Pixel Scroll 3/8/21 Tick Two Pixels And Scroll Me In The Morning

(1) UNAUTHORIZED. Marina Lostetter illustrates her points about authorship with ancient and contemporary examples in “Le Morte d’Author: on Aggregate Storytelling and Authorial Hope” at Stone Soup.

…When aggregate storytelling is done unofficially, we call it “transformative work,” of which fan fiction is a major part.

An especially intriguing example of modern-day aggregate storytelling — from both an official and unofficial standpoint — is the TV show Supernatural, about two monster-hunting brothers and the found-family they make along the way. The show has enjoyed a voracious fanbase, which kept the series alive for fifteen seasons and spawned thousands and thousands of fan works (as of this writing, there are 243,690 entries related to Supernatural on Archive of Our Own alone. This is to say nothing of Tumblr, Twitter, etc.). 

Starting with the season four episode “The Monster at the End of this Book,” the show began engaging with fan reactions through self-referential stories. Sam and Dean literally read fan fiction about themselves on screen, and the characters used vernacular created by the Supernatural fanbase throughout. 

The fans didn’t simply consume the story. They changed the way the story was told. It would be difficult to argue that the author(s) should be considered as good as dead in terms of critical consideration when the author(s) were still actively creating in tandem with the audience’s reception… 

(2) ESCAPE POD’S BLACK FUTURE MONTH. The Escape Pod original science fiction podcast is taking submissions for Black Future Month.

Escape Pod is pleased to announce a new special project for 2021: Black Future Month, a month-long celebration of Black voices in science fiction, guest edited by Brent Lambert of FIYAH Magazine. Episodes will air in the month of October and feature two original works of short fiction as well as two reprints.

NOTE: For this special event, we are only accepting submission from authors of the African diaspora and the African continent. This is an intersectional definition of Blackness, and we strongly encourage submissions from women, members of the LGBTQIA community, and members from other underrepresented communities within the African diaspora.

Pay rate, format, and content will follow Escape Pod’s regular guidelines, with two exceptions:

  • Manuscripts do not need to be anonymized for this submissions portal. 
  • Stories must be between 1,500 – 5,000 words.

(3) SFF POSTAGE STAMPS COMING. The UK’s Royal Mail has announced that on March 16 the Legend of King Arthur stamps will be released. This set will be followed by an April 15 issue celebrating classic science fiction. As of today, no images from either set have been posted. Norvic Philatelics speculates what might be commemorated in the Classic Science Fiction set:  

This issue consists of pairs of 1st class, £1.70 and £2.55 stamps – with the usual additions of a presentation pack first day cover, and postcards.  

Some research reveals that this is the 75th anniversary of the death of the author H G Wells, and the 70th anniversary of the publication of John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids”, so it seems likely that one of Wells’ books will feature on one stamp and Wyndham’s will appear on another. 

(4) GOODBYE, MR. CHIP. The trailer dropped for HBO Max’s Made for Love. It’s sf, right? At least for another few minutes.

The classic story of boy meets girl, boy implants high-tech surveillance chip in girl’s brain… Featuring Cristin Milioti, Ray Romano, Noma Dumezweni, and Billy Magnussen, Made for Love is coming to HBO Max this April.

(5) IT’S GOING TO BE A BUMPY RIDE. Kristin Cashore shares my high opinion of this novel: “Bells and Echoes: The Craft of DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis”. The last time I praised the book here it caused an uproar. (And a few other consequences, one of which got nominated for a Hugo.)

…. Before I dive deep into Willis’s construction of parallel characters, I want to speak more generally about the potential for parallels — echoes — inside a book, when that book takes place in multiple timelines. Many books do take place in more than one timeline, of course, whether or not they involve time travel! And there’s so much you can do with that kind of structure. As you can imagine, life in Oxfordshire in 1348 is dramatically different from life in Oxford in 2054. But Willis weaves so many parallels into these two stories, big and small things, connecting them deftly, and showing us that some things never really change. I suppose the most obvious parallel in this particular book is the rise of disease. The less obvious is some of the fallout that follows the rise of disease, no matter the era: denial; fanaticism; racism and other prejudices; isolationism; depression and despair; depletion of supplies (yes, they are running out of toilet paper in 2054). She also sets these timelines in the same physical location, the Oxfords and Oxfordshires of 1348 and 2054 — the same towns, the same churches. Some of the physical objects from 1348 still exist in 2054. She sets both stories at Christmas, and we see that some of the traditions are the same. She also weaves the most beautiful web between timelines using bells, bellringers, and the significance of the sound of bells tolling. 

Simply by creating two timelines, then establishing that some objects, structures, and activities are the same and that some human behaviors are the same across the timelines, she can go on and tell two divergent plots, yet create echoes between them. These echoes give the book an internal resonance…. 

(6) YOU ARE THERE. Follow Kevin Standlee and Lisa Hayes on their “Atomic Tour in the Nevada Outback”.

Lisa and I have been getting increasingly antsy and wanting to get out of the house and go see things, but with no sign of a vaccine being available for us mere under-65s, we wanted something that would be away from other people and was close enough to be able to get back home the same day. So we decided to go see the site of the atomic test in our backyard….

I know it’s unlikely that anyone else will come visit this spot, but if somehow your travels take you across “The Loneliest Road,” you might consider a relatively short side trip to one of the few atomic bomb test sites you can visit on your own.

Project Shoal Monument

(7) FREE HWA ONLINE PANEL. The Horror Writers Association will present a free Zoom webinar, “Skeleton Hour 7: Writing Horror in a Post-Covid World” on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6 p.m. Pacific.  Panelists will include: Richard Thomas (moderator), Sarah Langan, Usman T. Malik, Josh Malerman, A.C. Wise, and Lucy A. Snyder. Register here.

(8) TIME TO TURN ON THE VACUUM OF SPACE. James Davis Nicoll sweeps together “Trashy Tales: Five Stories About Space Garbage” at Tor.com. In his collection is —

Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines (2017)

The Krakau found an Earth that has been overrun by the bestial survivors of a planetary plague. Still, better half a glass than an empty glass. The benevolent aliens retrieved suitable candidates from the raving hordes and applied suitable cognitive corrective measures. Lo and behold, humans were transformed from wandering monsters to trustworthy subordinates. Although perhaps not all that trustworthy. Humans are relegated to menial tasks.

Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is in charge of Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish’s Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. Chief janitor, in other words. Not command crew. Except that an unexpected attack eliminates her Krakau commanders while most of Pufferfish’s humans revert into beasts. Mops has no choice but to take command of a ship neither she nor the remaining non-bestial humans know how to operate.

(9) DARE YA. The upcoming online classes at the Rambo Academy include one with this irresistible description: “Breaking the Rules with Rachel Swirsky”.

Tell, don’t show. Dump your information. Write in second person. Write in passive voice. Use adverbs. To heck with suspense.
Rules mark what’s difficult, not what’s impossible. There’s a whole range of exciting storytelling possibilities beyond them. Not every story needs to be in second person, but when it’s the right voice for the right story, it can be magic. The right information dump, written perfectly, can become a dazzling gymnastic feat of beauty, fascination, or humor.
“Break the Rules” will teach you inspirations and techniques for rowing upstream of common knowledge. You can break any rule–if you do it right.

Join award-winning speculative fiction writer Rachel Swirsky for a workshop in which she teaches you how and why to break the rules. Next class date: Sunday, April 4, 2021, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.

(10) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • March 8, 1978 The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was first broadcast forty-three years ago today on BBC Radio 4. It was written by Douglas Adams with some material in the first series provided by John Lloyd. It starred Simon Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey. Susan Sheridan and Stephen Moore. It was the only radio show ever to be nominated for a Hugo in the ‘Best Dramatic Presentation’ category finishing second that year to Superman at Seacon ‘79. It would spawn theater shows, novels, comic books, a TV series, a video game, and a feature film.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 8, 1859 Kenneth Grahame. Author of The Wind in the Willows which it turns out has had seven film adaptations, not all under the name The Wind in the Willows. (Did you know A.A. Milne dramatized it for the stage as Toad of Toad Hall?) Oh, and he did write one other fantasy, The Reluctant Dragon which I’ve never heard of. Have any of y’all read it? (Died 1932.) (CE) 
  • Born March 8, 1899 – Eric Linklater.  The Wind on the Moon reached the Retro-Hugo ballot; it won the Carnegie Medal.  Three more novels, nine shorter stories for us; two dozen novels all told, ten plays, three volumes of stories, two of poetry, three of memoirs, two dozen of essays & history.  Served in both World Wars.  Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  (Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1922 – John Burke.  Co-edited The Satellite and Moonshine (not Len Moffatt’s fanzine, another one).  A score of books including novelizations of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (okay, call it adjacent), fourscore shorter stories, for us; a hundred fifty novels all told.  Correspondent of The FantastZenith, and at the end Relapse, which I wish Sir Peter Weston hadn’t retitled from Prolapse, but what do I know?  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1928 Kate Wilhelm. Author of the Hugo–winning Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. She also won a Hugo for Best Related Book and a Locus Award for Best Nonfiction for Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. SFWA renamed their Solstice Award the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. She established the Clarion Workshop with her husband Damon Knight and writer Robin Scott Wilson. (Died 2018,) (CE)
  • Born March 8, 1932 – Jim Webbert, age 89.  Among our better auctioneers – we raise money that way, few would pay what con memberships really cost.  Collector of books, other art, model rockets.  HO model railroader.  Chemist.  Three decades in the Army Reserve, often teaching.  Often seen at LepreCon.  Fan Guest of Honor at TusCon 1, CopperCon 9, Con/Fusion, Kubla Khan 20 (all with wife Doreen). [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1934 Kurt Mahr. One of the first writers of the Perry Rhodan series, considered the largest SF series of the world. He also edited a Perry Rhodan magazine, wrote Perry Rhodan chapbooks and yes, wrote many, many short stories about Perry Rhodan.  He did write several other SF series. Ok, what’s the appeal of Perry Rhodan? He runs through SF as a genre but I’ve not read anything concerning him. (Died 1993.) (CE)
  • Born March 8, 1939 Peter Nicholls. Writer and editor. Creator and co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction with John Clute which won a Hugo twice. He won another Hugo for the Science Fiction Encyclopedia. His other publications were Science Fiction at LargeThe Science in Science Fiction edited by Nicholls and written by him and David Langford, and Fantastic Cinema.  He became the first Administrator of the United Kingdom based Science Fiction Foundation. He was editor of its journal, Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction, from 1974 to 1978. (Died 2018.) (CE) 
  • Born March 8, 1948 – Jackie French Koller, age 73.  Four novels, six shorter stories, for us; three dozen books all told.  Watercolorist.  Makes gingerbread houses.  Her Website.  [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1973 – Daniel Griffo, age 48.  Lives in La Plata (a Silver Age artist?), Argentina, with wife, son, and two pets named Indiana and Jones.  I am not making this up.  Comics, lettering, 3-dimensional activity books, My Visit to the Acupuncturist (I’m not; why shouldn’t there be a children’s book about that?), two about Dragon Masters – here’s one of them, Future of the Time Dragon.  Website.  [JH]
  • Born March 8, 1976 Freddie Prinze Jr., 45. I’m fairly sure his first genre role was in Wing Commander as Lt. Christopher Blair followed by the animated Mass Effect: Paragon Lost in which he voiced Lieutenant James Vega. Speaking of animated endeavors, I’ve got him in Kim Possible: A Sitch In Time voicing Future Jim / Future Tim followed by being in all in all four seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels as Kanan Jarrus. And that’s a series which I highly recommend as it may well be the best Star Wars fiction ever done. (CE) 
  • Born March 8, 1978 – Samanta Schweblin, age 43.  Another Argentine, this one living in Berlin, writing in Spanish.  Two novels, two shorter stories for us; three collections.  Casa de las Americas Award.  Juan Rulfo Prize.  Tigre Juan Award, Shirley Jackson Award for Distancia de rescate, in English Fever Dream.  [JH]

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side reveals the tragic conclusion of a nursery rhyme.  

(13) FOUR-POSTER. Marvel Studios’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier today released four new character posters for Sam Wilson (Falcon)Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier)Sharon Carter and Helmut Zemo as they near their March 19 premiere on Disney+.

(14) ON BOARD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the March 3 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the appeal of board games during the pandemic.

For those who fancy themselves not Victorian engineers or colonial settlers but fantasy warriors and space explorers, games such as Twilight Imperium and Terraforming Mars hold more appeal.  You can learn the rules of most within an hour or two, but there are some more elaborate offerings such as dungeon crawler Gloomhaven, which weighs 10kg and currently sits at the top of the ratings on the authoritative site BoardGameGeek.  Games have grown in beauty as well as sophistication–see Wingspan, with its 180 gorgeous bird illustrations and pleasing tokens in the shape of pastel-shaded eggs.

As the games themselves have become more desirable, board game cafes such as Draughts in London and Snakes and Lattes in Toronto have sprung up and help legitimise board gaming,  At the same time, the internet has facilitated the discovery of new games and willing opponents, as well as enabling the rising trend of board game crowdfunding–Frosthaven, the followup to Gloomhaven, raised almost $13m on Kickstarter.”

(15) PSA FROM WJW. Walter Jon Williams has shared “My Mask Policy” on his blog:

After having endured the horrors of Oklahoma and Kentucky, I’ve decided that I should announce my mask policy.  I’m not a head of state or a governor, I’m just a guy, so there is no way to enforce my preferences on the world— except, of course, by way of sarcasm and mockery.

Just remember that I’m the guy that came up with several rules for living, including Williams’ First Law: Assholes Always Advertise.

So here goes:

While there is very little scientific data about how effective mask use is in preventing COVID, the wearing of masks in public is (at the very least) a courtesy to others, particularly those most vulnerable to the disease.

