Daniel Dern shares his pictures of guests, panelists and vendors who participated in Readercon 29 over the July 12-15 weekend.
GoH Nisi Shawl
Daniel Dern shares his pictures of guests, panelists and vendors who participated in Readercon 29 over the July 12-15 weekend.
GoH Nisi Shawl
The first installment of Dave Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe Sequence, Europe in Autumn will be published soon in Hungary. Years ago I read that one and the two sequels, and now I wanted to know what Mr. Hutchinson think about the future of Europe, and how he came to create a spy, who is in fact a chef.
Europe in Autumn was published only three years ago, but the near-future you imagined with a fractured Europe could be the present soon. Independence movements are booming, Brexit in talks… Do you think the world you created for the books can become reality?
It’s been kind of horrifying to watch world events over the past few years – I started writing Autumn sometime in the very late 1990s and back then the idea of a fractured Europe really was a thing of fiction, although independence movements and micronations are nothing new. Now, it seems a lot more plausible. I’d like to say that I hope the world of the books doesn’t come about; I’m a big fan of the EU ideal and of Schengen. On the other hand, Rudi’s world has always seemed to me to be vibrant and full of possibility. I’ve heard it described as a dystopia, but I don’t think it is – certainly it wasn’t intended that way. I think it would be a very interesting place to live. Whether it will actually happen, I don’t think anyone can predict that. We seem to have gone from the old black-and-white certainties of the Cold War to something a lot more uncertain and fluid, with only a very brief period of hope between them.
(2) THE GOOD STUFF. Ann Leckie returns to tell us about “Some things I’ve read lately”.
Yes, it’s time again for Some Stuff I Have Read and Liked Recently. As always–I am not a reviewer or any sort of critic, and I’m not going to try to be one.
Ever since I heard that Nisi was not only working on a steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo, but that she had gone and sold that novel to Tor, I’ve been eager to read this. I finally got around to it, and I highly recommend it. It’s pretty epic, really, it covers a couple decades in time, from the POVs of a wide variety of characters. Seriously, check this out if you haven’t already….
(3) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. Anika Dane of Women At Warp cheers Star Trek: Discovery — “I’m an Age-Appropriate Woman In Command: Hear Me Roar!”
It’s no secret Hollywood has a problem with women aging. There are fewer leading roles for women over the age of 40, and the supporting ones tend to be underdeveloped and fall into the category of mother, wife, woman sad because she’s old, or villain (sad because she’s old). …
[Discovery’s Admiral Cornwell] is experienced and she’s accomplished, and she’s Lorca’s peer, and also his superior. She couldn’t be that at twenty-seven, or thirty-six. Moreover, she’s a woman over fifty, whose eye crinkles and grey hairs have not been erased, who is presented on screen as attractive and desirable. Admiral Cornwell is not beautiful despite her age, she’s beautiful and powerful because of it.
(4) CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS. The James Tiptree Jr. Award made their Giving Thursday goal —
We made it! The donations raised through our Facebook fundraiser plus the donations through the Tiptree website total more than $2400! The Tiptree Award will receive all the matching funds available to us! With the help of all who have donated and shared our fundraising message and matched the donations, we’ve raised more than $4800, half of our annual budget. Thank you all for your help. This award wouldn’t be possible without you!
Of course, it’s never too late to add your support to this successful effort. With your donations, you make possible our efforts to encourage the creation of speculative fiction that explores and expands our understanding of gender. And since the Tiptree Award is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all donations are tax-deductible. https://tiptree.org/support-us/donate
(5) TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM TRANSCRIPTS. The expanded talks from the 2016 Tiptree Symposium have been published in Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology Issue #12.
(6) LE GUIN FELLOWSHIP. Applications are being taken for the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, sponsored by the University of Oregon Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and the Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS). The deadline to apply is January 5, 2018. Full guidelines here.
Purpose: The intention of the Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship is to encourage research within collections in the area of feminist science fiction. The UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) houses the papers of authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr., Kate Wilhelm, Suzette Haden Elgin, Sally Miller Gearhart, Kate Elliot, Molly Gloss, Laurie Marks, and Jessica Salmonson, along with Damon Knight. SCUA is also in the process of acquiring the papers of other key feminist science fiction authors.
Fellowship description: This award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in SCUA. These short-term research fellowships are open to undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, college and university faculty at every rank, and independent scholars working in feminist science fiction. In 2018, $2,000 will be awarded to conduct research within these collections. The fellowship selection committee will include representatives from the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and the Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS).
(7) NAME THAT TUNE. By George, I think he’s got it.
"I totally want to join this special club of people I think I might dislike so I can pretend they're threatening me; it's the only way to get attention!" https://t.co/NlMCeutTos
— Nick Ban Nazis Mamatas ?? (@NMamatas) December 21, 2017
(8) FEAT IN SEARCH OF AN AWARD. Not sure what category this deserves to win. Since he got it right the first time does that rule out editing?
Spelled dilapidated correctly on the first try! Where's my Hugo Award for THAT?
— Jim C. Hines (@jimchines) December 18, 2017
(9) LAST JEDI. If reading articles about The Last Jedi now leaves me feeling jaded, then you probably started feeling that way two days ago (or fill in your own number). However, a critic for The Hollywood Reporter hooked me with the pop culture insights in “New ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy Is Failing Galactic Politics 101”. YMMV. Also, BEWARE SPOILERS.
And that’s where we left off before the start of this new trilogy of Star Wars films. After decades of theorizing, fan fiction and “Legacy” stories, The Force Awakens had the exciting task of updating fans of the series about what happened in the decades since we last saw our favorite characters and rooted for the Rebellion. Would we see a New Republic and what would it be like? Who would be the enemy of that Republic and what would our character’s places be in it? The opportunities were endless, with the possibility of giving audiences a brand-new vision for the series, but would also require a deft touch. Yes, the series would have to build on viewers’ knowledge of Star Wars history, but it could also do what A New Hope did: thrust us into a new scenario and slowly give us more information about what transpired to get us here.
