Pixel Scroll 10/21/18 These Pixel Scrolls May Contain Apocalyptic Stories About The End Of Days

(1) CONGRATULATIONS MAYOR RODEN. World Fantasy Award winner Barbara Roden (1997, 2005) is the newly-elected mayor of Ashcroft, British Columbia – the first woman elected to the office. The population of Ashcroft is around 1,500.

(2) AWARD FOR SJW CREDENTIALS IN LITERATURE. The Stephen Memorial Book Award for books with distinctive cats is a literary award that will be of interest to many Filers.

The 2018 winner is a memoir:

The Three Kitties That Saved My Life by Michael Meyer

Cat: Sable, Coco and Pom Pom
Story: The Three Kitties that saved my life.

A biography of troubles and the rescued cats (& Kitty) that pulled him through it. Touching, raw and heart-warming.

The three runners up are all SFF books and are listed here:

Cat: Dascha
Story: Familiar Trials by Taki Drake and T S Paul

Learning to be a familiar is something Dascha was not expecting, but when she does begin, she shows bravery both in and out of the classroom, while learning what it means to be a familiar.

Awarded to Dascha, for bravery and determination in the face of dangerous trials. Stephen Memorial Award 2018

Cat: Purrcasso
Story: The Creatures of Chichester by Christopher Joyce

The cat from the art galley. Wrangling both teenagers and ghosts that came to the Sloe Festival in Chichester. Despite floods and fears, standing firm and proud as only a cat can.

Awarded to Purrcasso, for his assistance in the saving of several ghosts Stephen Memorial Award 2018

Cat: Sir Kipling
Story: Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus: Cat Magic by Lydia Sherrer

A magical cat who can talk to his wizard. While she is away, he decides that he should, of course, be keeping an eye on anything magical. Of course, when someone evil does try something, Sir Kipling is on hand to ensure that such plans go awry.

Awarded to Sir Kipling, for showing that it takes a good feline to be in charge. Stephen Memorial Award 2018

The award also has a charitable component – this year they partnered with CatChat.org, the cat rehoming charity, and donated £1 for each book entered. Bookangel reports the award raised enough to rehome twenty cats.

(3) KGB READINGS. Ellen Datlow posted her photos from the October Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings where the guests were Tim Pratt and Lawrence M. Schoen.

Lawrence Schoen and Tim Pratt

(4) GAME OF THROWNS. Channel your inner orc at “LA’s premiere ax-throwing facility” — LA AX.

Axe Throwing is a unique and exciting activity that was brought into existence just over a decade ago in the backwoods of Ontario, Canada. Since then, it has exploded into a sport that is making waves on the international stage. Yes, you read that correctly, Axe Throwing is an international sport! How does one become a professional Axe Thrower? Well there are few ways to break into this sport!  Whether you just want to be a casual thrower, a serious professional, or you have a group of friends looking for a fun night out; our LA AX coaches will give you the knowledge you need to become a professional in your own right!

(5) HONEST TRAILERS: SOLO. “The coolest new Star Wars character is… Never mind.” Got that right!

(6) IN THE VACUUM OF THEATER SPACE. According to Looper, First Man failed to gain an audience.

By all accounts, First Man is an excellent film, filled with great performances from stars like Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. So why isn’t anyone going to see it? Here’s a look at why First Man has bombed at the box office so far…

 

(7) WHAT IF? The Hugo Award Book Club launches its review of Mary Robinett Kowal’s The Calculating Stars with this wee bit of snark —

While we quite enjoyed Seveneves, many readers described it as a bit dry.

A comparison between the two books is apt. Seveneves and The Calculating Stars are books that explore many similar ideas, but they do so in very different ways that will appeal to different people.

(8) WTF? Umm….

(9) FORWARDING ADDRESS. James Davis Nicoll explores “(Semi-)Plausible Strategies for Moving a Whole Damn Planet” at Tor.com. It’s a lot easier if you have the help of supremely intelligent aliens.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re living on a perfectly good planet in orbit around a perfectly acceptable star—and then suddenly, the neighbourhood goes to crap and you have to move. For a lot of people, this means marching onto space arks.

Recapitulating Noah on a cosmic scale is such a pain, though. All that packing. All that choosing who to take and who to leave behind. And no matter how carefully you plan things, it always seems to come down to a race between launch day and doomsday.

Why not, therefore, just take the whole darned planet with you?

(10) BRADBURYIANA. On display at the Ray Bradbury Center in Indianapolis —

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 21, 1904 – Edmond Hamilton, Writer and Member of First Fandom who was one of Weird Tales’ most prolific early contributors, providing nearly 80 stories from the late 20s to the late 40s. Sources say that in the late 1920s and early 1930s he had stories in all of the SF pulp magazines then in publication. His 1933 story “The Island of Unreason” won the first Jules Verne Prize as the best SF story of the year; this was the very first SF prize awarded by the votes of fans, and one source holds it to be a precursor of the Hugo Awards. From 1940 to 1951, he wrote at least 25 Captain Future stories (a universe recently revisited by Allen Steele). From the early 40s to the late 60s, he did work for DC, in stories about Superman and Batman, and he created the Space Ranger character with Gardner Fox and Bob Brown. He was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1964 Worldcon. He was married to fellow science fiction author, screenwriter, and fan Leigh Brackett for more than 30 years, until his death at age 72.
  • Born October 21, 1929 – Ursula K. Le Guin, Writer, Editor, Poet, and Translator. She called herself a “Narrative American”. And she most emphatically did not consider herself to be a genre writer – instead preferring to be known as an “American novelist”. Oh, she wrote genre fiction with quite some brillance, be it it the Earthsea sequence, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, or Always Coming Home; her upbringing as the daughter of two academics, one who was an anthropologist and the other who had a graduate degree in psychology, with a home library full of SF, showed in her writing. She wrote reviews and forewards for others’ books, gave academic talks, and did translations as well. Without counting reader’s choice awards, her works received more than 100 nominations for pretty much every genre award in existence, winning most of them at least once; she is one of a very small group of people who have won both Hugo and Nebula Awards in all four fiction length categories. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1975 Worldcon; was the second of only six women to be named SFWA Grand Master thus far; was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; and was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In later years, she took up internet blogging with great delight, writing essays and poems, and posting pictures and stories of her cat Pard; these were compiled into a non-fiction collection, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which won a posthumous Hugo for Best Related Work.

  • Born October 21, 1952 – Don Davis, 66, Artist and Illustrator known for his portrayals of space-related subjects. In addition to providing covers for several SFF magazines in the 70s, he worked for the U. S. Geological Survey’s branch of Astrogeologic Studies during the Apollo Lunar expeditions, and has since painted many images for NASA and provided texture maps for JPL’s Voyager computer simulations. He was part of the team of space artists who provided the visual effects for Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos – for which he received an Emmy – and he painted the cover of Sagan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Dragons of Eden, as well as contributing artwork to Sagan’s Comet and Pale Blue Dot. He received the Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. The asteroid 13330 Dondavis is named after him, and in 2000 he was elected a Fellow in the International Association of Astronomical Artists.
  • Born October 21, 1956 – Carrie Fisher, Saturn-winning Actor, Writer, and Comedian who is best known to genre fans for playing Leia Organa in the Hugo- and Saturn-winning Star Wars films, a role she started at the age of 19. With her quick mind and sharp wit, she was well-known in Hollywood as the go-to script doctor for films with scripts in trouble. She became an outspoken advocate for the de-stigmatization of mental illness, having struggled her entire adult life with bipolar disorder and the substance abuse it engendered. One of her autobiographies, The Princess Diarist, was a finalist for a Best Related Work Hugo, and she won a Grammy for her audiobook narration of it. She died suddenly and far too soon in December 2016 at the age of 60.
  • Born October 21, 1958 – Julie Bell, 60, Artist and Illustrator who has provided covers for more than 100 science fiction and fantasy books, as well as covers for videogames and Marvel and DC trading cards. She sometimes collaborates on art with her husband, Boris Vallejo; they have done many paintings for worldwide advertising campaigns, and together they put out a Fantasy Art Calendar every year. She has been nominated for the Chesley Award four times, winning three of them. She is also (I did not know this!) the mother, with first husband SF scholar Donald Palumbo, of SFF artists David Palumbo and Anthony Palumbo.
  • Born October 21, 1967 – Jean Pierre Targete, 51, Artist and Illustrator whose early work was cover art for many Avon paperback editions, including Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, the Second Foundation Trilogy, and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat stories. More recently, he has produced a lot of artwork for RPG books and materials, including for publishers Wizards of the Coast and Paizo. His works have garnered ten Chesley Award nominations, winning once. Some of his work has been collected in the book Illumina: The Art of J. P. Targete.
  • Born October 21, 1971 – Hal Duncan, 47, Computer Programmer and Writer from Scotland whose first novel, Vellum: The Book of All Hours, won a Spectrum Award and received nominations for World Fantasy, British Fantasy, Kurd Laßwitz, Prix Imaginaire, and Locus Best First Novel Awards, as well as winning a Tahtivaeltaja Award for best science fiction novel published in Finnish. His collection Scruffians! and his non-fiction work Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fictions were also both finalists for British Fantasy Awards. An outspoken advocate and blogger for LGBTQ rights, he was a contributor to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.
  • Born October 21, 1974 – Christopher J Garcia, 44, Writer, Editor, Filmmaker, Historian, Conrunner, and Fan who was the TAFF delegate to the UK Natcon in 2008. He has been editor and co-editor of several fanzines, and has been a finalist for the Fanzine and Fan Writer Hugos several times, including for The Drink Tank with James Bacon, which won a Hugo in 2011; his shall-we-say-effusive acceptance speech was nominated for Dramatic Presentatation Short Form Hugo the following year. He is a past president of the National Fantasy Fan Federation, and is known for running the fan lounges at cons. He has been Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a Westercon.

(12) REASON TO READ. The Chicago Tribune advises, “Worried about the international panel report on global warming? Go read Octavia Butler’s ‘Earthseed’ books”.

…“Parable of the Sower,” published in 1993 when it was still possible to heed its warning, tells the story of a world collapsed due to climate change, economic inequality and unchecked corporate power. Resources are scarce, and only gated communities are safe.

Set near what used to be Los Angeles, the novel focuses on teenager Lauren Oya Olamina, who has “hyperempathy,” both a gift and an affliction that allows her to feel the pain she witnesses others experiencing. Spurred by her worldview, Lauren develops a new belief system called “Earthseed,” which posits that humans’ time on Earth is a kind of childhood and that they will emerge as adults once they travel to other planets.

