Cat Rambo dropped the ultimate File 770 in-reference — good going!
Met One of my all-time favorite writers in the SFWA suite – P.C. Hodgell!!! Godstalk forever! pic.twitter.com/wWeWGun6Yz
— Cat Rambo @WorldCon (@Catrambo) August 17, 2018
(1) HERSTORY. James Davis Nicoll, in “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part III”, continues his series for Tor.com.
…Clarion graduate P. C. Hodgell has been active since the late 1970s. She is the author of the long-running Chronicles of the Kencyrath (nine volumes since 1982). Readers of a certain vintage may have vivid memories of the twelve-year desert between the third book in the series, Seeker’s Mask, and the fourth, To Ride a Rathorn. Currently she has the active support of a publisher whose name escapes me. Since the series is continuity-heavy, you will want to start with the first volume, 1982’s God Stalk, in which an amnesiac woman of a race of staunch monotheists finds herself in a city of a thousand gods—none of whom seem to be particularly helpful gods…
(2) CROWDFUNDING AMAZING: AN UPDATE. The Amazing Stories Kickstarter has accumulated $7,811 of its $30,000 goal, with 23 days remaining. Steve Davidson has begun revealing the authors who will be in the first print issue:
While we’re excited about all our authors, let us tell you a little bit about Kameron Hurley and her story…
(3) ANALOG BLOG. From a Featured Futures’ links post I learned about The Astounding/Analog Companion, “the Official Analog Science Fiction and Fact blog.” Last month they published Gregory Benford’s background notes about a piece he wrote for the magazine: “Thinking About Physics a Century Hence”.
I’ve published over 200 short stories and over 200 scientific papers, reflecting a symmetry of sorts.
My career as a professor of physics at UC Irvine has taken most of my working life, with writing as a hobby that has surprised me by success. So I see SF through a scientific lens, focused on plausible futures. But sometimes I just wing it, and speculating on physics a century hence is a grand leap, indeed.
The mock future news report in the current Analog issue [“Physics Tomorrow: A News Item of the Year 2116,” March/April 2018 Analog, on sale now] came from a contest the journal Physics Today ran in 2016: to devise an entry for that journal in a century. I took the challenge, and produced this “story” because the physics intrigued me.
Physics Today did not select my essay, from 230 others. They published much more pedestrian stuff. Since then, I’ve worked with an old friend and general relativity physicist Al Jackson, to calculate in detail how to in fact make a “gravwave transmitter.”
Then I thought, why not try Analog? As a physicist and SF writer, both avenues are natural. Indeed, maybe writing future news items is a new way to think of SF….
(4) ASIMOV’S TOO. There’s also an Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine Author & Editor Blog called From the Earth to the Stars. They recently conducted a “Q&A with Mary Robinette Kowal” about her Asimov’s story “Artisanal Trucking, LLC.”
Asimov’s Editors: What is the story behind this piece?
Mary Robinette Kowal: I was at a conference in a round table discussion talking about automation and privilege. At some point, we were talking about how knitting, which used to be a necessary thing, became automated with knitting machines and now it is a luxury art. It’s expensive to buy wool. It takes time and leisure to make a garment. I said, “I imagine the hipsters of the future will totally do artisanal trucking.” I had more of a point but stopped talking as Story stampeded through my brain.
(5) USING SOCIAL MEDIA. Dawn Witzke begins a series of posts with “On Professionalism: Part 1” at Superversive SF. No writer can go wrong following this piece of advice:
Writers must be on social media, which means that everything, personal and professional is up for examination. How you present yourself online can affect what impression other authors, editors and publishers make of you.
Stick to arguing ideas, not making personal attacks. Most likely this will not be reciprocated. That’s okay. Let them look like the jerk.
Trolling is a whole other ball game. While it’s not seen as professional, some writers use it as a marketing tool (Milo Yiannopolus), which is all well and good if you publish in hotly debated subjects like politics. But in general, it creates as many enemies online as friends. Use with caution.
(6) HAWKING ON THE AIR. Watch Mojo has assembled the “Top 10 Unforgettable Stephen Hawking Cameos in Pop Culture.”
Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking passed away March 14, 2018. But before Stephen Hawking died, he not only made some incredible scientific breakthroughs; there are also many hilarious Stephen Hawking cameos to remember him by. Whether he was supporting Monty Python, speaking to John Oliver or playing poker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Stephen Hawking was a fabulous ambassador for science.
- #10: “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” (2014)
- #9: “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (1993-2009)
- #8: Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking” (1994) & “Talkin’ Hawkin’” (2014)
- #7: “Stephen Hawking’s New Voice” (2017)
- #6: “Anyone Can Quantum” (2016)
- #5: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (2014-)
- #4: “Futurama” (1999-2013)
- #3, #2 & #1???
(7) A BBC/HAWKING ROUNDUP.
The downside of my celebrity is that I can’t go anywhere in the world without being recognized. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.
As the world mourns Prof Stephen Hawking, who has died aged 76, there has been a particular outpouring of emotion in China, where the visionary physicist was revered by scientists, students, the state and even boy band stars.
In 1982, I had responsibility for his third academic book for the Press, Superspace And Supergravity.
This was a messy collection of papers from a technical workshop on how to devise a new theory of gravity.
While that book was in production, I suggested he try something easier: a popular book about the nature of the Universe, suitable for the general market.
Stephen mulled over my suggestion.
(8) FLEISHER OBIT. Michael Fleisher (1942-2018): US comics writer and novelist; died February 2, aged 75. Titles he worked on include The Spectre, Jonah Hex, Shade the Changing Man (created and drawn by Steve Ditko). Famously sued The Comics Journal, publisher Gary Groth and Harlan Ellison over a 1979 interview in which the latter described Fleisher (tongue in cheek, Ellison later claimed) as a “certifiable (..) bugfuck (..) lunatic”; the court found for the defendants. [By Steve Green.]
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY RELATIVIST
(11) COMICS SECTION.
(12) THANKS AND PRANKS. CBR.com answers its own question about the Harlan Ellison references in Hulk comics of the Seventies: “Comic Legends: Did A Hulk Classic Pay Hidden Tribute to a Sci-Fi Great?”
Anyhow, amusingly enough, Thomas was so pumped about having Ellison work on these issues that he actually decided to go a step further and, since the issue came out on April 1st, he would do an April Fool’s prank of sorts by working the name of over 20 Ellison stories into the story!
I won’t list all of them here, but I’ll do a few (the great poster, ruckus24, has all of them here).
Most notably is the title of the story, which is an adaptation of one of Ellison’s most famous story collections…
(13) MAD, YOU SAY. At Galactic Journey, Rosemary Benton reviews the newly released (55 years ago) Vincent Price film Diary of a Madman: “[March 14, 1963] Rising Stars and Unseen Enemies (Reginald Le Borg’s Diary of a Madman)”.
It feels as though, no sooner had the curtain fell and the lights came up on February’s horror/fantasy gem, The Raven, that the film reel snapped to life with another genre-crossing macabre film. While last month’s movie was a light, dry and sardonic comedy with a vaguely medieval setting and a cast of horror movie icons, Diary of a Madman, steps forward with a much more sobering aesthetic.
(14) SEMIPRO AND FAN CATEGORIES. Abigail Nussbaum continues a discussion of her Hugo nominating ballot in “The 2018 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories”. Here’s Nussbaum’s picks to succeed her in a category she won last year.