So if you’re in public and not wearing a mask, I’m not going to assume that you’re a brave  iconoclastic thinker challenging accepted dogma, I’m going to assume that you are a complete asshole.  And not only are you an asshole, you’re advertising yourself as such.

(16) EXPLORING THE DEBRIS. At Amazing Stories, “Veronica Scott Reviews NBC’s ‘Debris’ Episode One”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

…On the positive side, I love the concept of the alien spaceship disintegrating as it enters the solar system. I’m frankly fascinated by the backstory of that, which sadly,  in episode one at least, the series shows no signs of exploring, versus the “what does each piece of debris do this week” storytelling. I liked the way the program began, with the tiny shard of debris transporting an unfortunate maid from high up in a hotel to her death in the dining room, without marring any of the ceilings or floors she falls through. Grabbed my attention!

But there was very little about the alien technology or curiosity on anyone’s part about the aliens themselves or what destroyed the ship. No discussion about whether the debris is actually some kind of invasion or what might happen next. No one here seems to care if there was an FTL drive to be had.  I frankly wished this was a series about going to explore what’s left of the hulk in space, rather than these cut and dried, solved in an hour individual cases….

(17) A LITTLE LIST. At the Hugo Book Club Blog, Olav Rokne has compiled a list of “Screen adaptations of Hugo-shortlisted works”. There are 47 so far.  (The list excludes Retro Hugo awards as well as all Graphic Novels and comic book adaptations.)

(18) SEUSSWATCH. Adina Bresge, in the Canadian Press story “Canadian libraries reassess Dr. Seuss books pulled from publication for racist images” says that a lot of Canadian libraries are checking to see if they have the six books Dr. Seuss Enterprises has withdrawn from circulation and some of them have pulled the books from the shelves.

The scrutiny also prompted some public libraries to review their Dr. Seuss collections.

A group of librarians across Toronto Public Library’s system will evaluate the titles in question and issue recommendations, according to a spokeswoman.

“Occasionally, children’s books written some time ago are brought to our attention for review,” Ana-Maria Critchley said in an email.

“If the review determines there are racial and cultural representation concerns the committee will recommend to either withdraw the book from our library collections or move the book from children’s collections to another location, such as a reference collection for use by researchers.”

The Vancouver Public Library is also launching reviews of each of the six Dr. Seuss titles.

Scott Fraser, manager of marketing and communications, said this process is usually initiated by a request from a patron, but the library made an exception given the “extremely unusual” decision by a rights holder to suspend publication.

Copies of the books will remain on the shelves while the review is underway, Fraser said, and officials will then decide whether to keep a title in the collection, change its classification or remove it from the stacks.

Vancouver Public Library previously reviewed “If I Ran the Zoo” in 2014 in response to a complaint about stereotypical depictions of Asians. A caption in the book describes three characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”

The library decided to keep the book on the shelves, but stop reading it at storytime, and only promote it as an example of how cultural depictions have changed….

(19) GALE WARNING. “Scientists Discover Massive ‘Space Hurricane’ Above Earth”Vice has the story.

…Prior to this discovery, Zhang and his research group had been pondering the possible existence of space hurricanes for years. The team’s research focus lies in the interactions between the ionosphere, an atmospheric layer that extends some 50 to 600 miles above Earth’s surface, and the magnetosphere, the region shaped by our planet’s protective magnetic field. At the poles, these interactions generate the magical and dazzling auroras that are popularly known as the Northern and Southern Lights. 

Tropical hurricanes are driven in part by the movements of heavy air masses that generate strong winds; Zhang and his colleagues suspected a similar mechanism might be at work in the outer space environment close to Earth. In the case of space hurricanes, the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows from the Sun, slams into Earth’s upper atmosphere and transfers its energy into the ionosphere, driving the cyclone formation.

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “WandaVision Pitch Meeting” on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that Marvel fans will be frustrated by the slow drip of revelations about how WandaVision connects to the MCU that they’ll become really frustrated by the phrase “Please Stand By.”

 [Thanks to Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 12/13/19 All These Scrolls Are Yours, Except Tsundoku. Attempt No Pixels There

(1) MARVEL SNAPSHOTS. Kurt Busiek is overseeing a Marvel showcase series featuring history-making characters.

This March, prepare to see the greatest moments of Marvel’s 80-year history told like never before! In MARVEL SNAPSHOTS, industry legend Kurt Busiek will bring together incredible creative teams for eight standalone, double sized issues showcasing Marvel’s most beloved characters from the golden age to today. Like 1994’s critically acclaimed MARVELS series, MARVEL SNAPSHOTS will be tales told through the eyes of ordinary people, offering unique insights on the legendary mythos of the Marvel Universe. MARVELS SNAPSHOTS also reunites Busiek with renowned MARVELS co-creator Alex Ross who will be providing the series with his iconic painted covers.

It all begins with SUB-MARINER: MARVELS SNAPSHOT #1 when best-selling novelist and Emmy Award-winning TV writer Alan Brennert (L.A. LAW, TWILIGHT ZONE) and superstar artist Jerry Ordway (ALL-STAR SQUADRON, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS) unite to tell an unforgettable story about Marvel’s original antihero: Prince Namor!

Set circa World War II, things kick off with an action-packed tale featuring Namor, Betty Dean, and the All-Winners Squad–a dream come true for Brennert. “I can honestly say that I enjoyed working on this story more than any comics story I’ve done in years. I grew up reading (and loving) Marvel’s Golden Age heroes in the 1960s, in reprints in FANTASY MASTERPIECES. But I never thought I’d have a shot at writing them–especially the All-Winners Squad!–and I’m grateful to Kurt Busiek and Tom Brevoort for providing me the opportunity, and to Jerry Ordway for bringing it all to glorious life,” Brennert says. “I’m enormously proud of ‘Reunion’ and honored to be the first story published in MARVELS SNAPSHOTS.”

Artist Jerry Ordway is just as passionate about bringing this tale to life. “When I was offered this project, I jumped at it, being a big fan of the original MARVELS book by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross. Getting to draw a Sub-Mariner story set in the 1940s, with appearances by the All-Winners Squad, lets me connect with Marvel’s World War II era history, and the work of Subby’s creator, Bill Everett,” says Ordway. “I’ve been a Marvel maniac from the age of 10, so this is pretty cool! Alan Brennert wrote a great script which fits neatly into the bigger tapestry that is the Marvel Universe. I’m thrilled to get to play in this sandbox after so many years as an artist.”

(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Listeners are invited to join host Scott Edelman and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry for lunch in Little Italy on Episode 111 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Elsa Sjunneson-Henry

My guest this time around is Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, who was a winner of the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award earlier this year for her work as a Guest Editor of Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue. She was also a 2019 Hugo Award finalist for Best Fan Writer. Her fiction has appeared in such magazines as Fireside and Uncanny, as well the anthologies Ghost in the Cogs and Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling. She’s written non-fiction for The Boston Globe, Barnes & Noble, Tor.com, and other venues. She is a feminist scholar and disability rights activist (which I knew), but also a burlesque historian (which I did not know).

We lunched at La Tavola, where I’d previously joined Marv Wolfman during the 2017 Baltimore Comic-Con. We discussed her roller coaster of emotions the night she won a Hugo Award earlier this year during the Dublin Worldcon, how that editorial gig increased her empathy, the way writing roleplaying games and being a Sherlock Holmes nerd taught her about world-building and led to her first professional fiction sales, the dinosaur-themed Twitter feed that gave birth to her most recently published short story, the novel she’s working on which she describes as The Conjuring meets The Stand, her expertise in obscenity law and fascination with the history of burlesque, why she felt the Bird Box novel handled blindness better than the movie, her background in competitive improv and the way that helped her within science fiction, advice on how not to let Internet trolls get you down, and much more.

(3) PILE PELION ON OSSA. John Scalzi chronicled the results of his Twitter poll which asks: “Would Baby Yoda eat a porg?” (Is it cannibalism if one cute thing eats another cute thing?) Thread starts here.

(4) JUST PLAIN FOLKS TALES. RS Benedict has released another episode of the Rite Gud podcast, “No More Heroes with JR Dawson”. In this interview with sff short fiction author JR Dawson, they talk about writing fiction that doesn’t focus on Big Important Heroes of Destiny. It’s called No More Heroes.

Much of speculative literature focuses on superheroes and Chosen Ones. But what about ordinary people or flawed people who don’t save the world? Do they matter?

Sci-fi/fantasy author JR Dawson joins us to talk about why she writes about ordinary people, and how privilege and inequality warp our idea of whose story deserves to be told. She also talks about being a Midwestern writer, her favorite literary losers and that time Hans Christian Andersen got really weird with Charles Dickens’ family.

(5) BEST SFF. Andrew Liptak chimes in with “The best science fiction and fantasy books of 2019” at Polygon. (It’s interesting to see that several of the year’s most-discussed books only made his Honorable Mentions.)

Here’s one that made the list —

The Waste Tide by Chen Quifan

Cixin Liu might have become the best-known science fiction writers to come out of China, but he’s far from the only one. Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide is a far cry from Liu’s epic science fiction tales, taking a grim look at the near future of China, where impoverished workers struggle to make a living from the world’s electronic waste.

Waste Tide follows a series of people who come together in Silicone Isle: Mimi, a worker who heads there for work; Scott Brandle, an American who is trying to arrange a contract; and Chen Kaizong, a translator, all of whom find themselves wrapped up in a greater plot for control. It’s a book that reminded me quite a bit of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl, with a pointed commentary on class warfare and the lifecycle of the devices we use.

(6) HAPPY BLANDINGS. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll wryly claims “SFF Needs More Incompetent Autocrats”. This turns out to be a Wodehouse tribute as much as anything.

One of SFF’s grand traditions is carefully filing the serial numbers off historical events (the American Revolutionary War, perhaps, or the Napoleonic Wars), or famous and classic works (Lord of the Rings, the Hornblower series, Zulu), and re-purposing the result as SFF. This is usually known as “research” (See Tom Lehrer on this point). Examples abound—my disinclination to deal with crowds of irate authors protesting at my door precludes naming them here….

(7) HOLLYWOOD HISTORY. Profiles in History’s “Hollywood: A Collector’s Ransom Auction” has all kinds of genre movie props, models, and figurines. It even has examples of correspondence between director Sam Peckinpah and Ray Bradbury. “Ray and Sam would lunch (hoist a few pints) at the Formosa Café,” recalls John King Tarpinian.

(8) A PYTHON SPEAKS. Leonard and Jesse interviewed Terry Gilliam for their Maltin on Movies podcast.

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote completes a quest that has consumed Terry Gilliam for thirty years, but as Leonard and Jessie learned, he bears his burdens lightly. He made his name supplying unique animated sequences for   Monty Python’s Flying Circus and his films include Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Brazil, and The Fisher King. He’s a delightful man with stories to tell (about everyone from Robin Williams to Heath Ledger) and a great outlook on life.

(9) MICROLOAN. Rachel Swirsky signal-boosted an “Opportunity to Support a Palestinian Library” and so will we.

I’ve been making microloans through Kiva.org through years, and this project caught my eye. A Palestinian woman is looking to convert an old house into a library and bookshop: 

Check it out at Kiva: https://www.kiva.org/lend/1893559

Duha is a nice girl who lives with her family in a small humble house near Ramallah. Duha has an amazing idea: she decided to restore an old house to make it a library and a place to sell books and other stationery.

She went to Palestine for Credit and Development (FATEN) to request a loan to help her to cover all restoration expenses to convert the old house into a library. Duha hopes that all the students and residents of the area will benefit from the library.

(10) OVERCOMING REJECTION. Alex Woolf advocates “Seven Ways to Grow Your Resilience as a Writer” at the SFWA Blog.

Study the nuances of rejection
In the miserable miasma of reading a fresh rejection, it can be easy to miss the nuggets of positivity and constructive feedback that are often contained in the message too. Some messages are form rejections, but it’s well-known that many venues have form messages that vary according to their take on the writer. A writer a venue wishes to encourage, for example, may get a standard message that’s quite different from the standard message that’s sent to a writer that for whatever reason they are never likely to publish.

So once the initial disappointment has subsided, make a point of going back to the message and seeing what you can learn from it for your next project or submission. Sometimes there is a valuable nugget in there (e.g. Try to use fewer adverbs or We felt we wanted to know more about what was happening from the protagonist’s perspective.) These are valuable insights that you can work with.

However disappointing the message, always send an acknowledgment – stay polite and professional. And if a venue says you should submit again, then do so, once or twice more at least. They didn’t have to say that, after all.

(11) YIKES! Bloomberg confirms “Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments”.

Amazon declined interview requests for this story. In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman wrote, “Privacy is foundational to how every team and employee designs and develops Alexa features and Echo devices. All Alexa employees are trained on customer data handling as part of our security training.” The company and its competitors have said computers perform the vast majority of voice requests without human review.

Yet so-called smart devices inarguably depend on thousands of low-paid humans who annotate sound snippets so tech companies can upgrade their electronic ears; our faintest whispers have become one of their most valuable datasets. Earlier this year, Bloomberg News was first to report on the scope of the technology industry’s use of humans to review audio collected from their users without disclosures, including at Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. Few executives and engineers who spoke with Bloomberg Businessweek for this story say they anticipated that setting up vast networks of human listeners would be problematic or intrusive. To them, it was and is simply an obvious way to improve their products.

… Several of the big tech companies tweaked their virtual-assistant programs this year after a steady drip of news reports. While Google has paused human transcriptions of Assistant audio, Apple has begun letting users delete their Siri history and opt out of sharing more, made sharing recordings optional, and hired many former contractors directly to increase its control over human listening. Facebook and Microsoft have added clearer disclaimers to their privacy policies. And Amazon has introduced a similar disclosure and started letting Alexa users opt out of manual reviews. “It’s a well-known thing in the industry,” Amazon’s Limp recently said about human transcription teams. “Whether it was well known among press or customers, it’s pretty clear we weren’t good enough there.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Cat Eldridge emailed that he needed urgent care for some physical problems – I hope they are able to get him feeling better soon. Go ahead and mention birthdays you know about in the comments.]

