(1) KBOARDS RIGHTS GRAB. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] KBoards is a forum for e-reader owners which eventually developed a vibrant self-publishing subforum. The owner died approximately a year ago, and now his widow has sold the forum to a company called VerticalScope, which first plastered the forum with problematic ads and then tried to sneak in a Terms of Service with a massive rights grab. The self-published authors are up in arms, an employee of VerticalScope made things worse and now the forum is imploding.
There is a post about the issue at the publishing blog The Passive Voice: “Dumpster Fire at Kboards?” It quotes from the new Terms of Service –
…PG hasn’t had a chance to comb through this document in detail, but a quick scan revealed the following interesting (at least to PG) provisions. VerticalScope doesn’t include paragraph numbers, so if you want to see any of this in context, you’ll need to do a word search. Other than the section headings, emphasis is PG’s:
…You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM….
Here is a post from Julie Ann Dawson, horror writer and editor of Bards and Sages Quarterly: “VerticalScope’s Overreaching TOS”
For over nine years, I have been a member of a site called Kboards.com. Many of you, in fact, may recall me directing folks to the site, particularly the Writer’s Café, for support and guidance on all things indie publishing. Over the years, the site has attracted some of the smartest, most successful indie authors in the industry. And I have always been happy to be a part of it.
Until now. In August, the site was sold to a company called VerticalScope. It was recently discovered that the new owners made significant changes to the site’s terms of service without notifying members….
Here is more from Julie Ann Dawson: “Selling Forum Users: What the VerticalScope TOS Allows”
… My first instinct was that really wasn’t my concern, and I started explaining to him my concerns regarding the use of my name and such.
“Julie, stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a black hatter.”
He then told me about an incident on a graphic designer forum he used to frequent. The site was sold (he didn’t remember to who and I’m not saying it was VerticalScope), but with the exception of more ads nothing really changed. It wasn’t until one day he was Googling a topic that had been discussed on the forum that he came across a post of his on a different forum. At first, he thought maybe someone had quoted him and that the topic was being discussed on this other forum, but when he read the link he found several posts that were verbatim from topics on the graphic designer forum. Apparently, a bot had lifted the comments from the forum he frequented and other forums and reposted them on a new forum under a new username.
See, apparently you can buy forum posters, just like you can buy Twitter or Facebook followers….
Here is a post from paranormal romance author Marilyn Vix: “The Death of Kboards.Com: My Indie Publishing Home Implodes”
… IT IS A SCARY SITUATION for CREATIVES! I have never seen anything like this. There are many people that have visited the board, including top Indie authors, like Hugh Howey and Jasinda Wilder, that have made Kboards.com home in the past. So, the legal repercussions are astounding. Plus, many EU citizens on the board are already exerting their GDPR rights, but many Canadian, US and Australian citizens are left trying to figure how to sort through this downward spiral of our online home.
I cannot even put into words how I am feeling–almost. Because there is one word coming to mind awfully clearly–betrayed. More comes to mind like trying to say the sale date of the board was in May, but the announcement was made in August this year. The new owners and their scathing disregard for the intelligence and knowledge of the Kboard users, and the utter jumping of ship of many of my good friends I’ve known for years is the reality of what has happened. The shock is disappearing, and the dust is settling. Writers are leaving Kboards and the Writer’s I in troves. And this makes me ultimately sad….
(2) NEBULA READING LIST. SFWA members have added a large number of titles to the “Nebula Reading List”.
The Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List is produced through the collaborative effort of SFWA’s 1800+ members, with new listings appearing as members make recommendations. For this reason, works are occasionally introduced in error and may later be corrected or removed from the list if deemed ineligible by the Nebula Awards Commissioner. The list is provided to the public as a service in finding the year’s most noteworthy fantasy and science fiction works.
Please note this list is not the preliminary ballot or nomination tally and does not affect the Nebula Award nominations or final results in any way.
(3) HELP FOR WRITERS. SFWA’s Information Center is open to all. Sixteen linked articles on the main post alone!
New writers! Have you seen the SFWA Information Center? It has articles on everything from manuscript preparation to career management. You don't need to be a SFWA member to take advantage of this excellent resource!
— Cat Rambo (@Catrambo) September 22, 2018
(4) ANOTHER TRADEMARK NOPE. The Cockybot is on the job…
— CockyBot™ (@cockybot) September 22, 2018
(5) TITLE SEARCH. Ursula Vernon received helpful suggestions in response to this tweet, whether she really wanted them or not….
I love that so many of you are along for the prospect of a werewolf romance when, as you know Bob, my sex scenes are apocalyptically tame and my idea of romance is distinctly questionable.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) September 22, 2018
(6) WRITING EXCUSES BY LAND AND SEA. Amal El-Mohtar and her mother planned to fly together to attend the Writing Excuses cruise until TSA created a problem. Thread starts here.
They didn't give her a reason. She's been before with no problem & hasn't been there in several years, so it's pretty clearly a post-Trump discrimination thing tagged to names & ethnic background.