Best Fan Writer:
(A brief reminder here that I have announced that I would decline a nomination in this category if I received enough votes to qualify this year.)
- Nina Allan – Nina had a great 2017, with her second novel The Rift gaining wide acclaim and attention. She also continued to do good work as a critic and reviewer, on her personal blog, at Strange Horizons, and in the Shadow Clarke project.
- Vajra Chandrasekera – We didn’t see as much of Vajra’s nonfiction writing in 2017 as I would have liked–his focus these days seems to be on his own fiction and on being a fiction editor at Strange Horizons. But his writing at the Shadow Clarke site was some of the most insightful writing that project offered up, in particular this review of Aliya Whitely’s The Arrival of Missives.
- Erin Horáková – After nominating Erin’s magnum opus for Best Related Work, you’re probably not surprised to find me nominating her in this category. As well as that magnificent essay, Erin did other writing for Strange Horizons in 2017, covering movies, plays, and board games.
- Samira Nadkarni – A lot of Samira’s best work is happening on twitter, where in 2017 she made some incisive comments about works like Star Trek: Discovery or Thor: Ragnarok (she had some equally interesting things to say last month about Black Panther). In longer writing, some standouts include her review of Deserts of Fire, an anthology about “modern war” whose project Samira argues with vociferously, and of the Netflix show Crazyhead, in which she discusses the genre trope of conflating mental health problems and superpowers.
(15) NEWS TO ME. Those who wish to enhance their terminological education can start the thread here –
a friend just informed me that some people are referring to worldcon 2019 in dublin as "dubcon" and FOLKS,,, I HAVE.,,, SOMETHING TO TELL YOU,,,,,,,
— S. Qiouyi Lu ? ??? ?? five-star bespoke yelling (@sqiouyilu) March 15, 2018
Just remember – once you know, there’s no going back!
(16) INFOGALATIC. Did you forget about Vox Day’s intended Wikipedia replacement, Infogalactic? Camestros Felapton hasn’t. He gives a status report in “Revisiting Voxopedia”.
Actor Robert Guillaume is alive and well on Voxopedia despite dying in October 2017 in Wikipedia: https://infogalactic.com/info/Robert_Guillaume as is (for all you Swap Shop fans out there) Keith Chegwin https://infogalactic.com/info/Keith_Chegwin who on Wikipedia died in Decemeber 2017. More famous people are more likely to have their deaths recorded but it is hit and miss.
The majority of pages remain as out-of-date Wikipedia pages from 2016 and the basic issue with Voxopedia remains the same: not enough editors and the editors it does have are mainly working on fringe projects. These are supplemented by one-off vanity pages (e.g. https://infogalactic.com/info/Richard_Paolinelli )
In comments, Camestros says Paolinelli wrote most of his own entry for Infogalactic. I’m fine with that. Never depend on others to make you famous, as Elst Weinstein and I concluded 40 years ago. (You probably wondered why there’s a copy of Weinstein & Glyer’s Discount Hoaxarama in every hotel room.)
(17) UP IN THE AIR. From the BBC: “Archaeopteryx flew like a pheasant, say scientists”. A synchrotron scan shows that the bones were hollow enough to allow short bursts of flight.
The famous winged dinosaur Archaeopteryx was capable of flying, according to a new study.
An international research team used powerful X-ray beams to peer inside its bones, showing they were almost hollow, as in modern birds.
The creature flew like a pheasant, using short bursts of active flight, say scientists.
Archaeopteryx has been a source of fascination since the first fossils were found in the 1860s.
(18) OFF THE SHELF. Our hero: “‘Boaty McBoatface’ sub survives ice mission”. The popular-choice name was passed on to autonomous submersible operating from the officially-named RSS David Attenborough. Boaty is just back from 48 hours exploring under an ice shelf.
The nation’s favourite yellow submarine swam under a near-600m thick ice shelf in the Antarctic, returning safely to its launch ship after 48 hours away.
It was an important test for the novel autonomous vehicle, which was developed at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
Boaty’s handlers now plan even more arduous expeditions for the sub in the years ahead.
This includes a traverse under the sea-ice that caps the Arctic Ocean.
(19) FANTASTIC DESTINATION. David Doering declares, “This Miyazki-inspired ad for Oregon travel is stupeyfyingly gorgeous!” — “Only Slightly Exaggerated | Travel Oregon”.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Steve Green, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, David Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
(1) WHAT A CONCEPT. ScienceFiction.com delivers the news in a very amusing way: “Is Jabba The Hutt In Line For His Own ‘Star Wars’ Anthology Film?”
Look out ’50 Shades’ and ‘Magic Mike’! Some real sexy is about to hit the big screen! Namely, a stand-alone ‘Jabba The Hutt’ movie. Yes, following the now-in-production ‘Han Solo’ film, Disney is in some stage of development on additional films that focus on individual members of the vast ‘Star Wars’ mythology, including Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. Now comes word that the space version of ‘The Godfather’ (who is just slightly slimmer than Marlon Brando later in his career) might also get similar treatment.
This news comes from a write-up by Variety about the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ movie and is just casually thrown out…
…As you probably know, Jabba doesn’t speak English. This is something that helped protect C-3PO who he kept around (and intact) in order to translate for him. American audiences rarely embrace foreign films. Does Disney really think The Force is so strong with fans that they will turn out for a movie spoken entirely in a fake alien language?
(2) GALAXY QUEST. A new writer will help the beloved movie resume its trek to TV? Promises, promises!
Amazon’s Galaxy Quest TV revival is back on track. Writer-actor-comedian Paul Scheer of The League has been tapped to pen the script for the Paramount Television-produced series. Scheer takes over for the feature film’s original scribe, Robert Gordon, who was on board to pen the script for the Amazon reboot. The Amazon series is described as a new take on the cult movie that starred Tim Allen, the late Alan Rickman as well as Sigourney Weaver. The original 1999 movie centered on the cast of a since-canceled beloved sci-fi show that was forced to reunite to save the planet after aliens believe their show was real. Plans for the Amazon series were put on hold after Rickman’s passing.
(3) ECLIPSE GUILT. You tell ‘em.
— Monica Valentinelli Has Witches on the Brain ??? (@booksofm) August 19, 2017
(4) HEROIC EFFORT. Hugo administrator Nicholas Whyte has posted packet coordinator Jo Van Ekeren’s deeply interesting “2017 Hugo Voter’s Packet Debrief”. Did we mention, this job is not that easy? Here’s the part about eligibility issues:
Eligibility Issues encountered: after consultation with the Hugo Admins, an explanation was sent to the Finalist of the issue and what the resolution was going to be, and the Finalists were all quite gracious about understanding:
- Short Form Editor including stories they published but did not edit resolution: they resubmitted a document without those stories
- Short Form Editor including a short Novel they edited resolution: the Novel was not included in the packet
- Short Form Editor including an entire issue of a magazine in which they had an editorial published resolution: an extract with only the editorial was included in the packet
- Professional Artist including two works from an non-eligible publication resolution: these were not included in the packet
- Campbell Finalist requested inclusion of non-fiction work in the packet resolution: this was not included in the packet
- Campbell Finalist including a story from a non-eligible market, and a poem resolution: these were not included in the packet
- Fanzine creating an online web page with links to reviews of 2016 works which included a vast majority of reviews written in 2016, but a handful written in 2015 and 2017 resolution: let them know that I was going to let it slide, but that a future Packet Coordinator might not, and if there had been more of them, I wouldn’t have either, and suggested this might be something they wish to take into consideration in future as far as the timing of posting reviews
- Explicit Content: The porn novelette was placed inside a subfolder which included “Note – Explicit Content” in the folder name. The Fan Writer whose work included cartoon nudity and explicit verbiage agreed to create an online page on their website, and a document with a link to that webpage was included in the packet (at my recommendation, this URL was added to their robots.txt file, so that it would not be indexed by search engines).
