Academy Opens Up Process for Nobel Prize for Literature

By Karl-Johan Norén: The questions about the Nobel Prize in literature and its awarding body—the Swedish Academy—are still very much ongoing, but yesterday it was announced that the Academy would change its process for the preparatory work. Instead of a select committee formed entirely from within the ranks of the Academy, the work of reading the various nominated authors and creating the shortlist would go to a committee made up of five members of the Academy and five external members.

According to Sweden’s The Local (“Swedish Academy to let outsiders help pick Nobel Prize for the first time in its history”) —

The venerable institution, which has awarded the Nobel Literature Prize since 1901, has been in crisis mode since November 2017, after a deep rift emerged among Academy members about how to manage its longstanding ties to a Frenchman accused – and now convicted – of rape.

For the first time in 70 years, the Academy postponed this year’s literature prize by a year while it attempts to sort out its problems.

On Monday, the Academy said in a brief statement that its Nobel Prize committee – usually made up of five members who recommend a laureate to the rest of the Academy – would in 2019 and 2020 also include “five external experts”, including critics, publishers and authors ranging in age from 27 to 73.

The Academy’s permanent secretary, Anders Olsson, told news agency TT the two-year appointment was “temporary”.

And the Associated Press story “Outsiders, Academy Members to Pick Nobel Literature Winners” adds:

The decision to build “a new Nobel committee” was taken “in consultation with the Nobel Foundation,” Anders Olsson, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said in a statement.

“What I understand is we run through (the names of) the prize nominees and discuss it. But I do not know exactly how it will go. We’ll see,” Rebecka Karde, a literary critic and one of those selected, told Swedish broadcaster SVT before the announcement.

One of these external members is of genre interest: Kristoffer Leandoer has worked as a literature critic, poet, and translator, but he has also written poetry and several YA novels which are openly supernatural horror or weird fiction. He was also a very appreciated Guest of Honour of the sf con Fantastika 2003 in Stockholm.

The question of there will be a Nobel Prize in literature next year (then probably awarding the prize for both 2018 and 2019) is still open. The idea of a committee at a remove from the Swedish Academy awarding the Nobel Prize in literature came from the Nobel committee, but they still want to see progress in the public confidence in the Swedish Academy.

Pixel Scroll 10/2/18 I’ve Got Two Pixels To Paradox

(1) SETTING THE SCENE. For the premiere of First Man they turned the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood into the moon.

(2) TERRESTRIAL RAYS. The versions available today are much too big to work as phasers, however, Cosmos assures readers that “The ray-gun is no longer science fiction”.

In the last decade we’ve seen spectacular advances in laser technology that may make the ray-gun practical again.

The Laser Weapons System (LaWS) is one of the first of a new breed of more compact systems based on the fibre laser. Fibre lasers can generate laser beams at efficiencies of 40%, far higher than conventional lasers, and achieve kilowatt powers. High power fibre lasers are already used in industrial cutting and welding machines, some with laser power of 100 kW and capable of welding blocks of metal parts 30 cm thick.

A 100 kW infra-red laser is exactly the ‘heat-ray’ that Wells imagined—equivalent to using a giant, kilometre-wide magnifying glass to focus the sun’s heat energy onto a single point the size of your fingernail.

The objective for LaWS is to affordably shoot down cheaply made insurgent rockets and drones, without wasting absurdly expensive missiles. While an anti-air cruise missile might cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, a single shot from LaWS works out at about $1 in energy cost. In 2014, a LaWS prototype installed on the USS Ponce demonstrated it could shoot down drones and disable boats. The US Air Force plans to put a similar device, developed by Lockheed Martin, on a fighter jet by 2021.

One difference from movie sci-fi, these real ray-guns don’t emit exciting ‘Pew! Pew!’ sound effects when they fire. They’re silent. Wells’ ominous words are more apt: “this invisible, inevitable sword of heat.”

(3) CASTING CALL. For a Dublin 2019 production —

(4) CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THE JEDI. The Hollywood Reporter boosts the signal — “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Negative Buzz Amplified by Russian Trolls, Study Finds”. Or as Rainbow Rowell puts it —

An academic paper finds that half of criticism aimed at director Rian Johnson was politically motivated.

Did Star Wars: The Last Jedi destroy the franchise and permanently rupture the fandom as its critics (melodramatically) have accused it of doing? According to a new academic paper by researcher Morten Bay, the answer is clearly no.

The paper, titled Weaponizing The Haters: The Last Jedi and the strategic politicization of pop culture through social media manipulation, examines the online response to 2017’s Last Jedi, a movie that has come to be considered controversial amongst the larger fanbase of the franchise.

Bay suggests that reputation may not be earned, and instead “finds evidence of deliberate, organized political influence measures disguised as fan arguments,” as he writes in the paper’s abstract. He continues, “The likely objective of these measures is increasing media coverage of the fandom conflict, thereby adding to and further propagating a narrative of widespread discord and dysfunction in American society. Persuading voters of this narrative remains a strategic goal for the U.S. alt-right movement, as well as the Russian Federation.”

(5) BLEAK GEEK. Variety discovered “The Connection Between the Brett Kavanaugh Hearings and Gamergate”.

…Following the revelations regarding his potential involvement in the allegations against Kavanaugh, Judge deleted his Twitter account. However, what remains via screenshots and tweets from others shows regular interaction with other prominent figures in the alt-right, including Chuck Johnson and actor Adam Baldwin, who helped coin the term Gamergate.

In his first Gamergate story for the publication in 2015, Judge exclusively takes aim at Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian, a frequent target of Gamergate harassment, labeling her arguments as “overly broad.” While he suggests that the harassment campaign against Sarkeesian was “disgusting, sad, and intolerable,” he quickly pivots to talk about how “gamers have absolutely demolished” her points….

(6) S&S. DMR begins a Wollheim retrospective with “The Sword and Sorcery Legacy of Donald A. Wollheim: Part One”.

From the day he published the first part of Robert E. Howard’s “The Hyborian Age” in the Spring 1936 issue of The Phantagraph, Donald A. Wollheim–at the ripe old age of twenty-one–began making his mark as an editor in the field of sword and sorcery literature. REH died soon after and Wollheim never published the entire essay, but his S&S cred had been established. To be able to claim the honor of publishing something Conan-related straight from the typewriter of Howard while he was still alive would be a horn on the helm of any heroic fantasy editor, but Don had much more to contribute in the decades to come.

(7) PIONEERING CHARACTERIZATION. Ira Galdkova’s self-revelatory literary exploration, “Miles Vorkosigan and ‘Excellent Life Choices’: (Neuro)Divergence and Decision-Making in Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga”, is featured at Uncanny.

But that very preoccupation with appearance is what I want to talk about. Miles spends so much more time and energy working to normalize the way he looks than normalizing the way he thinks that he can come off as downright anosognosic when it comes to his own neurodivergence. It is only halfway through the series, when Miles makes a disastrous decision while neither manic nor depressed, that he truly grapples with how he makes decisions and weighs choices. Miles is clearly meant to be seen as nonnormative, and psychological treatments are explicitly available in his world. His mother Cordelia advocates therapy in cases such as trauma but doesn’t seek to pathologize Miles’s brain or suggest any form of professional psychological treatment. Other characters also comment on Miles’s mental state(s) but eschew the idea of therapy: “You mean psychiatric? Absolutely not. Real bad idea. If the psych boys ever got hold of him, they’d never let him go. No. This is a family matter.”  In other words, Miles may not be aware of his own neurodivergence, but the text explicitly is, and the way Bujold plays with Miles’s decision making is worth examining.

The narrative thrust of the Vorkosigan Saga is predicated largely on Miles’s many questionable decisions, and decision making is a classic casualty of both bipolar disorder and ADHD. In sharing those conditions, I find Miles fascinating as a protagonist—as subject rather than object. Although recent works like Mishell Baker’s Borderline and Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts feature neurodivergent protagonists, Miles predates them by decades. Society, and by reflection literature, has long framed neurodivergence as a problem to be solved, as a topic rather than a subjective experience. It’s unclear how intentional Bujold was in her portrayal of Miles’s psyche vis-a-vis our pathologized categorizations of conditions such as bipolar and ADHD, but she has consistently captured how those conditions affect the ability to make decisions, and the ability to live with them.

(8) DWYER OBIT. Award-winning set decorator John M. Dwyer has died at the age of 83. The Hollywood Reporter obituary recollected his work on Star Trek, crediting him with the creation of the tribble. (We’ll set aside the role of David Gerrold and Robert Heinlein til another day…)

The 6-foot-6 Dwyer joined the original Star Trek for its second season in 1967, and the first episode on which he was employed was the legendary “The Trouble With Tribbles,” where he got creative using puffy blobs of fur.

