrong idea of who the “best” people are. In the 1930s, one Nobel laureate was certain that mass artificial insemination could ensure that every baby would be a Newton or Leonardo, but worried that, left to their own whims, women would pick celebrities as their sperm donors, leaving us with a trivial society of “Valentinos, Jack Dempseys, Babe Ruths, and even Al Capones.” Hello, Daffodil and Breadbowl!

(4) THE MOUSE THAT ROARED. “Disney sparks backlash with #MayThe4th tweet” – the greedy rats!

Disney has been accused of trying to claim media ownership of popular hashtag “MayThe4th” on Twitter.

The company’s streaming service, Disney Plus, encouraged fans to share their favourite Star Wars memories using the hashtag on Monday.

It followed up with a legal warning suggesting any user who tweeted the hashtag was agreeing to Disney’s terms and letting it use their content.

It backtracked after a huge protest by fans and widespread mockery.

The hashtag – a play on the franchise’s phrase, “May the force be with you,” has been used for years to coincide with the made-up fan holiday.

“Reply with your favourite #Star Wars memory and you may see it somewhere special #MayThe4th,” the company said in a tweet.

“By sharing your message with us during #MayThe4th, you agree to our use of the message and your account name in all media and our terms of use.”

Many fans rushed to share their confusion over Disney’s tweet.

“You can’t just scream a terms of service agreement into the void and then assume anyone who does something falling in line has seen it and agreed,” replied one user.

(5) BOMBS AWAY. DoItYourselfRV takes you on a photo tour of the “Rocket Inspired Atomic Camper For The Astronaut In All Of Us”.

When you just have to get “back to the future” this retro inspired, steampunk-esque “Rocket Camper” may be just the inspiration you’re looking for. Exquisitely handcrafted by instructables user longwinters, this fine piece of machinery is built almost entirely of wood.

Here are two of the photos:

(6) LAST TIME. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, premieres May 27.

In the seventh and final season of the Marvel hit, Coulson and the Agents of SHIELD are thrust backward in time and stranded in 1931 New York City. With the all-new Zephyr set to time-jump at any moment, the team must hurry to find out exactly what happened. If they fail, it would mean disaster for the past, present and future of the world.

(7) SHAWL ON DIALECT AND REPRESENTATION. “Odyssey Podcast #128: Nisi Shawl on Dialect & Representation (Part 2)” from Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Nisi Shawl, the Jeff Pert Memorial Lecturer at Odyssey 2019, lectured on dialect and representation. In this excerpt, the second of two parts, Nisi explains techniques to reveal that a character speaks in dialect without using phoneticization. Word omission and word order (syntax) can show non-standard speech patterns and evoke the feeling of dialect while using standard spellings. Nisi discusses examples from her story “Black Betty.” Word choice is another technique that can reveal a person’s experience, cultural background, and expectations. It can also undercut stereotypes and reveal power differentials between characters. The rhythm of a word, sentence, or passage can also show non-standard speech patterns. Copying a poem or transcribing speech from someone native to the pattern you want to mimic can reveal rhythmic patterns. Cultural references can also help reveal a character’s non-standard speech. Nisi discusses several examples. But she wants writers to remember that difference is not monolithic.

(8) SEND ME IN COACH. Shannon Liao, in the CNN story “They lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Now they’re full-time video game coaches” profiles people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus but have picked up additional income teaching video gamers how to improve their skills.

Trevor Andrews is a concert violist and music teacher who found his symphony performances canceled in late March as Covid-19 decimated the US economy. The private lessons he gave dried up as his clients cut back on their spending.

The 30-year-old resident of South Portland, Maine, is an avid gamer who considers himself an expert at the shooter game “Apex Legends,” in which squads of three battle to be the last team standing. So he decided to pivot from classical music to teaching online customers how to survive the virtual shoot-outs that have made the game an online hit.

“I’m good at explaining things,” he said. “Just like when I’m practicing the viola…You’re always self critiquing, and you’re always figuring out what you’re doing wrong and how to get better.”

Tech-savvy game enthusiasts are becoming full-time video game coaches as the ongoing pandemic has eradicated millions of jobs. While it may sound unusual, the job of teaching others how to improve their video game skills has been around for years and is now growing more popular as people shelter in place and spend more time online.

Like coaches in any endeavor, video game coaches teach players how to be more strategic and how to interact in team-based games like “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.” Some have their own awards for past gaming competitions and others simply have positive reputations bolstered by word of mouth….

(9) IF YOU’VE ACQUIRED THE TASTE. Grimdark Magazine’s CT Phipps provides “Ten Indie Grimdark Novel Recommendations”.

6. Seraphina’s Lament by Sarah Chorn

Mini-Review: Seraphina’s Lament is a truly dark and terrifying story based on the famines during the reign of Joseph Stalin. Taking place in a fantasy world where the old monarchy has been overthrown only to be replaced by something worse, starvation ravages the land. However, the population have more to deal with than their tyrannical overlord and his incompetence, the gods have decided to punish the land by unleashing a plague of hungry dead that will wipe the living from the face of the globe. The tight connections between the various characters sometimes stretches credulity but this is a solid piece of dark fantasy.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 28, 1946 The Shadow’s “Dreams of Death” episode first aired. It starred Lloyd Lamble (Quatermass 2) as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow with Lyndall Barbour as Margot Lane and Lloyd Berrill as The Announcer. The Shadow in the radio series was quite different from the printed version as he was given the power to “cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him”. This was at odds with the pulp novel character who relied solely on stealth and his guns to get the job done. Likewise Margo Lane was a radio creation that would later be added to the pulps. You can hear this episode here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 28, 1840 Palmer Cox. He was known for The Brownies, his series of humorous books and comic strips about the troublesome but generally well-meaning sprites. The cartoons were published in several books, such as The Brownies, Their Book for some forty years starting in the 1870s. Due to the immense popularity of his Brownies, one of the first popular handheld cameras was named after them, the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera. (Died 1924.)
  • Born April 28, 1910 Sam Merwin Jr. He was most influential in the Forties  and Fifties as the editor of Startling Stories,  Fantastic Story QuarterlyWonder Stories AnnualThrilling Wonder Stories and Fantastic Universe. He wrote a few stories for DC’s Strange Adventures and Mystery in Space but otherwise wasn’t known as a genre writer. (Died 1996.)
  • Born April 28, 1911 Lee Falk. He’s best remembered for creating and scripting both Mandrake the Magician (first published June 11th, 1934) and The Phantom (first published February 17, 1936). He would be inducted into Will Eisner Hall of Fame for his work on these strips. (Died 1999.)
  • Born April 28, 1917 Robert Cornthwaite. Actor in such Fifties films as The Thing From Another WorldThe War of the WorldsMen Into Space and Destination Space. He would be active throughout the late Twentieth Century in such productions as The Twilight ZoneVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaColossus: The Forbin Project The Six Million Dollar ManBuck Rogers in the 25th Century and White Dwarf. (Died 2006.)
  • Born April 28, 1930 Carolyn Jones. She played the role of Morticia Addams (as well as her sister Ophelia and the feminine counterpart of Thing, Lady Fingers) in The Addams Family. She had an uncredited role in the original The War of the Worlds, her first genre role, as a Blonde Party Guest, and she was Theodora ‘Teddy’ Belicec in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She had a recurring role as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds on Batman. (Died 1983.)
  • Born April 28, 1948 Terry Pratchett. Did you know that Steeleye Span did a superb job of turning his Wintersmith novel into a recording? You can read the Green Man review here as reviewed by Kage’s sister Kathleen. My favorite Pratchett? Well pretty much any of the Watch novels will do for a read for a night when I want something English and really fantastic. (Died 2015.)
  • Born April 28, 1953 William Murray, 67. He’s been the literary executor for the estate of Lester Dent for the past forty years, and has written fifteen Doc Savage novels from Dent’s outlines using Dent’s pseudonym, Kenneth Robeson. His Doc Savage: Skull Island, teams him up with King Kong, and, I kid you not, he recently wrote Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars in which John Carter oF Mars was revived.
  • Born April 28, 1971 Chris Young, 49. Bryce Lynch in the Max Headroom series which I still hold is the best SF series ever done. The only other genre I think he’s in are two horror films, The Runestone and Warlock: The Armageddon. Unless you call voice roles in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars and The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue genre…
  • Born April 28, 1982 Samantha Lockwood, 38. Daughter of Gary Lockwood of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame. And she apparently was in yet another video Trek fanfic though this may not have ever gotten done before Paramount squashed them, Star Trek Equinox: The Night Of Time. There’s a trailer but no actual episode that I can find, so her role in Sci-Fighters which as Girlfriend that it is is her only genre role.