- Editor Long Form: My original e-mail to the finalists referred to novels edited during the year, and it was called to my attention that the definition actually specifies novel-length works which were published during the eligibility year, and that those works could be either fiction or non-fiction. I sent a revised e-mail to the Editor Long Form Finalists to reflect these changes
(5) CAPTAIN AMERICA’S CREATOR. Mark Peters details “8 Ways Comic Book Legend Jack Kirby Fought Fascism” at Paste.
- He Scouted for the Army
When Kirby joined the army, his reputation as the co-creator of Captain America preceded him—but this talent didn’t get him a cushy job, like many luckier writers and artists. Rather, Kirby ended up serving as a scout, a thankless job that involved sneaking into enemy territory and drawing what he saw to help prepare future missions. This was extremely dangerous. As Kirby put it, “If somebody wants to kill you, they make you a scout.” Before setting off for duty, the auteur cranked out an increased flow of comics, stating that he wanted “to get enough work backlogged that I could go into the Army, kill Hitler, and get back before the readers missed us.”…
- He Was Ready to Fight Nazis Anywhere
Kirby, who grew up in Manhattan’s rough Lower East Side, knew how to throw a fist and didn’t back down from anyone—especially a Nazi. As Mark Evanier describes in his biography Kirby: King of Comics, “…Jack took a call. A voice on the other end said, ‘There are three of us down here in the lobby. We want to see the guy who does this disgusting comic book and show him what real Nazis would do to his Captain America’. To the horror of others in the office, Kirby rolled up his sleeves and headed downstairs. The callers, however, were gone by the time he arrived.” Based on everything we know about Kirby, these Nazi crank-yankers got lucky.
(6) THE WALKING SUITS. A billion dollars is at stake: “Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman Joins Lawusit Against AMC”. ComicsBeat has the story.
It’s a giant chess game out there in the entertainment world, with streaming giants and known content producers vying for the upper hand. Mark Millar signing with Netflix and Robert Kirkman going with Amazon made headlines on their own, but a new lawsuit makes the reason for Kirkman’s new home even more apparent.
On August 14, The Walking Dead’s series co-creator Robert Kirkman, joined producers Gale Anne Hurd, Glen Mazzara and David Alpert in a complaint filed against the AMC television network. The complaint alleges breach of contract, tortious interference, and unfair or fraudulent business acts under California business code. The damages being sought could exceed $1 Billion dollars.
Filed at Los Angeles Superior Court, the suit alleges that AMC “exploited their vertically integrated television structure” to keep “the lion’s share of the series’ profits for itself.” The Hollywood Reporter has provided a great breakdown of the major claims in the suit. The complaint alleges the network in effect reduced series profits using various means, thereby diminishing the percent owed to the named plaintiffs. One of the ways this was accomplished, the suit claims, is by AMC Network paying a lower than fair market licence value than the show is worth–a violation of the plaintiff’s signed agreements.
(7) HODGELL. On the Baen Free Radio Hour for August 18, P.C. Hodgell discusses The Gates of Tagmeth, her latest entry in the Kenycyrath Saga high fantasy series; and part thirteen of the complete audiobook serialization of Liaden Universe® novel Alliance of Equals by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(10) THE COLOR ORANGE. The Horror Writers Association has opened its Halloween Pumpkin Recipe Contest.
(11) THE COLOR PINK. Safety first! “Bed and breakfast helps chickens cross street with high visibility vests”.
A bed and breakfast in Scotland fitted a group of chickens with high-visibility vests to help them cross a local road.
Glenshieling House shared video Friday of a pair of chickens wearing the bright pink vests as they strolled across the rainy street.
(12) PAINOPISTE. The fans who produced Worldcon 75’s newsletter will be happy to tell you how they did it.
A central feature in the preparation of the newsletter was two parallel concerns: we resolved to make the W75 newsletter as accessible to fans with dyslexia & other reading issues as possible; and we resolved to make the newsletter visually impressive and professional-looking.
The Design AH’s experience with several years of Finncons had led to the emergence of a Finncon “house style,” including preferred typefaces & colors, through which Design sought to present a unified visual identity for W75. Consequently Design was able to provide the newsletter with an adaptable, minimalist & clear template design including a custom masthead and footer. This template was produced using Adobe Indesign and some custom graphics.
For my part, I concentrated on the question of accessibility. Early in this process, I noted that while W75 had agreed to follow the SWFA’s document “Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces,” that document contained no discussion on the question of readability. Discussions between myself, the Design AH, the Design DH, and the Member Services DH Vanessa May, resulted in a number of recommendations which were incorporated into the final W75 newsletter. These recommendations were drawn from a combination of personal experience, systematic reviews in academic literature on readability, the British Dyslexia Association’s Dyslexia Style Guide, and the UK National Union of Students’ Disabled Students’ Campaign’s guidance on accessible printed materials.
(13) PRO TIP. There’s some truth in what she says –
— Camille Singer (@CamilleASinger) August 17, 2017
(14) IN THE BEGINNING. James Cooray Smith, in “Starting Star Wars: How George Lucas came to create a galaxy” in New Statesman, has a lot of good information about how Star Wars came to be created, including how the first character Lucas created was Mace Windu and how much of Star Wars was filmed at EMI Elstree because the Harold Wilson government was trying to keep the facility open and one condition of studios filming there was that they had to bring in their own technicians, which suited Lucas fine.
The script development money gave Lucas enough to live on whilst he continued work on the screenplay. As he did so it changed again; a ‘Kiber Crystal’ was written in and then written out. Skywalker became Deak Starkiller’s overweight younger brother before becoming the farm boy familiar from the finished film. Characters swapped names and roles. A new character named Darth Vader – sometimes a rogue Jedi, sometimes a member of the rival ‘Knights of Sith’ – had his role expanded. Some drafts killed him during the explosion of the Death Star, others allowed him to survive; across subsequent drafts his role grew. Some previously major characters disappeared altogether, pushed into a “backstory”, Lucas choosing to develop the practically realisable aspects of his story.
This is an important clarification to the idea that Star Wars was “always” a part of a larger saga, one later incarnated in its sequels and prequels. That’s true, but not in an absolutely literal way. Star Wars itself isn’t an excerpted chunk of a vast plotline, the rest of which was then made over the next few decades. It’s a distillation of as much of a vast, abstract, unfinished epic as could be pitched as a fairly cheap film to be shot using the technology of the mid 1970s. And even then much of the equipment used to make the film would be literally invented by Lucas and his crew during production.
(15) ANALYZING WINNERS. Cora Buhlert has “Some More Words about the 2017 Hugo Awards”.