It is a story of two diasporas, first as Lauren and other refugees are forced out of Los Angeles, and then as they look toward finding an extraterrestrial home.

(13) LOOK ALIVE. Rolling Stone asks just how far AR startup Magic Leap has gotten toward crossing the Uncanny Valley (“Is This Creepy New AI Assistant Too Lifelike?”).

Some people already talk to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa like she’s a real person, setting her up for jokes, and having conversations that go way beyond the basic commands like “Alexa, play ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails.” And that’s how people are treating a disembodied voice. But what if you could see her — and what if she looked disturbingly human?

Magic Leap, an augmented-reality startup, introduced the next evolution of the virtual assistant at their conference earlier this month. Mica performs many of the same functions as Alexa or Apple’s Siri, but when users wear Magic Leap’s augmented reality glasses, they can also see her incredibly life-like avatar. Mica smiles, makes eye contact and even yawns, making the interactions even more convincing. “Our focus was to see how far we could push systems to create digital human representations,” John Monos, Magic Leap’s vice president of human-centered AI, said at the conference. “Above all else, her facial movements are what connect you to her.”

(14) PAUL ALLEN AT THE BEGINNING AND THE END. In the Washington Post, Christian Davenport has an article about the Stratolaunch, a gigantic airplane funded by Paul Allen — “Paul Allen spent years building the world’s biggest airplane. He’ll never see it fly.”.  This passage explains why Allen was one of us:

Allen grew up knowing all the names of the Mercury 7 astronauts as if they were his favorite baseball players, he wrote in his memoir, “Idea Man.” And like many kids of his generation, he grew up wanting to become an astronaut. But then in the sixth grade he couldn’t see the blackboard at school, he told me in his office, and he knew that meant “my dreams of being an astronaut were over.”

His father was the associate director of the University of Washington Library, a second home of sorts for Allen. “My Dad was just letting me loose in the stacks,” he recalled. “I loved it.”

He devoured not just science fiction, but books about Wernher von Braun, the German-born architect of NASA’s might Saturn V rocket, which sent men to the moon. Once, Allen tried to build a homemade rocket of his own using the arm of an aluminum chair packed with powdered zinc and sulfur and firing it from a coffee pot. It didn’t work.

(15) FOUND AGAIN. There were huge losses in the museum fire, but at least the oldest human fossil found in Latin America was mostly recovered — “Brazil museum fire: Prized ‘Luzia’ fossil skull recovered”.

Most of the skull from a prized 12,000-year-old fossil nicknamed Luzia has been recovered from the wreckage of a fire in Brazil’s National Museum.

The 200-year-old building in Rio de Janeiro burned down in September, destroying almost all of its artefacts.

But on Friday the museum’s director announced that 80% of Luzia’s skull fragments had been identified.

The human remains – the oldest ever found in Latin America – were viewed as the jewel of the museum’s collection.

The museum staff said they were confident they could recover the rest of Luzia’s skull and attempt reassembly.

(16) A CAUTIONARY TALE. With many overseas fans contemplating a trip to Dublin for the 2019 Worldcon, this report from Forbes (“How To Handle Getting Ripped Off On Auto Insurance When Traveling Overseas”) could be of interest. Such a situation can happen anywhere, but this particular situation—where a Hertz clerk insisted wrongly on bundling an overpriced insurance product as a condition of renting a car—happened to be in Dublin.

[Rick] Kahler: As soon as we got back to the U.S., I filed a dispute with my credit card company on both the initial $424 car rental cost and the $584 insurance charge. My grounds were that Hertz violated their contract, which only required me to accept full financial responsibility or to have verified that I had insurance that would cover a loss. They violated the contact by demanding that I prove having coverage in excess of the value of the car and by refusing to accept that proof when I produced it. I eventually got my money back after I complained. But that doesn’t make up for the time and stress they caused me.

(17) ANOTHER SWORD FINDER. Unlike the girl Saga, this one is fictional…. The Kid Who Would Be King is coming to theaters January 25, 2019.

Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic adventure THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Alex (Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.

 

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cora Buhlert, JJ, Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scoll 10/17/18 They Scrolled Paradise And Pixeled A Parking Lot

(1) BEST OF TED. Ideas.Ted.com. features Nnedi Okorafor: “’Write your story, and don’t be afraid to write it’ — a sci-fi writer talks about finding her voice and being a superhero”.

During family visits to Nigeria in the 1990s and 2000s, Okorafor was fascinated by the harmony between traditional belief systems and brand-new electronic devices. “I started noticing the use and the interplay of technology in Nigerian communities, especially when cell phones came around,” she says. “I saw phones popping up in the most remote places, and they were normalized in really cool ways.” She wondered why stories didn’t depict technology in African nations. In fact, she began to wonder why she wasn’t writing such stories herself.

In college, however, Okorafor found herself discouraged from writing science fiction. “I had professors who were constantly telling me, ‘You’re such a good writer; you want to stay away from all of that weird stuff,’” she remembers. “Eventually I just kind of jumped the rails, because I couldn’t help it.” Okorafor dove headfirst into creating the stories she never found on library shelves growing up — ones with strong female protagonists of color, African locations, speculative technology, aliens and magic, as well as complex and relevant social themes like racial identity and gender violence.

(2) A VISION OF THE FUTURE. Ray Bradbury biographer Sam Weller blasts a proposal to raze Waukegan’s old Carnegie Library building:

And this is why Charles Selle’s ridiculous call to “raze the edifice” of Waukegan, Illinois’ historic 1903 Carnegie Library building is short-sighted and, frankly, emblematic of Waukegan’s frustrating inability to capitalize on its own crown jewel lakefront location and its remarkable history. Cities large and small across the nation are embracing historic revitalization and renovation, attracting artists and entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and urban visionaries who see the connection to the past and the future. Selle’s assertion that the city is “hanging on to the past” with the long-abandoned Carnegie building is correct. Yet he misses the point entirely. Waukegan should hang on to its past. Selle doesn’t even propose a replacement suggestion for the location, instead only calling for the complete demolition of a building with landmark status. The fact of the matter is that the current plans to house the Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in the Carnegie is the best chance to renovate the old biblio-gem, to raise the needed funding, and to properly honor one of the world’s great, inspiring imaginations….

(3) OUT OF THE LINEUP. With Wendig gone, the Shadow of Vader comic has been sidelined, says The Hollywood Reporter — “Marvel Pulls Fired Writer Chuck Wendig’s ‘Shadow of Vader’ Series From Schedule”.

Marvel Entertainment released the official list of January 2019 comic book product this week, and one title was notable by its absence: Shadow of Vader, the five-issue comic book series written by Chuck Wendig, the writer Marvel fired last week because of his social media use.

(4) EREWHON BOOKS BEGINS. Tor.com boosted one of its editors’ new company: “Hugo Award-Winning Editor Liz Gorinsky Launches New Publishing Company Erewhon Books”.

(5) UPTOWN SPOT. Ed Green worked as a background actor on the Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk” music video – it’s good thing he got the gig before this new generation of robots came along!

(6) IN PRAISE OF FAMOUS MEN. Except in Slate, this praise is intended satirically — “In Defense of Soylent Green Inventor Henry C. Santini”.

On October 16, 2018, Popular Mechanics published a deeply weird tribute to mercurial industrialist Elon Musk, in which a carefully-curated group of technology journalists and Musk’s fellow rich people praised him for trying, regardless of what he was trying to do, whether or not he succeeded, or the methods he used to pursue his goals. One writer compared him at length to Mark Twain!

On October 16, 2022, NYPD detective Frank Thorn discovered that Soylent Green was made of people. The ensuing public scandal threatened the reputation of Henry C. Santini, the Governor of New York and a board member of both Holcox Manufacturing of Norfolk, Virginia and its parent company, the New-York-based Soylent Corporation.

On October 17, 2022, Slate sprang into action.

He is under attack. For saying the wrong thing, for not making enough Soylent Green, for creating a global manufacturing pipeline based on baking human corpses into little green crackers and telling people they’re made out of plankton. Some of the criticisms have merit. Much of it is myopic and small-brained, from sideline observers gleefully salivating at the opportunity to take him down a peg and maybe score a few extra rations in the process. But what have these anti-cannibalism activists and pontificators done for humanity?

Henry Santini is an engineer at heart, a tinkerer, a problem-solver, a genius at disguising the taste of human flesh—the kind of person Slate has always championed—and the problems he’s trying to solve are hard. Really hard. He could find better ways to spend his money, that’s for sure….

(7) HONEST TRAILERS. These YouTubers bid you “Return to the MCU franchise that makes you say ‘sure’ – It’s Ant-Man and The Wasp.”

(8) PUTTING AWAY THE FEATHERS. Variety has the story — “‘Sesame Street’ Puppeteer Caroll Spinney Retires From Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch Roles”.

Caroll Spinney has been a television mainstay since 1969, but his face has rarely made an appearance.

Disguised beneath a frock of bright yellow feathers and an orange bill, the “Sesame Street” puppeteer was the heart and soul behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show’s premiere almost 50 years ago.

Now, at the age of 84, Spinney told the New York Times that he is retiring from “Sesame Street” after nearly half a century playing some of the show’s most iconic characters. Come Thursday, Spinney will enter the “Sesame Street” studios in Astoria, Queens for the last time before leaving the roles behind forever.