He went on to dress up sets for 38 installments of the NBC series, earning an Emmy nomination (shared with Walter M. Jefferies) in 1969 for their art direction and scenic design on the episode “All Our Yesterdays.”

“In the original series we had to be really inventive, because we were dealing with stuff that nobody knew anything about,” he said in “Designing the Final Frontier,” a featurette for a Star Trek DVD. “There was no space shows, and we didn’t have any money, so you had to scrounge; in effect, scrounge everything that you got.”

Dwyer once noted that his budget was usually $500 per show, so he would squirrel away money from one episode to another when he could and picked through trash to use items like packing materials and plastic coffee lids for the Enterprise and alien environments.

“I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I keep in touch with materials that are going around,” he said in 2002. “On the original series, we were the first ones to use refractive Mylar, because it had just come out … and I went crazy with the stuff. In those days, nobody cared what you put on the set, so long as there was something that looked right. I’d take a piece of Masonite and cover it with some adhesive Mylar, put a two-by-four on the backside of it and hang it on a wall.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 2, 1955Alfred Hitchcock Presents made its television debut.
  • October 2, 1959 — The world was changed with the first aired episode of The Twilight Zone

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 2, 1906 – Willy Ley, Writer, Cryptozoologist, and Spaceflight Advocate who helped to popularize rocketry, spaceflight, and natural history in both Germany and the United States. He wrote a handful of SF stories as Robert Willey, but was best known for his non-fiction science articles for Astounding and Amazing Stories, and later for Galaxy Science Fiction, where he was the science editor for the 16 years before his death. He won two Hugo Awards and a Retro Hugo, and two International Fantasy Awards, for his space-related non-fiction writing. The crater Ley on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor.
  • Born October 2, 1909 – Alex Raymond, Artist, a cartoonist generally only known for creating Flash Gordon for King Features in 1934. The strip has been adapted into many media, from a series of movie serials in the 30s and 40s, to a 70s TV series and the 80s feature film — not to be confused with the American-Canadian TV series of the same vintage. Radio serials, myriad films, comic books, novels — any medium that exists has seen Flash Gordon fiction. There are at least fifteen authorized strips and a number of bootleg strips as well. Needless to say, there are bootleg films and serials too.
  • Born October 2, 1911 – Jack Finney, Writer of many short stories who had great success with the time-travel novel Time and Again, but is best remembered for The Body Snatchers, which has inspired numerous alien possession movies including Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a finalist for the 1979 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation. About Time is a collection of his time stories from The Third Level and I Love Galesburg in the Springtime. He was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1987.
  • Born October 2, 1944 – Vernor Vinge, 74, Writer and Mathematician whose numerous short stories and two novel series, both of which I consider excellent, Realtime and Zones of Thought, have garnered many Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, Clarke, Prometheus and Kurd Laßwitz Awards and nominations. He’s done a handful of stand-alone novels; I’ve very fond of Tatja Grimm’s World and Rainbow’s End which won a Hugo. His novellas Fast Times at Fairmont High and The Cookie Monster also won Hugo Awards. He was Writer Guest of Honor at ConJosé, the 60th World Science Fiction Convention, in 2002.
  • Born October 2, 1948 – Persis Khambatta, Actor, a former Miss India who became famous for playing the bald Deltan Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a role which garnered her a Saturn nomination. In 1980 she became the first citizen of India to present an Academy Award. Sadly, she died from cardiac arrest two months short of her 50th birthday.
  • Born October 2, 1948 – Avery Brooks, 70, Actor and Director best known to genre fans for playing Captain Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and lending his majestic voice to videogames in that franchise.
  • Born October 2, 1951 – Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, 67, Actor, Composer and Musician from England who played Feyd-Rautha in David Lynch’s version of Dune and Baron Frankenstein in The Bride, appeared in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and has lent his voice to several animated movies and TV episodes including The Simpsons, Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and Peter and the Wolf.
  • Born October 2, 1967 – Lew Temple, 51, Actor who has played numerous roles in supernatural and horror movies, including The Visitation, Deja Vu, Silent Night, Zombie Night, the reboots of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, and more recently, a part in the TV series The Walking Dead.
  • Born October 2, 1986 – Camilla Belle, 32, Actor who started young, playing genre roles in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Annie: A Royal Adventure, Practical Magic, and A Little Princess and Back to the Secret Garden, the movie versions of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s well-known childrens’ fantasies.

(11) VINGE. Rich Horton celebrates with a post at Strange at Ecbatan“Birthday Review: A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge”.

…As I said, I found the plot inspiring as well. This is a very long book, about 600 pages, but I was never bored. Moreover, as Patrick Nielsen Hayden has taken pains to point out, the prose in this book is quite effective. I believe Patrick used some such term as “full throated scientifictional roar”. Without necessarily understanding exactly what he meant by that, the prose definitely works for me, and in ways which seem possibly particularly “scientifictional” in nature….

(12) WELLEN. Steven H Silver’s winner in today’s birthday sweepstakes was – “Birthday Reviews: Edward Wellen’s ‘Barbarossa’”.

Most of Wellen’s publications were short stories and he was more active in the mystery field than in science fiction, although he began publishing in the genre in 1952 with the non-fact article “Origins of Galactic Slang” in Galaxy.  In 1971, he published his only science fiction novel.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) KEEP BIG BANGING ON. In “The Fourth Copernican Revolution” on Nautilus, Sir Martin Rees, in an excerpt from On the Future: Prospects for Humanity, speculates on if we are living in a multiverse, and if we are, why that would be “the fourth and grandest Copernican revolution.”

At first sight, the concept of parallel universes might seem too arcane to have any practical impact. But it may (in one of its variants) actually offer the prospect of an entirely new kind of computer: the quantum computer, which can transcend the limits of even the fastest digital processor by, in effect, sharing the computational burden among a near infinity of parallel universes.

Fifty years ago, we weren’t sure whether there had been a big bang. My Cambridge mentor Fred Hoyle, for instance, contested the concept, favoring a “steady state” cosmos that was eternal and unchanging. (He was never fully converted—in his later years he espoused a compromise idea that might be called a “steady bang.”) Now we have enough evidence, especially from measurements of the primordial background radiation and the relative abundances of hydrogen, helium, and deuterium created in the first three minutes, to delineate cosmic history back to the ultradense first nanosecond—and to do this with as much confidence as a geologist inferring the early history of Earth. So in 50 more years, it is not overoptimistic to hope that we may have a “unified” physical theory, corroborated by experiment and observation in the everyday world, that is broad enough to describe what happened in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second—where the densities and energies were far higher than the range in which current theories apply. If that future theory were to predict multiple big bangs we should take that prediction seriously, even though it can’t be directly verified (just as we give credence to what Einstein’s theory tells us about the unobservable insides of black holes, because the theory has survived many tests in domains we can observe).

(15) ABOUT THE FANTASTIC BEASTS 2 PUSHBACK. The Washington Post’s Mili Mitra says in an opinion piece that the controversy over Nagini in Fantastic Beasts 2 shows that “fans are also right to ask for thoughtful representation that does more than haphazardly introduce underrepresented caricatures.” — “Is ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ racist? Not quite.”

Twenty years after the first Harry Potter book was released in the United States, the franchise still has the power to amaze — and offend. To this day, J.K. Rowling’s series is still banned in some schools and libraries for promoting “witchcraft.” But with the release last week of a new trailer for the next film in the fictional universe, “Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Rowling is facing a different sort of backlash. This one shouldn’t be dismissed so easily.

(16) ANOTHER CENTURY OF AVENGERS. It’s issue #700, and the story’s set in another timezone “as the mystery of the 1M BC Avengers continues!”

There’s no rest for the heroes who protect Earth…not even when it comes to the Avengers! Earth’s Mightiest Heroes will find themselves facing some of their harshest battles yet – including Namor’s fearsome new Defenders of the Deep and the reimagined Russian Super-Soldiers of the Winter Guard!

To celebrate this jam-packed, landmark 700th anniversary issue, Marvel is excited to reveal an all-new cover by legendary artist David Finch!

(17) FIRST OF THE UNCANNY AVENGERS. They’re back….

This November, UNCANNY X-MEN returns with a new ongoing series, bringing together nearly every mutant left on earth in a story that threatens to destroy them. It’s an epic tale of mystery and tragic disappearance, with an adventure so earth-shattering, it could very well be the X-Men’s FINAL mission!

