Pixel Scroll 5/14/19 The Ship That Scrolled

(1) EYE ON HORROR. Ellen Datlow posted almost a hundred photos from last weekend’s StokerCon in Michigan.

Ellen Datlow, Gwendolyn Kiste, and Rena Mason

(2) RE: STAN LEE. “Stan Lee’s Former Business Manager Charged With Elder Abuse Against Late Icon”The Hollywood Reporter says an arrest warrant has been issued.

The former business manager for Stan Lee has been charged with multiple counts of elder abuse related to the late Marvel icon. 

Keya Morgan was charged with multiple counts related to elder abuse, including alleged false imprisonment, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Superior Court told The Hollywood Reporter

…Last summer, legal representatives for Lee filed for a restraining order against Morgan, which was granted.

… Morgan, who has long been involved in the pop culture memorabilia scene, was one of the subjects of the investigation.

Last month, Morgan pleaded no contest to filing a false police report. He must stay away from Lee’s family and residence, along with completing 100 hours of community service, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. 

(3) NYT BOOK REVIEW ON MCEWAN. The New York Times Book Review’s Tina Gordon almost reluctantly reports on the speculative fiction community’s response to Ian McEwan’s novel and his dismissal of the genre in the Guardian:

The sci-fi community began calling out McEwan’s genre snobbery on Twitter and in opinion pieces. ‘It is as absurd for McEwan to claim he’s not writing sci-fi as it is for him to imply that sci-fi is incapable of approaching these themes interestingly,” said one ‘Alternative history and nonhuman consciousness are established sci-fi motifs.’ Another wrote, ‘Anyone is entitled to try out ideas. What you can’t do is write a detective story and think ‘the butler did it’ is a world-first clever twist.’

As [NYT Book Review’s] Dwight Garner noted in his review of Machines Like Me ‘people are touchy about genre.’ Kurt Vonnegut famously complained that he was ‘a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled ‘science fiction’ … and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal.’ And Harlan Ellison once said, ‘Call me a science fiction writer. I’ll come to your house and I’ll nail your pet’s head to a coffee table. I’ll hit you so hard your ancestors will die.’

(4) WHEN HEKTO WAS IN FLOWER. Paul Di Filippo reviews The Science Fiction Fanzine Reader: Focal Points 1930-1960 edited by Luis Ortiz at Locus Online.

…This immensely valuable and entertaining volume — purportedly the first of several — captures for posterity a chronologically delimited slice of the subculture of science-fiction fandom — currently dying or healthy; vanished or extant? — in such a manner that even those folks who have no prior inkling of the subculture — assuming they possess a modicum of curiosity and intelligence — should still be able to completely grok the subject matter and derive amusement and pleasure and wisdom from this richly annotated compilation….

… So just be aware that, for the most part, you will not get rehashed literary battles of the day as fought in the pages of these zines, but rather insights into the amateur press people and their publications themselves….

(5) TRAILER TIME. Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil  is in theaters October 18.

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is a fantasy adventure that picks up several years after “Maleficent,” in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney’s most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora. The film continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within.

(6) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman says, “Dare to eat donuts with a dozen horrific creators during the ’StokerCon Donut Spooktacular’” on his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Regular listeners to Eating the Fantastic know that once a year, instead of serving up the usual well-researched one-on-one conversations which make up most of this podcast’s ear candy, I opt for total anarchy, plopping myself down in a heavily trafficked area of a con with a dozen donuts and chatting with anybody who’s game to trade talk for sugar and grease. It’s totally spontaneous, as I never know to whom I’ll speak until they pass by and their eyes light up at the sight of a free donut.

In 2016, you were invited to eavesdrop on the Readercon Donut Spectacular, in 2017 the Balticon Donut Extravaganza, and last year the Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree. Now it’s time for the StokerCon Donut Spooktacular!

Late Saturday night, I sat down with an assorted dozen from The Donut Conspiracy in Grand Rapids accompanied by the usual sign explaining the setup, and found no shortage of willing guests.

Join us as Michael Bailey describes his novel inspired by a fire which turned his home to ashes in seven minutes, Geoffrey A. Landis shares about the Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper horror story he published in the science fiction magazine Analog, Brian Keene explains why he chose last weekend to finally reappear at an HWA event, Wile E. Young tells why he thinks of the Road Runner whenever a story gets rejected, Anton Cancre reveals which guest that weekend earned most of his squee, and Wesley Southard offers his schtick for selling books when stuck behind a dealers table at a con.

Plus Erik T. Johnson gives an unexpected (but perfectly logical) answer when asked about one of the perks of StokerCon, Patrick Freivald looks back on how his horror career began via a collaboration with his twin brother, Josh Malerman recounts how he replaced readings with full blown Bird Box interactive performances and how an audience of 85-year-olds reacted, Asher Ellis shares how the Stonecoast MFA program made him a better writer, Kennikki Jones-Jones discusses her Final Frame award-winning short film Knock Knock, Eugene Johnson celebrates his Bram Stoker Award win that night for It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life, and much, much more!

(7) DAY OBIT. Her recordings showed up in episodes of Quantum Leap and The Simpsons. Steve Vertlieb writes about “Remembering Doris Day, the ‘Girl Next Door’” who died May 13.

Remembering the wondrously youthful, eternally vivacious Doris Day whose infinite flirtation with joy, music, and film ended this morning with her passing at age 97. She will forever remain timeless in our hearts and memories. She was truly everyone’s favorite “girl next door.” While famously private in her personal life, I was fortunate enough to receive a beautiful response from her several years ago when I wrote her of my life long affection for her. It is reproduced here with love, reverence, and respect. Doris Day will forever remain an integral component of my precarious youth, and coming of age. Rest Well, Doris. I shall always love you.

Some of the Enterprise crew bid farewell too:

(8) CONWAY OBIT. SYFY Wire pays homage to “Tim Conway, comedian and voice of Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob, dead at 85”.

While well-known to the Baby Boomer generation for his comedic work on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show, Conway also endeared himself to Millennials and Generation Z, even if they don’t know him by sight. That’s because he voiced the character of Barnacle Boy on SpongeBob, the sailor’s uniform-wearing super-sidekick to Mermaid Man, who was played by Conway’s McHale’s Navy co-star, Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012).

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 14, 1933 Siân Phillips, 86. Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam in Dune, Cassiopeia in Clash of The Titans, and Red Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 75. He created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchise. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. Several Star Wars films are.) and let’s not forget THX 1138.
  • Born May 14, 1945 Francesca Annis, 74. Lady Jessica in Dune, Lady Macbeth in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth.
  • Born May 14, 1945 Rob Tapert, 74. I’d say he’s best known for co-creating Xena: Warrior Princess. He also produced and/or wrote several other television series including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, M.A.N.T.I.S. and American Gothic. Tapert also co-created the prequel series Young Hercules which I loved. He’s married to actress Lucy Lawless. 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Robert Zemeckis, 67. So he’s responsible for some of my favorite films including the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Death Becomes Her. What’s your favorite films that’s he had a hand In? 
  • Born May 14, 1952 Kathleen Ann Goonan, 67. Her Nanotech Quartet is most particularly the first novel, Queen City Jazz. She’s written an interesting essay on the relationship between sf and music, “Science Fiction and All That Jazz”.
  • Born May 14, 1961 Tim Roth, 58. Guildenstern In Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Gary ‘Hutch’ Hutchens in Twin Peaks, plus several one-offs in such genre series as Tales from the Crypt and Theatre Night.
  • Born May 14, 1965 Eoin Colfer, 54. He is best known for being the author of the Artemis Fowl series. He wrote the sixth novel of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, entitled And Another Thing…

(10) TONOPAH BID. Kevin Standlee says his proposed 2021 Westercon won’t have guests of honor and will have light programming, so he really needs to answer the question “Why Tonopah?”, which he does in this post on the SFSFC website.

Relaxed: We are currently planning a relatively light schedule of programming, giving our members an expanded opportunity to socialize and to explore the community. Rather than running the members off their feet rushing from item to item and constantly protesting that they seem to need to be in three places at once, we want our members to enjoy themselves without running themselves ragged.

(11) RELATED REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Best Related Work Hugo Finalist reviews

Related Work

(12) THE WEAPONS SHOPS. NPR discovers “When Technology Can Be Used To Build Weapons, Some Workers Take A Stand”.

On the night of Jan. 16, Liz O’Sullivan sent a letter she’d been working on for weeks. It was directed at her boss, Matt Zeiler, the founder and CEO of Clarifai, a tech company. “The moment before I hit send and then afterwards, my heart, I could just feel it racing,” she says.

The letter asked: Is our technology going to be used to build weapons?

With little government oversight of the tech industry in the U.S., it’s tech workers themselves who increasingly are raising these ethical questions.

O’Sullivan often describes technology as magic. She’s 34 — from the generation that saw the birth of high-speed Internet, Facebook, Venmo and Uber. “There are companies out there doing things that really look like magic,” she says. “They feel like magic.”

Her story began two years ago, when she started working at Clarifai. She says one of her jobs was to explain the company’s product to customers. It’s visual recognition technology, used by websites to identify nudity and inappropriate content. And doctors use it to spot diseases.

Clarifai was a startup, founded by Zeiler, a young superstar of the tech world. But shortly after O’Sullivan joined, Clarifai got a big break — a government contract, reportedly for millions of dollars.

It was all very secretive. At first, the people assigned to work on the project were in a windowless room, with the glass doors covered.

O’Sullivan would walk by and wonder: What are they doing in there?

(13) EGGING THEM ON. Not everyone’s against weapons research, at least of a certain kind: “Jacinda Ardern returns girl’s ‘dragon research’ bribe”.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has rejected a “bribe” from an 11-year-old girl who wrote asking her government to conduct dragon research.

The girl, identified only as Victoria, wanted to be given telekinetic powers so she could become a dragon trainer.

She included NZ$5 ($3.20; £2.50) with her letter, apparently as a bribe.

Writing back on official letterhead, Ms Ardern said her administration was “not currently doing any work in… psychics and dragons.”

But in a handwritten note, she added: “P.S. I’ll still keep an eye out for those dragons. Do they wear suits?”

(14) IT’S EVERYWHERE. Garbage voyages to the bottom of the sea: “Mariana Trench: Deepest-ever sub dive finds plastic bag”.

An American explorer has found plastic waste on the seafloor while breaking the record for the deepest ever dive.

Victor Vescovo descended nearly 11km (seven miles) to the deepest place in the ocean – the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench.

He spent four hours exploring the bottom of the trench in his submersible, built to withstand the immense pressure of the deep.

He found sea creatures, but also found a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

It is the third time humans have reached the ocean’s extreme depths.

(15) GOOGLE U. During an exchange about JDA’s lawsuit, Steve Davidson told Adam Rakunas “I went to the same law school you did,” So Rakunas replied, “Remember our school’s fight song?”

We’re gonna fill up those search boxes
We’re gonna write out those search strings!
We’re the Fightin’ Queries of Internet U
And we look up all the things!

Oh, we don’t have accreditation
And no one gets degrees
But that doesn’t stop us from sounding off
Go, go, go, Fightin’ Queries!

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

Pixel Scroll 4/18/19 Before The Pixels Return To Capiscrollo

(1) A BIT MORE ON AO3. Polygon’s article “For AO3, the fanfiction haven, a Hugo nomination is a long time coming” includes quotes from Nicholas Whyte, Kevin Standlee, and Naomi Novik that may be of interest.

“The shortlisting of AO3 does not mean that every work published on the site is a Hugo Award finalist,” clarified Kevin Standlee, a member of the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, to Polygon. “By analogy, if a magazine is nominated for Best Semiprozine, it does not mean that every work and every author published during that year’s run of the magazine is a Hugo Award finalist.”

Whyte also emphasized that Archive of Our Own as a project met all the requirements of the Best Related Work category as far as the Hugo administrators were concerned.

“Archive of our Own as a project is on the Hugo final ballot,” Whyte wrote in an email. “A substantial number of voters supported it, and it is not really the role of the Hugo administrators to second-guess or interpret their intentions. Our job is to determine whether it qualifies under the rules. We considered the precedents in this and other categories very carefully, and found no good reason to disqualify it.”

Archive of Our Own is a platform for fanfiction, yes, but it is also an intricate system of archiving and hosting said fanfiction, as well as a space built up by fandom members for their very own. No “one part” of AO3 qualifies the site for the prize. The entirety — past, present, and promise to the future — makes it uniquely primed for the honor.

“So if the question is, which of that work is the nomination recognizing?” penned Naomi Novik on her Tumblr. “It’s recognizing all of it. You can’t separate one part of it from the other. The garden wouldn’t exist without all of it. And I am grateful for it all.”

(2) BEWARE SPOILER. Well, maybe not… Yahoo! Entertainment says the filmmakers deny everything: “Paul Rudd, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ directors respond to ‘Thanus,’ the most insane Marvel theory ever”.

As far as the most bonkers fan theories go in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one clear-cut winner has emerged recently in predicting the climax (back end?) of the highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame.

That would be the premise coined “Thanus,” which posits that the Avengers will finally triumph over intergalactic, snapping super-baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) when Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) uses his size-altering abilities to shrink down, enter the villain’s butthole and then expand, killing his target in what would essentially be the most volatile hemorrhoid ever.

(3) SNACK TIME. Ursula Vernon is served a Tibetan delicacy. Thread starts here.

Followed by more culinary adventures. Thread starts here.

(4) KGB. Here are Ellen Datlow’s photos from the April 17 KGB readings by Dale Bailey and Arkady Martine.

Arkady Martine. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

(5) ABOUT VAMPIRES. Methinks Electric Literature doth protest too much: “A Perfectly Normal Interview with Carmen Maria Machado Where Everything Is Fine” .

Theodore McCombs: What about Carmilla first attracted you to this project? What do you hope 2019’s readers will find in this 1872 vampire tale?

Carmen Maria Machado: The connection between narratives of vampires and narratives of women—especially queer women—are almost laughably obvious. Even without Carmilla, they would be linked. The hunger for blood, the presence of monthly blood, the influence and effects of the moon, the moon as a feminine celestial body, the moon as a source of madness, the mad woman, the mad lesbian—it goes on and on. It is somewhat surprising to me that we have ever imagined male vampires at all. But of course, that’s because we think of Dracula as the ur-text, the progenitor of the vampire in literature. Carmilla simply isn’t as well-known; I was as surprised as anyone to learn about it. But despite the fact that it’s a somewhat obscure text, its influence can be keenly felt. So I wanted modern readers to understand both Carmilla and Carmilla’s importance.

(6) GOT LEGACY? Tad Williams explains how Game of Thrones has affected epic fantasy in an article for Vulture: “What Is Game of Thrones’ Legacy in Epic Fantasy?”

