Pixel Scroll 9/28/21 He Left The Galactic Library To Riverworld City But He Gave All The Scrolls To Her

(1) FUTURE TENSE. The September 2021 entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Wait,” by Andrea Chapela, translated by Emma Törzs—a story about disappearances, ubiquitous surveillance, and stultifying bureaucracy.

… When the bell chimes for the next appointment, you raise your eyes from the book you weren’t really reading in the first place. 347. You’re next. You shut the book, a poetry collection you brought intentionally because it lets you open any page and read a few verses before losing the thread and looking back up at the screen…..

It was published along with a response essay by biomedicine and genetics researcher Vivette García-Deister. “Who Wins When the State Appropriates Self-Defense Technologies Developed by Communities?”

… This registry was created in 2018, and it includes disappearances from all the recent violence associated with the nation’s drug cartel wars. But it also includes cases that date back to the “dirty war” of the 1960s, when repressive governments ruthlessly targeted and eliminated revolutionary groups that had taken up arms against the state and anyone else whom they considered political threats, all under the auspices of U.S. anti-communist foreign policy.

Regrettably, therefore, the setting of Andrea Chapela’s “The Wait”—a short story about a woman waiting indefinitely in a governmental office (the “National Institute of Citizen Registration and Geolocation”) for news about Víctor, her missing brother—is painfully familiar to many people in Mexico. And indeed, much like in “The Wait,” women are mainly the ones who do the inquiring of authorities or actually do the searching, sometimes as members of highly organized search collectives….

(2) ROSARIUM ZOOM. Bill Campbell and Rachelle Cruz discuss The Day The Klan Came To Town in a Facebook livestream on Tuesday, October 5 at 7:00 p.m. Pacific.

Join us for a Zoom talk with Bill Campbell, author and publisher at Rosarium Publishing. His latest work, The Day the Klan Came to Town, is a graphic novel based on historical events: The Ku Klux Klan attack on the Jewish, Catholic, Black, and southern and eastern European immigrant communities of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in 1923, and how they rose up to send the Klan packing.

In dialog with Campbell will be Rachelle Cruz,Professor of Creative Writing in the Genre Fiction concentration at Western Colorado University, and author of Experiencing Comics: An Introduction to Reading, Discussing and Creating Comics.

This event is sponsored by the Orange Coast College Multicultural Center.

(3) LEARNING FROM THE BEST. The Speculative Literature Foundation has put up an index to its Deep Dives video series.

We like to think of Deep Dives as Khan Academy, but for creative writing. …

Each module is based on a clip from our featured interviews with masters of the field and concerns a specific aspect of the writers’ craft (plot, character-building, establishing a setting, how to get published, copyrighting, and so on). Right now we’re focused on posting individual modules, but as we continue to build this project we plan to create syllabi, study guides, and assignments for specific course structures (such as eco-literature for a science classroom, or a seminar on feminist dystopian fiction)…. 

(4) OH, THE INHUMANITY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 21 Financial Times (behind a paywall). Isabella Kaminska, in a piece about whether homemade experimenters could genetically modify things at home for bad ends, interviewed Simon Wain-Hobson, a retired virologist who was the first to genetically sequence HIV.

Wain-Hobson “likens the scientific compulsion to tinker with fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett’s observation that ‘if you put a large switch in some cave somewhere with a sign on it saying “End of the world switch. Please do not touch,” the paint wouldn’t have time to dry.'”

(5) CLICKS FROM A DEAD MAN’S EYES. Alexandra Erin has a Twitter thread going about Asimov and the Foundation series’ lack of decent women characters.  Thread starts here.

In the thread there’s a link to a blog post by Justine Larbalestier that reprints some letters from a teenage Asimov on the subject of women in SF stories: “Letters”.

Dear Editor,

Three rousing cheers for Donald G. Turnbull of Toronto for his valiant attack on those favoring mush. When we want science-fiction, we don’t want swooning dames, and that goes double. You needn’t worry about Miss Evans, Donald, us he-men are for you and if she tries to slap you down, you’ve got an able (I hope) confederate and tried auxiliary right here in the person of yours truly. Come on, men, make yourself heard in favor of less love mixed with our science!

—Isaac Asimov, 174 Windsor Place, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Astounding Science Fiction September 1938 p. 161

Isaac Asimov was eighteen when this letter was published.

(6) GAMING COMPANY WILL SETTLE EEOC COMPLAINTS. “Activision Blizzard says it will pay $18 million to settle harassment claims”CNN has the story.

Activision Blizzard will pay $18 million to settle a lawsuit by a US government agency alleging harassment and discrimination, the firm said Monday.

The gaming company, which owns hugely popular titles such as “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush,” announced it had reached a settlement agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in response to a complaint the agency filed earlier in the day.

As part of the settlement agreement, which is subject to court approval, Activision Blizzard (ATVI) said it will create an $18 million fund “to compensate and make amends to eligible claimants.” Any remaining amount will either be donated to charities focused on harassment, gender equality and women in the video game industry, or will be used to create diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company, it added….

In a complaint filed earlier on Monday, the EEOC accused Activision Blizzard of subjecting female employees to sexual harassment, retaliating against them for complaining about harassment and paying female employees less than male employees. The company also “discriminated against employees due to their pregnancy,” the complaint alleged.

(7) DAY AFTER DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 22 Financial Times, behind a paywall, Tom Faber discusses video games based on Groundhog Day-style time loops.

These (time loop fames) follow in the footsteps of modern classic Outer Wilds, in which players explore a tiny galaxy which resets every 22 minutes when the sun explodes, the minimalist Minit, where you have just 60 seconds to adventure before the game restarts, and the compelling ancient Roman mystery The Forgotten City, in which a whole city is doomed to repeat a day as punishment for its sins.  That’s not to mention the macabre Loop Hero. murder mystery loop The Sexy Brutale, Hamlet-inspired riiff Elsinore, and even a VR game based on the Groundhog Day Ip called Like Father Like Son. There are more every year.  What keeps drawing writers to this particular trope? And why do we never get bored witnessing the same scenes over and over?…

…Gamers have always been at home in loops; traditionally, game environments reset every time they are entered, with enemies respawning and treasure chests restocked with gold.   Game designers speak of the ‘gameday loop,’ the central repeated action which keeps players engaged. Games are the perfect medium to unpack the pleasure in the patterns of a repeated timeframe.  The loop becomes a puzzle that can be solved, while its cyclical nature suggests experimentation–try anything you like, because you can always reset and start again.

(8) VISION QUEST. The wait is almost over. Vox reports “The Webb Space Telescope is 100x as powerful as the Hubble. It will change astronomy”. It will be launched into orbit on December 18.

…The Webb was originally supposed to launch in 2010 and cost around $1 billion. Its price tag has since ballooned to $10 billion, and it’s way overdue. But the wait will be worth it, at least according to the scientists who expect new and revealing glimpses of our universe.

“We’re going right up to the edge of the observable universe with Webb,” says Caitlin Casey, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. “And yeah, we’re excited to see what’s there.”

The Webb will surpass the Hubble in several ways. It will allow astronomers to look not only farther out in space but also further back in time: It will search for the first stars and galaxies of the universe. It will allow scientists to make careful studies of numerous exoplanets — planets that orbit stars other than our sun — and even embark on a search for signs of life there….

(9) REFLECTION IN A GOLDEN VISOR. NASA’s Astronomy Picture Of The Day for September 27, “Five Decade Old Lunar Selfie” turns around a well-known photo taken during the first Moon landing. See the picture here.