Last I said in my last Hugo post, I did not expect The Obelisk Gate to win, because it was the second book in a trilogy and those rarely win and also because it was competing in a very strong ballot. In fact, I suspected that All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders would win (which also wasn’t one of my three top picks), since it already won the Nebula and Locus Awards (in the end, it came in second). I’ve been wondering how my predictions for this category could have been so totally off and I suspect that we’re seeing an effect at work here we often see with awards of any kind, from genre awards via general literature prizes to the Oscars, namely that more serious works focussed on serious issues tends to trump lighter works. Now both All the Birds in the Sky and A Closed and Common Orbit are lighter and more hopeful works, even though they do tackle serious issues as well. Coincidentally, A Closed and Common Orbit addresses very similar issues as The Obelisk Gate, namely who is viewed as a person and who is viewed as a thing or tool, but it handles these issues in a very different way. And due to a general bias towards more serious works that can be found in pretty much all awards, a darker book like The Obelisk Gate trumped a lighter and more hopeful treatment of the same theme like A Closed and Common Orbit (or the equally lighter and more hopeful All the Birds in the Sky). It was always pretty obvious that Death’s End and Too Like the Lightning were not going to win, since both were love it or hate it books, which leaves Ninefox Gambit as the other darker and more serious work on the ballot.
(16) THE RETURNS. Steven J. Wright also pores over the order of finish in “Hugo Awards 2017: The Relentless Detail”. For most readers “gone are the days when everyone just voted for Langford and forgot about it” is a lighthearted jape about Best Fanwriter (medic!), while I found it easier to admire this turn of phrase about Best Fancast:
And a big (though genteel) yay from me for Tea and Jeopardy, there, easily my favourite among the podcasts. Not much to say about the vote, except that Ditch Diggers got gradually jostled down into its final place. Next one down the long list is Verity!, which has got to be more fun than The Rageaholic, if only because groin surgery is more fun than The Rageaholic, and yes, I am qualified to make that comparison.
(17) PSYCH. Alexandra Erin did an analysis of how professed beliefs can interact with internal worldviews to lead to apparently contradictory behavior. She used as an example Brad Torgersen and the Hugos. The thread begins here —
LRT: I think we need to recognize the difference between what we profess vs. what we internalize, rather than focusing on "what we believe".
— Alexandra Goblin (@alexandraerin) August 16, 2017
(18) DRAGON AWARDS RUNNERS. Rebecca Hill viewed the recording of last year’s Dragon Awards ceremony and noted the names of the organizers are, besides President Pat Henry, David Cody, Bill Fawcett, and Bev Kaodak. Of course, we reported last year that David Cody left a comment on Monster Hunter Nation on a thread, making sure people knew how to register.
(19) BETTER HUMOR. The death of a space-age “treat”: astronauts no longer have to eat freeze-dried ice cream: “The Best Item In An Astronaut’s Care Package? Definitely The Ice Cream”.
We all remember astronaut ice cream, those little dehydrated bricks of neopolitan.
The reason astronauts generally don’t have much access to the real stuff isn’t rocket science, but rather something we’ve all encountered: a lack of freezer space.
What limited refrigeration there is on the space station is given over to blood samples, urine samples, etc. — stuff you don’t really want next to your Moose Tracks.
Unlike previous cargo vehicles used by NASA, the SpaceX Dragon capsule has the ability to return to Earth without burning up on re-entry.
That means it can bring stuff back. The spacecraft is equipped with freezers to transport medical and scientific samples back to Earth. And sometimes, those freezers are empty when they go up to the station — which leaves room for ice cream, Vickie Kloeris, manager of NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory, tells NPR.
Before the capsule lifted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Monday, she says, NASA’s cold storage team packed it with a sweet array of frozen treats: 30 individual cups of Bluebell ice cream and some Snickers ice cream bars.
(20) HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN. NASA attacks a bigger worry than asteroid collisions: “NASA’s ambitious plan to save Earth from a supervolcano”.
There are around 20 known supervolcanoes on Earth, with major eruptions occurring on average once every 100,000 years. One of the greatest threats an eruption may pose is thought to be starvation, with a prolonged volcanic winter potentially prohibiting civilisation from having enough food for the current population. In 2012, the United Nations estimated that food reserves worldwide would last 74 days.
When Nasa scientists came to consider the problem, they found that the most logical solution could simply be to cool a supervolcano down. A volcano the size of Yellowstone is essentially a gigantic heat generator, equivalent to six industrial power plants. Yellowstone currently leaks about 60-70% of the heat coming up from below into the atmosphere, via water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks. The remainder builds up inside the magma, enabling it to dissolve more and more volatile gases and surrounding rocks. Once this heat reaches a certain threshold, then an explosive eruption is inevitable.
But if more of the heat could be extracted, then the supervolcano would never erupt….
(21) NOW IN SESSION. A Chinese ‘cyber-court’ has been launched for online cases:
The Hangzhou Internet Court opened on Friday and heard its first case – a copyright infringement dispute between an online writer and a web company.
Legal agents in Hangzhou and Beijing accessed the court via their computers and the trial lasted 20 minutes.
The court’s focus will be civil cases, including online shopping disputes.
Judges were sworn in and the first case was presented on a large screen in the courtroom.
(22) BEAGLE SUIT. Cat Eldridge has made the latest filing by Peter S. Beagle’s attorney in his suit against his former manager Connor Cochran available here. The filing includes a brief history of the litigation, including the information that in 2016 the court awarded a firm representing Beagle’s attorney $24,000+ in attorneys fees.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Rose Embolism, Martin Morse Wooster, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
(1) STORIES TO NAVIGATE BY. WIRED editor Scott Dadich introduces their first all-science-fiction issue: “Science Fiction Helps Make Sense of an Uncertain Future”.
Why fiction? Glad you asked. We live in uncertain times. One of this publication’s most important jobs is to see the big trends, spot important business models, and chronicle landmark innovations that show us where we’re going. But right now, that is hard to do. In this rapidly changing, aggressively agitated moment, it’s very difficult to discern what the future holds.
So we decided to consider things a little more obliquely. Sometimes to get a clearer sense of reality, you have to take some time to dream.
To this end, we reached out to a number of our favorite fiction authors and gave them a simple mission: Pick a plausible innovation or change in the world and spin out a near-term scenario. Don’t stick to the current moment. See where your mind goes. Imagine. Have fun.
That’s not to say the stories themselves are all about fun. Many are quite dystopic. N. K. Jemisin—whose novel The Fifth Season won the 2016 Hugo award—spins a cautionary tale about resource depletion and interplanetary relations. The duo that goes by the pen name James S. A. Corey, creators of The Expanse, imagines a world with a universal basic income—and what we are left wanting. Charles Yu, who writes for HBO’s Westworld, examines what life will be like when machines can read our thoughts. Etgar Keret, the celebrated Israeli fiction author, writes about … well, just read it. And in his refreshing “review,” Glen David Gold, the author of Carter Beats the Devil, shows us what we will have to endure in the movie theater someday in the future.
(2) DOWN WITH FAKE NEWS, Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, has donated $1 million to The Poynter Institute. The gift will support a five-year program at Poynter that focuses on verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism.
The Craig Newmark Foundation, the charitable organization established by Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark, is giving Poynter $1 million to fund a faculty chair in journalism ethics.
The gift will support a five-year program at Poynter that focuses on verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism. It’s the largest donation Poynter’s ever received from an individual foundation.