The novelist Don DeLillo wrote shortly after the attacks that 9/11 would change “the way we think and act, moment to moment, week to week, for unknown weeks and months to come, and steely years.” It’s hard to deny that he was right. Several pop-culture phenomena sprang up in the years after 9/11, HBO’s Game of Thrones being one of the most important, but by no means operating in a vacuum. The runaway popularity of The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games in the 2000s also signaled a different sort of sensibility from Tolkien’s postwar years. The enemies were closer, and sometimes they were even friends — or had been. Nothing was entirely trustworthy, not family, not community, and certainly not the government. The anti-establishment cynicism of the ’60s and ’70s had been replaced by a cynicism about virtually everything, and certainly about all institutions. Priests and teachers were now seen as potential molesters. Presidents were no longer just wrong as far as their opponents were concerned — they were actual criminal enemies. George W. Bush was labeled a murderer and Barack Obama was called a fascist. Political and cultural media were weaponized.

(7) TYPECASTING. Is it really that controversial? The Boston Globe thinks so: “Loved and loathed, iconic Helvetica font enters a new era”.

It’s the typeface that greets you on your tax forms. It announces MBTA station stops. Its sans-serif letters glow in the night outside Target and CVS.

In the world of typography, Helvetica is as common as vanilla ice cream. The 62-year-old font is celebrated and loathed for its ubiquity. Now, it’s getting a face lift for the digital age.

The reboot — by Monotype, a Woburn [MA]-based firm that owns Helvetica and thousands of other fonts — has set off a new round of debate over a typeface that has not only divided font fanatics but also transcended the field of design.

Indeed, not many fonts are controversial enough to show up on Twitter’s trending topics. So when Mitch Goldstein saw the word “Helvetica” among the social network’s hottest discussions, he joked that it must be there for the same macabre reason that sees celebrity names suddenly pop up.

(8) WOLFE APPRECIATION. Paul DiFilippo has written one of the best Wolfe tributes for the Barnes & Noble Review: “Master of Mazes: Remembering Gene Wolfe (1931-2019)”.

With the passing of Science Fiction Writers of America Grandmaster Gene Wolfe (1931-2019), literature has lost a unique writer who embraced fruitful paradox. He was at once traditionalist and rebel, metaphysician and realist, trickster and pontiff, experimentalist and conservative, the consummate professional and the most endearingly heart-on-his-sleeve fan. He married the pulp tropes of science fiction and fantasy and horror to the stringent esthetics and techniques and multivalent worldview of echt modernism to produce works which both camps felt did honor to their respective lineages. Readers of “The Death of Doctor Island” or The Fifth Head of Cerebrus could discover all the thematic density and narrative complexity they might seek in a work by Pynchon or Nabokov in tales fully alive as visionary works in SF. In 2014, writer Michael Swanwick, himself a master craftsman, dubbed Wolfe “the single greatest writer in the English language alive today.”…

(9) KATO OBIT. “Monkey Punch, creator of megahit Japan comic Lupin III, dies” — the AP service has the story.

Cartoonist Monkey Punch, best known as the creator of the Japanese megahit comic series Lupin III, has died at age of 81.

His office, MP Pictures, said Wednesday that Monkey Punch, whose real name is Kazuhiko Kato, died of pneumonia on April 11.

The story of master thief Lupin’s adventures with his gang — gunman Daisuke Jigen, sword master Goemon Ishikawa and sexy beauty Fujiko Mine, as well as a detective, Zenigata — started in 1967.

The cartoon also was adapted for TV animation and movies, some directed by renowned animators including Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.

(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

In 2014, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, from the 1979 Monty Python film Life of Brian, was the most popular song played at British funerals.

Source: The Telegraph

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 Frank R. Paul. Illustrator who graced the covers of Amazing Stories from May 1926 to June 1939, Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories from June 1929 to October 1940 and a number of others well past his death date.  He also illustrated the cover of Gernsback’s Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (Stratford Company, 1925), published first as a 1911–1912 serial in Modern Electrics. He was inducted into Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2009. Stephen D. Korshak and Frank R. Paul’s From the Pen of Paul: The Fantastic Images of Frank R. Paul published in 2010 is the only work I found that looks at him. (Died 1963.)
  • Born April 18, 1938 Superman. Age: damn if I know. Created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, the character first appeared in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938. Yes, it was cover-dated as June, 1938. This is generally thought of as the beginning of the Golden Age of Comics. (Died 1992. But he got better.)
  • Born April 18, 1945 Karen Wynn Fonstad. She was a cartographer and academic who designed several atlases of literary worlds. Among her work are The Atlas of Middle-earth which is simply wonderful, and The Atlas of Pern which I’ve not seen. (Died 2005.)
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. She wrote but three novels in her lifetime, Uhura’s Song, set in Trek universe, Hellspark and Mirabile which is a stitch-up of her Mirabile short stories. The Collected Kagan collects all of her short fiction not set in the Mirabile setting. Her story “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo. (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 18, 1953 Rick Moranis, 66. Though now retired from acting, he was  active genre-wise once upon a time in such properties as GhostbustersLittle Shop of Horrors (the remake obviously), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (which isn’t bad compared to the stinkers that followed in this franchise), The Flintstones and of course Spaceballs. For you next Christmas viewing delight, may I recommend Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys in which he voices The Toy Maker? 
  • Born April 18 Cheryl Morgan, born, as she put it to me today when I dared to ask her age, so long ago no one can remember. She is a Hugo award-winning critic and publisher now living in Britain. She is the owner of Wizard’s Tower Press and was running the Wizard’s Tower Books ebook store before she closed it due to changes in EU regulation.  She was previously the editor of the Hugo award-winning Emerald City fanzine which I confess I read avidly.  And she shares joint wins with the rest of the Clarkesworld team for Best Semiprozine in 2010 and 2011. Superb magazine that. Oh, and her personal blog which is great reading won a Hugo In 2009. Read it for the reviews, read it for the occasional snarky commentary. She is on the advisory board of Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research.
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 54. Some birthday honor folks are elusive. He came up via one of the sites JJ gave me but there is little about him on the web. What I did find is awesome as he’s deep in the Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh, but that’s just a mere wee taste of all he’s done as he did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally, he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money. 
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith DeCandido, 50. Another writer whose makes his living writing largely works based on series. He’s done works set within the universes of Sleepy Hollow, Star Trek, Buffy, Spider-Man, X-Men, Doctor Who, Supernatural, Andromeda, Farscape,  Spider-Man, X-Men, and Stargate SG-1.  He has a fantasy series, Dragon Precinct, ongoing.
  • Born April 19, 1971 David Tennant, 48. Eleventh Doctor and my favourite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe.

(12) PET DETECTIVE. A GOAT writer says “This Is What Happened When I Tried To Find Out Where Julian Assange’s Cat Went”:

We now know that Julian Assange’s cat, who lived with him in the Ecuadorian embassy for a time, is safe and being looked after, but we didn’t know this when I asked about it late last month. And I didn’t know that asking about it would result in the ‘Defend Assange Campaign’ getting in touch….

(13) CREDENTIAL MOVIE MUSICAL. The Hollywood Reporter gives a download: “’Cats’: Everything to Know About the Film Adaptation”.

The highly anticipated film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats is making its way to theaters. The story is based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems titled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

The live production-turned-movie follows a tribe of felines, known as the Jellicle Cats, as they attend the annual Jellicle Ball. During the ball, the tribe’s leader Old Deuteronomy chooses one cat to be reborn and return to a new life.

The Universal film features a star-studded cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Jason Derulo and Steven McRae.

(14) OUT OF TUNA. Timothy the Talking Cat…talks, of course. And writes, as explained in the latest chapter of his autobiography: “Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 4”.

Chapter 4: That Tricky First Novel

After considering a number of career choices I decided that ‘novelist’ was the best match to my temperament and experience. With both my schooling and military service behind me, I had a wealth of life experience to draw from and the natural wit of England’s upper classes running through my veins.

(15) THE WORKS. Delish says another exotic variety of Oreos is on its way to market: “Oreo’s Firework-Inspired Cookies Are Back And They Actually Pop In Your Mouth”.

Here’s the deal: The Fourth of July-inspired sweets are the classic chocolate and creme combo we all know and love but with a twist. They’re filled with red and blue popping candies, so they will quite literally explode in your mouth—in a totally safe Pop Rocks kind of way, you know?

(16) DAY FOR NIGHT. Futurism foresees the future of light pollution:“Pepsi Plans to Project a Giant Ad in the Night Sky Using Cubesats”.

A Russian company called StartRocket says it’s going to launch a cluster of cubesats into space that will act as an “orbital billboard,” projecting enormous advertisements into the night sky like artificial constellations. And its first client, it says, will be PepsiCo — which will use the system to promote a “campaign against stereotypes and unjustified prejudices against gamers” on behalf of an energy drink called Adrenaline Rush.

Yeah, the project sounds like an elaborate prank. But Russian PepsiCo spokesperson Olga Mangova confirmed to Futurism that the collaboration is real.

“We believe in StartRocket potential,” she wrote in an email. “Orbital billboards are the revolution on the market of communications. That’s why on behalf of Adrenaline Rush — PepsiCo Russia energy non-alcoholic drink, which is brand innovator, and supports everything new, and non-standard — we agreed on this partnership.”

(17) RONDO. Steve Vertlieb would be thrilled if you’d consider voting for his article:

It’s “Rondo Award” time again, and my work on “Dracula In The Seventies: Prints of Darkness” has been nominated by the “Rondo Award” committee for “Best Article of the Year.” Anyone can vote once for their favorites in this category, and voting continues through April 20th, 2019. I’ll go “bats” if you care to vote for my work. Winning a competitive “Rondo” would mean a great deal to me, and sublimely reward these sometimes fragile seventy three years. Simply send your selection (along with your name and e-mail address) to David Colton at taraco@aol.com, and please accept my sincere thanks for your most gracious kindness.

(18) GENE THERAPY IS ANSWER TO RARE DISEASE. NPR gives background: “Gene Therapy Advances To Better Treat ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease”.

Sometimes rare diseases can let scientists pioneer bold new ideas. That has been the case with a condition that strikes fewer than 100 babies a year in the United States. These infants are born without a functioning immune system.

The disease is called severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID. “It was made famous in the mid ’70s when the ‘Bubble Boy’ was described in a documentary, and I think it captured the imagination of a lot of people,” says Matthew Porteus, a pediatrician at Stanford University.

David Vetter was the boy who spent most of his short life inside a plastic bubble to protect him from infection. He died at age 12 in 1984.

All babies born in the United States are now screened for this condition, and the best treatment today — a bone marrow transplant — succeeds more than 90 percent of the time. The disease remains a source of great interest to researchers.

“This is one of those diseases in which there’s probably more doctors and scientists studying the disease than patients who have the disease,” Porteus says.

In the 1990s, European scientists actually cured SCID in some patients, using a technique called gene therapy. This process involves removing defective blood cells from a patient, inserting a new gene with the help of a virus and then putting the cells back into the body. Those cells then build up the patient’s immune system.

At first, this treatment in the 1990s and early 2000s looked really promising.

“Of the 20 patients, they all had immune recovery,” says Donald Kohn, an immunologist at UCLA’s Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research. “But, over time, five of them went on to develop a leukemia.”

(19) CHOOSING SCIENCE. They chose an important animal rather than a pretty one: “Snot Otter Emerges Victorious In Vote For Pennsylvania’s Official Amphibian”.

Pennsylvania’s soon-to-be official amphibian has more than its fair share of nicknames: snot otter, mud devil, Allegheny alligator, devil dog, lasagna lizard.

In short, it’s not exactly a looker.

But the Eastern hellbender salamander was the overwhelming choice of lawmakers for amphibian representation in the state. On Tuesday, the state’s House of Representatives voted 191-6 on a bill that would name the aquatic creature its state amphibian. The Senate passed the bill in February.

The hellbender is a nocturnal salamander that can grow more than 2 feet long. The mud-colored creature, covered in a layer of mucus, breathes primarily through loose flaps of thick, wrinkled skin that look a little bit like lasagna noodles.

The hellbender is also a canary for environmental degradation.

(20) CAT IN THE LAT(ERAL FILING CABINET). “‘Giant lion’ fossil found in Kenya museum drawer”.

A new species of giant mammal has been identified after researchers investigated bones that had been kept for decades in a Kenyan museum drawer.

The species, dubbed “Simbakubwa kutokaafrika” meaning “big African lion” in Swahili, roamed east Africa about 20 millions years ago.

But the huge creature was part of a now extinct group of mammals called hyaenodonts.

The discovery could help explain what happened to the group.

…”Based on its massive teeth, Simbakubwa was a specialised hyper-carnivore that was significantly larger than the modern lion and possibly larger than a polar bear,” researcher Matthew Borths is quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

(21) READY, AIM, MEOW. Here’s a piece of technology some of you will want – the Catzooka – Cat Launcher!

(22) THEY PUT THINGS IN THEIR EARS TO CONTROL OUR MINDS. Buzzfeed claims that “People Wearing AirPods Are Making Things Awkward For Everyone Else”.

Unlike traditional headphones, AirPods are the kind of things you can keep in your ears at all times, and many people do. Their sleek design and lack of wires make it easy to forget they’re resting in your head. And their status symbol shine doesn’t exactly scream “take me out.” This may be great for Apple and its bottom line, but it’s making life weird for people interacting with those wearing them. Are they listening to me? Are they listening to music? A podcast? Just hanging? It’s tough to know.

(23) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Cabin Pressure” on Vimeo, Matthew Lee explains how to behave badly on airplanes!

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Ellen Datlow, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Mark Hepworth, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 3/26/19 R.U.P. – Rossum’s Unscrolled Pixels

(1) HORROR FAN. Tananarive Due was interviewed in the Washington Post in a story by Elahe Izadi about how people terrified by horror movies psychologically prepare themselves for seeing a quality horror film like A Quiet Place or Us. Due is the executive producer of Horror Noire and teaches a course at UCLA on Get Out. “Horror is a must-see genre again. What’s a scaredy-cat to do?”

Due loved horror as a child, when watching it was a fun way to be scared within a safe context; with age, it became a therapeutic method to deal with heavier anxieties. It’s a lesson she gleaned from her mother, the late civil rights activist Patricia Stephens Due, who was a horror fan; the genre served as an outlet for the racial trauma she endured.

“Headlines scare me. True crime stories scare me. .?.?. Real, human monstrosity is not fun for me to watch,” Due says. “When those people are supernatural or when there’s a fantasy element, when there’s a monster, now I’m ready to watch because the monster in a horror movie can be a stand-in for real-life monstrosity that lets me engage with it from a distance, but also leech out that trauma and expel it in a way that can feel fun.”

(2) WE LOST. New featurette from Marvel Studios’ Avengers Endgame, in theaters in one month.

(3) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Arisen” by Louisa Hall, author of the novels Speak and Trinity.