(13) STAR TREK SHIP IN A BOTTLE. So is there a teeny-tiny Kirk and Spock in there somewhere?

On this episode of Ben’s Worx I make a ship in a bottle with epoxy resin and Australian burl.

(14) RABID IN THE NORTHWEST. Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, was referenced by the Guardian in a story about a Washington state representative: “Report on far-right Republican Matt Shea in hands of Washington legislators”

Outside investigators have submitted a report to the Washington state house about the activities of the far-right Republican state representative Matt Shea, but legislators on both sides of the aisle remain tight-lipped about its contents.

…Last Monday the independent investigator, the Rampart Group, presented their findings to the chief clerk of the Washington state legislature . He in turn delivered the findings to the executive rules committee, composed of leaders of both parties in the house.

…Shea, meanwhile, was interviewed last week on Infowars’ David Knight Show, where he attacked perceived critics.

Shea then quoted Theodore Beale, whom the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes as a “champion of the alt right movement”, and whose blog is described as a home of “misogynistic, white supremacist diatribes”.

“Social justice warriors always lie, they always double down on their lie, and they always try to project on to you how they really are themselves,” Shea said.

(15) HIGH-STAKES COMICS AUCTION. Heritage Auctions brought home the bacon again: “Marvel Comics #1 Brings Record $1.26 Million to Lead Heritage Auctions’ Comics & Comic Art Auction Beyond $14.9 Million”.

The finest known copy of Marvel Comics No. 1, sold for $1,260,000 to lead Heritage Auctions’ record-setting Comics & Comic Art auction to $14,936,295 Nov. 21 in Dallas, Texas.

The second-largest comic auction of all time, trailing only the $15,121,405 realized in Heritage Auctions’ Chicago Comics & Comic Art Auction in May 2019, this sale included 15 lots that sold for at least $100,000.

…The issue, with famous cover art by Frank R. Paul and interior art by a group of illustrators that included Bill Everett, Carl Burgos and Paul Gustavson, was purchased by a Pennsylvania postal carrier who bought every No. 1 issue he could of both comic books and magazines, beginning in the 1940s. It’s grade of 9.4 on a scale of 1-10 makes it the best copy of the issue ever found, according to Certified Guaranty Company (CGC).

More than two dozen collectors made bids for Robert Crumb Your Hytone Comix #nn “Stoned Agin!” Inside Back Cover Original Art (Apex Novelties, 1971) before it closed at $690,000, breaking the record for the most ever paid for an interior piece of comic art. Created at the height of the artist’s popularity, the image is instantly recognizable, even by many who don’t know the work of Crumb, who is revered for his contribution to the underground comics movement in the 1960s. This iconic image was reproduced countless times, including on a blacklight poster, on pinback buttons, postcards and t-shirts.

Neal Adams Batman #251 Cover The Joker Original Art (DC, 1973) sold for $600,000, the most ever paid through Heritage Auctions for a piece of DC art. The spectacular image of one of the most famous Joker covers of all time debuted a new version of the villain, trumpeting the return of the Joker after a four-year hiatus from Batman comics….

(16) HE CREATED THE UBIQUITOUS MARKS. NPR reports “IBM Engineer Who Designed The Universal Product Code Dies At 94”.

On a June morning in 1974, a Marsh Supermarket cashier in Troy, Ohio, rang up a 67-cent pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum using something novel — the black and white stripes of a universal bar code.

The Universal Product Code is now a packaging mainstay on everything from cereal boxes and produce to electronics and airplane tickets, but it might not have worked without IBM engineer George Laurer.

Laurer, who died this month at 94 in North Carolina, had been given an assignment by his manager: Write a proposal for grocery executives explaining how IBM would take a previously invented bar code pattern, in the shape of a bull’s-eye, and make it work in supermarkets across the country.

But when that manager returned from a vacation, Laurer was there to meet him. “I didn’t do what you asked,” he said.

Instead, Laurer had created something else — the bull’s-eye was gone and in its place was a linear bar code. Laurer had deemed the bull’s-eye design unworkable. The circular code, inspired by Morse code and patented by N. Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver in 1952, was too small, and it would smear when run through the poor-quality printing presses used for most food labels at the time.

(17) SIMMERING. Kotaku discovered that “Baby Yoda Can Be Bought In The Sims 4”.

Because EA owns The Sims, and because EA also has the rights to Star Wars video games, we finally have a digital tie-in with the new live-action Mandalorian series. It’s not a Carl Weathers outfit. It’s not a “Bounty Hunter” job for your Sim. It’s a Baby Yoda statue you can buy and put in your yard.

(18) IN SEARCH OF REPRODUCIBLE RESULTS. They hope a tool will make them easier to come by. “Can A Research Accelerator Solve The Psychology Replication Crisis?”

In 2008, psychologists proposed that when humans are shown an unfamiliar face, they judge it on two main dimensions: trustworthiness and physical strength. These form the basis of first impressions, which may help people make important social decisions, from whom to vote for to how long a prison sentence should be.

To date, the 2008 paper — written by Nikolaas Oosterhof of Dartmouth College and Alexander Todorov of Princeton University — has attracted more than a thousand citations, and several studies have obtained similar findings. But until now, the theory has been replicated successfully only in a handful of settings, making its findings biased toward nations that are Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic — or WEIRD, a common acronym used in academic literature.

Now, one large-scale study suggests that although the 2008 theory may apply in many parts of the world, the overall picture remains complex. An early version was published at PsyArXiv Preprints on Oct. 31. The study is under review at the journal Nature Human Behavior.

The study is the first conducted through the Psychological Science Accelerator, a global network of more than 500 labs in more than 70 countries. The accelerator, which launched in 2017, aims to redo older psychology experiments but on a mass scale in several different settings. The effort is one of many targeting a problem that has plagued the discipline for years: the inability of psychologists to get consistent results across similar experiments, or the lack of reproducibility.

(19) THEY LIE, YOU KNOW. “How ‘dark patterns’ influence travel bookings” – BBC will explain.

If you’ve wondered whether there were actually 30 people trying to book the same flight as you, you’re not alone. As Chris Baraniuk finds, the numbers may not be all they seem.

Ophir Harpaz just wanted to get a good deal on a flight to London. She was on travel website OneTravel, scouring various options for her trip. As she browsed, she noticed a seemingly helpful prompt: “38 people are looking at this flight”. A nudge that implied the flight might soon get booked up, or perhaps that the price of a seat would rise as they became scarcer.

Except it wasn’t a true statement. As Harpaz looked at that number, “38 people”, she began to feel sceptical. Were 38 people really looking at that budget flight to London at the same exact moment?

Being a cyber-security researcher, she was familiar with web code so she decided to examine how OneTravel displayed its web pages. (Anyone can do this by using the “inspect” function on web browsers like Firefox and Chrome.) After a little bit of digging she made a startling discovery – the number wasn’t genuine. The OneTravel web page she was browsing was simply designed to claim that between 28 and 45 people were viewing a flight at any given moment. The exact figure was chosen at random.

Not only that, the website’s innards were surprisingly blatant about what was going on. The bit of code that defined the number shown to users was even labelled “view_notification_random”.

(20) MECHANICAL BULLS***. “General Election 2019: How computers wrote BBC election result stories”.

For the first time, BBC News published a news story for every constituency that declared election results overnight – all written by a computer.

It was the BBC’s biggest test of machine-generated journalism so far.

Each of nearly 700 articles – most in English but 40 of them in Welsh – was checked by a human editor before publication.

The head of the project said the tech was designed to enhance the service provided rather than to replace humans.

“This is about doing journalism that we cannot do with human beings at the moment,” said Robert McKenzie, editor of BBC News Labs.

“Using machine assistance, we generated a story for every single constituency that declared last night with the exception of the one that hasn’t finished counting yet. That would never have been possible.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Quail on Vimeo, Grant Kolton explains that if you want to be a quail, it’s hard work!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 8/17/19 There Is Something You Should Scroll – I Am Not Left-Pixelled

(1) DUBLIN 2019 MASQUERADE. The convention tweeted photos of the winners:

Other entries:

(2) DUBLIN 2019 ATTENDANCE. At the end of Thursday, Dublin 2019’s daily newzine reported the “total warm bodies registered” at 4,700.

(3) 2019 HUGO LIVESTREAM. Here’s where you find the 2019 Hugo Awards Ceremony on Vimeo tomorrow.

The premiere event of the Worldcon will take place on Sunday evening, as we celebrate the best science fiction and fantasy of 2018. Hosted by Afua Richardson and Michael Scott, we invite you to join us in congratulating this year’s finalists and winners of the prestigious Hugo Awards.

(4) DUBLIN 2019 ART SHOW AWARDS. The daily newzine posted the results:

  • Best Jewellery Collection: Angela Jones-Parker  
  • Best Collection Of Work: Maja Winnacka  
  • Best Traditional Original: Johnman (John Green) for We Are All Majestic  
  • Best Artwork: Jim Burns for Jane Delawney Had Her Dreams  
  • Best Digital Art: Fred Gambino for 2nd Gen  
  • Spirit Of Dublin: Paul Sheridan for An Unexpected Pub Crawl  
  • Best 3D: Didier Cottier for Le Grand Chambellan  
  • Best Textile Art: Sarah Haddock aka Cryptozoo

With thanks to the judging panel, Alice Lawson, Colin Harris, Jo Playford and Serena Culfeather, who had a hard task.

(5) RETRO HUGO VOTING STATISTICS. Hugo Administrator Nicholas White has published the Retro-Hugo results for this year. He also tweeted an analysis of how differently this year’s Retro Hugos would have been reported if the “Notability Still Matters” amendment had been in force for this year’s awards. The thread starts here.

(6) T WRECKS. Camestros Felapton revisits Rachel Swirsky’s Nebula-winning story: “Hugosauriad 4.4: If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky”.

But there is something (intentionally) not quite right from the start. A T-Rex? The tyrannosaur has been stomping through dinosaur stories throughout this project and in almost every instance they have been symbols of sudden violence and an agent of vengeance and punishment of the wicked or cowardly. Symbolically in dinosaur stories the T-rex has been a kind of saurian Fury punishing the cowardly or those who in hubris forgot to show the proper respect to time-travel or dinosaurs.

Yet, in the very next sentence Swirsky flips this around, emphasising the vulnerability and muted scale of this fantasy T-Rex. The tyrant lizard is more of a benevolent and humane despot with fragile bones like a bird and a gentle gaze. The contrast is severe and adds to the sense that there is something going on here other than a fanciful musing.

(7) TOLKIEN’S ART. James Trilling considers “One Man’s Modernism: J. R. R. Tolkien” at the Yale Review. Robin Reid sent the link with a note, “I bristled a bit at the opening section about the ‘academic and critical community’ (seemed way oversimplistic) but was intrigued by the shift to focus on his visual art and provide some commentary.” The article focuses on Tolkien’s artwork, and the catalog of the recent Bodleian exhibit Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth, edited by Catherine McIlwaine.

…Only in one respect does the new catalogue suggest a new approach [from the Bodleian’s previous exhibit]: the greater attention paid to Tolkien’s achievements as a visual artist. His visual world was complex and unresolved. He made, for example, naturalistic, largely academic early drawings in pen and ink, depicting buildings and landscape features. One of the best, from 1912, is reproduced in the catalogue. It is recognized that Tolkien’s most important drawing teacher was his mother. Even her handwriting shimmers with energy and elegance (see, e.g., cat. 17), and it is tempting to see in it the basis of her son’s medievalizing fantasies. Unfortunately we are deprived–like Tolkien himself–of the chance to investigate her influence in detail. After her tragically early death in 1904, her sister-in-law burned her papers: not from fear of any scandal, but because she simply could not imagine anybody wanting them.

(8) WILLIAMS OBIT. Animator Richard Williams, famed for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, died August 16 at the age of 86. The NBC News profile begins:

The Oscar-winning artist died from cancer at his home in Bristol, England, on Friday, his daughter Natasha Sutton Williams said Saturday.

Williams’ career straddled the “Golden Age of Animation,” which petered out between the 1950s and 1960s, and the rise of computer-assisted animation in the 1990s and beyond.

His best-known work may be as director of animation for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” a 1988 film that married live action cinema and cartoons from all eras, a process involved the laborious insertion of animated characters into each individual frame and complex lighting effects. The result — a madcap and slightly dark comedy where “toons” and humans interact seamlessly against a live action film noir background — was commercial and critical hit and helped revitalize Disney’s flagging animation department.