(12) TRUE VALUE. Emmett Asher-Perrin proclaims “The Character of the Doctor Is More Important to Me Than Doctor Who Will Ever Be” in an essay at Tor.com.

…But what I’m really trying to say is, it doesn’t matter if Doctor Who is good. It has never mattered if Doctor Who is good because the only thing that matters about Doctor Who is that it gave us the Doctor. If a piece of fiction is the beholden to what it leaves behind, then that is what the show bequeaths to us.

And what a beautiful inheritance that has become over the decades.

(13) NEW WORLDS, AT THE TIME ANYWAY. Galactic Journey’s Mark Yon reviews the latest issues – in 1965 – of British prozines: “[APRIL 28, 1965] Mermaids, Persian Gods And Time Travel New Worlds And Science Fantasy, April/May 1965″.

This month’s ‘arty’ cover is by the prolific Keith Roberts, who seems to be everywhere at the moment. His colour artwork was last seen on the cover of the January issue, this one to my mind is just as odd. Are British magazine covers meant to look like they are painted by a child? I despair, especially when I see the covers for the US magazines, which by comparison are so much more than what we get here. The best that can be said here though is that they reflect the changes in the magazines at the moment. They are determined to be different.

The Editorial this month mentions the up-coming British Worldcon later this year – now less than four months away! – and how to apply to attend. It also enquires about letters on the idea of genre and also mentions that there will be a letters page – soon! However, before readers get their hopes up that Science Fantasy will take on other New Worlds staples like the Ratings list – it’s not going to happen.

To the stories themselves….

(14) CURRENT EVENTS. Nicola Alter at Thoughts on Fantasy changes pace with a look back at the many people influenced by a 19th century scientist — “Idols, Friends and Mentors: Alexander von Humboldt’s Influence on Writing and Science”.

…First I should probably explain who Humboldt himself was: a scientist, explorer, mountaineer, nature writer and science writer who invented isobars and was the first to propose the idea of climate zones. He published the popular book series Cosmos along with many other volumes on science, nature and politics, and was at one point the most famous scientists of his time.

He also expressed very progressive ideas for a European in the early 1800s – he pointed out that human activity could damage the environment and change the climate; was vehemently anti-slavery, anti-colonialism and pro-democracy; and held positive views of indigenous people, even referring to the European colonists as the real “savages”. If you want to know more about him you can read my review on Goodreads… or better yet, read the book!

(15) FAVORITES OF FORTY-FOUR. Cora Buhlert continues working her way through the Retro Hugo finalists: “Retro Review: ‘Far Centaurus’ by A.E. van Vogt”. BEWARE SPOILERS beyond this introduction:

… “Far Centaurus”, a science fiction short story by A.E. van Vogt that was published in the January 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and is a finalist for the 1945 Retro Hugo Award. The story may be read online here

(16) TIME SINK. In Vice’s opinion “This 51,300-Piece Puzzle Will Either Chill You Out or Ruin Your Quarantine”.

The first wave of stimulus checks from the federal government’s coronavirus relief package have started to appear in some Americans’ bank accounts and, unsurprisingly, a not-insignificant percentage of that money has already been spent on groceries, gas, utility bills and video games, because eventually Tom Nook comes for all of us.

But if you happen to have an extra $599.95 that you aren’t blowing on black market sourdough starter, then Kodak would like you to buy its 51,300 piece jigsaw puzzle. The company says that this is the “world’s largest commercially available puzzle,” and it will arrive at your doorstep in one 40-pound box that contains 27 individually wrapped bags of anxiety….

Here’s a video of someone assembling a slightly smaller puzzle.

(17) LOST WORLD OF THE 21ST CENTURY. “Guillermo del Toro: What Allowed ‘Hellboy’ Films to Be Made No Longer Exists” – as he explains to Yahoo! Entertainment.

“What allowed the two films to exist, it’s gone,” del Toro wrote. “The Blu-ray DVD performance of the first ‘Hellboy’ was massive. So big that Ben Feingold, at Columbia, went full-on on the sequel development. Ben was so impressed by those numbers that he made ‘Hellboy’ one of the very first Blu-rays from Columbia Pictures. Far as I can recall, the number for home video surpassed theatrical.”

Del Toro had plans to direct a third “Hellboy,” but the box office performance of “The Golden Army” killed the franchise. The director pitched “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola on an idea to turn the third movie into a comic book, but the plan was rejected as to not mixup the different mediums and confuse fans.

(18) A LOST SATELLITE OF THE 20TH CENTURY. “Long-Lost U.S. Military Satellite Found By Amateur Radio Operator”NPR talked to him.

…In 2018, he found a signal from a NASA probe called IMAGE that the space agency had lost track of in 2005. With Tilley’s help, NASA was able to reestablish contact.

But he has tracked down zombies even older than IMAGE.

“The oldest one I’ve seen is Transit 5B-5. And it launched in 1965,” he says, referring to a nuclear-powered U.S. Navy navigation satellite that still circles the Earth in a polar orbit, long forgotten by all but a few amateurs interested in hearing it “sing” as it passes overhead.

Recently, Tilley got interested in a communications satellite he thought might still be alive — or at least among the living dead. LES-5, built by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, was launched in 1967.