“Once upon a time,” Jim said, “in a country called Acirema—”

“Acirema,” I said. “How imaginative, it’s—”

“Do you want me to tell this story or not?” Jim said. His tone was suddenly harsh.

It’s in Slate along with a response essay “What Are Facts Without Fiction?” by librarian Jim O’Donnell.

Yes, it’s true that there are no true stories. Human beings are story-making creatures, but no story can possibly be better that an edited, digested, spin-doctored version of events in we might still call the real world. The real story makers, the ones who give us our professed fictions, know that well and take full advantage of the techniques and the conveniences of their craft, the better to point us toward thoughts we would not come to so easily otherwise.

(4) HELP FUND NICHELLE NICHOLS’ FINAL ROLE. Marc Zicree has started a GoFundMe to pay for “Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols Space Command Scene!”. In the first 24 hours, fans have contributed $600 towards the $15,000 goal.

…Now I’m making a new science fiction pilot called Space Command and want to shoot a very special scene with Nichelle, which will be her last acting role and a wonderful gift to her fans. 

(You can watch the work in progress first hour of the Space Command pilot at https://youtu.be/zv-tx3DdKSg)

Total cost of the shoot, including cast and crew (I’m not taking any salary myself) will be $15,000.

Time is of the essence — we’d like to shoot as soon as possible — and it would mean so much for all of us to be able to make this happen. 

(5) WHEN YOU OUTGROW THE GOLDEN AGE OF SF. John Scalzi gave this example of how his perspective has changed over time:

He brought back my memory of Harlan Ellison standing in the lobby after a 1977 Star Wars pre-screening, verbally assailing the movie he had just seen. However, the main thrust of Harlan’s complaints were that the story, a throwback to the serials, didn’t represent state-of-the-art science fiction. Likewise, he when he wrote about the movie in Harlan Ellison’s Watching he continued the same theme – that it was superficial, “the human heart is never touched.”

(6) GUIDEPOSTS. E.D.E. Bell’s “Two Simple Rules of Editing” explains why these are the rules that guide her work in a post for the SFWA Blog.

So, there’s only two—let’s go!

Rule #1: Consider all edits with an open mind

It sounds simple, but it’s not. Sometimes it helps to glance through all the edits, then just close the file. Come back the next day, if you can. Then consider, why did the editor make this suggestion? Don’t dismiss anything, and don’t hold anything too sacred to be changed.

Rule #2: Only make changes you like

It sounds simple, but it’s not. If the editor’s version is smoother, or more correct, or whatever, but you don’t like it, then don’t do it. You’ll be the one answering to readers if it reads funny, but that’s your call. It’s your story. It’s your art. You’re the one who knows what you meant.

(7) GAHAN WILSON. The GoFundMe for Gahan Wilson has received contributions from 1,180 people amounting to $55,547 of its $100,000 goal after 23 days. The most recent update said:

Gahan was interviewed today for a newspaper piece that will probably go out nationwide. The people on the reporting team were very sweet and sensitive to Gahan.

Gahan was on his game…speaking about his life and other things.

(8) PUGMIRE OBIT. The horror writer W.H. “Wilum” Pugmire died today, aged 67. The major influence upon his writing was H P Lovecraft, of course, and S T Joshi described him in 2010 as “perhaps the leading Lovecraftian author writing today.” Scott Edelman tweeted the photo below – Pugmire’s on the right.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 26, 1850 Edward Bellamy. Looking Backward: 2000–1887 is really the only work that he’s remembered for today. He wrote two other largely forgotten works, Dr. Heidenhoff’s Process and Miss Ludington’s Sister: A Romance of Immortality. (Died 1898.)
  • Born March 26, 1931 Leonard Nimoy. I really don’t need to say who he played on Trek, do I? Did you know his first role was as a zombie in Zombies of the Stratosphere? Or that he did a a lot of Westerns ranging from Broken Arrow in which he played various Indians to The Tall Man in which at least his character had a name, Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift. His other great genre role was on Mission: Impossible as The Great Paris, a character whose real name was never revealed, who was a retired magician. It was his first post-Trek series. He of course showed up on the usual other genre outings such as The Twilight ZoneThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer LimitsNight Gallery and Get Smart. And then there’s the matter of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”. (Died 2015.)
  • Born March 26, 1942 Erica Jong, 77. Witches, which was has amazing illustrations by Joseph A. Smiths, is still worth your time nearly forty years later. ISFDB also lists Shylock’s Daughter: A Novel of Love in Venice which is a time travel story but it soul does more like a romance novel to me. And Sappho’s Leap which they also list just seems soft core lesbian porn with a slight genre twist. 
  • Born March 26, 1950 K. W. Jeter, 69. Farewell Horizontal may or may be punk of any manner but it’s a great read. Though I generally loathe such things, Morlock Night, his sequel  to The Time Machine , is well-worth reading reading. I’ve heard good things about his Blade Runner sequels but haven’t read them. Opinions?
  • Born March 26, 1953 Christopher Fowler, 65. I started reading him when I encountered his Bryant & May series which though explicitly not genre does feature a couple of protagonists who are suspiciously old. Possibly a century or more now. The mysteries may or may not have genre aspects but are wonderfully weird. Other novels by him are I’d recommend are Roofworld and Rune which really are genre, and Hell Train which is quite delicious horror.
  • Born March 26, 1960 Brenda Strong, 59. First film genre appearance was on Spaceballs as Nurse Gretchen. The role you probably remember her was on Starship Troopers as Captain Deladier though post-death she shows up in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation as Sergeant Dede Rake. She showed up on Next Gen as a character named Rashella in the “When the Bough Breaks” episode and she’s been a regular on Supergirl as Lillian Luthor.
  • Born March 26, 1966 Michael Imperioli, 53. Detective Len Fenerman in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Detective Ray Carling, the lead in Life on Mars and Rosencrantz in a recent Hamlet.
  • Born March 26, 1985 Keira Knightley, 34. To my surprise and this definitely shows I’m not a Star Wars geek, she was Sabé (Decoy Queen). Next up for her is Princess of Thieves, a loose adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. Now I didn’t see that but I did see her in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl as Elizabeth Swann though I’ll be damned if I remember her role. (She’s in several more of these films. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.) we saw Herve we saw as Guinevere, an odd Guinevere indeed, in King Arthur. Her last role I must note I must note is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in which she was the Sugar Plum Fairy! 

(10) TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. We got a pair of big things wrong in Andrew Porter’s birthday listing the other day.

Science Fiction Chronicle which he founded in May 1980…”

The first issue appeared Labor Day weekend, 1979, at the Louisville NASFiC, cover dated October 1979.

Algol now known as Starship lasted less than five years…”

Algol started in 1963; the last issue of Algol/Starship, #44, appeared in 1984.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

Candorville stands up for Star Trek: Discovery.

(12) VOICES DISSENT. Anime News Network speculates about the potential for litigation in its story “Kameha Con Responds to Recent Guest Cancellations”. Several guests bailed after the con added Vic Mignogna to its lineup. An unnamed lawyer consulted by ANN says they may be in violation of their contracts if they don’t attend.

The staff of the upcoming Kameha Con in Irving, Texas issued a statement via Facebook and Twitter on Monday regarding recent guest cancellations due to the addition of voice actor Vic Mignogna as a guest. Mignogna was added to the convention’s guest roster on March 22 following a previous cancellation by con staff on February 2. Since the announcement, five voice actors have announced they will no longer attend the convention along with multiple panelists.

One commenter neatly summed up the situation:

(13) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! The Wrap argues that “‘Captain Marvel’ and ‘Us’ Have Pushed ‘The Right Stuff’ Back Into the Spotlight”.

…“The Right Stuff” tells the true story of the seven military pilots who were selected for the NASA project to launch the first ever manned spaceflight. In a similar way, Carol, an Air Force test pilot, ends up soaring farther than she could have ever expected when she travels into space and becomes a member of the Kree and, later, one of Earth’s superheroes.

In “Us,” that same VHS tape is much easier to miss, and is used in a possibly more ironic and darker context. You can find “The Right Stuff” among the VHS tapes that flank the TV displaying the Hands Across America commercial in the opening scene.

(14) LIVE THEATER. Marjorie Prime, a 2015 Pulitzer Prize nominee, set in a future of “beneficial AI,” will be staged in Norwich, CT the next two weekends. The special feature of the first two performances — March 29 and 31 – will be post-performance discussions led by sff writers Carlos Hernandez and Paul Di Filippo.

Additional performances Saturday April 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday April 7 at 3 pm

Tickets are $10 in advance or seniors; $12 at door Cash or Check only—no credit cards

Open Seating—limited to 70 attendees

House Opens at 7 pm Friday and Saturday; 2:30 pm Sunday

United Congregational Church Hall 87 Broadway, Norwich CT. (Note: This address brings you to the church’s main door—do NOT enter there. Make first right on Willow Street, right turn into lower level of covered parking deck. A few stairs here. Level entrance and handicapped permit parking available at 11-39 Chestnut Street)

Friday March 29, 7:30 pm

Featuring. . . .a talkback led by Carlos Hernandez. Carlos Hernandez is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and most recently, as part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint of Disney Hyperion, the novel Sal and Gabi Break the Universe (2019). By day, Carlos is a mild-manned reporter associate professor of English at the City University of New York, with appointments at BMCC and the Graduate Center, and a game designer and enthusiast. Catch him on Twitter @writeteachplay.

Sunday March 31, 3 pm

Featuring. . .a talkback led by Paul Di Filippo, who has been publishing professionally for over 40 years. He has continued to reside in Providence throughout his career, with over 200 stories published and many novels. Beginning with The Steampunk Trilogy: (1995), which remains his most widely known title, this shorter material has been assembled in twenty substantial collections. Di Filippo also reviews widely, online and in print.

(15) SUCK FAIRY. Someone noticed — “The Matrix’s male power fantasy has dated badly.”

Ahead of its time when it was released 20 years ago, The Matrix is a monument to Generation X self-pity that is out of step with today, writes Nicholas Barber.

The Matrix was way ahead of its time. The Wachowskis’ tech-noir mind-bender came out in 1999 – 20 years ago – which meant that it reinvented big-screen superhero action a year before X-Men was released and showcased Hong Kong-style ‘wire-fu’ fight choreography a year before Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its ‘bullet-time’ effects have been copied by blockbusters ever since, and its thoughts about virtual reality and artificial intelligence have been mimicked just as often. Despite all this, though, in some crucial respects The Matrix has dated so badly that it now seems to be a relic. It is a film that, like the human race in the Wachowskis’ story, is trapped forever in the 1990s.

…It’s a fantastic premise, but it does have its flaws. Twenty years on, it’s embarrassing to see a white male saviour with two sidekicks – one black, one female – whose primary task is to assure him how gifted he is. The female sidekick, Trinity, even falls in love with him for no reason except, I suppose, that he looks like Keanu Reeves. And, in general, Anderson/Neo is one of those uninspiring heroes who do next to nothing to earn their hero status. He becomes an unbeatable martial artist not by training for years, but by being plugged into a teaching program for a few hours. And he becomes omnipotent in the Matrix not because he is particularly brave, noble or clever, but because, as Morpheus says, he is willing “to believe”.

(16) NIMBY. “A Battle Is Raging Over The Largest Solar Farm East Of The Rockies” – NPR has the story.

The largest solar farm east of the Rocky Mountains could soon be built in Virginia and, depending on whom you ask, it would be either a dangerous eyesore that will destroy the area’s rural character or a win-win, boosting the local economy and the environment. The solar panels would be spread across 10 square miles — 1.8 million panels soaking up the sun’s rays.

The project is planned for Spotsylvania County, about 60 miles south of Washington, D.C. Amid the county’s Civil War battlefields, farms and timberland, a fight is raging over the future of energy in Virginia, and in the Eastern U.S.

The heart of the solar resistance is in a gated community called Fawn Lake, built around a golf course and man-made lake.

“I mean we live at a resort, essentially,” says Dave Walsh, one of the many Fawn Lake residents organizing against the planned solar farm. One corner of the massive project would butt up against the back of the gated community. Walsh says he supports solar, in theory, but not here.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/25/19 The Filer That Shouted Scroll At The Heart Of The Pixel

(1) CLARKE CENTER. Here are two of the most interesting videos posted by
The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination in the past several months.

  • Freeman Dyson and Gregory Benford: Forseeing the Next 35 Years—Where Will We Be in 2054?

35 years after George Orwell wrote the prescient novel 1984, Isaac Asimov looked ahead another 35 years to 2019 to predict the future of nuclear war, computerization, and the utilization of space. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination and the Division of Physical Sciences at UC San Diego were honored to welcome two living luminaries in the fields of physics and futurism—Freeman Dyson and Gregory Benford (Ph.D. ’67)—to peer ahead another 35 years, to 2054, and share their insights into what may be in store for us.

  • An Evening with Cixin Liu and John Scalzi at the Clarke Center

Cixin Liu, China’s most beloved science fiction writer—and one of the most important voices of the 21st century—joins celebrated American science fiction writer John Scalzi at the Clarke Center to discuss their work and the power of speculative worldbuilding.

(2) COOKIE MONSTERS? Food & Wine squees “‘Game of Thrones’ Oreos Are Coming…”

If Game of Thrones Oreos are just normal Oreos in a GoT package, hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come. The final season of Game of Thrones is one of the most highly-anticipated seasons of television ever, not just because it’s the final season, but also because it’s slated to reveal details of the sixth book in the series which fans have been waiting for nearly eight years. Expectations are ridiculously high — meaning HBO better deliver something better than the television equivalent of regular Oreos, even if regular Oreos are delicious.

View this post on Instagram

Cookies are coming.

A post shared by OREO (@oreo) on

(3) REASONS TO ATTEND THE NEBULAS. SFWA gives you ten of them. Thread starts here.

(4) APOLOGY. FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction’s Executive Editors Troy Wiggins and DaVaun Sanders have issued “An Apology” for publishing two collections of stories from FIYAH without first obtaining the rights to reprint them.

We messed up.

Earlier in the month, we released two collected volumes of fiction and poetry: our FIYAH Year One collection and our FIYAH Year Two collection. We were very excited to get these collected editions out to the public, and in our haste, we did not secure the rights to collect or republish those stories. By doing this, we have disrespected our authors and their work, and not acted in service to our stated mission of empowering Black writers.

We deeply apologize to our contributors and to our readers for this oversight. Unfortunately, several copies of the collected volumes have already been purchased before we were informed about our mistake. We can’t take those purchased issues back, so here’s what we will do instead:

* We have removed the collected issues from Amazon

* We sent an apology to contributors taking full responsibility for our error

* We are splitting the proceeds from the already purchased copies of the collection among all of our Year One and Year Two contributors.

We know that this doesn’t begin to cover the damage we’ve done to authors, but we will continue to improve our accountability measures and internal processes. We are also going to be seeking legal counsel to help us make sure that our contracts are fair to both us and our contributors.