Here is one of the most famous pictures from the Moon — but digitally reversed. Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 and soon thereafter many pictures were taken, including an iconic picture of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong. The original image captured not only the magnificent desolation of an unfamiliar world, but Armstrong himself reflected in Aldrin’s curved visor. Enter modern digital technology. In the featured image, the spherical distortion from Aldrin’s helmet has been reversed. The result is the famous picture — but now featuring Armstrong himself from Aldrin’s perspective. Even so, since Armstrong took the picture, the image is effectively a five-decade old lunar selfie. The original visor reflection is shown on the left, while Earth hangs in the lunar sky on the upper right. A foil-wrapped leg of the Eagle lander is prominently visible. 

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1996 – Twenty-five years ago on CBS, the Early Edition first aired on this evening. The premise was What If tomorrow’s newspaper arrived at your doorstep today? Our protagonist uses this knowledge to prevent terrible events every day.  It was created by Ian Abrams, Patrick Q. Page and Vik Rubenfeld. It was the first major series for all three of them.  It had a cast of Kyle Chandler, Shanésia Davis-Williams, Fisher Stevens, Kristy Swanson and Billie Worley. Set in Chicago, it was largely filmed there as well. It had a successful run of four seasons and ninety episodes. 

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 28, 1909 — Al Capp. Cartoonist responsible of course for the Li’l Abner strip. Is it genre? Of course. A decade ago, IDW announced Al Capp’s Li’l Abner: The Complete Dailies and Color Sundays as part of their ongoing The Library of American Comics series. The series would be a reprinting of the entire forty year history of Li’l Abner encompassing a projected twenty volumes. So far nine volumes have come out. (Died 1979.)
  • Born September 28, 1923 — William Windom. Commodore Matt Decker, commander of the doomed USS Constellation in “The Doomsday Machine” episode, one of the best Trek stories told. Norman Spinrad was the writer. Other genre appearances include being the President on Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Major in “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” episode of Twilight Zone and Ben Victor in the “The Night of the Flying Pie Plate” story of The Wild Wild West. This is a sampling only! (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 28, 1935 — Ronald Lacey. He’s very best remembered as Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s actually in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as Heinrich Himmler though it’s an uncredited role.  One of his first genre appearances was as the Strange Young Man in The Avengers episode “The Joker”.  In that same period, he was the village idiot in The Fearless Vampire Killers which actually premiered as The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My NeckAnd he’s in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as President Widmark. This is but a thin wafer of his genre roles so do feel free to add your favorite. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 28, 1938 — Ron Ellik. A well-known sf fan who was a co-editor with Terry Carr of the Hugo winning fanzine, Fanac,  in the late Fifties. Ellik was also the co-author of The Universes of E.E. Smith with Bill Evans which was largely a concordance of characters and the like. Fancyclopedia 3 notes that “He also had some fiction published professionally, and co-authored a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novelization.” (ISFDB says it was The Cross of Gold Affair.) Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says he died in an auto accident the day before his wedding. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 28, 1950 — John Sayles, 71. I really hadn’t considered him a major player in genre films but he is. He’s writer and director The Brother from Another Planet and The Secret of Roan Inish; andhe wrote the scripts of PiranhaAlligatorBattle Beyond the StarsThe HowlingE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialThe Clan of the Cave Bear and The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • Born September 28, 1963 — Greg Weisman, 58. Writer who’s best remembered for Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. He also produced Gargoyles from early on. He also scripted some of Men in Black: The Series and Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles. He also wrote the children’s novel World of Warcraft: Traveler, followed by a sequel, World of Warcraft: Traveler – The Spiral Path. Children’s novels in the Warcraft universe? Hmmm… 
  • Born September 28, 1982 — Tendai Huchu, 39. Zimbabwean author who’s the editor along with Raman Mundair and Noel Chidwick of the 2020 issue Shores of Infinity zine. He’s also written a generous number of African centric stories of which “The Marriage Plot” won an African Speculative Fiction Society Nommo Award for African Speculative Fiction for Best Short Story. That issue of Shoreline of Infinity (Issue 18, Summer 2020) is available from the usual digital suspects. His newest novel, The Library of the Dead, is the first in Edinburgh Nights series.
  • Born September 28, 1986 — Laurie Penny, 35. They are the writer of one genre novella to date, Everything Belongs to the Future, published at Tor.com, and a generous number of genre short stories. They were a finalist for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer at Worldcon 75 won by Ada Palmer. “Vector at Nine Worlds: Laurie Penny”, an interview with them by Jo Walton is in Vector 288

(12) BEHIND THE MAGIC 8-BALL. Books by Lincoln Michel, S.B. Divya, and Tade Thompson are praised in this CrimeReads roundup by Molly Odintz: “They’ve Seen the Future And They Don’t Like It: The Year’s Best Scifi Noir (So Far)”.

The future is bleak, whether you’re at the bottom of an underwater sea-scraper, in a spaceship headed to a distant galaxy, or just searching for plastic in the polluted rivers of Scrappalachia. More tech leads to more debt, and AI is as likely to compete with humans as to help them. The denizens of the future are buried in the trash of today, and doomed by the politics of yesterday and tomorrow. And yet, as is the surprisingly hopeful message behind any dystopian novel, life continues. Life will always continue. And sometimes, life even finds a way to thrive….

(13) SPIKE THE CANON. The New York Times finds that “In ‘Star Wars: Visions,’ Lucasfilm and Anime Join Forces, and Go Rogue”.

What would happen if some of the most creative animation studios in Japan were let loose in a galaxy far, far away?

In the anime anthology series “Star Wars: Visions,” Jedi warriors battle enemies with faces like oni (a kind of Japanese demon), and straw-hatted droids inhabit feudal villages straight out of Akira Kurosawa’s classic samurai film “Yojimbo.” There are Sith villains and rabbit-girl hybrids, tea-sipping droids (OK, it’s really oil) and sake-sipping warriors. Lightsabers are lovingly squirreled away in traditional wrapping cloths called furoshiki and in red lacquer boxes.

And this being anime, there are over-the-top action sequences, stunning hand-painted backgrounds and computer-generated wonders. And of course, there’s plenty of “kawaii,” the distinctly Japanese form of cuteness….

(14) DISCH TRIBUTE. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist Will Quinn did this piece based on the 1987 movie The Brave Little Toaster, an adaptation of Thomas M. Disch’s 1980 novel.

(15) SEE MOVIE RELICS. The Icons of Darkness exhibit, which represents itself to be the most extensive privately-owned collection of sci-fi, fantasy and horror film artifacts on earth, has now moved to its new home on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland in Hollywood.

From “Star Wars” to “Jurassic Park”, “Terminator” to “Harry Potter”, “Batman” to “Iron Man”, and so many more, the Icons of Darkness exhibition has something for everyone. You’ll see screen-used props, original costumes, life casts, production-made maquettes, makeup effects heads, and artifacts from some of Hollywood’s most famous sci-fi, fantasy, and horror classics. The exhibition will feature pieces from “Dracula”, “Frankenstein”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Spider-Man”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “Silence of the Lambs”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Game of Thrones”, and more!

(16) GETTING CHIPPY. Gene Wolfe gets a one-line mention in “Julius Pringles gets a makeover to celebrate brands’ 30th birthday in the UK” at Bakery and Snacks. Which the site is programmed to stop me from excerpting. You bastards!

(17) A GRAND MACHINE. The New York Times is there when “Amazon announces Astro, a home robot that it swears is more than Alexa on wheels”.

“Customers don’t just want Alexa on wheels,” Dave Limp, the head of Amazon’s devices, said at a company event on Tuesday. Then he proceeded to introduce a technology-packed home robot that looked a lot like … Alexa on wheels.