Tilley was inspired by another amateur who in 2016 had found LES-1, an earlier satellite built by the same lab. What was intriguing to him about LES-5 was that if it was still working, it might be the oldest functioning satellite still in geostationary orbit.

(19) THE SOOT(LER) DID IT. Smithsonian reports that “After the Dinosaur-Killing Impact, Soot Played a Remarkable Role in Extinction”. No shit, Sherlock.

The famous impact 66 million years ago kicked up soot into the atmosphere that played an even bigger role in blocking sunlight than experts had realized

…When the impactor plowed into the Earth and created the Chicxulub crater in Mexico, it vaporized the crust and created a planet-wide plume of debris that emitted radiation at a rate about 20 times stronger than the sun. It ignited plants and animals in its path. Later, lightning from impact-generated storms ignited more fires, maintaining an atmosphere rich in soot.

“Soot is very good at absorbing sunlight,” Tabor says. “As soot gets into the stratosphere, some of it heats the atmosphere and self-lofts higher, increasing its atmospheric residence time.”

…”Soot blocked sunlight, greatly reducing if not shutting down photosynthesis on both the land and in the sea,” says Chicxulub expert David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Texas. “Without photosynthesis, the base of the food chain would have collapsed. While fires may have demolished vegetation on land in large areas of the world, globally distributed soot may have ravaged vegetation elsewhere.”

…Tabor and his colleagues hoped to sort out the soot by modeling its impact separate from that of sulfates and dust. The new study started by modeling the topography, vegetation and greenhouse gases of the Cretaceous Period. The team also simulated the thermosphere and allowed the sizes of impact aerosols to change over time. Previous models had struggled to quantify these effects. “The impact and fire-generated pollutants were so voluminous that they caused previous computer models to crash,” Kring says. “The current study seems to have succeeded where past attempts failed.”

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “2001: A Space Odyssey: A Look Behind The Future” on YouTube is a 1967 promotional video, prepared by Look magazine for potential advertisers, for 2001: A Space Odyssey, that includes interviews with actor Keir Dullea, the film’s principal science advisor, Frederic I. Ordway III, and Sir Arthur C. Clarke visiting the lunar excursion module under construction at the time by Grumman in Long Island.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Kathy Sullivan, Dann, Michael J. Walsh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Carl Brandon Society Resumes Parallax and Kindred Awards

The Carl Brandon Society is reinstituting the Carl Brandon Brandon Parallax and Kindred Awards.  These two literary awards are given annually to outstanding works of speculative fiction. Nominations are now open.

  • The Carl Brandon Parallax Award goes to the best speculative fiction created by a person of color in the preceding calendar year. 
  • The Carl Brandon Kindred Award goes to the work of speculative that best explores and expands our understanding of race in the preceding calendar year; its creator may be of any racial or ethnic background. 

Each award includes an award plaque, a check for US$1000, and the opportunity to participate in the award ceremony.

Nominations for works to be considered for the 2019 Parallax and Kindred Awards are open as of March 6, 2020, and they close April 15, 2020.  Nomination forms are electronic only, and are available via a link on the organization’s website or directly at https://forms.gle/rK3nuYspyL3gn2Ur8.

The first Carl Brandon Parallax and Kindred Awards were presented 2006 for Walter Mosley’s novel 47 and Susan Vaught’s novel Stormwitch, respectively.  The Awards continued through 2011; for a complete history, please visit the Society website.

Founded in 1999, the Carl Brandon Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction.  We administer the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund and operate a list serve supporting the growing presence of People of Color in the imaginative genres. 

The Carl Brandon Society Steering Committee members are K. Tempest Bradford, Maurice Broaddus, Candra K. Gill, Jaymee Goh, Victor J. Raymond, Kate Schaefer, and Nisi Shawl.

Pixel Scroll 1/12/20 Mongo Only Pawn In Scroll Of Pixels

(1) AVOIDING CALENDRICAL ROT. Odyssey Writing Workshop presents “Interview: Guest Lecturer Yoon Ha Lee”.

You recently completed the Hugo Award-nominated Machineries of Empire trilogy. Did you know how the trilogy would end when you began writing the first book? Are you more of a planner, or more of a pantser?

I didn’t know it was going to be a trilogy! I originally intended Ninefox Gambit to be a standalone. But after I finished drafting it, I had an idea for a sequel. And after I committed to Raven Stratagem, I had another idea, and that became Revenant Gun. I plan individual novels because I’m not smart enough to figure out the plots on the fly. But on the series level…well, I didn’t plan to write a trilogy. It just happened.

(2) SOMTOW IN THE NEWS. Forward’s Benjamin Ivry interviews Somtow Sucharitkul: “A new Holocaust opera premieres — in Thailand”.

Thailand might not seem the most probable point of origin for a new opera about the Holocaust, but on January 16, the world premiere of “Helena Citrónová” by the composer Somtow Sucharitkul, 67, will be staged in Bangkok.

It is about a real-life Auschwitz survivor of Slovak Jewish origin who at a trial in 1972, testified that a Nazi officer had fallen in love with her and thereafter, saved her and her sister. Despite testimony from others attesting to his crimes, the Nazi was allowed to go free due to a statute of limitations.

Citrónová’s story gained further currency in a 2005 BBC-TV documentary, “Auschwitz: The Nazis and the ‘Final Solution’” in which she was interviewed.

It inspired a controversial romance novel about a Jewish prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp whose love for a Nazi commandant redeems him. As The Forward reported in August 2015, this book sparked objections, notably from Katherine Locke, a Jewish writer based in Philadelphia.

Far from Auschwitz and Philadelphia, Somtow Sucharitkul, who writes and composes under the name S.P. Somtow, published his libretto for Helena Citrónová in 2018….

Last October, you tweeted a response to those who wonder why you chose the subject of Helena Citrónová by citing lines from Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar,” about Nazi atrocities in the USSR: “Today, I am as old/ As the entire Jewish race itself,” adding “This story belongs to all of us.” What did you mean by that?

Somtow Sucharitkul: People ask me all the time why should I talk about these things as if I were somehow schnorring in on someone else’s life. I was born in Thailand, but left when I was six months old and lived in Europe for most of my childhood, so it feels like more of my past than what happened in Asian countries. The reason I started getting involved in Jewish issues in Thailand were that none of my students here knew whether Thailand had won or lost the Second World War. I was in the Terminal 21 Shopping Mall [in Bangkok] and saw a statue of Hitler dressed as Ronald McDonald. No one meant anything by it, but it was a terrible moment of disjunction, and I felt that I should explain to young people around me and those in a wider range.

You posted on Facebook in October that in the opera’s final scene, when you set the heroine’s words, “My father told me once, never forget you’re a Jew,” you chose to rework a melody from Wagner’s “Die Walküre.” You add that this was done “unconsciously,” but using the notorious anti-Semite Wagner’s music in this context was an “allusion so cogent and so trenchant that my unconscious must have intended it.” So was it intentional or unconscious?

I imagine it was unconsciously intentional. At the time I wrote those notes, I thought to myself, this is Wagner, but I couldn’t place it. That was an odd moment, I have to admit….

