Pixel Scroll 2/23/19 So Come On, Come On, Scroll The Pixellation With Me

(1) MCINTYRE HEALTH UPDATE. Vonda McIntyre, one of sff’s most loved figures, is seriously ill. A Caringbridge page has been started: “Vonda N.’s Story”.

Vonda spent much of Seattle’s snow week at Swedish Hospital with jaundice and some vertigo, having many tests. The test results are in now, and the news is not good. The diagnosis is inoperable metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her doctor said it isn’t stupid to hope for a year, but it could be less. She’ll probably be getting treatment that may or may not slow things down, no way to know for sure.

(2) #COPYPASTECRIS. Nora Roberts tells some things she’s learned about plagiarists and people scamming Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited author revenue system in “Not a Rant, but a promise”.

The count of my books lifted from is now five. And the count of writers victimized has gone up.

I’m getting one hell of an education on the sick, greedy, opportunistic culture that games Amazon’s absurdly weak system. And everything I learn enrages me.

There are black hat teams, working together, who routinely hire ghosts on the cheap, have them throw books together, push them out–many and fast–to make money, to smother out competition from those self-pubbed writers who do their own work. Those who do their own work can’t possibly keep up with the volume these teams produce by these fraudulent tactics.

They tutor others how to scam the system….

(3) A WHIRLWIND OF FANAC. Joe Siclari of Fanac.org reports “We’ve been getting a lot done, and last weekend we had a particularly productive Boskone.” 

At Boskone, the FANAC scanning station scanned almost 2000 pages of material. Scanning by Mark Olson, Edie Stern and Joe Siclari. History-minded fans stopped by and provided material (thanks Geri Sullivan!), and promised more. We have promises of photos and fanzines, and have already received a historical recording from Fred Lerner, and new scanning hardware too. 

The zines scanned at Boskone will be so marked in the index pages of the title, so you can see what we did. So far, we have put online about 850 pages of it.  So far from the Boston scanning we’ve put up issues of George Locke’s Smoke, Richard Bergeron’s Warhoon, Charles Lee Riddle’s Peon, Don Miller’s WSFA Journal, the Coulsons’ Yandro and brown and Katz’s Focal Point.

They can all be accessed from the Classic Fanzines List. More issues will be forthcoming. 

(4) RIGHT IN THE EYE. How would you like to go out this way? From NPR: “NOAA Researcher’s Ashes Were Dropped Into The Eye Of Hurricane Michael”.

Last fall, as Hurricane Michael was swirling toward the Florida panhandle, NOAA officials say it was carrying something in addition to rain and wind — the ashes of long-time hurricane researcher, Michael Black. Black was a research meteorologist who worked at the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory on Virginia Key, just across the bridge from downtown Miami.

He was a pioneer in the use of dropwindsondes — small measuring devices dropped from airplanes that record wind speed, air pressure, temperature and humidity.

In 1997, on a mission flying through Hurricane Guillermo in the Pacific, he had an audacious idea. Why not drop some dropwindsondes — sometimes called dropsondes — directly into the eyewall of a hurricane?

NOAA research meteorologist Stan Goldenberg, who worked with Michael Black for more than two decades, recalls that flight with Black 21 years ago: “I remember the excitement we felt at seeing these winds and knowing these ‘sondes’ could handle it.” Black’s idea suddenly provided hurricane researchers with an important new data tool.

(5) PARSEC AWARDS. Bruce Press will step down as chair of the Parsec Awards Committee if he can find somebody to take his place. The sff podcast awards organizers have been reeling since December, when four 2018 Parsec Awards winners declined because the committee sustained the decision to give an award an alleged harasser. Today Press sent this statement to his distribution list:

After a pretty grueling 2018 for the committee, we were taking a bit of a breather to get our collective heads together.

We very much want to get trophies out to winners who want them, but we are without funds having done absolutely no fundraising in 2018. Our lack of resources is due to lack of resources. So, that’s item 1.

Item 2 is our perennial problem of manpower and leadership. The committee is severely short-staffed. We hoped to grow by creating sub-committee’s like ceremony and fundraising. However, it turns out that takes leadership and we only had me.

Item 3 is me. While item 2 might have been enough reason alone, I have some really good personal reasons to step down as committee chair. The timing of this is not ideal, but life rarely operates on a convenient schedule. Like previous chairs, I am not immediately leaving the committee.

So, here’s what I’m asking. If you think you have what it takes to lead. If you have a plan and can execute it. Whether overall, ceremony or fundraising. Send us an email parsecawards@gmail.com.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 23, 1896 –Tootsie Roll introduced
  • February 23, 1935 The Phantom Empire starred Gene Autry, it was an SF musical western.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 23, 1564 Christopher Marlowe. Author of Doctor Faustus (or The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Look, ISFDB lists him, so he must be genre. More to the point Elizabeth Bear made him a character in her Stratford Man series which is Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth novels which is highly recommended. If you’ve not read them, the Green Man review is here. (Died 1593.)
  • Born February 23, 1930 Gerry Davis. Mid-Sixties Story Editor on Doctor Who where he created companion Jamie McCrimmon and co-created the Cybermen along with unofficial scientific adviser Dr. Kit Pedler. They would create the Doomwatch series in the Sixties on BBC. Davis briefly returned to writing for Doctor Who, penning the first script for Revenge of the Cybermen though his script was largely abandoned by editor Robert Holmes. In 1989 he and Terry Nation who created the Daleks made a failed bid to take over production of the series and reformat it for the American market. (Died 1991.)
  • Born February 23, 1932 Majel Barrett. No doubt best remembered for being  Nurse Christine Chapel and Lwaxana Troi as well as for being the voice of most ship computer interfaces throughout the Star Trek series. I’ll note that she was originally cast as Number One in the unused (TOS) Pilot but the male studio heads hated the idea of a female in that role. Early Puppies obviously. (Died 2008.)
  • Born February 23, 1965 Jacob Weisman, 54. Founder, Tachyon Publications which you really should go look at as they’ve published every great author I’d care to read. Seriously Tidhar, Beagle and Yolen are among their newest releases! He also edited (with Beagle) The New Voices of Fantasy which I highly recommend as most excellent reading.
  • Born February 23, 1970 Marie-Josée Croze, 49. Bibiane Champagne In Maelström which is genre if only because it’s narrated by a talking fish. In Canada movie theatres, she was in Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 as Mara. Yeah, that film with a long title. Doubt it improved it.  It looks like her first genre acting was on The Hunger in two episodes, in “A Matter of Style” as Dominique and in “I’m Dangerous Tonight” as Mimi. Oh, and she had the lead as Pregnant Woman in Ascension which just looks weird.
  • Born February 23, 1994 Dakota Fanning, 25. Genre roles include Sally Walden in The Cat in the Hat which is on my worst films of all time list, Katie In Hansel and Gretel, Rachel Ferrier In War of the Worlds which, errr, is on the same list, and as the voice of Fern Arable In Charlotte’s Web which is brilliant.
  • Born February 23, 2002 Emilia Jones, 17. I’m reasonably sure this is the youngest Birthday I’ve done. At nine years of age, she’s made her acting debut in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as English Girl. She’s Young Beth in the horror film Ghostland. She shows up on Doctor Who as Merry Gejelh in the “The Rings of Akhaten”, an Eleventh Doctor story. She’s currently in Residue, an SF horror series you can find on Netflix. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range shows the monstrous side of photography.