At least four years in the making, the small robot, called Astro, has a large screen and cameras attached to a wheeled base that can navigate a home…

Of all the products it showed, Amazon was clearly most excited about Astro, which was shown as the finale. And from the start, the company tried to sort out the differences between Astro and Alexa, the company’s digital assistant. Amazon said Astro’s large eyes on the screen, and the different tones it emitted, helped give the machine a “unique persona.” (At a starting price of $1,000, Astro is also a lot more expensive than most Alexa-enabled devices.)

But the main uses Amazon presented seemed to mirror some of the abilities of its Alexa and related products, which already put voice and camera surveillance in different rooms of a house. It does move, though, and Mr. Limp said customers could send the robot to check on people and different pets — for example, raising a camera on a telescopic arm to see if the flame on a stove is still on….

(18) WILD PITCH. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In ‘James Bond;  Die Another Day” on Screen Rant, Ryan George says that the last Pierce Brosnan Bond film features Bond escaping from a hospital by willing his mind into cardiac arrest,, a villain who becomes British, gets knighted, and builds a giant empire in 14 months, and characters who practice ‘dNA remodeling by enlarging your bone marrow” which the producer thinks has enough science words for him.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Jennifer Hawthorne, Joey Eschrich, Ben Bird Person, Steven H Silver, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/18/21 Science Fiction Grand Pixel Banned From Scroll

(1) WHEN SHALL I MAKE AN END. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the authors who answers the question “When should writers return to old, abandoned work?” for The Writer. Can you guess the story she’s discussing? Click through to see if you’re right.

Mood as a factor

Mood can take two forms – the mood of the story or novel you abandoned and the mood you’re in when you try to get back into it – that is, your emotional state of mind. As any writer can tell you, the mood you’re in makes a great difference when you tackle any work of fiction. But let’s say this project’s been gathering dust for several years. Are you charged up enough to take it on? Do you have the right inspiration?

Lois McMaster Bujold, speculative fiction writer and four-time winner of the Hugo Award, can speak to these very questions. She returned to an abortive novella after a seven-year hiatus. In 2011, she had completed 15,000 words on a “high-concept tale” about bioengineering, which she nicknamed Radbugs! Then she ran into a brick wall: “Radbugs, and then what?”

Plot-wise she had drawn up short: “The internal problem was that of making the Radbug bioengineering project central, as semi-realistic science (fiction) – it didn’t have a novella-like time frame or structure.” She considered two options, the first being a story that concentrated more on the research. “But scientific research like that is just a whole lot of tedious back-and-forthing on experiments and data collection for several years until the concept either becomes viable or is proved not to work.” Her second option didn’t seem viable, either. “Letting the story focus instead on some of the human problems encountered in those first 15,000 words seemed too much like another story I’d written. I eventually stopped and went on to other things, thinking I’d finally own a trunk story. But it itched. It was half done.”

In 2018, she was in the right frame of mind to return to it….

(2) FIFTY SENSE. NPR has posted its choices for “The 50 Best Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade”. I’ve read 17 of these. Which doesn’t sound like a good score, yet is higher than I expected. My favorite book of them all happens to be the first one listed, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice.

This year’s summer reader poll was also shaped by a series of “what ifs” — most importantly, what if, instead of looking at the entire history of the field the way we did in our 2011 poll, we only focused on what’s happened in the decade since? These past 10 years have brought seismic change to science fiction and fantasy (sometimes literally, in the case of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series), and we wanted to celebrate the world-shaking rush of new voices, new perspectives, new styles and new stories. And though we limited ourselves to 50 books this time around, the result is a list that’s truly stellar — as poll judge Tochi Onyebuchi put it, “alive.”…

How We Built This

Wow, you’re some dedicated readers! Thanks for coming all the way down here to find out more. As I said above, we decided to limit ourselves to 50 books this year instead of our usual 100, which made winnowing down the list a particular challenge. As you may know, this poll isn’t a straight-up popularity contest — though, if it were, the Broken Earth books would have crushed all comers; y’all have good taste! Instead, we take your votes (over 16,000 this year) and pare them down to about 250 semifinalists, and then during a truly epic conference call, our panel of expert judges goes through those titles, cuts some, adds some, and hammers out a final curated list….

(3) SHAUN TAN ART. Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week runs August 21-27 with the theme “Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds.” The campaign includes this poster by Shaun Tan.

(4) DODGY PRACTICES. Smashwords informed Nigerian writer and editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki that they cannot pay him outstanding e-book royalties, because he doesn’t have a PayPal account – which is due to PayPal not operating in Nigeria.

(5) WRITING MODULE. Speculative Literature Foundation’s video interview “Paolo Bacigalupi: Values Fiction” comes with a set of discussion questions.

In this clip, author Paolo Bacigalupi discusses how he writes fictional solutions into the personas and experiences of the characters that populate his novels

Discussion Questions

(1) Ecological message fiction provides a space for authors to imagine inspired, inventive technology for the future. Bacigalupi believes that crafting these ideas for a better life within dystopian settings ultimately creates a more powerful message for his readers. Do you agree? Why or why not? Can you think of any examples of message fiction that are not set within a dystopian context?

(2) The focus on a ‘chosen one’ or set of heroes as the solution to the problems presented in values fiction can be limiting for a narrative’s overall message. Why do you think this would be? Are there any broader societal implications for ‘chosen one’ style-plots? Is there a situation in which this narrative structure would be useful?

(3) Bacigalupi says that writing fully “lived-in”, interesting characters with varied perspectives on the topic at hand is more effective in getting your message across than creating characters who specifically espouse your values. Do you agree with Bacigalupi? As a reader, what do you find you relate most to in the characters you read?

(4) Bacigalupi cites Gene Wolfe’s claim that those who want to write values fiction need to be able to argue all sides of the argument they’re engaging with in order to make their own point as strong as possible. Can you think of any topic in which arguing all sides would completely contradict your own values as a writer? Would you do it anyway? 

(6) ARC MARKET. The return of the sale of of ARCs. From the Wall Street Journal: “Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Others Whose ‘Not-for-Sale’ Books Are Fetching Thousands”. Andrew Porter recalls, “I sold a bound galley of a Stephen King Doubleday book for $500 in 1984.” (The WSJ is usually paywalled, but this was open to read today.)

“Not for sale,” reads the fine print on the back of an advance reader copy (ARC) of Sally Rooney’s forthcoming novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You, which days ago sold on eBay for $79.99 (with tote bag). Another advance copy sold earlier this summer for around $200—roughly 10 times what it costs to preorder the hardcover. An ARC of Jonathan Franzen’s forthcoming Crossroads was recently listed on eBay for $165. 

Free copies of forthcoming books—in the form of ARCs, galleys and uncorrected proofs—are typically sent by publishing houses to authors, reviewers, bookstores and, increasingly, celebrities and influencers months before publication. The copies can draw a bidding frenzy, especially inside the literary world. One publicist described Rooney’s galleys, along with Ottessa Moshfegh’s, as “almost like trading cards” among junior publishing employees. 

Early, unfinished versions of classic novels have long been collectible, with some fetching astronomical prices. This is especially true for early-20th-century books, when advance copies were rare and tended to be made with higher-quality materials. They can also provide a window into a canonical author’s process—highlighting revisions made between drafts, say—and may include handwritten corrections.

An uncorrected advance copy of John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row is currently available for $35,000; an early version of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is on sale for $28,000. More recent releases from bestselling authors—such as an uncorrected proof of Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, on sale for $3,000—typically sell for less. And then there’s Harry Potter. This May, an uncorrected version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for over $29,000….

(7) NEW B5 COMMENTARY. J. Michael Straczynski has released another Babylon 5 commentary, on the episode “Signs and Portents”. These commentaries originally were only available through his Patreon page.