The Newmark Chair will expand on Poynter’s teaching in journalism ethics and develop certification programs for journalists that commit to ethical decision-making practices. The faculty member will also organize an annual conference on ethics issues at Poynter and be a regular contributor to Poynter.org.
Poynter will begin accepting applications for the job in January.
“I want to stand up for trustworthy journalism, and I want to stand against deceptive and fake news,” Newmark, founder of Craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation, said in a statement. “And I want to help news organizations stand and work together to protect themselves and the public against deception by the fake media. Poynter’s the right place to do this work because the Institute has long been very serious about trustworthy news and committed to both training journalists and holding media organizations accountable.”
(3) THIS IS, APPARENTLY, REAL NEWS. Blastr’s Cher Martinetti scoffs at the UN stripping Wonder Woman of her honorary title.
Wonder Woman’s role as an honorary ambassador to the UN has come to an abrupt end less than two months after receiving the designation, due to the backlash the appointment received. Some felt that the character’s sexualization was sending the “wrong message” to young girls, and in a move that was every bit the opposite of empowerment, protested and petitioned the character as a symbol for gender equality. Because nothing says women are equal and empowered more than other women slut-shaming them.
The 45,000 signatures that signed the petition against Wonder Woman’s honorary title, and those who protested the event a couple months back, are a sobering reminder of how we, as women, can’t get out of our own way when it comes to equality and progress. We’re taught at a young age to be shameful of our bodies, that our sexuality should be oppressed, and that other women are our competition and, at times, the enemy. We’re trained to look for the flaws in other females first and weaponize them to take them down. For those 45,000-plus people, of course their only focus was the imagined over-sexualization of a character who was so progressive that she graced the cover of the very first issue of Ms. magazine. You know, since Gloria Steinem is wont to praise women who aren’t empowered….
(4) HE BLINDED US WITH SCIENCE. Camestros Felapton has invented the tool we’ve all been waiting for – “The Thermodynamic Model for Distinguishing Fictional Science from Fictional Magic”.
Oh, the age old problem! Any sufficiently fictional technology is indistinguishable from fictional magic. Faster than light drives? Going really fast magic! Psychic powers? Mind magic with a sciency name. Teleportation? Vanishing magic! Robots? Golems! Viral zombies? Actual zombies!
Well a crack team has been working on this problem here at Felapton Towers and we’ve come up with the Thermodynamic Model for Distinguishing Fictional Science from Fictional Magic.
(5) MIND TRICKS FOR THE EYES. The Washington Post has a review by David Betancourt of Pablo Hidalgo’s “Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy.” It’s a book of propaganda posters for both the Empire and the Rebel Alliance and is really good commercial art. The publisher is Harper Design.
“Propaganda” takes key incidents from “Star Wars” and politicizes them through art. Turning these pages, you’ll see appeals to creatures of the Dark Side and to disciples of the Force. Every opinion on the battle is represented. Some of these posters want you to believe the Death Star is the worst thing ever; others claim those pesky Jedi are the real menace.
Guided by the words of official Star Wars expert Pablo Hidalgo, “Propaganda” is a galactic history lesson, offering even the most devoted fans a deep dive into corners of the George Lucas films they may not have known.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
Jeffrey Alan Love for his book: Notes From The Shadowed City!
This book is AMAZING! It is an illustrated tale of a man who has forgotten who he is while finding himself inside a magical city filled with dark and dangerous wonder. I love the artwork and was completely captivated by the story. This is a book to fire up the imaginations of the readers! A fantasy that introduces you to some of the lessor known magical swords hidden away within the Shadowed City. This beat Passage At Arms, The Incorruptibles, Children Of Fire and all others to carry away the award this year!
(8) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #15. The fifteenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of Lyda Morehouse’s Resurrection Code. She’ll be sending a copy to each of the top three bidders, which is pretty cool.
Today’s auction is a little different. Lyda Morehouse will be sending an autographed trade paperback of her book RESURRECTION CODE to the top three bidders! That’s right, we have three copies to give away, which means triple the chances to win!
About the Book:
Where were you the day the Aswan dams broke? It’s the question that defines my generation. Me, I was stuck in British School al-Rehab hundreds of kilometers from the destruction that plunged North Africa into darkness and drowned twenty million people as massive floods reclaimed the ancient Nile valley. We watched the privileged and the sane abandon Egypt to the criminals, prostitutes, and a mysterious murderous cult of Osiris known as the Deadboys. Not much of the capitol remained, and my life really went to hell.
But that’s not where my story really starts.
My story starts the day I, Christian El-Aref, distinguished myself from the thousands of Cairo street rats and became the Mouse. And I had that dead UN soldier whose body that I, quite literally, stumbled over to thank for it all. Now, if only I can keep myself from getting murdered…
Also included: Morehouse’s AngeLINK-related short story, “ishtartu,” from the Lambda Award-nominated collection Periphery.
(9) BEWARE, GOD-SPOILERS! Fletcher Vredenburgh praises P.C Hodgell’s work at Black Gate – “Last of a Series… For Now: The Sea of Time by P.C. Hodgell”
Lastly, all those things I called out Hodgell for including, they’re all good — I wanted more pages, not less stuff. The Kencyrath and Rathilien are two of the most developed creations in any fantasy books I’ve ever read. For over a thousand pages now, Hodgell has been exploring the whys and wherefores of Kencyrath society and beliefs. The same thing goes for Rathilien. Each book has raised new questions and she’s never seen fit to leave them unaddressed. Doing that, she’s made her invented world and its inhabitants come to life, invested with brio and never seeming untrue.
(10) SEQUEL STALK! He also reminds us that author Hodgell says Baen will bring out the next book in her series in July 2017.
A couple of readers have asked me about this, and I just realized that I hadn’t generally announced it: Baen tells me that The Gates of Tagmeth is due out next July. At that point they will have had the ms in their hands for 14 months. Why the delay? I don’t know. Sorry about that. My agent is working on a contract for the return to Tai-tastigon novel. I’m a bit nervous about revisiting the city after all of these years. For one thing, my style has changed a lot since God Stalk. I think that, technically, I’m a better writer now. However, I don’t think I still have the youthful bounce that made GS so much fun. After all, for me it’s been 30+ years. It will be different for Jame too. A lot has happened in her life too although it’s only been about 4 years. That will be an issue: how much has she changed? Then too, the city is in a bit of a mess. So we’ll see. I’ve carried this extended story in my mind for a long, long time.
(11) GAMERS AND SFWA. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America has posted an update to its game-writing membership qualifications.
After long deliberation, the Board has voted to change the qualifications, and the motion has passed. I welcome feedback on this iteration; I consider these things something that changes and adapts on an ongoing basis as the publishing world changes.
The complaints we heard were about the exclusion of salaried writers, the limit on number of collaborators, since collaboration in games is a different model than stories or novels, and the exclusion of game mechanics.
Here are the new qualifications:
Games in any medium may be used for qualification so long as the game has a narrative element, is in English, and in the science fiction, fantasy, horror or related genres.
Prospective members working on games may qualify by showing a sale or income in one of three ways:
- By making at least one paid sale of a minimum of 40,000 words to a qualified market, or three paid sales to qualified markets totaling at least 10,000 words. Game publishers may be designated as qualified markets using the already established process and criteria used to qualify fiction markets.
- By showing they have earned a net income of at least $3,000 from a game that includes at least 40,000 words of text over the course of a 12-month period since January 1, 2013. Income can be in the form of advance, royalties, or some combination of the three.