(10) CRITICAL FAVORITES. On the Strange at Ecbatan blog Rich Horton is working through his Hugo recommendations.

Of these stories – none of which would disappoint me if they won the Hugo – my four favorites, in no particular order, are…

2.       David Gerrold and Ctein, “Bubble and Squeak” – About a gay couple, hoping to get married, who have their plans interrupted by a tsunami heading to Los Angeles, and who have to find a way to get to higher ground – and, as it turns out, help a bunch of others as well. It’s simply terrifically exciting, involving a plausible mix of heroism, foolishness, brutality, luck, and intelligence, on their part and others, as they struggle to find a way to a safe place, and as various options are closed off over time.

4.       Kelly Robson, “Intervention” (Infinity’s End) — A very intelligent story about child rearing in a heavily inhabited future Solar System. The narrator is from Luna, where creche work is socially frowned upon, so she leaves to work on an asteroid-based creche – and then later gets a chance to work on a bid to reform Luna’s failing creche system. This is just really interesting social speculation; and the characters are also very solidly portrayed, very honest.

5.       Karen Russell, “Orange World” (The New Yorker, 6/4/18) – An older first time mother is driven to make a deal with a literal devil to save the life of her child, and only the intervention of her support group allows her to cope … Really well written, really convincing.

(11) STAR WARS WRAPS. Entertainment Tonight did a red carpet interview of “J.J. Abrams on Wrapping ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ and Bringing Back Lando (Exclusive)” (video).

(12) DOLLARS AND SENSE. Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid for February 22 includes a wryly-named commentary on cancelled cable sff shows – “Boulevard of Broken Streams.”

Netflix have done what Thanos couldn’t; wiped out an entire section of the Marvel universe. It was announced this week that The Punisher is done with season 2 and Jessica Jones with season 3. That will air later this year and be the swan song for a five (and a half) show mini-universe.

My feelings about this are, to mis-quote the best line in the entire Mission: Impossible franchise, complicated.

For a start there’s the Rat King of fan speculation and business practice to try and untie. We can all clap as loud as we want, the shows were never going to the Disney streaming platform because that platform has to aim for the widest possible audience. It’s also almost certainly what raised the renewal costs for the shows beyond practical. So, rationally, this all makes sense. It’s annoying, but it does make sense….

(13) PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER. And here I thought it was a disaster of Biblical proportions: “What An Insect Can Teach Us About Adapting To Stress”.

What if we told you that you could learn a lot about handling adversity from the life of a bug? In their explorations of humans and how we interact with the world around us, the team that makes NPR’s Invisibilia stumbled on a surprising fact about the insect world — one that could inspire a new way of looking at ourselves.

The epic destruction wrought by swarms of locusts is downright biblical. Exodus tells of a plague that left nothing green in all of Egypt, and we’ve seen these harbingers of destruction at work in modern day Australia, Argentina and Israel, just to name a few. But for centuries, one essential piece of information about these strange insects eluded scientists: Where do they come from?

These massive swarms just seemed to pop up out of nowhere, decimate everything and then vanish.

(14) GRIND YOUR GOGGLES INTO PLOWSHARES. NPR reports “Microsoft Workers Protest Army Contract With Tech ‘Designed To Help People Kill'”.

Microsoft workers are calling on the giant tech company to cancel its nearly $480 million U.S. Army contract, saying the deal has “crossed the line” into weapons development by Microsoft for the first time. They say the use of the company’s HoloLens augmented reality technology under the contract “is designed to help people kill.”

In a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith, the workers also say the company is failing to inform its engineers “on the intent of the software they are building.”

The November contract is for what’s called an Integrated Visual Augmentation System.

“The contract’s stated objective is to ‘rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to achieve overmatch against our current and future adversaries,’ ” the letter said.

(15) KNOCKING THE COMPETITION. A Business Insider reporter was there: “Jeff Bezos just gave a private talk in New York. From utopian space colonies to dissing Elon Musk’s Martian dream, here are the most notable things he said.”

• Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, gave a talk to a members-only event at the Yale Club in New York on Tuesday. 

• During the 30-minute lecture, Bezos said his private aerospace company, Blue Origin, would launch its first people into space aboard a New Shepard rocket in 2019. 

• Bezos also questioned the capabilities of a space tourism competitor, Virgin Galactic, and criticized the goal of Elon Musk and SpaceX to settle Mars with humans. 

• Ultimately, Bezos said he wants Blue Origin to enable a space-faring civilization where “a Mark Zuckerberg of space” and “1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins” can flourish. 

• Bezos advised the crowd to hold a powerful, personal long-term vision, but to devote “the vast majority of your energy and attention” on shorter-term activities and those ranging up to 2- or 3-year timeframes. 

(16) THE WEST END ZONE. In the February 16 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Matt Trueman profiles Anne Washburn, whose play based on The Twilight Zone is opening March 4 at The Ambassador Theatre in London.

“Her stage version of The Twilight Zone transfers into town next month.  On the surface, it’s a straightforward celebration of Rod Serling’s cult TV series.  Having watched all 156 episodes,she selected those stories that stuck in America’s psyche.  ‘I was polling anyone I ran into: What Twilight Zone episode traumatized you as a small child? People would answer immediately.  That’s where it lives in our culture.”

“In April, The Twilight Zone‘s getting a high profile reboot by Get Out director Jordan Peele, but Washburn’s incarnation celebrates its loveable, low-fi 1950s charm. Its schlockiness, essentially.’It’s morality,comedy, and horror at the same time,’ beams Washburn.  ‘That’s very appealing.’  The show sends up its arched-eyebrowed asides and cheap cardboard cut-outs.  ‘Where things are less adept, you can see right to its heart.  That’s always moving.’

“Insightful, too, as Washburn unpeels The Twilight Zone‘s skin to show us a glimpse of America’s soul in its recurring images: alien invasions and nuclear oblivion. ‘The Twilight Zone is about America dreaming–or America’s nightmare.'”

(17) SPIDER-SAN. CBR.com: shares the image: Spider-Man: Far From Home Gets Spectacular Japanese Poster”.

Sony Pictures has released a new poster promoting the Japanese release of the upcoming Marvel film Spider-Man: Far From Home, and it’s really awesome.

This exceptionally creative poster features a typographic image of Spider-Man’s mask composed almost entirely of bold, red Japanese text. The words and phrases used to create Spidey’s face mostly reference different aspects of the film, with the text repeating “summer vacation.” There are also numerous references to Nick Fury. Moreover, where Spider-Man’s mouth ought to be, there is a QR code that links to Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s Japanese trailer, which is the same as the international trailer.

(18) PUMP, BROTHERS. Food Network advises, “Throw Away Your Peanut Butter Knife!” This clearly isn’t genre, but it is a “great” “scientific” advance. Or it is you can’t resist both peanut butter and silly gadgets.

Who knew the world was clamoring for a better – or at least different – way to prepare a peanut butter sandwich?