— Amal El-Mohtar (@tithenai) September 21, 2018
The Writing Excuses crew had a workaround ready. Thread starts here.
We're flying Amal's mom to Roatan where she can join the cruise. "Fortunately" we knew that the TSA has held up Amal before, so we budgeted for a last minute flight that doesn't connect through the US. But what does it say that this is something we have to plan for?
— Mary Robinette Kowal (@MaryRobinette) September 21, 2018
(7) GETTING READY FOR SPACE. In “The Next Great Leap” in the Financial Times, Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees suggests that humans preparing to explore space will have to have substantial genetic and biological modifications if they are going to survive. (No link because it’s behind a paywall.)
The space environment is inherently hostile for humans. So because they will be ill-adapted to their new habitat, the pioneer explorers will have a more compelling inventive than those of us on Earth to redesign themselves. They’ll have to harness the super-powerful genetic and cyborg technologies that will be developed in coming decades. Those techniques will, one hopes, be heavily regulated on Earth, on prudential and ethical grounds, but ‘settlers’ on Mars will be far beyond the clutches of the regulators. We should wish them good luck in modifying their progeny to adapt to alien environments. This might be the first step for divergence into a new species. Genetic modification would be supplemented by cyborg technology–indeed there may be a transition to fully inorganic intelligences. So it is these spacefaring adventurers, not those of us comfortably adapted to life on Earth, who will spearhead the post-human era.
(8) CRUISE NIGHT. In this clip from Colbert’s show, Stephen and Neil deGrasse Tyson take NASA’s Mars Rover for a ride around Midtown Manhattan.
(9) TODAY’S DAY.
- September 22 — Hobbit Day, sponsored by the American Tolkien Society.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- September 22, 1973 – The Harlan Ellison conceived, Canadian-produced, sci-fi series The Starlost aired its first episode.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]
- Born September 22, 1971 – Elizabeth Bear, 47, Writer. Her first series was a superb trilogy, which might be considered cyberpunk, centered on a character named Jenny Casey. She’s a very prolific writer; I’m fond of her Promethean Age, New Amsterdam and Karen Memory series. She won a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Hugo Award for Best Short Story for “Tideline”, and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette for “Shoggoths in Bloom”. One of only five writers to win multiple Hugo Awards for fiction after winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer! Very impressive indeed! It is worth noting that she was one of the regular panelists on now sadly defunct podcast SF Squeecast, which won the 2012 and 2013 Hugo Awards for “Best Fancast”.
- Born September 22, 1946 – John Woo, 72, Director. His genre films include Mission Impossible II, Face/Off, and the Philip K. Dick-written Paycheck (which JJ loved, even if no one else did).
- Born September 22, 1952 – Paul Kincaid, 66, Writer, Editor, and Critic. He was the chair of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for 20 years, helping to transform it into a respected genre award. In addition to being a former editor of Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, his critical work has appeared in numerous scholarly, genre, and mainstream publications. He won the 2018 BSFA for Best Non-Fiction book for Modern Masters of Science Fiction: Iain M. Banks, which was also a Hugo and Locus finalist.
- Born September 22, 1982 – Billie Piper, 36, Actor. Known to Doctor Who fans as the Companion of the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, she also played Lily Frankenstein in the TV series Penny Dreadful, and the titular character in the Sally Lockhart mystery series based on the novel quadrilogy written by His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman.
- Born September 22, 1985 – Tatiana Maslany, 33, Actor. Best known for her superb versatility in playing more than a dozen different clones in the TV series Orphan Black, for which she received a Best Actress Emmy and more than two dozen other nominations and awards.
- Born September 22, 1987 – Tom Felton, 31, Actor. Played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, followed by a role in the TV series The Flash.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
- You have to know Wonder Woman to get the joke in this installment of Half Full – fortunately, you probably do!
- The kids in Baby Blues explain why they just can’t believe the ending of The Wizard of Oz.
(13) THE BELLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC. SYFY Wire is on top of the story: “William Shatner tweets Jingle Bells track from his new album ‘Shatner Claus’”. The tweet contains a link to the song on SoundCloud.
— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) September 20, 2018
(14) THE FAMILY BUSINESS. The Guardian reports “Liam McIlvanney wins Scottish crime fiction award named after his father”:
…Two years after the award for the best Scottish crime novel was renamed in honour of the “godfather of tartan noir” William McIlvanney, his son and fellow crime writer Liam McIlvanney has landed the prize.
William McIlvanney, who died in 2015, was the author of the acclaimed DI Jack Laidlaw series, set in Glasgow. In 2016, the Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival renamed its prize, citing McIlvanney as “the man who, more than anyone, established the tradition of Scottish detective fiction”.
Liam, an academic at a New Zealand university as well as an author, won ahead of shortlisted writers including former winners Chris Brookmyre and Charles Cumming, and Lin Anderson, one of the festival’s co-founders.