(8) YOUNGSON OBIT. Jeanne Youngson, founder of the Vampire Empire (originally the Count Dracula Fan Club), has died reports Nancy Kilpratrick. The Free Dictionary’s article about her accomplishments notes:

…In 1960 she married Robert G. Youngson, a renowned movie producer and historian, and that same year she launched a career as an independent filmmaker, winning numerous prizes as an animator. She also produced medical documentaries, including “My Name Is Debbie,” about the life of a post-operative male to female transsexual. The film is still being shown at Gender Identity conferences in tandem with a Canadian documentary featuring the actual operation.

The idea for a Dracula Club came to Youngson in 1965 while on a trip to Romania. Society Headquarters were set up in London, England, and New York City upon her return; and by the beginning of the 1970s the club had become a growing concern. In the meantime she found it necessary to give up filmmaking to devote her energies to the Dracula and Bram Stoker genres….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1950 – Seventy-one years ago on this date, Destination Moon, produced by George Pal, premiered in the United Kingdom. It would be voted a Retro Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation at the Millennium Philcon. It was directed by Irving Pichel from the screenplay by Alford Van Ronkel and Robert A. Heinlein and James O’Hanlon. It’s based off Robert A. Heinlein‘s Rocketship Galileo novel. It starred John Archer, Warner Anderson,  Erin O’Brien-Moore, Tom Powers and Dick Wesson. Mainstream critics usually didn’t like it but Asimov said In Memory Yet Green that it was “the first intelligent science-fiction movie made.”  Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a mediocre 48% rating though the critics overall give a sixty four percent rating there. It is not in the public domain but the trailers are and here  is one for you.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 18, 1925 Brian Aldiss. Fiction wise, I’ll single out his Helliconia series, Hothouse and The Malacia Tapestry as my favorites. He won a Hugo at Chicon III for “The Long Afternoon of The Earth”, another at Conspiracy ’87 for Trillion Year Spree which he co-authored with David Wingrove. He’s edited far too many collections to know which one to single out. (Died 2017.)
  • Born August 18, 1929 Joan Taylor. Her first genre role was Earth vs. the Flying Saucers as Carol Marvin, and she followed that with 20 Million Miles to Earth as Marisa Leonardo. Her last genre role was as Carol Gordon in Men into Space, a late Fifties series about a USAF attempt to explore and develop outer space. She retired from acting in the early Sixties. (Died 2012.)
  • Born August 18, 1931 Grant Williams. He is best remembered for his portrayal of Scott Carey in The Incredible Shrinking Man though he did have the role of the psychopathic killer in Robert Bloch’s The Couch. Of course he shows up in Outer Limits where he plays Major Douglas McKinnon in “The Brain of Colonel Barham”.  And he’s Major Kurt Mason in The Doomsday Machine. (Died 1985.)
  • Born August 18, 1934 Michael de Larrabeiti. He is best known for writing The Borrible Trilogy which is noted by several sources online as being an influence on writers in the New Weird movement. Ok folks, I’ve not read it so please explain how The Borrible Trilogy influences that literary movement as it doesn’t seem like there’s any connection. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 18, 1954 Russell Blackford, 67. Writer resident in Australia for awhile but now in Wales. Author of Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles, and editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he wrote Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction, and Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics which is just out.
  • Born August 18, 1958 Madeleine Stowe, 63. She’s in the Twelve Monkeys film as Kathryn Railly, and she’s in the Twelve Monkeys series as Lillian in the “Memory of Tomorrow” episode. Her only other genre work was a one-off in The Amazing Spider-Man which ran for thirteen episodes nearly forty years ago. She was Maria Calderon in “Escort to Danger” in that series, and she also played Mia Olham in Impostor which scripted off Philip K. Dick’s “Impostor” story. 
  • Born August 18, 1966 Alison Goodman, 55. Australian writer who’s won three Aurealis Awards for Excellence in Speculative Fiction for Singing the Dogstar BluesThe Two Pearls of Wisdom and Lady Helen and the Dark Days PactThe Two Pearls of Wisdom was nominated for an Otherwise Award. 
  • Born August 18, 1967 Brian Michael Bendis, 54. He’s both writer and artist, a still uncommon occurrence. Did you know he’s garnered five Eisner Awards for both his creator-owned work and Marvel Comics? Very impressive! He’s the primary force behind the creation of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, launching Ultimate Spider-Man which is an amazing series which I read on the Marvel Unlimited app. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Argyle Sweater shows a robot leaving an autograph in an unexpected place.
  • Half Full is about a kind of house that I didn’t think needed an energy saving plan.

(12) VOTING WITH DOLLARS. “Tabletop Game Makers Crowdfund New Projects” Publishers Weekly charts the successes.

…Anya Combs, director of games outreach at Kickstarter, says one of the key reasons that 2020 was such an explosive year of growth for tabletop gaming was the Covid pandemic, which forced everyone indoors for months on end.

Last year, the global board games market grew by 20% over 2019, according to DW, an international news and media site. The market research firm Arizton Advisory and Intelligence predicted that board games would see a compound annual growth rate spurt of approximately 13% from 2020 to 2026—a surge driven in part by Covid-related lockdowns.

But to chalk up all of tabletop’s recent success to the pandemic would be shortsighted. Tabletop gaming has been enjoying expansion for years. In 2019, Grand View Research estimated that the playing cards and board games market would reach $21.56 billion by 2025.

“Tabletop has been having a moment for a long time,” Combs says. “A lot of it stems from this retro nostalgic aspect, and many point to Stranger Things and the resurgence of role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons. Tabletop provides a level of play that people needed during Covid. There’s something very genuine about sitting with your friends and sharing in a communal way.”…

(13) PICARD TO ENTERPRISE. You don’t have to wait for Starfleet to issue yours if you’re willing to order it from Amazon: Star Trek Next Generation 2021 Bluetooth Communicator  Combadge with Chirp Sound Effects, Microphone & Speaker. And there are several styles.

  • Presenting the Star Trek the Next Generation Bluetooth Communicator Badge! Since its debut in 1987 the TNG Communicator Badge has been a sought-after future tech we all wish we had. Now available, a few centuries early, connect to your phone, tablet or computer to enjoy hands and ear. The Star Trek TNG ComBadge features an accurate on-screen matte gold with black outline & silver delta plate. High quality ABS & Zinc materials.
  • The Star Trek Communicator connects to all phones or tablets that have Bluetooth (any modern phone) with Bluetooth version 5 for longer range and extended payback time. It features a built-in Microphone and Speaker for phone calls and music playback. Strong magnet backplate so no holes in your clothes! | 2 hours constant music or phone usage / 48 hours Cos-play “Chirp” mode.
  • HIGH QUALITY SOUND | Plays the classic Star Trek TNG ComBadge chirp sound effect when you press it for Cosplay, when you receive phone calls or enable Siri, Google, Cortana or Alexa! With 30 to 300 foot Bluetooth “Badge to phone” range you can keep your phone in your pocket while you make phone calls, listen to music or use voice your voice assistant.

(14) FLIPPER. A pair of Boston Dynamics robots run a complicated course.

Parkour is the perfect sandbox for the Atlas team at Boston Dynamics to experiment with new behaviors. In this video our humanoid robots demonstrate their whole-body athletics, maintaining its balance through a variety of rapidly changing, high-energy activities. Through jumps, balance beams, and vaults, we demonstrate how we push Atlas to its limits to discover the next generation of mobility, perception, and athletic intelligence.

(15) KEEPS ON TICKING. Ars Technica says Ingenuity is still buzzing Martian skies: “After a dozen flights, NASA’s chopper has yet to come a cropper”.

NASA’s tiny Mars helicopter, which has a fuselage about the size of a small toaster, has successfully flown above the planet for the 12th time.

