Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #31

Why I am Advocating for a Best Translated Novel Category

By Chris M. Barkley:

Author’s Note: Like Jo Van Ekeren, I am a member of a Hugo Awards Study Committee, which was formed last year at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Finland. The views expressed in this editorial are solely mine and may not reflect the views and interests of anyone else serving on the Study Committee or anyone connected with any Worldcon, past or present.

My first encounter with the Hugo Awards began back in high school in the early 1970’s when I stumbled upon a copy of The Hugo Awards Volumes One and Two, edited by Isaac Asimov. Up until I cracked open this particular anthology, I had only been a casual reader of fantasy and science fiction. Reading it plunged me into a literary whirlpool that I have reveled in and loved ever since.

When I started thinking about proposing changes to the Hugo Award categories in 1998, I had no idea how to proceed. I had attended fifteen Worldcons but I had attended only a single Business Meeting, and that was only because I was passing where it was being held one afternoon and a friend grabbed me and asked me to vote on something of vital importance. I went in, raised my hand when asked and did so and went on my merry way without knowing what I had just supported.

At Chicon 2000, I became a regular attendee and over the years learned how to cajole, advocate, persuade and validate my points of view. I did learn quickly to develop some thick skin as my early efforts were mercilessly stonewalled and ridiculed on a regular basis.

Through the tireless efforts of myself and other dedicated fans, we made significant changes to the Hugo Award categories and all of them were for the better, in my opinion.

But, as time has gone by it has become evident to some (including myself) that we should take a serious look at all of the categories to see if ambiguities could be removed from the language in the WSFS Constitution, redefining, improving, eliminating or suggesting new categories altogether. The Helsinki Business Meeting commissioned such a Study Group last summer and I happily volunteered.

At the moment, the group is gearing up to reach a consensus to issue a report in time for Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

On June 9, I presented the idea of a Best Translated Novel to the group. I did so because I believe that it is time the World Science Fiction Convention become a truly global award of cultural distinction.

Of course, the group on the whole had its concerns about establishing a new category. On the whole, I would say that we are not in favor of turning the Hugo awards into the Grammys with a nearly endless parade of sub-categories and narrowly defined special interest awards.

Well, imagine my surprise when I opened the June 14 edition of the Pixel Scroll and saw tweets from Rachel S. Cordasco and Claire Rousseau espousing the very same idea! Needless to say, I was very excited to see this and contacted them to enthusiastically pledge my support.

But there is a problem; as Ms. Van Ekeren rightly pointed out, even though we are less than two months way from Worldcon, the time frame for discussing it in advance and scheduling it for a formal debate at the Business Meeting is less than desirable at this point. We are, in essence, the gatekeepers of the Hugo Awards. And while I relish this vital role, I have often been frustrated by the somewhat glacial pace of the process and the sometimes overwhelming sense of caution the members of the Business Meeting immerse themselves in.

Be that as it may, I am quite confident and certain that this proposal will be assigned to a study group, will be roundly debated in the coming year and an amendment will be presented at the Business Meeting in Dublin.

The very first World Fiction Convention in 1939 was held in New York City and it has been documented that the original intention was to have the convention named as homage to the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows. And as time has passed, and innovations and technology have made our community more global, it just makes good sense to extend the good will and honor of being nominated for or winning a Hugo Award to the rest of the world. Because we, as a community, must show that the Worldcon isn’t just a traveling genre party for English speakers, but the whole, wide world. As an analogy I offer the example of the Academy Awards; a Best Translated Novel is just like offering the equivalent of the Best Foreign Film category.

For decades, the Hugo Award was mainly dominated by writers from the United Kingdom and North America. And while we called ourselves members of the World Science Fiction Society, the first convention wasn’t held outside North America until 1957 (London, UK) or in Europe until 1970 (Heidelberg, West Germany). Even then, English-speaking writers have prevailed. That is, until recently.

My inspiration for supporting the Best Translated Novel was inspired by the recent Hugo wins by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Cixin Liu and Hao Jingfang. This shows that the inherent bias against writers from other countries and cultures is slowly melting away. And while no translated novels or short fiction is on the final ballot this year, I am reasonably sure more nominations from writers of different countries and cultures will be forthcoming.

In the meantime, I am writing this column to directly address some of the issues Ms. Van Ekeren pointed out in her editorial.

First, the intent of the proposed amendment is to honor translated novels seeing their first publication in English. In the WSFS Constitution, the definition of a novel (as of this writing) is: ”A science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more. ” This would or should exclude works of non-fiction, manga or anything else that would not fit into what we traditionally know as the novel category.  I take it for granted that some sort of provision will be written to prevent a nominee in the Translated category from also being considered in the Best Novel category.

If and when the definition of the novel category is changed, the wording of the Translated Novel category will be adjusted to suit the Constitution. The one thing that I would insist on inserting into the proposal is that translators of the work being honored also receive a Hugo for their efforts.

As to whether or not adding this new category will “dilute” the prestige of the Best Novel Award or make it a second class or lesser award, I completely reject that sort of reasoning. I have held many of them in my hands on many occasions during my four decades in fandom. Ask any of the recipients in any category whether or not they feel that their Hugo is any less special than anyone else’s. And the answer would probably be a unanimous NO. They are grateful and happy to have their work honored by knowledgeable fans.

One of the main objections seems to be finding eligible works to be nominated. This in turn brings us back to Dr. Cordasco, who has a Ph.D in literary studies, is a huge fan of translated fantasy and sf. She has been running a website completely devoted to tracking translated works for several years. (Speculative Fiction in Translation)

She has also meticulously compiled a list of works (431 as of this writing) published in English: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RyMOXmi1Zd4yvuTVHQcw5gka8YLZ1In42GJn6Rhh12E/edit#gid=0

Here is a list of translated novels published just in the past two years:

2018 ( Published or scheduled so far)

  • Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti, translated by Jonathan Hunt (Italian)
  • The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum, translated by Ira Moskowitz (Hebrew)
  • The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan, translated by Will Vanderhyden (Spanish)
  • Elven Winter by Bernhard Hennen, translated by Edwin Miles (German)
  • Alphaland by Cristina Jurado, translated by James Womack (Spanish)
  • Oneiron by Laura Lindstedt, translated by Owen Witesman (Finnish)
  • Ball Lighting by Cixin Lui, translated by Jowl Martinsen (Chinese)
  • Faces From the Past by Rodolfo & Felicidad Martinez, translated by Rodolfo Martinez (Spanish)
  • Nekomonogatari White by Nisioisin, translated by Ko Ransom (Japanese)
  • Apple and Knife by Intan Paramaditha, translated by Stephen J. Epstein (Indonesian)
  • Frankenstein in Baghdad by Achmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright (Arabic)
  • Collected Stories by Bruno Schulz, translated by Madeline G. Levine (Polish)
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 6: Flight by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Tyran Grillo (Japanese)
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 7: Tempest by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Daniel Huddleston (Japanese)
  • The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani (Japanese)
  • Sisyphean by Dempow Torishima, translated by Daniel Huddleston (Japanese)
  • Science: Hopes and Fears by Juza Unno, translated by  J. D. Wisgo (Japanese)
  • Eighteen O’Clock Music Bath by Juza Unno, translated by J. D. Wisgo (Japanese)
  • The Invisible Valley by Su Wei, translated by Austin Woerner (Chinese)
  • A Hero Born (The Condor Heroes, Book 1) by Jin Yong, translated by Anna Holmwood
  • I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargey (Swedish)

2017

  • The Sacred Era by Yoshio Aramaki, translated by Baryon Tensor Posadas (Japanese)
  • SRDN: From Bronze and Darkness by Andrea Atzori, translated by Nigel Ross (Italian)
  • The Dying Game by  Asa Avdic, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles (Swedish)
  • On the Trail of the Grail by Svetislav Basara, translated by Randall A. Major (Serbian)
  • Heavens on Earth by Carmen Boullosa, translated by Shelby Vincent (Spanish)
  • Bodies of Summer by Martin Felipe Castagnet, translated by Frances Riddle (Spanish)
  • Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi, translated by Jessica Sequeira (Spanish)
  • The Twenty Days of Turin by Giorgio De Maria, translated by Ramon Glazov (Italian)
  • Hadriana in All My Dreams by Rene Depestre, translated by Kaiama L. Glover (French, by way of Haiti)
  • The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel, translated by   Margaret Sayers Peden (Spanish)
    The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresan, translated by Will Vanderhyden (Spanish)
  • Orbital Cloud by Taiyo Fujii translated by Timothy Silver (Japanese)
  • Spells by Michel de Ghelderode, translated by George MacLennon (French, by way of Belgium)
  • Me by Hoshino Tomoyuki, translated by Charles De Wolf (Japanese)
  • You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann, translated by Ross Benjamin (German)
  • Listening for Jupiter by Pierre-Luc Landry, translated by Arielle Aronson & Madeleine Stratford (French, by way of Canada)
  • Kzradock the Onion Man by Louis Levy, translated by W. C. Bamberger (Danish)
  • Blumenberg by Sibylle Lewitscharoff, translated by Wieland Hoban (German)
  • Only She Sees by Manel Loureiro, translated by Andres Alfaro (Spanish)
  • The Irish Sea by Carlos Maleno, translated by Eric Kurtzke (Spanish)
  • Fever by Deon Meyer, translated by K. L. Seegers (Afrikaans)
  • The Mountains of Parnassus by Czeslaw Milosz, translated by Stanley Bill (Danish)
  • The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, translated by Yuri Machkasov (Russian, by way of Armenia)
  • Malacqua by Nicola Pugliese, translated by Shaun Whiteside (Italian)
  • Locus Solus by Raymond Roussel, translated by Rupert Copeland Cunningham (French)
  • 2084 by Boualem Sansal, translated by Alison Anderson (French, by way of Algeria)
  • Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated by David French (Polish)
  • Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Spanish, by way of Argentina)
  • The King in the Golden Mask by Marcel Schwob, translated by Kit Schluter (French)
  • Hexagrammaton by Hanuš Seiner, translated by Julie Novakova (Czech)
  • The Book of the Dead by Orikuchi Shinobu, translated by Jeffrey Angles (Japanese)
  • Familiar Things by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell (Korean)
  • Monday Starts on Saturday by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, translated by Andrew Bromfield (Russian)
  • Moon Scars by Ángel Luis Sucasas, translated by James Womack (Spanish)
  • S(Es) by Koji Suzuki, translated by Greg Gencarello (Japanese)
  • Archeon by Alessandro Tagliapietra, translated by Patricia Keiller (Italian)
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 4: Stratagem by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Tyran Grillo
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Vol 5: Mobilization by Yoshiki Tanaka, translated by Tyran Grillo
  • Amatka by Karin Tidbeck, translated by Karin Tidbeck (Swedish)
  • Bullseye! by Yasutaka Tsutsui, translated by Andrew Driver (Japanese)
  • Radiant Terminus by Antoine Volodine, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman (French)
  • Frontier by Can Xue, translated by Karen Gernant (Chinese)

If you thoroughly peruse the Google doc, you will see that several dozen translated novels have been published in the past decade or so.

Are these works “Hugo worthy”? That determination should be made by the readers and fans, not a committee. I also submit that the point is moot since none of the works above will be nominated since there is no category, so to speak. But the fact that they have been translated and published in such great numbers seems to indicate, at least by the publishers, that there is a market out there for translated novels.

And yes, this would mean that fans who are interested in voting in this category would have to be devoted enough to buy and read more books. And frankly, I there isn’t much of a downside to that.

So, what I am asking is the members of the Study Committee and the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting is to take yet another leap of faith with me.

In doing so, I point back to my advocacy of splitting the Best Dramatic Presentation and Editing categories, the establishment of the Best Graphic Story and my co-sponsorship of the Best Fancast categories. I helped work for their passage because I had a gut feeling they would work. And each of them has not only become popular among fans who vote on the awards, they have also drawn in new fans who had never heard of the Hugo Awards or the World Science Fiction Convention before.

After all the travails, waiting, frustration, arguing and controversy, what, you might ask, are you getting out of this? Although I achieved a certain low level of infamy over the years, I have never sought to be in a spotlight or capitalize on my advocacy.

This week, I celebrated my forty-second year in fandom. On June 25, 1976, I showed up at a convention which happened to be located just a few miles from where I lived (Midwestcon 27), bought a five dollar membership and changed my life forever.