Liam took the £1,000 McIlvanney award for The Quaker….
(15) SUPERHERO. Adri Joy concludes this book is “enjoyable, but the flaws are hard to ignore” – “Microreview [Book]: Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang” at Nerds of a Feather.
Though it’s new to print this year, Zero Sum Game was already on my radar in its previous, ebook only self-published incarnation, although it never made the leap from the ever-growing collection of Kindle Samples I keep around to inform potential purchases onto my actual TBR. This new version, published by Tor, has been revisited and polished up, and is now being released much more widely as part of the publisher’s #Fearlesswomen initiative, bringing this unconventional superhero thriller to a bigger audience, and also to me.
(16) GAME DEVELOPERS SUDDENLY OUT OF WORK. According to The Verge, these employees were told to start walking, too – “The Walking Dead developer Telltale hit with devastating layoffs as part of a ‘majority studio closure’”.
Telltale Games, creators of episodic adventure games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Batman: The Enemy Within, laid off approximately 250 employees today as part of what the company is calling a “majority studio closure.” According to multiple sources The Verge spoke with, employees were let go with no severance.
“Today Telltale Games made the difficult decision to begin a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” the company said in a statement. “A majority of the company’s employees were dismissed earlier this morning.” The company will retain a small team of 25. These remaining employees will stay on “to fulfill the company’s obligations to its board and partners,” according to Telltale.
The final season of Telltale’s award-winning series, The Walking Dead, kicked off last month. The second episode is slated to launch next week. Staff were informed of the layoffs today and were given roughly 30 minutes to leave the building, according to one source.
(17) ON THE MOVE. BBC reports “Japan’s rovers send pictures from asteroid”.
The two small “rovers”, which were despatched from the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on Friday, will move around the 1km-wide space rock known as Ryugu.
The asteroid’s low gravity means they can hop across it, capturing temperatures and images of the surface.
“Both rovers are in good condition,” the agency confirmed on Saturday.
This dynamic photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. It was taken on Ryugu's surface during a hop. The left-half is the surface of Ryugu, while the white region on the right is due to sunlight. (Hayabusa2 Project) pic.twitter.com/IQLsFd4gJu
— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
(18) BABY NAMES. In England and Wales “Game of Thrones baby names still proving popular” – though interestingly, 76 girls called Khaleesi and only 3 called Daenerys….
But if baby-naming is a reliable indicator, Game of Thrones’ most popular character appears to be Arya, with 343 newborns given the same name as Maisie Williams’ sword-wielding Stark.
That’s a big increase on 302, the number of Aryas named in 2016.
Eleven baby boys, the same number as in 2016, ended up being called Tyrion, almost certainly in tribute to Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister – perhaps the show’s most intelligent character.
(19) PACIFICON 1946. [Item by David Doering.] More choice quotes from the Pacificon 1 (1946 Worldcon) progress report.
BADGES–NONE GENUINE WITHOUT AN OFFICIAL NAME-PLATE
These Badges will be cellophane with a safety pin attachment so they can easily be worn at all times.
They have a place in which can be inserted your name and home city, and the name of your local club if you belong to one.
Interesting that we still use such badges (name plates??) at smaller events! (I kind of like the “club name” space, if only to describe which branch(es) of fandom you are keen on. Current badges don’t give you a clue.)
The con was held at the Park View Manor, an event space at 2200 W 7th Street. According to the LA Building Permits records, it looks like the same building remains there, although as offices. The con thought this an ideal location:
Nothing small about the Pacificon Hall — It will hold up to 750 persons!
I think the Pacificon was in fact somewhat smaller than this.
There are double rooms available at $3.00 and $3.85 each, per day, which would be but $1.50-1.93 per day for each occupant,
Oh, to find anything at a con hotel today–even soda–for under $2! Amazingly enough, the two con hotels, the Mayfair and the Commodore, are still extant! The Mayfair in fact remains a hotel (you might book a room now where a famous fan stayed even!) while the Commodore is condos.
We will do our level best to help you find a room if your reservation reaches us after the 20th of June – but we cannot promise you anything definite. However, we do have some nice parks here in LA, with the most comfortable benches in the country – one of them is right across the street from the official Convention Hall.
Given that the Denvention progress report provided instructions on how to “ride the rails” to get to Denver, I can’t be sure they were kidding about using these “comfortable benches” in the park across the street.
(20) ANIME VIBE. Io9’s James Whitbrook, in “Star Wars: A New Hope, But as a Classic ‘80s Anime”, praises this short video to the skies –
… this delightful fan trailer by YouTuber Dmitry Grozov takes Star Wars as we know it—in the form of A New Hope—and transforms it into an old-school anime style cartoon, evoking the likes of Macross or Mobile Suit Gundam, complete with Japanese voice acting.
Alan Baumler comments, “I liked how they made Obi-wan sound like Toshiro Mifune.”
[Thanks to Cora Buhlert, John King Tarpinian, JJ, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Alan Baumler, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Hertz.]