He won Oscars for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and A Christmas Carol.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • August 17, 1939The Man They Could Not Hang debuted in theatres.
  • August 17, 1960 The Time Machine premiered in theaters, later losing the Hugo to a TV show called The Twilight Zone.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 17, 1917 — Oliver Crawford. Screenwriter who overcame the Hollywood blacklist during the McCarthy Era of the 1950s. He wrote three scripts for Trek, “The Cloud Minders”, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and “The Galileo Seven”.  He also wrote for The Outer Limits (“The Special One”), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (“The Lost Bomb”) and The Wild Wild West (“The Night of the Cossacks” and “The Night of Sudden Death”). No, that’s not everything hescripted. (Died 2008.)
  • Born August 17, 1930 — Harve Bennett. The individual who gave us Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Really he did. He would then serve as produced on the next three Trek films, The Search for SpockThe Voyage Home and The Final Frontier. His only on scene appearance is in the latter as Starfleet Chief of Staff. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 17, 1945 — Rachel Pollack, 74. She’s best known is well known for her run of issues 64–87 (mid-Nineties) on DC’s Doom Patrol which took it up to its cancellation. She also had a run on the New Gods, the Jack Kirby created mythos.  Two of her novels won major awards. Unquenchable Fire won the Arthur C. Clarke Award; Godmother Night won the World Fantasy Award. 
  • Born August 17, 1956 — John Romita Jr., 63. If you’ve read Spider-Man since the Sixties, it’s very likely that you’ve seen his artwork as he had six stints on it between 1980 and 2009. He find a number of other titles on Marvel and DC including Superman, Ghost Rider, Hulk, All-Star Batman, Eternals, Captain America and Daredevil to name but a few of the titles he illustrated. He also worked with Mark Miller at Image Comics on Kick-Ass, and did the one shot Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights
  • Born August 17, 1960 — Chris Baker, 59. He’s the cover artist for British and German versions of the Redwall books, as well as a storyboard and conceptual artist having worked with Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and Tim Burton. Among his films are Big Fish, Skyfall, Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryA.I. Artificial Intelligence and Corpse Bride
  • Born August 17, 1962 — Laura Resnick, 57. Daughter of Mike Resnick. She is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction for “No Room for the Unicorn”. I’ve not read her Manhattan Magic series so I’m interested to know what y’all think of it. She’s readily available ion iBooks and Kindle. 
  • Born August 17, 1966 — Neil Clarke, 53. Editor in Chief of Clarkesworld Magazine which has won an impressive three Best Semiprozine Hugos. SFWA also gave him a Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He edits The Best Science Fiction of the Year series for Night Shade Books.  

(11) THE SHEEP SHOW UP. A reliable source says an anonymous package was waiting for RedWombat at her panel this afternoon…

(12) THE BIRDS. “The New ‘DuckTales’ Is ‘Game of Thrones’ for Kids” according to Fatherly’s Andy Kryza:

The new Disney DuckTales reboot has taken on a mythology all its own, one far more complicated than the show we might remember from the nineties. The theme song threatens “racecars, lasers, aeroplanes,” but those things seem tame compared to what the ducks are facing now: Duels on erupting volcanoes, shadow creatures, sorceresses, gladiators, sky pirates, undersea realms, cursed talismans, and full-blown demigods. That’s more than a duck-blur. This is some Game of Thrones action, only with less murder, more jokes and a lack of crushing disappointment from the conclusion. At least for now. 

Sound silly? Well, the new version of Ducktales; which started in 2017 and recently ended its stellar second season on — of course — a cliffhanger, has more in common with the world of Westeros than the Disney-verse of old. And not just because its characters are perpetually pantsless…. 

(13) TRUE LOVE. The News arm of The Beeb brings us an in depth article (Why I ‘married’ an anime character) about a young man who fell in love with Miku, an anime character.

There is a word in Japanese for people who are obsessed with video games and anime – otaku. An increasing number of otaku now say they have fallen in love with anime characters and given up on the idea of real-world romance, reports the BBC’s Stephanie Hegarty.

Akihiko Kondo wakes up every day to the sound of his wife’s voice. She calls him from across the room in her high-pitched, girlish, sing-song voice. She dances and swirls around, urging him to get out of bed.

At the same time, he’s holding her in his arms on the bottom tier of their metal-framed bunk bed – and if he was more awake he could be watching an illustrated cartoon of her singing on YouTube.

This is because Akihiko’s “wife” is an idea – an anime character called Miku.

She’s the hologram that lives in a glass capsule on a shelf in the corner of the room, and the cuddly toy with its big soft head and small body that he holds close at night. But she can take innumerable other forms.

(14) BY A WHISKER. I’d Watch That shows how the upcoming CATS musical is even scarier when it comes from the mind of Stephen King!

(15) ONE SMALL STEP. BBC reports “Nasa picks headquarters for Moon lander”.

A Nasa facility in Alabama that developed the giant rocket for the Apollo programme in the 1960s will play a key role in sending astronauts down to the Moon’s surface in 2024.

The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville will lead the development of a vehicle that will land astronauts on the body for the first time since 1972.

The decision was announced by Nasa’s administrator Jim Bridenstine.

But it’s a disappointment for Texas, which was in the running.

The White House wants to send a man and a woman to the South Pole of the Moon in five years, under a programme called Artemis.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “New Civilization VI Theme *EPIC CHOIR* Performance” on YouTube is the Oregon State University choir singing the theme music to the video game Civilization VI.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, Robin Reid, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Pixel Scroll 8/2/19 In The Scroll, The Contributing Editors Come And Go, Filing Comments On Pixels From Long Ago

(1) LOSCON ADDS MOSHE FEDER. Tor Books editor Moshe Feder has been named a guest of honor of the 2019 Loscon, to be held over Thanksgiving weekend (November 29 – December 1) at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel.

Moshe Feder’s influence is felt around the world, perfecting the work of science fiction and fantasy’s brightest writers: David Gerrold, Juliet McKenna, Archbishop John J. Myers, Robert Silverberg, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and Gary K. Wolfe. Loscon 46 is proud to announce Feder, a Tor Books editor, as its Editor Guest of Honor.

Loscon 46 Guests of Honor also include award-winning speculative fiction writer Howard Waldrop (The Ugly Chickens, Night of the Cooters), and Edie Stern, a fan celebrated for her work at fanac.org, a fan-history archive as well as other fan community activities around the world.

Participants include area artists and authors, such as Sean M. Carroll, Rick Sternbach, Steven Barnes, Harry Turtledove, Tananarive Due, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff and Tim Powers.

(2) DOCTOR WHO MOVING. Will you need to pony up for another streaming service? Variety brings word that “‘Doctor Who’ to Stream Exclusively on HBO Max”.

The forthcoming WarnerMedia streaming platform has acquired the exclusive streaming rights to “Doctor Who,” with all 11 seasons of the historic BBC series coming to the service upon launch in spring 2020. The news comes as part of a deal with BBC studios which means the streamer will be the home of future “Doctor Who” seasons after they air on BBC America.

(3) ROCKET STACK RANK. Eric Wong reports Rocket Stack Rank’s “July 2019 Ratings” have been updated to show 31 recommendations (red highlights) by seven prolific reviewers of SF/F short fiction. 

Here are some quick observations by pivoting the list on story length, new writers, and authors. (Click links to see the different views.)

  • Length: 5 stories out of 70 got a score of 3 or more (only 1 free online).
  • New Writers: 6 stories out of 9 written by Campbell-eligible writers got a recommendation (5 free online).
  • Authors: Of 5 authors out of 65 with more than one story here, only Tegan Moore had all her stories recommended by one or more reviewers (1 free online).

(4) ST:P COMICS. What do you call the prequel of a sequel? The Hollywood Reporter is claiming yet another Star Trek: Picard exclusive — “’Star Trek: Picard’ to Get Prequel Novel and Comic Series”. Both a short comic series and a novel will lay some groundwork for the new CBS All Access streaming series. So get out your theodolite and let’s mark the corners for this new foundation.

   The first prequel to appear will be IDW’s Star Trek: Picard – Countdown, a three-issue comic book series written by Mike Johnson and Picard supervising producer Kirsten Beyer, which will center around a single mission that would change the life of Picard. That series launches in November, and runs through January 2020.

     In February 2020, Galley Books will follow the conclusion of Countdown with Una McCormack’s The Last Best Hope, a novel that will lead directly into the Picard television series proper, and introduce new characters appearing in the show. McCormack is a name familiar to Star Trek fans, having previously written eight novels tying into the legendary sci-fi property

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman launches the second century of Eating the Fantastic by nibbling New York cheesecake in L.A. with Nebula Award-winning writer Rachel Swirsky in episode 101:

This episode’s guest is Rachel Swirsky, who’s won some Nebula Awards of her own — for her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” in 2010 and her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” in 2013. She’s also been a Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nominee. She was the founding editor of the PodCastle podcast, co-edited the anthology People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy,  and served as vice president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 2013.

We got together for brunch the Saturday morning of the Nebula Awards weekend at Lovi’s Delicatessan in Calabasas, California where we chatted over brisket, latke, and of course, cheesecake.

We discussed what it was like to be critiqued by Octavia Butler at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, how she learned there’s no inherent goodness in being concise in one’s writing, the generational shift in mainstream literature’s acceptance of science fiction, why she’s an anarchist (though she’s really not), what she learned about writing as a reporter covering pinball professionally, how the things most people say are impossible actually aren’t, why you shouldn’t base your self-worth on your accomplishments, how to deal with writers block and impostor syndrome (and the way they’re sometimes connected), the proper way to depict mental illness in fiction, why whenever she writes erotica it turns out to be depressing, how she survived the controversy over “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love,” and much more.

(6) MARTIN HOARE. The August issue of Ansible includes David Langford’s tribute to his friend, the late Martin Hoare, and a wonderful gallery of photos showing him from his time at Oxford (1972) through his latest adventures with Doris Panda (2018), plus prized moments like sharing the Hugo ceremony stage with George Takei at Nippon 2007.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. Though his best-known role in genre was as Dr. Harry Wolper in Creator, I’d like to single out his performance as A. Conan Doyle in Fairytale: A True Story. And though uncredited, he’s a Scottish bagpiper in Casino Royale! (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Of interest to us is the props he designed for Star Trek: The Original Series including the tricorder and communicator. He did a number of other things for the series as the Rabbit you see on the “Shore Leave” episode, the Tribbles and the Romulan Bird of Prey. Other work included building the title object from The Time Machine, and the dinosaurs in Land of the Lost. (Died 2003.)
  • Born August 2, 1944 Susan Denberg, 75. One of the actresses in “Mudd’s Women”, she played Magda Kovacs. It was one of but two genre roles in her very brief acting career, the other that of Cristina in Frankenstein Created Woman, a British Hammer horror film. After two years as an actress, she returned to her native Austria. Rumors circulated that she become drug addicted and died a horrid death, but no, she’s alive and quite well.  
  • Born August 2, 1945 Joanna Cassidy, 74. She is known for being the replicant Zhora Salome in Blade Runner and Dolores in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, two of my favorite films. She also did really bad horror films that don’t bear thinking about.
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favourite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well.(Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1949 Wes Craven. Swamp Thing comes to mind first plus of course the Nightmare on Elm Street franchiseof nine films in which he created Freddy Krueger. Let’s not forget The Serpent and the Rainbow. (Died 2015.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 65. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read a certain author. And so it was of MacLeod. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, all of The Fall Revolution, just the first two of the Corporation Wars and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn, it’s not available digitally! 
  • Born August 2, 1976 Emma Newman, 43. Author of quite a few SF novels and a collection of short fiction. Of interest to us is that she is co-creator along with her husband Peter, of the Hugo Award winning podcast Tea and Jeopardy which centres around her hosting another creator for a nice cup of tea and cake, while her scheming butler Latimer (played by Peter) attempts to send them to their deaths at the end of the episode. 

(8) CHECK THE BACK OF YOUR CLOSET. An Associated Press story tells how “Unopened 1987 Nintendo video game could sell for $10,000”.

An unopened copy of a 1987 cult-classic video game that a Nevada man found in the attic of his childhood home is expected to sell for up to $10,000 at an online auction.

The boxed game cartridge of Nintendo’s “Kid Icarus” was still in the bag with the receipt for $38.45 from J.C. Penney’s catalog department three decades earlier.

Scott Amos of Reno told the Reno Gazette Journal he initially thought it might be worth a couple hundred dollars.

But Valarie McLeckie, video game consignment director at Heritage Auctions, says it’s one of the hardest Nintendo titles to find in sealed condition. She says there are fewer than 10 in the hands of vintage game collectors.

“To find a sealed copy ‘in the wild,’ so to speak, not to mention one in such a nice condition and one with such transparent provenance, is both an unusual and rather historic occurrence,” she said. “We feel that the provenance will add a significant premium for serious collectors.”

(9) THEY GIVE A SHIRT. The posters at Mumsnet are deciding what they think about Worldcon Dublin. The initial comment in the thread asks:

Any other GC fans going to Worldcon in Dublin? There’s already things I’ve seen on the schedule that make me want to stand outside in my AHF t-shirt but not brave enough to do it alone!

(The meaning of the initials is explained in the thread.)

(10) MORE ACCOUNTS OF MIGNOGNA HARASSMENT. Anime News Network’s “Former Tekkoshocon Staff Allege Mignogna Harassed Macross Voice Actress Mari Iijima” adds to its coverage of Vic Mignogna’s harassment history, this time with a conrunner as its main source:

…A former staff member of multiple U.S. anime conventions confirmed to ANN that she is the author of a Twitter thread that includes allegations about voice actor Vic Mignogna‘s conduct.

Lynn Hunt, who uses the Twitter name @ljmontello, has worked in many positions at anime conventions across the United States since 2000. She told ANN that at the Ohayacon event in Columbus, Ohio in 2003, she saw many instances of Mignogna inappropriately touching guests, fans, and other convention patrons. Hunt believes many of the attendees who Mignogna allegedly touched inappropriately looked young.

At the Anime Central (ACEN) convention in Rosemont, Illinois in 2004, Hunt says she saw Mignogna give his personal phone number to many young female fans, and touch and kiss other young female fans inappropriately. Again, she believes many of the other parties he allegedly touched and kissed looked young.

Most of Hunt’s allegations, however, relate to the Tekkoshocon event (now known as Tekko) in Pittsburgh. Hunt said that at this event in 2007, Mignogna allegedly harassed convention guest Mari Iijima, the Japanese voice of Lynn Minmay in The Super Dimension Fortress Macross anime.

Responding on Twitter to Hunt’s comments about Mignogna and Iijima, voice actor Brett Weaver claimed to have been on a panel at Tekkoshocon 2007 with both actors. He said, “I had never met Mari but just before the panel, she told me that she felt very uncomfortable being around him. I had her sit to my right, and when Vic arrived I made it clear he was going to sit to my left. He laughed and moved toward her. I looked him square in the eye and [said], ‘Nope. Sit there.’ We went through the panel and I don’t think Vic and I ever spoke again.” …

…[Hunt] said that she notified the Tekko convention staff on June 9, 2019 to give them a “heads up” that she would be posting material regarding Mignogna on Twitter. She said that she received no response from Tekko until after she started posting the material on June 27.