What I have attempted to do over the past eighteen years is try to pay back all of the friendships and wonderful experiences by helping to ensure the legacy of the Hugo Awards and the works they honor and to make sure they endure far beyond after I take my leave from fandom and life. Each year, I admit feeling a bit of pride as the winners in the categories I helped shepherd into existence receive their just due.

And for me, that is more than enough.

Pixel Scroll 6/20/18 Poltergoose

(1) SPFBO LONGLIST. Mark Lawrence rounded up 300 entries for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off in a very short time, and now has assigned 30 titles to each of his 10 participating review bloggers. See the longlist at “SPFBO 2018, Phase 1”.

(2) AMAZING STORIES REJECTS. Steve Davidson has denied a news story reported by Jason Sanford and linked in yesterday’s Scroll: “Amazing Stories and Rejections”. Here are excerpts from his explanation.

….It is entirely untrue that we are not notifying authors of rejections.

However, we understand why there may be some confusion on this matter.

The vast majority of our rejections take the form of an automated “status update” email to the submitter.  A story goes from draft to being read, to being rejected or accepted.  Submitters are notified both in an email and on their submissions account of any status changes that affect their submissions.

…Some people had issues on initial sign up, and some people are (now) complaining of  not receiving rejection notices.  Both the initial sign up issue and no receipt of rejections are a result of the user’s email server.  We’ve checked, double-checked and re-checked;  all status notices, all sign-up verifications, are being properly generated by the system and are being sent out.  Non-receipt has, in every case, turned out to be the result of an email server rejection.  Permissions are too picky, the user has not white listed the email address, etc.

Unfortunately, other than informing you of this situation, there is nothing that we can do on our end to correct this.

Our system is WordPress based.  That software platform hosts more than a third of all internet sites (and a large number of genre-related sites);  our system is therefore no more and no less “complicated” than any other WordPress based site you may be familiar with….

(3) SANFORD ANSWERS. Jason Sanford responded in a Twitter thread that begins here and includes these comments:

(4) FANS RALLY ROUND. ComicsBeat is calling attention to a “Crowdfunding campaign set up after writer Leah Moore suffers a brain injury”.

Leah Moore and her partner John Reppion have written some top notch comics for DC, Dynamite and many other publishers.

But now they are facing a huge challenge.

Moore suffered severe head trauma and brain injury while attending a music festival.

Andrew O’Neill set up a JustGiving appeal for “Leah and John”.

Leah and John are comic book writers, who usually scrape by on caffeine and stress while creating wonderful art. Recently, they have been beset by brutal circumstances – John recently lost his sister Dawn and Leah has sustained a severe and degenerative brain injury at Download (metal!) and has had an operation to remove a blood clot.

Needless to say, their already fragile and insecure method of putting food on the table for themselves and their three kids (two feral) is going to be impossible while Leah recovers and John looks after her.

As an artistic community and bunch of pals, let’s raise some money to help them through, (and then we can use our generosity later on as leverage for favours and cake).

The goal was to raise 2,500 UKP – they’ve already raised 11,142 UKP.

(5) MISSING THE MIND MELD. I’ve fallen behind in linking to one of my favorite features on the sff web: this installment of Mind Meld appeared in March — “Mind Meld: Books That Expand the Definition of Genre”, curated by Shana DuBois at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. The participants are Tristan Palmgren, Jeannette Ng, Patrice Sarath, Rebecca Kuang, Aliya Whiteley, Gareth L. Powell, Jasmine Gower.

The evolution of storytelling has followed us through the ages from fairy and folk tales to the vast variety of mediums now available to us.

As storytelling expands in unusual and innovative ways to keep pace with global conversations, what are some books you’re most excited about?

(6) HOLD ROBOTIC CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WESTWORLD. Adweek tells readers “You Can Now Explore the Depths of Westworld by Talking to Alexa”, “But only ‘true fans’ will make it all the way through.”

You can now explore the depths of Westworld from your living room, kitchen, bathroom, wherever—as long as you have your Amazon Echo nearby and within earshot. All you have to say is, “Alexa, open Westworld.”

Today, HBO announced the debut of its new Alexa skill, called Westworld: The Maze. It’s designed specifically for fans of the show to play on their various Amazon voice devices, just in time for the show’s upcoming Season 2 finale this Sunday. HBO partnered with agency 360i and Westworld production team Kilter Films on the project.

The Maze is a choose-your-own-adventure game with over 60 storylines, 400 possible choices for players to make and roughly two hours of game time in which Westworld fans can immerse themselves. Fans will recognize the voices of characters from the show, including Jeffrey Wright as Bernard and Angela Sarafyan as Clementine, as they dive into this mystical world.

 

(7) FRANKENBOOK. Arizona State University’s  Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination, and Assistant Director, Future Tense, sends word about a new project involving the Center, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab that marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

Frankenbook is a collective reading experience of the original 1818 text of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. The project is hosted by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab. It features annotations from over 80 experts in disciplines ranging from philosophy and literature to astrobiology and neuroscience; essays by scientists, ethicists, and science fiction authors Cory Doctorow and Elizabeth Bear; audio journalism; and original animations and interactives.

Readers can contribute their own text and rich-media annotations to the book and customize their reading experience by turning on and off a variety of themes that filter annotations by topic; themes range from literary history and political theory to health, technology, and equity and inclusion. Frankenbook is free to use, open to everyone, and built using the open-source PubPub platform for collaborative community publishing.

The project has already garnered attention from Boing Boing and Brain Pickings, and they’d love to have more participation in the project from the SF community.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 20, 1975 – Steven Spielberg’s Jaws premieres.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Kendall sends along a two-parter from Library Comic about Mount TBR – #412
    and #413.
  • Lise Andreasen found that Deflocked is not the comic you’re looking for. (And yet I’m linking to it anyway….)

(10) WAS THE EMPIRE DESTINED TO FAIL? In her Vox post “Solo reveals the weakness of the Star Wars Galactic Empire”, Amy Erica Smith lays out a detailed argument why Solo: A Star Wars Story shows up the Galactic Empire as a fatally weak state. WARNING: The whole story is basically one big spoiler.

Pop quiz: What’s missing in Solo?

Okay, there’s a long list: the opening crawl. R2-D2.

More importantly: the Emperor. Darth Vader. And 90 percent of the Stormtrooper presence of other movies.