(3) A COMPLETE TRIUMPH. Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Wilson” is Library of America’s “Story of the Week.” It’s preceded by a long and interesting note about its reception.

Since returning from Europe in 1832, Irving had done much to help younger American writers, and he responded without hesitation as soon as the letter reached him at his home in Tarrytown. “I have read your little tale of ‘William Wilson’ with much pleasure,” Irving wrote. “It is managed in a highly picturesque style, and the singular and mysterious interest is well sustained throughout. . . . I cannot but think a series of articles of like style and merit would be extremely well received by the public.” Irving added that he much preferred this new work over Poe’s previous story in the magazine, which suffered from “too much coloring.” (That tale, incidentally, was “The Fall of the House of Usher.”) While the endorsement might seem somewhat equivocal, Poe boasted to one editor that Irving’s support represented “a complete triumph over those little critics who would endeavor to put me down by raising hue and cry of exaggeration in style, of Germanism & such twaddle.” The quote from Irving was featured prominently in publicity for Poe’s new book, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.

(4) NISI SHAWL CLASS. Cat Rambo tweeted “Highlights from Nisi Shawl’s A Taste of Writing the Other”

(5) AN ALLUSION, In The Village Voice, Thulani Davis recounts how “Black Women Writers Reclaim Their Past”. Tagline: “Like a number of other black women writers, I have made it a point to speak of our ‘tradition,’ yet I know that no such tradition is assumed by the rest of the world, primarily because our books have not been read or taught”

…Imagine a John Coltrane who had only heard one 78 by Charlie Parker, one LP by Billie Holiday. Imagine a Cecil Taylor who did not grow up with the sounds of Art Tatum and Duke Ellington, and you have some idea how amazing it is that we have writers like Lorraine Hansberry and Toni Morrison.

Each generation of black women has cer­tainly taken ideas from known forms, yet in the matter of content — the telling of black women’s stories — the same impulses appear time and again, with little revision over the decades. Only lately have we seen work that makes conscious nods to the past. And no wonder: Morrison, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, Gloria Naylor, Sherley Anne Williams, Ntozake Shange, and others are the first generation to have a body of work on the black woman’s condi­tion readily at hand.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • January 12, 1932 – In Mexico, Doctor X premiered. A pre-Code film, it was directed by Michael Curtiz and was headlined by Lionel Atwill and Fay Wray. Because it was pre-Code, murder, rape, cannibalism, and prostitution were part of the story. It’s based on the play titled “The Terror (New York, February 9, 1931) by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller. It was well received both by critics and at did very well at the box office. Warner Bros. followed up with Mystery of the Wax Museum, another pre-Code film.  Critics at Rotten Tomatoes rate it considerably higher (75%) than reviewers do (48%). 
  • January 12, 1940The Invisible Man Returns, the sequel to The Invisible Man, premiered. Directed by John May and produced by Ken Goldsmith, it starred Vincent Price in the title role. The screenplay was written by Lester Cole and Curt Siodmak (as Kurt Siodmak). Its success led to a third film, The Invisible Woman, a comedy billed as a sequel. Critics at Rotten Tomatoes love it giving a 82% rating while reviewers give a not so bad 58% rating.
  • January 12, 1966 Batman made its television debut.
  • January 12, 1967 Star Trek’s “The Squire of Gothos” first aired on CBS. Starring William Campbell as Trelane, it was written by Paul Schneider, and directed by Don McDougall. Trelane Is considered by many Trekkies to be a possible Q. Critics loved it giving such comments as “one of TOS’s most deservedly iconic hours” and voting the William Campbell performance as Trelane, as the fifth best guest star of the Trek series. 
  • January 12, 2018 — Amazon dropped Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams unto the public for viewing.  The first episode of the first season was titled “The Hood Maker”.  It was originally published in the June 1955 issue of Imagination hich was born in the Fifties and ceased publishing in the the Fifties as well.The screenplay was by Matthew Graham. 

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 12, 1916 House Peters Jr. Though he’s best remembered as Mr. Clean in the Procter and Gamble commercials of the Fifties and Sixties, he did appear in a fair amount of SFF including Flash Gordon, Batman and Robin, King of the Rocket Men, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Red Planet Mars, Target Earth and The Twilight Zone. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 12, 1937 Shirley Eaton, 83. Bond Girl Jill Masterson in Goldfinger, and yes, she got painted gold in it. She also shows up as the title character in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, the Sax Rohmer based film we just discussed. Her other significant role would be as Dr. Margaret E. ‘Maggie’ Hanford in Around the World Under the Sea. She retired from acting in 1969. 
  • Born January 12, 1948 Tim Underwood, 72. Bibliographer with such works as Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Vance (done with Jack Miller), Shameless Art: Paintings of Dames, Dolls, Pin-ups, and Bad Girls (genre adjacent at the very least) and Stephen King Spills the Beans: Career-Spanning Interviews with America’s Bestselling Author.  
  • Born January 12, 1951 Kirstie Alley, 69. She’s here for being Saavik on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It was, errr, interesting reading the various rumors why this was her only Trek film. Her SFF experience otherwise was brief limited to being an uncredited handmaiden on Quark, and being in the Village of the Damned as Dr. Susan Verner.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Walter Mosley, 68. An odd one as I  have read his most excellent Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins series but hadn’t been aware that he wrote SF of which he has four novels to date, Blue Light, Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent Future, The Wave, and 47. There’s a Jack Kirby art book called Maximum Fantastic Four that was conceived of and orchestrated by him.  Interestingly enough, he’s got a writing credit for episode of Masters of Science Fiction called “Little Brother” where Stephen Hawking is the Host according to IMdB.
  • Born January 12, 1952 Rockne S. O’Bannon, 68. He’s The genius behind  Farscape, SeaQuest 2032, the Alien Nation series and Defiance. Only the latter couldn’t I get interested in. 

(7) TAKE A RIDE ON THE READING. “For William Gibson, Seeing the Future Is Easy. But the Past?” – a New York Times interview.

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

The ideal reading experience, for me, is wholly induced by the text, with a complete lack of interruption. My most memorable adult experience of this remains my initial reading of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian,” which I began in the cab, in Vancouver, on my way to the airport, in 1991 or so, for my first visit to Berlin. I remember nothing of the journey, between my door in Vancouver and the hotel room in which I finished the book. Just the Judge and I, here to there. Leaving him (as much as any receptive reader ever can) I stepped to the window, blinking out at this city, whenever and wherever it was. I was late getting to the Kunsthalle, to greet Samuel Delany and Wim Wenders, though I was able to later.

(8) FARSIGHT. “Everybody talks about the weather,” begins a Mark Twain quote. Now they’ll have even more to talk about: “Aeolus: Weather forecasts start using space laser data”.

Europe’s novel wind-measuring satellite, Aeolus, has reached a key milestone in its mission.

The space laser’s data is now being used in operational weather forecasts.