One week after a Burbank, California, inventor/entrepreneur named Andrew Scherer launched an Indiegogo page to raise funds for his new Peanut Butter Pump, promising a way to eat “Peanut Butter Without the Knife,” the project has raised $46,955 (from more than 1,220 backers) and counting – more than twice its $20,000 goal.

[…] It’s basically a jar top – made to fit onto your standard 40-ounce grocery-store or name-brand peanut butter jar – with a pump top and a plunger inside that presses down the peanut butter, leaving the sides of the jar clean as it goes, and dispensing the peanut butter out the top and directly onto your bread or celery stick or wherever you’re aiming it.

(19) WITH AUTOMATIC UPSELL. Welcome to Uncanny Valley Restaurant. “This Fast Food Drive-Thru Is Now Using AI to Take Orders”Futurism has the story.

We already had a robot that could make fast food burgers. And now we have an artificial intelligence that can take your order for one.

Earlier this month, Colorado-based startup Valyant AI announced the launch of a voice-based AI customer service platform, which is now taking customer orders at the drive-thru at Denver’s Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard.

“We’re excited to deliver a customer service experience unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before,” Valyant AI CEO Rob Carpenter said in a press release.

A video demonstration is here.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Emperox JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Four Winners Refuse Parsec Awards

Four 2018 Parsec Awards winners announced today they will decline their awards because the committee has sustained the award given to an alleged harasser.

The December 17 announcement of the 2018 Parsec Awards for sff podcasting was hailed by protests that one of the winners “has a history of extremely disturbing behavior”, according to a follow-up statement the committee issued the same day. The person was not named in that statement, nor in the committee’s December 19 release explaining why they were allowing the award to stand. The reasons given were —

…It is the goal of The Parsecs to judge solely on the merit of the content and not on gender, heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation, politics, or other factors not in the podcast as presented to the audience. To do more would be to fail at our core purpose.

There is neither precedent nor procedure for The Committee to intervene in the results based on information outside of the stated policies….

The target of the protests is Edward Champion, winner of the 2018 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form).

Some of the allegations against Champion were covered by Gawker in 2014:

Last night, a Brooklyn-based literary blogger/podcaster/personality named Edward Champion suddenly began attacking the novelist Porochista Khakpour on Twitter, after Khakpour tweeted about Champion’s private threats against her. Before the night was over, Champion had been kicked off Twitter, and several other writers and literary agents had come forward to tell stories of Champion’s threatening and bizarre behavior….

A Parsec Awards judge, Wil Williams, also says she has been harassed by Champion. Her thread starts here.

Several winners have answered the Parsec Awards committee’s decision not to take away Champion’s award by refusing to accept theirs.

Escape Artists has publicly declined their two 2018 Parsec Awards, as explained in the post “If You Stand for Nothing, What’ll You Fall For?”

In light of recent events, Escape Artists is declining its 2018 Parsec wins.

Escape Pod, edited by Mur Lafferty and S. B. Divya, won Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast.

PodCastle, edited by Jen R. Albert and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali won Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form) for its production of “Six Jobs” by Tim Pratt, narrated by Stephanie Malia Morris.

EA co-owners Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner have been in consultation with both editorial teams and Mr. Pratt, and we have unanimously decided to reject both awards. We also reached out to Ms. Morris, but have not head back from her as of the time of this post.

… The systemic failure of care that has taken place with this year’s Parsec Awards can’t go unanswered and this is one of the strongest ways we can express our displeasure.

Pendant Productions has rejected the award they won for Best Speculative Fiction Video Story:

And Grant Baciocco of Saturday Morning Media has refused the award for Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation.

Escape Artists co-owner Alasdair Stuart gave an overview of their decision in “The 2018 Parsec Situation”. He concluded:

…Letting down judges like this is bad. Lacking a complaints policy at a minimum in this day and age borders on unforgivable. The community’s trust in the Parsecs has, at the very least, been torpedoed by this incident and the committee’s response to it. Whether that torpedo hit under the water line remains to be seen.

For me, I’d love to see some changes. A complaints policy is years overdue. More awareness of the field and problematic behaviour within it even more so. That doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be political either but rather based on fundamental decency. Sexism, racism, homophobia, harassment. These aren’t political lines, they’re lifestyle choices and choices that podcasters up for awards should be aware of, just as prose authors are slowly starting to be. Blindness isn’t necessary here, and ignorance is the opposite of bliss. Engagement, compassion, dialogue and change are all needed. I hope the committee feels the same way and I hope that next year, these awards can be what they deserve to be; celebrated.

Escape Pod assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney added his thoughts in “The Year of Declines: Parsecs and WOTF”:

…I understand the appeal and principles of above-the-fray neutrality. But in practice, any organization must choose between those who would act abusively, and their victims. If you won’t banish anyone, the harmful people will do the banishing….

And Adam Pracht, who worked on Escape Artists’ Parsec Award submissions, endorsed the decision in a thread that starts here.

2018 Parsec Awards Committee Responds to Complaint

The 2018 Parsec Award winner alleged to have “a history of extremely disturbing behavior” has not been identified, and whoever it is, the Parsec Awards committee has decided they can keep the award.

The Parsec Awards Steering Committee met on Dec 18, 2018 to discuss the feedback received after the press release of 2018 Winners was distributed to the mailing list. It was suggested that awarding a Parsec to a particular content creator gave legitimacy to their behavior and through that award the Parsecs would be responsible for promoting that behavior. The situation was unprecedented in our experience with The Parsecs and having no relevant policy we felt that the situation required a thoughtful response.

The Committee reviewed the General Information, Nominating FAQ, Eligibility Criteria and Rules stated on the Parsec Awards website as well as existing procedures for certifying nominations and the judging process. We found that the 2018 Parsec Awards were processed and judged in accordance with the stated policies and procedures.

The Parsecs are awarded to the podcast based on the media presented to the audience in the feed. The extent to which we are able to provide this “level playing field” for all podcasts regardless of popularity or exposure is the strength and value The Parsecs provides to the podcasting community. As the medium of podcasting has grown and become increasingly corporate we feel the mission of The Parsecs, to identify excellence in speculative fiction podcasting, is ever more valuable.

We are a volunteer committee of six individuals, give or take, and many volunteer judges, each devoting countless hours to podcast listening. It is the goal of The Parsecs to judge solely on the merit of the content and not on gender, heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation, politics, or other factors not in the podcast as presented to the audience. To do more would be to fail at our core purpose.

There is neither precedent nor procedure for The Committee to intervene in the results based on information outside of the stated policies. We feel that doing so would undermine the integrity of The Parsecs as being judged solely on the merit of the content. It would also be a disservice to the judges, who lend their time and credibility to evaluate so many hours of content, to discard their work.

The Parsec Awards 2018 Steering Committee
Bruce Press, Chair
Taylor Fisher
Natalie Metzger
Patrick Sponagle
Kreg Steppe
Bob Tarr

Update 12/20/2018: Brian White reveals the mystery for the rest of us:

Champion won the 2018 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form).