That last item is the most telling indicator of the Galactic Empire’s glaring open secret — its extreme weakness. From a political science perspective, the movie Solo fills in a lot of holes in how we understand the Galactic Empire — the approximately 22-year regime between the dictator Sheev Palpatine’s consolidation of power as Emperor at the end of Episode III and his death at the hands of his second-in-command at the end of Episode VI.

What we learn from Solo is that the Galactic Empire is a very, very weak state. It’s so weak that it’s not much of a state at all. Don’t believe the Empire’s propagandists.

The detailed analysis —and a bunch of spoilers — follows from there.

(11) JOHN SCALZI ENDORSES FREEDOM. Well, of course. But it’s also the brand name of a technology Scalzi finds helpful for keeping him from frittering away his writing time.

…I end up checking news and social media sites more often than is useful, when what I really need to be doing is working on a book.

…It got to a point in the last couple of months that I had to accept the problem was me, and that I wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, so I had to take other steps. So I looked into “distraction free” software, i.e., those programs that block your access to Web sites and apps for a period of time so you have no choice but actually do the work you’re supposed to do. After comparison shopping, I went ahead and picked Freedom. Freedom works on a subscription model and can block sites and apps on your desktop and phone; it has pre-selected block lists you can choose from (including for news, social media, shopping and adult sites among others), and you can also create your own lists. Once you do that, you can set a time for how long you want to have the blocking run, up to 24 hours. You can also schedule blocks, to have them show up at the same time every day and etc.

…And it worked well — I’d check out Twitter almost by muscle memory and get confronted by a green screen that said things like “You are free from this site” and “Do things that matter,” which seemed a little snarky and pushy, but on the other hand, I was in fact trying to do something that mattered (finish my book), so. …It did what it was supposed to do, which was keep me on track and writing on the book.

(12) SFF FROM MADRID. Rachel Cordasco recommends a “New Collection by Cristina Jurado” at Speculative Fiction in Translation.

Nevsky Books will publish a new collection of stories by Spanish SF author and editor Cristina Jurado in July entitled Alphaland.

“From upgraded humans to individuals living among daydreams, from monsters to fantastic beings, these creatures populate a highly imaginative and evocative world, impregnated by an inspired sense of wonder. Draw near with care and enter Alphaland!”

Cristina Jurado (Madrid, 1972) is a bilingual writer and the editor of SuperSonic Magazine, a Spanish and English venue which has re-energized the Spanish speculative fiction scene….

(13) LONDON CALLING, MILWAUKEE ANSWERING. “Orange Mike” Lowrey is back on the BBC – this time on the BBC World Service programme Trending (June 17): “The Mysterious Wikipedia Editor”.

Who is “Philip Cross”? That’s the name on an account that has made more than 130,000 Wikipedia edits since 2004. But it’s not so much the volume of his work but his subject matter that has irritated anti-war politicians and journalists around the world. His detractors claim that he’s biased against them and that his influence has made some entries unreliable. It’s a charge that’s rejected by the foundation behind Wikipedia, but the person behind Philip Cross remains elusive. So what happened when we tried to track him down?

(14) OPEN THE POP3 PORTS PLEASE, HAL. This Gizmodo headline starts with the bad news and follows with the good news: “This Light-Up HAL 9000 USB Flash Drive Can’t Sing, But Probably Won’t Kill You Either”.

Master Replicas, makers of some of the finest lightsaber replicas in any galaxy, sadly closed its doors back in 2008. Last year, however, part of its original team opened Master Replicas Group, a new company that’s relaunching with a series of 2001: A Space Odyssey collectibles to start, including a flash drive based on one of Hollywood’s most terrifying villains.

You don’t have to be worried about this miniature HAL 9000 replica refusing to open an air lock for you, or listening in on private conversations by covertly reading your lips. This one-sixth scale replica of HAL 9000 has no smarts and no ill intentions, but it does recreate the computer’s glowing red eye whenever it’s plugged into your computer.

The Master Replicas Group product page shows a limited edition 32 gigabyte USB flash drive modeled on the “eye” from 2001’s HAL 9000 at $64.95, and a 16 gigabyte  version available for $24.95 where the product page makes no mention of this version being a limited edition.

(15) SPACE IN THE SIXTIES. The Russians and Americans are pushing the envelope at Galactic Journey: “[June 20, 1963] Crossing stars (the flights of Vostoks 5 and 6)”.

Gordo Cooper’s 22-orbit flight in Faith 7 afforded America a rare monopoly on space news during the month of May.  Now, a new Soviet spectacular has put the West in the shade and ushered in a new era of spaceflight.

(16) PICK UP THIS MESS. From now on, no more Pigs in Space, so to speak: “Astronauts eject UK-led space junk demo mission”.

A UK-led project to showcase methods to tackle space junk has just been pushed out of the International Space Station.

The RemoveDebris satellite was ejected a short while ago with the help of a robotic arm.

The 100kg craft, built in Guildford, has a net and a harpoon.

These are just two of the multiple ideas currently being considered to snare rogue hardware, some 7,500 tonnes of which is now said to be circling the planet.

This material – old rocket parts and broken fragments of spacecraft – poses a collision hazard to operational satellites that deliver important services, such as telecommunications.

(17) PREVIEW. BBC reports that “Stranger Things comic will explore the Upside Down”.

The first series, due for release in September, will focus on Will Byers and his time in an alternate dimension.

The character spends nearly all the first season in a mysterious place which his friends name the Upside Down – but his experience is barely seen.

 

(18) HULK DEPARTURE. Nick Schager, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story Hulk At 15:  How Ang Lee’s Distinctive Blockbuster Paved the Way for the Modern Marvel Cinematic Universe,” says that “Hulk taught Marvel to temper their movies’ thematic ambitions” by making all the MCU movies part of a large tapestry rather than highly individual films like Lee’s.

…In most respects, Marvel, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, shunned the risks taken by Hulk, and thus Lee’s film now functions as ground zero for the creative decisions that have guided the past decade of MCU endeavors. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Lee’s storytelling approach, which seeks to duplicate the look and feel of a comic-book page. That’s felt in the fonts used for his opening credit sequence, and in his use of square and rectangular split-screens and transitions, all of which aim to duplicate the structure of a comic’s paneled layout. Segueing from shot to shot, and scene to scene, with digitized wipes and rotations, and employing extreme close-ups, iris devices, and other superimposed imagery — most thrillingly, a late freeze-frame of Josh Lucas’s villain in front of a massive explosion — Lee diligently echoes, at every turn, the very medium that first gave birth to heroes like the Hulk.