(9) TODAY IN DUCK HISTORY

  • October 17, 1937 — Huey, Dewey, and Louie first appeared in a comic strip.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born October 17, 1914 – Jerry Siegel, Comic Book Writer who also used pseudonyms including Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. His first foray into genre was as editor of a 5-issue fanzine called Science Fiction. He was co-creator of the Superman character, along with Joe Shuster. They started off selling stories to National Allied Publications, the original precursor of DC Comics, and sold the Superman character to Detective Comics, Inc., yet another forerunner of DC. His contentious career with DC and elsewhere is far too long to detail here; suffice it to say that if you’ve read comics, you’ve likely encountered some of his characters. He was inducted posthumously, with Shuster, into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.
  • Born October 17, 1917 – Marsha Hunt, 101, Actor and Singer whose career was hampered by blacklisting during the McCarthy era. She had guest roles on the original versions of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits, as well as on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Shadow Chasers, and the TV movie Fear No Evil. She has spent decades doing humanitarian work to fight poverty, starvation, homelessness, and mental illness.
  • Born October 17, 1922 – George Hay (Oswyn Robert Tregonwell), Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from the UK who served on convention committees and helped establish the Science Fiction Foundation in 1972. In addition to writing his own four novels, he co-edited the first 6 issues of the long-running Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, edited several anthologies, and his fanzines included Realtime and Door Into George. He co-edited two volumes of The John W. Campbell Letters, the first of which was a finalist for a Hugo for Best Nonfiction Work. Named after him is the George Hay Memorial Lecture, an annual program item at Eastercon (the UK Natcon) in which an invited speaker, often a prominent British scientist, gives a talk on a scientific topic.
  • Born October 17, 1933 – William Anders, 85, Engineer and Astronaut, who was one of the first three persons to leave low Earth orbit and travel to the Moon in Apollo 8 along with fellow astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell. The famous photograph Earthrise was taken by him. His foundation created the Heritage Flight Museum in Washington state; he serves as its President and until 2008 was an active participant in its air shows (his career includes more than 8,000 hours of flight time). The Anders crater on the Moon is named in his honor.
  • Born October 17, 1934 – Alan Garner, 84, Writer from England who is best known for his children’s fantasy novels and his retellings of traditional British folk tales. However, at least two of his novels, Boneland and Thursbitch, are decidedly adult in language and complexity in their storytelling. I strongly recommend both of them for Autumnal reading. His novel The Owl Service received the Carnegie Medal, and he has been recognized with British Fantasy Awards’ Karl Edward Wagner Award for contributions to genre, and with the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, as well as Guest of Honor at World Fantasy Convention.
  • Born October 17, 1946 – Bruce McAllister, 72, Writer, Editor, Teacher, and Poet of mainly short fiction whose novelette “Dream Baby”, about a Vietnam War nurse who can foresee which soldiers will die in battle, was nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards, and was later expanded into a novel which was a Locus Award finalist. Other stories have garnered another Hugo nomination and a Shirley Jackson nomination. As a 16-year-old, he sent a survey to 150 well-known science fiction authors, asking them about symbolism in their work, and whether it was conscious or unconscious, intentional or the invention of readers – and received responses from half of them, ranging from an admin assistant’s blow-off to a thick packet of single-spaced typescript.
  • Born October 17, 1948 – Margot Kidder, Actor and Producer who is best known to genre fans as Lois Lane from Christopher Reeve’s Superman films. Other movie roles included The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, The Amityville Horror, and Halloween II, and guest parts in episodes of The (new) Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt, Earth: Final Conflict, The Hitchhiker, and – most appropriately – Smallville. She struggled with health issues and bipolar disorder for decades, but in recent years had maintained steady work in numerous independent films and TV roles; sadly, she succumbed to an overdose of alcohol and painkillers in May of this year.
  • Born October 17, 1948 – Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney, Jr.), Writer who started out in the 80s writing Conan pastiche novels as well as westerns and historical novels, but who struck gold in the 90s with his Wheel of Time series. The novels were massively popular with fans; his series spawned an ardent Usenet forum community who called themselves Darkfriends and who later built an extensive internet resource at Dragonmount.com (what would now be considered a fandom wiki), inspired the Jordancon annual convention of devotees, and sold millions of copies. In the mid-2000s, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, but continued to work on plot notes for the completion of the WoT series until his death. His widow, Tor editor Harriet McDougal, personally chose author Brandon Sanderson to complete the series using Jordan’s notes, and after the final three volumes were published, the entire series was nominated by Hugo voters for Best Novel. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was posthumously given the Phoenix Award for Lifetime Achievement by Southern Fandom.
  • Born October 17, 1950 – Michael J. Walsh, 68, Publisher, Conrunner, and Fan who found fandom at the age of 17 and became involved in running conventions; he chaired numerous Disclave, Capclave, Balticon, and World Fantasy Conventions, as well as the notoriously-insolvent 1983 Worldcon. He is a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association, and has held a number of offices in that organization in addition to starting WSFA Press, which publishes special editions of works by Disclave and Capclave Guests of Honor. In 1993, he founded Old Earth Books, which publishes niche editions and reprints of out-of-print works, and which received a Special World Fantasy Award for its collections of Howard Waldrop’s short fiction; and he has been Guest of Honor at several conventions.
  • Born October 17, 1956 – Dr. Mae C. Jemison, 62, Physician, Engineer, and Astronaut who was a member of NASA’s eight-day 50th Space Shuttle mission in 1992, beginning each shift with the words “Hailing frequencies open” in honor of Nichelle Nichols, the Star Trek actor who inspired her to become an astronaut. The following year she left NASA to found her own company to promote STEM education to young people; her company won the bid for the joint DARPA and NASA 100 Year Starship Project to create a business plan that can last 100 years in order to help foster the research needed for interstellar travel. Jemison had a cameo on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and served as technical consultant for the current season of National Geographic’s drama series Mars (which – hey! is available in the U.S. via online streaming… BRB in about 6 hours). She was immortalized last year in LEGO’s Women of NASA minifigure set.
  • Born October 17, 1958 – Jo Fletcher, 60, Journalist, Writer, Editor, Critic, Poet, and Publisher from the UK who became involved in fandom at the age of 20, contributing to, and later editing, the British Fantasy Society’s Bulletin and attending conventions. Eventually she wound up running the British Fantasy Society with editor Stephen Jones, chairing Fantasycon (the British Fantasy Convention) and the first World Fantasy Convention held outside of North America, and serving on the boards of the WFA and WHA. After 16 years of running Orion’s Gollancz SFF imprint, including its SF Masterworks and Fantasy Masterworks lines, in 2011 she started her own imprint under Quercus; as ample demonstration of her acumen, Jo Fletcher Books published Robert Jackson Bennett’s Hugo-nominated Divine Cities trilogy. She’s been Guest of Honor at FantasyCon and WFC, has been recognized with the BFA’s Karl Edward Wagner Award for her contributions to genre and the BFS, and was given a special World Fantasy Award for Gollancz’ Fantasy Masterworks series.
  • Born October 17, 1971 – Patrick Ness, 47, Writer, Journalist, and Producer who emigrated from the U.S. to England. He is best known for his books for young adults, including the Chaos Walking trilogy, the novels of which received a Tiptree Award, a Carnegie Medal, and a Clarke Award nomination, and were adapted into a movie which will be out next March. His novel A Monster Calls won a Carnegie Medal and was nominated for a Stoker Award and the Prix Imaginaire; he adapted it into a movie which was nominated for a Saturn Award. He also wrote and produced the Doctor Who spinoff series Class, about a group of teenagers dealing with time travel and aliens.
  • Born October 17, 1983 – Felicity Jones, 35, Actor from England who gained genre fame, and a Saturn nomination, starring in the Star Wars film Rogue One, which won a Saturn Award and was a Hugo finalist for Best Dramatic Presentation; she reprised that role in the animated Star Wars: Forces of Destiny series. Other genre appearances include an Oscar-nominated lead role in the Stephen Hawking docudrama The Theory of Everything, the Saturn-nominated film adaptation of Ness’ A Monster Calls, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Inferno, a main role in the TV series The Worst Witch and its sequel series Weirdsister College, and an episode of Doctor Who. She has a lead role in next year’s The Aeronauts, a fictionalized version of the story of the hot air balloon pilot and the scientist who, in 1862, set a still-standing record for ascending 7 miles up in the atmosphere.
  • Born October 17, 1984 – Randall Munroe, 34, Engineer, Writer, and Cartoonist who has become famous for his webcomic xkcd, which frequently has panels relating to science, genre fiction, and other items of genre interest – including the Filer favorite Today’s Lucky 10,000. His 2015 book Thing Explainer explains concepts using only the 1,000 most common English words. He was twice a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, and his animated graphic sequence Time won a Hugo for Best Graphic Novel.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) PROBLEMS WITH NOCTURNAL READER’S BOX. Jason Sanford shares a free report from his Patreon: “Publisher files suit against Nocturnal Reader’s Box, alleges $100,000 in books from multiple genre presses are missing”.

Nocturnal Reader’s Box (NRB), a “subscription box service shipping horror-themed books and merchandise for the price of $35 per month,” shut down in September. According to Bleeding Cool, the service run by the husband and wife team of Jessica and Vincent Guerrero was the “subject of numerous complaints about late or nonexistent shipping, changes to the company’s terms of service, missing or different-than-advertised items, and purportedly non-existent tracking numbers.”

The website for NRB currently states that “We’re temporarily closed!” Despite this, people online are alleging that NRB is still charging credit cards and that automatic renewal charges are still going through….

(13) VIEWED FROM THE INSIDE. Joseph Bentz answers the question “Why Is Writing So Hard?” — but as many books as he has out, you’d never suspect he had reason to ask!

Why do you need all those writers conferences to commiserate and moan about an activity—writing—that you supposedly love?

It’s a fair point, and yet, writers are very familiar with all those agonizing hours we spend squirming, staring at walls, searching for words, deleting words, and writing through drafts that won’t quite come together. Why such struggle?

I finally figured out why writing is so hard….

(14) FRANCOFILE. Adweek devotes an article to French company Cdiscount’s ad campaign — “These Outlandish Aliens Getting Ecommerce Deals Is the Spaciest of Oddities” – unfortunately, registration is required to read it.

The animated space creatures featured in Cdiscount’s latest campaign are absolutely over the moon about the French ecommerce site.

Thanks to YouTube you can see the ad – and if you speak French, even understand it!

(15) LEGACY. Vice’s Motherboard website explains how “How Paul Allen Saved the American Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” by donating money to the effort.

On Monday evening, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 65. At the time of his death, Allen was the 47th richest person in the world, with a net worth of $26 billion. For the last few decades of his life, Allen used his wealth for a staggering variety of business and philanthropic interests. In addition to owning the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers, Allen founded a brain science institute, an AI institute, and Stratolaunch Systems, which was exploring private spaceflight.

Yet one of the research areas where Allen made the biggest impact was also the one he spoke about the least: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Indeed, Allen almost single-handedly rescued American SETI by donating over $30 million to scientists scanning the cosmos for intelligent radio signals.

(16) BRIGHT IDEA? According to the People’s Daily Online, China plans to use a mirror satellite to provide outdoors nighttime illumination for the city of Chengdu—and real soon now  (“Chengdu to launch ‘artificial moon’ in 2020”). The claim is that it will be several times brighter than a full moon over the city.