Tekko issued a statement on Twitter that said that no member of the current Board of Directors was present during the years in question, and that no documented harassment issues were passed along by the previous leadership team during the transition period.

(11) RACE AND THE FUTURE. CNN publicized an eye-opening report — “Robot racism? Yes, says a study showing humans’ biases extend to robots”. They mean robots that look like Caucasians, not the white plastic-bodied kind that I always thought were inspired by the laboratory-clean look of technology in the movie 2001.

Have you ever noticed the popularity of white robots?

You see them in films like Will Smith’s “I, Robot” and Eve from “Wall-E.” Real-life examples include Honda’s Asimo, UBTECH’s Walker, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, and even NASA’s Valkyrie robot. All made of shiny white material. And some real-life humanoid robots are modeled after white celebrities, such as Audrey Hepburn and Scarlett Johansson.

The reason for these shades of technological white may be racism, according to new research.

“Robots And Racism,” a study conducted by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) and published by the country’s University of Canterbury, suggests people perceive physically human-like robots to have a race and therefore apply racial stereotypes to white and black robots.

These colors have been found to trigger social cues that determine how humans react to and behave toward other people and also, apparently, robots.

“The bias against black robots is a result of bias against African-Americans,” lead researcher Christoph Bartneck explained to The Next Web. He told CNN, “It is amazing to see how people who had no prior interaction with robots show racial bias towards them.”

(12) FOR PEOPLE PURPLE EATERS. “Twinkie’s Latest Flavor Has A Mystery Moonberry Cream Filling” and Delish tells you where to find it.

American delicacy, the Twinkie, is looking a little different these days. On Thursday, Hostess announced its latest flavor launch, a mysterious dark blue Moonberry, and it’s out of this world.

…like literally. It’s got a whole galactic thing going.

By the looks of that packaging, it’s got the same shape as our OG Twinkie, but with a completely different taste and aesthetic otherwise. A rep for the brand told PEOPLE the dark sponge cake is meant to resemble the night sky. And that inside, an elusive Moonberry-flavored filling, is smooth, sweet, and fruity.

(13) WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF NEXT. That’s not Paul Revere, it’s Nerdist telling everyone “Fudge Brownie M&Ms Are Coming!”

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “While you Were Sleeping” on Vimeo, Charlie Stewart explains why robots always do their jobs.

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

Pixel Scroll 2/9/19 Long Thoughtful Commentses Wrapped Up In Sings, These Are A Few Of My Scrolliest Things

(1) SCIENCE IS A MOVING TARGET. James S.A. Corey thought they had the science right but a NASA spacecraft proved them gloriously wrong. National Geographic got the creators of The Expanse to write Dawn a fan letter — “Dear Dawn: How a NASA robot messed up our science fiction”.

Dear Dawn:

Did we do something to piss you off? Because to tell you the truth, your attacks on our books seemed kind of personal.

In 2011, we came out with a science-fiction novel called Leviathan Wakes that featured a big plotline on the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. In particular, we imagined a hard, nickel-iron Ceres with a population of millions thirsty for water harvested from the rings of Saturn. We did pretty well with the story; it got a Hugo nomination, and the publisher bought some follow-ups.

Four years later, we were launching a television show based on the book, starring the embattled crew of an ice hauler trying to keep Ceres Station hydrated. That was 2015—the same time you became the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet. And as we gathered in the writer’s room and on set, what did you tell us? Ceres has water. Lots of it. Not only that, you found large deposits of sodium carbonate on Ceres’s surface, which doesn’t sound that impressive until you realize it’s evidence of ice volcanoes. Seriously. Ice volcanoes….

(2) WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN THE DEAL. SF author Ramez Naam (Nexus series) is  a “futurologist” as well, and he just wrote an excellent extended tweet about the Green New Deal and how it might be better. Thread begins here.

(3) ENTERPRISE. “Jeff Bezos, long known for guarding his privacy, faces his most public and personal crisis” is an article by Craig Timberg, Peter Whoriskey, Christian Davenport, and Elizabeth Dwoskin in the Washington Post about how Jeff Bezos broke his long-standing efforts to remain as private as possible in his battle against the National Enquirer. Not the most titillating part of the story, but there is a sci-fi reference in it —

in the early 2000s, Bezos started quietly acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres in West Texas, where Blue Origin now launches its New Shepard rocket.  He purchased the land under corporate entities named for explorers.  Thee was Joliet Holdings and Cabot Enterprises, the James Cook and William Clark Limited Partnerships and Coronado Ventures.

All were linked to a firm with a Seattle post office called Zefram LLC, namedafter Zefram Cochrane, a character in the Star Trek franchise.

(4) WISHING HIM A RAPID RECOVERY. Apex Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore wrote about the burdensome and painful health problems he’s been coping with in his February editorial.

…One of the diagnostics for stroke the doctor ran on me at the emergency room was a CT scan. He said, “Good news, I’m confident you are not having a stroke. But … some bad news, your scan shows a sizable lesion on the front of your mandible.“

(5) CROSS-GENRES. Vicki Who Reads picks out eight niche favorites in “Fantasci Book Recs: Books In Between Science Fiction and Fantasy!”

I love fantasy and I love science-fiction (though, sci-fi a little more than fantasy). And I think it’s really interesting when authors sort of combine the two–mixing sci-fi and fantasy (and ends up just being labeled under fantasy, typically).

But this leads to the creation of the fun, intermediate genre (at least, that’s what it is in my mind), fantasci. The intersection of science-fiction and fantasy where it’s not magic, but it’s not science either….

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna

This book is so darn underappreciated, and it deserves ALL the love! I was sucked into the story and had such a hard time stopping, and then the ending completely wrecked me.

Like . . . is it legal to inflict these types of emotions upon me? Idk, but this book had me CRYING late at night as I read a bout [redacted]. And it’s a sort of space fantasy that’s based on Indian mythology and has me swooning.

Gosh. My heart still hurts and I need the sequel ASAP. If this book isn’t on your TBR, you’re doing something wrong because it is AMAZING and the ending is so horrible (for my heart) but so worth it.

You can read my review here!

(6) ACADEMY FOR WAYWARD WRITERS. Cat Rambo livetweeted highlights from Rachel Swirsky’s “Detail and Image” online writing class today. The thread is here.

(7) WORLDCON REUNION. Kees van Toorn, Chairman ConFiction1990, today announced plans for Reunicon 2020:  

It all started with a phone call from a fan in New York way back in 1984. Then it took three years of bidding to win the race in Brighton in 1987. Another three long years to make ConFiction1990 a fact in The Hague, the first true World Science Fiction Convention on the continent of Europe. We are still creating a website and social media avenues to preserve the past for the future and… to promote our intended Reunicon 2020 to commemorate 30 years after ConFiction 1990. We look forward hearing from you or seeing you in 2020 in The Hague.

(8) PLEASE BE SEATED. ThinkGeek s offering a Star Trek TOS 1:6 Scale Captain’s Chair FX Replica for $59.99.

THE CENTERPIECE OF EVERY STARSHIP

Is that the ship intercom, or the self-destruct button? You better read up on your engineering schematics before sitting in a captain’s chair, or your tenure will be shorter than Spock’s patience for illogical behavior.  
 
Quantum Mechanix has created an extremely detailed FX replica of the most important part of the original USS Enterprise: the captain’s chair. This 1/6 scale replica doesn’t just look good – it also lights up and makes sounds. Powered by either three AA batteries or a mini-USB plug (not included), this captain’s chair replica has four different light and sound settings including: standard bridge operations, ship-wide announcement, viewscreen scanning, and of course, red alert.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 9, 1863 Anthony Hope. He is remembered predominantly for only two books: The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel Rupert of Hentzau. Well so says Wiki but I never heard of the latter novel. Any of you heard of It? The Prisoner of Zenda was filmed in 1936 with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in the lead role. (Died 1933.)
  • Born February 9, 1877George Allan England. His short story, “The Thing from—’Outside'”, which had originally appeared in Gernsback’s Science and Invention, was reprinted in the first issue of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories, in April 1926. Unfortunately, his later Darkness and Dawn trilogy is marked by overt racism as later critics note. (Died 1936.)
  • Born February 9, 1928Frank Frazetta. Artist whose illustrations showed up damn near everywhere from LP covers to book covers and posters. Among the covers he were Tarzan and the Lost EmpireConan the Adventurer (L. Sprague de Camp stories in that setting) and Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. He did over-muscled barbarians very well! Oh and he also helped Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder on three stories of the bawdy parody strip Little Annie Fanny in Playboy. Just saying. In the early 1980s, Frazetta worked with Bakshi on the feature Fire and Ice. He provided the poster for it as he did for Mad Monster Party and The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, two other genre films. He was inducted into both Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 9, 1953 Ciaran Hinds, 66. I can’t picture him but he’s listed as being King Lot in Excalibur, that being being his credited his genre role. He next shows up in Mary Reilly, a riff off the Hyde theme, as Sir Danvers Care. I’ve next got him in Jason and the Argonauts as King Aeson followed by being in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life as Jonathan Reiss. (Yes I like those films.) before being replaced in the next film, he played Aberforth Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Two final roles worth noting. he played The Devil in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Steppenwolf In Justice League.
  • Born February 9, 1956Timothy Truman, 63. Writer and artist best known in my opinion for his work on Grimjack (with John Ostrander), Scout, and the reinvention of Jonah Hex with Joe R. Lansdale. His work with Ostrander is simply stellar and is collected in Grimjack Omnibus, Volume 1 and 2.  For the Hex work, I’d say Jonah Hex: Shadows West which collects their work together. He did do a lot of other work and I’m sure you’ll point out what I’ve overlooked… 
  • Born February 9, 1981 Tom Hiddleston, 38. Loki in the Marvel film universe. And a more charming bastard of a god has never been conceptualised by screenwriters. Outside of the MCU, I see he shows up in Kong: Skull Island as Captain James Conrad and The Pirate Fairy as the voice of James Hook as well in a vampire film called Only Lovers Left Alive as Adam. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • In the world of Brewster Rockit, some newspaper columns are very easy to write.

(11) IN RE VERSE. A star of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (labeled on Wikipedia as a “actor, singer, dancer, and rapper”) told The Hollywood Reporter he hopes to write a song for the sequel (“‘Spider-Verse’ Star Shameik Moore Hopes to Record a Song for the Movie’s Sequel”). The interview also ranges into Moore’s other genre interests. It turns out he’s a fan of the Harry Potter movies.

The Hollywood Reporter: The Spider-Verse soundtrack had a few hits, including Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower.” Have you pitched yourself to do a track for the Spider-Verse sequel?

Shameik Moore: They were asking me to make a song for Spider-Man before any of the songs on the soundtrack were even being considered. The only reason I am not on the soundtrack is because I couldn’t quite come up with a song myself to write from Miles’ point of view. So next time, hopefully. The music that I’ve been making is for me. It’s not really for Spider-Man. It’s for who I am. My music is a bit edgier.

(12) THE GREAT SKY ROAD. Andrew Porter sent screenshots of some flights of fancy seen on the February 4 episode of Antiques Roadshow.

(13) LOCUS LIST CONSIDERED. Adri Joy and Joe Sherry have actually read a lot of these books so their discussion of what did and did not make the list is quite substantial: “Adri and Joe Talk About Books: Locus Recommended Reading List” at Nerds of a Feather.

…What did you expect, or want, to see here that isn’t?

Joe: The first thing I specifically looked for was Matt Wallace’s final Sin du Jour novella Taste of Wrath. I’m not entirely surprised it didn’t make the list simply because I’m not sure it’s received a fraction of the attention and love that the series deserved. I passionately and sometimes aggressively love those stories and it has been a perpetual disappointment to me that they haven’t been nominated for everything they are eligible for and even for some things they aren’t. I’m holding out for a Best Series Hugo nod, but maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.

The second thing i looked for, and this was mostly out of curiosity, was whether anything from Serial Box made the cut. Nothing did. Because I’m that sort of wonk, I did a super quick check of previous years and the first season Tremontaine made the list. I’m not surprised by that either, because Tremontaine is an expansion of the Swordspoint world and I would expect to see Locus recognize Ellen Kushner. I do wonder if next year we’ll see recognition for The Vela or Ninth Step Station. Both seem like something that might get some extra attention, eyeballs, and acclaim.

(14) LOOK FOR THE BEAR NECESSITIES. BBC reports “Russia islands emergency over polar bear ‘invasion'”. They must be running out of Coca-Cola.

A remote Russian region has declared a state of emergency over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say.

Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people, said there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings.

Polar bears are affected by climate change and are increasingly forced on to land to look for food.

Russia classes them as endangered.

Hunting the bears is banned, and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them.

(15) SLIP-AH-DEE-DOO-DAH. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] 2017? No way. 2018? Um, negatory. January 2019? Nope. February? Nope, nope, nope. March? Well, maybe. SpaceX has announced another slip (albeit a modest one) in the schedule for the first (un-crewed) launch of the to-be-crewed version of the Dragon capsule (ExtremeTech: “SpaceX Pushes Crewed Dragon Test Back to March 2”). Boeing is aiming for April for Starliner—their competing capsule—to have its first launch.

NASA kicked off the Commercial Crew Development Program in 2010 to support the development of new crewed spacecraft. Here we are, almost a decade into the program and on the verge of a manned launch. It’s taken a long time to get here, and it may be a little longer still. SpaceX has announced yet another delay in its Dragon 2 test flight, which was supposed to take place this month. 

The precise date has slipped numerous times, and this is after ample delays in earlier phases of the program. We’re in the home stretch now, so each change in the schedule is that much more frustrating. SpaceX initially wanted to conduct the first test launch of its crewed Dragon capsule in 2017. Then the timeline slipped to 2018, and then it was late 2018. More recently, SpaceX promised a January 2019 launch… and then it decided February was more likely. You can probably blame the government shutdown for that one. Now, we’re looking at March 2, according to SpaceX. 