That method was never to be seen again in the MCU, which has consequently adhered to a far more conventional cinematographic schema that allows its various franchises to feel as if they’re complementary parts of a larger tapestry. Simply put — a movie universe doesn’t work if any individual entry is too eccentric to match its brethren….

(19) COMING SHORT FICTION. Mythic Delirium has acquired two new collections, Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss and The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff.  Mike Allen says both are scheduled for release in 2019.

Theodora Goss

In Snow White Learns Witchcraft, World Fantasy Award winner Theodora Goss retells and and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. In these stories and poems, sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, Goss re-centers and empowers the women at the hearts of these timeless narratives, much as her acclaimed novel series, The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, does for the classics of Victorian supernatural literature.

With cover art by Ruth Sanderson and an introduction by Jane Yolen, Snow White Learns Witchcraft is currently scheduled for a February 2019 launch.

Barbara Krasnoff

In The History of Soul 2065, Nebula Award finalist Barbara Krasnoff has accomplished a stunning feat. This collection of interconnected short stories crosses many genres, spinning tales of sorcery, ghosts, time travel, virtual reality, alien contact, and epic, elemental confrontations between good and evil. The book also spans past and future generations, telling the heart-breaking and heart-warming histories of two Jewish immigrant families, one from Eastern Europe, one from Western Europe, whose lives are intricately, mysteriously intertwined.

The History of Soul 2065, with cover art commissioned from Paula Arwen Owen, is scheduled for a July 2019 release.

(20) STUCK TO THE SHELVES. Toys’R Us is trying to empty out its stores with a massive going out of business sale. WorldClassBullshitters found some things just aren’t going — “The Star Wars Toy Landfill Has Been Found!”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/14/18 When The Scroll Hits Your Eye Like A Big Pixel Pie, That’s A-nnoying

(1) PUTTING SOME ENGLISH ON IT. Should the Hugo Awards add a Best Translated works category? Here are Twitter threads by two advocates.

(2) EXPANDING STOKER. The Horror Writers Association will be adding a new Bram Stoker Awards category for Short Non-Fiction in 2019.

HWA President, Lisa Morton welcomes the new addition, stating: “As a writer who has written non-fiction at all lengths, a reader who loves articles and essays, and an admirer of academic study of dark fiction, I am pleased to announce this new awards category.”

(3) WEBER DECLARES VICTORY. David Weber’s Change.org petition, “Ensure Freedom of Speech & Assembly at ConCarolinas”, recorded 3,713 signatures. Weber’s fans were so enthusiastic one of them even signed my name to the petition. Although I asked them to remove it I’m still getting notifications, like this one — “The Vote Is In…”

Our petition in favor of the policy on guest invitations for ConCarolinas enunciated by Jada Hope at the closing ceremonies of the 2018 convention is now closed.

That policy, simply stated, is that ConCarolinas will issue apolitical invitations to genre-appropriate guests and that guests, once invited, will not be DISINVITED because of political hate campaigns waged online after the invitations are announced.

In the week that it was open, it accrued over 3,700 signatures, many of whom left comments explaining why they had signed in support of that policy. We believe this is a fairly resounding statement of the fact that many more members of fandom support a policy in which individuals are not excluded because of the political demands of a vocal minority who assail conventions online. We believe the fact that NONE of the signatures on this petition were anonymous speaks volumes for the willingness of the signers to “put their money where their mouths are” on this issue.

At no time have we suggested that conventions are not fully entitled to make their initial guest selections on whatever basis they like, including how compatible they expect that guest’s apparent politics to be to the con goers they expect to attend. What we have said is that there is no justification for RESCINDING an invitation, once issued and accepted, simply because someone else objects to that guest’s inclusion. Clearly there will be occasional genuinely special circumstances, but unless something becomes part of the public record only after the invitation has been extended, it should not justify rescinding an invitation. That was that thesis of this petition, and that was what all of these individuals signed in support of.

Sharon and I thank you for the way in which you have come out in support of our position on this, and we reiterate that it does not matter to us whether the guest in question is from the left or the right. What matters is that true diversity does not include ex post facto banning of a guest simply because some online mob disapproves of him or her.

Fandom is supposed to be a community open to ideas that challenge us. Creating an echo chamber in which no dissenting voices are heard is the diametric opposite of that concept. Thank you, all of you, for helping to tone down the echo effect.

(4) WHERE STORIES COME FROM. Robert Aickman recalled, in “Strange, Stranger, Strangest” at The Baffler.

Like some of his more famous contemporaries—Evelyn Waugh, say, or Aldous Huxley—Aickman yearned for those pre-industrial times before the democratic rabble began making all their poorly educated and unreasonable demands; and while his political prejudices didn’t yield what some of his contemporaries considered a satisfactory person (one of his closest friends recalled him as being incapable of any “real commitment to anyone”), they inspired him to explore narrative ideas that were always idiosyncratic, funny, disturbing, and unpredictable. No two Aickman stories are alike; and no single story is like any other story written by anybody else.

The most dangerous forces in an Aickman story often emerge from common and unremarkable spaces: tacky carnival tents, rural church-yards, the rough scrim of bushes at the far end of a brick-walled back garden, the human rabble who visit their dead relatives in decaying cemeteries, or remote (and often unnamable) foreign holiday isles. And while supernatural events may often occur in Aickman stories—at other times they only seem to occur, and at still other times they don’t occur at all.

(5) JEMISIN GETS AWARD. The Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council has announced the lineup of initial 150-plus authors for this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival (“Brooklyn Book Festival Announces Stellar Fall Line-Up”), September 15-16. Hugo award-winning author N.K. Jemisin will be the recipient of the annual Best of Brooklyn (BoBi) Award.

Brooklyn author N.K. Jemisin has been named the recipient of the Brooklyn Book Festival’s annual Best of Brooklyn (or BoBi) Award. The annual award is presented at the September Gala Mingle to an author whose work exemplifies or speaks to the spirit of Brooklyn. Past honorees have included Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Woodson, Jonathan Lethem, James McBride, Lois Lowry and Pete Hamill.

