(1) CAPTAIN SPOILED. At The Mary Sue “Comics Fans Respond to Captain America’s ‘Big Secret’”.
Um … whut? **SPOILERS FOR CAPTAIN AMERICA: STEVE ROGERS #1**
If you read the new Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 that came out today, you already know: Steve Rogers and his mother had been recruited by HYDRA when he was a boy, and he’s apparently been a secret operative for HYDRA this whole time. Again, I say: Uh … whut?
Apparently, issue #2 will give us a better idea of what actually happened with Cap, and how he’s managed to be a HYDRA operative for this long. Naturally, fans were unnerved, and Breevoort’s already started getting emails:
“The idea of Captain America means something very primal and very strong to the people of this nation, and they have a very visceral reaction when you get to something like that,” Brevoort explains. “You want people to feel and react to your story. So far, so good.”
Sure, you want them to feel and react to your story … but what exactly do you want them to feel? A good writer knows exactly what they want to say and evoke, and it isn’t just strong feels for the sake of strong feels.
Whatever writer Nick Spencer and the folks over at Marvel are trying to evoke, Captain America fans are not having it….
Actor Chris Evans doesn’t like it either.
(2) I SCREAM YOU SCREAM. Scott Edelman enjoys a serendipitous dinner with Maria Alexander in Episode 9 of his podcast Eating the Fantastic.
During the recent StokerCon in Las Vegas, I did what I always do during conventions—slip away as often as possible to chow down and catch up with friends. One of those meals took place in old-timey ice cream parlor Serendipity 3, and was recorded (as so many convention meals will be from now on) as an episode of Eating the Fantastic.
My dinner companion this time around was Maria Alexander, whose debut novel, Mr. Wicker, won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. But in addition to being a novelist, Maria’s also a poet, screenwriter, games writer, swordswoman, and so much more—and I attempted to explore all those facets in this episode.
(3) HERE’S MY NUMBER AND A DIME. According to The Verge, “Samsung made a Batman-inspired Galaxy S7 Edge”, though it’s only for sale in a limited number of countries.
Samsung has made a Batman-inspired smartphone … really. In true ludicrous Samsung fashion, it’s called the Galaxy S7 Edge Injustice Edition, and it features the superhero’s logo in gold on the back. The device is commemorating the third anniversary of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and it’s being produced in partnership with Warner Bros. The package appears to include a Samsung Gear VR headset, as well as a real gold-plated Batarang and a rubber phone case modeled after Batman’s armor.
(4) UNDERSTANDING THE TINGLE. “Satirical erotica author Chuck Tingle’s massive troll of conservative sci-fi fans, explained” at Vox (the megasite, no relation to VD.)
Tingle announced that if he won his category, Quinn would accept the award on his author persona’s behalf. This was undoubtedly anathema to many members of the SFF community who overlap with Gamergate; Quinn is essentially Gamergate enemy number one, and one of the women who has experienced the most harassment at the hands of angry men on the internet.
And now TheRabidPuppies.com is the latest volley in Tingle’s game. Realizing the domain was up for grabs, Tingle snapped it right up.
Tingle didn’t just seize the opportunity and the sudden spike in attention to taunt the Puppies, though; he’s using the new website to drive traffic to three of the Puppies’ most reviled enemies and their projects:
- Quinn’s support network for online harassment victims, Crash Override
- Jemisin’s acclaimed novel The Fifth Season, which is currently nominated for the Hugo for Best Novel
- Fantasy writer Rachel Swirsky’s crowdfunding campaign to raise money for LGBTQ health resourcesTingle’s inclusion of Swirsky is significant. Her short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,” is a surreal, jarring allegory for dealing with identity-motivated hate crime and violence. Its inclusion as a 2014 Hugo nominee was widely touted by the Sad/Rabid Puppies as being the ultimate example of how “SJWs” — the shorthand for “social justice warriors,” a derogatory term many in the “alt-right” use to refer to progressives and intersectional feminists — had invaded SFF culture.
(5) GRANDFEMMES FATALE. “Five Fantasy Grannies You Don’t Want To Fool With” at Suvudu.
Augusta Longbottom, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
You’ve got to be a bad-ass to stand up to the Death Eaters, and Augusta Longbottom isn’t anyone’s chump. She is stern and demanding, but she isn’t heartless, as her grandson Neville eventually learns.