Nearly half a year after the Perseverance rover landed on Mars, the Ingenuity helicopter is still going strong on the surface of the planet. The small flyer has done so well that it has been separated from Perseverance for some time as it scouts ahead on the red planet….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] In the spoiler-filled “Old Pitch Meeting” on YouTube, the producer, when he learns that the aging powers of the mysterious beach enables two six-year olds to mature so fast that they have a baby that dies 20 minutes after it is born, says “I could have been a doctor!”  The shocking third act plot twist is SO ridiculous that George makes you very glad you didn’t spend any money on this stinker.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Olav Rokne, Cliff, Chris Barkley, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jon Meltzer.]

Dublin 2019 Photos
by Rich Lynch

The GRRM book signing queue

Photo taken at about 3:35pm.  The line started forming at 2:00pm.  I’m not in it, which makes me glad I am no longer getting books signed.

Some panels are being held in a converted cinemaplex

This is the “How to manage finite natural resources” panel

Paolo Bacigalupi

A bit earlier, Paolo Bacigalupi test drove a section from a new and still untitled story.

The Evolution of Fanzines panel

Geri Sullivan, Bill Burns, and Sandra Bond. Edie Stern and Jerry Kaufman we’re also supposed to be on the panel, but they got stuck for a full hour in a stopped elevator. 

View of Liffey River and Its south bank from the Convention Centre.

The irrepressible Chris Garcia

Nuff said.

And outside the convention…..

Found this at the Teeling Distillery tour.

Rich Lynch

Second Pixel Scroll 4/28/16 Scroll Up And File Right

Here’s a bonus Scroll, healthfully free of references to rocket-shaped awards. Well, except for that one.

(1) THE DOCTOR. Vulture provided an introduction for this clip of David Tennant and Stephen Colbert doing their own version of “Who’s on First”.

David Tennant is currently playing Richard II in a cycle of Shakespeare history plays at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and on Wednesday night, he stopped by Stephen Colbert’s show to tell him all about it. But before he could, he had to take part in a very silly “Who’s On First” spoof with late night’s most verbally gifted host, one that wrapped in Doctor Who, Doctor Strange, and Benedict Cumberbatch (who, coincidentally, is about to play Richard III on British TV).

 

(2) PETER DAVID.

(3) GIVE FORWARD. When Ed Dravecky III passed away at WhoFest last weekend, away from home, a crowdfunded appeal was launched on behalf of his partner Robyn Winans seeking financial assistance to help with the transport and funeral arrangements.The target was $2,000 – over $5,000 was raised.

(4) FREE PAOLO BACIGALUPI STORY. Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager for the Center for Science and the Imagination as Arizona State University, and Assistant Director, Future Tense, has something for you —

I just wanted to share this new (free) short story from Paolo Bacigalupi about artificial intelligence, pleasurebots, and the ethical and legal quandaries of human-machine interaction – I’m hoping you might consider sharing it with your community!

The Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where I work, commissioned and edited the story along with Slate.com’s Future Tense channel – it’s the first in Future Tense Fiction, a series of short stories about how technology and science will change our lives. The story is accompanied by a response essay from Ryan Calo, a robotics and law expert at the University of Washington.

(5) FULL FURY FIVE. The “Wasteland Weekend” video features people cosplaying entire cars in Mad Max-esque styles.

For Mike Orr, a.k.a. “Sweet Lips,” escapism comes in the form of Wasteland Weekend: an annual four-day post-apocalyptic festival held in the Southern California desert that attracts thousands of people from around the country. It’s basically a giant celebration of end-of-the-world culture, where, per Sweet Lips, “people can do whatever they want.” This includes everything from hand-to-hand combat to burlesque to bonfires that set the night sky ablaze.

But most of all, people come to Wasteland for the cars?—?DIY war machines that look as though they’ve rolled right out of Fury Road.

 

(6) TO THE PAIN. The New York Times explains why “Ramsay Bolton of ‘Game of Thrones’ Is the Most Hated Man on TV”.

Like many successful actors, Iwan Rheon, better known as the blithely malicious Ramsay Bolton on “Game of Thrones,” arguably the most hated man on television, admits he’s concerned about being narrowly defined by an indelible character. But ask a logical follow-up question — what else are you working on? — and the scale of his challenge becomes clear.

“I’m playing a young Hitler,” he replied, referring to the British television movie “Adolf the Artist.” Then realization took hold, and his face crumpled in mock despair: “Oh, I’m typecast already!”

(7) KEEP YOUR YAB BANG CHUT. A side-effect of the studio’s suit against the producers of Axanar is this story: “Paramount Pictures sued over copyright of Klingon language”. Notwithstanding the headline, what’s been filed is an amicus curae brief, which, as Chris Meadow explains, “Is a legal brief in which a party not directly involved in a case puts in a few words about issues that could nonetheless affect them depending on how the case is decided.”

A group called the Language Creation Society is suing Paramount Pictures in federal court over its copyright of the Klingon language from the television series Star Trek, arguing that it is a real language and therefore not subject to copyright.

The suit, filed by Marc Randazza and the Language Creation Society, argues that while Paramount Pictures created Klingon, the language has “taken on a life of its own.”

“A group called the Language Creation Society claims in U.S. federal court that Paramount Pictures lacks the ‘yab bang chut’ or ‘mind property law’ necessary to claim copyright over the Klingon language,” Randazza wrote in the brief’s description.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the issue had previously been brought up in a lawsuit between Paramount Pictures and CBS over a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film that made use of the language.

Ken White at Popehat did his own analysis of the question.

The legal point is a fascinating one: if a language is created in connection with a copyrighted work of fiction, can there be a copyright on other use of the language, even if it’s not to speak the lines from the copyrighted work?

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 28, 2007  — Ashes of actor James Doohan, who portrayed engineer “Scotty” on Star Trek, and of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper soared into space aboard a rocket.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL.

(10) SINFUL STAR WARS. CinemaSins covers Everything Wrong With Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and reminds us: “Remember, no movie is without sin!”

(11) FUTURE DSC AWARDED. SF Site News learned ConCave to Host DeepSouthCon in 2018.

(12) WE NOW KNOW. In 2016, the planet Mars will appear brightest from May 18 to June 3. NASA has the scoop.

Mars Close Approach is May 30, 2016. That is the point in Mars’ orbit when it comes closest to Earth. Mars will be at a distance of 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers). Mars reaches its highest point around midnight — about 35 degrees above the southern horizon, or one third of the distance between the horizon and overhead. Mars will be visible for much of the night.

There is a nice animation at the above site showing how Mars’ appearance embiggens during the approach…

(13) UNEXPECTED VACANCY IN HALL H. “Fox Movie Studio Pulls Out of Comic-Con Main Event Over Piracy Fears” at The Wrap.

20th Century Fox will not showcase its upcoming movie releases in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con this year.

The studio feels it cannot prevent the piracy of custom trailers and exclusive footage routinely screened for fans in attendance, an individual familiar with the decision told TheWrap.

A representative for Fox declined to comment. SDCC was not immediately available for comment….

(14) THE PLURAL OF NEMESIS. The Verge introduces Batman: The Killing Joke trailer.

The first full trailer for Batman: The Killing Joke, Warner Bros. Animation’s first R-rated Batman movie, is finally here. Based on the acclaimed and highly controversial graphic novel of the same name, the film will explore Batman’s relationship with the Joker, and drive home the fact that they represent perfect arch-nemeses for one another.

Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, released as a one-shot back in 1988, is considered by many fans as the greatest, and perhaps most terrifying, Joker story ever written….

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Glenn Hauman, JJ, Will R., Mark-kitteh, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File770 contributing editor of the day Heather Rose Jones.]

Pixel Scroll 4/8/16 “…And He Built A Crooked Mouse.”