(6) LE GUIN TRIBUTE. John Lorentz, who attended, says the video recording of last night’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin is now available online at http://www.literary-arts-tribute.org/.

It was a special night (Ursula was a real treasure here in Portland, and throughout the literary world), and we were very happy that we could be there.

It was a mix of videos of Ursula and live speakers, such as Molly Gloss, David Jose Older and China Mieville.

And a dragon!

(7) AROUND THE BLOCK. Mary Robinette Kowal says NASA astronauts are now doing the spacewalk she saw them rehearse. Get on the Twitter thread here —

(8) SNEYD OBIT. Steve Sneyd, a well-known sff poet who also published fanzines, died June 14. John Hertz, in “The Handle of a Scythe, commemorated Sneyd after the Science Fiction Poetry Association named him a 2015 Grand Master of Fantastic Poetry.

He was poetry editor for Langley Searles’ unsurpassed Fantasy Commentator.  His own Data Dump has been published a quarter-century;

.. On the occasion of the Grand Master award, Andrew Darlington posted a 3,400-word piece “Steve Sneyd from Mars to Marsden” at Darlington’s Weblog Eight Miles Higher,  with photos, images of Sneyd’s various publications including Data Dump, electronic links, and things too fierce to mention

Sneyd’s own website was Steve-Sneyd.com. And there’s an entry for him at the SF Encyclopedia — http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/sneyd_steve.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 14  — Lucy Hale, 29. Bionic Woman (2007 TV series) as Becca Sommers, sister of Jaime Sommers, and voiced Periwinkle in TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings.

(10) NOW AUTOMATED. CockyBot™ is on the job.

(11) SWATTERS PLEAD. “Two rival gamers allegedly involved in Kansas ‘swatting’ death plead not guilty in federal court” reports the Washington Post.

…Late last December, Casey Viner and Shane Gaskill, two young men separated by more than 800 miles and a time zone, clashed inside the digital playpen of “Call of Duty: WWII.” The Wichita Eagle would later report that the disagreement was over an online wager of less than $2.

But according to a federal indictment, Viner, from North College Hill, Ohio, became “upset” with Gaskill, a Kansas resident. Plotting a real-world revenge for the alleged slight delivered in the first-person shooter, Viner allegedly tapped a 25-year-old  from Los Angeles named Tyler Barriss to “swat” Gaskill.

“Swatting” — or summoning police to an address under false emergency pretenses — is a particularly dangerous form of Internet harassment. But when Gaskill noticed that Barriss had started following him on Twitter, he realized what the Californian and Viner were plotting. Instead of backing down or running for help, Gaskill taunted the alleged swatter via direct message on Twitter.

“Please try some s–t ,” Gaskill allegedly messaged Barriss on Dec. 28, according to the indictment. “You’re gonna try and swat me its hilarious … I’m waiting buddy.”

The wait was not long. According to authorities, about 40 minutes after the messages on Twitter, police in Wichita swarmed a local house in response to a hostage situation. Twenty-eight-year-old Andrew Finch was shot dead by law enforcement — the result, allegedly, of Barriss’s fake call to police. The deadly hoax, sparked by an online gaming beef, quickly became international news.

Now Viner, Gaskill, and Barriss are all facing federal criminal charges stemming from the shooting. On Wednesday afternoon, Viner and Gaskill — 18 and 19, respectively — were in a Wichita courtroom making their first appearance in the case. The Associated Press reported that both men pleaded not guilty to a host of charges, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and wire fraud.

(12) WARM SPELL. NPR reckons “Antarctica Has Lost More Than 3 Trillion Tons Of Ice In 25 Years”.

Scientists have completed the most exhaustive assessment of changes in Antarctica’s ice sheet to date. And they found that it’s melting faster than they thought.

Ice losses totaling 3 trillion tonnes (or more than 3.3 trillion tons) since 1992 have caused global sea levels to rise by 7.6 mm, nearly one third of an inch, according to a study published in Nature on Wednesday.

Before 2010, Antarctica was contributing a relatively small proportion of the melting that is causing global sea levels to rise, says study co-leader Andrew Shepherd of the University of Leeds.

But that has changed. “Since around 2010, 2012, we can see that there’s been a sharp increase in the rate of ice loss from Antarctica. And the ice sheet is now losing three times as much ice,” Shepherd adds.

(13) DUSTY ROADS. The end? “Enormous Dust Storm On Mars Threatens The Opportunity Rover”.

A massive dust storm on Mars is threatening NASA’s Opportunity rover, which has been conducting research on the Red Planet for well over a decade.

Where the rover sits, the dust storm has completely blotted out the sun, depriving Opportunity of solar power and cutting off communications with Earth.

NASA scientists believe the rover has fallen asleep to wait out the storm, and that when the dust storm dies down and sunlight returns, the rover will resume activity.

“We’re concerned, but we’re hopeful that the storm will clear and the rover will begin to communicate with us,” says John Callas, the Opportunity project manager.

The rover has survived dust storms before, but it’s never lost power this thoroughly.

The dust storm on Mars grew from a small, local storm into a massive event over the course of the last two weeks. Opportunity is located near the middle of the storm, while the newer rover Curiosity — which is nuclear-powered, so not threatened by the loss of sunlight — is currently near the storm’s edge.

… There’s no expectation that the rover will be completely buried by dust, but there are risks associated with the lack of temperature control and the extended lack of power.

“The good news there is that the dust storm has warmed temperatures on Mars,” Callas says. “We’re also going into the summer season so the rover will not get as cold as it would normally.”

The rover also has small, plutonium-powered heater units on board that will help keep it from freezing, and NASA scientists believe the rover will be able to ride out the storm until the skies clear. It’s not clear how long that will take.

(14) HOMEBREW DROID. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Patrick Stefanski decided, even before Solo: A Star Wars Story hit the theaters he wanted to build an Alexa-powered version of the droid L3-37. Well, the head anyway. He combined his skills with 3-D printing, model painting, and electronics to have his robot head respond to “Ethree” as a custom wake word and reply with a sassy “What?” when summoned. Those changes required running Amazon Voice Services software—basically the thing that powers Alexa—on a Raspberry Pi microcomputer rather than using stock Amazon hardware. That change also allowed him to set the localization to the UK so “she” could speak with a British accent.