- If no word count is possible, such as work done for a video game, prospective members can qualify based on one professionally produced full-length game for which they were paid at least $3,000.
Money from crowd-funding campaigns can be used as part or all of the required income once the game has been delivered to backers, but the amount that can be claimed cannot be more than the net income from the number of games produced and delivered to backers (calculated by the number of backers multiplied by the minimum tier which receives a copy of the game.)
(12) UPROAR OF THE DAY. Yes, there are so many tweetstorms a reader can’t even tell which one triggered this comment:
Radical opinion: If your tweet storm is over 20 tweets long, you're writing an essay. Put it in essay format somewhere else, please.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) December 13, 2016
(13) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS. Quick, somebody write this. Oh, somebody already has? But Kepler data says it’s happening in real life — “Scientists think they’ve found a planet with weather so hot, its clouds are vaporized jewels”.
But on a planet as hot as HAT-P-7b, clouds are likely made of materials that have a much higher melting and boiling point; at those temperatures, most compounds would be permanently in their gaseous states. “Something that has the right sort properties is called corundum,” says Armstrong. On Earth, where temperatures are much lower, corundum is found in rocks—the mineral, when combined with the right elements, forms rubies and sapphires. On HAT-P-7b, the mineral might be forming clouds. “It’s a very good possibility that these clouds are made of corundum, and we’re seeing essentially big condensed clouds of minerals being blown across the planet,” says Armstrong.
Scientists can’t tell for sure that these are gem-based clouds because they’re making observations from billions of miles away; they’d need a sample to analyze to confirm.
(14) EVIL IS LOVE SPELLED WRONG. David Ayer and Margot Robbie will be working together again on the all-female DC villains movie Gotham City Sirens.
David Ayer is back in the business of DC comics villains.
The filmmaker, who directed Warner Bros.’ all-bad guy comic book movie Suicide Squad, is reuniting with that film’s star, Margot Robbie, for Gotham City Sirens, a feature project that will showcase the top female villains from the DC stable, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Ayer will direct and produce the project with Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn, the part-time girlfriend of the Joker who is currently DC’s most popular female character. Robbie is also executive producing.
Sirens was a recent comic series from DC that focused on the popular villainesses from Batman’s rogue gallery. Among them were Quinn, Catwoman, Batman’s sometime love interest, and Poison Ivy, who uses plants and their toxins to get what she wants.
(15) BUGS, MR. POTTER! A newly-discovered spider said to resemble the Sorting Hat has been given a Harry Potter-esque name – eriovixa gryffindori.
There the scientists, along with colleague Sumukha J. N., found their own “fantastic beasts,” including one spider that looked like a lady bug and another tiny arachnid that brought their love for Harry Potter full circle.
It was shaded brown, triangular shaped and, Ahmed and Khalep agreed, looked identical to Rowling’s mischievous Sorting Hat.
The hat is a staple at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry Potter and his pals spend most of their time throughout the seven books. Brown and tattered, it is placed on the head of each first year student and, through a slit in the aged brim folds, shouts out the child’s house assignment after a period of pondering.
As you’ll recall, Godric Gryffindor was the original owner of the Sorting Hat.
(16) MARTIAN BLAME GAME. The Washington Post has an interview by Vicky Hallett of Stephen Petranek, whose 2015 book How We’ll Live Life on Mars is the basis for the National Geographic Channel series Mars. In “Are we really going to land and live on Mars?”, Petranek talks about how he tried to make the TV miniseries as factually accurate as possible and how we had the capacity to go to Mars for 25 years if we hadn’t burned so much money on the space shuttle.
Q: Why has going to Mars seemed so impossible to the public?
A: Part of it is because we didn’t continue to be a space-exploring species after Apollo. There was no particularly good reason to go to the moon. We proved we could do it. Then we didn’t do anything after that. In the 1970s, scientist Wernher von Braun was running around the halls of Congress saying, “I can get humans on Mars.” For at least 30 years, we’ve had the technology. All we did was fly 135 space shuttle missions with nowhere to go. We built the International Space Station, but we weren’t significantly exploring space. People got bored. The only time people paid attention to the space shuttle is when it killed a whole crew. It was supposed to be cheap and reusable, but it cost $1.4 billion every time it went up. We spent $150 billion. If we had one-fourth of that money, we would have had a viable outpost on Mars, and we would have had it for a while.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
(1) FIRST TO WHAT? Matthew Kirschenbaum’s latest discovery about the early days of writers using word processors is shared in “A Screen of Her Own: Gay Courter’s The Midwife and the Literary History of Word Processing” at the Harvard University Press Blog. He acknowledges that by this point, it’s hard to define the question he’s trying to answer —
*First to purchase a system? First to publish their book? First to fully compose? What counts as a word processor anyway? And so on. Besides Pournelle and the others whose names I conjecture in this passage, Track Changes also includes detailed accounts of John Hersey and Len Deighton in its discussion of word processing firsts. Hersey used a mainframe computer at Yale to revise and typeset—but not compose—his novel My Petition for More Space (1974); Deighton leased an IBM Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter for the benefit of his assistant, Ellenor Handley, in managing the revisions for Bomber (1970). The MT/ST was the first office product ever to be actually marketed as a word processor, the ancestor of the System 6—itself not a “digital computer” strictly speaking, it performed no calculations—that the Courters would purchase a decade later.
David Gerrold commented on Facebook:
I think Pournelle was computerized before I was, but I was writing on a word processor before any other writer I knew. I think I started that in 75 or maybe 76.
I had a Savin 900 which was a big box that recorded what you typed onto a cassette tape. The way it stored data, you could also use it for storing mailing lists too.
It connected to a specially modified IBM Selectric — they added a framework between the base and the top, which raised the height of the machine an inch or so. So you still worked on a typewriter, but what you typed was stored.
I put a roll of butcher paper through the machine and I could type all day. Later, I could print out what I’d typed. I could print it out with each line numbered, so I would know where it was on the cassette, or I could print it out formatted, one page at a time. I don’t remember if it numbered the pages, I might have had to do that manually….
(2) SEE GHOSTBUSTERS. JJ, saying “I really love it when someone articulates so well the things which I’ve had difficulty putting my finger on. Kate Tanski does that here, in triplicate,” sent a link to Tanski’s post “The Importance of Seeing Ghostbusters” at Women Write About Comics.
One of the themes in this movie is the importance of being believed. Yes, in this movie, it’s about being believed about ghosts. Erin talks about how she saw a ghost when she was 8, every night for a year. Her parents didn’t believe her, and she went into therapy. Abby (Melissa McCarthy) was the only one who believed her, which was one of the reasons they became friends. It’s not that much of a stretch to think about all the things that women are also often not believed about, as children or as adults. And that part of the movie, thankfully, and pointedly, doesn’t devolve into comedy. It lets the moment of remembered trauma be serious….
But despite of all its very good qualities and the high entertainment factor, the reason why I want this movie to succeed so hard is because of the row of girls who sat behind me. It’s because of the little girl, probably no more than six, who hid behind her dad and whispered to him, that I was “dressed up like the lady from the movie” when she saw me in my Ghostbusters coveralls and then smiled shyly when our eyes met. It’s for the teenage girl who rolled down her window and yelled “GHOSTBUSTERS, YEAH!” as I was walking to my car after the movie got out. It’s for this entire generation of girls who now, because of this movie, think that Ghostbusters can be women. Because it’s not something that I, even a few years ago, would’ve believed possible, even in cosplay….