(16) ROLE PLAYING. Last summer Simon Pegg talked about characters he’s played – including one that was a bit autobiographical.

Simon Pegg breaks down his favorite and most iconic characters, including Tim from “Spaced,” Shaun from “Shaun of the Dead,” Nicholas Angel from “Hot Fuzz,” Gary King from “The World’s End,” Scotty in “Star Trek,” Unkar Plutt in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and Benji Dunn in the “Mission: Impossible” movies.

(17) CAN A BOT BE AN INK-STAINED WRETCH? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] This story has a personal edge for me as I encounter robot-written stories quite often when using MaxPreps to catch up on various high school sporting events. (Though, those particular stories are obvoiusly written by an Artificial Stupidity.) Forbes, which has dipped a toe in AI journalism itself, takes a look at the growing phenomenon (“Did A Robot Write This? How AI Is Impacting Journalism”).

How do you know I am really a human writing this article and not a robot?  Several major publications are picking up machine learning tools for content. So, what does artificial intelligence mean for the future of journalists?

According to Matt Carlson, author of “The Robotic Reporter”, the algorithm converts data into narrative news text in real-time.

Many of these being financially focused news stories since the data is calculated and released frequently. Which is why should be no surprise that Bloomberg news is one of the first adaptors of this automated content. Their program, Cyborg, churned out thousands of articles last year that took financial reports and turned them into news stories like a business reporter.

Forbes also uses an AI took called Bertie to assist in providing reporters with first drafts and templates for news stories.

(18) UNHEARD OF. Part of the experiment has failed says Gizmodo: “Small Satellites That Accompanied InSight Lander to Mars Go Silent”.

A pair of small satellites that joined the InSight mission on its way to Mars haven’t been heard from in over a month—but the experimental mission is still an important success for NASA.

Mars Cube One, or MarCO, consisted of two 30-pound satellites named WALL-E and EVE. The relatively inexpensive satellites were the first time that CubeSats had entered the space between planets. The mission could foretell a future of spacecraft bringing more CubeSats with them in the future. 

[…] NASA lost contact with WALL-E on December 29 and with EVE on January 4. It’s possible that the probes’ antennae aren’t pointed at Earth properly, or that their solar panels aren’t pointed at the Sun and their batteries died, according to the press release.

(19) I CAN HELP. A little bit of sibling rivalry in Washington state:

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

Pixel Scroll 1/7/19 Pixels For My Men, Scrolls For My Horses

(1) MARVEL AT 80. The company will be celebrating all year —

Eighty years ago, the Marvel Universe roared into existence with the publication of the now-historic MARVEL COMICS #1.  Over the years, the company expanded mightily under the guidance of legends Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and countless other industry titans. Today, Marvel is one of the most exciting and recognizable brands shaping pop culture, modern mythology and entertainment around the world – and this year, you can join millions of fans in celebrating MARVEL’S 80TH ANNIVERSARY!

For all of 2019, Marvel will be honoring its iconic characters and stories across every decade of the company’s rich history – from the early years as Timely Comics, to the latest adventures in the Marvel Universe fans know today. Whether you have been following Marvel since the beginning or you’ve just discovered The House of Ideas, you won’t want to miss this year-long celebration across publishing, animation, new media, collectibles, games, and more!

… Visit marvel.com/marvel80 or follow #Marvel80 for more information.

(2) SFF RESPONSE TO TRUMP. WIRED Magazine’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy interviews some of the authors with stories in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy “Sci-Fi Writers Are Grappling With a Post-Trump Reality”.

Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley notes that many of the stories, such as Samuel R. Delany’s “The Hermit of Houston,” have a clear political message.

“In his author’s note Delany says this is his attempt to write a post-Trump science fiction story,” Kirtley says. “And there were at least two other authors—E. Lily Yu and Charlie Jane Anders—who explicitly say in their author’s notes that their stories were somehow a response to Trump being president.”

Charles Payseur, whose story “Rivers Run Free” leads off the book, agrees that the Yu and Anders’ stories will make readers think hard about current political realities. The Yu story, in which humanity declines to aid extraterrestrial refugees, and the Anders story, in which a trans woman’s consciousness is forcibly transferred into a male cadaver, both grapple with the issue of morally-compromised bystanders.

“I think that both of them do an excellent job of challenging the perspective of not taking action, or being complicit with evil,” Payseur says.

Listen to the complete interview with John Joseph Adams, Caroline M. Yoachim, and Charles Payseur in Episode 342 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above)….

(3) WHAT AUTHORS MAKE. John Scalzi analyzes an Author’s Guild survey in “Author Incomes: Not Great, Now or Then” at Whatever.

What’s being passed around among authors in the last few days: The latest Authors Guild survey, which shows that the median income for all authors (from their books) is $6,080, while the median income for full-time authors is $20,300. That $6k median figure is down significantly from previous years. So if you made more than $6k from book earnings last year, congratulations, you made more than half of your authorial compatriots.

Before everyone panics about the declines too much, please note: “The Authors Guild’s prior surveys were focused on Authors Guild members. For our 2018 survey, we greatly expanded the number of published authors we surveyed to provide a much larger, highly diverse pool and wider perspective,” i.e., the comparing the results this year to previous years isn’t apples to oranges, but might be comparing a Honeycrisp to a Red Delicious….

(4) TREATMENT IN PROGRESS. Sad health update from Jim C. Hines’ house – “Family Health and Ongoing Hiatus”.

I’m back home for the first time in a while, and I’ve been given permission to talk more about what’s going on. Last month, my wife Amy was diagnosed with cancer — an aggressive form of lymphoma, to be specific.

Aggressive, but treatable. We’ve done the first round of chemo, and the last scans showed some tumor shrinkage, which is a good sign.

(5) LIPTAK’S NEWSLETTER. Andrew Liptak, whose contributions to The Verge are often linked here, launched his own newsletter last year, and just published the 6th installment. Liptak says —  

The goal is to talk about SF/F, storytelling, as well as reading and writing. I’m hoping to grow it a bit, and to use it as a platform to talk about stuff that isn’t necessarily newsworthy — a bit more commentary driven about the content of SF, but also to chat a bit about the general broader SF/F community at some point. 

You can find it here: here. 5 of the 6 issues are archived: a 6th is subscriber-locked, which I’ll be using to publish short stories. 

…A while ago on Twitter, I asked for suggestions for standalone SF novels — nominally for this list — but also because I was generally interested in finding something different to pick up. One story that came up a lot was Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time. Orbit recently released the book in the US for the first time — it originally came out in the UK in 2015 and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. I picked up both the book and the audiobook, which we listened to on the drive down to PA and back between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

It’s a fantastic novel, and I can see where all the praise is coming from I’ll write up a proper review of it at some point in the coming week, but something stood out for me that’s notable: Tchaikovsky’s use of suspended animation for his characters to play out a story that stretches thousands of years.

He’s not the first to do this by a long shot, but the use here reminded me of Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest, and Peter Watts’ Freeze-Frame Revolution, in which several characters drop in and out of suspension, again, over decades and hundreds of years. Both stories use the technology not just as a convenient tool for the characters, but it’s also a neat literary instrument that allows both Cixin and Tchaikovsky to frame their story from one, unwavering perspective….

(6) JAPAN’S ADAPTATION OF E.E. “DOC” SMITH. The Skaro Hunting Society answers the question “Why is the Lensman anime so rare?”.

… According to Frederik Pohl, after years of lobbying and proposals a major studio bit and decided it was going to produce a series of big-budgeted Lensman films. Deals were made, contracts were written, millions of dollars were going to be invested – and the Smith family stood to profit greatly from the entire endeavor.

Then, a video tape showed up on the Smith family doorstep.

Back up. Up until the 1980s, Japan (and much of Asia) worked on a different system of copyright and licensing rights than the Western world; if a Japanese publisher bought the publishing rights to something, under Japanese law they bought the rights to EVERYTHING – including the rights to exploit that property in movies, tv, comics, or whatever. This is one of the reasons why you ended up with things like Batman manga, two different adaptations of Captain Future, etc. Western publishers knew this but worked with it anyway, reasoning that even if someplace like Japan made a TV or movie adaptation of a property it was highly unlikely that copies of it would make their way back to the west, and even if they did, who would want to watch them anyway? (Remember, this was all before the advent of the VCR, and the subsequent tape trading/collecting culture of SF/F media fandom). So when Japanese publisher Kodansha bought the rights to publish E.E. Doc Smith in Japanese in the 1960s, they considered themselves the owners of all the Japanese rights to Smith’s oeuvre. Meaning, they could make TV series or movies of any of it if they chose to, so long as it stayed in Japan….

(7) KGB.  Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Victor LaValle and Julie C. Day on Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 7pm at the KGB Bar in New York.

Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle is the author of seven works of fiction and one graphic novel. His most recent novel, The Changeling won the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel and the Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel. His novella, The Ballad of Black Tom, won the Shirley Jackson Award, the British Fantasy Award, the This is Horror Award for Novella of the Year, and was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards.

He lives in New York City with his family, and teaches writing at Columbia University.

Julie C. Day

Julie C. Day has published over thirty stories in venues such as Black StaticPodcastle, and the Cincinnati Review. Her genre-bending debut collection, Uncommon Miracles, was released by PS Publishing in October 2018. Julie lives in a small New England town with her family and various pets. You can also find her on twitter at @thisjulieday or on her blog stillwingingit.com 

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019, 7 p.m. at KGB Bar,85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs.) New York, NY.

(8) SHEPPARD OBIT. “William Morgan Sheppard death: Star Trek and Doctor Who actor dies aged 86”The Independent has the story.

British actor and voice actor William Morgan Sheppard has died aged 86. 

He is best-known for his work on Star Trek across the years, playing the Rura Penth commandant in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the chief Vulcan Science Council minister in 2009’s Star Trek, Data’s “grandfather” Ira Graves in The Next Generation episode “The Schizoid Man,” and as Quatai in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Bliss.” 

He appeared in the opening episode of series six of Doctor Who, in an episode titled “The Impossible Astronaut”. In it, he played the older version of the character Canton Everett Delaware III, while his son, Mark Sheppard, played the younger version.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 7, 1899 F. Orlin Tremaine. He was the Editor of Astounding Science Fiction and Fact from 1933 to 1937. It said that he bought Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness without actually reading it. Later as Editor at Bartholomew House, he brought out the first paperback editions of Lovecraft’s The Weird Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Dunwich Horror. He wrote a dozen or so short stories that were published in the pulps between 1926 and 1949. (Died 1956.)
  • Born January 7, 1912 Charles Addams. Illustrator best known for the Addams Family which he first drew in 1932 and kept drawing until his death. Needless to say there has been a number of films using these characters of which The Addams Family is my favorite. (Died 1988.)
  • Born January 7, 1913 Julian S. Krupa. Pulp cover and interior illustrator from 1939 to 1971 who graced Amazing Stories and Fantastic.(Died 1989.)
  • Born January 7, 1928William Peter Blatty. Novelist and screenwriter best known for The Exorcist though he was also the same for Exorcist III. The former is by no means the only genre work that he would write as his literary career would go on for forty years after this novel and would include Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Fable which he renamed Demons Five, Exorcists Nothing: A Hollywood Christmas Carol and The Exorcist for the 21st Century, his final work. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 7, 1955Karen Haber, 64. Wife of Robert Silverberg. Author Of the Fire In Winter series (first co-written with Robert) and the War Minstrels series as well. With Robert, she edited three of the exemplary Universe anthologies that Terry Carr had created. Her Meditations on Middle Earth, her essay collection on J.R.R. Tolkien is quite superb. And of course her  prequel Thieves’ Carnival to Leigh Brackett’s The Jewel of Bas is stunning.
  • Born January 7, 1961 Mark Alan Shepherd, 48. The bar patron Morn in Deep Space Nine. His character appeared once in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager
  • Born January 7, 1982 Lauren Cohen, 37. Best known  as Maggie Rhee on The Walking Dead. She is also known as Bela Talbot on Supernatural, Rose on The Vampire Diaries, and Vivian McArthur Volkoff on Chuck. And she was in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as Martha Wayne. 
  • Born January 7, 1983 Ruth Negga, 36. She was Raina in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but she left that show as she got a leading role Tulip O’Hare in Preacher. She was also Nikki in Misfits, Queen Taria In Warcraft and a WHO Doctor In World War Z
  • Born January 7, 1988 Haley Bennett, 31. First role was Molly Hartley in The Haunting of Molly Hartley. She was also Julie Campbell in The Hole, Stella in Kaboom and Justine Wills In Kristy

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit illustrates a little laundry problem aboard the Death Star.

(11) PROHIBITION. Camestros Felapton saw Wikileaks had issued a general prohibition to the media against saying certain things about their leading light and decided to share his own list of “40 Other Things You Shouldn’t Say About Julian Assange”.

Wikileaks has sent a list of 140 thing that the news media should not say about Julian Assange (which you can read here https://hillreporter.com/leak-read-wikileaks-list-of-140-things-not-to-say-to-julian-assange-20413 )

As a major news organisation Felapton Towers has a confidential memo listing 40 other things we are not to say about Julian Assange which at great risk to myself I am leaking to the public.

At the top of his list is —

It is false and defamatory to say that Julian Assange is or ever has been a member of Slytherin House or ever shouted “I’ll get you Potter!” across the Hogwarts dining hall.

(12) SWIRSKY’S 2018 RESUME. Rachel Swirsky has compiled a “Writing Round-up and Eligibility Post for 2018”.

…I’m really glad to be writing more again. I mean, for one thing I’m writing at least twelve pieces of poetry and/or flash fiction a year, because of Patreon. (Obligatory plug: You can get one new piece of my work each month for $1!) Some of my work has been noveling, and some isn’t out yet, so it’s not all visible in this list– but I am really happy to enjoy prose again….