Southwestern China’s city of Chengdu plans to launch its illumination satellite, also known as the “artificial moon”, in 2020, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Wu made the remarks at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship activity held in Chengdu on Oct. 10.

The illumination satellite is designed to complement the moon at night. Wu introduced that the brightness of the “artificial moon” is eight times that of the real moon, and will be bright enough to replace street lights.

…Some people expressed concern that the lights reflected from space could have adverse effects on the daily routine of certain animals and astronomical observation.

Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, explained that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals’ routines

(17) WAX ON. WAX OFF. Gizmodo’s io9 warns you, “Don’t Blink: Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who Wax Figure Is Watching You.”

That’s not a picture of Jodie Whittaker, Doctor Who’s new star, up there. Seriously. It’s a wax recreation so good that even the Nestene Consciousness itself would be a bit jealous of the handiwork behind it.

This frankly absurdly lifelike replica of Whittaker in her full 13th Doctor regalia is the work of a new Doctor Who experience at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool. Alongside the uncanny recreation of the actress, the experience includes one of the actual TARDIS props used during the filming of the 11th season of the show, as visitors are tasked with trawling a forest to hunt down the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver—retrieving it and bringing it back to its rightful, albeit waxy, owner.

(18) TROPE THEORY. The Fifth Element, Enchanted, Tron Legacy, My Stepmother Is an Alien, Sheena, Planet of the Apes, Stargate, Star Trek, Splash and other mermaid tales, even Forbidden Planet.  The female characters in the movies and shows are what Pop Culture Detective labels “born sexy yesterday” and describes as a male fantasy trope.  Occasionally, as in Star Man, the trope is in reverse.

(19) LIVE FROM 2007. For reasons that would take too long to explain I watched a lot of Commando Cody episodes before the start of LASFS meetings, so I especially enjoyed this parody of the classic serial –

[Thanks to JJ, John A Arkansawyer, Jason Sanford, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter, for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor and earworm creator of the day bill.]

Pixel Scroll 10/15/18 Scrolldenfreude

(1) WORLDS BEYOND HERE. The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle is hosting Worlds Beyond Here from October 12, 2018 through September 15, 2019.

Looking at the connection between Asian Pacific Americans and the infinite possibilities of science fiction, World’s Beyond Here follows the path of a young Sci Fi fan becoming an empowered creator, limited only by imagination.

Popular science fiction has had a disappointing lack of Asian Pacific American (APA) representation in American media, based primarily on stereotypes. Despite this, APAs have had and continue to have a large impact in science fiction, often behind the scenes, and a number of pioneering APA artists, actors, designers, writers, animators, and directors have persevered and inspired new generations of fans/creators with their stories and visions. For many Asian Pacific Americans, science fiction addresses issues related to identity, immigration and race, technology, morality and the human condition, all while capturing the imagination through exciting adventures in outer space and time travel.

Michi Trota authored the exhibit text, and told Uncanny Magazine readers about her experience in “On Writing the Exhibit Text for Worlds Beyond Here: Expanding the Universe of APA Science Fiction”

The exhibit covers pop culture touchstones like Star Trek, Star Wars, time travel, “cli-fi,” and sentient robots, as well as how APA creators are imagining silkpunk worlds, reclaiming the genre from Orientalism, envisioning exploration narratives free from colonialism, and grappling with the ethics and morality of technological access and development, as well as science fiction’s ever-present questions of what it means to be human—all through the lens of APA experiences and perspectives.

She has a Twitter thread, starting here, that includes photos and art.

On Facebook, Trota posted the list of people who were consulted in the development of the exhibit – lots of familiar names there.

One of them was Mary Anne Mohanraj, who also posted some photos from the exhibit:

I was one of the people the curators consulted at the start of the exhibit, and though I didn’t have time to get as involved as I would’ve liked, I think I helped reframe their initial concept away from just focusing on tokenization and exclusion towards examining and celebrating the historic and current work of APA SF creators.

They even included a little thing I wrote about Spock. Is this the first time I’ve had work in a museum? I think it might be!

Artist Francesca Myrman showed Facebook followers a piece of her artwork that’s in the exhibit.

I am beyond honored that Ken Liu appreciated my artwork illustrating the world of the Grace of Kings for his May 2015 Locus interview. He’s used it a couple times since to illustrate the idea of “silkpunk” for various publications, but a museum show is above and beyond!

(2) OLD PEOPLE READ NEW SFF. James Davis Nicoll has his Old People reading “Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points by JY Yang”. Can they dig it?

This installment of Old People Read New SFF features JY Yang’s Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points. Some of us—well, me, mostly—only became aware of Yang when they read Yang’s Silkpunk works for tor dot com. Yang has in fact been active since 2012, published in venues from Clarkesworld to Apex. Some of us—well, me, mostly—should have been more observant. Although Yang’s protagonist Starling is in no sense human, it turns out Starling shares something vital with its human creators. But is that common element enough to endear it to my Old Readers?

Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points can be read here.

(3) SENDAK. The Society of Illustrators will host a “Maurice Sendak Exhibit and Sale” from October 23 until November 3.

The Society of Illustrators is pleased to announce a special exhibition of legendary artist Maurice Sendak’s work. Longtime friends and collectors Justin Schiller and Dennis M V David present a look at some of Sendak’s rarest pieces, including illustrations from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence, a booklet commissioned by his British publishers as a 1967 Christmas keepsake. It is the only remaining manuscript for a published Sendak title still in private hands and is being exhibited for the first time publicly. In addition to these drawings, this exhibition will include more than a hundred watercolors, ink and pencil designs for Mr. Sendak’s various book, theatre and commercial work. All of the works will be available to purchase.

Admission to the exhibit will be free during special hours (Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 5pm; Saturday – Sunday: 11:00am – 5:00pm).

(4) KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED. In “Proof of life: how would we recognise an alien if we saw one?” on Aeon, Oxford postgrad Samuel Levin asks how you would recognize alien life from a photograph.  How would it be different from a bunch of rocks  The answer is that natural selection would show that aliens have adapted to their environment.

One thing that sets life apart from nonlife is its apparent design. Living things, from the simplest bacteria to the great redwoods, have vast numbers of intricate parts working together to make the organism function. Think of your hands, heart, spleen, mitochondria, cilia, neurons, toenails – all collaborating in synchrony to help you navigate, eat, think and survive. The most beautiful natural rock formations lack even a tiny fraction of the myriad parts of a single bacterial cell that coordinate to help it divide and reproduce.

(5) THE BOYS. Coming from Amazon Prime Video in 2019.

In a world where superheroes embrace the darker side of their massive celebrity and fame, THE BOYS centers on a group of vigilantes known informally as “The Boys,” who set out to take down corrupt superheroes with no more than their blue-collar grit and a willingness to fight dirty. THE BOYS is a fun and irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It’s the powerless against the super powerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven,” and Vought – the multi-billion dollar conglomerate that manages these superheroes. THE BOYS is scheduled for a 2019 release.

 

(6) OPPORTUNITY LOST? We’re still waiting for it to phone home – and according to Gizmodo, “There May Still Be Hope for NASA’s Sleeping Opportunity Rover”.

It’s been months since NASA engineers have heard from the sleeping Opportunity rover, which powered down after getting caught in a massive dust storm on Mars that obscured its surface from the Sun. But all hope isn’t yet lost, as the space agency said in an update Thursday that a coming windy season on the Red Planet could help clear dust believed to be obstructing Opportunity’s solar panels.

“A windy period on Mars—known to Opportunity’s team as “dust-clearing season”—occurs in the November-to-January time frame and has helped clean the rover’s panels in the past,” NASA said.

In the meantime, engineers with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—which oversees the 14-year-old rover’s operations—are increasing the number of commands to Opportunity and listening for any calls home in the event that it is still operational.

(7) THEY SCOPED OUT THE PROBLEM. But there’s good news about another piece of space exploring tech: Just a few days after putting itself in safe mode after a gyroscope failure, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has been diagnosed, the problem addressed, and the telescope on its way back to normal (NASA: “Chandra Operations Resume After Cause of Safe Mode Identified”). Science operations should resume shortly.

The cause of Chandra’s safe mode on October 10 has now been understood and the Operations team has successfully returned the spacecraft to its normal pointing mode. The safe mode was caused by a glitch in one of Chandra’s gyroscopes resulting in a 3-second period of bad data that in turn led the on-board computer to calculate an incorrect value for the spacecraft momentum. The erroneous momentum indication then triggered the safe mode.

The team has completed plans to switch gyroscopes and place the gyroscope that experienced the glitch in reserve. Once configured with a series of pre-tested flight software patches, the team will return Chandra to science operations which are expected to commence by the end of this week.

(8) PAUL ALLEN OBIT. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died October 15 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Paul Allen and Bill Gates in 1981.

Allen’s pioneering work in PC’s and software made him a wealthy man – not that it came easily. The Digital Antiquarian’s post “A Pirate’s Life for me, Part 1: Don’t Copy That Floppy!” reproduced an open letter from Bill Gates published in 1976 that ended —

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however: 1) most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10 percent of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) the amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 per hour.

Of course, just a few years later they secured a deal to provide the software for IBM PCs, the foundation of their success.

Paul Allen effectively left the company he named (“Micro-Soft”) in 1982 due to serious illness, but remained on the Microsoft board of directors until 2000, and retained his stock, so when the company went public he became a billionaire.

His investments and philanthropy have often made news.

  • In a Gehry-designed building near Seattle’s Space Needle he created a dual science fiction and rock music museum with many exhibits drawn from Allen’s own collections. (The cream of those sf collectibles had been bought from Forrest J Ackerman.) And in 2004 the Science Fiction Hall of Fame was transplanted from the GunnCenter for the Study of Science Fiction to Seattle’s Science Fiction Museum. However, not even Paul Allen’s money could sustain things as originally conceived. The Science Fiction Museum was de-installed in 2011 and the place has been reorganized as MoPOP, a pop culture museum that includes science-fiction-themed exhibits.
  • He was the sole investor behind aerospace engineer and entrepreneur Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne suborbital commercial spacecraft.
  • He also donated $30 million to build the Allen Telescope Array, run by the SETI Institute near Mt. Shasta, an enormous ear listening for any sign of intelligent life in the universe.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ — and a guest!]