Aeolus monitors the wind by firing an ultraviolet beam down into the atmosphere and catching the light’s reflection as it scatters off molecules and particles carried along in the air

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts says the information is now robust enough for routine use.

The Reading, UK-based organisation is ingesting the data into its numerical models that look from one to several days ahead.

Forecast improvements are most apparent for the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere.

…The European Space Agency’s Aeolus satellite is regarded as a breakthrough concept.

Wind measurements have traditionally been very patchy.

You can get data from anemometers, weather balloons and aeroplanes – and even from satellites that infer air movements from the way clouds track across the sky or from how rough the sea surface appears at different locations.

But these are all limited indications that tell us what is happening in particular places or at particular heights.

Aeolus on the other hand gathers its wind data across the entire Earth, from the ground to the stratosphere (30km) above thick clouds.

(9) IF YOU’VE GOT IT… BBC reports that “The woman who paid $250,000 to go into space” may get there yet.

Ketty Maisonrouge has waited 15 years for a trip that she knows will be out of this world.

The 61-year-old business school professor signed up back in 2005 for the promise of five minutes in zero-gravity, paying $250,000 (£190,500) to travel beyond the earth’s atmosphere.

Now the company that sold her the ticket, Virgin Galactic, says it will finally begin flights this year. Its founder, Sir Richard Branson, will be on the first trip, and Mrs Maisonrouge won’t be far behind.

“Hopefully it will be as amazing as I think,” says Mrs Maisonrouge.

If all goes to plan, Virgin Galactic will be the first private company to take tourists into space. The company says 600 people have already purchased tickets, including celebrities like Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio.

But rival firms are close behind. Blue Origin, started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has also starting speaking to possible passengers for trips it hopes to start this year, while SpaceX, founded by Tesla’s Elon Musk, announced in 2019 that a Japanese billionaire would be its first passenger for a trip around the moon.

(10) ANOTHER HITCHHIKER. Martin Plimmer lets us share a ride “In Roald Dahl’s Car” in his essay for the New York Times.

…I told him I was a reporter on the local paper, The Bucks Herald. I needed to get back for work the next day. My first task every Monday morning, as the most junior reporter on the paper, was to call on the town’s undertakers and compile a list of people who had died over the weekend. Then I had to phone or visit the next of kin. It was my job to populate the newspaper’s obituary column.

He chuckled. “Sounds grim,” he said.

“It’s not really,” I said. “Well, the undertakers are grim, but people are actually very happy to be approached for an obituary. And they’re good stories too. Obituaries celebrate whole lives. It would be hard not to find a couple hundred interesting words to write about someone’s whole life.”

“I can see that,” he said. “I also do a bit of writing.”

I’d had a feeling this was coming. In my experience of conversations with people who stopped to give me lifts, it was quite common to be told that they were also “writers.” Sometimes it would be a couple of articles in the parish magazine, or a half-finished novel in a bedroom drawer, or, more commonly, they would claim to have easily a book’s worth of fascinating ideas in their heads, just itching to become a best seller. This man had the look of a gentleman tinkerer, someone who might do a bit of scribbling in his spare time. “What sort of writing?” I asked.

“Oh, plays, film screenplays, some TV. Children’s novels seem to be taking up a lot of my time just lately. I suppose, though, that I’m best known for short stories. Stories with a macabre element — I’ve written quite a lot of them.”

His answer surprised me. I asked him his name.

“Roald Dahl,” he said.

It meant nothing to me. “I haven’t come across your work,” I said. “So … ‘a macabre element’ — are these horror stories?”

“Not exactly,” he said, “though, unlike your jolly obituaries, they can be pretty horrible. They don’t always end well; there’s often a twist in the tail. Actually, I think I’m writing funny stories, because they can be very comical. There’s such a narrow line between the macabre and laughter.” I could sense him smiling as he said it….

(11) LONG REMEMBERED THUNDER. In “Samuel R. Delany: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Super-Nova, Jeet Heer rediscovers that the field’s reception of this new author had its bright spots, too, despite the resistance of editors John W. Campbell and Michael Moorcock.

…It was only after his appearance at the 24th World Science Fiction Convention, held in Cleveland in 1966, that Delany’s existence was recognized, which led to the quick consensus that he was a leading figure in the field. In 1967, the contentious editor Harlan Ellison wrote that Delany gave “an indefinable but commanding impression that this was a young man with great work in him.” The following year, Algis Budrys, a respected novelist and at the time the sharpest critic in science fiction, hailed Nova by saying the novel proved that “right now, as of this book” Delany is “the best science-fiction writer in the world, at a time when competition for that status is intense.” Delany was all of twenty-six years old when he earned that accolade.

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

Writing The Other’s Financial Aid Program Renamed the “Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarship”

 Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford, administrators of Writing the Other online classes, have announced that their scholarship program, initiated in 2016, is being retitled the Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarship. The name change, in honor of the award-winning and beloved science fiction and fantasy novelist who passed away in April 2019, comes about not only because Vonda was a friend and mentor to both Shawl and Bradford, but also because without her there would be no scholarship fund.

In 2016 Vonda offered to pay for a registration in an upcoming Writing the Other class so writers who couldn’t afford to take it could benefit. When announced, her donation–which she insisted should be anonymous to the public–inspired others to donate as well, covering all or part of the enrollment fees for two additional students. Enough donations came in afterwards that Writing the Other was able to establish a small scholarship fund. Though Vonda didn’t want public credit, Nisi suggested naming the scholarship “Sentient Squid” in secret honor of a character in her Starfarer book series, the “squidmoth” Nemo.

“Donating anonymously was very Vonda-like,” Nisi Shawl said. “I’ve called her a ‘behind-the-scenes powerhouse’ because those who knew her mainly as the author of five Star Trek novels aren’t automatically aware that she founded the Clarion West Writers Workshop as well as Book View Café. She was generous with her funds and donated money in support of many feminist and other social-justice causes: the James Tiptree Jr. literary awards; the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship Fund; the ACLU; Planned Parenthood.”

“When she offered to pay for a registration in our classes, she did so unprompted,” K. Tempest Bradford said. “She was part of a conversation on Facebook where I talked about balancing the affordability of our classes with our need to make a living. I had never considered asking others to help out with this, and then Vonda just did it. In doing so she opened up the possibility to me that other people would be willing to contribute as well.”

Over the years Vonda gave to the scholarship fund on multiple occasions, always without wanting credit, and promoted the program whenever there was a fundraising drive. Because of her support and example, Writing the Other has been able to offer scholarship spots in every course and make classes more financially accessible. To date, the Sentient Squid Scholarship has provided over $15,000 in financial aid to a wide range of deserving applicants. Approximately 20% of alumni have benefited directly from scholarship funds. Because of how vital she was to making all this happen, Shawl and Bradford decided that renaming the scholarship was one of the best ways they could honor her memory.