(1) GALAXY QUEST BURIED TOO? Australia’s News.com says two Galaxy Quest stars are making contradictory statements about the sequel’s future.

Sam Rockwell (“Guy Fleegman”) told The Nerdist podcast that it’s dead, Jim —

IT APPEARS the untimely death of much-loved actor Alan Rickman earlier this year has nixed any hope of a sequel to the 1999 sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest.

Rickman’s co-star in the film, Sam Rockwell, revealed that talks were underway to make a follow-up to the cult classic, which saw a bunch of former sci-fi TV stars enlisted to save the world in a real-life battle against alien forces.

“We were ready to sign up for it,” Rockwell reveals on the Nerdist podcast.

“You know, Alan Rickman passed away. And then Tim Allen wasn’t available. He has a show. Everybody’s schedule was all weird. We were going to do this sequel on Amazon. It was going to shoot, like, right now.”

The deciding factor in the sequel not going ahead, Rockwell says, was Rickman’s death in January this year aged 69. Rickman passed away after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. “How do you fill that void of Alan Rickman?” asks Rockwell.

Tim Allen, on the other hand, told The Hollywood Reporter immediately following Rickman’s death that it was still on:

“I’m not supposed to say anything — I’m speaking way out of turn here — but Galaxy Quest is really close to being resurrected in a very creative way. It’s closer than I can tell you but I can’t say more than that. The real kicker is that Alan now has to be left out. It’s been a big shock on many levels,” he said at the time.

(2) KZIN ON LINE TWO. ZD Net reports “World’s brightest X-ray laser boosted with $1 billion upgrade”. David K.M. Klaus jokes, “Looks like Chuft-Captain is going to get a powerful enough X-Ray Laser for the Lying Bastard in time for the trip to the Ringworld.”

The world’s brightest X-ray laser, SLAC’s LCLS, has received a $1 billion cash injection to vastly improve its capabilities and our understanding of how the world works on the atomic level.

The Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, is the home of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) laser system, a critical component for researchers working on atom-based projects.

(3) GETTING WISDOM. Whiting Awards winners get financial counseling in addition to money. The New York Times explains in “Helping Writers With a Windfall Avoid a Downfall”.

“I might be close to solvent,” the poet and essayist Brian Blanchfield said, “but I still think like a deeply insolvent person.”

Mr. Blanchfield, 42, was in a conference room near Times Square recently as part of an unusual group: 10 sometimes-struggling writers suddenly in possession of $50,000 each. Winners of the 2016 Whiting Awards, given annually to up-and-coming authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama, they were learning how to handle not just the unexpected payouts but also the complicated emotions that money can inspire: ignorance, confusion, shame, panic, the occasional bout of inchoate elation….

Mitchell S. Jackson, 40 and the author of a novel and a book of essays and short stories, said that until recently he supported himself largely through teaching. At one time, he taught something like eight classes, paying between $1,800 and $5,500 each, at different colleges. He made a lot less than he had when he worked at his first job, dealing crack and other drugs as a teenager in Portland, Ore….

(4) THANK COG IT’S FRIDAY. The PRI radio show Science Friday this afternoon included a segment on “Telling the Story of Climate Change — In Fiction”(“Cli-Fi”) reports Rich Lynch. “Pablo Bacigalupi was one of the guests (via telephone). There was some interesting discussion about his novel The Water Knife.”

(5) WILL GALAKTIKA PAY? The story takes a promising turn – in “Galaktika Magazine: Statement from Istvan Burger” A. G. Carpenter reports:

Istvan Burger, publisher of Metropolis Media and Galaktika Magazine, has issued a statement regarding the reports of massive theft of translated work over the past decade.

Mandiner Magazine has a brief summary and the full statement in Hungarian here.

It seems that Burger is offering to compensate authors effected by the theft and admits that the foreign acquisitions have been mishandled and they “did not act with due diligence, caution, or even speed.” 

(6) GOURMAND AT LARGE IN LA. Here’s how John Scalzi tapered off from yesterday’s In-N-Out burger lunch.

(7) FAVORITES. Wim E. Crusio begins compiling his “Favorite science fiction classics (I)”. His first three picks are Time Enough for Love, The Witches of Karres, and The Left Hand of Darkness. He explains why. I don’t recall ever seeing Time Enough for Love on anybody’s list of favorites before. (I’ve read it a couple times — I’m not pointing that out because I disliked the book.)

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 8, 1990 Twin Peaks premieres on ABC

(9) MORE REACTION TO DRAGON AWARDS.

Jason Sanford makes a powerful suggestion.

At The Other McCain “Wombat-socho” writes —

I am probably the last person to find out that Dragon*Con, probably the largest non-comics convention in fandom, has finally bestirred itself and created its own set of awards – the Dragon Awards. This has been greeted with much glee by Sad and Rabid Puppies alike, with Declann Finn going so far as to declare victory. I’d say he and our Supreme Dark Lord are probably correct in predicting that the Dragons will almost certainly eclipse the Hugos, given the much larger voting base which makes any kind of gaming the nominations or the final vote futile. Looking forward to seeing how it works out.

So futile that Vox Day immediately set out to do that very thing?

I am registered to vote in the Dragon Awards and I would encourage you to do so as well. I’ll post my recommendations here the week after the Hugo shortlist is announced, in the event that any of you might happen to be curious about them.

Louis Antonelli isn’t completely opposed to gatekeeping, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to slam the door on fandom.

Sgt. Mom concludes “Another Round of Puppy Saddening” with an endorsement of the Dragon Awards, at Chicago Boyz.

To some followers of the Sad Puppy Saga situation, the whole matter of a prestigious award in science fiction being bestowed by a diminishing number of Worldcon members seemed quite pointless. They pointed out in comments and blog-posts, that Worldcon is becoming a smaller and more inward-turning science fiction gathering. Why shouldn’t a larger fan-convention gathering work up their own awards, and let the Hugos no-award themselves out of existence. Behold, in this last week, a massive, popular and long-established convention of science fiction and gaming enthusiasts – Dragon-con – has come up with their own proposals, to recognize and award not just a wide range of books and authors, but movies, and games as well. That should prove … interesting to say the least.

Sean O’Hara opines, “What the World Needs Now Is Another Sci-Fi Award Like I Need a Hole in My Head” at Yes, We Have No Culottes.

That being said, not all awards are created equal. That awards are inherently flawed doesn’t mean that some aren’t more flawed than others. The people championing the Dragon Awards (inevitably to be known as the Draggies) seem to think that the award will be better than the Hugos because DragonCon has a larger voter base than WorldCon. But, again, DragonCon is a regional convention. You get a larger sample size, but of a smaller cross-section of society. It’s already bad enough that SF awards are dominated by American tastes without narrowing it further to a specific section of the United States. The people championing the new award aren’t really doing it because of the larger voter base. They’re doing it because it’s nice and provincial — it’s not gonna be tainted by all those damned foreigners and their fellow travelers with their cosmopolitan tastes. This is going to be an award for Hobbits, picking out works full of nice, Hobbity sentiments, and the fact that not anyone outside the Shire will give a damn … well, nothing outside the Shire matters anyway.

Brad Torgersen told his Facebook friends.

And so: the final nail in the coffin of the Hugo awards. Looks like the Dragon Award is basically going to be doing everything Sad Puppies was hoping to get the Hugos to eventually do, but Dragon Con is doing it without having to wade through all the histrionic, caterwauling drama that resulted from the self-appointed defenders of Worldcon correctness and propriety throwing the genre’s all-time biggest temper tantrum. I raise my glass to this, and predict that within ten years, a gold-foil DRAGON AWARD label on a book is going to routinely replace both NEBULA and HUGO labels.