As a huge fan of the series, looking back on the new films after the opening weekend of The Last Jedi, I have to admit an incredible frustration and disappointment in the result. While walking through my local Target, I could not help but feel like The Force Awakens had failed what I’m now dubbing the “toy test”: I couldn’t pick up a Star Wars toy and tell you who each character was and their political standings in the newest round of wars, as depicted in the films.
(10) FAUX SHOW. And hey, this is sweet! The absolutely fake Disney/Pixar’s X-Wings Movie Trailer.
(11) ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. The BBC asks “Is The Last Jedi the most divisive film ever?”
Its audience score of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes (that’s the proportion of users who have rated it 3.5/5 or higher) is the lowest of any Star Wars film, including the much-maligned prequels (The Phantom Menace has 59%).
But something else is going on too – while fans are divided, film critics were largely in agreement.
The LA Times called it the “first flat-out terrific” Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Time Out said it “dazzles like the sci-fi saga hasn’t in decades”. The Daily Telegraph said it is “Star Wars as you’ve never felt it”.
The Last Jedi has a critics’ score of 93% – that’s the proportion of writers who gave it a positive review – putting it level with A New Hope and The Force Awakens, and just 1% behind The Empire Strikes Back.
That puts The Last Jedi at number 49 on Rotten Tomatoes’ all-time list. And of the all-time top 100 films, The Last Jedi has by far the biggest gap between the critics’ score and the audience score.
(12) TODAY IN HISTORY
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY JEDI
(14) COMICS SECTION.
(15) DREAM STREAM. Nerds of a Feather contributor “English Scribbler” can say it out loud: “Television review of 2017 – the year it beat cinema”.
…Sure, I went to see The Last Jedi this week like everyone else with the inclination and ability to do so, and it was wonderful. But it felt like, well, a box of popcorn in nutritional terms compared to the hearty vegetable stew of series below. So in no particular order, here is a very personal, haphazard list of series I have been amazed by. Whilst they don’t all quite fit into the classic Nerds Of A Feather, Flock Together genre areas, all share a spirit and flavour with the incredible works highlighted on these pages…
(1) Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
Originally feeling like a compelling yet shallow computer nerd version of Mad Men (all mysterious arrogant male protagonist dipped in retro nostalgia), this series became, long before this astonishing forth and final season, one of the most accomplished and daring dramas of this decade, and culminated in the best conclusion to a series I’ve seen since possibly Six Feet Under (a work to which this owes much debt). Nothing else this year matched the emotional impact of seeing these five colleagues and friends arrive at a finish line that for once was allowed to be set with purpose and patience by the creators. The setting and subject became less and less relevant (though no less enjoyable) as the masterplan of the writers emerged – that this, like all the greatest tales, was about emotional connections and the rewards that they bring, and the tolls they take. The last three episodes made my smile and cry more than any film, book or other show this year. Exemplary acting, music, sound, cinematography, dialogue to wallow in… superb.
(16) HEERE’S RAY. A wise friend of mine hinted that there hasn’t been enough Bradbury in these pages lately. Let’s drop in Ray’s appearance with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show on March 1, 1978:
(17) TWO RAYS. And Episode 17 of the Ray Harryhausen Podcast – “Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury”.
A very special episode of the Ray Harryhausen podcast, as we explore the Ray’s lifelong friendship with legendary author Ray Bradbury.
Phil Nichols from The Centre for Ray Bradbury Studies joins us for an in depth discussion on a relationship which was to span 8 decades. After meeting in the mid-1930s, the two became best friends, and would speak on at least a monthly basis for the rest of their lives. We explore the circumstances that would lead both men to become legends within their own fields of interest, and the early influences which inspired them both to greatness. Both Rays left an incredible archive of their own, and so we examine the parallels between the collection of the Centre for Ray Bradbury Studies, and the Foundation’s own archive.
The show also contains a never-heard-before interview with Ray Bradbury’s daughter Susan, recorded at Ray Harryhausen’s memorial in 2013, where she shares her memories of ‘Uncle Ray’ and their enduring friendship.
(18) HORTON ON SHORT SFF. One of the field’s grandmasters has added a prime story to his resume: “Rich Horton Reviews Short Fiction’ at Locus Online. (Covers F&SF 9-10/17, Analog 9-10/17, Beneath Ceaseless Skies 8/17/17, Lightspeed 10/17, Tor.com 9/6/17.)
The most exciting short fiction news this month is surely the appearance in the September/October F&SF of a new story by Samuel R. Delany. Even better, “The Hermit of Houston” is exceptional work! It’s set some time in a strange future and is hard to get a grip on (the best kind). From one angle it seems a sort of pastoral utopia, from other angles utterly horrifying. It’s mostly about the narrator’s long-time lover, an older man named Cellibrex (sometimes), and about the hints he lets drop of some of the true nature of this future. There is extremely interesting treatment of gender, politics, law, custom, and memory – and I don’t get everything that’s going on in the story, in a good way. One of the stories of the year, I think.
(19) DEVELOPING FIELD. The Washington Posts’s Rachel Rackza, in “In young-adult novels, queer love stories have begun to feel mainstream”, discusses how teenage LGBT readers have read novels by Cassandra Clare, Audrey Coulthurst, and Anna-Marie McLemore and found comfort in reading YA fantasy with gay characters.