Quoting the io9 article “Talented Hacker Turns Amazon’s Alexa Into Lando’s Sass-Talking L3-37 Droid” —

One of the best parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story is Lando Calrissian’s piloting droid, L3-37, who’s been uniquely pieced together and upgraded from parts of other droids. Patrick Stefanski has essentially done the same thing to turn Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant into a desktop version of L3-37 who answers to your beck and call.

The customizability of Amazon’s Echo speakers, which feature Alexa built-in, are quite limited. So in order to make his L3-37 actually respond to the simple phrase, “Elthree,” Stefanski instead used a software version of Alexa running on a Raspberry Pi3 mini computer. It also allowed Stefanski to alter his location so that his Alexa-powered L3-37 speaks in a British accent, similar to actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance of the character in the movie.

The SYFY Wire article has more of an interview with Stefanski, “This dude built a fully-functional and definitively sassy 3D-printed L3-37 Alexa”, including:

“I originally wrote off the idea of doing a 3D printed L3 project when I first saw her in a teaser trailer. Here is a 6- or 7-foot walking humanoid robot with tons of articulation and a ton of personality. What could I possibly do with that? Some builder’s tried to tackle K2-SO, a very similar droid from the Rogue One movie, and ended up with a 6-foot static mannequin.

…]That’s cool and all but, me, I’m all about the motors and the electronics and the motion.

“Then as luck would have it, the first time I heard L3-37 talk (a British female voice), it happened to be on the same day I saw a random YouTube video about someone hacking together an Echo Dot and one of those old ‘Billy the Bass’ novelty fish. […] My daughter is 3, and just starting to really get comfortable with Alexa. ‘ALEXA PLAY FROZEN!!!!’ is something you’ll hear yelled in my house a lot! So, I started thinking of something fun to do with our Echo, and the idea of turning it into this new female robot from Star Wars kind of just fell into place.”

(15) GREEN HELL. Science Alert is enthralled: “Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Is Literally Raining Gemstones Now, And We Want Some”.

If Hawaii’s K?lauea volcano were to offer an apology for its chaos and destruction, it just might come in the form of a beautiful green mineral called olivine.

Over the past months we’ve reported on devastating lava flows and bone-shattering boulders. Now it’s raining gems – a rare event that has geologists enthralled and the rest of us just plain confused.

But ULTRAGOTHA sent in the link with a demurrer: “I will note that I am not confused as to why an active volcano is producing olivine.  This one does it a lot. There is a green beach on Hawai’i.” She has in mind Papakolea Beach:

Papakolea Beach (also known as Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach[1]) is a green sand beach located near South Point, in the Ka?? district of the island of Hawaii. One of only four green sand beaches in the world, the others being Talofofo Beach, Guam; Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands; and Hornindalsvatnet, Norway.[citation needed] It gets its distinctive coloring from olivine sand eroded out of the enclosing volcanic cone (tuff ring).

(16) HIGH PRICED TICKET. This weekend, “Aliencon links the worlds of space travel, UFOlogy and science fiction at the Pasadena Convention Center”. Story from the Pasadena Weekly.

Tully notes that AlienCon moved to Pasadena this year simply because of needing a bigger venue, and that there is no hidden agenda or secret information that ties Pasadena to an impending alien invasion or hidden landing sites from past eras.

“That question of whether we know things we can’t tell came up numerous times at the first AlienCon,” says Tully. “I don’t know anything, hand over heart, but I believe we have a panel that answers everything one could possibly know. They don’t get censored by the government.”

The move to Pasadena has already paid off with one-day passes  for Saturday already sold out, as are the Bronze and Gold level (which includes a private event with the “Ancient Aliens” cast) passes, which cost $124 and $549, respectively. The remaining Silver level passes cost $436 and, according to the website, “passholders receive guaranteed premium seating in the Main Stage, a voucher redeemable for autographs or photographs, a tote bag with exclusive merchandise, and much more!”

The fact that AlienCon doesn’t feature any experts from Caltech or JPL raises the antenna of Dr. Michael Shermer, founder of the Altadena-based Skeptic Society, who has long debunked the prospect of alien life forms as well as the existence of God. While he was somewhat impressed that the chief astronomer of the federal government’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program and “Star Trek: Voyager’s” Picardo (who works with the Pasadena-based Planetary Society) will be panelists, he was more incredulous about the moneymaking aspects of the event.

“It’s a fun topic, like talking about God, where everyone has an opinion, but no one has any proof,” says Shermer. “But with the Gold Pass costing $550, you better be able to meet and greet an actual alien.”

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

Pixel Scroll 2/12/16 Little Pixels Made Of Puppy-Scroll, And They All Look Just The Same

(1) THE TENTACLE RECONCILIATION. This just in — “Cthulhu Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize”.

OSLO, NORWAY — Dread Lord, and presidential candidate, Cthulhu has more to savor this week on the campaign trail than the vulture-picked carcasses of the campaigns of Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley and others. Cthulhu has been officially nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, according to Henriette Berg Aasen, Nobel watcher and director of the Peace Research Cooperative of Oslo….

Aasen told the Kingsport Star Herald that Cthulhu has been nominated, as He is yearly, by the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu (known also as CTHU). Cthulhu joins a long list of historical luminaries nominated for the coveted prize like Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Rush Limbaugh, Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin.

Aasen says CTHU selected the independent candidate and demon god because “when He rises from the Deep, humanity will finally know peace and understanding. Our conflicts will disperse. Our prejudices will fade. The Truth of existence will fill us. And those of us left will join as one in praise of Pax Cthulhia.”

(2) TORT SOLO. The BBC reports “Star Wars prosecuted over Harrison Ford injury”.

The production company behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens is being prosecuted over the incident in which Harrison Ford broke his leg.

The actor was struck by a hydraulic metal door on the Pinewood set of the Millennium Falcon in June 2014.

The Health And Safety Executive has brought four criminal charges against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd – a subsidiary of Disney.

Foodles Production said it was “disappointed” by the HSE’s decision.

Following the incident, Ford was airlifted to hospital for surgery.

Following an investigation, the HSE said it believed there was sufficient evidence about the incident which left Ford with serious injuries, to bring four charges relating to alleged health and safety breaches.

(3) PUT TO THE QUESTION. The characters in Redshirts are out of jeopardy, but not out of Jeopardy!