Again, we are so sorry that this happened. We promise to do much better going forth.

(5) WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN. Denmark’s Fantasticon 2019 has adopted Afrofuturism as its theme. They’ve got some great guests. The convention’s publicity poster is shown below:

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 25, 1909 Edgar Pangborn. For the first twenty years of his career, he wrote myriad stories for the pulp magazines, but always under pseudonyms. It wasn’t until the Fifties that he published in his own name in Galaxy Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Ursula Le Guin has credited him with her is was possible to write humanly emotional stories in an SF setting. (Died 1976.)
  • Born February 25, 1917 Anthony Burgess. I know I’ve seen and read A Clockwork Orange many, many years ago. I think I even took a University class on it as well. Scary book, weird film.  I’ll admit that I’m not familiar with the Enderby series having not encountered them before now. Opinions please. (Died 1993.)
  • Born February 25, 1964 Lee Evans, 55. He’s in The History of Mr Polly as Alfred Polly which is based on a 1910 comic novel by H. G. Wells. No, not genre, but sort of adjacent genre as some of you are fondly saying.
  • Born February 25, 1968 A. M. Dellamonica, 51. A Canadian writer who has published over forty rather brilliant short since the Eighties. Her first novel, Indigo Springs, came out just a decade ago but she now has five novels published with her latest being The Nature of a Pirate. Her story, “Cooking Creole” can be heard here at Podcastle 562. It was in Mojo: Conjure Stories, edited by Nalo Hopkinson.
  • Born February 25, 1971 Sean Astin,48. His genre roles include Samwise Gamgee in Rings trilogy (, Mikey Walsh in The Goonies, and Bob Newby in the second season of Stranger Things. He also  shows up in Justice League: War and in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis filmsvoicing both aspects of Shazam, a difficult role to pull off. He prises that role on the Justice League Action series. 
  • Born February 25, 1973 Anson Mount, 46. He was Black Bolt in Marvel’s Inhumans series. He now has a recurring role as Captain Christopher Pike on the current season of Discovery.  I see he was in Visions, a horror film, and has had appearances on LostDollhouse and Smallville.
  • Born February 25, 1994 Urvashi Rautela, 25. An Indian film actress and model who appears in Bollywood films. She has a Birthday here because she appears in Porobashinee, the first SF film in Bangladesh. Here’s an archived link to the film’s home page.

(7) THE POWER OF COMMUNITY. A sweet story in the Washington Post: “A bookstore owner was in the hospital. So his competitors came and kept his shop open.”

Hearing that your husband needs immediate open-heart surgery is terrifying, especially when he’s been healthy his whole life.

When Jennifer Powell heard the sudden news about her husband, Seth Marko, 43, she spun into action. First, she found care for their 3-year-old daughter, Josephine, so she could be at the hospital for her husband’s 10-hour surgery.

Then Powell’s mind went to their “second kid” — the Book Catapult — the small independent bookstore the couple owns and runs in San Diego. Their only employee had the swine flu and would be out for at least a week.

Powell, 40, closed the store to be with her husband in the hospital. She didn’t know for how long….

(8) BATTING AVERAGE. This bookstore had a little visitor. Thread starts here.

(9) SFF IN TRANSLATION. In the Washington Post, Paul Di Filippo reviews Roberto Bolaño’s The Spirit of Science Fiction, which was translated by Natasha Wimmer: “Roberto Bolaño’s popularity surged after his death. What does a ‘new’ book do for his legacy?”

Alternately confused and clearsighted, utopian and nihilistic, Jan and Remo live the archetypal bohemian life in Mexico City, occupying squalid digs and barely getting by.  Jan is 17 and more visionary and less practical than Remo, 21.  Jan seldom leaves their apartment, preferring to spend his time writing letters to American science-fiction authors:  James Tiptree, Jr., Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert Silverberg, Philip Jose Farmer. Remo brings in some paltry cash as a journalist…

…Jan’s passion for pulp is front and center, bringing to mind Kurt Vonnegut’s SF-loving protagonist Eliot Rosewater.  Jan’s letters to his sf heroes are basically a plea to be recognized, a demand that this medium–at the time seen, rightly or wrongly, as a quintessentially Anglo domain–open its gates to other cultures, other countries. Jan’s solidarity with his distant American mentors and their visions is al one-way.  He adores them, but they do not know he exists, The ache to remedy this unrequited love affair is palpable.

(10) ABOUT THOSE NEBULAS. At Nerds of a Feather “Adri and Joe Talk About Books: 2018 Nebula Award Finalists”, and shed light on the new Best Game Writing category.

[Joe Sherry]: The point of that is that I look at the game writing category and think “I’ve heard of God of War, didn’t realize Bandersnatch was actually a *game* and have no idea what the three Choice of Games finalists are”. It turns out they are fully text based, 150,000+ word interactive adventures that can be played on browser or your phone. I’ll probably pick up one of them and see how I like it (likely the Kate Heartfied, because her Nebula finalist novella Alice Payne Arrives is bloody fantastic.)

I was surprised to see Bandersnatch a finalist for “game writing”, though. I don’t want to get sued, but I’ve thought of it more akin to the Choose Your Own Adventure books many of us grew up on. Despite the branching path narrative, those were books. Not games. Now, part of why I think of Bandersnatch just as a movie is the medium in which it is presented. Streaming on Netflix equals television or movie in my brain. Branching narrative paths doesn’t change that for me. I haven’t watched Bandersnatch, so I’m staying very high level with what I’m willing to read about it, but I know Abigail Nussbaum has compared Bandersnatch more to a game than a movie and obviously she’s not alone in that opinion if it’s up for the Game Writing Nebula. But much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, you’re watching the movie and then occasionally making choices. You’re not “playing” the game.

(11) SIDEBAR. Jon Del Arroz, in “Despite The Alt-Left Trolling, My Lawsuit Against Worldcon is Going Forward” [Internet Archive link], says this is why Worldcon 76’s Anti-SLAPP motion failed.

The judge threw out their argument, because it was absurd. It also didn’t even address the “racist bully” defamatory claim they made. It’s sad to watch because anything, I’ve been the victim of racism from the extreme left science fiction establishment. It’s my opinion that this predominantly white group targets me in particular because I’m a minority that won’t toe the line. There’s a lot of psychology to this I’ll have to go into at another time, but a lot of the way the left acts treats minorities like we’re inferior (or, racism as it’s commonly referred to) and we can’t make decisions for ourselves. I oppose this and all forms of racism and it’s a large reason as to why I speak out.

Their entire case appears to be that I’m mean online (which doesn’t impact a convention at all), and therefore should be banned, which has nothing to do with their defamatory statement regarding racism. Our response on that front said there were plenty of extreme leftists who are mean online, they were invited, clearly showing the double standard they enacted against me because of right wing politics. When we reach The Unruh Act appeal process, this will be important.

The last line implies he plans to appeal one or more rulings that went against him. We’ll see.

(12) NEBULA NOMINEE REPLIES. 2019 Nebula nominee Amy (A.K.) DuBoff (A Light in the Dark) responded to Camestros Felapton’s post “Just an additional note on the 20booksto50K Nebula not-a-slate” in a comment:

…Jonathan Brazee cleared the posting of the reading list with SFWA beforehand, so there was nothing underhanded at play. It’s a reading list, and members nominated (or didn’t) the works they read and enjoyed.

Indies have been part of SFWA’s membership for several years now, so it’s not surprising that there is now more representation at awards. I’ve interacted with many SFWA members on the forums and at conventions, so I’m not an unknown in writerly circles. Many authors don’t go indie because we couldn’t get a trad deal; we chose to self-publish because of the flexibility and income potential it affords. I am very excited to be an author during this time with so many possibilities.

Thank you for the opportunity to chime in on the discussion! I’m going to go back to writing my next book now :-).

(13) HOW MANY BOOKS A MONTH. Sharon Lee has some interesting comments about the #CopyPasteCris kerfuffle on Facebook. The best ones follow this excerpt.

…Unfortunately, said “writer” was not very generous to her ghosts, and. . .well, with one thing and another, said “writer’s” books, in said “writer’s” own words were found to “have plagiarism.”

(I love, love, love this quote. It’s, like, her books caught the flu or some other disease that was Completely Outside of the said “writer’s” ability to foresee or prevent. Also, she apparently doesn’t even read her “own” books.)

Anyhow, the Internet of Authors and the Subinternet of Romance Authors went mildly nuts, as is right and proper, and since none of said “writer’s” books appear to “have plagiarism” from our/my work, I’ve merely been a viewer from the sidelines…

(14) PIRACY. Meanwhile, Jeremiah Tolbert received some demoralizing news about other shenanigans on Amazon.

(15) BLACK PANTHER HONORED. BBC reports: “Oscars 2019: Black Panther winners make Academy Awards history”.

Two Black Panther crew members made Oscar history by becoming the first black winners in their categories.

Ruth Carter scooped the costume design trophy, and Hannah Beachler shared the production design prize with Jay Hart.

“This has been a long time coming,” Carter said in her speech. “Marvel may have created the first black superhero but through costume design we turned him into an African king.”

Fellow Oscar winner Halle Berry was one of the first to congratulate her.

(16) PWNED. BBC revealed Trevor Noah’s Oscar night joke:

Trevor Noah used Sunday’s Oscars ceremony as a chance to poke fun at people who think Wakanda, the fictional African homeland of Black Panther, is a real place.

While presenting the film’s nomination for Best Picture, the South African comedian said solemnly:

“Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see T’Challa flying over our village, and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase.

“He says: ‘Abelungu abazi ubu ndiyaxoka’, which means: ‘In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.”

But that’s not what that phrase actually means.

The BBC’s Pumza Fihlani says the true translation into English is: “White people don’t know that I’m lying”. His joke, which was of course lost on the Academy Awards’ audience in Hollywood, tickled Xhosa speakers on social media.

(17) TO BE, OR NOT TO BE… [Item by Mike Kennedy.] …super, that is. In a clip from a new documentary, Stan Lee opines on what it take to be a superhero—but others disagree (SYFY Wire: “Exclusive: Stan Lee on Flash Gordon’s superhero status in Life After Flash documentary”).

The new documentary, Life After Flash, casts a wide net in terms of looking at the classic character of Flash Gordon, the 1980 big screen rendition, the questions about a sequel, and the life of its star, Sam J. Jones

When creator Alex Raymond first published Flash Gordon in 1937, his square-jawed hero was a star polo player. For the film, he was the quarterback of the New York Jets. But in every iteration of the character, he was just a man… with a man’s courage. 

In this new exclusive clip, the late Stan Lee discusses whether or not Flash Gordon counts as a ‘superhero,’ since he has no traditional superpowers.

(18) KNOCK IT OFF! Superheroes gotta stick together (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice notwithstanding). SYFY Wire has the story—”Shazam! star Zachary Levi fires back at internet trolls attacking Captain Marvel.” This is the kind of DC/Marvel crossover we could use more of.

Surprising no one in the history of anything ever, there’s an angry contingent of “fans” upset over a Marvel movie with a woman in the leading role coming out. Or, they’re upset that said star of that movie championed and pushed for more diversity in film journalism. 

Whatever the reason, these people are throwing a massive online hissy fit, taking to review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes to make Captain Marvel’s “want to see” rating the lowest in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  

[…] Whatever the cause for the online trolling, one man (a hero, or quite possibly, a reasonable adult) is telling all these upset dudes: Knock it off! 

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Kitbull on Youtube is a Pixar film by Rosana Sullivan about the friendship between a feral cat and an abused pit bull.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Nancy Sauer, Gregory Benford, James Davis Nicoll, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

2018 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015, 35 of the novellas published in 2016, and 46 of the novellas published in 2017 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

The result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza and the 2017 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

The success and popularity of novellas in the last 4 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Tor.com, Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, Book Smugglers, Clarkesworld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Tachyon bringing out a multitude of works, along with the traditional magazines Asimov’s, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Analog – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2018 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

Read more…

Pixel Scroll 11/28/18 When The Pixeling Gets Tough, The Tough Get Scrolling

(1) ATWOOD SEQUEL. With A Handmaid’s Tale enjoying great success as a TV series, Publishers Weekly reports “Margaret Atwood Is Writing a Sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale'”.

Following two years in which Margaret Atwood‘s classic dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale saw a skyrocketing in readership and new cultural relevance, both on television and in society at large, the author has announced a sequel.

The Testaments, set 15 years after the final scene of The Handmaid’s Tale, will be published on September 10, 2019, by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, with an announced first printing of 500,000 copies….

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” Atwood said in a statement. “Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”

The Testaments is not connected to the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is headed into its third season, six Emmy Awards in tow.

(2) NEBULA CONFERENCE PRICE RISE. Sean Wallace reminded people you have only until Friday to get the early bird special convention rate for SFWA’s Nebula Conference before it goes significantly up.

(3) IN FUTURE TENSE. 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— publishes a story on a theme. The theme for October–December 2018: Work. And this month’s story is “Overvalued” by Mark Stasenko, a TV writer whose credits include the Peabody Award–winning series American Vandal.

“How was your day?” Jack asked his wife as she took off her black leather pumps at the door of their spacious industrial-chic condo in NoMad.

“Good,” Sophia lied.

They didn’t use to lie to each other, not even about small things. Unfiltered honesty had always come naturally to them, despite their glaring differences—maybe because of them. But for the past six weeks, nothing seemed natural anymore. It was strange how much the death of a stranger had changed things.

It was published along with a response essay, “What’s Stopping Human Capital From Becoming a Security?”, by investor and writer Zachary Karabell.

That’s the specter raised by Mark Stasenko’s macabre short story of a not-too-distant future in which the potential of an individual has been turned into a tradeable security via a Prodigy Market in which investors can buy, sell, or short promising people.

Elements of the story are already real. Insurance companies have for many years insured vital aspects of individual talent and worth—Lloyd’s of London has famously insured Betty Grable’s legs and Bruce Springsteen’s voice….

(4) RESPONSES TO SILVERBERG. Here are a pair of analytical reactions to Robert Silverberg’s Racism and Sexism post on File 770, plus N.K. Jemisin’s answer.

Brianne Reeves of BreeReadsBooks wrote an open letter, “Dear Robert Silverberg…”, a free read on her Patreon page:

…I understand you are upset that someone spread your words around. Such is the way with playground gossip, too. You still need to apologize.

I understand that you don’t mean to cause harm. You should still think critically about how your words have evoked it.

I understand you do not go into your projects with an explicitly biased eye. You should consider one of the truest premises Science Fiction embraces: we are not always aware of our biases.

I understand you are not trying to exclude others. Consider that systems are built with inclusion and exclusion in mind. You should think through who is excluded in our publishing model and how that is painful and harmful to our community….