For Mackenzi Lee’s whip-smart “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue,” the author wanted to showcase an authentically positive representation of queer identity in centuries past. “I wanted so badly with this book to say to queer teenagers: ‘You have always existed even before there were words or vocabulary or acceptance,’ ” she said. “I wanted them to know they have not only existed, but they thrived and had fulfilled romantic and sexual lives with people they love.”
(20) SUN-DAY DRIVERS. See: “What Happens When 2 Neutron Stars Collide” — text, and very short video.
An international team of astronomers has concluded that when it comes to theories about colliding neutron stars, Einstein got it right. Everybody else, not so much.
A neutron star is what’s left when a star burns out and collapses in on itself, leaving a small, incredibly dense ball.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicted that when two neutron stars collide, they would generate a gravitational wave, a ripple in space time.
That’s exactly what physicists saw for the first time last summer with LIGO, the new gravitational wave observatory.
(21) YOU’VE GOT MAIL. You could send wild game (dead) or people (living) once upon a time — “The strangest things sent in the UK post”
“There was nothing in the rules to say you couldn’t send people”, Mr Taft said.
In 1909 two suffragettes, Miss Solomon and Miss McLellan, used the Royal Mail’s same-day courier service to post themselves to 10 Downing Street so they could deliver their message personally to Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.
But a Downing Street official refused to sign for them and the delivery boy had to return the women and explain to his bosses why he had failed to make the delivery.
Yet Miss Solomon and Miss McLellan were not the UK’s first “human letters”.
W Reginald Bray, an accountant from Forest Hill in south-east London, claimed to hold that honour having posted himself successfully in 1900, then again in 1903 and for a last time in 1932
(22) THE NEXT GENERATION. Funny but not exactly sensitive — Robert Jackson Bennett’s post at Tor.com: “My Terrible Children Are Both Fake Geeks”.
This is way different than when I grew up, when we kept renting a wobbly VHS of A New Hope from the library, and then my dad brought home The Empire Strikes Back and suddenly we realized that they had made more of these movies, oh my God.
So the Large Son is absolutely drowning in genre exposure. He lives in an age of abundance that I was utterly denied. But does he take advantage of it? Does he religiously memorize all of the various planets, as well as the types of ships?
No. He does not. For a whole damned year he called Darth Vader “Star Vader,” and he still calls Boba Fett “Bobo Fett,” and he calls every kind of land transport an “AT-AT,” which is just abysmally fucking wrong in every kind of way. I created a spreadsheet for him but I am fairly sure he only gave it a cursory glance. Perhaps the most galling thing about it all is that, incredibly, despite having never actually watched a Star Wars movie in the six years of his life (he says they are “too loud,” which, okay, sure), he somehow already knows that Vader is Luke’s father, and he’s just utterly fucking blasé about it, too.
(23) GHOST NOUN. An annual tradition continues — Larry Correa’s “CHRISTMAS NOUN X: THE GHOSTS OF DIE HARDS PAST”. (Thoughtfully linked here to a Wayback Machine page.)
Santa gestured for one of his elves to start the PowerPoint slide show.
“As you can see, this reality is much like ours, but their timeline diverged in the 1980s. Because of the misguided actions of their less militant Christmas Ghosts, they were deprived of the greatest Christmas movie ever made.”
“The Firefly Christmas Special?” asked the elf running the computer.
“Oh no, very few lucky universes got that.” Santa chuckled, as he thought about the heartwarming scene where Jayne’s mom had knitted him a Santa hat, which he’d later used to strangle a reaver. “Besides, that was a two hour TV special that aired during Firefly’s fifth season. I’m talking about how this world was deprived of the greatest Christmas movie ever made… Die Hard.”
There were gasps around the conference table. That was inconceivable. And only boring losers and communists didn’t think of Die Hard as a Christmas movie.
“I know, right? Christmas there is dull and lame now. So we’re going to use the Christmas Noun to send Tim back to 1988, so he can make sure Die Hard actually happens like it’s supposed to.”
“I don’t know, Santa… Since this crosses into another alternate universe’s jurisdiction, isn’t this a job for Tom Stranger?”
Santa shook his head sadly. “Unfortunately, since Larry Correia first started writing the Christmas Noun stories, Audible.com came along and offered him large sums of money to write Tom Stranger stories exclusively for them, so I doubt Tom will show up here. This is up to us and Tim and any other characters who we still own the rights for!”
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Olav Rokne, John King Tarpinian, Bence Pinter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]
SFWA President Cat Rambo, in “Talking About Fireside Fiction’s #BlackSpecFic Reports, Part 1 of 2”, is joined by Steven Barnes, Maurice Broaddus, Tananarive Due, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tonya Liburd, and Nisi Shawl for a roundtable discussion of Fireside Fiction’s reports on blacks in speculative fiction and what the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America might take away from it as action items. Listen to the recording at Soundcloud.
The reports driving their discussion are Antiblack Racism in Speculative Fiction: #BlackSpecFic: A Fireside Fiction Company special report (2015), the follow-up 2016 #BlackSpecFic Report, and the accompanying essays by black writers.
Cat Rambo notes in her introduction:
Here is the central fact they present. Black writers are underrepresented in fantasy and science fiction short fiction magazines. The 2015 figures: 2039 stories in 63 magazines, of which 38 stories were by black authors, in 2015….
For the sake of very broad comparison, American demographics as of July 2016 (according to Wikipedia) were 13.3% African American, 17.8% Latino/Hispanic, and 61.3% white. Like the magazines when it comes to publishing black writers, SFWA’s population skews much whiter than figures might lead one to assume.
Rambo plans to follow the up the two-part discussion with a post about her own takeaway, and how SFWA can respond.
This was a terrific conversation. I was scribbling notes down throughout most of it. In a day or two I’ll post those notes and action items, along with an account of what’s happened so far, but today the focus should be that discussion.