(13) MODERN ARCHEOLOGY. Remembering what these were for: “The concrete blocks that once protected Britain”. Includes photos.

More than 100 years ago acoustic mirrors along the coast of England were used to detect the sound of approaching German zeppelins.

The concave concrete structures were designed to pick up sound waves from enemy aircraft, making it possible to predict their flight trajectory, giving enough time for ground forces to be alerted to defend the towns and cities of Britain.

Invented by Maj William Sansome Tucker and known as sound mirrors, their development continued until the mid-1930s, when radar made them obsolete.

Joe Pettet-Smith set out to photograph all the remaining structures following a conversation with his father, who told him about these large concrete structures dotted along the coastline between Brighton and Dover.

(14) BIG CATCH. BBC shares “Incredible ‘sea monster’ skull revealed in 3D”.

Some 200 million years ago in what is now Warwickshire, a dolphin-like reptile died and sank to the bottom of the sea.

The creature’s burial preserved its skull in stunning detail – enabling scientists to digitally reconstruct it.

The fossil, unveiled in the journal PeerJ, gives a unique insight into the life of an ichthyosaur.

The ferocious creature would have fed upon fish, squid and likely others of its kind.

Its bones were found in a farmer’s field more than 60 years ago, but their significance has only just come to light.

Remarkably, the skull is three-dimensionally preserved and contains bones that are rarely exposed.

(15) DEEP UNCOVERED. Undersea mining was once a mere cover story for Howard Hughes’ Glomar Explorer (intended to retrieve a Soviet submarine) – now it’s a real thing: “Japan’s grand plans to mine deep-sea vents”.

Off the coast of Okinawa, a slim stretch of land among Japan’s southern Ryuku islands, thousands of metres below the surface, there are the remains of extinct hydrothermal vent systems scattered about the ocean floor.

The minerals at these long-dead former vent sites are now gaining attention due to increasing international interest in deep-sea mining. Just one of these deposits is thought to contain enough zinc to supply Japan’s demand for a year. For a country that imports the vast majority of its mineral resources, seafloor sulphide deposits are seen as a tantalising potential domestic alternative. But there is a high price: disrupting these sites through mining could put unique and fragile ecosystems at risk.

(16) AMERICAN GODS RETURNS. Here’s a sneak peek.

Mr. World (Crispin Glover) and Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) deal with the ramifications of the Season 1 finale in this exclusive clip from Season 2.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/14/18 Good King Pixelslas Looked Out On The File Of Seven

(1) WRITING SPACE. In “Why I Write in Cafes”, Rachel Swirsky unpacks all of her reasons.

I’ve been writing a lot in cafes recently. Well, mostly one cafe, but I’ve dallied with others…

I always accomplish something, or prove I can’t.

Because I’m at the cafe with someone else, and we are there with a purpose, I always spend at least some time trying to write. Some days, nothing comes. More often, even if I feel creatively dry, I can scrape up something, whether it’s a bit of editing, a paragraph or two, or the beginning of a story (which I may never finish). On my own I can get depressed over those days when the writing doesn’twork, and it makes me avoidant for a while afterward. With a writing partner, there’s a set time to try again.

(2) BRING PLENTY OF NAPKINS. Scott Edelman will be at the microphone while you slurp down Thai Beef Noodle Soup with Stephen Kozeniewski in Episode 84 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

This time around you’ll sit in on my meal at Noodle Charm with horror writer Stephen Kozeniewski.

At least I think we ate at Noodle Charm. I’m not really sure. (Give a listen to the episode to find out the reason for my uncertainty.)

Kozeniewski is the author of such gonzo novels as Braineater Jones, Billy and the Cloneasaurus, and The Ghoul Archipelago. He’s also been part of the writers room for Silverwood: The Door, a 10-episode prose follow-up to Tony Valenzuela’s Black Box TV series Silverwood, which was released in weekly installments in both prose and audiobook formats.

We discussed how it took nearly 500 submissions before his first novel was finally accepted, why he has no interest in writing sequels, his advice for winning a Turkey Award for the worst possible opening to the worst possible science fiction or fantasy novel, why his output is split between horror and science fiction (but not mysteries), the reason Brian Keene was who he wanted to be when he grew up, why almost any story would be more interesting with zombies, when you should follow and when you should break the accepted rules of writing, where he falls on the fast vs. slow zombies debate, and much more.

(3) BROKE-DOWN ENGINE. NPR’s Mark Jenkins is frank: “‘Mortal Engines’ Internally Combusts”.

…That’s just a cursory account of Mortal Engines, which would have benefited from losing a few supporting characters, several flashbacks and at least one subplot. Yet the movie’s major weakness is not story, but characterization.

The only actor who holds the screen is Weaving, and even he suffers from a cardboard role and plywood dialogue. Hilmar, Natsworthy and Jihae are all as bland as their parts, lacking charm, swagger and humor. The disastrous absence of the last quality can partly be blamed on the script, which hazards a joke about every 45 minutes.

(4) CAUGHT UP INTHE WEB. Meanwhile, Chris Klimek writes at NPR that “‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ Is A Fun, Warm-Hearted Treat”.

It’s hard to fathom that the same Sony Pictures that, in 2012, decided the best way to expand the appeal of its live-action Spider-Man franchise was to start over with lesser movies, has now become smart enough to put its resources into a superb new — really new — Spider-Man cartoon. Maybe someone in a Culver City boardroom got bit by a radioactive MacArthur Fellow.

Whatever the reason, for a powerful corporation to relax its grip on an ancient specimen of blue-chip IP enough to let the creatives have some fun is a rare thing, and one that should not go unheralded. Marvel Comics weathered the ire of reactionary fandom back in 2011 when it introduced Miles Morales, a Spider-Man no less Amazing than that nerdy orphan Peter Parker, but for the fact he was the son of a Puerto Rican ER nurse and an African-American beat cop. Miles became the Spider-Man of the publisher’s “Ultimate” line, a spiral arm of the Marvel Universe that…

…you know what? Don’t worry about it. To cite the refrain of this graphically dazzling, generously imaginative, nakedly optimistic, mercilessly funny and inclusive-without-being-all-pious-about-it animated oydssey called Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, “Anyone can wear the mask.”

(5) STELLAR POPPINS.The BBC’s Nicholas Barber finds many defects compared to the original, but gives 4 stars to Mary Poppins Returns.

Sensibly, Blunt doesn’t impersonate Andrews. Less sensibly, she impersonates Maggie Smith: her haughty, upper-crust Mary would be right at home in Downtown Abbey. But otherwise, Mary Poppins Returns is so similar to its predecessor as to be almost identical. There are no revelations, no unexpected locations, no hints at what Mary gets up to when she isn’t looking after the Banks children – although we’ll probably get a prequel set in nanny-training college in a few years’ time. The only significant difference is that the story has been moved on from 1910 to the 1930s, so it’s Mary Poppins: The Next Generation.

(6) BORDER TOWN DROPPED. “DC Cancels Hit Comic Book Series ‘Border Town’ After Abuse Claims”says The Hollywood Reporter.

The publisher is immediately ending the critically acclaimed series, amid accusations of sexual abuse by writer and co-creator Eric M. Esquivel.

DC Entertainmentimprint DC Vertigo has canceled comic book series Border Town effective immediately, with all orders for the unreleased issues 5 and 6 being canceled, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Those issues will not be published, and all issues already released are also being made returnable, according to the publisher.

The publisher has not commented on the reasons for the title’s cancellation, but it coincides with the release of a statement by toy designer Cynthia Naugle in which she wrote about being “sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused” by an unnamed figure later identified on social media — and seemingly confirmed by Naugle via retweets — as Border Town writer and co-creator Eric M. Esquivel.

Since Naugle’s statement went live, both Border Town artist Ramon Villalobos and color artist Tamra Bonvillain released statements via Twitter on the subject, distancing themselves from the project.

(7) HUGO VOTING STRATEGY TRUE OR FALSE. Karl-Johan Norén warns, “The meme that one should not ‘dilute’ ones Hugo nomination power under EPH is going around again, and I wrote a quick refutation.”

…As a voter and nominator for the Hugos, it is in your best interest to nominate as many works as you find worthy as you can.

I will illustrate it using two cases. The first is that if every single nominator in a Hugo category nominates only a single work, EPH will default back to a simple first past the post selection with six finalists — exactly the system that we had before EPH, but with much less input! …

(8) THE POINTY THRONE. This cover for the March issue of Amazing Spider-Man resonates with a certain TV show you may have seen….

(9) BLACK SCI-FI DOCUMENTARY. Three excerpts from Terrence Francis’ 1992 documentary Black Sci-Fi, originally broadcast on BBC2 as part of the Birthrights series.

The documentary focuses on Black science fiction in literature, film and television and features interviews with Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Mike Sargent, Steven Barnes and Nichelle Nichols.

In this extract, Octavia Butler discusses how her interest in science fiction developed and the genre’s potential for exploring new ideas and ways of being.

In this section Samuel R. Delany, Mike Sargent and Steven Barnes discuss the stereotypical portrayal of black characters in science fiction literature and cinema, including the predictable fate of Paul Winfield in films like Damnation Alley, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Terminator.

In this section, Nichelle Nichols discusses the significance of her character, Uhura, in Star Trek; Steven Barnes and Mike Sargent consider how attitudes towards race and skin colour might develop in the (far) future.

(10) VAULT OF THE BEAST. Robert Weinberg interviewed A.E. Van Vogt in 1980 – now posted at Sevagram.

Weinberg: How did you first get interested in science fiction, and in particular, how did you come to write a science fiction story?

Van Vogt: I first read science fiction in the old British Chum annual when I was about 12 years old. Chum was a British boy’s weekly which, at the end of the year was bound into a single huge book; and the following Christmas parents bought it as Christmas presents for male children. The science fiction in these stories was simple. Somebody built a spaceship in his tool shop (in his backyard) and when he left earth he took along all the neighborhood twelve-year-olds without the parents seeming to object.

Later, at age 14, I saw the November 1926 Amazing and promptly purchased it, read it avidly until Hugo Gernsbach lost control and it got awful under the next editor, T. O’Connor Sloane. So I had my background when I picked up the July, 1938 issue of Astounding and read “Who Goes There?” It was one of the great SF stories; and it stimulated me to send Campbell, the editor, a one paragraph outline of what later became “Vault of the Beast. “If he hadn’t answered, that would probably have been the end of my SF career. But I learned later he answered all query letters either favorably or with helpful advice. The helpful advice he gave me was to suggest that I write with a lot of atmosphere. To me that meant a lot of imagery, and verbs other than “to be” or “to have.”

(11) ANDERSON OBIT. Author Paul Dale Anderson (1944-2018) has died, the president of the Horror Writers Association Is reporting. Biographical details from hiswebsite —

Paul Dale Anderson has written more than 27 novels and hundreds of short stories, mostly in the horror, fantasy, science fiction, and suspense-thriller genres. Paul has also written contemporary romances, mysteries, and westerns. Paul is an Active Member of SFWA and HWA, and he was elected a Vice President and Trustee of Horror Writers Association in 1987.  Paul is also a member of International Thriller Writers, the Authors Guild, and MWA.

His wife, Gretta, predeceased him in 2012.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 14, 1984 – John Carpenter’s Starman premiered on this day.
  • December 14, 1984 – For better or worse – Dune debuted in theaters.
  • December 14, 2007 – Will Smith’s I Am Legend opened.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 14, 1916 Shirley Jackson. First gained public attention for her short story “The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris” but it was her The Haunting of Hill House novel which has been made her legendary as a horror novelist as it’s truly a chilling ghost story.  I see that’s she wrote quite a bit of genre short fiction —has anyone here read it? (Died 1965.)
  • Born December 14, 1920 Rosemary Sutcliff. English novelist whose best known for children’s books particularly her historical fiction which  involved retellings of myths and legends, Arthurian and otherwise. Digging into my memory, I remember reading The Chronicles of Robin Hood which was her first published novel and rather good; The Eagle of the Ninth is set in Roman Britain and was an equally fine read. (Died 1992.)
  • Born December 14, 1949 David A. Cherry, 69. Illustrator working mostly in the genre. Amazingly he has been nominated eleven times for Hugo Awards, and eighteen times for Chesley Awards with an astonishing eight wins! He is a past president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.
  • Oh and he’s is the brother of the science fiction writer C. J. Cherryh (“Cherry” is the original spelling of the last name of the family) so you won’t be surprised that he’s painted cover art for some of her books as well as books for Robert Asprin, Andre Norton, Diane Duane, Lynn Abbey and Piers Anthony to name but a few of his contracts.
  • Born December 14, 1966Sarah Zettel, 52. Her first novel, Reclamation, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1996, and in 1997 tied for the Locus Award for the Best First Novel. Writing under the alias of C. L. Anderson, her novel Bitter Angels won the 2010 Philip K. Dick award for best paperback original novel. If you’ve not read her, I’d recommend her YA American Fairy Trilogy as a good place to start. 
  • Born December 14, 1968 Kelley Armstrong, 50. Canadian writer, primarily of fantasy novels since the early party of the century. She has published thirty-one fantasy novels to date, thirteen in her Women of the Otherworld series, another five in her Cainsville series. I’m wracking my brain to think what I’ve read of hers as I know I’ve read something. Ahhhh I’m reasonably sure I listened to the Cainsville series and would recommend it wholeheartedly.

(14) SAVE THE PICKLE! Has your deli warned of a shortage? Chip Hitchcock says, “Famous fan stop Rein’s, near Hartford, had a problem a few years ago.” From NPR : “Scientists Are Fighting For The Stricken Pickle Against This Tricky Disease”.

With failed harvests, fewer growers are taking a chance on cucumbers. According to USDA records, pickling cucumber acreage declined nearly 25 percent between 2004 and 2015. Globally, downy mildew threatens fields as far flung as India, Israel, Mexico and China.