Will Emmons’ Facebook post tries to place Silverberg’s arguments in cultural and political context:

…The ‘drama’ is sort of beside the point though. Except it’s a place to jump off for a conversation of culture and politics. A better question than Robert Silverberg’s personal views, or even his personal history, is what the politics of fandom and/or other cultural affinity groups is or should be. I’m a communist and have my own views about this but I’m mostly going to be talking about other people’s views as I understand them.

A position common to the old school liberals and conservatives as well as the emergent far right is the intellectually dishonest statement that politics has no place in fandom. Silverberg writes of Jemisin’s Hugo speech that he “felt that her angry acceptance speech had been a graceless one, because I believe that Hugo acceptance speeches should be occasions for gratitude and pleasure, not angry statements that politicize what should be a happy ceremony.”

I say this is dishonest because the old school liberals and conservatives of the generation before Silverberg’s engaged in personal and political struggles against the left-leaning Futurian fans. It came to a head at the 1939 Worldcon when a number of important Futurians were barred from entry. For his own part, back in the 50s Silverberg’s immense output included, among everything else, what Nazis call “message fic,” i.e. stories that disagree with fascist values. Google “The Happy Unfortunate,” a public domain short story where genetically engineered spacemen are kept out of the main city through an apartheid-like arrangement.

N.K. Jemisin’s thread starts here.

(5) MORE ON FACIAL RECOGNITION. Writing in Forbes Magazine, Emeritus Professor of AI and Robotics Noel Sharkey looks at the dire warnings of totalitarianism that science fiction has provided, from Orwell to Doctorow, and asks us to consider what the tipping point is at which unfreedom begins: “Get Out Of My Face, Get Out of My Home: The Authoritarian Tipping Point”.

…There is an even more serious question than the massive inaccuracy of face recognition technology outside of the lab. It is even more serious than the racial and gender prejudice of the technology. The question is why the hell are we allowing law enforcement to scan our faces and use them for data?

Inaccurate face recognition creates grave injustices and sooner or later the wrong people will die because of it. But better accuracy may be even worse for the direction of our society. I fully understand how useful it would be for the police to catch dangerous wanted criminals and safely follow potential terrorists wherever they go. But at what cost to our lives?

Imagine if all of the mass of security cameras were equipped with reasonably accurate face recognition – and this is not totally unrealistic – there would be no place to hide. The more this is used, the cheaper it will get and the more AI will be used to act on the data. How long will it be before people are tracked for trivial offenses by face recognition software and told to wait until they are picked up? This technology would put great power in the hands of the authorities.

This is not the society that I wish to live in. Yet huge numbers of us are helping the quest by allowing apps like Facebook to collect data about our faces. When we post pictures of our friends on Facebook and tag them, we are providing data for face recognition algorithms to link those faces with their personal data. Some phones now acquire your face data so that it can be used to recognize you and open your phone….

(6) HILLENBURG OBIT. SpongeBob Squarepants’ creator Stephen Hillenburg died November 26 at age 57 — Variety has the story.

That same year [1992] he won an award for Best Animated Concept at the Ottawa International Animation Festival for his animated short “Wormholes”, which went on to be shown at various international animation festivals. From 1993 to 1996 he would pursue work in television as a director and writer on Nickelodeon’s series “Rocko’s Modern Life.”

From there, he began to work full-time on writing producing, and directing on the animated series that would eventually become “SpongeBob SquarePants.” The first episode aired on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999 and the series commenced its full run on July 17 of that year. The series has aired nearly 250 episodes to date. It appealed not only to children but older viewers as well, with college students even organizing viewing parties for the show.

(7) BURT OBIT. Andrew Burt (1945-2018): British actor, died November 16, aged 73. Genre appearances include The Legend of King Arthur (seven episodes, 1979), Blake’s 7 (one episode, 1980), Gulliver in Lilliput (four episodes, 1982), Doctor Who (three episodes, 1983), Super Gran (one episode, 1985).

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 28, 1930 – William Sargent, 88, Actor who played Dr. Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a first-season episode of Star Trek. He also had guest roles on Mission: Impossible, The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Invaders, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and appeared in the zombie movie Night Slaves. He was in the pilot but not the regular cast for the TV series The Immortal, for which SFWA Grand Master James Gunn was head writer.
  • Born November 28, 1939 – Walter Velez, Artist. His agent and fellow artist Jill Bauman wrote, “Walter created illustrations for most of the major book and gaming companies. He has been long known for his cover art for such popular books such as the Thieves World series and the Myth Adventures series, both edited by Robert Asprin; and the Ebenezum, Wuntor, and Cineverse Cycle series, all by Craig Shaw Gardner. Walter illustrated for TSR games extensively. He applied his multi-faceted talents to trading cards for the Goosebumps series for the Topps Company, and a series of Dune trading cards. In the early 80’s he worked with Random House to create art for several Star Wars books that were licensed from George Lucas.” (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 28, 1946 – Joe Dante, 72, Director and Producer. Warning, this is a personal list of works he directed that I’ve really, really enjoyed – starting off with The Howling, then adding in the Saturn-nominated Innerspace, both of the Saturn-nominated Gremlins films (though I think only the first is a masterpiece, which is why that Saturn nom got him a trophy), Small Soldiers, and The Hole (2009). For television work, he’s directed episodes for quite a number of series, but the only one I can say I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow “Night of the Hawk” episode. As Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom (proving that everyone has a horrible day), the Jeremiah series, and an upcoming horror film called Camp Cold Brook.
  • Born November 28, 1950 – Ed Harris, 68, Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy genre resume whose first role was in the Michael Crichton-directed version of Robin Cook’s Coma, but whose most famous genre role, depending on your flavor of fandom, might be his Oscar-nominated turn as Flight Director Gene Kranz in the Hugo finalist Apollo 13 (which earned him a sly voice cameo as Mission Control in Gravity), his Saturn-winning lead role as The Man in Black in the TV series Westworld, his Saturn-nominated performance as an undersea explorer in the Hugo finalist The Abyss, or his Oscar- and Saturn-nominated part as the exploitative genius of The Truman Show.
  • Born November 28, 1952 – S. Epatha Merkerson, 66, Actor who has spent around 25 years in main roles in Dick Wolf’s Law & Order and Chicago procedural dramas, but who managed to sneak in genre roles in the films Jacob’s Ladder, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Slipstream, and a main role in the short-lived 1990s cyborg police series Mann & Machine.
  • Born November 28, 1961 – Alfonso Cuarón, 57, Writer, Director, and Producer from Mexico who has directed three impressive genre films: the Hugo finalists Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men (based on P. D. James’ 1992 novel of the same name) and the Hugo Award-winning Gravity, for which he also won an Oscar. He also produced the Hugo-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, and is the creator of Believe, a TV series about a young girl born with special supernatural abilities she can not control, which lasted thirteen episodes. The Possibility of Hope, a documentary short film which he directed, looks at different matters of the world such as immigration, global warming and capitalism through the eyes of scientists and philosophers.
  • Born November 28, 1962 – Mark Hodder, 56, Writer from England who is best known for his Burton & Swinburne alternate-history Victorian steampunk novels, starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, which deservedly garnered the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award. Books 3 and 4, Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon and The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi, were finalists for Sidewise Awards. His A Red Sun Also Rises recreates a sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world (emphasis on “sort of”). And then there’s Consulting Detective Macallister Fogg, which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes, only decidedly weirder.
  • Born November 28, 1984 – Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 34, Actor, Singer, and Producer whose roots are deepest in the horror genre, with notable roles in Sky High, Final Destination 3, Monster Island, Black Christmas (so merry-sounding, that), the recent reboot of The Thing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (anyone seen this?), 10 Cloverfield Lane (for which she won a Saturn Award), The Ring Two, and the upcoming Gemini Man. Her series work includes Touched by an Angel and its spinoff Promised Land, Wolf Lake, Tru Calling, The Returned, and a guest voice role on the animated Danger & Eggs series (which I am not describing).
  • Born November 28, 1987 – Karen Gillan, 31, Actor, Writer, and Director whom Doctor Who fans know as Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor; two episodes in which she appeared, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”, won Hugo Awards. More recent high-profile roles include playing Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and Avengers movies, and Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Other genre appearances include the supernatural thriller films Outcast and Oculus, and the multi-platform horror story The Well.

(9) BOOKSHOP OPENS NEW BRANCH UNDER FANNISH MANAGEMENT. Milwaukee’s Renaissance Bookshop (best known for having the world’s first used-book store in an airport) opened a new branch in suburban Southridge Mall at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. The manager is 23-year-old second-generation fan/bookseller Kelly J.A. Lowrey, child of “Orange Mike” Lowrey and C.Kay “Cicatrice” Hinchliffe. The present staffing at the Southridge store is “heavily fannish”, reports proud papa Mike, and looks likely to remain so.

(10) HIS DAY JOB. Paul Di Filippo excerpted “Philip F. Nowlan’s Early Journalism” in a post at TheInferior4.

Philip F. Nowlan, the fellow who created Buck Rogers, worked as a journalist prior to that milestone. By accident, I stumbled on a column he used to write, three samples of which are here…

(11) DILLON SOLO. Aficianados remember Leo & Diane Dillon’s many collaborative sff book covers. But I haven’t seen much solo work. Now there’s a gallery of Leo Dillon’s solo art at the Flying Cars and Food Pills blog. Andrew Porter sent the link together with his photo of Leo (Diane visible over his left shoulder) from the opening of a show at their son’s Fusion Designs Gallery, a now-closed gallery in Brooklyn.

Leo Dillon. Photo © Andrew Porter

(12) PRINCESS CASTING. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna interviews Pamela Ribon, a writer of Ralph Breaks the Internet, about a scene where Vannellope Van Schweetz is surrounded by nearly a dozen Disney princesses.  She talks about how she developed the scene and how she recruited seven former Disney princesses to recreate their original roles as cameos. “How ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ spoofs the Disney Princess industrial complex”.

That conversation carried over to the early story stages of the “Ralph” sequel. “I thought: ‘Gosh, why isn’t Vanellope canon?’ “ Ribon says. “To me, she’s my kind of princess — in a hoodie.”

“At first we were joking about Vanellope photobombing the [seven] dwarfs,” Ribon says. That brainstorming evolved into having Vanellope — who goes AWOL from her Sugar Rush game — come upon the Oh My Disney area of the Internet.

“What if they’re trying to determine whether or not she’s canon — whatever that thing [is] that they decide at Disneyland that allows some of them to get their coronation,” Ribon says of having the princesses grill Vanellope on her potentially royal résumé. “And so I took it from there.”

But while executing her idea, Ribon says, she began to have a “true panic attack,” so she contacted a friend — a walking Wikipedia of Disney facts — and told her: “I have all these tropes and I just want to make sure I have the right princesses. Which ones were kidnapped? Which ones have daddy issues?

“She was like: ‘What are you doing?’ “

(13) LION KING. In a Washington Post article “‘The Lion King’ remake’s trailer confuses the Internet: Just what is ‘live action’ anymore?”,  Michael Cavna says there is a major controversy over whether Disney’s remake of The Lion King is “live action” when “everything on the screen looks like a painted pixel.” He mentions an article on the Cartoon Brew website called “Don’t Let Disney Gaslight You: The Lion King Remake Is An Animated Film.”

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Disney released the first trailer for next year’s “Lion King” remake — which trades in the 1994 original’s 2D animation for CGI re-creation — and after more than 224 million views within the first day, the debate was sparked: Just how is this a “live-action” film when everything on the screen looks like a painted pixel?

Some viewers tweeted their confusion over the trailer — perhaps expecting a so-called live-action remake of “The Lion King” to be more in the vein of the costuming in Julie Taymor’s smash Broadway musical.

And the high degree of cinematic similarity prompted some users to post shot-by-shot comparisons of the original and the remake.

(14) IN YOUR COPIOUS SPACETIME. James Davis Nicoll chronicles “Six SF Novels (and One Song) Built Around Space Travel and Time Dilation” at Tor.com.

No hope for men with pretensions of following in Captain Kirk’s footsteps in Joan D. Vinge’s 1974 novella Tin Soldier (originally collected in Orbit 14, later reprinted in Eyes of Amber). Starflight is the exclusive domain of women; men, physiologically incapable of serving as waking crew, are consigned to the status of hibernating cargo. The story follows an intermittent romance between two people: a woman whose career as crew leaves her skipping across decades and her immortal cyborg bartender friend, who is making his way through time the slow way.

(15) VIRGIN GALACTIC ON THE CUSP. Christian Davenport’s Washington Post article “Virgin Galactic’s quest for space” has an article about Virgin Galactic and Sir Richard Branson’s plans for space exploration.  He believes that the company has nearly recovered from the death of test pilot Michael Alsbury in 2014 and that SpaceShipTwo should offer tourist flights very shortly.

Today, four years later, the company says it is once again at that moment. Branson, chastened by the crash and the ensuing federal investigation, recently said that the company is “more than tantalizingly close” and that “we should be in space within weeks, not months.”

Virgin Galactic’s next flight of SpaceShipTwo, its winged and sporty space plane, is scheduled for launch in the coming weeks and could, after years of trying, give Branson his long elusive conquest of blasting through the atmosphere. It would mark a historic milestone for Virgin and Branson, a master of marketing and hype who for years has become an evangelist for space exploration.

[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Steve Green, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, rcade, Orange Mike Lowrey, Carl Slaughter, StephenfromOttawa, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Pixel Scroll 11/3/18 If You Tick The Box I’m On You Will Know When Posts Are Done

(1) MARTIAN SAVINGS TIME. If you’re tempted to complain about having to reset your clock, think about these folks at JPL: “When flying to Mars is your day job”.

When the spacecraft is sleeping at night, we work. So we get all the data down, look at it and tell the spacecraft: “Hey InSight, tomorrow these are the tasks I want you to do!”

And then we uplink it, right before it wakes up in the morning. Then we go to bed and the spacecraft does its work.

But because the Mars day shifts every day, we also have to shift our schedule by an hour every day. So the first day we’ll start at 6am, and then [the next] will be 7am… 8am… 9am… and then we take a day off.

(2) THE BIG BUCKS. The Bank of England is taking nominations — “Think science for the new £50 note”.

You can nominate as many people as you like. But anyone who appears on the new £50 note must:

  • have contributed to the field of science
  • be real – so no fictional characters please
  • not be alive – Her Majesty the Queen is the only exception
  • have shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK
  • inspire people, not divide them

Or write to: Think Science, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH.

You’ve got until Friday 14 December 2018. We’ll announce the chosen character in 2019.

 

(3) FANTASY CHOW. Atlas Obscura readers filled out their menus with “The Fictional Foods We Wish Were Real”.

What fictional foods make you as excited as a hobbit in a pantry?

Sure, you can buy a Wonka Bar at any candy store. You can drink a sugary Butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction in Orlando. And you can find a recipe for Lembas Bread on about a million Lord of the Rings fan sites. But none of these initially fictional foods could ever live up to how we imagined they would taste when we first saw or read about them….