(1) VERSUS ORVILLE. Nick Izumi conducts his own “Trek Off: Comparing ‘The Orville’ to ‘Star Trek: Discovery’” at Nerd & Tie.
The Orville‘s sets and costumes are also reminiscent of 90s Trek. The inside of the ship is well lit, the Bridge design is almost one-to-one with any Federation ship from Star Trek. Event the titular ship basically has a saucer section and light-speed engines in the back. It really doesn’t look bad, all things considered, just really derivative. We all know it wants to be Star Trek, it just legally isn’t. The show does still look very nice, and it’s not just the ins and outs of the ship — the alien make-up is on point. With some occasional cheesy exceptions, you can’t knock The Orville‘s look.
Discovery uses mostly familiar Trek design language, but the budget is clearly much higher than the TV Trek shows that came before it. This has its ups and downs. Some may not take to the very Kelvin Timeline inspired look of the interiors of the Starfleet ships. The new uniforms also seem to be a continuity hiccup, but they honestly look so snazzy, I personally can’t knock them.
What I will knock is the designs of everything Klingon. While Klingon fashion could easily be different in different parts of the universe, the look of the Klingon’s heads and the design language of their ships simply does not match with the established Klingon aesthetic. Frankly, these deviations are not the kind that are easy to overlook. Still, if it serves the story, there’s then I see it as very deal-with-able.
(2) NOT A FAN. NPR’s Glen Weldon dissects the new TV show: “Introducing … The Inept, Inert ‘Inhumans'”
…OK, that’s exactly what you just said abou-
The thing about mutants, see, is that their special abilities manifest, most often, in adolescence.
But with Inhumans, their special abilities only manifest when they’re exposed to a special substance called the Terrigen Mists!
“The Terrigen Mists.”
… Which happens, generally speaking, in their adolescence.
Generally but not exclusively! I hasten to point out!
Great. So this show is about a bunch of Not-Mutants. With special abilities.
… Who live on the moon, yes. In a city called Attilan, invisible to humans. They have a king named Black Bolt, played here by a pair o’cheekbones named, improbably enough, Anson Mount. Black Bolt’s voice is hugely destructive, so he never speaks. His queen is Medusa, played by Serinda Swan. She’s got long red hair with tresses that can punch and choke and, I don’t know, play the bass line to Primus’ “Jerry was a Race Car Driver,” probably.
There’s also Black Bolt’s brother Maximus, played by Game of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon, adding another villain to his IMDB page, although this time a strangely joyless one. He didn’t get special powers when he was exposed to the Terrigen Mists as a kid, which happens sometimes. When it does, the little nonspecial Inhuman in question usually gets sent to the moon mines. But Maximus’ status as a member of Attilan’s royal family kept him free to plot and brood and generally skulk around like a low-key Loki….
(3) APEX MAGAZINE IN PRINT. Jason Sizemore says the “Exciting changes for Apex Magazine in 2018” include the availability of print-on-demand copies of each issue.
Beginning with the January, 2018 double issue (#104), the issue’s content will be published in a 5.5? x 8.5? paperback edition using a POD service and made available for sale from Amazon (and it’s affiliates). The price will be $6 to $8 for a single issue, depending on the size of the content month-to-month. It will only be available for purchase as single issues from Amazon (and possibly Apex–TBD).
When will the print edition become available? About 1 week after the digital release (first Tuesday of each month) of each eBook edition.
What about subscriptions? Subscriptions will only be available as a Patreon backer reward level. There will be a $10 a month backer level (for domestic US backers) that will insure you receive the print version every month. A level will be created for international backers to account for the difference in shipping costs.
Subscriber copies will ship about 2 weeks after the digital release.
Will it have all the short fiction that’s in the digital edition? Yes.
And the nonfiction? Yes.
What about the incredible cover art? Yes. In fact, this was our top priority.
Our January issue is filled with double the stories. Right now, we have original work by Nisi Shawl, Delilah S. Dawson, Nick Mamatas, and Benjamín Naka-Hasebe Kingsley.
(4) CBS TAX STATUS RESTORED. In July, the Carl Brandon Society announced that its IRS tax exemption was reinstated. Nisi Shawl wrote:
The Carl Brandon Society’s Steering Committee is very happy to announce that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has reinstated our organization as an official 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, tax- exempt group–and furthermore that this nonprofit status has been made retroactive to the date it was first revoked, back in 2013. Donations to us are now itemizable for those past years as well as for all years going forward.
Although we’ve been presenting our Octavia E. Butler Scholarships during this temporary revocation period, and also have been actively pursuing the selection of winners of the Kindred and Parallax literary awards, you may have noticed a lull in our fundraising activities. Now that we can safely guarantee the 501 (c) 3 classification applies to us and all your gifts to us, please feel free to help us out!
Of course this great news inspires us to put more energy into our many programs–the Scholarships, the awards, the panels and parties and online discussions and all the other work the Carl Brandon Society carries out to support the presence of POC in the fantastic genres. It also sharpens our commitment to preventing the unfortunate miscommunications that originally caused the temporary revocation of our nonprofit status. To that end we expect to put together annual reports on what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and where we stand financially and in terms of our programmatic goals. Look for the first of these reports by February 2018.
(5) FAUX KITSCHIES. The award was on hiatus last year, but a leading author helpfully filled the gap – “Adam Roberts Phantom Kitschies 2016”.
Adam Roberts, in typical overachieving fashion, managed to read enough books to populate a full and complete shortlist.
No Kitschies were awarded last year. 2016 was a Kitschless year—for one year only it was Nitch on the Kitsch. Which was a shame, since 2016 saw a wealth of (to quote the Kitschies’ remit) ‘progressive, intelligent and entertaining works containing elements of the speculative or fantastic’. So, [*clears throat*] in my capacity a former judge, I thought I’d post some speculative short-lists for the year the prize didn’t happen….