  • Born October 15, 1911 James H. Schmitz, Writer. An émigré from Germany to the U.S., he produced numerous short fiction works and novels, the best known of which is the space opera The Witches of Karres, which earned him one of his two Hugo nominations and has been translated into several different languages. Witches was an expansion of a novelette originally published in Astounding, where many of his stories were published. His short fiction, which also garnered four Nebula nominations, has been gathered into several collections, including a NESFA’s Choice “Best of” edition.
  • Born October 15, 1919 E.C. “Ted” Tubb, Writer, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan from England who between 1950 and his death in 2010 produced more than 230 short fiction works and 140 novels, the best known of which are his Dumarest series, and the Cap Kennedy series written as Gregory Kern. In the late 50s, he edited the magazine Authentic Science Fiction for two years. He was one of the co-founders of the British Science Fiction Association, as well as editor of the first issue of its journal, Vector. Interestingly, he also wrote several Space: 1999 tie-in novels in the 70s. He served on convention-running committees, and was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including the 1970 Worldcon in Germany.
  • Born October 15, 1923 Italo Calvino, Writer and Journalist who was born in Cuba, but grew up in Italy. His works range widely across the literary spectrum, across realism, surrealism, and absurdism. As a genre writer he is best known for his “cosmicomics”, linked stories which explore fantastical speculations about subjects such as mathematics, evolution, and human perception. At the time of his death in 1985, he was the most-translated Italian author, and he was recognized with a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.
  • Born October 15, 1924 Mark Lenard, Actor best known to genre fans as Sarek, father of Spock, in both the original and animated Star Trek series, as well as three of the films and two episodes of The Next Generation. He also played a Klingon in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and a Romulan in an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and had guest roles in genre series Mission: Impossible, The Girl With Something Extra, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Otherworld. During the same time period as the original Star Trek series, he also starred in the western Here Come the Brides, and SFF author Barbara Hambly famously worked a crossover of the two series into her early Star Trek tie-in novel for Pocket Books, Ishmael, where Lenard’s Brides character is one of Spock’s ancestors, and which also contained cameos by characters from Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica.
  • Born October 15, 1933 Georgia Myrle Miller, 85, Writer under the name of Sasha Miller who produced a number of fantasy novels and shorter works, including collaborating with Andre Norton on the five novels in the Cycle of Oak, Yew, Ash, and Rowan, a novel written in Norton’s Witch World universe, and GURPS Witch World with Ben W. Miller, a rule book for the role-playing game system.
  • Born October 15, 1935 Ray “Duggie” Fisher, Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes.
  • Born October 15, 1938 Don Simpson, 80, Artist and Fan who has done cover art and interior illustrations for numerous genre works. He also shows up in several of David McDaniel’s Man from U.N.C.L.E. tie-in novels as “Mr. Simpson of R&D”, and was the inspiration for the villain in McDaniel’s first U.N.C.L.E. novel The Dagger Affair. He is the proud possessor of a purchase order from the Smithsonian Institution for “One (1) alien artifact,” which he designed for the Air and Space Museum. He has been Artist Guest of Honor at a Westercon and other conventions.
  • Born October 15, 1942 – Lon Atkins, Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally!. He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player.
  • Born October 15, 1969 Dominic West, 49, Actor, Musician, and Director from England whose most recent appearance was as Lara Croft’s father in the Tomb Raider reboot, but has also appeared in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, 300, John Carter, The Awakening, Hannibal Rising, and a version of The Christmas Carol, as well as providing voices in animated features such as Finding Dory and Arthur Christmas.
  • Born October 15, 1999 Bailee Madison, 19, Actor who starred in The Bridge to Terabitha at the age of 7, the series The Wizards of Waverly Place at age 11, and the series Good Witch which is now in its fourth season. Other genre appearances include Afraid of the Dark, The Night Before Halloween, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, and Once Upon a Time.

[guest birthday bio from Mark Hepworth]

  • Born October 15, 1953  Walter Jon Williams, 65, Writer. A versatile author who has skipped around genres, including writing his cyberpunk novel Hardwired  without having heard of cyberpunk, while Metropolitan is a novel he insists is fantasy but fans persistently label as some flavour of science fiction. His near-future Dagmar Shaw series rather prophetically featured a Turkish revolution facilitated by social media just as the Arab Spring was gaining momentum. His longest-running series is the space opera Dread Empire’s Fall (Praxis), which he recently rebooted with the short novel Impersonations and the just-released novel The Accidental War. He has five Hugo nominations, ten Nebula nominations (winning twice), a Sidewise Award, and an assortment of other nominations including Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, World Fantasy, and Prix Imaginaire. He has been Guest of Honour for at least a dozen conventions, including WorldCon 75. Other work includes writing for Star Wars, Wild Cards, RPGs, TV, and historical novels, and he is founder and an instructor for the Taos Toolbox, an annual two-week SF writer’s workshop.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • A little-known fact of airline piloting — The Argyle Sweater.
  • This Monty shows that some things simply can’t be handled by a Universal Translator.

(11) THAT’S WHO. Mashable invites you to “Trip out to the new ‘Doctor Who’ title sequence, made by a longtime fan”:

The sequence is the work of a visual effects artist only known as John Smith, who made his own opening back in 2010 as a 16-year-old fan and posted it to YouTube.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but was so excited for Matt Smith’s first series that I decided to try what every Whovian-turned-VFX-Artist does at some point… making my own title sequence for the show,” Smith wrote in a Facebook post.

Eight years later, Smith was tapped to create a real sequence for the latest series.

 

(12) WHAT’S GALLIFREY LIKE? And Gizmodo consulted an array of scientists and left convinced that Doctor Who’s Gallifrey Would Be a Nightmarishly Awful Place to Live”.

…Assuming that large red star isn’t just extremely close to the planet, it could be a red giant nearing the end of its life. What of the other? For clues, we can look to the planet’s flora.

The Tenth Doctor referenced trees with silver leaves. Lillian Ostrach, a research physical scientist at the US Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center, told Earther the silver color could come from the absorption of strange metals from Gallifrey’s soil. It could also mean that those plants evolved to absorb a different type of solar radiation than Earth’s green plants do….

(13) HISTORIC SFF PHOTOS. The Forbidden Planet bookstore archive hosts images from their instore events — from 1978 to 1989, including signings with Mark Hamill and Dave Prowse, James Doohan, Nick Rhodes, Jon Pertwee, Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, Anne McCaffrey and others.

(14) FANNISH PARADISE? Well, at least one day a year…. “Uzupis: a tiny republic of free spirits”.

Meaning ‘beyond the river’ in Lithuanian, Užupis is separated from the rest of the city by the Vilnele River. The republic celebrates its independence annually on 1 April, known locally as Užupis Day. On this day, travellers can get their passports stamped as they cross the bridge into the republic (every other day, the border is not guarded), use the local (unofficial) currency and treat themselves to the beer that flows from the water spout in the main square (yes, really).

(15) A LOT OF BIRTHDAYS AGO. Walter Jon Williams was interviewed about cyberpunk by phone in this 1991 episode of the Chronic Rift TV program.

In our second season premiere, Andrea Lipinski and Keith DeCandido welcome editor Brian Thomsen, physicist Joseph Pierce, and author Walter Jon Williams to our Roundtable discussion of the cyberpunk genre. The Memorable Moment is from the classic film, “H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond”. Trivia: We resolve the cliffhanger by introducing a race of beings called, “The Dork”. We also have a new animated sequence and theme song. The sequence was created by Mike Fichera who wanted to emulate the feel of the “Terminator” movie. The theme song was created by Victor Fichera. It would be the theme song for the rest of the series and was used when the podcast started. Victor recently updated the theme for our Facebook Live show. Originally Aired: September 2, 1991

 

(16) TSUNDOKU OR NOT TSUNDOKU? Most of us own books we’ve read and books we haven’t. Kevin Mims considers the importance of owning books we’ll never get around to finishing — “All Those Books You’ve Bought but Haven’t Read? There’s a Word for That” at the New York Times.

In truth, however, the tsundoku fails to describe much of my library. I own a lot of story collections, poetry anthologies and books of essays, which I bought knowing I would probably not read every entry. People like Taleb, Stillman and whoever coined the word tsundoku seem to recognize only two categories of book: the read and the unread. But every book lover knows there is a third category that falls somewhere between the other two: the partially read book. Just about every title on a book lover’s reference shelves, for instance, falls into this category.

(17) DISABLED PEOPLE DESTROY SF. Charles Payseur returns to review Uncanny in “Quick Sips – Uncanny #24 Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! [October Fiction]”.

It’s the second month of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction! As before, I’m breaking October’s offerings into two parts, the fiction and the poetry, and starting out with the six new stories exploring futures near and far. This month’s pieces definitely focus on some grim realities—hospitals and universities and families and cities where disabled people are not exactly the priority, or at least not in the ways they want. The stories look at characters trapped by circumstance and (largely) by tragedy, brought to a crisis because their situation is getting worse and worse. And in each case, they must make decisions either to sit down and be quiet or to fight back, to try to follow their own hearts. The works are often dark, often difficult, but ultimately I feel reaching for healing and for peace, for a space that the characters can have as their own, which is much more about freedom than confinement. To the reviews!

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Outer Space” by Sabine Hossenfelder on YouTube is a video about space travel done by a singer whose day job is as a theoretical physicist.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/29/18 Scrollvolt Of The Pixeldestrians

(1) CASE DISMISSED. In May 2018, Fur Affinity, winner of the 2012 and 2013 Ursa Major Awards for Best Anthropomorphic Website, banned several dozen accounts for Code of Conduct violations — Section 2.7 “Do not identify with or promote real hate or terrorist organizations and their ideologies.”

Furry artist Scott Malcolmson (whose fursona is Roy Calbeck), filed suit in Arizona against IMVU, Fur Affinity’s parent company, on grounds of breach of contract and defamation of character.

The suit was dismissed on August 27. Boozy Badger analyzed the result in a Twitter thread which starts here.

IMVU is a Delaware corporation. The court did not find its connections to Arizona legally sufficient for IMVU to be sued there. The court further said:

Plaintiff objects that he is a per se litigant filing in forma pauperis. That may be so. However, in our legal system, there is but one law and it applies to rich and poor alike. That Mr. Malcomson is too impecunious to litigate in IMVU’s home state of Delaware cannot detract from IMVU’s constitutional right not to be sued in an improper forum.