(6) SHORT ORDERS. At the upcoming Bonhams/Turner Classic Movies Drawn to Film auction, says a Hollywood Reporter story, “’Snow White’: Rare Concept Art of Rejected Dwarfs to Be Auctioned”.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) was Disney’s first feature-length animated film and the animators worked to give each of the seven dwarfs a distinct personality. The concept sketches (see above) include such familiar ones as Doc, Grumpy, and Dopey, and the not so surprisingly dropped dwarfs, Deafy and Baldy. Other unused dwarf names included Jumpy, Wheezy, Tubby, and Sniffy. The estimate for the sketches is $3,500-$4,500.
(7) REAL ESTATE CLICKBAIT. Every so often there’s a speculative article like this – “Macmillan Publishers weighs leaving Flatiron Building for a new HQ”. (In 2009 there was a story that an Italian investor was going to turn the building into a hotel….) By implication, if Macmillan ever gives up the space, Tor Books will be moving to a new home —
Macmillan Publishers, the sole office tenant in the Flatiron Building, is considering relocating its headquarters when its lease expires in a few years.
Should that happen, it would give the property’s owners a blank slate to work with for the first time since the building was completed more than 100 years ago.
Macmillan, parent company to publishers like St. Martin’s Press and Henry Holt & Co., has been in the iconic tower in some shape or form for about half a century. Now, it occupies all of the office space — nearly 176,000 square feet — in the roughly 180,000-square-foot building at 175 Fifth Avenue.
The publisher’s longtime broker, Leon Manoff of Colliers International, said the company is considering all options for when its lease expires in a few years, including staying put or relocating elsewhere in Manhattan to a new, 150,000-square-foot headquarters.
Andrew Porter adds, “Admittedly the office space is constrained by the unique shape of the building. Doherty’s office is in the ‘prow’ of the building, with windows on the east, west, and north. Here’s my admittedly not well-lit photo of Doherty in his office:”
Tom Doherty in Flatiron office. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.
(8) RAMBO INTERVIEWED. Rachel Swirsky conducts a “Silly Interview with Cat Rambo Who Plays in the MUD”.
- Although you write stories in other venues, you have at least two persistent worlds. One is Tabat where your novel takes place. Can you talk about the world and how it came to be?
Tabat started with a game concept. A friend was working on a MUD (a text-based multi-player game) where each administrator would create their own city, and I decided to do a seaport. One of the cool things about the game engine was that you could add tags onto room, so there were bits of description that only appeared under certain conditions, including things like time of day, season, moon phase, tide, and so forth, including things like if the player was carrying a specific object or had particular spells on them.
I went nuts with it. I built a city where you smelled fish when the tide was high and the wind was coming from the south, and where the tiles of the great Moonway shifted in color depending on whether the moon was full or lean….
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born May 26, 1913 – Peter Cushing
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY
- May 26 is World Dracula Day in honor of the publication date of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897.
(11) STAR TREK TOURIST TRAP. Dave’s Geeky Ideas recommends that the vacant Houston Astrodome be repurposed as a life-sized Deep Space Nine.
Right now the folks in Houston are trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome, which has been sitting vacant for several years. Many plans for the dome have fallen by the wayside, including this multi-use approach which I really like. I’m going to throw my esteemed hat into the ring and declare that the Astrodome be converted into Deep Space Nine.
That’s right: a mega Star Trek tourist destination in the very city where the Space Program resides. This resort would look and feel like the space station seen in the show.
This is made possible by building the central hub and encircling promenade in the middle of the field, with three bridges that connect to the existing concourse in the Astrodome. The dome’s circular shape is quite handy here!
(12) MIXED MOTIVES. Andrew Liptak recalls the nomination of Hubbard’s Black Genesis in “Gaming the System: The 1987 Hugo Awards” at Kirkus Reviews.
Following the publication of Battlefield Earth, Bridge Publications had begun to heavily promote its author. Hubbard and his publisher were pointed in the direction of a flaw in the Hugo Award voting system, particularly by Charles Platt, a science fiction author and editor. In a 1983 issue of his publication, The Patchin Review, he plastered a banner on the front page: “Vote for L. Ron Hubbard!” In his introductory editorial, he lamented that the Best Novel Hugo was “merely a measure of how personally popular a writer is among a small clique of science-fiction fans.”
He also noted that there were things that fans could do to change this: “Hubbard is no hero to the people who usually vote for Hugos. If he won, would it bring about a reformation of the Hugo system, or even its abolition? There’s only one way to find out.”