In celebration of the much-anticipated launch of UNCANNY X-MEN #1, Marvel is excited to reveal a new Hidden Gem variant cover from very own Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, with colors by Richard Isanove!

(18) WONDER WOMAN VARIATION. LAist studies “Wonder Woman’s Latest Enemies: Nazis, The Patriarchy, And Pick-Up Artists” because Earth One, Volume 2 is being released this week.

WONDER WOMAN VS. PICK-UP ARTISTS

One of the book’s villains, codenamed Doctor Psycho, was presented in his 1940s origins as an obvious bad guy. This time, Morrison’s taken that early interpretation and infused it with the modern idea of the pick-up artist community.

Morrison spoke with a female expert on pick-up artist techniques to use them in the new interpretation of the character.

“The Doctor Psycho sequence where he sits and talks to Diana [Wonder Woman] is actually based on the script used by pick-up artists,” Morrison said. “Even the movements he makes — he mirrors all her gestures, he makes these casting off gestures every time he talks about something that he wants her to perceive as negative.”

Today’s LAist post is based on a DC Comics blog interview published in April, “Morrison and Paquette Discuss Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2”

For those of you unfamiliar, the Earth One graphic novels are special out-of-continuity stories that reimagine some of the DC Universe’s most familiar heroes in a totally unfamiliar light, whether it’s stripping Green Lantern of his willpower or imagining Bruce Wayne getting kidnapped for ransom rather than orphaned in an alleyway.

For Diana Prince, Earth One means a brand-new look at both the origin story of Wonder Woman, the culture of Themyscira altogether and her role as an Amazon ambassador to the world of man, something that gets further explored under the highest of stakes in the upcoming, eagerly anticipated WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 2….

(19) THE HORROR. Are you and Goodreads still on speaking terms? If so, ‘tis the season to find out if you’ve read the “50 Most Popular Horror Novels on Goodreads”. I’ve only read 5 of these, so you’re bound to score much higher.

From literal monsters to purely psychological terrors, these are tales of madness and pandemonium, retribution and absolution. Long heralded as the “Master of Horror,” Stephen King reigns supreme, with five books on our list, but his son Joe Hill is not far behind, nabbing four spots. And along with classics from Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Kirkman‘s end-of-the-world comic, The Walking Dead, made the cut as well as an award-winning children’s ghost story, The Graveyard Book, from Neil Gaiman.

And now we present the top horror books on Goodreads in alphabetical order. Proceed at your own risk—and then tell us how many you’ve read in the comments.

(20) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. It’s being eaten alive! — “Is this the last chance to see the Titanic?” Rust-forming bacteria are rapidly consuming the Titanic. Experts predict it will last only a little more than 20 years. This is especially a problem if you were planning to visit in person.

At least 1,500 people died. Engulfed by deep-sea darkness, the wreck sat for more than 70 years while bacteria ate away at its metal hull, leaving behind millions of delicate, icicle-shaped formations.

“Now, there’s more life on Titanic than there was floating on the surface,” says Lori Johnston, microbial ecologist and a six-time visitor of the wreck.

These ‘rusticles’ are the by-products of bacteria that oxidise the iron they consume. The acidic, oxidised fluid oozes downward with gravity, forming fragile branches of rust. “The rusticles are unique because they’re kind of the dominant species down there,” Johnston says.

(21) WOMAN WINS NOBEL PRIZE. BBC brings word of “First woman Physics Nobel winner in 55 years”“Donna Strickland: The ‘laser jock’ Nobel prize winner”.

Donna Strickland, from Canada, is only the third woman winner of the award, along with Marie Curie, who won in 1903, and Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who was awarded the prize in 1963.

Dr Strickland shares this year’s prize with Arthur Ashkin, from the US, and Gerard Mourou, from France.

It recognises their discoveries in the field of laser physics.

Dr Ashkin developed a laser technique described as optical tweezers, which is used to study biological systems.

(22) THEY BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE. On the frontiers of research….

ULTRAGOTHA sent the background to the link: a New Scientist article about Gelada monkeys and wolves — “Monkeys’ cosy alliance with wolves looks like domestication” — basically boils down to: (1) the wolves catch more rodents when the monkeys are present and (2) the monkeys will swarm a wolf that attacks a monkey and drive it away, so it behooves the wolf to not eat the monkeys. “Whether this is a precursor to domestication, I leave up to more research,” says ULTRAGOTHA.

(23) ROSARIUM COMICS. Coming from Rosarium on October 16 – Super Sikh #3 – “If this is your vacation, then your job must be really crazy…”

The Sikh superhero comic book from Eileen Kaur Alden, Supreet Singh Manchanda, and Amit Tayal is now being published by Rosarium Publishing!

Meet Deep Singh. He loves Elvis and hates bad guys. By day he works at a tech company and lives with his parents. But that’s just a front. For Deep Singh is really a top secret agent for the United Nations, fighting terrorism all around the world.

(24) STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Season 2 poster –

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

2018 New Prize in Literature Finalists

By Ahrvid Engholm: The Den Nya Akademin (DNA – “The New Academy”), a private initiative organized among Swedish culture workers because there’ll be no Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018, has announced the finalists for the 2018 New Prize in Literature.

After nominations were taken from librarians, the finalists were selected by popular vote. A jury will select the winner. The prize is to be revealed October 12 and handed out December 9. The finalists are:

  • Haruki Murakami
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Kim Thuy
  • Maryse Condé

The New Academy is presently running a Kickstarter appeal to raise $27,318 to pay for the award ceremony.

It’s said to be a one-year thing because there’ll be no Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018. However, there are hints that if the scandal-ridden Swedish Academy can’t get their act together, there might not be a prize for 2019 either (and will The New Academy Prize step in for 2019 in that case?)

The New Academy was founded to warrant that an international literary prize will be awarded in 2018, but also as a reminder that literature should be associated with democracy, openness, empathy and respect.

In a time when human values are increasingly being called into question, literature becomes the counterforce of oppression and a code of silence. It is now more important than ever that the world’s greatest literary prize should be awarded.

The New Academy is a non-profit organization, politically and financially independent. It consists of a wide range of knowledgeable individuals. The New Academy works within the time frame of the Swedish Academy and in five different committees….

The New Academy will be dissolved in December.

Following weeks of internal bickering, sex-abuse allegations and a financial investigation by police, the Swedish Academy, the body that hands out the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature, announced in May there would be two Nobel Prizes for Literature given next year, the 2018 prize and the 2019 prize. The decision was made on the grounds that the group was in too deep a crisis to choose a Nobel winner properly.

Since then, there has been more news about the “Old” Academy and the fate of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

On July 18, the daily Dagens Nyheter revealed a heated mail exchange between the Academy and the Nobel Foundation. The Nobel Foundation controls the Nobel Prize money and is worried about the Academy’s competence, reputation and legitimacy — especially the last two. They thus demand that the Nobel Prize should for the time being be decided by a separate Nobel committee in which no Academy member who has been compromised in the recent scandals may take part (say, Horace Engdahl…). Such a committee would have non-Academy members, maybe being a majority.

But the Academy says no.

Instead they want to elect four new members this autumn (if they can, with only 10 active members) and continue as before.

This is a serious conflict, because the Nobel Foundation has the money and the power to remove the Prize from the Academy. It has been suggested it may be taken over by the The Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities, as the lengthy English name goes (Vitterhetsakademin in Swedish), a body of circa 60 scholars including many in the field of literature and language. This would be possible since Alfred Nobel only stipulated the body to be “the Academy in Stockholm,” where Vitterhetsakademien also is situated.

At the same time, we had the “Summer” talk by the former permanent secretary Sara Danius on Swedish Radio. The radio show “Sommar” (Summer) is a very popular – millions of listeners – show where a celebrity talks for 1.5 hour and plays his/her favourite music. She of course talked about the Academy crisis, for instance quoting the support (including from Horace Engdahl!) she got when she suggested to let a law firm investigate the affair last November.

And then Horace turned against her. And there was a lot of internal conspiracies that finally forced her to resign as permanent secretary and also as a working member of the Academy. She sounded very bitter in her radio talk: “History won’t be merciful towards Horace Engdahl,” she said. Her program is here, if you know Swedish: https://sverigesradio.se/sida/avsnitt/1077323

On top of this, the Jean Claude Arnault trial begins next month, the case against the man married to Academy member Katarina Frostenson who is charged with two cases of rape (other cases have been dismissed as being past the statute of limitation). This will put the Academy scandals in even more focus. The 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature has been cancelled because of this mess, but it’s not certain that there will be a 2019 prize either.