(6) SHEEP DREAMS. NPR’s Chris Klimek loves it: “‘Blade Runner 2049’: Even Sharper Than The Original”.
“I hope you don’t mind me taking a liberty” are the first words spoken in Blade Runner 2049, an unlikely sequel to the oft-revised Ridley Scott sci-fi sleeper that has confounded and divided normals — and been an object of adoration for nerds — for 35 years.
I certainly don’t mind. This inspired, expansive follow-up, for which Blade Runner screenwriter Hampton Fancher returned, though Scott handed the directorial reins to Sicario and Arrival‘s Denis Villeneuve, is less a generational iteration from its precursor than an evolutionary leap. It chews on the many existential questions introduced in Blade Runner — if our machines can think and feel, are they still machines? How do we know our memories can be trusted? Do androids dream of electric sheep, or unicorns or whatever? — more fully and more satisfyingly than Blade Runner did. Yes, even The Final Cut, which came out some 25 years after the original.
(7) CAMERA NOT SO OBSCURA. France strikes back against unreal body images: “Is she Photoshopped? In France, they now have to tell you”.
It’s no secret that images of models are often retouched to make their bodies look thinner or curvier in certain places, to lengthen their legs to mannequin-esque proportions, or to smooth out their skin and widen their eyes.
From Sunday, in France, any commercial image that has been digitally altered to make a model look thinner will have a cigarette-packet style warning on it.
“Photographie retouchée”, it will say, which translates to “edited photograph”.
Anyone flouting the new rule could be fined €37,500 (£33,000) or 30% of the cost of creating the ad.
(8) UNDERAPPRECIATED. In “FFB: Kit Reed, 1932-2017 and some of her peers”, Todd Mason has more to say about the late author, an early nominee for the Best New Author Hugo.
Reed, as noted here last year, started her writing career as a professional journalist, and made a mark, winning industry awards before selling her first short story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1958, “The Wait”…one rather pathetic colleague at the New Haven Register, she recounted not too long ago, would make a point of pulling her office typewriter off her desk and taking over to a corner where he would type out his own attempts at stories, and claimed, upon learning of her F&SF sale, to have sold a story to The New Yorker, which would be appearing Real Soon Now. Reed continued to place fiction with F&SF, and branched out to the Yale Literary Magazine, Robert Lowndes’s Science Fiction, Joseph Payne Brennan’s Macabre, and by 1960 Redbook…while her colleague had slunk off somewhere to await his further stories’ appearance in equally imaginary issues of The Dial and Scribner’s, no doubt.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(11) TAKING CARE OF NUMBER ONE. Yesterday marked a half-century since the show first aired in Britain: “Number Six At 50: The 50th Anniversary Of ‘The Prisoner'”.
As the series went on, and those symbolic elements kept piling up, it became clear that McGoohan — who created the show — was offering an extended, increasingly surreal allegory about the battle of the individual against society.
In the final episode, all that allegorical, Kafkaesque stuff bubbles over. Characters representing Youth and The State deliver monologues about Freedom and Rebellion.
Number Six escapes the prison of the Village but not the prison of himself — get it?
… No, yeah, lots of people didn’t. They wanted clear answers — Where WAS the village? Which side ran it? Who WAS Number One? — but McGoohan gave them symbols and speeches.
(12) DRAWN THAT WAY. At CBR.com, Kieran Shlach says “It’s Time For DC to Acknowledge HG Peter, Wonder Woman’s Co-Creator”.
This year has been a phenomenal year for Wonder Woman. The iconic Amazon has risen to new heights of popularity thanks to the instant-classic story told by Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott and Bilquis Evely as part of DC Rebirth, a blockbuster feature film which blew the doors off even the wildest of expectations, and a new biopic chronicling the life and times of Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston, his wife Elizabeth and their lover Olive.
However, among all those works there’s one name that you won’t see: Harry George Peter, the artist who helped bring Wonder Woman to life along with Marston in the page of 1941’s All-Star Comics #8.
More often than not, comic books are a collaborative format, and everyone deserves credit for their role in that collaboration. The history of comics as an industry is riddled with horror stories of creators being mistreated by publishers when it comes to work-for-hire projects, but recent years has seen those same publishers attempt to make amends. HG Peter created Wonder Woman as much as William Moulton Marston did, and he deserves to be credited for that right alongside his collaborator.
(13) NOT SO SIMPLE MATH. Galactic Journey turns its spotlight to “[September 30, 1962] The Woman Pioneers of Space Exploration”.
But while the Journey has covered the Space Race in lavish detail, it has devoted little space to the woman scientists and engineers involved behind the scenes. In part, this is because space travel is a new field. In part, it’s because science is still a heavily male-dominated arena. While women have risen to prominence as scientists for centuries, from Émilie du Châtelet to Marie Curie to Grace Hopper, it is only very recently that they have made their way to the top ranks of space science.
Times have changed, and there is now a vanguard of women leading the charge that will perhaps someday lead to complete parity between the sexes in this, the newest frontier of science. To a significant degree, this development was spurred by the digital computer, which you’ll see demonstrated in several of the entries in this, the first installment of The Second Sex in Space Exploration….
(14) MONSTERS FROM THE ODD. At Camestros Felapton’s blog, Timothy the Talking Cat threatened France with a lawsuit in “Tim’s Legal Updates”.
Timothy: I’m going to sue FRANCE. France as the thing that is itself France. Not ‘the French’ not the French Government. Not any kind of the adjectival case of France but France strictly as a noun.
Camestros: Ah, you’ve been at the Krell machine again and given yourself a brain boost, haven’t you?
Timothy: I may have partaken a smidgen. How can you tell?