Gawker covered the allegations about Campion in 2014:

Last night, a Brooklyn-based literary blogger/podcaster/personality named Edward Champion suddenly began attacking the novelist Porochista Khakpour on Twitter, after Khakpour tweeted about Champion’s private threats against her. Before the night was over, Champion had been kicked off Twitter, and several other writers and literary agents had come forward to tell stories of Champion’s threatening and bizarre behavior….

[Thanks to Camestros Felapton for the info in the update.]

2018 Parsec Awards

The winners of the 12th annual Parsec Awards for Excellence in Speculative Fiction Podcasting were announced December 17.  

Winners of the 2018 Parsec Awards

  • Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form)

PodCastle

Jen R. Albert & Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Six Jobs by Tim Pratt PodCastle  

  •  Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Long Form)

Shadow Publications: Derelict Tomb

Paul E. Cooley

Derelict: Tomb by Paul E. Cooley

  • Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form)

The Gray Area

Edward Champion

Buddies for Hire by Edward Champion

  • Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form)

The Axe & Crown

Eli McIlveen and Sean Howard

The Axe & Crown (12 episodes)
by Eli McIlveen and Sean Howard

  • Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Long Form)

Uncanny County

Todd Faulkner

Uncanny County by Todd Faulkner, Alison Crane, William Franke, Nicole Greevy

  • Best Speculative Fiction Video Story

Active Radioactive Radio

Pendant Productions

Radioactive by Susan and Jeffrey Bridges

  • Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

Escape Pod

Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya

  • Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster/Team

The Phenomenon

Luciola Creative

  • Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (Specific)

To The Journey!

Kay Shaw,  Suzanne Williamson, Zachary Fruhling

  • Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General)

Kalanadi

Rachael (Kalanadi)

General interest science fiction reviews by Rachael

  • Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

Under The Puppet

Saturday Morning Media, Grant Baciocco

  • Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast

Astronomy Cast

Pamela Gay and Fraser Cain

  • Best Speculative Fiction Comedy/Parody Podcast

Robotz of the Company

Dream Realm Enterprises

Robotz of the Company by Jonithan Patrick  Russell

Update 12/17/2018: The Parsec Awards committee subsequently added the following statement (which does not identify the winner at issue):

In the last 24 hours the Parsec Awards Steering Committee has been made aware that a podcast creator for one of the podcasts that was announced in the previous email as an award winner has a history of extremely disturbing behavior.

To the best of our knowledge, no one on this committee was aware of this nor had any direct contact with this person.

Before going on, we want to make it clear that in no way do we wish to condone, enable or ignore patterns of threatening, abusive or hateful behavior on line or in person. From the very beginning the Parsecs have striven to be fair, unbiased and inclusive.

Our process is necessarily blind. We vet nominations for accuracy and submissions for relation to category and duration. Judging is done solely on the basis of the audio file presented.  That is to say we are presenting awards to the podcast solely on the basis of the content and production value. Some members of the committee and judges are in the podcast community. Therefore, they may know nominees and exclude themselves from directly influencing the processing of those submissions.

We have tried to create an award that is based on merit and is free from popularity, politics or prejudice. As you will note from our qualifications, there is no mention of the podcast creators only the podcast.

It is from this basis that we find ourselves where we are now without a policy to address this situation nor a ready made recourse. 

Things are happening very fast and we are not organized to be rapidly responsive. The committee has not had a chance to meet to determine what response is appropriate. 

We beg your patience while we figure this out.

The Parsec Awards Steering Committee

Pixel Scroll 4/28/18 The Great Emu-Scroll War Was Lost When The Pixels Attacked The Gazebo

Now, where were we when we were so rudely interrupted?

(1) INFURNITY. Camestros Felapton, the world’s most understanding cat owner, provides his pet with “Tim’s Facial Hair Guide to Infinity War”.

So, I’ve explained before that Timothy doesn’t distinguish human faces well. He is also confused by facial hair. OK strictly speaking he is confused by human skin, which he assumes is fur and hence is doubly confused by facial hair which he thinks is fur that is growing out of fur. Look, the main thing is he finds beards confusing and panics if I shave.

So, Marvel’s Infinity War has many characters and about 40%+ of them have facial hair (90%+ if we count eyebrows – do eyebrows count as facial hair? I assume so.) Some of them i.e. Captain America have gained beards for this film.

So to assist Tim to keep track, here is a field guide to various beard styles in the film….

(2) PUBLIC ASKED FOR PODCAST NOMINATIONS. The Parsec Awards Steering Committee is accepting nominations of podcasts for the 2018 Parsec Awards through June 15. Nominate here.


Any material released between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 is eligible for the 2018 awards. Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions. Thus, YouTube, Facebook, etc.. series are eligible.

If you are a podcaster or author, please feel free to nominate your own podcast or story

 

(3) MORE STAR WARS. Disney announced “Star Wars Resistance, Anime-Inspired Series, Set for Fall Debut”. The series is set in the era before The Force Awakens.

StarWars.com is thrilled to announce that production has begun on Star Wars Resistance, an exciting new animated adventure series about Kazuda Xiono, a young pilot recruited by the Resistance and tasked with a top-secret mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order. It will premiere this fall on Disney Channel in the U.S. and thereafter, on Disney XD and around the world.

(4) BROADDUS JOINS APEX. Maurice Broaddus has been named nonfiction editor for Apex Magazine. Jason Sizemore, Editor-in-Chief, made the announcement April 2.

Maurice is a prolific and well-regarded author who works in a multitude of genres. He is also the Apex Magazine reprints editor and now wears two hats for our publication. Upcoming authors Maurice has lined up for essays include Mur Lafferty, Mary SanGiovanni, and Tobias S. Buckell.

You can find Maurice Broaddus on Twitter at @mauricebroaddus and online at www.mauricebroaddus.com. His novella “Buffalo Soldiers” was recently published at Tor.com.

(5) SWANWICK CITES LE GUIN ON PRESENT TENSE: Michael Swanwick would be authority enough for many, but first he appeals for support to “Le Guin on Present Tense” before handing down the stone tablets:

Here’s the rule, and it covers all cases: Only use the present tense if there is some reason for doing so that justifies losing some of your readers and annoying others. (This rule goes double for future tense.) Otherwise, use the past tense.

(6) THINGS FALL APART; THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD: Aalto University reports 2.7 billion tweets confirm: echo chambers in Twitter are very real.

Bipartisan users, who try to bridge the echo chambers, pay a price for their work: they become less central in their network, lose connections to their communities and receive less endorsements from others.

(7) STARTING OUT AS A WOMAN SFF AUTHOR. From Fantasy Café: “Women in SF&F Month: Ann Aguirre”:

…I first sold to New York in 2007, over eleven years ago. That book was Grimspace, a story I wrote largely to please myself because it was hard for me to find the sort of science fiction that I wanted to read. I love space opera, but in the past, I found that movies and television delivered more of the stories I enjoyed. At the time, I was super excited to be published in science fiction and fantasy.

My first professional appearance was scheduled at a small con in Alabama. I was so excited for that, so fresh and full of hope. Let’s just say that my dreams were dashed quite spectacularly. I was sexually harassed by multiple colleagues and the men I encountered seemed to think I existed to serve them. To say that my work wasn’t taken seriously is an understatement. That was only reinforced when I made my first appearance at SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) six months later.