Then, in August, the three members of the Swedish Academy who earlier announced they’d “quit working for the Swedish Academy” (Sara Danius, former permanent secretary, Kjell Espmark, and Peter Englund, also a former permanent secretary) said they’ll return to help the Academy elect four new members this autumn. This is necessary to reach the quorum of 12 (they were 10 active members, now they’ll be 13) which the statutes require. (See Reuters’ August 30 story — “Three members returning to scandal-ridden Swedish Academy”.)

At the same time they’ll drop – for the time at least – their earlier demand that Horace Engdahl must resign. It is unclear if they’ll come back temporarily just to elect new members or if they’ll return in full to work for the Academy:

They have stated that they will return to save this old institution, which has been ridden with scandals the past year (sex crime allegations against the husband of an Academy member, economic irregularities, leaks of Nobel Prize winners, members quitting, harsh statements and ultimatums going back and forth).

My speculation is that this move has probably come out of negotiations between the three and the “rump Academy” and that is was no big concession to withdraw the demands on Horace Engdahl. He has been so vilified in media already and that would seem like sufficient “punishment.”

As I’ve noted before, there are several people with old connections to the sf community who could be potential Academy members! These are Erik Andersson, Steve Sem-Sandberg, Inger Edelfeldt and Anna Gustafsson Chen. Especially Erik (praised translator of James Joyce and himself an author) who in the 1980s was a leading fanzine editor and fandom columnist. Gustafsson Chen is a sinologist who could replace Göran Malmqvist, who at age 94 could be expected to pack his suitcase any day. The other two are authors with long, acclaimed careers. But we’ll see who they pick. (A delicate question is if people they ask want to join.)

The sexual assault trial against Mr JC Arnault — who ignited the whole thing as his past caught up with him — will be held in Stockholm September 19th, 20th and 24th. Expect extensive coverage in international media.

Pixel Scroll 5/4/18 The Scroll Above The Pixel Was The Color Of An Old File, Tuned To A Dead DNS

(1) NOBEL ROLLOVER. The Associated Press reports “No Nobel literature prize this year but 2 prizes in 2019”.

Following weeks of internal bickering, sex-abuse allegations and a financial investigation by police, the body that hands out the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature announced Friday that no prize will be awarded this year.

Instead, the academy said two Nobel Prizes in Literature will be handed out next year, the 2018 prize and the 2019 prize. The decision was made Thursday at a weekly meeting of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on the grounds that the group was in too deep a crisis to choose a Nobel winner properly.

“The present crisis of confidence places high demands on a long-term and robust work for change,” said Anders Olsson, the academy’s permanent secretary. “We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the Academy before the next laureate can be announced.”

(2) WHEATON’S SPEECH ABOUT DEPRESSION. The actor has posted the text of his speech for NAMI Ohio’s statewide conference, Fulfilling the Promise: “My name is Wil Wheaton. I live with chronic Depression, and I am not ashamed.”

…My life is, by every objective measurement, very very good.

And in spite of all of that, I struggle every day with my self esteem, my self worth, and my value not only as an actor and writer, but as a human being.

That’s because I live with Depression and Anxiety, the tag team champions of the World Wrestling With Mental Illness Federation.

And I’m not ashamed to stand here, in front of six hundred people in this room, and millions more online, and proudly say that I live with mental illness, and that’s okay. I say “with” because even though my mental illness tries its best, it doesn’t control me, it doesn’t define me, and I refuse to be stigmatized by it.

So. My name is Wil Wheaton, and I have Chronic Depression….

(3) MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU.  For the Fourth, iFixit is doing a number of teardowns (inside hardware looks) of Empire/Jedi tech, like this lightsaber:

Do you have the death sentence on twelve systems? Do you frequent wretched hives of scum and villainy? Then you probably don’t want to see this saber firing up.

And by the way –

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Lightsaber, use our service manual.

(4) SALLY FOURTH. SW Day Observation: “Heathrow pranks travellers with fake Star Wars departures board for ‘May the 4th Be With You’”The Sun has the story.

Destinations such as Tatooine, Kamino, Hoth and Jakku were up on the board in a tribute to Star Wars Day.

A note below the 11.40am flight to Jakku announced that it had been “delayed due to sandstorms”.

(5) FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. Saturday May 5 is Free Comic Book Day. Click here to find a participating location near you.

(6) PREVIEWING THE FREEBIES. NPR’s Glen Weldon presents “Free Comic Book Day 2018: A Guide To The Best Bets And The Best Avoided”,  a series of mini-reviews about the free comics being handed out on Saturday.

Free Comic Book Day has been an annual event for 17 years now. I’ve been writing up this guide to the FCBD books for the past 10 of those, so believe me when I say:

This year’s a good ‘un. The best yet. Don’t skip it.

There are more all-ages books in this year’s mix, more stories starring girls, women and people of color and a healthier, more robust selection of genres to choose from than ever before.

It’s also gratifying to see fewer publishers putting out FCBD offerings that amount to little more than samplers, offering readers only tiny snippets of stories from several different comics they publish. Happily, most of the books you’ll be able to pick on Saturday — even those that are simply excerpts from new or forthcoming graphic novels — make for solid, substantial, satisfying reads.

Here’s an example —

Title: Bongo Comics

Genre: TV Tie-In/Humor

The Gist: A perennially solid FCBD choice: Looks and feels like several episodes of (latter-day, it must be said) Simpsons.

Additional Info: Standout story is the lead one: Lisa takes over Krusty’s show and transforms it into an educational snore. (Yes, it’s just a riff on the season one episode “Krusty Gets Busted,” but it’s got primo Sideshow Mel content — he studied English Lit at Cornell!)

Verdict? Sure?

(7) FUNDS ROLL IN FOR BRADBURY STATUE. “Waukegan Ray Bradbury statue fundraising halfway to $125,000 goal” – the Chicago Tribune has the story.

A $ 5,000 donation from the National Gypsum Company has helped the Ray Bradbury Statue Committee reach and surpass its halfway-mark goal to erect a statue commemorating the life and works of world-renowned author and Waukegan native Ray Bradbury.

The proposed 12-foot-tall statue, which will sit on the grounds of the Waukegan Public Library on County Street in downtown Waukegan, was inspired by Bradbury’s poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” and will be created in stainless steel by acclaimed artist Zachary Oxman, depicting Bradbury astride a rocket ship.

(8) ROBOCOP. Another stfnal statue is landing in Detroit: “The Robocop statue finally finds a home”.

Back in 2011, a tweet to then-mayor Dave Bing led to a Kickstarter project that gained worldwide attention.

Project organizers announced yesterday that the Robocop Statue will land at the Michigan Science Center.

It’s been a long, strange trip for the 10-foot-tall bronze statue. From tweet to Facebook group to Kickstarter project to one small plan to one much larger vision. On the project update, organizers say, “From a humble thought of 3D scanning an action figure and blowing it up to 6 feet tall to pour in iron, we somehow found ourselves on a path to create a 10-foot-tall officially MGM-sanctioned bronze statue from a recreation of the original suit Peter Weller wore when he played RoboCop in 1987”.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian found what Chewie and Heathcliff have in common.
  • Workout fashions inspire humor at Off the Mark.
  • Speed Bump makes a genre reference into sports pun to get laughs.

(10) YA AUTHOR INTERVIEW. At NPR, author Dave Eggers talks about his new YA book Lifters: “In Dave Eggers’ New Book, Heroic Kids Do The Heavy Lifting”.

On having kids read his story

They’re astoundingly good editors. They will tell you exactly what’s working, exactly what’s not working. I took every last edit from every one of these kids. They are the purest readers. They do want to be entertained, and I’ll say that sometimes they are easier to please, for sure, than cynical adult readers, because it’s all new to them — so this might have been, like, the seventh chapter book some of these kids read, or the second or the third. So that’s why I feel honored to be part of their reading experience at such a young age, because I remember every last book I read in that era. I was not, like, a voracious reader, so I remember the one or two books a year that I read when I was ten and 11 and 12, because I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to a chapter book at that age.

(11) SHARKE TIME. Now that the official Clarke Award shortlist is out, Shadow Clarke juror Maureen Kincaid Speller takes stock in “Shortlisting Thoughts”.

The Shadow Clarke jurors have now all produced their reading lists, and the official Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist has been revealed. It’s time to reflect on everyone’s choices.