Recently, we asked Atlas Obscura readers to tell us which fictional food had sparked their imaginations more than any other….

We’ve collected our favorite responses below. Next time you encounter a mouth-watering food that doesn’t exist, try and decide for yourself what incredible, impossible flavors it might actually have….

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

What might it taste like?
“A cataclysm of citrus with an effervescent apocalypse. Anything that would make you simultaneously evolve and devolve seems like an interesting way to not die.” — Ian Maxwell, Denver, Colorado USA

A Shmoo from the Lil’ Abner Comics

What might it taste like?
“It says it can taste like steak, chicken or oysters… They are genial playmates for children and then will jump into your frying pan and become dinner. I’ve always remembered the shmoo.” — Roseann Milano, Tucson, Arizona…

Roast Porg from The Last Jedi

What might it taste like?
“Teriyaki chicken. Chewbacca wanted to cook one in The Last Jedi. Might be succulent and savory.” — Leon Easter, Stockton, California

(4) CORDWAINER SMITH’S ALTER EGO. Paul DiFilippo has reproduced Paul M.A. Linebarger’s 1951 article for Nation’s Business, “Hotfoot for Stalin” at theinferior4.

(5) A HORSE, OF COURSE. William Shatner told a LA Times interviewer his fitness secrets: “How horses and e-bikes help William Shatner stay fit and creative at 87”

Horseback riding? How does that keep you fit?

My business manager once said: “Don’t buy anything that eats while you sleep.” Thankfully, I ignored that advice. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have horses in Kentucky and in Moorpark. I’ll ride two, three hours every morning that I’m not working — two or three days a week. People don’t realize it, but you’re not just passively sitting there on a horse. Riding is a stretching and strengthening exercise. It requires balance, expertise, finesse and strength.

(6) SWOFFORD OBIT. Actor Ken Swofford died November 1. He mostly played authority figures —

… On the big screen, Swofford had roles in Robert Wise’s The Andromeda Strain (1971), Stanley Kramer’s The Domino Killings (1977), Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. (1981), John Huston’s Annie (1982) and Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise (1991).

…Swofford provided the voice of the title character in the 2018 short film Happy the Angry Polar Bear, written and directed by his grandson.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 3, 1925 – Monica Hughes, Writer from England who emigrated to Canada, and became known as known as one of Canada’s best writers for children and young adults, especially science fiction. She is best known for the Isis Trilogy, about the descendants of Earth colonists on a far-flung planet, which won the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association. Invitation to the Game, a hard science fiction dystopian novel which features robots and has been translated into numerous languages, won the Hal Clement Young Adult Award.
  • November 3, 1928 – Tezuka Osamu, Artist, Animator, and Producer who is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, a major inspiration during his formative years. His manga series, all of which have had English language translations,  include Astro Boy, Black Jack,  Kimba the White Lion, and Phoenix, all of which won several awards including four Eisner Awards.
  • November 3, 1933  – John Barry Prendergast, Oscar-winning Composer who wrote the scores for more than 120 films, including the genre works Moonraker (and 10 other Bond films), Starcrash, Mercury Rising, Howard the Duck, The Black Hole (for which he received a Saturn nomination), the 1976 King Kong, and the 1972 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. However, he is best known for his pièce de résistance: the haunting, emotive soundtrack for Somewhere in Time – the Saturn-winning film adaptation of SFF author Richard Matheson’s novel Bid Time Return – for which he also won a Saturn Award. Rather than taking a set fee upfront, he had presciently agreed to a percentage of sales. The soundtrack became one of the most popular movie soundtracks of all time, eventually selling more than a million copies, and continues to sell well to this day.
  • November 3, 1950 – Massimo Mongai, Writer from Italy who produced Memorie di un Cuoco d’Astronave (Memories Of A Spaceship Cook), an apparent merging of space opera and cooking manual which won Italy’s Urania Award. I’m really, really hoping someone has read this in the original language as I’d love to know what it’s about!
  • November 3, 1952 – Jim Cummings, 66, Voice Actor and Singer who has hundreds of voice credits in animated features and TV shows, including Aladdin, The Lion King, Shrek, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (as a bullet), The Addams Family, Batman: The Animated Series, Duck Dodgers, The Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gargoyles (one of my favorite shows), at least three of the animated Star Wars series, and dozens of videogames. He has won two Annie Awards, which are given to recognize outstanding work in the animation industry.
  • November 3, 1952 – Eileen Wilks, 66, Writer whose principal genre series is the World of Lupi, a FBI procedural intertwined with shapeshifters, dragons and a multiverse. Highly entertaining, sometimes considered romance novels, though I don’t consider them so. The audiobooks are amazing!
  • November 3, 1963 – Brian Henson, 55, Actor, Puppeteer, Director, and Producer who, as the son of Jim and Jane Henson, now runs the Jim Henson Company along with his sister Lisa. He voiced the character of Hoggle in the original Hugo and Saturn Award-nominated Labyrinth, and is in the process of producing a remake of that movie. He has provided other voice and puppet characters in many films, including Little Shop of Horrors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Muppets from Space, and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.. He was a producer for the awesome Farscape series, but the less said about his venture The Happytime Murders, the better.
  • November 3, 1964 – Marjean Holden, 54, Actor who has had recurring roles in the genre TV series Crusade, the short-lived spinoff from Babylon 5, and in the Beastmaster series. She’s also appeared in Philadelphia Experiment II, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Babylon 5: A Call to Arms, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Dr. Caligari, and Nemesis, and had guest parts on episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Tales from the Crypt.
  • November 3, 1964 – Brendan Fraser, 50, Actor and Producer whose genre work includes The Mummy films, which I dearly love, but also Monkeybone, based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark Town, the Bedazzled remake, Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Encino Man, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and voicing Robotman on the Titans series that airs on DC Universe.

(8) GET ON BOARD. Advertising for The Grinch movie, which opens November 9, has popped up all over LA — “Essay: The LA Grinch Billboards Are Savage And Spot-On”.

The Grinch is also lobbing localized insults at other cities, like New York and Chicago.

As much as we resent viral marketing schemes, we have to tip our hats when they’re this good.

I mean, are they even a joke? Or are they just extra L.A.?

This one’s my favorite –

(9) FRENCH DELICACIES. Snapped at Utopiales 2018 in Nantes, France (where reported attendance is 90,000.)

  • Jim C. Hines, Robert J. Bennett and Kij Johnson.

  • John Scalzi

(10) STROSS. Camestros Felapton found something to praise — “Review: The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross”.

Good grief, nine books into the Laundry Files and Stross is still creating these weird, tense thrillers without really ever repeating himself. The novels have gradually shifted from clever pastiche to exploring their own premise….

(11) OUTLAWED CANDY. Let Atlas Obscura tell you about “Marabou M Peanut”.

M&M’s are known and enjoyed worldwide as movie snacks or general goodies. However, since 2016, this has not been true for Sweden, where the sweets have been banned due to a trademark dispute with a local candy company’s M Peanut.

Marabou’s M Peanut is very similar in taste and appearance to Peanut M&M’s: Both are chocolate-covered peanuts with lowercase m’s on their packaging. They’re so similar that one might think Marabou is an imitation brand. However, in Sweden, M&M’s are seen as the imitator, as Marabou’s candy had been sold in its native country for 50 years before M&M’s arrived.

(12) XENA PREBOOT SCRIPT. The 2016 attempt to reboot Xena never made it off the ground, but now a draft of the pilot script is available online for anyone to read (io9/Gizmodo: “Check Out the Script For the Pilot of the Canned Xena Reboot”). Now I’m wondering when the first dramatic reading will take place at a con.

Xena, brilliant warrior, princess, hero, and one more cancelled reboot.

But now, thanks to Xena Movie Campaign, a Facebook fan group, with the blessing of Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who wrote it, the unused script for the pilot episode of an attempted 2016 reboot of Xena is now available to read online.

(13) GOT WORMS? BBC discusses “Why some computer viruses refuse to die”.

One of the most active zombie viruses is Conficker, which first struck in November 2008. At its height, the worm is believed to have infected up to 15 million Windows PCs.

The French navy, UK warships, Greater Manchester Police and many others were all caught out by Conficker, which targeted the Windows XP operating system.

The malware caused so much trouble that Microsoft put up a bounty of $250,000 (£193,000) for any information that would lead to the capture of Conficker’s creators.

That bounty was still live and, Microsoft told the BBC, remained unclaimed to this day.

(14) WATCHING THE RADIO. They’re tuning in to the music of the spheres in 1963, and Galactic Journey is there — “[November 3, 1963] Listening To The Stars (the new Arecibo Observatory)”

But what is a radio telescope? How can we observe space through radio? Does Jupiter sing? Are the bodies of the solar system harmonising in a heavenly chorus?

Well, that’s not far off the mark. If you have the right equipment, you can even listen to Jupiter’s emissions yourself! You’ll need a shortwave radio (Jupiter radiates strongest at 22Mhz), and you’ll have to build yourself a large dipole antenna. What you’ll hear is an eerie, aggressive static, a lot like waves crashing on the beach. These are the radio emissions produced by charged particles racing through Jupiter’s magnetic field.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Mr. Death” from Norwegian director Andreas J. Riiser is a short film on Vimeo that imagines what Death would be like if he was a chain-smoking Norwegian who has a buzz cut and loves Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

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

Pixel Scroll 7/16/18 Now With Bolded Typos

(1) GONE WITH THE YUAN. The most expensive film ever made in China bombed and is already out of theaters. The Hollywood Reporter has the story — “China’s First $100M Film Pulled From Cinemas After Disastrous Opening Weekend”.

In the long lead-up to its release, Chinese fantasy epic Asura was promoted as China’s most expensive film ever made, with a production budget of over $110 million (750 million yuan). So perhaps it’s unsurprising that the film’s producers, which include Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures, decided to take desperate action after the movie opened to just $7.1 million over the weekend.

Late Sunday evening in Beijing, Asura‘s official social media accounts posted a simple statement saying that the film would be pulled from cinemas as of 10 p.m. local time. After landing in theaters with limited fanfare, China’s priciest picture ever would vanish from the scene entirely.

Asura is co-produced by Zhenjian Film Studio and Ningxia Film Group — two of the investors behind the successful Painted Skin fantasy franchise — along with Alibaba Pictures Group and other minority investors.

The statement announcing Asura‘s retreat from cinemas supplied no explanation for the unprecedented move. But a representative from Zhenjian Film, which is credited as lead producer, later told Chinese news site Sina: “This decision was made not only because of the bad box office. We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again.”

Chinese site Sixth Tone tells it this way: “Epic Budget, Epic Fail: Chinese Blockbuster ‘Asura’ Tanks”.

China’s latest fantasy epic, “Asura,” claimed to be the most expensive domestic production to date — but it didn’t even last three days in cinemas.

Six years in the making, the film was planned as the first of a trilogy based on ancient Tibetan mythology. The Alibaba Pictures production promised lush CGI from an award-winning, international team in its depiction of war between two heavenly realms. Marketing campaigns for the film emphasized its budget of $100 million.

But after opening on Friday, the film made a mere $7.1 million over its first weekend. By contrast, “Hidden Man,” a highly anticipated action-thriller by actor and director Jiang Wen, brought in $46.5 million. Meanwhile “Dying to Survive,” a dark comedy about cancer drug smuggling operations, defended its box office lead, racking up $68.5 million on its second weekend and even prompting a spike in online insurance sales.

Aggregate user ratings of “Asura” varied wildly across China’s two biggest ticketing platforms, Tencent-funded Maoyan and Alibaba-owned Tao Piaopiao, earning 4.9 and 8.4 out of 10, respectively. Users of review platform Douban rated the film a miserable 3.1 out of 10.

(2) EFFECTS OF COMIC CON PROLIFERATION. Heidi MacDonald tells Publishers Weekly readers why “In a World of Too Many Cons, San Diego Is Still King”.

An ever-increasing number of comics and pop culture conventions are taxing publishers’ exhibition budgets and turning artists into nomads, on the road signing autographs in a different city or country every weekend….

Indeed, the expanding comics convention schedule is beginning to tax publisher budgets while turning comics creators into a hardened (and often exhausted) group of road warriors who must trek to a different city every weekend.

As more and more events flood the schedule, publishers and creators alike are developing new strategies for dealing with the demands for their time. And the conventions are beginning to evolve, some developing business models to stay above the pack of newly launched shows, while others, including many poorly planned and financed events, are becoming synonymous with disaster, poor attendance, canceled events, and disappointed fans.

“The number of cons has really exploded over the last five years,” says Martha Donato, president of MAD Events Management, which puts on the Long Beach Comic Con every September, along with other shows. “It’s [become] every city, every weekend, all year, globally.”

Even for a location such as Long Beach, Calif., close to many West Coast comics publishers, the competition for guest artists and publisher-exhibitors has become fierce, she says. “A much bigger percentage of our time, energy, and resources are now devoted to getting exhibitors to attend,” she adds. “Talent and their publishers have many more offers than they could ever accept, even if they wanted to.”

Donato’s show gets support from publishers in Los Angeles, including Top Cow and Aspen, but even loyal exhibitors have to pick and choose. “Publishers are facing a deluge of opportunities and they can afford to be choosy,” says Donato. “There’s a lot of saying no.”

(3) RECASTING MUPPETS MOVIES. The most selfless answer is….

(4) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 16, 1955 Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe premiered on the small screen
  • July 16, 1958The Fly creeped the heck out of everybody…”Help Me…Help Me.”
  • July 16, 2005 — The 6th book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series sold 6.9 million copies in its first 24 hours.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born July 16, 1928 – Robert Sheckley
  • Born July 16 – Will Ferrell, 51. Holmes in the forthcoming comedy Holmes and Watson film,  HerculesHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every ChildCurious George and The Last Man on Earth series.
  • Born July 16 – Corey Feldman, 47. Genre roles in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,Tales from the Crypt and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven series to name but a few of his files.
  • Born July 16 – Rose Salazar, 33. Genre work includes American Horror StoryMaze Runner: The Death Cure, and Batman: Arkham Origins video game.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • Updating a Kafka classic at Bizarro.

(7) THE TIDE IS IN. Camestros Felapton continues scoping out the Hugo nominees: “Review: The Black Tides of Heaven (Novella) J.Y.Yang”.

As I said above, I found the second half easier to engage with than the first. It focuses more on Akeha, the surpising “spare” half of the twins, who in post-adolesence decides to be confirmed as a male (gender is assigned post-childhood in this world). Fate, prophercy, control and inevitability (whether magical or political) play out as important themes but, again, I think their impact as ideas get lost amid the scale of the story.

(8) IN ORDER. Mark Kaedrin gives his rankings and his reasons — “Hugo Awards: Short Stories”.