There, the moderator called me the ‘token female’, mispronounced my last name without checking with me first (she checked with the male author seated next to me), and the male panelists spoke over me, interrupted me at will, and gave me very little chance to speak. I remember quite clearly how humiliated I was, while also hoping that it wasn’t noticeable to the audience.

Dear Reader, it was very noticeable. Afterward, David Brin, who was in the audience, came up to me with a sympathetic look and he made a point of shaking my hand. He said, “Well, I was very interested in what you had to say.” With a pointed stress on the word “I.”…

(8) WTF? Can you believe somebody is comparing what they’re marketing to “The Veldt” as if it’s a good thing? “Madison Square Garden cites Ray Bradbury as an influence on upcoming Sphere Arena in Las Vegas”.

Madison Square Garden officials lifted the curtain a bit on their MSG Sphere Arena entertainment venues coming to Las Vegas and London, with a demonstration Thursday that hinted at advanced technology going into the design and experiences for audiences within the new-generation venues.

In his presentation at the Forum in Inglewood, which his company rejuvenated in 2014 with a $100-million face and body lift, Madison Square Garden Co. chairman James L. Dolan cited a short story from science-fiction author and futurist Ray Bradbury’s 1951 anthology “The Illustrated Man” as something of a spiritual model for the new facilities.

In particular, he referenced Bradbury’s story “The Veldt,” which centered on a high-tech room of the future, called the “liquid crystal room,” which could synthesize any environment in which children desired to play or explore.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 28, 2007 — Ashes of actor James Doohan and of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper soared into space aboard a rocket.

(10) SIXTY-THREE. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus takes his monthly whack at my favorite-in-the-Sixties prozine: “[April 27, 1963] Built to Last?  (May 1963 Analog)”.

If this trend continues, we can assume that our children and grandchildren will not only have Burroughs, Wells, Verne, Shelley, and Baum to read, but also reprinted copies of our present-day science fiction, as well as the SF of the future (their present).  Perhaps they’ll all be available via some computerized library — tens of thousands of volumes in a breadbox-shaped device, for instance.

The question, then, is whether or not our children will remember our current era fondly enough to want reprints from it.  Well, if this month’s Analog be a representative sample, the answer is a definitive…maybe.

(11) HORTON ON HUGOS. Catching up with Rich Horton’s commentaries about the 2018 Hugo nominees and who he’s voting for.

My views here are fairly simple. It’s a decent shortlist, but a bifurcated one. There are three nominees that are neck and neck in my view, all first-rate stories and well worth a Hugo. And there are three that are OK, but not special – in my view not Hugo-worthy (but not so obviously unworthy that I will vote them below No Award.)…

This is really a very strong shortlist. The strongest shortlist in years and years, I’d say. Two are stories I nominated, and two more were on my personal shortlist of stories I considered nominating. The other two stories are solid work, though without quite the little bit extra I want in an award winner….

This is by no means a bad shortlist. Every story on it is at least pretty decent. …

(12) SIPPING TIME. Charles Payseur finds stories with reasons for the season: “Quick Sips – Fireside Magazine April 2018”.

Spring might finally be arriving, and at Fireside Magazine that means the stories are about rebirth and new beginnings, even as they’re about decay and endings. For me, at least, spring always brings to mind thaw. A thawing of the world after the long freeze of winter. Which means new growth, new green, but also means revealing all the death that the snow concealed. The roadkill, the rot, the dead leaves not yet turned to mulch. And these stories find characters at this point, seeing all around them the evidence of death and pain, and having to make the decision to also see the life. To see the good, and to try and foster that good, to help it grow. These are stories that show people pushing back against the pressure to die, to be silent, and embrace a future full of the possibility of failure, yes, but also full of the hope of success. To the reviews!

(13) GENIUSES AT WORK. Nine letters from the 1940s by Freeman Dyson show “Another Side of Feynman” at Nautilus.

l through a long life I had three main concerns, with a clear order of priority. Family came first, friends second, and work third.”

So writes the pioneering theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson in the introduction to his newly published collection of letters, Maker of Patterns. Spanning about four decades, the collection presents a first-person glimpse into a life that witnessed epochal changes both in world history and in physics.

Here, we present short excerpts from nine of Dyson’s letters, with a focus on his relationship with the physicist Richard Feynman. Dyson and Feynman had both professional and personal bonds: Dyson helped interpret and draw attention to Feynman’s work—which went on to earn a Nobel Prize—and the two men traveled together and worked side by side.

Taken together, these letters present a unique perspective of each man. Feynman’s effervescent energy comes through, as does Dyson’s modesty and deep admiration for his colleague.

(14) ADVANCED TRAINING. Did MZW graduate from this course?

(15) EJECT. Yes, this is me: I sometime I feel like I have finished delivering the info yet haven’t figured out how to end the sentence. “Your Speech Is Packed With Misunderstood, Unconscious Messages” at Nautilus.

Imagine standing up to give a speech in front of a critical audience. As you do your best to wax eloquent, someone in the room uses a clicker to conspicuously count your every stumble, hesitation, um and uh; once you’ve finished, this person loudly announces how many of these blemishes have marred your presentation.

This is exactly the tactic used by the Toastmasters public-speaking club, in which a designated “Ah Counter” is charged with tallying up the speaker’s slip-ups as part of the training regimen. The goal is total eradication. The club’s punitive measures may be extreme, but they reflect the folk wisdom that ums and uhs betray a speaker as weak, nervous, ignorant, and sloppy, and should be avoided at all costs, even in spontaneous conversation.

Many scientists, though, think that our cultural fixation with stamping out what they call “disfluencies” is deeply misguided. Saying um is no character flaw, but an organic feature of speech; far from distracting listeners, there’s evidence that it focuses their attention in ways that enhance comprehension.

Disfluencies arise mainly because of the time pressures inherent in speaking. Speakers don’t pre-plan an entire sentence and then mentally press “play” to begin unspooling it. If they did, they’d probably need to pause for several seconds between each sentence as they assembled it, and it’s doubtful that they could hold a long, complex sentence in working memory. Instead, speakers talk and think at the same time, launching into speech with only a vague sense of how the sentence will unfold, taking it on faith that by the time they’ve finished uttering the earlier portions of the sentence, they’ll have worked out exactly what to say in the later portions.

(16) A MARCH IN MAY. Naomi Kritzer tweeted photos from a Mayday parade – including a notorious purple cat (who may or may not be named Timothy!…) Jump on the thread here:

(17) WHAT’S THAT SMELL. BBC tells how “Sentinel tracks ships’ dirty emissions from orbit” — unclear they’re picking up individual polluters yet, but that could come.

Sentinel-5P was launched in October last year and this week completed its in-orbit commissioning phase.

But already it is clear the satellite’s data will be transformative.

This latest image reveals the trail of nitrogen dioxide left in the air as ships move in and out of the Mediterranean Sea.

The “highway” that the vessels use to navigate the Strait of Gibraltar is easily discerned by S5P’s Tropomi instrument.