At this point, it is worth reminding everyone once again that the Shadow Clarke jurors are not in direct competition with the Arthur C. Clarke Award judges. Our projects are complementary but rather different. The Clarke Award judges have to choose a winner at the end of their judging process, and we, the sf reading public, are not privy to their deliberations, as is right and proper. The Shadow Clarke jurors, on the other hand, don’t have to choose a winner, hence our emphasis on choosing ‘reading lists’: lists of titles that interest us and will, we hope, promote some broader discussion about the state of science fiction in 2018. And we can talk about how we made our choices. As our introductions have shown, we’ve chosen our lists according to a wide range of criteria. And yes, in some instances we are playing against the system, so to speak, but we have a licence to explore the submissions list in a different way.

(12)DEAR OLD DAD. Son of Bigfoot Trailer #1.

A teenage boy journeys to find his missing father only to discover that he’s actually Bigfoot.

 

(13) WORD COINAGE. Here’s where it’s happening: “Feelinig litt? The five hotspots that are driving English forward”.

The English language is forever in flux, as new words are born and old ones die. But where do these terms come from and what determines whether they survive?

Charting linguistic change was once a painstakingly slow task, but a new analysis of nearly one billion Tweets – presented on 17 April at the Evolang International Conference on Language Evolution in Torun, Poland – now offers us an unprecedented glimpse of this process in action….

The researcher behind the study, Jack Grieve at the University of Birmingham, UK, analysed more than 980 million Tweets in total – consisting of 8.9 billion words – posted between October 2013 and November 2014, and spanning 3,075 of the 3,108 US counties.

From this huge dataset, Grieve first identified any terms that were rare at the beginning of the study (occurring less than once per billion words in the last quarter of 2013) but which had then steadily risen in popularity over the course of the following year. He then filtered the subsequent list for proper nouns (such as Timehop) and those appearing in commercial adverts, and he also removed any words that were already in Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Acronyms, however, were included.

(14) FAUX GYRO. Syfy Wire says “Aliasing illusion makes 3D sculptures wiggle and gyrate”:

Another effect is called “aliasing,” where something is moving in beat with the camera frame rate. The most common of these is when you watch a video of a car moving, and it looks like the wheels are spinning backward. They’re not! It’s just that the wheel spins almost all the way around in the time it takes the camera to take two frames of video, so in the second frame it looks like the wheel has turned backward a little bit. Do this many times in a row and you get that weird effect of the wheels looking like they’re spinning the wrong way. I wrote about this extensively when a video taken by a camera that fell out of a plane went viral. You can also use it to make what looks like a magic spiral of water.

So you can get really weird effects by accident. However, artist John Edmark has used this effect on purpose and to his advantage, creating stunning and mesmerizing videos. He makes sculptures with cyclic patterns in them, then records them spinning (he also uses a strobe light with timed pulses to mimic camera aliasing). What you wind up with is very cool:

 

[Thanks to Kip W., Rich Lynch, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mark Hepworth, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Nobel Becomes Ignoble or, The Popcorn Report

By Ahrvid Engholm: Last fall saw the beginning of the Fall of – or at least serious problems for – the literary influential Swedish Academy, the body deciding the Nobel Prize in Literature. This Prize has earlier been awarded to writers of fantastic literature (at least partly) like Doris Lessing, Jose Saramago, Maria Vargas Llosa, Elfride Jelinek, Gunther Grass, Harry Martinson and others.

On November 21, 18 women appeared in the big morning daily Dagens Nyheter, accusing a culture club organiser of serious sexual harassment, a man named Jean-Claude Arnault. This club had tight connections to the Swedish Academy: it received grants from it, Mr Arnault is married to Academy member Katarina Frostenson and Academy members were often appearing on this club. [If you run the article “18 kvinnor: Kulturprofil har utsatt oss för övergrepp” through Google Translate, it is very readable English.]

The Permanent Secretary – the Academy’s spokesperson and executive officer – Sara Danius commissioned a law firm to investigate the situation. The scandal soon grew. Frostenson was suspected of having leaked Nobel Prize results in advance, which you can bet money on (strange “movements” of those odds have been observed). The scandal also got momentum from the so called #Metoo events.
When the law firm report recently arrived last week – things exploded!

The report concluded e.g. that it was likely that Frostenson had leaked Nobel Prize winners in advance
and that she was a partner in a company in connection to the culture club receiving money. Both things are of course against the Academy rules.

The Academy last Thursday (they meet every Thursday) held a vote about sacking Frostenson due to these breaches, with negative result. Three members of the Academy – Kjell Espmark, Klas Östergren, Peter Englund – next day announced they quit in protest. You sit in the Academy “for life” and can’t formally resign, but you can withdraw working for it. Two members already do, for unconnected old reasons, so the Academy of 18 is now down to 13 working members. Member Sara Stridsberg says she’s considering withdrawing from the Academy, which would make it only 12 working members.

And if they become less than 12 on their sessions, they can’t vote to select new members! All according to the Academy statues, written in 1785 by the then-king Gustaf III, who was also the founder. If Stridsberg decides to call it quits and one more leave it will be extremely serious.

Kjell Espmark for instance motivated his withdrawal with “Integrity is the very soul of the Academy. When Leading voices within the Academy put friendship and other irrelevant considerations before this integrity – then I can no longer take part.” Peter Englund bashed the Academy for “decisions taken I don’t believe in and can’t defend” and Klas Östergren talks about a “betrayal towards the Academy, its founder and it’s High Protector…I’m leaving the game, I’m out of the game”.

Eight voting against an Exclusion Act (no connection to Nycon 1939…) wrote in the daily Svenska Dagbladet April 9th (see the Google Translate version here): “By excluding Katarina Frostenson, the Academy would have issued an extrajudicial punishment, which in its entirety would have exceeded a never-so-called legal judgement, a penalty without appeal or grace.” Member Per Wästberg writes in the same newspaper that he voted for exclusion, but unlike the three quitters he choose to stay in the Academy for the time being.

Permanent Secretary Danius, who has worked for exclusion and has the support of the renegades, was called to the Swedish king Carl XVI Gustaf Sunday April 8th, since he is High Protector of the academy. On the table is to change the statutes to allow academy members to resign entirely, so new members can be elected. (The Swedish constitutional monarch has only ceremonial powers, but maybe he has the power to approve of changing statutes of what is formally a Royal Academy. He is the successor to the founder, after all.) After the meeting with Sara Danius the King made a rare appearance for the press and said they “were working towards a solution and hope to do something that will be for the best, for all involved”. We’ll see. What will her supporters do if Frostenson is sacked?

The law firm’s report also concluded that the culture club Frostenson had interests in had paid wages under the table and broken tax and similar laws. They recommended to turn this over to the police. As for sexual harassment no Academy member had personally seen any, but they had heard rumours and stories about it and seen “unsuitable behaviour”.

There are certainly more exciting news to follow. Swedish newspapers are full of front page headlines, and media abroad also has extensive coverage – probably more than for the literary Nobel Prize itself! The Nobel Prize could be in danger when prominent members leave and the work-flow of the institution becomes poisoned and disrupted. Kjell Espmark was for instance the chairman of the Academy’s Nobel Committee.

As we all enjoy having our popcorn when we sit by the ringside, as the slugging goes on in the World of Fine Arts, it’s interesting to note how the price of corn has risen. Zoom in Dec 2017 to early April 2018, price is up from ca USD3.45 to USD3.90 per bushel: http://www.macrotrends.net/2532/corn-prices-historical-chart-data
Not that we can be certain it has with the turmoil in the Swedish Academy to do…but grab your popcorn as Nobel becomes ignoble.

The /p/o/p/c/o/r/n /d/i/s/p/e/n/s/e/r  — the Swedish Academy’s English home page – is at the link.

Note: An onging joke from Yours Truly is that the ficticious, fannish poet (a serious Vogon challenger) Comet-Johan Bensin jr every year believes he’ll be the next Nobel Prize laureate…maybe he stands a chance now!

A fitting Nobel Prize cartoon.

Kazuo Ishiguro Wins 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 has been awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world” the citation says.

Following the announcement, Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, described Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing style as a mix of Jane Austen and Franz Kafka: “But you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix, and then you stir.”

The fantastic elements in his latest novel, The Buried Giant (2015) argue for his inclusion among the small number of sff authors to win the prize, such as Kipling and Doris Lessing.

That he would consider himself to belong was threshed out in a 2015 exchange between Ursula K. Le Guin and Ishiguro. After he was quoted in an NYT interview pondering, “Will readers follow me into this? Will they understand what I’m trying to do, or will they be prejudiced against the surface elements? Are they going to say this is fantasy?” – Le Guin made the news with her reply – “Well, yes, they probably will. Why not? It appears that the author takes the word for an insult. To me that is so insulting, it reflects such thoughtless prejudice, that I had to write this piece in response.”