Boozy Badger noted:

Jurisdiction, Forum, and Venue are literally most of a semester of Civil Procedure in law school. There are options OTHER than Delaware, but you can’t sue just anywhere.

Wikifur’s article on “History of Fur Affinity” has more background:

COC 2.7 bans (May 2018)[edit]

On May 15, 2018, several dozens FA accounts were banned from the site for presumed violations of the site’s updated Code of Conduct, Section 2.7 (“Do not identify with or promote real hate or terrorist organizations and their ideologies”).[68] This included personal and group accounts related to AltFurry (FurRight), Furry Raiders and other perceived Alt-Right connected accounts.

Complaints came in swift, from people claiming to be false positives[69][70] to banned and not banned users that argued that biased staff had failed to also struck down left-leaning “hate/terrorist” individuals and groups (e.g. Deo Tas DevilAntifa, “Far-Left”/”Alt-left” accounts and Communist Furs).[71][72] Instructions were passed among the affected and sympathizers to vacate to other sites, specifically, InkBunny,[73][74][75] and discussions were started to pin down who was to blame for the bans (from Antifa-cowered FA staff to outright ban demands/orders from the online news site Dogpatch Press).[76][77]

It would be three days later (May 18), when legal proceedings initiated by Roy Calbeck were to take the form of a lawsuit against FA’s parent company, IMVU, for:

Defamation/Breach of Contract against IMVU for actions taken by their wholly-owned subsidiary, @FurAffinity…

(2) GONDOLIN FALLS TOMORROW. Smithsonian says after two lifetimes of work this probably is it: “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Final Posthumous Book Is Published”.

Though J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973, he has never really stopped publishing. For decades his son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien has painstakingly catalogued and edited his father’s papers, creating new books out of unfinished and unpublished manuscripts. Most of those tales delve deep into the history of Middle-earth, the fantasy realm where Tolkien’s best known works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series take place. Now, it’s likely that work will come to an end with one last Tolkien book. Critic Andrew Ervin at The Washington Post reports that The Fall of Gondolin, which will be released tomorrow, is likely J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien’s swan song.

(3) SFF MARKETING. Cat Rambo appeared on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing podcast: “Writing Tips, Selling Short Fiction, and What SFWA Can Do for You with Cat Rambo”. Here are a few of the many topics touched on during the conversation:

  • How Cat ended up publishing her first two Tabat novels through Kevin J. Anderson’s Wordfire Press (which he talked about when he was on Episode 194 and Episode 138) and how marketing goes when working with a small press.
  • Some tips from her recent non-fiction publication Moving from Idea to Finished Draft.
  • What’s been going on at SFWA since we had MCA Hogarth on the show back on Episode 20 (more than three years ago!) and why both trad and self-published may find a membership useful.
  • What it takes to qualify for SFWA membership.
  • Benefits that come with SFWA membership and how the Nebula convention has changed over the years to have helpful panels for all.

(4) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series: “When We Were Patched” by Deji Bryce Olukotun.

The last time we ever spoke, my partner Malik asked me whether I believed speed or power made for the best athlete. I was puzzled, of course, feeling that neither could explain why some athletes excelled more than others, even in straightforward competitions like sprinting or the javelin. “There are enough variables to make it unclear,” I observed, “whether speed or power offers a better advantage in competition, or whether some other factor confers the greatest advantage.” It seemed to me an unanswerable question….

It was published along with a response essay by algorithmic bias expert Jeanna Matthews, “Algorithms Could Create an Even Playing Field—if We Insist on It”.

Big decisions about our lives are increasingly made jointly by humans and computer systems. Do we get a loan? Are we invited for an interview? Who should we date? Which news stories should we read? Who won the tennis match? This is our reality today. In “When We were Patched,” Deji Olukotun explores what the boundaries of these human and machine partnerships will be. Could we get the best of both, or will we end up with the worst of both? …

Each month in 2018, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives—is publishing a story on a theme.

(5) FOLLOWING ARMSTRONG’S FOOTSTEPS. Slate compiles the early reviews: “Here’s What Critics Are Saying About First Man.

Space! Now that I’ve got your attention, the reviews of Damien Chazelle’s First Man, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, today are in—and fortunately, like the film itself, there’s really no way for them to spoil the ending. The space drama follows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) in his literal and metaphorical journey to become the first man on the moon.

It’s a story and a genre we know all too well, but this doesn’t hold the film back—it even improves upon its galactic forbearers. Critics agree that the story is masterfully handled by Chazelle, who mixes realism with reverence, without overblowing the drama.

And of course, it’s simply an irresistible opportunity to employ space metaphors, whether that’s about “soaring,” “sky-high expectations,” “slip[ping] the surly bonds of earth or “shoot[ing] the moon.” (Michael Nordine at IndieWire wins this space race: “Chazelle is an adept flight commander, guiding the action with the elegance of a space dance in one scene and the intensity of a rocket launch in the next … It may not be a giant leap for filmmaking, but it’s another small step for this filmmaker.”)

(6) A WRITER’S DAY. John Scalzi’s to-do list for Wednesday.

(7) NEW HORIZONS SPOTS TARGET. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft — which performed a Pluto flyby about three years ago — has officially spotted its next target (“Ultima in View: NASA’s New Horizons Makes First Detection of Kuiper Belt Flyby Target”). The craft took a series of long-duration images from which the star field was subtracted to pick out the Kuiper Belt object (nicknamed Ultima Thule) New Horizons is headed toward. The closest encounter with Ultima Thule is expected to be early (EST) New Year’s Day 2019.

Mission team members were thrilled – if not a little surprised – that New Horizons’ telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was able to see the small, dim object while still more than 100 million miles away, and against a dense background of stars. Taken Aug. 16 and transmitted home through NASA’s Deep Space Network over the following days, the set of 48 images marked the team’s first attempt to find Ultima with the spacecraft’s own cameras.

“The image field is extremely rich with background stars, which makes it difficult to detect faint objects,” said Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist and LORRI principal investigator from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “It really is like finding a needle in a haystack. In these first images, Ultima appears only as a bump on the side of a background star that’s roughly 17 times brighter, but Ultima will be getting brighter – and easier to see – as the spacecraft gets closer.”

This first detection is important because the observations New Horizons makes of Ultima over the next four months will help the mission team refine the spacecraft’s course toward a closest approach to Ultima, at 12:33 a.m. EST on Jan. 1, 2019. That Ultima was where mission scientists expected it to be – in precisely the spot they predicted, using data gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope – indicates the team already has a good idea of Ultima’s orbit.

(8) REMEMBERING WILLY LEY. Steven Levy’s WIRED article “385 Feet of Crazy: The Most Audacious Flying Machine Ever” is about Paul Allen’s effort to build a giant airplane called a Stratolaunch which he wants to use to carry rockets to the edge of space and then launch from the stratosphere. It includes this sentimental memory about a writer who was important to a lot of fans back in the day.

As a teenager, Paul Allen was a sci-fi and rocketry nerd. He dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but that ambition was scuttled by nearsighted­ness. His childhood bedroom was filled with science fiction and space books. Bill Gates remembers Allen’s obsession. “Even when I first met him—he was in tenth grade and I was in eighth—he had read way more science fiction than anyone else,” says Gates, who later founded Microsoft with Allen. “Way more.” One of Allen’s favorites was a popular science classic called Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel, by Willy Ley, first published in 1944. As Allen tells it in his memoir, he was crushed when he visited his parents as an adult and went to his old room to reference a book. He discovered that his mother had sold his collection. (The sale price: $75.) Using a blowup of an old photo of the room, Allen dispatched scouts to painstakingly re-create his boyhood library.

(9) OPTIMUS SOLUTION. Daniel Cohen’s Financial Times article “Tales from the storage unit: inside a booming industry”, in a survey of storage spaces, recommends Inner Space Stations in York:

A large model of the Optimus Prime character from TRANSFORMERS stands beide the entrance of its main store, on a busy road.  A Dalek is visible through a window; a model of a STAR WARS stormtrooper guards the reception.  The sizes of the units correspond to planet s in the solar system; the smallest lockers have an image of Mercury on the door, while the biggest show Jupiter.  ‘It’s just making fun,’ says Graham Kennedy, the owner.  ‘Quite often there’s a stressful reason for going into storage.  So I’ve decided to lighten it.’

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 29, 1898 – C.S. Lewis. Author of the Narnia books and The Space Trilogy, also The Screwtape Letters which I got assigned in University a very long time ago. Ardent Christian, he wrote three dense book on that religion, Mere ChristianityMiracles, and The Problem of Pain. There’s a Doctor Who episode with Matt Smith that riffs off the Narnia book entry way if memory serves me right.
  • Born August 29 — Nancy Holder, 65. Perhaps best known for her myriad work, fiction and non-fiction, based off the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. However I’ll single her out as a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award including Best Novel for Dead in the Water.
  • Born August 29 – Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 64. Extensive writing in the Star Wars genre but also has written such novels as The Quiet Pools which was a Hugo Award nominee and Emprise which was a Philip K. Dick nominee. Several of his short stories were adapted into episodes of theTales from the Darkside series.
  • Born August 29 — Lenny Henry, 60. Co-creator with Neil Gaiman and producer of the 1996 BBC drama serial Neverwhere. Narrator of Anansi Boys. Appeared, well appeared isn’t quite proper, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the voice of the Shrunken Head.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) HISTORY REVEALED. Michael Cassutt will be signing The Astronaut Maker at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, CA on September 6. (More details at “Michael Cassutt discusses and signs The Astronaut Maker”).

One of the most elusive and controversial figures in NASA’s history, George W. S. Abbey was called “the Dark Lord,” “the Godfather,” and “UNO”–short for unidentified NASA official. He was said to be secretive, despotic, a Space Age Machiavelli. Yet Abbey had more influence on human spaceflight than almost anyone in history. His story has never been told–until now.   The Astronaut Maker takes readers inside NASA to learn the real story of how Abbey rose to power, from young pilot and wannabe astronaut to engineer, bureaucrat, and finally director of the Johnson Space Center. During a thirty-seven-year career, mostly out of the spotlight, he oversaw the selection of every astronaut class from 1978 to 1987, deciding who got to fly and when. He was with the Apollo 1 astronauts the night before the fatal fire in January 1967. He was in mission control the night of the Apollo 13 accident and organized the recovery effort. Abbey also led NASA’s recruitment of women and minorities as space shuttle astronauts and was responsible for hiring Sally Ride.   Written by Michael Cassutt, the coauthor of the acclaimed astronaut memoirs DEKE! and We Have Capture, and informed by countless hours of interviews with Abbey and his family, friends, adversaries, and former colleagues, The Astronaut Maker is the ultimate insider’s account of ambition and power politics at NASA. (Chicago Review Press)

(13) JUST DRAWN THAT WAY. Need a goat? Remember to smile: “Goats ‘drawn to happy human faces'”.