(10) SQUEAKING GATE. There is GamerGate mess around Baldur’s Gate now. Katherine Cross sums it up in an opinion piece “The Siege of Dragonspear drama and the video game community” at Gamasutra.

The past week has seen an explosion in drama amongst a particularly vocal minority of gamers angry about the inclusion of what they see as “social justice” themes into Beamdog’s Baldur’s Gate expansion The Siege of Dragonspear. The conflagration has a few sources; some players are complaining about bugs they claim Beamdog has been slow to fix, but that has been disingenuously used as a figleaf by some of the outraged crowd to mask the true source of their vitriol. Said source is elaborated on in this Niche Gamer article, which complains about–among other things–the very brief inclusion of a trans woman character who has only a minor speaking role, a silly “actually, it’s about ethics…” joke, a Goblin who calls your character racist, and the “sultry voiced rogue” Safana becoming a “sarcastic dissenter” who occasionally insults the player character.

An interesting tweet regarding this:

(11) CASHING IN THOSE COMICS. Yahoo! News knows about a “Superhero Dad Selling 5,000 Classic Comic Books for Daughter’s College Tuition”. See the benefits when people’s collections don’t get tossed?

Al Sanders may have spent his entire life reading about superheroes in his vast classic comic book collection, but now he’s turning into a real-life superhero by selling them all to help fund his daughter’s college tuition.

“As all parents who have college-age kids, we started putting together what it was going to cost and what we needed to do,” the doting dad from Seattle told ABC News of his decision to sell. “You start looking at those options you have, and my comic books were an option. That’s when I looked at their value, and I’m now trying to find a good home for them.”

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Rich Lynch, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/4 Second pixel to the right, and straight on ’til scrolling

(1) Steve Davidson’s ears were burning when he read Neil Clarke’s latest Clarkesworld editorial.

Despite how much I admire what Neil has managed to do over the course of nine years with Clarkesworld, I think his take on the current and developing situation in the genre short fiction market comes from a decidedly glass-half-empty point of view.

I have to be up-front about my reaction to reading that editorial.  My initial summation of the points Neil makes is:  the market is contracting, those of us who have managed to get somewhere need all the help we can get, so please, don’t try to start a new short fiction magazine.

Were it not for the completion of our first writing contest (for which we offered the minimum professional payment), I’d have been able to largely dismiss the doom and gloom, but the fact that Amazing Stories is now firmly on the path to becoming a regular paying market makes me feel as if I and Amazing Stories are part of the “problem” Neil was addressing.

(2) J. K. Rowling sets her fans straight again.

https://twitter.com/HEIROFSLYTHERlN/status/649915885704970240

(3) The Martian is making a killing at the box office.

Late night receipts showed 20th Century Fox’s The Martian grossing an estimated $56M over three days, putting it on course to be the highest opening film ever in October. However, this morning, some bean counters are scaling back those projections. 20th Century Fox is calling the weekend for the Ridley Scott film at $55M, while others see it busting past the $55.8M made by Warner Bros.’ Gravity two years ago. As the old line goes: It all boils down to Sunday’s hold. Currently, Martian is the second best debut for October, Scott, and Matt Damon.

(4) Abigail Nussbaum commented on The Martian.

When coming to write about The Martian, Ridley Scott’s space/disaster/survival movie about an astronaut stranded on Mars, it’s hard to resist the impulse to draw comparisons.  The Martian is perhaps best-described as a cross between Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and Robert Zemeckis’s Cast Away.  Its focus on the engineering challenges that survival on Mars poses for hero Mark Watney, and on the equally thorny problem of retrieving him before his meager food supply runs out, is reminiscent of Ron Howard’s Apollo 13.  The fact that Watney is played by Matt Damon (and that the commander of his Mars mission is played by Jessica Chastain) immediately brings to mind Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.  The problem with all these comparisons is not so much that they show up The Martian‘s flaws, as that they throw into sharper relief the very narrow limits of what it’s trying to be.

(5) Gary Westfahl gushed about the Martian in “’A Huge Moment for NASA’ … and Novelists: A Review of The Martian at Locus Online.

Let me immediately say that Ridley Scott’s The Martian is the best film I’ve seen in a long, long time, and it can be enthusiastically recommended as involving and uplifting entertainment.

(6) Frank Ochieng’s review of The Martian is posted at SF Crowsnest.

As with other Scott-helmed productions, ‘The Martian’ settles nicely in its majestic scope that taps into visual wonderment, humanistic curiosities, technical impishness and the surreal spryness of the SF experience.

(7) “’The Martian’ Author Andy Weir Asks: Why Send Humans to Mars?” at Omnivoracious.

Robots don’t need life support during their trip to the Red Planet, and they don’t need to return at all. They don’t need abort options. If there’s a mission failure, all we lose is money and effort, not human life. So why would we go to the extra hassle, expense, and risk of sending humans to do a robot’s job?

Because scientific study is not the end goal. It’s one step along a path that ends with human colonization of Mars.

(8) And exploring Pluto is proving to be profitable for New Horizons’ lead scientist.

Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, has a deal with Picador for a “behind the scenes” account of July’s flyby.

The publisher announced Thursday that the book is called “Chasing New Horizons: Inside Humankind’s First Mission to Pluto.” It’s scheduled for publication in spring 2017. David Grinspoon, a planetary scientist and award-winning science writer, will co-write the book.

(9) Did someone say, “Don’t you think he looks tired?” There are rumors Doctor Who is facing cancellation.

The alleged BBC insider said that “drastic action may be needed” to correct the falling figures. Although a spin-off series has just been announced targeted towards teenagers, the unnamed source said that Doctor Who’s falling ratings are worrying. “At this stage all options are being ­considered,” explained the source.

(10) But before he goes, the sonic screwdriver may be back

Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi has been sans Sonic Screwdriver since he threw Davros a bone in the two-part series 9 opener but will the iconic Who accessory be making a comeback?

Speaking in a video for Doctor Who’s official YouTube channel, Moffat hinted that we might not have seen the last of Twelve’s trusty tool. “I’m sure the screwdriver will show up again some day” he teased.

(11) Short review of “City of Ash” by Paolo Baciagalupi on Rocket Stack Rank.

In a near-future, water-starved Phoenix, AZ, Maria hides from the smoke of distant forest fires and thinks about everything that went wrong.

(12) “A Sunday Review” by Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog.

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton. First up: the completely non-spoiler review. Starting almost 20 years after an infamous debate ended the experimental Just City (an attempt to create Plato’s Republic in the distant past), this book shows how the fractured populace gets on without help from Athena and the robot workers she provided. This book is not nearly as unsettling as the first in some ways, but in other ways… whew. It’s a wild ride.

Much more follows in Rot13.

(13) Nick Mamatas reviews A Country of Ghosts by Margaret Killjoy on Bull Spec.

Subtitled a book of The Anarchist Imagination, Margaret Killjoy’s A Country of Ghosts is more appropriately a work of anarchist speculation. Structurally a Utopian novel—someone from a society very similar to the statist systems we’re all familiar with travels to a Utopia and is told how things work—we can count this book as a “hard” utopia. There’s no quantum computing or frictionless engine that makes the economy go, and the people living in the anarchist confederation of Hron have found themselves in the crosshairs of the Borolian Empire.

(14) Today’s birthday girl:

Anne Rice was born on Saturday, October 4, 1941.

(15) This Day in History –

  • Sunday, October 4, 1931: The comic strip Dick Tracy, created by Chester Gould, made its debut. (Apple Watch was just fiction back then.)
  • In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first man-made space satellite, Sputnik 1. The Soviet’s successful launch caught America by surprise and was the spark which ignited the Space Race.

(16) “Pokemon demands $4000 from broker superfan who organized Pokemon party” reports Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing.