Ishiguro subsequently explained, “[Le Guin]’s entitled to like my book or not like my book, but as far as I am concerned, she’s got the wrong person. I am on the side of the pixies and the dragons,” and Le Guin withdrew her criticism: “I am delighted to let Mr Ishiguro make his own case, and to say I am sorry for anything that was hurtful in my evidently over-hasty response to his question ‘Will they think this is fantasy?’”

And in the Academy’s bio-bibliography Ishiguro is explicitly associated with sf —

Ishiguro’s dystopian Never Let Me Go (2005) , Ishiguro introduced a cold undercurrent of science fiction into his work.

His other novels include A Pale View of Hills (1982), An Artist of the Floating World (1986), and The Remains of the Day (1989), which was turned into film with Anthony Hopkins acting as the duty-obsessed butler Stevens. Apart from his eight books, Ishiguro has also written scripts for film and television.

After the award was announced Ishiguro told The Guardian

“It comes at a time when the world is uncertain about its values, its leadership and its safety,” Ishiguro said. “I just hope that my receiving this huge honour will, even in a small way, encourage the forces for goodwill and peace at this time.”

[Thanks to NickPheas for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 10/3/17 You Are Standing In An Open Field West Of A White House, With A Boarded Front Door. There Is A Small Scroll Here.

(1) HEARTLESS. The day after the worst of recent mass-shootings in American history I don’t want to click on Nerds of a Feather and find “Non-review: Destiny 2 by Bungie (developer)”, a post that begins:

Nameless Midnight is my favorite weapon. It’s a scout rifle with explosive rounds and decreased recoil. It’s good in PVP, but it’s amazing in PVE. Every shot is a bloom of damage numbers. With sixteen rounds, I can empty a room with it. Dump a whole magazine into an elite enemy and I’ve probably killed it. Since it’s a scout rifle, it’s second only to a sniper for range too, so I don’t even have to be close. It’s not even an exotic weapon, so I can still carry my Hard Light as a backup. They’re an amazing pair.

I just despair for fandom.

(2) NEW WAVES. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 has been announced, given to those who contributed to the observation of gravitational waves. Half of the award goes to Rainer Weiss (LIGO/VIRGO Collaboration) and the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish (LIGO/VIRGO Collaboration) and Kip S. Thorne (LIGO/VIRGO Collaboration) “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”

Gravitational waves finally captured

On 14 September 2015, the universe’s gravitational waves were observed for the very first time. The waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein a hundred years ago, came from a collision between two black holes. It took 1.3 billion years for the waves to arrive at the LIGO detector in the USA.

The signal was extremely weak when it reached Earth, but is already promising a revolution in astrophysics. Gravitational waves are an entirely new way of observing the most violent events in space and testing the limits of our knowledge.

LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, is a collaborative project with over one thousand researchers from more than twenty countries. Together, they have realised a vision that is almost fifty years old. The 2017 Nobel Laureates have, with their enthusiasm and determination, each been invaluable to the success of LIGO. Pioneers Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne, together with Barry C. Barish, the scientist and leader who brought the project to completion, ensured that four decades of effort led to gravitational waves finally being observed.

(3) BONESTELL DOCUMENTARY. In production, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush With The Future is a feature-length documentary on the life, works, and influence of sff artist Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986). The website is filled with interesting resources.

Long before satellites would journey to planets and deep-space telescopes would photograph distant galaxies, there was an artist whose dazzling visions of planets and stars would capture the imagination of all who beheld them. Before that, he was an architect working on projects like the Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. He would later become a matte painter in Hollywood working on films like “Citizen Kane” and “Destination Moon”. Who was this remarkable man? His name was Chesley Bonestell.

 

(4) FREE PICKERSGILL. David Langford keeps rolling in high gear: “With Ansible out of the way for another month, I’ve been overhauling the TAFF free ebooks page.” Here’s a new addition, Can’t Get Off the Island by Greg Pickersgill.

A selection of living legend Greg Pickersgill’s fanwriting edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer, published to mark Greg’s Fan Guest of Honour role at Interaction, the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon. Autobiography, reviews, convention reports, musings on fandom, controversy … with sources ranging from 1970s fanzines to 2005 posts on private email lists. First published 2005; reissued as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site in October 2017. 76,000 words.

(5) PULPFEST. Seven recordings of program items at the most recent Pulpfest are available for listening:

Compliments of the Domino Lady

Long-time journalist and pop culture historian Michelle Nolan takes a look at a female pulp hero in “Compliments of the Domino Lady.”

100 Years With the Author of Psycho, Robert Bloch

Popular culture professor Garyn Roberts, who was received PulpFest’s Munsey Award in 2013, examines “100 Years With the Author of Psycho, Robert Bloch.”

Hard-Boiled and Dangerous: The Many Characters of Erle Stanley Gardner

Anthony Marks, winner of a 2009 Anthony Award, presents “Hard-Boiled and Dangerous: The Many Characters of Erle Stanley Gardner.”

Hard-Boiled Dicks: A Look at Dime Detective Magazine

Matt Moring, publisher at Altus Press, discuses “Hard-Boiled Dicks: A Look at Dime Detective Magazine.”

The Dangerous Dames of Maxwell Grant: Myra Reldon, Margo Lane, and Carrie Cashin

Will Murray, pulp historian and author of the new adventures of Doc Savage, Pat Savage, and Tarzan, discusses “The Dangerous Dames of Maxwell Grant: Myra Reldon, Margo Lane, and Carrie Cashin.

Guest of Honor Gloria Stoll Karn

David Saunders, pulp art historian and son of pulp artist Norman Saunders, talks with PulpFest 2017 Guest of Honor Gloria Stoll Karn about her career as a pulp artist.

Hard-Boiled at 100: The Don Everhard Stories of Gordon Young

California State University Sacramento professor Tom Krabacher and long-time pulp collector Walker Martin discuss “Hard-Boiled at 100: The Don Everhard Stories of Gordon Young.”

(6) DI FATE’S MAGICON SPEECH. Fanac.org has put on YouTube a video recording of 1992 Worldcon GoH Vincent Di Fate taking up the theme another artist addressed at the first Worldcon, “Science Fiction, Spirit of Youth” (46 minute video):

MagiCon, the 50th worldcon, was held in Orlando, Florida in 1992. As the 50th Worldcon, MagiCon recreated key parts of the first Worldcon program held in 1939. Guest of Honor Vincent Di Fate was asked to speak on the topic “Science Fiction, Spirit of Youth” as a nod to a talk of the same name by the first Worldcon Guest of Honor, Frank R. Paul. Here, Vincent Di Fate provides an engaging view of Frank R. Paul, and his impact on SF illustration. He also reflects on his own influences, on authors such as Robert Heinlein, and on some of the greats of early SF film. His love for science fiction is clear, and contagious.

 

(7) FANTASTIC FICTION AT KGB. Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel will present James Patrick Kelly and Jennifer Marie Brissett at the next gathering of Fantastic Fiction at KGB on October 18.

James Patrick Kelly

James Patrick Kelly has won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. His most recent publications are the novel Mother Go, an audiobook original from Audible and the career retrospective Masters of Science Fiction: James Patrick Kelly from Centipede Press. Forthcoming in November are the premier of his stage play Grouped, at the Paragon Science Fiction Play Festival in Chicago and in February a new story collection from Prime, The Promise of Space. He writes a column on the internet for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and is on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.

Jennifer Marie Brissett

Jennifer Marie Brissett is the author of Elysium. She has been shortlisted for the Locus Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, the storySouth Million Writers Award, and has won the Philip K. Dick Special Citation. Her short stories can be found in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Lightspeed, Uncanny, The Future Fire, APB: Artists against Police Brutality, and other publications. And once in her life, a long time ago and for three and a half years, she owned and operated a Brooklyn indie bookstore called Indigo Café & Books. She is currently on the faculty at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop where she teaches Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing.

The readings begin 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 18, 7 p.m. at KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) in New York.

(8) DISCOVERY REVIEW. Camestros Felapton, in “Review: Star Trek Discovery Episode 3”, wonders if he has the right address.

Or is this Star Trek: Black Ops? The third episode is full of promise for what could be a really good series. Once again, the broad strokes and characters are good but the plot details still need attention.