Currently, the Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarship provides both full and partial scholarships for students in all Writing the Other online courses, including Core Classes, Master Classes, and Workshops. For 2020 offerings, Shawl and Bradford hope to reach $10,000 in direct donations or $1,200 a month in support via Patreon so that they can set aside at least a quarter of spots in their classes for writers who need financial aid. Donors can visit http://writingtheother.com/donate-scholarship/ to contribute, learn more, or to contact Writing the Other for more information.

Student Testimonials:

Receiving the Sentient Squid Scholarship both instilled further confidence in me as a writer and enabled me to grow in ways I wouldn’t have been able to without taking the Description Deep Dive class. Receiving the scholarship has had long-term effects on my writing that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.

— James Henry Feeman

The Sentient Squid scholarship allowed me to take my first ever writing workshop. I’m an older working mom who’s managing various health challenges–both my own & my kids. Until I won this scholarship, I thought writing workshops were just a dream for me. A “one day” thing. Now I’m aware of accessible options available.

—Dianne McNeill

As a financially struggling trans man, I don’t have the means to attend classes for professional development, despite how much I want to and how much I know it would improve my work. I was lucky enough to receive a Sentient Squid Scholarship which removed that financial burden. The course changed the way I look at world building and the scholarship gave me the space I needed to expand my knowledge and grow as a writer.

— Luke Tolvaj

The Sentient Squid Scholarship was a unique opportunity for me, and I’m thankful for it. I’m from Brazil, and we don’t have many creative writing classes here and classes about “writing the other” are nonexistent. It gave me the chance to learn how to write better and to rethink the way I write, while it also taught me how to tell my own experience better. 

— Jordana

About Writing the Other: Writing the Other offers online and in-person classes that draw on the work of Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, authors of the acclaimed reference Writing the Other: A Practical Approach. Through live courses and on-demand webinars, Shawl and co-administrator author K. Tempest Bradford, along with a deep bench of guest instructors, hope to help writers and creators from all backgrounds develop the skill and sensitivity to portray difference in fiction, games, and other media as well as allay anxieties about getting it wrong.

The impetus for the original book came during Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward’s attendance at the 1992 Clarion West writing workshop, when one of their classmates announced that it is a mistake to write about people of backgrounds different from your own because you might get it wrong, and so it is better to not even try. This opinion, commonplace among published as well as aspiring writers, struck Nisi as taking the easy way out and spurred her to write an essay addressing the problem of how to write about characters marked by racial and ethnic differences. She then collaborated with Ward to develop a workshop to address these problems, which became the basis for the book.

[Based on a press release.]

World Fantasy Convention 2021 in Montreal

World Fantasy Convention 2021, to be held in Montreal, Canada, has named its Guests of Honor: Author GoH: Nisi Shawl; Artist GoH: John Picacio; Editor GoH: André-François Ruaud; and Special Guests: Owl Goingback, and Yves Meynard, The Toastmaster is Christine Taylor-Butler.

The con, chaired by Diane Lacey, will be held November 4–7, 2021 at the Hotel Montreal Bonaventure.

The convention theme will be “Fantasy, Imagination, and the Dreams of Youth.”

Attending memberships are currently $150 USD/$200 Cdn. Rates will be going up December 1st to $200 in US dollars and $270 in Canadian dollars.

Pixel Scroll 9/23/19 But That Was Very Long Ago, And Oh, So Far Away

(1) A MATTER OF RESPECT. Edmund Schluessel has returned from Fantasticon 2019, in Copenhagen, Denmark with a burden: “I attended as a Special Guest this weekend in Copenhagen. There has been discussion within the Nordic countries’ fan community about the event’s poster and some other issues of insensitivity and I discuss those here.” — “Saints and people who do not think like us (Fantasticon 2019)”.

…Nisi [Shawl] was talking about altruism. They talked about being a saint. They talked about sacrifice, even putting yourself in harm’s way to protect someone who would do harm to you. 

The Chair gave an impromptu speech just afterward. The poster was excellent, he told us all, and complaints about it all came from “people who do not think like us.”

Then started the filk sing-a-long. Only quick action by an observant program participant kept the projector screen from telling the whole banquet room that we’d be singing along to the tune of “The Darkies’ Sunday School.” That quick action did not prevent the flippant reference to rape in the lyrics. “It was like something from the ’70s,” that quick intervenor said later.

Why am I amped up to 11 about all this? At a fundamental level, fandom is about storytelling. And something I’ve seen in every single fan community I’ve interacted with, going back something like 25 years now, is that the story fandom always tells best is when it’s telling itself “we are tolerant, we are open, we accept everyone.” Too often that story is a myth.

The Afrofuturist authors whose work and ideas this convention we’re supposed to be celebrating — if we won’t listen to their message, are they “people who do not think like us”? The convention members who saw something wrong with the poster, whether or not they could clearly articulate it — are they not part of “us”? Am I not part of “us”? You put my name on the damned poster!

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Where do you go for a Javanese dinner? For Lisa Tuttle and interviewer Scott Edelman the answer was: Dublin. Join them in Episode 105 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Lisa Tuttle

My guest this time around is the award-winning writer Lisa Tuttle, who I caught up with one night after she was done with a 7:30 p.m. reading, which meant that by the time we began our meal it was a later than usual dinner (for me, at least). We hopped in a cab and took off for at Chameleon, an Indonesian restaurant I’d found via Eater’s list of 38 essential Dublin restaurants. The restaurant offers set menus from various regions, including Sumatra and Bali. We decided to go with Java, but added to that some pork bell bao, and the 10-hour Javanese anise short rib of beef, a signature dish of theirs which turned out to be my favorite thing eaten all weekend.

Lisa and I both had wonderful experiences 45 years ago at the 1974 Worldcon in Washington, D.C., me because it was my first Worldcon, she because of winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She’s accomplished a lot in the 4-1/2 decades since, including being awarded the 1982 Nebula for Best Short Story for “The Bone Flute.” She’s published seven short story collections, starting with A Nest of Nightmares in 1986 and most recently Objects in Dream in 2012, plus more than a dozen novels, the first of which was Windhaven (1981), written in collaboration with George R. R. Martin, who was my guest back in Episode 43. She was nominated for an Arthur C. Clarke award for her novel Lost Futures. She edited the pivotal anthology Skin of the Soul: New Horror Stories by Women (1990) as well as Crossing the Border: Tales of Erotic Ambiguity (1998).

We discussed the amusing series of mishaps which prevented her from learning she’d won the 1974 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer as early as she should have, the first thing Harlan Ellison ever said to her, how the all-male table of contents for a major horror anthology inspired her to edit her classic female horror anthology Skin of the Soul, the way emigrating from the U.S. to the UK affected her writing, why an editor said of one of her submitted novels, “I love this book, but I could no more publish it than I could jump out the window and fly,” how she and George R. R. Martin were able to collaborate early in their careers without killing each other, what she’d do if she were just starting out now as a writer, the reasons contemporary acknowledgements sections of novels should be shortened — and so much more.

(3) SPEED IS OF THE ESSENCE. He likes to get paid, too — “Chuck Yeager sues Airbus for writing ‘Yeager broke the sound barrier’” at Ars Technica.