In the past five years of reading Hugo nominated short stories, I think I’ve enjoyed about 2-3 of the stories quite a bit. That’s… not a very good batting average. For whatever reason, I always find that this category just fills up with stories that don’t work for me. True, several puppy trolling nominations made the cut, which didn’t help (for example: they nominated SF-themed erotica two years in a row, and then another that was a bad parody of a bad story, etc…), but even the stories I liked weren’t that great. I’ve always chalked that up to this category having the lowest barrier to entry. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort to seek out a bunch of short stories (mostly available for free online too), so the nominations are spread far and wide. There used to be a requirement that a finalist had to have at least 5% of the nominations in order to be considered, which often resulted in a small category because most stories couldn’t clear that bar. So basically, the stories that do make it here rarely have wide appeal. That being said, this year’s nominees are actually a pretty congenial bunch. I don’t actually hate any of the stories, even if a few don’t quite tweak me the way I’d like (even those are pretty good though). I do still find it hard to believe that these are the actual best short fiction of the year, but I’ll take this over the past 4 years’ worth of nominations. However, I do think it’s telling that at least one story on the 1942 Retro Hugos ballot, Proof by Hal Clement, is far better than any of these nominees, which I think says something (I’d have to read/reread a couple of the other 1942 finalists to be sure, but I suspect that ballot is more my speed). Anyway, let’s get to it….

(9) CURRENT EVENTS. And don’t forget this year’s fiction. Rocket Stack Rank hasn’t — “July 2018 Ratings”. Greg Hullender summarizes:

We posted our monthly ratings last night. It was a typical month, with 11 stories recommended (with 4 or 5 stars) out of 72 (expected would be 11 to 13).

We recommended 4 stories from F&SF, 3 from Asimov’s,  2 from Analog had 2. The other two were in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed. Over time, the three print and seven online magazines we follow split the recommendations 50/50 (not counting stand-alone novellas or original anthologies), and the print magazines only come out 6 times a year, so this isn’t quite as lopsided as it looks, but it was definitely a good month for the traditional three magazines.

(10) START YOUR COCKY CAREER. This article on “Cocky-gate” also seems to be a great blueprint for how to use Kindle Unlimited to give you a 6-figure salary. Let The Verge tell you about it: “Bad Romance”.

…The fight over #Cockygate, as it was branded online, emerged from the strange universe of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where authors collaborate and compete to game Amazon’s algorithm. Trademark trolling is just the beginning: There are private chat groups, ebook exploits, conspiracies to seed hyperspecific trends like “Navy SEALs” and “mountain men,” and even a controversial sweepstakes in which a popular self-published author offered his readers a chance to win diamonds from Tiffany’s if they reviewed his new book.

Much of what’s alleged is perfectly legal, and even technically within Amazon’s terms of service. But for authors and fans, the genre is also a community, and the idea that unethical marketing and algorithmic tricks are running rampant has embroiled their world in controversy. Some authors even believe that the financial incentives set up by Kindle Unlimited are reshaping the romance genre — possibly even making it more misogynistic.

A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for 99 cents a pop might seem unserious. But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts — and see a worthwhile return on that investment….

(11) THEY’VE GOT ‘RITHIM. Or you can try this route–sell your old pb’s for hundreds or thousands of dollars each on Amazon. The New York Times has the story: “Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback”.

Even a casual browse through the virtual corridors of Amazon reveals an increasingly bizarre bazaar where the quaint policies of physical bookstores — the stuff no one wants is piled on a cart outside for a buck a volume — are upended. John Sladek, who wrote perceptive science fiction about robotics and artificial intelligence, predicted in a 1975 story that computers might start making compelling but false connections:

If you’re trying to reserve a seat on the plane to Seville, you’d get a seat at the opera instead. While the person who wants the opera seat is really just making an appointment with a barber, whose customer is just then talking to the box-office of “Hair,” or maybe making a hairline reservation …

Mr. Sladek, who died in 2000, is little read now, which naturally means his books are often marketed for inordinate sums on Amazon. One of his mystery novels, “Invisible Green,” has a Red Rhino “buy box” — Amazon’s preferred deal — offering it for $664.

That is a real bargain compared with what a bookseller with the improbable name Supersonic Truck is asking: $1,942. (Copies from other booksellers are as little as $30.) Supersonic Truck, which Amazon says has 100 percent positive ratings, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Ms. Macgillivray, who has published eight novels, said she had been poking around Amazon’s bookstore and was more perplexed than ever by the pricing.

“There’s nothing illegal about someone listing an item for sale at whatever the market will bear, even if they don’t have the book but plan to buy it when someone orders it,” she said. “At the same time, I would think Amazon wouldn’t want their platform used for less than honorable practices.”

(12) READERCON PORTRAITS. Paul Di Filippo shares photos of “Some Members of Fictionmags Attending Readercon 2018 “ at The Inferior 4.

In order of appearance: Ellen Datlow, Fred Lerner, Gary Wolfe, George Morgan, Gordon van Gelder, Henry Wessells, Jess Nevins, Michael Dirda, Peter Halasz, Scott Andrews, Scott Edelman, Sheila Williams, Steve Dooner, Mark Walsh.

(13) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. And Daniel Dern covered the non-human population at ReaderCon, photographing this “alternative SJW credential.”

An ‘edge-‘og (hedgehog). (Not mine.)

Yeah, the SF context isn’t visible, would you take my word for it?

(14) ICE DELIVERY. NPR tells what it’s like for locals: “Massive Iceberg Looms Over A Village In Greenland”.

The photographs are stunning: a giant mountain of ice towers over a tiny village, with colorful homes reminiscent of little doll houses against the stark, blue-gray landscape.

But for the people living in those houses – that beauty could be life-threatening.

“It’s kind of like, if you lived in the suburbs, and you woke up one morning and looked out, and there was a skyscraper next to your house,” says David Holland, an oceanographer at New York University who does research in Greenland during the summer months. “I’d be the first to get out of there.”

He says that’s why authorities have taken action to evacuate those living closest to the water from the village of Innaarsuit, where the iceberg has parked itself just off the coast. According to the BBC, the village has just 169 residents.

(15) THE IMPORTANCE OF POORFEADING. “Harry, it s***s” — just not quite so badly: “Aliens killed by spelling mistake in 2013 Colonial Marines game”.

An infamously dreadful 2013 Aliens video game is now believed to have fallen victim to the most chilling of threats in the universe: a typo.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 to terrible reviews.

Many of them mentioned how badly the artificial intelligence (AI) behaved.

But it has now emerged that a single stray “a” in the game’s code may have been to blame.

Videos on YouTube show the game’s AI characters – the aliens and human teammates the player doesn’t control – ignoring threats, shooting wildly at nothing or standing in the line of fire.

(16) EARLY BRADBURY. David Doering has been digging through ancient fanzines and found a curiosity: “Here’s a little gift for you: a verse by Ray Bradbury himself–likely never before reprinted in the history of, well, like poetry or something. And maybe for some reason…”

VERSE OF THE IMAGI-NATION

“TIs a Sinema”
by Ray Bradbury

I think that I shall never see
Flash Gordon as he ought to be.
Midst growls of pain & awful lafter
each Saturday I see a chapter.
I cannot bear to see him more
for he Is really such a bore.

& Tarzan! too, is all so poor:
A shrinking violet demure
who beats upon his frazzled chest
& turns his puss into the west
to roar defiance with…”Fresh fish!
–I think that he’s a lousy dish…

From: Imagination, v. 1, issue 11, whole no. 11, August 1938

[Thanks to David Doering, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, StephenfromOttawa, Brian Z., Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Bill Burns, John King Tarpinian, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mix Mat.]

Pixel Scroll 3/27/18 Godstalk It, Jake, It’s Pixel Scroll

(1) READ THE GAME. The Read it Forward site is celebrating Ready Player One’s theatrical debut this week with an interactive 8-bit-inspired excerpt that “gamifies” the prologue from Ernest Cline’s novel. [Click on the GIF to view.]

Read your way to the top of the Scoreboard as you earn points for discovering Easter eggs that bring the content to life. As readers learn of Parzival’s hunt for the keys to OASIS, they’ll maneuver their way around a maze, attend an ‘80s dance party, unlock footnotes, and more. Upon completion, readers can add their name to a Scoreboard and share their score with a link to the excerpt on social media. All of the excerpt’s hidden extras are unlocked once a reader earns the maximum score of 10,000 points.

(2) TV INTEREST IN THREE-BODY PROBLEM. From io9: “Report: Amazon May Pay $1 Billion to Adapt the Hugo-Winning Chinese Novel The Three-Body Problem”.

The Hugo-winning Chinese novel The Three-Body Problem could become Amazon’s Game of Thrones. A new report from Financial Times suggests Amazon is pursuing a deal to make a three-season television show based on the trilogy from Liu Cixin, and it may be willing to pay up to $1 billion to do so.

According to the Financial Times report, international investors say Amazon is negotiating for the rights to produce three seasons based on Remembrance of Earth’s Past, the scifi trilogy more commonly known by the title of its first book, The Three-Body Problem.

In a statement reported by Chinese news outlets, YooZoo Pictures stated that it remains the sole owners for the film and TV rights for The Three-Body Problem, though it didn’t comment on whether Amazon had approached the company or were in talks with them to collaborate on this reported streaming project. Cixin was also asked about this development by Chinese news outlet MTime.com, where he revealed he knew nothing about the project and doesn’t know if he’d be invited to work on it.

(3) DISSENTING VOICE. In contrast to those looking forward to the movie, Vox says “The Ready Player One book used to be considered a fun romp. Then Gamergate happened,” in “The Ready Player One backlash, explained”.

A time traveler from 2011 could be forgiven for being deeply confused by this response. In 2011, Ready Player One was beloved. It was “a guaranteed pleasure.” It was “witty.” It was not only “a simple bit of fun” but also “a rich and plausible picture of future friendships in a world not too distant from our own.”

What gives? How did the consensus on a single book go from “exuberant and meaningful fun!” to “everything that is wrong with the internet!” over the span of seven years?

… But the main thing Ready Player One is doing is telling those ’80s-boy-culture-obsessed gamers that they matter, that in fact they are the most important people in the universe. That knowing every single goddamn word of Monty Python and the Holy Grail can have life-or-death stakes, because why shouldn’t it? (Yes, that is a crucial step in Wade’s battle to save the OASIS.)

For readers in Cline’s target demographic in 2011, that message felt empowering. For readers who weren’t, it felt like a harmless piece of affirmation meant for someone else. Everyone deserves a silly escapist fantasy, right? And since Cline’s silly escapist fantasy wasn’t specifically meant for girls — unlike, say, Twilight, which was getting savaged in popular culture at the timeReady Player One was largely left alone by the people it wasn’t built for…

(4) ASHBY STORY. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series, “Domestic Violence” by Madeline Ashby, is a free read at Slate.

A partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University, Future Tense explores how emerging technologies will change the way we live. The latest consumer gadgets are intriguing, but we focus on the longer-term transformative power of robotics, information and communication technologies, synthetic biology, augmented reality, space exploration, and other technologies. Future Tense seeks to understand the latest technological and scientific breakthroughs, and what they mean for our environment, how we relate to one another, and what it means to be human. Future Tense also examines whether technology and its development can be governed democratically and ethically.

And there’s also a response essay from Ian Harris, who works on technology issues with the National Network to End Domestic Violence: “The Complicated Relationship Between Abuse and Tech”.

Violence against women is having something of a moment right now. Which is to say, portrayals of domestic violence in film and TV are gaining critical acclaim. Through shows like Big Little Lies and movies like I, Tonya, popular culture is grappling with more nuanced representations of domestic violence and the humanity of survivors of abuse. These are important conversations, and I hope that this is the start of a profound societal transformation, though time will tell. For me, the most disturbing part of these portrayals is not the brutality of the assaults, but how frequently physical violence is prioritized over other types of abusive behavior. It is what we don’t see that worries me.

We see this distorted prioritization in real life, too. I’ve been a domestic violence attorney for more than a decade. Despite the long list of clients who have struggled to get the justice system to live up to its name, I have found that survivors are much more likely to get help for physical assaults than for other kinds of abusive behavior such as stalking, surveillance, harassment, and intimate image disclosures, which frequently feel more harmful to the survivor.

(5) AVENGERS PLUG. A new TV spot for Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War.

The end is near. One month until Avengers: Infinity War.

 

(6) SEARCH FOR DIVERSE FICTION. Rocket Stack Rank has another new feature. Greg Hullender explains:

In response to readers who wanted a way to find good stories by diverse authors, we did an analysis of the most-recommended short speculative fiction stories written by people of color in 2015 and 2016 — “Best People of Color SF/F of 2015-2016”.

This only looks at stories that got some sort of recognition (e.g. solid recommendation from a prolific reviewer, inclusion in a years-best anthology, finalist for a major award), so just 481 stories across those two years. Of those, 112 were written by people of color.

The credit for this work goes to Eric Wong, who did the hard work of looking up information on all the authors as well as customizing the software to let readers group the data different ways.

(7) BLOWN UP, SIR. In “This teacher aims to get kids fired up about chemistry”, the Washington Post’s Kitson Jazynka profiles University of Texas chemistry instructor Kate Biberdorf, who “breathes fire and makes explosions that blast the eyes out of jack-o-lanterns.”

Or what about one who, with a quick pour of potassium iodide into a mix of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and food coloring, makes bubbly foam that shoots toward the ceiling? Kate Biberdorf is no imaginary teacher. She’s real, and she’s coming to Washington next month, bringing along her blowtorch and cornstarch, her supplies of liquid nitrogen and dry ice, and a lot of enthusiasm for chemistry.

Bibersdorf’s website is http://katethechemist.com/.  How could Filers NOT be interested in a woman who says her goal in life is “to have an explosive science show in Vegas?”

(8) HELP BILL SPENCER. Paul Di Filippo urges readers to support a GoFundMe that will “Give Back to Bill Spencer”.

We all need a little help sometimes. This is one of those times for Bill. He has several different health issues going on right now and the medical expenses he is incurring that are not covered through Medicare are mounting and could get much worse.   As well, he’s facing some unforeseeable out of pocket expenses that could potentially end up being a serious problem.   Right now, Bill simply doesn’t have enough for monthly bills, day to day living expenses and numerous co-pays that keep coming his way for various medical necessities.

Many readers know Bill as the award-winning writer William Browning Spencer, author of novels like Zod Wallop, Resume with Monsters and short-story collections like his latest, The Unorthodox Dr. Draper and Other Stories.

But Bill has contributed to others in a very different way as well.  By freely and graciously donating endless amounts of his time over the years to sponsoring and supporting people who are facing their own daunting problems related to alcohol, drugs and living life.  It’s time to give back to Bill what he has so freely given.