It is six months after the events of the first two episodes. Michael Burnham is on a shuttle transport amid some kind of space storm on her way with other prisoners to some space mines etc. Viewer alert: engage disbelief suspension system. Beep, beep, beep. Space opera mode engaged: disbelief suspended.

It’s Star Trek, it wants more fake realism than other SF properties but this is still a rubber headed alien universe with tribbles and space monsters. I resolved to give it some more slack when the hull of the shuttle gets infected with electricity eating bugs.

(9) VEGGIES MR. RICO. In Squashalypse!”, BookViewCafe’s Deborah J. Ross finds a way to avert terrestrial takeover by an aggressive nonsentient species.

Okay, we’ve all heard the warnings. In summer squash season, do not leave the window of your parked car down or you will find a 20 lb zucchini on the passenger seat. And every year we (as do many others) suffer a memory lapse and plant — well, too many squash plants. (This applies only to summer squashes like zucchini, pattypan, and crookneck; winter squashes like butternut, buttercup, and acorn aren’t a problem because they can be stored and enjoyed over the course of months.) However, we have devised several strategies for dealing the the bounty that do not involve breaking and entering our neighbors’ vehicles.

(10) ATTENTION TO ORDERS. Hie thee to Camestros Felapton’s blog where you are instructed to laugh at “McEdifice Returns! Chapter n+1”!

It was week 4 of intensive training for the new recruits of the Intergalactic Space Army. Trainee unit Alpha 57 consisted of Dweeble, Mush, Henumhein, Chuckowitz, Mertlebay, Shumpwinder, Scoot, Pumpwhistle, Pendlebee, Zorb, Feratu, and McEdifice.

“I HAVE NEVER SEEN, a more mangy, misbegotten, NO GOOD, bunch of FLEA INFESTED, scum-bag eating EXCUSES for recruits in all MY DAYS at Bootcamp 67!” Drill Sergeant Ernie (Earnest to his friends of which he had none) was professionally loud, cantankerous and had master degrees in bullying, verbal abuse, and counterproductive unfairness.

McEdifice narrowed his eyes. Sure, he understood the basic principle of psychologically breaking the recruits down so as to rebuild their personalities as a hardened unit of warriors but McEdifice couldn’t ignore his instincts and his instincts told him that the camp had been infiltrated by SPACE VAMPIRES. He didn’t know who the infiltrator was but he knew that he didn’t like Drill Sergeant Ernie.

(11) FOR YOUR NYCC VIEWING PLEASURE. Marvel will be streaming programming from this weekend’s New York Comic Con.

Marvel Entertainment invites you to experience the best of New York Comic Con 2017 LIVE from the heart of Manhattan! Starting Thursday, October 5, tune in to Marvel Entertainment’s live stream coverage of NYCC, starting at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT and get ready to be a part of one of the biggest fan events of the year!

Hosted by TWHIP! The Big Marvel Show’s Ryan Penagos and Lorraine Cink, viewers will be able to watch booth events and panels from the Javits Center, play games with their favorite Marvel comic and television talent, and learn about all the fun surprises happening on the convention floor, from exclusive merchandise to special signings.

Join in on the fun by visiting www.marvel.com/NYCC2017Marvel’s YouTube channel or Marvel’s Facebook page. For the first time ever, you can watch Marvel LIVE! from all three platforms!

(12) FANHISTORY FOR SALE. A copy of the 1946 Worldcon program book is up for auction on eBay with some interesting autographs.

SIGNED 1946 WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION

with ORIGINAL UNCUT STICKER SHEET (see last two photos)

SIGNED By: Ray Bradbury, E Everett Evans, Charles A. Lucase, Dale Hart, Myrtle R. Douglas, Gus Willmorth and Russ

The Big Heart Award was originally named in memory of Evans. Myrtle R. Douglas is Morojo, now commemorated for helping originate convention cosplay.

(13) BEER SCIENCE. Tech of a new alcohol trend: “The Taming Of The Brew: How Sour Beer Is Driving A Microbial Gold Rush”.

Trial and error abounds. “We’ve worked with 54 different species from 24 genera,” Bochman says, to find five yeasts capable of souring beers. Nevertheless, each new microbe — whether isolated from the microbiome of the Jamestown historical site, or some guy’s beard — expands sour beers’ flavor palette and allows craft brewers to work with entirely new compounds.

Note especially:

Bochman, for example, uses sour brewing as a “rubber bullet” to train students who’ll transfer their skills to isolating pathogens. “If they drop a sample on the floor, or ruin an experiment, it’s not $2,000 down the drain. You’re not screwing up some cancer cell line. You just spilled a beer.”

(14) UNCANNY DESTROY STRETCH GOAL FUNDS. Not only did the “Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction / Uncanny Magazine” Kickstarter fund Uncanny’s fourth year and the special SF issue, it also met the stretch goal for an additional Disabled People Destroy Fantasy Special Issue.

[Thanks to Dave Langford, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/5/17 Don’t Scroll Until You See the Whites Of Their Pixels

(1) WISDOM. Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture has been posted online.

By listening to all the early folk artists and singing the songs yourself, you pick up the vernacular. You internalize it. You sing it in the ragtime blues, work songs, Georgia sea shanties, Appalachian ballads and cowboy songs. You hear all the finer points, and you learn the details.

You know what it’s all about. Takin’ the pistol out and puttin’ it back in your pocket. Whippin’ your way through traffic, talkin’ in the dark. You know that Stagger Lee was a bad man and that Frankie was a good girl. You know that Washington is a bourgeois town and you’ve heard the deep-pitched voice of John the Revelator and you saw the Titanic sink in a boggy creek. And you’re pals with the wild Irish rover and the wild colonial boy. You heard the muffled drums and the fifes that played lowly. You’ve seen the lusty Lord Donald stick a knife in his wife, and a lot of your comrades have been wrapped in white linen.

I had all the vernacular all down. I knew the rhetoric. None of it went over my head — the devices, the techniques, the secrets, the mysteries — and I knew all the deserted roads that it traveled on, too. I could make it all connect and move with the current of the day. When I started writing my own songs, the folk lingo was the only vocabulary that I knew, and I used it.

(2) TO THE MOON, ALICE. Chuck Wendig couldn’t just review the movie — “Greetings From The Eunuch Moon Colony #457!”

On the first day, I’d heard some rumblings about how the film was doing very well in the box office, perhaps even setting records as a film directed by a woman — strange to think how that was once unusual! — and I’d also heard that there were a handful of “women-only” screenings happening, and that some men were noticeably upset about being excluded. What I didn’t know was what happened during those screenings. They were the start of it. The beginnings of the rebellion. A fast-growing fire….

That was it. That was how it began. Bloody and brutal. Turns out, there was a Special Edition Wonder Woman film. One we men did not get to see. One that indoctrinated the women and the girls, one by one, in the ways of Matriarchy. That was the start of the Lady’s Laws. They spliced in iPhone footage from those initial women-only screenings: the male organs bouncing around, the blood, the chanting, the Vagenda of Manocide laid bare for all to see. It was brainwashing, pure and simple. I’m with her, they said again and again. A mantra. Pointing to the woman on the screen. Wonder Woman. An Amazon. A goddess made of clay killing all the men.

It wasn’t long before the women had taken over. It was only two years later I found myself on a shuttle bound for the moon. To one of the expansionist eunuch colonies. I expected that you’d need us for breeding — not you personally, of course, but the Greater General Lady-You — but turns out, with genetic manipulation, we aren’t needed for much at all.

(3) TOO MUCH GAS. The Center for Planetary Science offers an explanation for “The ‘Wow!’ Signal”.

ABSTRACT

In 2016, the Center for Planetary Science proposed a hypothesis arguing a comet and/or its hydrogen cloud were a strong candidate for the source of the “Wow!” Signal. From 27 November 2016 to 24 February 2017, the Center for Planetary Science conducted 200 observations in the radio spectrum to validate the hypothesis. The investigation discovered that comet 266/P Christensen emitted a radio signal at 1420.25 MHz. All radio emissions detected were within 1° (60 arcminutes) of the known celestial coordinates of the comet as it transited the neighborhood of the “Wow!” Signal. During observations of the comet, a series of experiments determined that known celestial sources at 1420 MHz (i.e., pulsars and/or active galactic nuclei) were not within 15° of comet 266/P Christensen. To dismiss the source of the signal as emission from comet 266/P Christensen, the position of the 10-meter radio telescope was moved 1° (60 arcminutes) away from comet 266/P Christensen. During this experiment, the 1420.25 MHz signal disappeared. When the radio telescope was repositioned back to comet 266/P Christensen, a radio signal at 1420.25 MHz reappeared. Furthermore, to determine if comets other than comet 266/P Christensen emit a radio signal at 1420 MHz, we observed three comets that were selected randomly from the JPL Small Bodies database: P/2013 EW90 (Tenagra), P/2016 J1-A (PANSTARRS), and 237P/LINEAR. During observations of these comets, we detected a radio signal at 1420 MHz. The results of this investigation, therefore, conclude that cometary spectra are detectable at 1420 MHz and, more importantly, that the 1977 “Wow!” Signal was a natural phenomenon from a Solar System body.