Scientists have found that goats are drawn to humans with happy facial expressions.

The result suggests a wider range of animals can read people’s moods than was previously thought.

The researchers showed goats pairs of photos of the same person, one of them featuring an angry expression, and the other a happy demeanour.

The goats made a beeline for the happy faces, the team reports in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

(14) THE ACME OF SOMETHING OR OTHER. Maybe this will be your cup of tea but I confess: I plan to be somewhere (anywhere) else when this picture is in theaters: “The ‘Wile E. Coyote’ Movie Has Ordered A Pair Of Writers Who Aren’t From ACME!”

The Roadrunner had better watch out as there is a new ‘Wile E. Coyote’ movie in the works and Warner Bros. has just tapped The Silberman Brothers (‘Living Biblically,’ ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’) to write it! Jon and Josh are going to have a lot of work ahead of them to bring this iconic character to the big screen for an audience base that had significantly changed from when the toon was originally popular.

While this “Super Genius” will always be known for creative inventions that pave the way for perfect slapstick humor, the lack of dialogue for a feature film might mean that we’re getting some massive changes to the Wiley cartoon. While there is no mention of his arch nemesis and his uncatchable meal of The Roadrunner being part of the film, it would be hard to imagine a story that doesn’t include him.

(15) DIAL EIGHT. Another thing I didn’t get done at Worldcon 76 – meeting Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus. By now he’s back in 1963 keeping track of the myriad developments in outer space: “[August 29, 1963] Why we fly (August Space Round-up)”.

Bridging the Continents

Communication satellites continue to make our world a smaller place.  Syncom, built by Hughes and launched by NASA late last month, is the first comsat to have a 24-hour orbit.  From our perspective on the Earth’s surface, it appears to do figure eights around one spot in the sky rather than circling the Earth.  This means Syncom can be a permanent relay station between the hemispheres.

It’s already being used.  On August 4 the satellite allowed Nigerian journalists and folks from two U.S. services to exchange news stories as well as pictures of President Kennedy and Nigerian Governor General Dr. Nnamdi Zikiwe.  Five days later, voice and teletype was exchanged between Paso Robles, California and Lagos, Nigeria.  This 7,7700 mile conversation represents the longest range real-time communication ever made.

I think he means 7,700 miles – but of course I would!

(16) GAMING, IT’S NOT JUST FOR BREAKFAST ANYMORE. The BBC reports on the finding of an ancient gaming board and how it may be the clue to the location of an important lost monastery (“Medieval gaming board clue to lost monastery”).

The discovery of a medieval gaming board may have helped bring archaeologists closer to confirming the site of a lost early monastery.

Archaeologists have been actively seeking the Monastery of Deer in Aberdeenshire since about 2008.

Monks at the monastery wrote the important 10th Century illuminated manuscript, the Book of Deer.

Layers beneath the disc-shaped stone gaming board have been carbon dated to the 7th and 8th centuries.

Charcoal also found at the remains of a building uncovered by archaeologists during the latest dig at the site, near Mintlaw, has been dated to the same time, between 669 and 777AD.

Smithsonian follows up with more about the game board itself and its monastic connections (“Archaeologists Unearth Medieval Game Board During Search for Lost Monastery”).

According to The Scotsman’s Alison Campsie, monks likely used the board to play Hnefatafl, a Norse strategy game that pits a king and his defenders against two dozen taflmen, or attackers. As the king’s men attempt to herd him to safety in one of the four burgs, or refuges, located in the corners of the game board, taflmen work to thwart the escape. To end the game, the king must reach sanctuary or yield to captivity.

The board “is a very rare object,” archaeologist Ali Cameron of The Book of Deer Project, who is in charge of excavations, tells Campsie. “Only a few have been found in Scotland, mainly on monastic or at least religious sites. These gaming boards are not something everyone would have had access to.”

…The game board’s discovery and dating to the 7th and 8th centuries offer tantalizing indication that the dig site was, in fact, home to the medieval monastery, but as Mark Hall, a medieval games specialist at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, cautions, “This temptation remains just that until further evidence presents itself to make a valid link between the disc and the date.”

(17) MORE COMICS CROSSOVERS. Daniel Dern is keeping an eye open for these: “Sometime within the last year we got a great bunch, notably the Batman/Elmer Fudd (including the narrated-by-Denny-ONeil video). A bunch just came out today, including Lex Luthor/Porky Pig, Joker/Daffy Duck, and Catwoman/Sylvester.”

And io9’s James Whitbrook looks ahead to when “All the Incredible New Comic Series to Cozy Up With This Fall”.

DC/Hanna-Barbera Crossovers—DC’s bizarro mashups between its comics universe and the animated antics of Hanna-Barbera’s most beloved creations continues with another wave of weird and wonderful adventures.

Deathstroke/Yogi Bear #1—Frank Tieri, Mark Texeira

Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound #1—Mark Russell, Rick Leonardi

Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla #1—Heath Corson, Tom Grummett

Superman/Top Cat #1—Dan DiDio, Shane Davis

(18) GAME OVER. Camestros Felapton discovered spammers have taken over the abandoned Sad Puppies IV website  but kept most of the content to make it look like Kate Paulk is selling slot machines in Italian –

[Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Joey Eschrich, mlex, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/17 SCROLLS NIX HIX PIXELS

(1) IT BURNS. At Young People Read Old SFF, curator James Davis Nicoll has them reading Connie Willis’ “Fire Watch”.

As we’ve seen, past popularity means nothing to the young people of today, who insist on judging stories on their merits and not the warm feeling their grandparents may have had reading a now-venerable story. What did the Young People think of this classic story?

Mikayla definitely does not have a warm feeling.

I found the narrator’s reaction to communism ridiculous. As far as I can tell, the narrator is more upset by the idea of communism than by the Nazis actively bombing the city. The idea that someone so removed from these events would have such a personal hatred of communism, despite coming from the far future, makes this story feel very American and very dated.

(2) THE (BRAIN) IMITATION GAME. IEEE Spectrum has a special issue this month on the topic of current attempts to model the human brain: “Special Report: Can We Copy the Brain?” About half the articles are free to nonsubscribers.

Gregory N. Hullender says the key takeaways are:

  • Artificial Neural Network software does have useful applications, but it has little in common with real brain tissue.
  • Special hardware meant to model the brain has been developed but does not yet have any useful applications.
  • Current brain simulations only simulate a fraction of a brain, and they run thousands of times slower than real brains do.
  • Modelling 1 mm^3 of a rat’s brain is considered an ambitious undertaking.
  • There is considerable debate as to whether we understand how the brain works at all.

I liked this quote from “Neuromorphic Chips Are Destined for Deep Learning — or Obscurity”

“It has often been noted that progress in aviation was made only after inventors stopped trying to copy the flapping wings of birds and instead discovered — and then harnessed — basic forces, such as thrust and lift. The knock against neuromorphic computing is that it’s stuck at the level of mimicking flapping wings, an accusation the neuromorphics side obviously rejects. Depending on who is right, the field will either take flight and soar over the chasm, or drop into obscurity.”

The article “Can We Quantify Machine Consciousness” makes some exciting claims about “Integrated Information Theory” (IIT). It’s less exciting when you realize that the authors are the inventors of the IIT concept and not everyone agrees with them.

(3) THE LONG HAUL. “Bias, She Wrote: The Gender Balance of The New York Times Best Seller list” — a statistical study of women writers based on analysis over time of the prestigious list. (Lots of graphs.)

Almost every category started out as heavily male-dominated, and many have stayed that way. These categories align with stereotypes about male interests: fantasy and science fiction, spy and political fiction, suspense fiction, and adventure fiction, have all been consistently male-dominated since their introduction to the list. A best-selling female fantasy/sci-fi author today is just as rare as a best-selling female literary author in the 1950s.

Then, there are the genres that have flipped. The horror/paranormal genre is now almost at gender parity, owing no small thanks to paranormal romance novels. Mystery is the most balanced genre over time, which shouldn’t be surprising given the genre’s history. The 1920s and 30s are known as the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction,” and were dominated by a quartet of female authors known as the Queens of Crime: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Margery Allingham.

Best-selling romance novels were mostly written by men in the 1950s, but in the 1960s women took over. By the 1980s, female authors solidly dominated the genre, probably because female writers had a natural advantage writing for mostly female readers about mostly female experiences of love and sex.

(4) SENSELESS DECISION. Io9 says Netflix has whacked fan favorite Sense8:

After a mere two seasons of streaming on Netflix, the Wachowskis’ Sense8 has been cancelled, according to Netflix VP of original content Cindy Holland.

(5) CARRIE FISHER ESTATE. The Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Personal Property Auction will be held by Profiles in History on September 23. The catalog is not yet available online. Hardcover copies of this celebrity artifact can be pre-ordered.