He wrote to Hubbard and the Bridge, noting that “anyone may nominate and vote. All you have to do is become a supporting member of this year’s world Science Fiction Convention. You do not have to attend the convention itself.”
Hubbard and the Bridge seem to have followed this advice, either coming to this conclusion on their own, or through Platt’s suggestion. Hubbard had established a major story contest, Writers of the Future, and had begun heavily sponsoring science fiction conventions in the mid-1980s. Writing in a fanzine, David Langford authored an essay that described the efforts of the publisher, noting that “it seemed that a large number of fans had become similarly, cumulatively bothered by the grotesque scale of the L. RON HUBBARD promotions,” during the 1987 Conspiracy Convention. The organization had begun promoting the books and sponsoring covers to get Hubbard’s name out before readers.
(13) A HAPPILY DISSATISFIED CUSTOMER. Dr. Mauser claims credit for the Three-Stage Voting (3SV) idea but feels others who have embraced it lack his human touch.
The problem, and it’s a problem common to most folks of a particular political vein, is that they’re trying to counter human behavior with Mathematics. This never works. But the other problem is that they’re ignoring the SOURCE of the data they’re feeding into their formulae — the Fans. The Fans are an incredible resource, and a solution to their problem that they are afraid to make use of, because fans are a Wild Magic, and unpredictable, and hard to control. Math is Safe, math is predictable, but math can’t tell you what is good SF (The Cold Equations notwithstanding).
Even with the Three Stage Voting idea, they’re coming at it all wrong. Some proposals involve “Negative Voting” which they want as a way of getting a gang together to knock out entries they don’t like (They do love them some of that No Award veto power!). They propose empowering the administrators to add or remove entries, or even remove individual voters they don’t like. It’s like they still don’t trust the fans to vote the “right” way. And let’s not even think about the canned Medusa’s head of their mathematical Slate Detection dream, which they swear would NEVER generate a false positive….
(14) INFLATION STOPPED. The ISS expansion isn’t going smoothly. The BBC reports, “Flexi-space room expansion suspended”.
The deployment of a new, expandable “room” on the International Space Station was suspended on Thursday when it failed to open up as expected.
Astronaut Jeff Williams began inflating the module, but controllers eventually told him to stand down after 3.5 hours of extremely slow progress.
Installed in a compact form, the vessel is supposed to stretch to 4m in length with a volume of 16 cu m.
But as Williams squirted air into the module, it stretched only a few cm.
Engineers on the ground will now review the data with a view to resuming the expansion on Friday.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is a demonstrator for the type of habitats that may be used to build future orbiting labs.
(15) ABIGAIL ON APOCALYPSE. If you’re looking for a nuanced review of X-Men: Apocalypse, Abigail Nussbaum delivers.
I promise, at some point I’ll go back to writing about things that aren’t superheroes. Though that would require Hollywood to stop blasting superhero stories at us in such close succession (I haven’t even written anything about the second season of Daredevil, though you can get a sense of the existential despair it plunged me into from the thread starting at this tweet). Coming at the end of that barrage, it’s perhaps understandable that the third (or sixth, or eighth) X-Men movie should be met with a muted, not to say exhausted, response. And some of the reviews have gone further and been downright brutal. I’m here to say that both of these reactions are unearned. X-Men: Apocalypse is by no means a great movie, and it has some serious problems. But I still found myself enjoying it a great deal more than any other work in this genre since Deadpool. Perhaps this is simply the relief of a superhero story that is not about grim-faced men taking themselves very seriously, and which instead tells an unabashedly silly story in a totally committed way. Or it might be because alongside the flaws, there are also things to praise in X-Men: Apocalypse, things that hardly any other superhero works are doing right now.
(16) 1975 HUGOS. Fanac.org has posted video of the AussieCon (1975) Hugo Awards Banquet on its new YouTube channel.
AussieCon, the 33rd Worldcon, was held in Melbourne, Australia in 1975. This video includes the Hugos Awards (presented by John Bangsund), the First Fandom Award, The Gandalf Award and the Big Heart Award. Bob Silverberg, Ben Bova, Fan Guests of Honor Susan Wood and Mike Glicksohn, Rusty Hevelin and others appear. Thanks to Kathi Overton for 2016 video editing.
[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Will R., Andrew Porter, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]