(4) A BAD DAY FOR DINO SCI-FI. While astronomers were eliminating the Wow from that space signal, other researchers were taking the mick out of some exciting fossils: “Scientists just destroyed our dreams of a real Jurassic Park”.

Jurassic Park — you know, that silly little novel-turned-movie about mankind bringing dinosaurs back from the dead that made a measly $1 billion — is science fiction, but could it ever actually happen? Researchers studying the remains of one special Tyrannosaurus rex thought it just might be when they discovered what they thought was intact proteins deep within the dinosaur’s fossilized bones. Now, new research has absolutely destroyed the already hazy dream that dinosaurs could one day be resurrected.

When first announced, the discovery of these proteins proved a very exciting event for many paleontologists and scientists. It was the first time that such a discovery had been made, and seemed to fly in the face of the accepted belief that dinosaur fossils simply couldn’t provide the DNA data that would be needed to even begin the process of resurrecting such long-extinct animals. Unfortunately, there was apparently no reason to be excited in the first place, because the proteins detected by lab analysis weren’t even that of a dinosaur.

(5) SALLIS OBIT. Actor Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace of Wallace & Gromit, has died at 96.

Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park led tributes to Sallis, describing him as a “unique character”.

“I’m so sad, but feel so grateful and privileged to have known and worked with Peter over so many years. He was always my first and only choice for Wallace,” Park said in a statement.

(6) HE’S BACK. John Crowley (Little, Big) has a new publication from PM Press — Totalitopia.

John Crowley

John Crowley’s all-new essay “Totalitopia” is a wry how-to guide for building utopias out of the leftovers of modern science fiction. “This Is Our Town,” written especially for this volume, is a warm, witty, and wonderfully moving story about angels, cousins, and natural disasters based on a parochial school third-grade reader. One of Crowley’s hard-to-find masterpieces, “Gone” is a Kafkaesque science fiction adventure about an alien invasion that includes door-to-door leafleting and yard work. Perhaps the most entertaining of Crowley’s “Easy Chair” columns in Harper’s, “Everything That Rises” explores the fractal interface between Russian spiritualism and quantum singularities—-with a nod to both Columbus and Flannery O’Connor. “And Go Like This” creeps in from Datlow’s Year’s Best, the Wild Turkey of horror anthologies.

Plus: There’s a bibliography, an author bio, and of course our Outspoken Interview, the usual cage fight between candor and common sense.

(7) SUPER SHOWCASE. Some of the best sff author around are contributors to —

Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions
Editors: Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson
Released May 12th, 2017

Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others.

It is partially a prose nod to the comic world: the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.

The authors in this collection, both established and new, are all dexterous and wonderfully imaginative, each deserving of their own form-fitting uniforms and capes.

Some of the stories pulse with social commentary, like Cat Rambo’s whimsical and deft “Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut” and Keith Rosson’s haunting “Torch Songs.”

Others twist the genre into strange and new territories, like Stuart Suffel’s atmospheric “Birthright,” Kate Marhsall’s moving “Destroy the City with Me Tonight,” and Adam Shannon’s reality-bending “Over an Embattled City.”

Some punch with heart and humor, like Matt Mikalatos’s satisfying “The Beard of Truth” and Chris Large’s adventurous “Salt City Blue,” while others punch with bite and grit, such as Michael Milne’s evocative “Inheritance,” Aimee Ogden’s poignant “As I Fall Asleep,” and Jennifer Pullen’s heartfelt “Meeting Someone in the 22nd Century.”

Some of the stories feature characters who might not be superheroes in the traditional sense, yet are heroic nonetheless, such as Sarah Pinsker’s imaginative “The Smoke Means It’s Working” and Stephanie Lai’s majestic “The Fall of the Jade Sword.”

Some shine a unique, captivating spotlight on supervillains, like Keith Frady’s dramatic “Fool” and Carrie Vaughn’s romantic “Origin Story.”

Some are somber, ponderous works, where our heroes consider their impact on the world, like Lavie Tidhar’s regret-tinged “Heroes” and Nathan Crowder’s resonant “Madjack.” Others tread more light-hearted waters, with heroes adjusting to the sometimes-comical, sometimes-stressful life in the public eye, like Seanan McGuire’s entertaining “Pedestal” and Patrick Flanagan’s lively “Quintessential Justice.”

And then there are the softer, quieter moments between heroes, as they navigate their extraordinary lives in their own unique ways, such as Ziggy Schutz’s tender “Eggshells” and, of course, Kelly Link’s captivating “Origin Story.”

(8) ROGUE REVIEWER. Aaron Pound at Dreaming of Other Worlds discusses a Hugo finalist “Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

Short review: A convoluted plot sends Jyn Erso to Scarif with a band of ruffians where they set about stealing the plans for the Death Star and kick off the plot of the original Star Wars movie from 1977.

Haiku
Her father taken
A secret design flaw
Desperate mission

(9) LANDMARK NOT DEAD YET. The LAist says “Rejoice, West Hollywood’s Historic Formosa Cafe Plans To Reopen”.

Is West Hollywood’s iconic Formosa Cafe coming back to life? Sure seems that way. In an interview with Los Angeles Magazine, Bobby Green, Dimitri Komarov, and Dima Liberman of 1933 Group (who restored the Highland Park Bowl and The Idle Hour, among other establishments) revealed that they have signed a long-term lease with the property’s owners and will restore the Formosa to its former glory. “We’re gonna put it all back,” Green told LA Mag. “Vince [Jung, the previous, long-time owner/operator] has everything in storage: All the autographed photos, all the Elvis decanters, the lucky Buddha. He’s got everything.”

(10) TWILIGHT OF THE GODS. In 1962, not all customers are satisfied. Galactic Journey takes readers “[June 5, 1962] Into the Sunset (the End of The Twilight Zone, Season 3)”.

You hear that? That’s the last school bell ringing, signifying the end of the school year. That means the beginning of summer break, and with it the end of another season of The Twilight Zone. However, unlike the previous seasons of The Twilight Zone, I hear this may be the last. I am both sad, and a bit relieved. I have very much enjoyed reviewing this series with my father, and I am very sad to see it go. However, I believe it’s also time for it to go. It had a very good first season, and progressively got worse over time as Serling strained for more ideas. It was obvious that by the end, Serling was out of inspiration. Still, rather than focus on all the many mediocre episodes, I’d like to go back and appreciate the really stand-out episodes of The Twilight Zone.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, and Camestros Felapton for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Why Didn’t Tolkien Win a Nobel Prize?

A secret archive containing the deliberations of jurors who awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Literature has been unsealed after 50 years and some material made available for public review. Fans will be pleased to discover J.R.R. Tolkien was considered for the Prize. And annoyed to hear why he was passed over.

For the past five years Swedish reporter Andreas Ekström has sifted through the Nobel archives as they come available:

“The academy keeps a strict secrecy around the archives for 50 years, but doesn’t reveal everything. The final decision is made without any notes ever becoming public. But the list of suggestions is indeed public, with some commentary to it.”

Who nominated Tolkien? None other than his good friend C.S. Lewis. The Swedish Academy invites certain academics, former winners and other institutional representatives to nominate. Lewis, as a professor of literature, was qualified to submit a recommendation. That Lewis might have nominated someone was known from his January 7, 1961 letter to Alistair Fowler (published in C.S. Lewis Collected Letters, Vol III ). I wonder — Was it known that he definitely did so, and that Tolkien was his nominee?

One thing we now know is why Tolkien lost. Critic and jury member Anders Österling declared the prose of Tolkien “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality.”

We also know for the first time how many other notable writers — Karen Blixen, Lawrence Durrell, Robert Frost, Graham Greene, and E.M. Forster — were considered for the 1961 prize ultimately given to Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andrić.

From what I’ve read about fellow Inklings Tolkien and Lewis, I can only imagine Tolkien would have been mortified to learn Lewis had sent in his name. I wonder, did Lewis ever tell him? It happens that the leading Inklings scholars read this blog so I have a good chance of finding out.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]