Highlights from the upcoming auction include:

  • Carrie Fisher’s life size “Princess Leia” with blaster statue in a vintage wooden phone booth. This is the figure that was featured by Fisher in her in her HBO special Wishful Drinking and the documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Pictured left.
  • Debbie Reynolds’ screen used “Kathy Seldon” lavender silk chiffon dress from the “You Were Meant For Me” musical sequence in Singin’ in the Rain. Pictured right.
  • Carrie Fisher’s on-set chair with personalized chair back that is embroidered “Star Wars: The Saga Continues” used on Return of the Jedi. Pictured at bottom.
  • Debbie Reynolds’ screen used “Annie” two piece stage costume from Annie Get Your Gun.
  • Carrie Fisher’s life size C-3PO with electronic lighting elements. Pictured below.
  • Carrie Fisher’s life sized bronze, limited edition Yoda statue by Lawrence A. Noble.
  • Carrie Fisher’s vintage original 1978 Kenner Star Wars Princess Leia action figure, still in it’s original packaging.
  • Debbie Reynolds’ personal, rare, vintage original half sheet movie poster for Singin’ in the Rain signed by Debbie and inscribed to her by Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor

(6) IT’S COMPELLING. The seventh issue of Compelling Science Fiction is now live. Editor Joe Stech lists the highlights —

I’m proud to present another five compelling stories by some amazing authors! The issue begins with the lengthily-titled “What’s a Few Years When You Get Money and Friends in High Places?” by R R Angell, a story about a bodybuilder who is offered a large sum of money to swap his body with a wealthy man (via head transplant). I was pleasantly surprised at the positive vibe the story manages to convey despite the trials of the protagonist (8400 words). The second story in our line-up, Michèle Laframboise’s “Thinking Inside the Box,” is an outlandish story about an alien race that requires constant environmental change in order to maintain psychological health (6400 words). Our third story, “Cogito Ergo Sum” by Mike Adamson, focuses on a conversation with an android about what it means to be human. It’s a well-known theme in science fiction, but I thought this story was executed particularly well (6950 words). Next we have “Integration” by John Eckelkamp, a very short story about a nascent AI getting its first taste of elementary school (1800 words). Our final story is an underwater tale, “Fathom the Ocean, Deep and Still” by David Bruns. The story is about a living bio-engineered city (6020 words).

(7) WHAT AN EDITOR DOES. Uncanny Magazine’s Lynne M. Thomas answers Katrina J.E. Milton’s questions in The Midweek:

Milton: Have you always loved science fiction?

Thomas: I’ve always loved to read, but I didn’t grow up reading much science fiction. I read mostly classics and some romance until I branched out more during college. My husband avidly read sci-fi and fantasy for years, though. Now I curate a science fiction and fantasy collection as one of 42 special collections at NIU. I need to know what’s happening in the field, so it’s crucial to know what is getting attention, and when to purchase books and add to the collection. … One of my favorite books has always been “A Wrinkle in Time.” I didn’t really think of it as science fiction at the time, but I re-read the book more or less annually. Meg Murry has always been a character I’ve really connected with. Being intelligent and kind were marked as more important than makeup and being pretty in that book, which was a powerful message to an awkward 11-year-old version of me.

(8) HUGO READING. Peter J. Enyeart has ranked his “2017 Hugo picks: Novellas”. Here’s what he has to say about his two top choices.

2. The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle The story of a young black Lovecraftian con man in 1920s New York. This is actually a retelling of “The Horror at Red Hook” and, in the spirit of “Shoggoths in Bloom,” is kind of a reinterpretation or even reclaiming of Lovecraft for those groups of humans (which seemed to include anyone not a male WASP) that Lovecraft despised. I found it absorbing and fun. It is interesting how many writers just can’t stop themselves from writing Cthulhu Mythos stories, despite the myriad reasons to dislike Lovecraft. (I was obsessed with him in high school, myself.) I suppose it’s because there’s a lot of breadth and depth there, and also the opportunity for a critical dialogue. Writing Lovecraft fan fiction seems respectable, even, and I certainly seem to enjoy reading it. Speaking of which…

1. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson When one of her students leaves with a man from the waking world, a professor in Ulthar sets out after her. Well, this has a lot going for it that immediately makes me favorably inclined: (1) I’ve always adored this corner of the Mythos and thought it criminally underappreciated; (2) I’m a sucker for quest stories involving travel to varied and strange locales; and (3) I adore Kij Johnson. You never know what you’re going to get when you start in to one of her stories, but you do know you’re in sure hands. And this is no exception. If the LaValle piece is a reclamation of the Mythos for non-whites, this reclaims it for women. I enjoyed every word (and it’s littered with so many lovely ones, like gems in a magic cave). It also has a great ending, which is frequently the difference between a good story and a great one. The best of “escapist” literature gives you something to take back with you to the “real” world, a fresh view as if you’re questing through it yourself [3]. This is the best of escapist literature. Give it awards!

(9) TOUTED FOR NEXT YEAR’S HUGOS. The Hugo Award Book Club observes that Gregory Benford has never been shortlisted for the award’s Best Novel category (despite his Timescape having been so well-regarded it won the 1981 Nebula). They think “The Berlin Project (2017) Gregory Benford” might earn him a place on next year’s ballot.

There are reasons to believe his latest novel may be his best shot yet at finally adding that Best Novel Hugo to his list of accolades.

This book is Benford’s first novel as sole author in more than a decade, and it’s a departure for him. But in many ways, the Berlin Project feels like the novel that Benford was born to write.

His knowledge of the people he’s writing about shines through, and they feel like fully rounded human beings, in a way that some of the protagonists in his previous novels have not. These are people that Benford knows, and he writes about them with evident affection. While the science is front and centre (not unusual in a Benford novel), the characters do not take a backseat. The first 350 pages are a taught, meticulously researched alternate history that delves into the nitty-gritty technical details of the race to build an atomic bomb. It’s a believable departure from the real history. One small decision made differently that makes sense, and everything flows from that departure point….

(10) WONDERFEFE. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviewed Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, who talks about sexism in the film industry and how women should make sure their voices are heard: “Wonder Woman has been a warrior, a secretary and a sexpot. What version did the movie use?”

For Jenkins, fortunately, there was no wavering. She was determined to bring to the big screen the fierce-but-compassionate type of Wonder Woman she first saw on the ‘70s small screen.

“All these years, there’s been talk about Wonder Woman, and the thing I was very firm and steadfast about was: I only wanted to be involved in this if I can have a chance to bring back the Wonder Woman that I love,” Jenkins tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I’m not interested in an alt-Wonder Woman; I’m not interested a new Wonder Woman. I’m interested in the Wonder Woman that I grew up with.

What Jenkins saw in TV’s bicentennial Wonder Woman was something close to the initial ideal of creator William Moulton Marston.

“It’s been interesting that she was created as such an idealized woman who is incredibly powerful who yet has everything about being a woman at her side,” Jenkins continues. “And it’s been funny: Lynda [Carter] was so that in the ‘70s with her Wonder Woman.”

(11) MORE MENTING, LESS DRINKING. Brenda W. Clough shares brief “SFWA Nebula Conference 2017” report at Book View Cafe.

I signed up to be a mentor, and was assigned not one but two mentees (the evolution of language here is especially notable; not only did I have mentees but we discussed our menting, as in “How did your menting go, did you ever catch up with your mentee?”). I got together with first one and then the other, and essentially tried to cram in tons of professional advice and answer all their questions. I also brought some pussyhats, because Grandmaster Jane Yolen demanded one, and we were photographed, hopefully for Locus.

(12) LOOSED A FATEFUL LIGHTNING. Abigail Nussbaum has eight books to cover in “Recent Reading Roundup 43”, among them a Civil War ghost story and this Hugo nominee —

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer – It’s interesting that in the space of a single year, Tor published two debut novels about non-dystopian, non-corporatist future societies in which the boundaries of national and ethnic identity have been replaced by global affinity groups, to which people assign themselves according to their interests and philosophy. For all my reservations about its technothriller plot, I have to say that I prefer Malka Older’s Infomocracy to Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning, largely because I find the world in that book more interesting, and more believable as a place where people like me might possibly live.

(13) THE HOUSE GROUSE. It’s bigger than your average bear — “Microsoft founder Paul Allen reveals world’s biggest-ever plane” .

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has shown off the “Stratolaunch”, a colossal aircraft he hopes can soon help to hoist satellites into low earth orbit.

Allen’s company of the same name has been working on the craft since 2011, with the help of Scaled Composites.

The result of their efforts is 238 feet long, 50 feet tall and has a wingspan of 385 feet [Allen likes Imperial measurements — Ed]. The wingspan is the largest ever built, topping even Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” aka the “Hughes H-4 Hercules.”

The Stratolaunch needs that colossal wing, and six engines typically used for the Boeing 747, because Allen wants it to carry up to 550,000 pounds of payload. His plan calls for the plane to “take off from a runway and fly to the approximate cruising altitude of a commercial airliner before releasing a satellite-bearing launch vehicle.”

(14) ADS THAT SUBTRACT. Marketing puts their foot in it: “Chloe Moretz ‘appalled and angry’ over body-shaming Snow White animated film advert”

Chloe Moretz said she hadn’t seen the marketing and has apologised to fans.

Plus-size model Tess Holliday tweeted a photo of the billboard poster and tagged the actress in her post, saying it was basically body-shaming.

(15) LASSO THE STARS. BBC gives Wonder Woman 4 stars out of 5.

In Wonder Woman’s reimagining of the princess myth, Diana, Princess of the Amazons, leaps through the air deflecting bullets with her bracelets. She enters a formal reception with a sword tucked into the back of her evening dress. But she differs from conventional princesses and superheroes in an even more pointed way — one that speaks to today’s fraught global politics. While Batman is motivated by vengeance for his parents’deaths and Superman is dedicated to saving those in peril, Wonder Woman wants nothing less than world peace. All this in a crisply executed action movie with an engaging narrative, and, in Diana (Gal Gadot), as swift and strong a heroine as anyone could have wished for.

(16) THE BALLAD OF TOLKIEN. J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, later adapted into a piece of The Silmarillion, now published in its original form: “JRR Tolkien book Beren and Lúthien published after 100 years”

Beren and Lúthien has been described as a “very personal story” that the Oxford professor thought up after returning from the Battle of the Somme.

It was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and contains versions of a tale that became part of The Silmarillion.

The book features illustrations by Alan Lee, who won an Academy Award for his work on Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.

(17) INSIDE BASEBALL. A post for SciFiNow.UK, “Raven Strategem author Yoon Ha Lee on how his spaceships became bags of holding”, jokes about the reason before revealing a disability has something to do with it.

Bags of Holding…in SPAAACE!

When I first realized I had to deal with starship layouts in the hexarchate, I had two choices. I could either sit down (probably with my long-suffering husband) and make a loving diagram of a ship and its layout, and refer to it assiduously every time I had someone go from point A to point B. Or I could say, “Screw it,” and not deal with the problem.

Dear reader, as you have no doubt figured out already, I went with the second option.

(18) EVEN DEEPER INSIDE BASEBALL. Hmmm…

(19) THE CURE. Cream by David Firth is a short animated film on YouTube about what happens when a miraculous product that solves all medical problems is introduced and the violent reaction against it.

[Thanks to Stephen Burridge, James Davis Nicoll, Gregory N. Hullender, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Aaron Pound, Dann, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip W.]