There followed an official (?!?) response from France channeled by the commenter known as KR:
RE: Cease and Desist – Harassment
This letter serves as notice to you and your id monster immediately to cease and desist all harassing activities towards my client the historico-geographic entity currently known as France, aka La Cinquième République, aka La Ve République.
Among your many unwanted gestures, I refer you to the time when you bombarded my client with thousands of documents and old VHS cassette tapes pretending to be Gérard Depardieu making an attempt to regain his citizenship. You sent the Ministre des Affaires sociales et de l’emploi 1848 copies of The Fountainhead with hopes of persuading them of the evils of unionized labour and long summer holidays. You gravely insulted la francophone mondiale by launching a YouTube channel in which you hire Jesse Watters to dress like a mime and throw “Freedom fries” at Antifa in the name of free speech….
And it goes on. As these things do.
(15) PUBLISHED DECISION. This is John Hodgman’s column from the September 17 New York Times Magazine, “Judge John Hodgman on Coerced Bedtime Stories”:
Morgann writes: I bring a case against my husband, Ben, who is an incredibly talented short-fiction writer. I struggle with falling asleep, especially after a stressful workday. I often ask Ben to tell me a short story to help me get sleepy. Ben absolutely refuses. He uses precious wind-down time arguing with me instead of just telling me a silly little story.
There is never a night when my wife asks me to write a short, judgy newspaper column — she knows that I get paid to do that. Also, it would not help her sleep, because I chisel all my first drafts into stone, loudly. (There are no second drafts.) Even if Ben does not write for money, it’s still the case that creativity is work and usually highly personal. Ben deserves as much wind-down time as you do.
(16) TEENIE WEENIE VIBRATION. With the help of colorful animations and graphics, a YouTuber explained “The Absurdity of Detecting Gravitational Waves” in a video released this past January.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]
(1) PETALS TO THE METAL. At Young People Read Old SFF, curator James Davis Nicoll is a little worried:
My hit rate for this series so far has been… somewhat lower than I hoped. It’s not that I am going out of my way to find older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people; it is just that I turn out to have a remarkable talent for finding older SF stories that do not consistently appeal to younger people.
So this time he pulled out one of the greatest short stories in the genre, Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon”. Turns out his young audience wasn’t all that fired-up about it, either. Which reminds me of a favorite joke:
A dog food company once held a convention for its sales force. The president got up and said, “We have the greatest product in the world!” Everybody applauded. “We have the best sales people in the industry!” The cheered wildly. “So,” asked the president, “why aren’t we selling any dog food?” A little man in the back got up and shouted, “It’s the damn dogs, sir! They don’t like it!”
(2) DON’T STAND UNDERNEATH WHEN THEY FLY BY. The odds say that these things are supposed to crash in the ocean. Except when they don’t. “The Space Debris Problem: Dual Impact In Myanmar Shows What’s To Come”.
A mining facility in northern Myanmar became the crash site of a huge piece of space debris last Thursday. As the impact occurred, a smaller piece of debris with Chinese markings on it simultaneously destroyed the roof of a house in a nearby village. Fortunately, no one was injured in either incident.
The larger object is barrel-shaped and measures about 4.5 meters (15 ft) long, with a diameter barely over a meter. “The metal objects are assumed to be part of a satellite or the engine parts of a plane or missile,” a local news report said. The Chinese government is neither confirming nor denying whether both pieces of space junk came from the same object.
(3) FIGHT INTERNMENT. George Takei’s op-ed in the Washington Post reacts against talk about rounding up Muslims and reminds people of what happened when we interned the Japanese — “They interned my family. Don’t let them do it to Muslims”.
There is dangerous talk these days by those who have the ear of some at the highest levels of government. Earlier this week, Carl Higbie, an outspoken Trump surrogate and co-chair of Great America PAC, gave an interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News. They were discussing the notion of a national Muslim registry, a controversial part of the Trump administration’s national security plans, when Higbie dropped a bombshell: “We did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will,” he said. Was he really citing the Japanese American internment, Kelly wanted to know, as grounds for treating Muslims the same way today? Higbie responded that he wasn’t saying we should return to putting people in camps. But then he added, “There is precedent for it.”
Stop and consider these words. The internment was a dark chapter of American history, in which 120,000 people, including me and my family, lost our homes, our livelihoods, and our freedoms because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Higbie speaks of the internment in the abstract, as a “precedent” or a policy, ignoring the true human tragedy that occurred….
(4) THE FRANCHISE THAT LIVED. The BBC renders a verdict — “Film review: Is Fantastic Beasts a Rowling triumph?” Chip Hitchcock says, “tl;dr version: way too many characters for one movie. Rowling says it’s the first of five; sounds a bit like the opening episode ST:TNG, which spent most of its time setting up the main players.”
As exhilarating as all the new sights and sounds are, though, it’s soon apparent that Rowling et al are enjoying their relocation a little too much. A major flaw of the later Harry Potter films was that they crammed in so many characters and incidents from the ever-longer novels that they were baffling to anyone who didn’t know the books by heart. What’s slightly disappointing about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is that, even though it isn’t adapted from a novel, it has a similar problem. Rowling’s superabundant imagination won’t let the story build up momentum: she keeps shoving minor characters and irrelevant details in its path.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
I remember being at the County Fair and there was a display with kiosks. You used a rotary phone to dial your number then using a push-button phone you dialed a random phone number. The elapsed time was displayed and you saw how much faster the push-button phone was compared to the rotary.
(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA. Actor Charles Bronson appeared in the 1953 horror classic House of Wax as Vincent Price’s assistant, Igor. Bronson is credited under his real name, Charles Buchinsky.