(18) EGGING THEM ON. Did anybody see this coming? “Chicken Run 2: Sequel confirmed after 18-year wait”.

The Oscar-winning animation studio hasn’t set a release date yet. Its announcement comes 18 years after the original flew onto the big screen.

Chicken Run is the highest-grossing stop-motion animation film of all-time – banking £161.3m at the box office.

 

(19) HOLD THE BACON. On the other hand, don’t expect to see this anytime soon: Hollywood Reporter headline: ““Tremors’ Reboot Starring Kevin Bacon Dead at Syfy”

Here’s a headline you don’t read every day: A TV reboot of a feature film toplined by the original star is not moving forward.

Syfy has opted to pass on its TV follow-up to 1990 feature film Tremors, starring Kevin Bacon.

…Bacon broke the news himself, writing on his verified Instagram page that he was “[s]ad to report that my dream of revisiting the world of Perfection will not become a reality. Although we made a fantastic pilot (IMHO) the network has decided not to move forward. Thanks to our killer cast and everyone behind the scenes who worked so hard. And always keep one eye out for GRABOIDS!”

(20) CHESLEYS. Here is the Association for Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) “2018 Chesley Award Suggestions List (for 2017 Works)”. The members have finished making nominations and ASFA says the finalists will be posted in a few weeks.

(21). UNSUSPECTED GOLDMINE. American news infamously neglects most countries of the world, but who knew there were big sf doings in Bulgaria? At Aeon, Victor Petrov discusses “Communist robot dreams”.

The police report would have baffled the most grizzled detective. A famous writer murdered in a South Dakota restaurant full of diners; the murder weapon – a simple hug. A murderer with no motive, and one who seemed genuinely distraught at what he had done. You will not find this strange murder case in the crime pages of a local US newspaper, however, but in a Bulgarian science-fiction story from the early 1980s. The explanation thus also becomes more logical: the killer was a robot.

The genre was flourishing in small Bulgaria in the last two decades of socialism, and the country became the biggest producer of robotic laws per capita, supplementing Isaac Asimov’s famous three with two more canon rules – and 96 satirical ones. Writers such as Nikola Kesarovski (who wrote the above murder mystery) and Lyuben Dilov grappled with questions of the boundaries between man and machine, brain and computer. The anxieties of their literature in this period reflected a society preoccupied with technology and cybernetics, an unlikely bastion of the information society that arose on both sides of the Iron Curtain from the 1970s onwards.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Cora Buhlert, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Jason, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day johnstick.]

2017 Parsec Awards

The Parsec Awards committee has announced the 2017 awardees for excellence in speculative fiction podcasting.

Best Speculative Fiction Comedy/Parody Podcast

Winner: Star Wars Best in Galaxy Season 3 by Mark Restuccia & Patch Hyde

Finalists

  • Kakos Industries by Conrad Miszuk
  • Are You Scared of These Stories? by Robert Hibbs, Robbie Owens, & Josh Jenkins
  • Wynabego Warrior The Tale of John Waynnabe by Audioblivious Productions
  • Nerdy Show: Nerdcasting the Multiverse: Thanksgiving Special by The Nerdy Show Network
  • GnomeMatter: Cadavorue & Macoy in 2016 by Susan C. Tolly & Cary Michael Ayers

Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

Winner: Calliope Writing Coach Podcast by Angie Fenimore & Michael Sheen (Dandelion Productions)

Finalists

  • Two Gay Geeks by Keith Lane & Ben Ragunton
  • Lightning Dogs: The Official Paw’dcast by The Nerdy Show Network
  • Audio Drama Production Podcast by Fiona Thraille & Sarah Golding
  • Stage Nine by Mike Schindler & John Mills

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (Specific)

Winner: Aggressive Negotiations: A Star Wars Podcast by John Mills & Matt Rushing

Finalists

  • Trek Geeks: A Star Trek Podcast by Dan Davidson & Bill Smith
  • Back to the Future Minute by Scott Carelli & Nick Jimenez
  • Beyond Westworld by Aaron Peterson & Troy Heinritz
  • Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast by John Champion & Ken Ray

Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

The Theatre of Tomorrow by Travis McMaster & Mark Whitten

Finalists

  • Seminar by Pendant Productions
  • Escape Pod by Escape Artists
  • Brick Moon Fiction published by Jason T. Reed
  • The Wicked Library by Daniel Foytik & Nelson W. Pyles

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General)

Winner: The Faculty of Horror by Andrea Subissati & Alexandra West

Finalists

  • Nutty Bites by Nuchtchas
  • Piper’s Picks TV by Piper Reese & Adam Feinsilver
  • The 602 Club by Matthew Rushing
  • MegaPodTastic by Krazy Joe

Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast

Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria by Cara Santa Maria

Finalists

  • Universe Today’s Guide to Space by Fraser Cain
  • Planetary Radio by Mat Kaplan, The Planetary Society
  • Meta Treks: A Star Trek Philosophy Podcast by Zachary Fruhling & Mike Morrison
  • decipherSciFi by Christopher Peterson & Lee Colbert

Best Speculative Fiction Video Story

Winner: The Uncle Interloper Show by Grant Baciocco

Finalists

  • Grant’s Advent Calendar by Grant Baciocco
  • Country Bear Collector Show by Grant Baciocco

Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster/Team

Winner: MarsCorp by Definitely Human

Finalists

  • Beyond Westworld by Aaron Peterson and Troy Heinritz
  • Synesthesia Theatre by Burning Brigid Media
  • Lesser Gods by Colleen Scriven
  • Aural Traditions: Crosswired by Straight Talk Entertainment

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Long Form)

Winner: Uncanny County by Todd Faulkner, Alison Crane, & Nicole Greevy

Finalists

  • The Byron Chronicles by Eric L. Busby
  • MarsCorp by Definitely Human
  • Radio Icebox Season 02: Rise of the Sirens by Jeffrey Adams
  • We’re Alive: Lockdown by Wayland Productions
  • Our Fair City by Clayton Feits

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form)

Return Home – “Genie” by Maia Brown-Jackson

Finalists

  • Return Home – “Hooves in the Dirt” by Jeff Heimbuch
  • The Voice of Free Planet X – “A Good Guy With A Magic Sword” by Jared Axelrod
  • Suspense – “The Black Madonna” by John C. Alsedek & Dana Perry-Hayes, from the short story by Harold Lawlor
  • Suspense – “Jinx of the Jellicoe Jasper” by John C. Alsedek & Dana Perry-Hayes

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Long Form)

The Raven and the Writing Desk – “Things Unseen” by Chris Lester

Finalists

  • The Black: Outbreak by Paul Elard Cooley
  • The Adventures of Elizabeth Crowne – “The Woman in the Sky” by Robert Isenberg
  • Sable by Lane Lloyd
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian by Jonathan Messinger

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form)

Winner: The Wicked Library – “Shadows” by K. B. Goddard

Finalists

  • The Lift – “The Lost Library” by K. B. Goddard
  • Seminar – “True Horror” by Jeffrey Bridges
  • The Junto Presents – “The Jack Of Lanterns” by David Parkin
  • The Junto Presents – “The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve: Tiny Tim” by David Parkin

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Novella Form)

Six Stories, Told at Night by KT Bryski

Finalists

  • The Gray Area by Edward Champion
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian by Typedrawer Media

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form)

Winner: Campfire Radio Theater – “Woods Ferry” by John Ballentine

Finalists

  • Punch It: Writing in Pop Culture – “The Last Will Be First” by Tristan Riddell & The Girl
  • The Theater in Your Mind – “Anything Helps” by Jon Holland
  • The Junto Presents – “Driver For The Dead” by David Parkin
  • Campfire Radio Theater – “Abduction at Willow Woods” by John Ballentine

2017 Parsec Awards Finalists

The 2017 Parsec Awards finalists were announced October 12.