Larkin Jones is a hardcore Pokemon fan who loses money every year on his annual Pokemon PAX party; he makes up the shortfall from his wages managing a cafe. This year, Pokémon Company International sued him and told him that even though he’d cancelled this year’s party, they’d take everything he had unless he paid them $5,400 in a lump sum (they wouldn’t let him pay it in installments).

Jones charges $2 a head to come to his party, and spends the $500 he grosses from tickets on a DJ, gift cards, decorations, cash prizes, and a Kindle Fire door-prize. He’s lost money on the party every year since he started throwing them in 2011.

He took up a collection on GoFundMe to pay the shakedown:

The day before the PAX party, Pokemon sued me. Without even a  cease and desist.Totally didn’t expect that. I cancelled the party, refunded everyone the 2 dollars I charged to help cover all the prizes I bought for the cosplay contest and smash bros tournament. Pokemon wants $4000 that I just don’t have. I told them I would pay it over a year and they denied that. They want it now with in the next 45 days.

(17) What people in 1900 France thought the year 2000 would like like, from the Washington Post.

There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past dreamed about the future.

“France in the Year 2000” is one example. The series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. The first series of images were printed and enclosed in cigarette and cigar boxes around the time of the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, according to the Public Domain Review, then later turned into postcards.

school COMP

(18) Late night TV guests of interest to fans this week.

[Thanks to SF Signal, Rogers Cadenhead, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

Paolo Bacigulpi Book Tour

Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s forthcoming novel Water Knife envisions a world where people will kill for water. Those of us in drought-stricken California, where local communities are hiring “water cops,” wonder if that future is not far off.

The author’s The Windup Girl won both the Hugo and Nebula in 2009. Now Night Shade Books is releasing a new expanded edition of The Windup Girl with additional stories, an author Q&A and in a larger format with a re-imagined cover.

Fans in the western U.S. soon will have a chance to meet and hear from Paolo Bacigalupi, who will be on tour promoting his books in May and June:

  •  5/26/15: Denver, CO Tattered Cover, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 5/27/15: Boulder, CO Boulder Bookstore, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 5/28-29/15: New York, NY, BEA and NYC media
  • 5/30/15: Boston, MA Brookline Booksmith, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/2/15: Chicago, IL Anderson’s Bookshop, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/3/15: Salt Lake City, UT The King’s English, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/4/15: Phoenix, AR Changing Hands Bookstore, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/6-6/7/15: San Francisco, CA, Bay Area Literary Festival
  • 6/6-6/7/15: San Francisco, CA, Borderlands, signing
  • 6/8/15: San Diego, CA Mysterious Galaxy, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/9/15: Los Angeles, Vroman’s, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/10/15: Portland, OR Powell’s Bookstore, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/11/15: Seattle, WA University Book Store, reading, Q&A, and signing
  • 6/18/15: Crested Butte, CO Rumors Coffee and Tea House, reading, Q&A, and signing

Bacigalupi On NPR’s Marketplace

Author Paolo Bacigalupi appeared in the February 26 segment of an NPR Marketplace feature “Water: The High Price of Cheap” commenting about how taking water for granted gets us in trouble. For example, the family farm where he grew up drew water from a federal project, and when circumstances made it unavailable they were especially aware of their dependence on it.

Bacigalupi is known for The Windup Girl and The Drowned Cities. His next novel, out soon, is titled, The Water Knife.

[Thanks to Rich Lynch for the story.]

2015 Jack Williamson Lectureship

Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi will be Guest of Honor at the 39th Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship this spring at Eastern New Mexico University. Williamson publisher Stephen Haffner broke the news in his December newsletter.

Bacigalupi is the bestselling author of  The Windup Girl, Shipbreaker and The Drowned Cities. His newest book is The Doubt Factory.

Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building

Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building

Fans will also be pleased to hear that the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts Building on the ENMU campus in Portales has been renovated and faculty and staff were expected to resume using it this month.  Work began in summer 2013.

According to the Portales News-Tribune, the classroom facilities have been upgraded:

[Bradbury Stamm Superintendent David Burks] said the facility now has new classrooms with power and data ports available at every desk and table for students and teachers to utilize. He said many of the rooms have been outfitted with new projectors and automatic projector screens as well as dry erase boards.

…Other notable additions to the facility include a separate area for the Sodexo cafe that is larger and contains seting inside and out. Skylights have also been added to the hallways to increase the lighting in the building.

“The skylights have really brightened up in here; before this building was like a dungeon,” Burks said.

The exterior of the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts building seen as workers pour concrete and lay bricks outside the facility’s west entrance.

The exterior of the Jack Williamson
Liberal Arts building seen as workers pour concrete and lay bricks outside the facility’s west entrance.

[Thanks to Stephen Haffner for the story.]

Science Fiction as a Lens on the Present

By Brandon Engel: Science fiction, as a genre, has a distinct social purpose compared to that of conventional drama. While the latter is noblest when it cultivates empathy, forms of Sci-Fi, whether books or movies, serve a higher purpose when they foster critical scrutiny of the present. Sometimes this is best accomplished when all the trappings of the story—from the setting to characters’ habit of dress—are completely foreign and outlandish. But all this is mere window-dressing, for the right themes transcend these elements, stealthily communicating to careful readers important lessons about the actual world they inhabit.

Soylent Green, a 1973 film by Richard Fleischer, is a prime example: a film that addresses food issues still with us today. Loosely based on the 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green takes place in 2022, in a world ravaged by the triumphs of industrialization: namely, food scarcity and overpopulation. The bulk of society subsists on rations produced by the Soylent Corporation, whose newest item, Soylent Green, has just hit the market. Advertised to contain “high-energy plankton,” this green wafer is touted to be more nutritious and palatable than its forerunners “Red” and “Yellow,” but in short supply. The reality is that the wafers are composed of human flesh.

Above the fray sit those elite enough not to have to consume any of Soylent’s products, and enjoy a diverse diet of fresh food. This scenario bears a striking resemblance to our present food arrangement, where most people eat non-nutritious, genetically-modified food, either out of economic necessity or ignorance. Today, it’s a privileged position, almost a boutiquey pass-time, to consume healthy food.

Another perfect, more-recent example of big picture-conscious science fiction is a novel by Paolo Bacigalupi entitled The Windup Girl. This book extrapolates present social and environmental circumstances to a distant 23rd century Thailand where global warming has raised ocean levels, carbon fuel sources are no more, and biotech companies control food production by way of “genehacked” seeds. The corporations use private armies to carve out markets for their products, while populations succumb to widespread plague and illness. This scenario resembles today’s, but is stripped of its current benevolent veneer. Free-market rationales and pseudo-diplomacy are no longer necessary in Bacigalupi’s world, where such formality is dispensed with in favor of naked force.

In these bleak sci-fi forecasts of future dystopian societies, the issue always stems from humanity squandering planet earth’s scarce resources. And while headlines commonly decry abuses by Monsanto, we mustn’t lose hope just yet. Some states (Vermont especially) are starting to demand more transparency from agribusiness, and are insisting that all genetically modified foods be labelled appropriately. Independent, grass-fed farming is becoming more common throughout the United States, and even Monsanto is talking about experimenting with growing organic produce. Alternative energy is becoming more and more accessible too, with deregulation and technological advances in the US and Canada opening up options for consumers to source their energy from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels, and find their own information independently instead of relying on corporate propaganda.

For science fiction to play a role in public debate may seem a laughable notion, but it’s because of the imaginative power of many sci-fi authors that we live with much of today’s beloved technology. But for issues to have a visceral impact on citizens, for citizens to actually care about what goes on around them, important matters must framed in such a way that they can be understood emotionally and intuitively, rather than just intellectually. And it’s up to sci-fi authors to take up this task.