(7) ABOLISHING A EUPHEMISM. NPR’s Glen Weldon says “The Term ‘Graphic Novel’ Has Had A Good Run. We Don’t Need It Anymore”.
…And all the other, sillier, less meaningful stuff. Science fiction, or whatever.
Oy. OK. Lots to unpack here, and, to be fair, at lot of it’s our fault. Comics readers and creators, that is.
By the time the great cartoonist Will Eisner slapped the term “graphic novel” on his 1978 book, A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories, the term had been percolating around comics fandom for years. Eisner, however, was a tireless advocate, and wanted people to appreciated that comics are a medium, not a genre. A medium dominated, then as now, by superheroes, but nevertheless a storytelling medium that could be used to tell an infinite number of stories in vastly different ways.
Which is why—
Um, OK. It looks like you’re ramping up. I’m gonna … I’m just gonna grab a seat then.
Fine, go ahead.
The reason Eisner latched onto the term “graphic novel” and ran with it is because … well, it was 1978. He needed to. Comics were considered, if they were considered at all, junk culture. Kid stuff that was beneath serious notice, if not beneath contempt….
Chip Hitchcock comments: “They use Gaiman’s less-colorful metaphor; when he spoke in NYC a decade or so back, he said someone who insisted he did ‘graphic novels’ made him feel like a streetwalker being told she was a lady of the night.”
(8) CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Annalee Newitz lists “All the science fiction and fantasy novels you need to make it through the winter” at Ars Technica.
Everfair, by Nisi Shawl
2016 was a good year for alternate histories, and Shawl’s thought experiment about 19th century colonialism in Everfair is no exception. In this alternate reality, Fabian socialists in Britain manage to team up with African-American missionaries to buy part of the Belgian Congo from King Leopold II, establishing the free African nation of Everfair. Based on an actual historical plan that never came to fruition, the novel imagines how Everfair would develop, changing the history of other colonized African nations as its population swells with American former slaves and liberated peoples of the Congo. Though there is a strong Utopian core to the novel, Shawl does not shy away from depicting thorny, internecine battles between different groups who have opposing definitions of freedom. Plus, we get to see how Everfair develops breathtaking new technologies. Shawl has done incredible research on the history of the Congo, and it shows. This is steampunk done right, with all the tarnish, sweat, and blood visible on the gears of the world’s great industrial technologies.
(9) AH, THAT EXPLAINS IT. I wondered why Vox Day kept using this as a figure for Trump. James McConnaughy makes the connection in “#NotMyGodEmperor: Why Are There So Many Actual Fascists in the Warhammer 40K Fandom?” at The Mary Sue.
That’s ridiculous, I told myself. There’s absolutely no way they could be genuinely identifying with the Imperium of Man or its fascist power structure. After all, the Imperium of Man is a parody of fascism, and not a particularly subtle one at that, since the game constantly talks about how much life sucks and how the authoritarianism causes more problems than it solves. They’d have to be blind to not see that Warhammer 40k is… kid…ding.
Oh. Oh no.
Let’s stop for a moment and talk about satire, because I like hard shifts like that. The problem with satire (or, more directly, the problem with writing satire) is that it has a goal, beyond simply being funny. Satire is pointed, it has a purpose, it is, to use a phrase I often dislike, saying something. More specifically, satire is saying something by taking something it wishes to criticize and blowing it up to absurd proportions.
And therein lies the problem: Satire is always walking the razor’s edge. By using the words and concepts of the thing you are satirizing, you are often giving voice to those words and concepts, and someone out there is going to agree with those words, not the actual point of your satire. That’s the basis of Poe’s Law: Without a blatant display of comedy, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.
(10) PLONK YOUR MAGIC TWANGER. The Financial Times has a regular feature about the one thing people take with them when they travel. Chris Hadfield explained in the November 12 issue why he always carries his guitar with him.
He explains that on his first trip to the Mir space station in 1995 he had a special guitar made by Wright Guitars where owner Rossco Wright “adapted one for me, cutting the neck in half and putting a locking piano hinge on it so it would fold and fit in the shuttle. I had to get approval from Nasa: from the highest level, the director of the space shuttle programme.”
“Just before the flight while I was in quarantine, I got a call from the payloads people saying that although Nasa had approved it, the Russians weren’t gonna let me take the guitar on to Mir because it hadn’t passed all the electromagnetic and flammability tests. So some people from Nasa came to my house, found my spare SoloEtte, did all the testing and passed the results to Russia. We launched–still without permission from the Russians–and I assembled the guitar on Mir, but we weren’t allowed to plug it in. Then,. as we were doing a press conference with Russian prime minister Victor Cheromydin, he said, ‘I understand you have a new guitar–play me a song.’ That sounded like permission, so we played a concert on Mir, and nothing caught fire or blew up.”
Hadfield says that the Larivee Parlour guitar Hadfield used to cover “Space Odyssey” in 2013 “was put there” in the International Space Station “for psychological support (along with books, movies, a harmonica and a couple of footballs” and has been in space since 2001.
(11) SPIGOT, RHYMES WITH… In October, Alexandra Erin created a satirical news feed on Medium called The Daily Spigot. She tells her Patreon supporters that she intended it to be daily, but that illness and the election interrupted her momentum; however, she has started writing new posts again. The latest is: “Trump Asking Every Business In Phone Book About Mexico Plans”
This reporter was allowed into Donald Trump’s private office to witness the real estate developer turned job saver in action.
“Hello, Triple A All-American Locksmiths?” he asked during a typical such call. “This is the President of the United States. That’s right,” he said, while an aide frantically mouthed the words “no, no, no” and another scrawled, “You have to stop saying that” on a piece of paper, which was then pushed across the desk to Trump, who frowned at it, signed it, then pushed it away.