The juried award recognizes excellence in speculative fiction podcasting. The winners will be honored during a ceremony to be livestreamed in November.

Best Speculative Fiction Comedy/Parody Podcast

  • Kakos Industries by Conrad Miszuk
  • Are You Scared of These Stories? by Robert Hibbs, Robbie Owens, & Josh Jenkins
  • Wynabego Warrior The Tale of John Waynnabe by Audioblivious Productions
  • Nerdy Show: Nerdcasting the Multiverse: Thanksgiving Special by The Nerdy Show Network
  • GnomeMatter: Cadavorue & Macoy in 2016 by Susan C. Tolly & Cary Michael Ayers
  • Star Wars Best in Galaxy Season 3 by Mark Restuccia & Patch Hyde

Best Podcast about Speculative Fiction Content Creation

  • Two Gay Geeks by Keith Lane & Ben Ragunton
  • Lightning Dogs: The Official Paw’dcast by The Nerdy Show Network
  • Audio Drama Production Podcast by Fiona Thraille & Sarah Golding
  • Stage Nine by Mike Schindler & John Mills
  • Calliope Writing Coach Podcast by Angie Fenimore & Michael Sheen (Dandelion Productions)

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (Specific)

  • Trek Geeks: A Star Trek Podcast by Dan Davidson & Bill Smith
  • Back to the Future Minute by Scott Carelli & Nick Jimenez
  • Beyond Westworld by Aaron Peterson & Troy Heinritz
  • Aggressive Negotiations: A Star Wars Podcast by John Mills & Matt Rushing
  • Mission Log: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast by John Champion & Ken Ray

Best Speculative Fiction Magazine or Anthology Podcast

  • Seminar by Pendant Productions
  • The Theatre of Tomorrow by Travis McMaster & Mark Whitten
  • Escape Pod by Escape Artists
  • Brick Moon Fiction published by Jason T. Reed
  • The Wicked Library by Daniel Foytik & Nelson W. Pyles

Best Speculative Fiction Fan or News Podcast (General)

  • Nutty Bites by Nuchtchas
  • Piper’s Picks TV by Piper Reese & Adam Feinsilver
  • The 602 Club by Matthew Rushing
  • The Faculty of Horror by Andrea Subissati & Alexandra West
  • MegaPodTastic by Krazy Joe

Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast

  • Universe Today’s Guide to Space by Fraser Cain
  • Planetary Radio by Mat Kaplan, The Planetary Society
  • Meta Treks: A Star Trek Philosophy Podcast by Zachary Fruhling & Mike Morrison
  • Talk Nerdy by Cara Santa Maria
  • decipherSciFi by Christopher Peterson & Lee Colbert

Best Speculative Fiction Video Story

  • Grant’s Advent Calendar by Grant Baciocco
  • The Uncle Interloper Show by Grant Baciocco
  • Country Bear Collector Show by Grant Baciocco

Best New Speculative Fiction Podcaster/Team

  • Beyond Westworld by Aaron Peterson and Troy Heinritz
  • MarsCorp by Definitely Human
  • Synesthesia Theatre by Burning Brigid Media
  • Lesser Gods by Colleen Scriven
  • Aural Traditions: Crosswired by Straight Talk Entertainment

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Long Form)

  • The Byron Chronicles by Eric L. Busby
  • MarsCorp by Definitely Human
  • Radio Icebox Season 02: Rise of the Sirens by Jeffrey Adams
  • We’re Alive: Lockdown by Wayland Productions
  • Uncanny County by Todd Faulkner, Alison Crane, & Nicole Greevy
  • Our Fair City by Clayton Feits

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Large Cast (Short Form)

  • Return Home – “Hooves in the Dirt” by Jeff Heimbuch
  • Return Home – “Genie” by Maia Brown-Jackson
  • The Voice of Free Planet X – “A Good Guy With A Magic Sword” by Jared Axelrod
  • Suspense – “The Black Madonna” by John C. Alsedek & Dana Perry-Hayes, from the short story by Harold Lawlor
  • Suspense – “Jinx of the Jellicoe Jasper” by John C. Alsedek & Dana Perry-Hayes

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Long Form)

  • The Black: Outbreak by Paul Elard Cooley
  • The Adventures of Elizabeth Crowne – “The Woman in the Sky” by Robert Isenberg
  • The Raven and the Writing Desk – “Things Unseen” by Chris Lester
  • Sable by Lane Lloyd
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian by Jonathan Messinger

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Short Form)

  • The Lift – “The Lost Library” by K. B. Goddard
  • Seminar – “True Horror” by Jeffrey Bridges
  • The Junto Presents – “The Jack Of Lanterns” by David Parkin
  • The Wicked Library – “Shadows” by K. B. Goddard
  • The Junto Presents – “The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve: Tiny Tim” by David Parkin

Best Speculative Fiction Story: Small Cast (Novella Form)

  • Six Stories, Told at Night by KT Bryski
  • The Gray Area by Edward Champion
  • The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian by Typedrawer Media

Best Speculative Fiction Audio Drama (Short Form)

  • Punch It: Writing in Pop Culture – “The Last Will Be First” by Tristan Riddell & The Girl
  • The Theater in Your Mind – “Anything Helps” by Jon Holland
  • The Junto Presents – “Driver For The Dead” by David Parkin
  • Campfire Radio Theater – “Abduction at Willow Woods” by John Ballentine
  • Campfire Radio Theater – “Woods Ferry” by John Ballentine

Pixel Scroll 6/15/17 Go Ahead, Make My Pixel

(1) THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. “This was amazing,” says James Bacon about a special feature of Lazlar Lyricon 3, a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy convention held last weekend. “I was on the committee and it was an incredible endeavour.”

It’s all about Chris Tregenza and Jess Bennett and “The Secret of Box 42”.

Idea, Idea, A Kingdom for an Idea

Even with our self-imposed restrictions we struggled to think of anything at first. Every idea was discarded as being too profligate, too big, too small or simply impractical.

Then, bouncing around ideas with the aid of a bottle of wine (or two), our conversation drifted onto computer games and how in games like Skyrim there are treasure chests scattered around from which the player can take loot. In any particular game, all the treasure chests have an identical appearance and the player quickly associates that graphic with a reward even though sometimes the chests are empty. This led the conversation into Pavlovian conditioning and Skinner’s pigeon experiments and then bang! We asked ourselves a question.

What happens if we applied the same psychology in the real world by scattering boxes containing treasure around a convention? ….