In 2017, Airbus published a promotional article promoting an Airbus helicopter.

“Seventy years ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier,” said Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “We’re trying to break the cost barrier. It cannot be ‘speed at any cost.'”

The 96-year-old Yeager wasn’t happy. Last week, he filed a lawsuit in federal court, arguing that Airbus had infringed his rights by using his name without permission.

“By using Yeager’s name, identity, and likeness and federal registered trademarks in the infringing material, Airbus impaired the ability of General Yeager to receive his established earning potential,” Yeager’s lawyers wrote.

Yeager says that he visited Airbus in 2008 and told Airbus it would cost at least $1 million to use his name and likeness in promotional materials. Airbus refused his offer.

(4) VISUAL CONREPORT. Roberto Quaglia shares some great views in his video “Glimpses of an Irish Worldcon – Dublin 2019.”

(5) HARD SF. Here’s Rocket Stack Rank’s annual “Outstanding Hard Science Fiction of 2018” with 27 stories that were that were finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction.

Included are some observations obtained from highlighting specific recommenders and pivoting the table by publication, author, awards, year’s best anthologies, and reviewers.

(6) NOT ALL TROLLS. “Neil Gaiman On The Good Kind of Trolls”  at Literary Hub is his introduction to The Complete and Original Norwegian Folk Tales of Asbjørnsen and Moe in which Gaiman discusses his love of Norway and Norwegian folklore.

You will meet youngest sons and foolish farmers, clever women and lost princesses, adventurers and fools, just as in any collection of folk stories from anywhere in Northern Europe. But the Norwegian Folktales come with trolls, and if Asbjørnsen and Moe did not see them, as Kittelsen did, then they got their stories from people who had, people who had seen the trolls walking in the mist at dawn.

(7) EMMY REMEMBRANCES. The 2019 Primetime Emmys included an Memoriam segment. Some of the names of genre interest: Jan-Michael Vincent, James Frawley, Ron Miller, Cameron Boyce, Rutger Hauer, Stan Lee, and Rip Torn.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 23, 1846 — Planet Neptune was discovered.
  • September 23, 1962 The Jetsons debuted its very first episode, “Rosey the Robot”. The series which was produced by Hanna-Barbera would run for three seasons.
  • September 23, 1968 Charly was released, starring Cliff Robertson and Claire Bloom. Based on “Flowers for Algernon” which is a sf short story and a novel by Daniel Keyes. The short story, written in 1958 and first published in the April 1959 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. The novel was published in 1966 and was joint winner of that year’s Nebula Award for Best Novel with Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 23, 1897 Walter Pidgeon. He’s mostly remembered for his role in the classic Forbidden Planet as Dr. Morbius, but he’s done some other genre work being in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea as Adm. Harriman Nelson, and in The Neptune Factor as Dr. Samuel Andrews. (Died 1984.)
  • Born September 23, 1908 Wilmar House Shiras. Her story “In Hiding” was submitted in 1948 to Astounding Science Fiction, where it was published. She published two sequels in the magazine: “Opening Doors”, and “New Foundations”. The three stories would become the first three chapters in the novel, Children of the Atom. Other than a handful of short fiction, I think it’s her only work. Neither iBooks or Kindle carry anything by her. (Died 1990.)
  • Born September 23, 1920 Richard Wilson. Not a writer of much genre fiction at all. His really major contribution to fandom and to Syracuse University where he worked as the director of the Syracuse University News Bureau was in successfully recruiting the donation of papers from many prominent science fiction writers to the Syracuse University’s George Arents Research Library.  The list of those writers includes Piers Anthony, Hal Clement, Keith Laumer, Larry Niven and Frederik Pohl. And, of course, himself. It has been called the “most important collection of science fiction manuscripts and papers in the world.” (Died 1987.)
  • Born September 23, 1944 Anne Randall, 75. She was Daphne, a servant girl in the original Westworld which if memory serves me correctly also had Yul Brynner in it. She’ll show also in Night Gallery  in the “Tell David” episode as Julie. 
  • Born September 23, 1956 Peter David, 63. Did you know that his first assignment for the Philadelphia Bulletin was covering Discon II? I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read by him was Legions of Fire, Book 1—The Long Night of Centauri Prime but he’s also done a number of comics I’ve read including runs of Captain Marvel , Wolverine and Young Justice.
  • Born September 23, 1959 Frank Cottrell-Boyce, 60. Definitely not here for his sequels to Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. (Horrors!) He is here for such writing endeavors as Goodbye Christopher Robin, his Doctor Who stories, “In the Forest of the Night” and “Smile”, both Twelfth Doctor affairs, and the animated Captain Star series in which he voiced Captain Jim Star. The series sounds like the absolute antithesis of classic Trek
  • Born September 23, 1963 Alexander Proyas, 56. Australian director, screenwriter, and producer. He’s best known for directing The Crow (which is superb), Dark City, I, Robot  (nor so superb) and Gods of Egypt. His first, shot in Australia of course, was Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds. It’s genre. Has anyone seen it? 
  • Born September 23, 1957 Rosalind Chao, 61. She was the recurring character of Keiko O’Brien with a total of twenty-seven appearances on Next Generation and  Deep Space Nine. In 2010, a preliminary casting memo for Next Gen from 1987 was published, revealing that Chao was originally considered for the part of Enterprise security chief Tasha Yar.

(10) BURNING COLD. The second official trailer for Frozen 2 dropped today.

(11) FLASH GORDON. Film School Rejects thinks this movie has lessons to teach today’s creators despite its reputation: “What Today’s Sci-Fi Should Learn from ‘Flash Gordon'”.

Take, for example, the 2017 flop Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Luc Besson’s film, which is itself based on comics originating in the 1960s, spends way too much time explaining stuff that never becomes relevant. The eponymous City of a Thousand Planets is a space station broken down into multiple districts, as the exposition explains, but the action of the film barely takes place in any of them.

Flash Gordon, meanwhile, understands that drama is built between characters and then focuses on them. Everyone in the movie, from Flash to Ming to Flash’s larger-than-life ally Prince Vultan, has their own distinct wants, and the story emerges from these characters interacting and trying to reconcile these wants. This movie gets at the humanity behind these characters, even if they happen to be aliens

(12) ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. Pursuing a thought experiment inspired by a list of 21st Century books, Peace Is My Middle Name started a hypothetical list of “100 best books of the Twentieth Century” as if it had been compiled in 1919. Their titles are in a comment and ought to have been mentioned yesterday, except the comment landed in the spam and wasn’t spotted for hours. Well worth your time.

(13) FOR YOUR EARS. Several episodes of a reading of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments are available for listening at the BBC.

In this brilliant and long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood answers the questions that have tantalised readers for decades. In The Testaments, set fifteen years after the events of her dystopian masterpiece, the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. Now the testimonies of three different women bring the story to a dramatic conclusion. Today we hear from the infamous Aunt Lydia, and Agnes, a young girl who has only known life in Gilead.