“I’m just calling to see if you had any plans on moving your plant or any jobs to Mexico in, say, the next two months to four years? No? Great! Tremendous. Thanks a bunch. Make America great again!”
He then hung up the phone and said, “That’s another one for the Twitter.”
(12) GROWING UP GROOT. CinemaBlend poses some knotty questions in “How Groot Will Be Different In Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, According To Vin Diesel”.
While plugging his new movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk to Collider, Vin Diesel detoured into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 territory, and noted how in the sequel, Groot will have a significantly more naive mindset compared to how he was as an adult. While it was generally assumed that Baby Groot would behave like a juvenile, Diesel statement confirms that the alien basically be a child, albeit one with extraordinary abilities. However, that mentality doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t remember what he was like before he was destroyed and regrown. At San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Baby Groot will retain his memories, although director James Gunn later told a fan that as far as Baby Groot being the original Groot or a “son,” that situation is “complicated.”.
(13) NOT YOUR AVERAGE OBLATE SPHEROID. Astronomers claim to have discovered the roundest object ever measured in nature. Write this on your hand.
Kepler 11145123 is a distant, slowly rotating star that’s more than twice the size of the Sun.
Researchers were able to show that the difference between its radius as measured to the equator and the radius measured to the poles was just 3km.
“This makes Kepler 11145123 the roundest natural object ever measured,” said lead author Prof Laurent Gizon.
He added that it was “even more round than the Sun”.
(14) INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY IN THE SKY. Elon Musk’s latest: satellite internet: “SpaceX aims to launch internet from space”.
Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, announced last year that the service would be “larger than anything that has been talked about to date” adding that it would take about $10bn (£8bn) to get it off the ground.
The latest documents did not include costs.
It suggested that the first 800 satellites would be used to expand internet access in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands.
Each satellite, about the size of an average car, not including solar panels, would weigh 850 pounds (386kg), the firm said.
[Thanks to JJ, Todd, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
The first issue of Rosarium Publishing’s new prozine Shattered Prism is out. The contents can be read online, or an ecopy can be purchased for download ($2.99).
Editors Carmelo Rafala and Amir Naaman set the magazine’s agenda in “The Human Sea”.
This is our humble addition to the fight: stories of the imagination that know that realism—indeed, reality itself—is a construct. And it is how we construct reality through our own personal prisms of experience that the world around us takes shape. A personal experience.
But this gives readers a great opportunity. Stories of the imagination asks us—indeed, demands of us—to step back and view another’s reality. It is in this viewing that we begin to recognize that there can be common understanding of the varied and beautiful people in this earthly kaleidoscope we call the Human Sea.
And these short stories give us the perfect opportunity to do just that. Stories that shatter the prism of light, showing us new shapes and colors.
Nisi Shawl talks further about these goals in her article, “I.G.Y.”
Often popular culture makes it possible for those of us formerly excluded from it to count ourselves in. Ads admit that people of color shampoo their hair; anthologies invite immigrants to submit their stories; websites offer those signing up for their services dozens of genders by which to identify themselves. Yes, a backlash has risen against this trend of accommodating diversity; some find it threatening. Yet both the coherency and multiplicity of the voices with which we air our beautiful differences, proudly proclaiming our variant glories, the focus and ambience of our cries for the freedom of the world to be comfortable with its complex self–these qualities bode well for our prevailing. Especially when it comes to the kind of futures we dare to dream up….
The stories in Shattered Prism’s premiere issue are:
Editors Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell have announced the table of contents of Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, coming July 1.
The book honors SFWA Grand Master, Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee, and multiple award-winner Samuel R. “Chip” Delany.
Editor Nisi Shawl is the author of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award-winning collection Filter House. She has edited Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars and co-edited Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler. She’s a co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society and a board member for Clarion West.
Editor Bill Campbell co-edited the groundbreaking anthology, Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond.
The project is supported by a $1,500 grant from SF3.
The 100 Year Starship 2014 Public Symposium boasts two explicitly science fictional programs. And don’t ask how that’s different from the rest of the conference — remember, the people going don’t think starships are fictional.
The Symposium takes place in Houston from September 18-21. At the end of Friday’s program attendees can unwind at Science Fiction Stories Night.
Following a book signing featuring SF authors Yoon Ha Lee, Les Johnson, Nisi Shawl, and Edward M. Lerner there will be a screening of the original The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Then during Saturday’s Deep Dive Workshop “Designing Interstellar Capabilities through Steampunk Technology,” Steampunk scholar Mike Pershon (Professor of Literature, Grant Macewan University) will guide participants through the opportunities steampunk presents on the interstellar journey –
Space is a very unforgiving environment and a deep space journey, which may take decades is one in which it may be impossible to carry every critical spare or replacement part needed, and that is where steampunk comes in.
The rest of the symposium has a purpose that is heavy on science and light on fiction —
We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years.
And Mae Jemison of the 100 Year Starship Trust knows why they picked 100 years.
If you said ten years — ‘Nah, we know that’s not long enough.’ If you said 500 years, people would say, ‘I can kick back for another two to three hundred years because I don’t have to worry about it.’ One hundred years is close enough.
The Speculative Literature Foundation has awarded its 2009 Gulliver Travel Research Grant to author Caren Gussoff. The $800 grant will assist Gussoff in visiting western Washington State to research the setting of her near-future novel The King of Seattle.
Gussoff’s stories have appeared in Abyss & Apex, PodCastle and Fantasy Magazine, and in several Seal Press anthologies. Her novel King of Seattle explores a post-pandemic Puget Sound, in which mental illness is a communicable disease.
Gulliver Travel Research Grants are awarded for use in paying for airfare, lodging, or other expenses related to research for a project of speculative fiction. Applications for the seventh annual Grant will open on July 1, 2010.
The full press release follows the jump.