What’s In The Box

Our first step was to brainstorm lots of ideas for box contents which we then loosely organised into different types. After some refinement we ended up with five classes of boxes inspired by the five levels of Maslow’s hierarchy: rewards, treasures, activities, quests and meta. Each of the types had a different purpose and place in the overall game.

Reward boxes were primarily a simple psychological conditioner. Inside these boxes were sweets or other gifts along with instructions to €˜help yourself’. These boxes were designed to build a positive association with opening boxes. Treasures were like rewards except they only contained a single valuable item which anyone could take if they chose. This introduced rarity and encouraged people to look in the boxes quickly before someone else took the item. Activity boxes instructed the opener to do something such as play a game or challenge someone to a duel. In these boxes were appropriate things (like a deck of cards or toy guns) but unlike the reward boxes, the instructions only suggested the box opener used them, not keep them. Meta-boxes contained nothing except a quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The chosen quotes were amusing in their own right but also all related to the theme of hunting for the meaning of life.

(2) DITCHING THE RECEIVED WISDOM. Jason Sanford breaks the rules! gisp “Oh writing advice which I loathe, let me count the ways I’ve ignored you”. Sanford confesses eight violations.

Thinking about all the writing advice I don’t follow. This should mean I’m a literary failure. Instead, my stories are published around the world.

So what writing advice have I failed to follow? Let’s count down the greatest hits of advice I’ve ignored.

  1. “Write what you know.” Didn’t do that. I write science fiction and fantasy set in imaginary worlds I’ve never known. I create what I know!

(3) SOLAR TREK. From Space.com, Intergalactic Travel Agents rate the “Solar System’s Best and Worst Vacation Destinations (Video)”.

Part of the purpose of this interview is to promote Olivia Koski’s and Jana Grcevich’s book, Vacation Guide to the Solar System, which plans vacations using current astronomical knowledge.

(4) WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE. Seanan McGuire recently had a special encounter with some children in an airport. The Twitter stream here is well worth a gander.

(5) KICKSTARTER REACHES GOAL. The 2017 Fantastic Fiction at KGB Kickstarter is a huge success, reports co-host Matthew Kressel, providing enough funds to keep the series running for at least six more years. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series Kickstarter ran from May 17 through June 14 and raised $9,771 (before Kickstarter and credit card processing fees)€¦. Dozens of rewards were chosen by 196 different backers.

Why We Needed Financial Support Each month we give the authors a small stipend, we tip the bartenders (who always give the authors free drinks), and we take the authors and their partners/spouses out for dinner after the reading. Since it typically costs us around $120 per month, we need $1500 per year to maintain the series. We were looking to raise $4500, which would allow us to keep the series running for another three years. Each additional $1500 let us run for an additional year. Fantastic Fiction has been a bright light in the speculative fiction community for nearly two decades, and because of your help we will continue for many more years to come. Thank you!

(6) DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. Today Mary Robinette Kowal give her platform to Jon Del Arroz: “My Favorite Bit: Jon Del Arroz talks about FOR STEAM AND COUNTRY” .

(7) OH BOTHER. Goodbye Christopher Robin is the “based on a true story” movie about A.A. Milne, his son, and the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

(8) HARRYHAUSEN ART. Tate Britain will host an exhibition of The Art of Ray Harryhausen from June 26 through November 19.

Explore drawings and models by Ray Harryhausen with some of the art that inspired him

The American-born Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) is one of the most influential figures in cinema history. In a succession of innovative, effects-laden movies, from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms 1952 to Clash of the Titans 1981, Harryhausen created fantastic worlds and creatures that have inspired generations. He is acknowledged as the master of stop-motion animation techniques, involving models being moved and filmed one frame at a time to create the illusion of movement.

Harryhausen attended art classes as a young man, and readily acknowledged his debt to earlier painters and illustrators. The epic scenery and towering architecture of 19th century artists Gustave Dore, and John Martin were especially important to him, and he collected prints and paintings by both artists.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 15, 1973 The Battle for the Planet of the Apes premiered

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born June 15, 1941 — Graphic artist Neal Adams.

Adams has worked hard in the comics industry bringing to life such fascinating characters as Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, The Spectre, Thor, The X-Men, and countless others. For those wanting to know about the man and his career, you can check out his website right here. Adams was born on this day in 1941.

(11) THIS JUST IN. AND OUT. The New York Post reports “Sex in space is a ‘real concern’ that science needs to figure out”.

Romping in space is a “real concern” for astronauts, a top university professor has warned.

It’s something we know little about — but it’s crucial if we ever want to colonize other planets like Mars.

During a recent Atlantic Live panel, Kris Lehnhardt, an assistant professor at George Washington University, said the topic needs to be addressed immediately.

He said: “It’s a real concern — something we really don’t know about is human reproduction in space.”

“If we actually want to go places and stay there, there’s a key component and that’s having babies,” he added.

(12) MIGRATION. Richard Curtis, President of Richard Curtis Associates, Inc. broadcast this information:

Our curtisagency.com server crashed, and as it’s been happening a little too often lately I’m going to switch to gmail. So please use rcurtisagency@gmail.com going forward.

(13) PARSEC DEADLINE. Podcasters who have been nominated for a Parsec Award must submit their judging sample by July 16.

Podcast material released between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017 is eligible for the 2017 awards.

Material released needs to be free for download and released via a mechanism that allows for subscriptions (RSS Feed, iTunes, YouTube…). More rules and guidelines are posted at our website.

(14) EXTRA CREDITS. Top 10 Marvel post-credit scenes. Carl Slaughter says, “Notice this is an Avengers heavy list. Also, there is a conspicuous X-Men and Guardians absence.”

[Thanks to James Bacon, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Rose Embolism, Jon Del Arroz, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]

Parsec Awards Leave Dragon Con

The ceremony for the Parsec Awards for podcasts has been hosted by Dragon Con for a decade, but the organizers recently announced plans to begin holding a livestreamed virtual ceremony instead sometime in November (date TBA).

They raised the idea a few months ago and surveyed award supporters for their reaction.

By dissociating the awards with Dragon*Con, we feel that more of our community will be able to participate. No longer will travel to Atlanta be a prerequisite for presenters, entertainers or recipients. Many of those who attended Dragon*Con even found their schedules did not allow their attendance at the awards. We also feel that we can have a better chance of securing judges’ time when we are not smack in the middle of Con season as we can now have some flexibility in scheduling the awards.

One commenter asked why not do both – livestream a ceremony held at the con – and was answered “We have tried streaming the awards at D*C and have always had unreliable service and a poor experience for remote participants.”

Meantime, nominations for the Parsec Award are open and will continue through June 1, 2017. There are 15 award categories. Eligible nominees must fit this definition:

What is a “podcast”?

For the purposes of the Parsec Awards, we consider a podcast to be audio or video (“vidcasts”) delivered as part of a syndicated series streamed online or can be downloaded, via RSS feeds, podcast aggregators, or services such as YouTube or SoundCloud. Listeners or viewers must be able to subscribe to updates that are either delivered automatically or are made available to the subscriber in some aggregated format, free of charge during our eligibility period (May 1, 2016- April 30, 2017).