This is something Bill would never ask for himself, but he is one of my best friends and I know he is important to folks like yourself, who may wish to help in his time of need.  Bill is truly one of the most amazing, caring and hilarious human beings I know and if you’re reading this you most likely feel the same.  I think we’d all love for Bill to have the peace of mind of knowing that, whatever happens, he need not be stressed out and worried each day about how he’s going to pay for medication or a test or procedure he needs on top of his modest monthly and day to day expenses.

(9) BISCHOFF OBIT. Writer David Bischoff, 66, of Eugene, OR died March 19. He was a contributor to Doug Fratz’ 1970s fanzine Thrust. His first professional successes included The Seeker, a novel published in 1976, and the Nebula-nominated story “Tin Woodman,” co-authored with Dnnis Bailey, later adapted into both a novel and TV episode for Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also wrote the Star Trek tie-in novel Grounded, which spent time on the bestseller list. His other TV work included Dinosaucers (with Ted Pedersen). Bischoff wrote 75 original novels, and tie-in novels for movies and TV series.

David Bischoff. Photo by and copyright Andrew Porter.

(10) A POLICEMAN’S LOT. Camestros Felapton reacted to Richard Paolinelli’s minor league prank of complaining to the Aussie cops about Felapton’s blog.

(11) MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE. “The hidden history of the UK’s highest peak”: A tourist hiking trail once led to an early weather station whose records are now being used to trace climate change.

Back in Victorian Britain, science was still largely an amateur pastime conducted by bands of self-financed enthusiasts who formed scientific societies. One was the Scottish Meteorological Society, which set up and maintained a network of weather stations across Scotland between 1855 and 1920.

(12) WAVE GOODBYE. “Stephen Hawking’s final interview: A beautiful Universe” starts from LIGO discovery of grav waves.

Tell us how important is the detection of two colliding neutron stars?

It is a genuine milestone. It is the first ever detection of a gravitational wave source with an electromagnetic counterpart. It confirms that short gamma-ray bursts occur with neutron star mergers. It gives a new way of determining distances in cosmology. And it teaches us about the behaviour of matter with incredibly high density.

(13) MAY THE ODDS BE ALWAYS IN YOUR FAVOR. Don’t look up — “Tiangong-1: China space station may fall to Earth ‘in days'”.

Should I be worried?

No. Most of the 8.5-tonne station will disintegrate as it passes through the atmosphere.

Some very dense parts such as the fuel tanks or rocket engines might not burn up completely. However, even if parts do survive to the Earth’s surface, the chances of them hitting a person are incredibly slim.

“Our experience is that for such large objects typically between 20% and 40% of the original mass will survive re-entry and then could be found on the ground, theoretically,” the head of Esa’s space debris office, Holger Krag, told reporters at a recent briefing.

“However, to be injured by one of these fragments is extremely unlikely. My estimate is that the probability of being injured by one of these fragments is similar to the probability of being hit by lightning twice in the same year.”

(14) WEDDING BELLS. Page Six headline: “‘Star Trek’ star marries Leonard Nimoy’s son”:

Live long and prosper, you two.

Adam Nimoy, son of the late “Star Trek” icon Leonard Nimoy, and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” actress Terry Farrell married on Monday, on what would’ve been Leonard Nimoy’s 87th birthday.

The couple tied the knot in a civil ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco, according to film critic Scott Mantz, who tweeted a photo of the couple on their wedding day. Farrell retweeted Mantz’s photo and wrote, “Freakin AWESOME day!!!!!!! Love ya all! Aka: Mrs. Adam Nimoy.”

She also changed her Twitter bio to include “Mrs. Adam Nimoy.”

(15) COMPLAINTS ABOUT DATE OF HUGO ANNOUNCEMENT. The announcement of the 2018 Hugo finalists wouldn’t be on March 31/Passover/Easter weekend/a Saturday if it was up to these folks:

(16) VERTLIEB CANVASSES. Rondo Awards voting closes April 8 at midnight and Steve Vertlieb hopes people will consider his nominated article “Robert Bloch: The Clown at Midnight” for Best Article of the Year.

My published work about the author of “Psycho” … “Robert Bloch: The Clown At Midnight” … has been nominated for a Rondo Award for “Best Article of the Year.” Anyone can vote.  This year’s competition ends Sunday night, April 8th, at midnight. To vote for my remembrance of Robert, simply send your choice, along with your name, to taraco@aol.com

This is the story of my twenty five year friendship with acclaimed writer Robert Bloch, the author of Psycho. It is the newly published remembrance of a complex, remarkable man, and our affectionate relationship over a quarter century.

Robert Bloch was one of the founding fathers of classic horror, fantasy, and science fiction whose prolific prose thrilled and influenced the popular genre, its writers, and readers, for much of the twentieth century. An early member of “The Lovecraft Circle,” a group of both aspiring and established writers of “Weird Fiction” assembled by Howard Phillips Lovecraft during the early 1930’s, Bloch became one of the most celebrated authors of that popular literary genre during the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s, culminating in the publication of his controversial novel concerning a boy, his mother, and a particularly seedy motel. When Alfred Hitchcock purchased his novel and released “Psycho” with Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh in 1960, Bloch became one of the most sought after authors and screen writers in Hollywood. His numerous contributions to the acclaimed television anthology series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” are among the best of the director’s classic suspense series, while his legendary scripts, adaptations and teleplays for Boris Karloff’s “Thriller” series for NBC are among the most bone chilling, frightening, and horrifying screen presentations in television history. He also famously penned several classic episodes of NBC’s original “Star Trek” series for producer Gene Roddenberry. Writers Stephen King, Richard Matheson, and Harlan Ellison have written lovingly and profusely of their own literary debt to Robert Bloch. Bob was, for me, even more significantly, a profoundly singular mentor and cherished personal friend for a quarter century. This is the story of that unforgettable relationship.

(17) NUMBER PLEASE. A strange post at George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog caught Greg Hullender’s eye: “I wonder if this is a coded announcement that Winds of Winter is coming?” “Yowza” consists of a series of pictures of hands with finger extended as though counting. But does the number 4534 really mean anything?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Ghostbird, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Greg Hullender, Paul DiFilippo, and Mark Hepworth for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

Pixel Scroll 3/23/18 It’s A Beautiful Day In The Pixel Scroll. Won’t You Be My Filer?

(1) SPIT TAKE. All you short fiction fans pay attention: “Short Story Dispenser to spit out free stories at three locations around Philadelphia” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Like picking up a pack of Oreos from the cafeteria vending machine, a new kiosk concept in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia will allow visitors to obtain short stories at the touch of a button.

Announced Thursday as part of the Public Library Association’s 2018 conference, Philadelphia was selected as one of four cities to receive a grant for Short Story Dispensers. The thin, sleek 5-foot-tall kiosks will be at three yet-to-be-determined locations throughout the city.

Each will offer one-, three-, and five-minute stories from a range of 20 genres. Stories will be spit out like an ATM receipt to users — and for free — on eco-friendly paper.

(2) IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN. “Time for a new episode of my Eating the Fantastic podcast,” says Scott Edelman, “And time to test the Internet gods!” Episode 62 invites you to chow down on calamari with Paul di Filippo:

Paul Di Filippo has published more than than 200 short stories—which as you’ll hear, I teased him about as conversation began—and has appeared in such magazines as Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,  Interzone, and many others. Some of those stories have been collected in The Steampunk Trilogy, Ribofunk, Fractal Paisleys, Lost Pages, Little Doors, Strange Trades, Babylon Sisters, and many, many others. And then there are the novels, such as Ciphers, Joe’s Liver, Fuzzy Dice, A Mouthful of Tongues, and Spondulix. He’s been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction Association, Philip K. Dick, Wired magazine, and World Fantasy awards. He was also my go-to reviewer back when I edited Science Fiction Age and then, for the Syfy Channel’s Science Fiction Weekly.

Paul’s the one who suggested Angelo’s Civita Farnese as our venue. The Italian restaurant was opened in Providence 1924 by Angelo Mastrodicasa. Paul’s entree of french fries with meatballs, a combination I’ve never seen before, turned out to be one of Angelo’s signature dishes, started during the Depression as a way for customers to fill up without emptying their wallets.

We discussed why the first story he ever wrote was Man from U.N.C.L.E. fan fiction, the pact he made with a childhood friend which explains why he owns none of the Marvel Comics he read as a kid, what caused the editor who printed his debut story to make the bold claim it would be both his first and last published piece of fiction, how his life changed once he started following Ray Bradbury’s rule of writing at least 1,000 words per day, why he’s written so much alternate history and for which famous person he’s had the most fun imagining a different life, why after a career in science fiction and fantasy he’s begun a series of mystery novels, what happened to the never-published Batman story he sold DC Comics which we never got to see, and much more.

(3) KURT BUSIEK OPTION. Todd Allen has the details: “Kurt Busiek Working on an Astro City Pilot With FreemantleMedia – Another Super Hero Universe License Acquired”.

If memory serves, Astro City has been under option of some kind since at least the early-to-mid ’00s.  Back then, super hero movies were just starting to heat up with Spidey and X-Men, but Marvel hadn’t gotten their own studio together yet.  These days, TV is arguably as needy as the film studios when it comes to comics licenses. (See: Netflix)  And so, FreemantleMedia North America has come into possession of the film rights for Astro City.

FreeMantle is actually pretty big.  They produce everything from The Price is Right to American Gods.  What’s a bit more interesting is that Kurt Busiek, himself, is co-writing the pilot….

(4) THE UNFORGOTTEN. Pulp Librarian (@PulpLibrarian) ran a retrospective on Laser Books today. Mark Hepworth’s comment accompanying the link ended, “…complete with some really bad covers!” Since one of my favorite artists, Kelly Freas, did every Laser Book cover, I’m not going to print that…. Jump on the thread here —

(5) STORYBUNDLE. Time is running out on The Feminist Futures Bundle curated by Cat Rambo.

Rosemary Kirstein, one of the contributors (The Steerswoman), describes the bundle as “10 authors with novels that simply assume that their female protagonists are equal participants in society and able to pursue their goals — no preaching or excoriating involved!” The Storybundle is in its last week and ends March 29. You’ll find several posts with more info about the bundle at Kirstein’s blog.

Nicole Kimberling, another of the bundle authors, wrote a piece for The Mary Sue on “Why We Still Need Feminist Science-Fiction”.

When Cat Rambo first approached me about including my novel, Happy Snak, in a StoryBundle, I thought it would be representing the “outer space” niche in a collection of genre-based comedies. So when I realized my story would be included in “Feminist Futures,” I was taken aback. Happy Snak is about a woman who owns a dinky snack bar in space. She fraternizes with aliens and refuses to comply with arbitrary regulations but is otherwise largely apolitical. Why, I wondered, would anybody consider this feminist? Then, thinking further, I realized that for many women, just being themselves and making (and spending) their own money is still considered a threatening and subversive act. (I’ve got my eye you, Quiverfull.)

And Cat has two video interviews of the authors included in the bundle:

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 23, 2012 — The first installment of The Hunger Games made its theatrical premiere.

(7) OVERTIME. JonnyBaak’s video takes a behind-the-scenes look at the 1966/67 Irwin Allen hit The Time Tunnel.

(8) LEGO IDEAS WINNER ABOUT TO HIT MARKET. io9 advises “Start Saving Your Quarters Because Lego’s Tron: Legacy Light Cycles Set Finally Arrives Next Week”.

Originally approved for production back in late November of last year, the light cycle design that BrickBros UK submitted to the Lego Ideas site looks significantly updated and streamlined by Lego’s own designers for the production version of this set. But the changes certainly seem to benefit fans of Tron: Legacy, as the set now includes two light cycles, and three minifigure versions of Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), Quorra (Olivia Wilde), and Rinzler (Anis Cheurfa), complete with identity discs.

(9) ABOUT THOSE SJW CREDENTIALS. Dogs and cats – never the twain shall mark.

(10) UNBELIEVABLE. A professional cartographer makes fun of real-world map of New Orleans: “A guy who makes Role-playing games has criticised a map of New Orleans for being “unrealistic” and it’s gone viral”. Start the thread here:

(11) BRADBURY’S WRITING TIPS. Tripwire has rediscovered “Ray Bradbury’s 12 Rules For Writers”. Here are the first two —

  • Don’t start out writing novels. They take too long. Begin your writing life instead by cranking out “a hell of a lot of short stories,” as many as one per week. Take a year to do it; he claims that it simply isn’t possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row. He waited until the age of 30 to write his first novel, Fahrenheit 451. “Worth waiting for, huh?”
  • You may love ’em, but you can’t be ’em. Bear that in mind when you inevitably attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to imitate your favorite writers, just as he imitated H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle and L. Frank Baum.

(12) ACCESSIBLE EMOJIS. Proposed emojis for various disabilities: “Apple proposes 13 new emoji that represent people with disabilities”

The original Apple submission to the Unicode Consortium [PDF file] (the ruling body for emoji selection and all things else Unicode) states (in part):

  • Completeness Does the proposed pictograph fill a gap in existing types of emoji?

The proposed set in itself provides a significant advance in coverage to depict various forms of disability, and fills a significant gap in representation and inclusiveness among existing emoji. We welcome other considerations that can help complete the set.

Mike Kennedy sent the link with a note: “It occurs to me that people who work Access for cons might have some ideas for additional emojis to “help complete the set.”

(13) SETTLEMENT IN TREK ACTOR’S DEATH. “Anton Yelchin: Star Trek actor’s parents settle legal case with car firm”: The rollaway that killed the new Chekov led to 11,000,000 cars recalled; damages will support a foundation.

Gary Dordick, the lawyer for Yelchin’s parents, said the money would go to the Anton Yelchin Foundation. The amount hasn’t been disclosed.

The money will also help fund a documentary about Yelchin’s life.

The actor was born in Russia and played Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films released in 2009 and 2013.

He died when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee pinned him against a concrete mailbox at his LA house in June 2016.

His parents filed a wrongful death case against Fiat Chrysler in August that year, saying the gear changer was defective.

In April 2016, the company had recalled 1.1 million vehicles across the world because of concerns that they could roll away after drivers exit.

(14) STAY FROSTY. “Thrills and chills at Broadway’s Frozen musical” — a hit with the audience, and the critic.

The puppet design provided for Sven and Olaf the snowman is a highlight of this Frozen, which had its official opening night on Thursday.

Credit for this goes to puppet designer Michael Curry, who previously made magic as Julie Taymor’s collaborator on The Lion King, Disney’s longest-running Broadway hit.

Yet for all the clever design elements involved in the production, it’s the performances, guided with wit and tenderness by acclaimed British director Michael Grandage, that propel the story.

That story is spun by librettist Jennifer Lee, adapting her own screenplay, and composer/lyricists Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – Academy Award winners both for Frozen and, more recently, Coco.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I can’t resist this video of the “Flaming Tomb on Easter Sunday.” People begin to see the light at the 1:18 mark.

[Thanks to JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Mark Hepworth, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Bill, Rosemary Kirstein, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lenora Rose, with an embellishment by OGH.]