(4) MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Black Gate’s John ONeill points out “Gypsies, Paupers, Demons and Swans: Rich Horton’s Hugo Recs”:

I cover a lot of short fiction magazines and novels, but I never feel adequately prepared for the Hugo ballot. But that’s okay, because I know people who read every single short story published in English, and can point me in the right direction.

Well, one person. Rich Horton. Seriously, he reads them all. No, really. All of them. When he modestly claims he doesn’t, he’s lying. He’s read some of ’em twice.

(5) HORTON’S RECS. The recommendations originated at Rich Horton’s blog Strange at Ecbatan.

For the past few years I have avoided the sorts of posts I used to routinely make, listing my favorite stories of the year and making suggestions for Hugo nominations. There are several reasons – one is simply that I thought my Best of the Year Table of Contents served such a purpose by default, more or less, another is time. And a third, of course, is a feeling of skittishness about the controversy that has arisen, from several directions, on the appropriateness of nomination lists, or, Lord preserve us, “slates”.

But hang it all, almost all I’ve been about for my time writing about SF is promoting the reading of good stories. Why should I stop? Why should anyone? I don’t want people to nominate based on my recommendations – I want people to read the stories I recommend – and lots of other stories – and nominate the stories they like best. I don’t want to promote an agenda. I don’t want to nudge the field towards any set of themes or styles. (Except by accident – I don’t deny that I have conscious and unconscious preferences.) In fact, I’d rather be surprised – by new ideas, by new writers, by controversial positions, by new forms, by revitalization of old forms.

This is, indeed, mostly the contents of my Best of the Year collection, with a few added that I couldn’t use for one reason or another (length, contractual issues, etc.). And let’s add the obvious — I miss things! Even things I read. There have definitely been cases where a story I didn’t pick seemed to me on further reflection to be clearly award-worthy.

I recently made a post on potential Hugo nominees in which I briefly discussed potential Best Editor nominations. I mentioned John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Trevor Quachri, C. C. Finlay, Sheila Williams, Andy Cox, Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, Scott H. Andrews and Brian Thomas Schmidt. And in all honesty, I think any of those people would be wholly worthy nominees. They have all done first-rate recent work. But that said, let’s be honest, I was being a bit timid. Who would I really vote for? I wanted to be a bit more forthright, and plump for a few folks I am really rooting for….

(6) DEFERRED GRATIFICATION. “20 Year Overnight Successes: Writing Advice” is a set of Storified tweets from Maria Dahvana Headley about writing.

Mark-kitteh sent along the link with a modest disclaimer: “Obviously I have no way of knowing if they’re good advice or not, but as Neil Gaiman commented on then approvingly I’m assuming they’re good…”

She begins:

Gaiman’s comment:

(7) RANDOMNESS. Don’t know what this actually relates to, just found the stand-alone comment amusing.

(8) IAN WATSON. At SF Signal, Rachel Cordasco’s “Eurocon 2016: An Interview with Ian Watson”

RC: This Eurocon is taking place in Barcelona- what is the state of Spanish scifi today?

IW: Spanish SF (including, as I said, Fantasy and Horror) is thriving, but not nearly enough gets translated into English nor is published visibly enough. Félix Palma’s Map of… trilogy is certainly a best-seller in English (as the New York Times says) but consider a genre-bending author such as veteran Rodolfo Martínez, a major award winner in Spain: you can get a Kindle ebook of his novel

The Queen’s Adept in an English translation so good, of a book so good, that it reads like an original novel by Gene Wolfe, but you’ll find it in no bookshop in the USA or UK. (While on the subject of actual books, devour The Shape of Murder and Zig-Zag by José Carlos Somoza.)

Recent professional labour-of-love productions include The Best of Spanish Steampunk (big, edited and translated by James and Marian Womack, whose Nevsky press is based in Madrid), the crowdfunded Castles in Spain put together by Mariano Villarreal, and (in progress) the likewise crowdfunded competition-winners anthology Spanish Women of Wonder edited by Cristina Jurado, title courtesy of Pamela Sargent. Mariano Villarreal is also responsible for an admired series of original anthologies entitled Terra Nova, published by Rodolfo Martínez’s own Sportula press, of which one is in English translation: Terra Nova: An Anthology of Spanish Science Fiction. Ebooks only, these last three.

On the whole, things are humming.

(9) ALBERT FANDOM. Einstein is not only on a bubblegum card, he’s on a Star Wars gif too –

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 12, 1915 — Lorne Greene, who played Commander Adama.

(11) MEET THE RABIDS. Vox Day adds to his slate: “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Graphic Story”.

(12) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. The L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers & Illustrators of the Future Annual Awards Ceremony invitation was extended to LASFS members on Facebook. Information about the ceremony is here. The event is April 10, 2016 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. Doors open at 5:30 pm – Event starts at 6:30 pm. Party and book signing immediately follow. Black tie optional or Steampunk Formal. RSVP HERE

Past winners of the Writers of the Future Contest have gone on to publish well over 700 novels and 3000 short stories; they have become international bestsellers and have won the most prestigious accolades in the field—the Hugo, the Nebula, the John W. Campbell, the Bram Stoker, and the Locus Award—and even mainstream literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Newbery and the Pushcart Prize. The Illustrators of the Future winners have gone on to publish millions of illustrations in the field.

 

(13) CHARACTERIZATION. At All Over The Map, Juliet McKenna has some interesting advice concerning “The importance of thinking about ‘local values’ when you’re writing”.

On the other hand, you can turn this issue of local values to your writerly advantage, in the right place, for the right character. When I said minus three degrees or minus thirteen a few paragraphs back, I meant Celsius, because my local weather values are centigrade. When I come across temperatures given in Farenheit in US crime fiction, I always have to pause and do a quick mental conversion calculation. It disrupts the flow of my reading, so as far as I am concerned, that’s a bad thing.

But if I was a character in a book? If the author wanted to convey someone feeling unsettled and out of their usual place? Sure, that author could tell us ‘She felt unsettled by the unfamiliar numbers in the weather forecast’ but you could do so much more, and far more subtly, as a writer by showing the character’s incomprehension, having her look up how to do the conversion online, maybe being surprised by the result. It gets how cold in Minnesota in the winter?

(14) ALPHA HOUSE. To better organize the presidential candidates competing in the New Hampshire primary, Mic sorted each candidate into Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter. Still funny, even if the primary’s over.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora Feuer.]