… it never occurred to me when I was a child that I could be a Ghostbuster. I could be Janine, sure, and pine awkwardly for the scientist. It never occurred to me that I could be a scientist. Or that it didn’t have to be a boy I was pining for. And that’s why these movies, these reclamations of childhood favorites retold as something more than just a male power fantasy, are so important… A new Ghostbusters that doesn’t just feature a singular woman as part of a team, but a new team wholly composed of women who decide for themselves to do this not because of any male legacy, but because of who they are, and who doesn’t wait for anyone’s permission to exist…
(3) GHOSTBUSTER SHORTCOMINGS. Dave Taylor finds things he likes but also points out many flaws in his “Movie Review: ‘Ghostbusters’” for ScienceFiction.com.
Let’s start with the good news: The new Ghostbusters is funny and entertaining, the story moves along at a solid clip and has lots of cameos from the stars of the original 1986 Ghostbusters too. The story works with four women in the lead roles instead of the four men in the original film just fine.
That’s not the problem with this remake. In fact, there are two fundamental problems when you look at it more closely than just asking whether it’s funny: The first is that there’s not much actual story, no real narrative crescendo that is resolved in the last reel. That’s because of the second, bigger problem: The new film tries way too hard to pay homage to the original movie.
There aren’t just cameos, for example, there are characters on screen that have pointless, flat scenes that break the narrative flow….
(4) GHOSTBUSTER LIKER. Ben Silverio at ScienceFiction.com answers with a “Movie Review Rebuttal: ‘Ghostbusters’ (2016)”.
Another thing that worked really well for me was the way that they showed the trial and error of the Ghostbusters’ equipment. This was their first mission together and most of Holtzmann’s tools had gone untested up until this point. Not only was it cool to see the proton packs evolve, but it was also very, very cool to see female scientists onscreen in a major Hollywood blockbuster bringing this technology to life.
At the end of the day, I only had one major complaint about ‘Ghostbusters’: How do you set a movie in a major metropolis like New York City and only have one Asian character with lines? (For those wondering, that character was Bennie the delivery boy, who was played by ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ star Karan Soni.) But since that’s a problem throughout the entertainment industry and not just this isolated film, it’s hard to come up with any other reasons for me to generally dislike this reboot.
(5) BUSTER BUSTER. John Scalzi delivers “A Short Review of Ghostbusters and A Longer Pummel of Manboys”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
BUT THEY’VE RUINED MY CHILDHOOD BY BEING WOMEN, wails a certain, entitled subset of male nerd on the Internet. Well, good, you pathetic little shitballs. If your entire childhood can be irrevocably destroyed by four women with proton packs, your childhood clearly sucked and it needs to go up in hearty, crackling flames. Now you are free, boys, free! Enjoy the now. Honestly, I don’t think it’s entirely a coincidence that one of the weakest parts of this film is its villain, who (very minor spoiler) is literally a basement-dwelling man-boy just itchin’ to make the world pay for not making him its king, as he is so clearly meant to be. These feculent lads are annoying enough in the real world. It’s difficult to make them any more interesting on screen.
(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. “Boston area fan (and an old friend of mine) Stephanie Clarkson is in a bad way,” writes James Davis Nicoll.
Clarkson’s friend Laurie Beth Brunner fills in the details in a public Facebook post that begins —
It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Stephanie’s condition has taken a drastic turn for the worse in the last week.
(7) SILVER ON RADIO. On Tuesday, July 19, Steven H Silver will be interviewed on “The Colin McEnroe Show”, carried on WNPR in the New York-Boston corridor, or available for streaming on their website. The show will focus on Alternate History and runs from 1:00-2:00 p.m. and again from 8:00-9:00 p.m.
(8) FEEDBACK. Fynbospress at Mad Genius Club runs through the value of reviews at different stages of the process in “Reviews – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta? All Greek to You?”
Since the subject of reviews came up, here’s an overview of a few sorts of reviews, and what’s most helpful on each one. The critical thing to remember is that reviews vary by audience, as well as reviewers!
There are no fixed definitions, so these term vary wildly from author to author. I’ll just walk through the concepts in Greek letter order, completely ignoring what any particular author calls ’em.
Alpha Reviews: Technical Aspects
These are often sought before the manuscript is written, much less complete – but sometimes the author just writes the scene in their head, then hits up people afterward to fact-check. Often submitted with “So, can you parachute out of a small plane?” or “Where is the firing switch on a T-38?” or “You’ve ranched in the southwest. What do you think of this trail scene?”
Sometimes, the feedback will make it clear you can’t do the scene you wanted, not without breaking the suspension of disbelief of anyone who knows anything about the subject. Often, though, more discussion will turn up even niftier alternatives. Tell your technical expert what you want to accomplish, and they may come up with things you never dreamed of….
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
(12) VOTE. In “The 2016 Hugo Awards: Two Weeks Out”, Abigail Nussbaum spends the first three paragraphs explaining that compared to 2015, practically no one is talking about the Hugos this year. It’s hard to imagine how with that alternate reality introduction she still manages to lead to a final, important admonition:
Which is great on one level, and on another is worrying. Because another thing that hasn’t been happening this year is the huge influx of Worldcon members buying supporting memberships for the sole purpose of protesting against the puppies’ attempts to dominate the Hugos. At the moment, MidAmericon II has 5,600 members, and is on track to be a mid-sized North American convention, which probably means fairly normal Hugo voting numbers, not the outsized protest vote we saw last year. Now, as I’ve said many times in the past, I have a great deal of faith in Hugo voters’ ability to tell astroturf nominees from the real deal, and to smack down nominees that have no business being on the ballot. But the numbers still need to be on our side. Chaos Horizon estimated that there were between 250 and 500 Rabid Puppy nominators this year. I’d like to believe that the real number is closer to the lower boundary than the higher–there can’t, surely, be 500 people with so little going on in their lives that they’d be willing to spend good money just to make Vox Day happy (or whatever approximation of the human emotion known as happiness can be felt by someone so occupationally miserable). But if I’m wrong, and those people show up in the same numbers this year, then they have a solid chance of overwhelming the good sense and decency of the people who want the Hugos to be what they were meant to be, an award recognizing the excellence and diversity of what science fiction and fantasy achieved in the last year.
So, if you are a member of MidAmericon II, please remember to vote.
(13) MACII BINGO DISSENT. Patrick Nielsen Hayden is not a fan of the grid –
@MidAmeriCon2 You know what the Hugo Awards don't need? More people being confused about their actual history. Even as a joke.
— P Nielsen Hayden (@pnh) July 17, 2016
(14) BALLOT SNAPSHOT. Mark Ciocco says Stephen King gets his vote for the Best Novelette Hugo.
Continuing the march through the Hugo finalists, we come to the awkward middle-ground between short stories and novellas that no one else uses but SF people: Novelettes. Fortunately, this is a pretty decent bunch of stories (especially compared to the lackluster short story ballot), even if none of them really stands out as truly exceptional. For me, they are all flawed in one way or another, making it pretty difficult to rank them. As such, this ranking will probably shift over time.