(14) NOT ARISTOTLE. “Euclid space telescope to study ‘dark Universe’ makes progress” – BBC has the story.

Europe’s space mission to uncover the secrets of the “dark Universe” has reached a key milestone.

The test model of the Euclid telescope has just emerged from a chamber where it was subjected to the kind of conditions experienced in orbit.

It was a critical moment for engineers because the successful trial confirms the observatory’s design is on track.

Euclid, due for launch in 2022, will map the cosmos for clues to the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

These phenomena appear to control the shape and expansion of the Universe but virtually nothing is known about them.

The €800m venture, led by the European Space Agency (Esa), will be one of a group of new experiments to come online in the next few years.

Scientists are hopeful these next-generation technologies will provide the insights that have so far eluded them.

(15) ATARI 2600. BBC fathoms “The mysterious origins of an uncrackable video game”.

With the digital equivalent of trowels and shovels, archaeologists are digging into the code of early video games to uncover long forgotten secrets that could have relevance today.

“You and your team of archaeologists have fallen into the ‘catacombs of the zombies’.” A miserable situation, to be sure. But this was the chilling trial that faced players of Entombed, an Atari 2600 game, according to the instruction manual.

The catacombs were an unforgiving place. A downward-scrolling, two-dimensional maze that players had to navigate expertly in order to evade the “clammy, deadly grip” of their zombie foes. An archaeologist’s nightmare.

Released in 1982, Entombed was far from a best-seller and today it’s largely forgotten. But recently, a computer scientist and a digital archaeologist decided to pull apart the game’s source code to investigate how it was made.

…Like intrepid explorers of catacombs, Aycock and Copplestone sought curious relics inside Entombed. But they got more than they bargained for: they found a mystery bit of code they couldn’t explain. It seems the logic behind it has been lost forever.

Into the labyrinth

Maze-navigating games were very common back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but the method used to generate a maze varied, depending on the programmer. In the age of Atari, games had to be designed with incredible skill because the computer systems that ran them were so limited. (Read more about the mind of a maze-builder.)

Although the blocky, two dimensional mazes from entombed might look simple by the standards of today’s computer graphics, in 1982 you couldn’t just design a set of mazes, store them in the game and later display them on-screen – there wasn’t enough memory on the game cartridges for something like that. In many cases, mazes were generated “procedurally” – in other words, the game created them randomly on the fly, so players never actually traversed the same maze twice.

But how do you do get a computer program to avoid churning out a useless maze with too many walls, or an otherwise impenetrable floorplan?

(16) SNOWPIERCER BACKSTORY. On September 24, Titan Comics will release Snowpiercer The Prequel: Part 1: Extinction, a brand-new prequel graphic novel set before the extinction incident that led to the events of the original Snowpiercer graphic novel trilogy. It’s written by Matz (Triggerman, The Assignment), with art by the original Snowpiercer graphic novel artist Jean-Marc Rochette, shown in this promotional video creating an iconic scene from the book.

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

Nisi Shawl Teaching Workshop at Summer Fishtrap Writers’ Gathering

Nisi Shawl

2019 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Winner Nisi Shawl will be teaching a workshop on “Inclusive Dialogue: Writing in Dialect and Representing Nonstandard Speech” at the 2019 Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers: Steering the Craft  at Wallowa Lake Lodge on July 8-14. The workshop focuses on techniques using phonetic spelling, italics, and slang words and phrases through discussion, examples, and exercises. Other strategies include code-switching, rhythmic emphasis, and cultural references.

Summer Fishtrap is a week-long writer’s conference located in the heart of Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains at the south end of Wallowa Lake – with workshops in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, memoir, and special workshops just for youth. Classes are limited to no more than 13 students which gives every writer the chance to share their work in an intimate and supportive environment.

The 2019 Summer Fishtrap Gathering is part of Fishtrap’s year-long tribute to Ursula K. LeGuin, who was a long-term advisor and instructor.

Register for Shawl’s workshop here.

SFWA’s 2019 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Winners Are Nisi Shawl and Neil Clarke

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) will present its Kate Wilhelm Solstice Awards to Nisi Shawl and Neil Clarke at the 54th Annual Nebula Conference.  

The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award is given by SFWA for distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community. Shawl and Clarke join the ranks of previous winners, including Octavia E. Butler, James Tiptree, Jr., Tom Doherty, Carl Sagan, and Sheila Williams. The award ceremony will be a part of the SFWA Nebula Conference taking place at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA on May 16-19.

Nisi Shawl

Nisi Shawl

In addition to her own writing, including the novel Everfair and the stories collected in Filter House and Something More and More, Nisi Shawl has been active in teaching science fiction and promoting a wide range of diverse voices through the Carl Brandon Society. Her editorial work included guest editing the issue People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and the anthologies Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars and Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, the latter a collaboration with Bill Campbell. Shawl was one of the founders of the Carl Brandon Society in 1999, which not only presents the Carl Brandon Parallax Award and the Kindred Award to promote authors of color and works which focus on issues of race and ethnicity, but also works to make attendance and conventions more affordable for people of color by provided scholarships.                                                                            

SFWA President Cat Rambo noted, “Nisi Shawl’s work with the Carl Brandon Society has, as the society’s mission statement says, fostered dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity and culture, raised awareness both inside and outside the fantastical fiction communities, promoted inclusivity in publication/production, and celebrated the accomplishments of people of color in science fiction, fantasy and horror. She’s worked to provide writers with the tools they need, including Writing the Other, co-written with Cynthia Ward, as well as classes based on the book. And she’s pushed steampunk into new lands with her critically acclaimed novel Everfair. She exemplifies the spirit of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award.”

Neil Clarke 

Neil Clarke

Invested in the community for decades through various publishing and book-selling ventures, Clarke launched the Hugo and World Fantasy Award winning online publication, Clarkesworld Magazine in 2006. Over the ten-plus years since its inception, he has published a wide range of new and established writers, including a large number of non-Anglophone authors in translation. 

Instrumental in the transition from paper-only submissions to online systems, the software he first developed for Clarkesworld is still in use at several magazines. Clarke founded Wyrm Publishing in 2007, Forever Magazine in 2015, and the translation imprint, Clarkesworld Books, in 2019. He also currently serves as the editor of the SFWA Bulletin. In recent years, he’s taken on the task of finding The Best Science Fiction of Year–an anthology series currently in its fourth year of publication–and has edited multiple, successful anthologies with Night Shade Books.

SFWA President Cat Rambo has noted about Clarke, “Over the years, Neil has grown Clarkesworld Magazine into one of the powerhouses among online magazines, excelling in its treatment of writers, including one of the highest per words rate coupled with one of the fastest reply rates in the business. At the same time, he’s encouraged international voices through translation and outreach, while consistently publishing some of the finest fantasy and science fiction around. He well merits recognition in the form of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award.”

The Nebula Awards, which will be presented during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference, include four fiction awards, a game writing award, the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book. SFWA also administers the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Awards, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

[Based on a press release.]