- “Obits” by Stephen King – A modern-day journalism student who naturally has difficulty landing a real job creates a snarky obituary column for a trashy internet tabloid. One day, frustrated, he writes an obituary for a living person. This being a Stephen King story, I think you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen from there. Admittedly, this is a bit on the derivative and predictable side, but King’s got the talent to pull it off with aplomb. He ably explores the idea at it’s core, taking things further than I’d expect, even if the premise itself doesn’t quite allow him much room. King has a tendency to write himself into corners, and you could argue that here, but I think he just barely skirted past that potentiality. It’s comforting to be in the hands of a good storyteller, even if this is not his best work. Still, its flaws are not unique in this batch of novelettes, so it ends up in first place for me.
(15) CAREY’S LIBRARY. Lis Carey also has been reviewing her way through the nominees. Here are three recent links:
(16) LETTERS TO TIPTREE. Aaron Pound discusses World Fantasy Award nominee Letters to Tiptree, and notes it is a significant omission from the list of Best Related Work Hugo nominees.
And yet, despite its many other honors, Letters to Tiptree did not receive a place among the Hugo finalists. While no work is ever entitled to become a Hugo finalist in the abstract, this is exactly the sort of book that one would normally expect to receive one. The reason for this lack of Hugo recognition this year is quite obviously the Puppy campaigns, which promoted a collection of Related Works onto the Hugo ballot that range from mediocre and forgettable down to juvenile and puerile. Leaving aside the fact that the finalists pushed by the Puppy campaigns are of such low quality, it seems relatively obvious that, given the Puppy rhetoric on such issues, Letters to Tiptree is exactly the sort of book that they want to push off of the Hugo ballot. After all, it is an explicitly feminist work, with all of the letter writers and most of the other contributors being women discussing a writer whose fiction was loaded with feminist issues. This book would seem to represent, at least in the eyes of many Pups, the recent encroachment of feminism into science fiction.
Except it doesn’t. Alice B. Sheldon died twenty-nine years ago. Her best fiction – including Houston Houston, Do You Read?, The Girl Who Was Plugged In, The Women Men Don’t See, and The Screwfly Solution – was written between forty and forty-five years ago….
(17) UNDERRATED BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN. Reddit is collecting suggestions for “The Long Tail: r/Fantasy’s Underrated/Underread Books”. And look what’s on the list!
God Stalk by P.C. Hodgell (Kencyrath), 1761 ratings.
In the first book of the Kencyrath, Jame, a young woman missing her memories, struggles out of the haunted wastes into Tai-tastigon, the old, corrupt, rich and god-infested city between the mountains and the lost lands of the Kencyrath. Jame’s struggle to regain her strength, her memories, and the resources to travel to join her people, the Kencyrath, drag her into several relationships, earning affection, respect, bitter hatred and, as always, haunting memories of friends and enemies dead in her wake.
When Reddit put together such a list two years ago with similar criteria (<5000 Goodreads ratings) it also had a Hodgell book – but a different one.
(18) TIME FOR POKÉMON. Pat Cadigan is mentioned in Time’s coverage of Pokemon and augmented reality.
But Go successfully uses AR as a sweetener to a mix of nostalgia for Pokémon, which peaked in popularity during the late ’90s when many millennials were preteens, as well as elements of long-gone Internet-age fads from geocaching to flash mobs. While technologists have been trying to perfect how AR works, Pokémon has provided one early answer for why you’d want it to.
The basic goodness or badness of AR—like any technology that proposes tinkering with the material of our reality—will be long debated. In science fiction, at least, the results are decidedly mixed. Star Trek’s holodeck is a (mostly) beneficent tool for shared understanding; in Pat Cadigan’s 1991 classic Synners, the augmentation of reality takes on a macabre, nightmarish quality enabling corporate interests and human sensualism to run amok. Advanced AR could allow you to experience the world from another person’s perspective—or lock you permanently into your own.
(19) BRING QUINN TO MACII. Kurt Busiek gave a plug to Jameson Quinn’s fundraiser.
If you’re interested in WorldCon or the Hugo Awards, this is worth pitching in on. https://t.co/fM5aZfqDkZ
— Kurt Busiek (@KurtBusiek) July 18, 2016
(20) FAST WORK. Did Lou Antonelli maybe set a record?
Those of you who attended the panel on short stories at LibertyCon that Friday may recall I mentioned that I wrote a story, submitted it, and received an acceptance in four hours. That story is “The Yellow Flag” and it is being published on-line by Sci-Phi Journal on August 1st.
(21) MONKEYING AROUND. Ms. Rosemary Benton at Galactic Journey discovers a Japanese animated movie rendered in English, “[July 17, 1961] Bridging Two Worlds (The Anime, Alakazam The Great)”. One thing I’m curious about – was the word anime used in 1961?
I was very excited to see this film for two major reasons, as well as many many lesser reasons. First and foremost the credited director of the film is Osamu Tezuka, one of modern Japan’s most prolific “manga” (Japanese comics) creators. I am an appreciator of the comic book medium, so Tezuka is hardly an unknown name to me. Thanks to my soon-to-be-aunt I’ve been able to obtain translations of numerous works of his, all of which are exceptional with whimsical storytelling ferrying intense characters into entrancing conflicts. To date he has created numerous adaptations of western classics like Faust (1950) and Crime and Punishment (1953), and has created hugely popular works for Japanese young adults including the science fiction action story Astro Boy and the coming of age title Jungle Emperor. Upon looking into the production of the film, however, it is unclear how much direct involvement he had. Still, I like to think that he had a part in not only the style, but the script — both of which bear a striking similarity to Tezuka’s situational humor and Disney-inspired art style.
(22) BIG COFFIN. Another casualty of the Civil War, “Marvel kills off Hulk alter ago Bruce Banner”. According to the BBC:
The character is seen dying as a result of an arrow to the head from Hawkeye, his Avengers teammate, in the third issue of Civil War II.
Banner has been the Hulk’s alter ego since the character’s creation in 1962.
Dawn Incognito, who sent the link, calls the last line of the post “My favourite quote.”
It is not yet clear whether Banner could return in a similar way [to Captain America and Spider-Man], but Marvel indicated there were no plans for a return.
“Suuuuuure,” says Dawn. “Pull the other one, Marvel, it’s got bells on.”
(23) IMMOVABLE FORCE, IRRITABLE OBJECT. These are the kinds of questions comics fans live for. “Comic Book Questions Answered – Could the Hulk Have Torn Wolverine’s Admantium Skeleton Apart?”
Now that the Hulk has joined his old sparring partner, Wolverine, in death, reader Roger B. asked whether the regular Marvel Universe Hulk could have torn the regular Marvel Universe Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton apart (we know the Ultimate versions of the characters could).
Read on for the answer! …
(24) STAR WARS 8 SPOILER? Your mileage may vary, but you’ve been warned. Carrie Fisher may have leaked an interesting bit about the next movie while speaking at Star Wars Celebration Europe.
During a panel discussion at Star Wars Celebration Europe this weekend, Carrie Fisher, aka the iconic Princess Leia, seemingly revealed what might be a pretty big spoiler for the upcoming “Star Wars Episode 8.”
When panel host Warwick Davis asked Fisher what she knew about the time period between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens,” Fisher seemingly mistook his question to mean the time between “The Force Awakens” and “Episode 8.” As a result, she let slip two little words that caught everyone’s attention…
[Thanks to Dawn Incognito, Michael J. Walsh, Bartimaeus, Gary Farber, James Davis Nicoll, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]