“This is the number one threat to the pickle industry,” says vegetable pathologist Lina Quesada-Ocampo of North Carolina State University. The growers, she says, lose money on failed crops and pricey fungicides. “It is a really bad double whammy.”

Fortunately for pickle lovers, vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek of Cornell University is close to releasing varieties that resist downy mildew. “It’s been one of our proudest David and Goliath stories,” he says. But his success hinges on funding at a time when public support of agricultural research is declining.

(15) HEVELIN PHOTOS SOUGHT. Bruce Hevelin is looking for photos of his father, James “Rusty” Hevelin. If you have any scanned in or in digital form, please send them to him at: <bruce911@sonic.net>

(16) WOODEN FRIED CHICKEN. Forget about making this one of your last-minute gift purchases – The Takeout says “KFC fried chicken-scented firelog sold out in hours ¯\_(?)_/’”:

Update, December 14: Oh, you actually were interested in that chicken-scented log, eh? Sorry for those who didn’t snatch theirs up early, as the logs reportedly sold out within hours yesterday.

Original story, December 13:

“Back in my day,” your grandpa begins wheezily, “If we wanted fried chicken-smellin’ fires, we had to throw the chicken on the flames ourselves.”

He’s right, friends, but that hardship ends today, as KFC introduces a firelog that smells like the Colonel’s 11-herbs-and-spices fried chicken, made in partnership with Enviro-Log.

(17) NOT SOLD OUT.This is still available. No wonder! It will cost a heck of a lot more than a log! The Houdini Seance at LA’s Magic Castle.

The séance is held for a private group of ten to twelve guests in our historic Houdini Séance Chamber. Decorated in the High Victorian style, it is now the home of many priceless pieces of Houdini memorabilia, including the only set of cuffs Houdini was unable to open.

…You will experience remarkable things you might not fully understand. Don’t feel alone. It’s that way for all of us.

Your party begins its experience with a four-course gourmet meal at 6:30 p.m. with bottomless red and white house wine during the dining portion of your evening — all created by your own private chef and served by your own private butler.

A medium will then join you who will open the veil between this world and the next. Your medium will begin with fascinating experiments in the power of the unseen and then, forming a magic circle, will summon the spirits and allow them to demonstrate their awesome ability to manifest in our physical world.

(18) THE SECRET IS NOT TO BANG THE ROCKS TOGETHER. BBC asks “What chance has Nasa of finding life on Mars?”

It could be easier to detect the signs of ancient life on Mars than it is on Earth, say scientists connected with Nasa’s next rover mission.

The six-wheeled robot is due to touch down on the Red Planet in 2021 with the specific aim of trying to identify evidence of past biology.

It will be searching for clues in rocks that are perhaps 3.9 billion years old.

Confirming life on Earth at that age is tough enough, but Mars may have better preservation, say the researchers.

It comes down to the dynamic processes on our home world that constantly churn and recycle rocks – processes that can erase life’s traces but which shut down on the Red Planet early in its history.

“We don’t believe, for example, that Mars had plate tectonics in the way Earth has had for most of its history,” said Ken Williford from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

“Most of Earth’s rock record has been destroyed by subduction under the ocean crust. But even the rock left at the surface is heated and squeezed in ways it might not have been on Mars.”

(19) BEFORE THE STORY WAS TRAPPED IN AMBER. BBC tells about “The Jurassic Park film that was never made”.

The structure is so ancient that it feels almost prehistoric. Some people take a trip to a remote island, they see some dinosaurs, and then the dinosaurs try to have them for lunch. It’s what happened in Jurassic Park in 1993, and by the time the first sequel came out in 1997, the screenplay was already poking fun at how formulaic it was. “‘Ooh, aah’, that’s how it always starts,” says Jeff Goldblum’s Dr Ian Malcolm in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. “Then later there’s running and screaming.” How right he was. But this self-knowledge didn’t stop the makers of Jurassic Park III (2001) and Jurassic World (2015) sticking to the formula, and it wasn’t until the second half of this year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that the series found somewhere else to go.

How different things might have been. Back in 2004, John Sayles (the writer-director of Passion Fish and Lone Star) wrote a half-crazy half-brilliant screenplay for Jurassic Park 4 that took the story all over the planet, and which pioneered several radical ideas that are only just being incorporated into the franchise now. Steven Spielberg, the series’ producer and its original director was keen at first, and it’s easy to see why: Sayles’ rollicking script is sprinkled with quintessentially Spielberg-y moments. On the other hand, it’s also easy to see why Spielberg cooled off on the project. A movie about a globe-trotting A-Team of genetically modified, crime-busting Deinonychuses might have strayed just a little too far from the Jurassic Park films that audiences knew and loved.

(20) TITANS. The season-ending episode:

Titans 1×11 “Dick Grayson” Season 1 Episode 11 Promo (Season Finale) – Robin faces off against Batman when Dick takes a dark journey back to Gotham in the first season finale of Titans.

(21) YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD BAGGAGE PROBLEMS. “Southwest Airlines flight turns back after human heart discovery” – BBC has the story.

A US passenger plane travelling from Seattle to Dallas was forced to turn back hours into its flight because a human heart had been left on board.

Southwest Airlines says the organ was flown to Seattle from California, where it was to be processed at a hospital to have a valve recovered for future use.

But it was never unloaded and its absence was not noticed until the plane was almost half-way to Dallas.

The heart itself had not been intended for a specific patient.

(22) WHERE TO FIND YOUR DOOM, AND WHAT TO DRINK ON THE WAY. Another thing for Worldcon travelers to check out: “In Ireland, a taste of the underworld”

Oweynagat cave is a placeof both birth and death. An unimposing gash in the ancient misty hills of north-western Ireland, it is said to be the entrance to the underworld where fairies and demons lure mortals to their doom, and the sacred birthplace of a warrior queen. For thousands of years, the Irish have regarded Oweynagat as a site of awe-inspiring magic, weaving a rich tapestry of mythology around it.

…For millennia, Queen Medb has remained the most intoxicating thing to come out of the cave. However, just this year that changed with the creation of a beer made from wild yeast cultivated from the walls of Oweynagat. Called Underworld Savage Ale for the mythic place that it was conceived, this beer is the first of its kind, with a backstory strange enough to fit within the cave’s fantastic mythology

(23) FROM THE HISTORIC RECORDS. Rachel Swirsky discovered a reference to File 770 in a 1981 copy of Fandom Directory.  The zine was only three years old at the time.

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “The Mother of All Demos Hosted by Douglas Englebart” on YouTube is a video (recorded by Stewart Brand) of the December 1968 demonstration where Douglas Englebart introduced the world to videoconferencing, hypertext, and the computer mouse.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Rachel Swirsky, and Andrew Porter for some oft hese stories, Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Winkleman.]

Pixel Scroll 11/15/18 Pixel Longstalking

(1) STOP BREAKING THE RULES, DAMMIT. Thanks to Doctor Science, I discovered “Jonathan Franzen’s 10 Rules for Writing Novels” (at LitHub) and the mirth he’s inspired in many of our friends. (Links take you to the thread.)

The first time I meet him, I’m in an almost-empty laundromat. It’s the height of the August heatwave. I’m folding my towels when he comes in. His hair is tousled. He wears a rumpled, button-up shirt with a ten-year-old blazer that was already ten years old when he bought it from a Salvation Army.

I know this, because he tells me it. I haven’t asked. He tells me he’ll forgive me for not having asked, this once….

And while we’re on the subject, writers can learn a lot from this – “Ask a Triceratops: Susan’s 10 Rules for Novelists” at Camestros Felapton. Here are the first two:

  1. Ensure your primary narrator is comfortable. Remember the novel is an aural medium and your narrator should have a comfy nest of uprooted plants to stand or lie down on.
  2. Pay attention to the little things: how did the t-rex get drunk? What kind of tree is she trying to climb?

(2) TRANSLATED LITERATURE. Europa SF brings word that the winner of The 2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature is of genre interest – the dystopian novel The Emissary by Yoko Tawada (Japan/Germany), Translated by Margaret Mitsutani. Europa SF has a long post about the award and the winning writer.

(3) WFC ACCOUNTABILITY. Silvia Moreno-Garcia takes the 2019 World Fantasy Convention committee to task:

So I’ve been wondering if I should say something here because I am busy and tired and I don’t need the attention, but I think I must: the WFC guest of honor lineup for 2019 is sad. The con takes place in Los Angeles but all the GOHs are white. The theme is Fantasy Noir.

Los Angeles has a huge Latinx population. But the one mention of diversity on the website right now is about “culinary diversity,” making me think POC are only good for making tacos.

On top of that there’s the odd choice of having Robert Silverberg, who was recently the cause of much Internet talk due to some of his comments related to Jemisin, as the toastmaster.

(4) FROM EXPERIENCE. Rachel Swirsky has written a “Q&A on Being a Jewish & Disabled Author”.

…I think my interest in Jewish science fiction stems from my interest in Jewishness itself, which is probably related to my self-identification as Jewish. I’m not sure why I have a strong identification with Judaism — I didn’t have to. As the granddaughter of a secular Jew who tried to cut all connections, I could have just put it aside; my brothers have. Our father is from WASPy blood with deep roots in American history–we’re descended from one of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence–and I could have chosen to identify with that to the exclusion of my Jewish ancestry.

What are you writing about now?

I’m writing a lot about disability. As a disabled person, there’s a lot of rich material to mine–and I still have a lot of unreconciled thoughts about disability, and things I’m figuring out. I think a lot of good writing is produced when the author is still on the edge of revelations, instead of settled.

(5) AMC OPTIONS SF. Good news for Annalee Newitz.

(6) WHO SWITCHES HOLIDAYS. It takes a Time Lord to fix a problem like this – or to cause it in the first place. BBC announces “Doctor Who to skip Christmas Day for first time in 13 years”.

The festive edition of Doctor Who will be shown on New Year’s Day on BBC One instead of Christmas Day for the first time since the drama’s return in 2005.

It will be the first Doctor Who episode to debut on 1 January since the second part of David Tennant’s series exit aired on the first day of 2010.

(7) HAVE AN APPLE? Mythic Delirium has revealed Ruth Sanderson’s cover for Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss.

In these eight stories and twenty-three poems, Goss retells and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, the works gathered in Snow White Learns Witchcraft re-center and empower the women at the heart of these timeless narratives.

They also made sure we didn’t miss this —

Just yesterday, Variety broke the news that the CW is developing The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter for television. We want to sincerely congratulation Dora and wish her luck that this project comes to full fruition. Needless to say, we’re thrilled to be releasing her next book into the publishing wilds.

(8) FANZINES OF 1943. Dublin 2019 has announced that they will present Retro Hugos for works published in 1943. In order to provide material for those that would like to nominate fan materials for the awards, Fanac.org has assembled the list of fanzines published in 1943, with links to those available on line. Several hundred fanzines are already available, and they plan to add more as they become available, so keep checking back — http://fanac.org/fanzines/Retro_Hugos1943.html

(9) VALE, STAN. Stan Lee’s Twitter account (“The Real Stan Lee”) tweeted out a final statement from Lee as a short video.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 15, 1877 – William Hope Hodgson, Writer from England whose best known character by far is Thomas Carnacki, featured in several of his most famous stories, and at least partly based upon Algernon Blackwood’s occult detective John Silence. Two of his later novels, The House on the Borderland and The Night Land would be lavishly praised by H.P. Lovecraft. It is said that his horror writing influenced many later writers such as China Miéville, Tim Lebbon, and Greg Bear, but I cannot find a definitive source for that claim. (Died 1918.)
  • Born November 15, 1929 – Ed Asner, 89, Actor and Producer whose genre work includes playing Santa Claus to Will Farrell’s Elf, and roles on episodes of TV shows spanning decades: The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Invaders, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Tall Tales & Legends,The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, The Wild Wild West, Hercules, The X-Files, The Dead Zone, Spider-Man, and the upcoming Dead to Me. He has lent his distinctive voice to the main character in the Oscar-winning and Hugo-nominated Pixar movie Up, as well as with a long list of other animated features, series, and videogames, most notably in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Gargoyles, and as Jacob Marley in The Christmas Carol.
  • Born November 15, 1939 – Yaphet Kotto, 79, Actor, Writer, and Director who’s known mainly for playing gruff law enforcement officers, but whose short genre film resume nevertheless packs a punch. Assuming we count the Bond films as genre – and I do – his first genre performance was as Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big in Live and Let Die, and roles in Dan O’Bannon’s Alien, Stephen King’s The Running Man, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters, and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, as well as guest parts in Night Gallery and seaQuestDSV.
  • Born November 15, 1951 – Beverly D’Angelo, 67, Actor and Singer whose genre roles include appearing in The Sentinel, High Spirits, and episodes of TV series such as Tales from the Crypt and Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre and Tall Tales & Legends. She was also a primary cast member in The Man Who Fell to Earth, a 1987 pilot for a series that never got picked up for continuation, which was based on Walter Tevis’s 1963 novel and Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film.
  • Born November 15, 1972 – Jonny Lee Miller, 46, Actor and Director from England who has been playing Sherlock Holmes in the Elementary series for the last seven years, but his first genre role was as a 9-year-old in an episode with Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor Who. While he’s had a fairly steady stage, film, and TV career across the pond since then, it’s only in the last decade that he’s become well-known in the States – unless, like JJ, you remember that 23 years ago he appeared in a shoddy technothriller called Hackers, with another unknown young actor named Angelina Jolie (to whom he ended up married, until they separated 18 months later). Other genre appearances include a trio of vampire films, Dracula 2000, Dark Shadows, and Byzantium, the live-action Æon Flux movie, and the lead in the pseudo-fantasy TV series Eli Stone.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) WHITE WOLF ANSWERS. In Item #2 of the Pixel Scroll for November 8, Joseph D. Carriker identified a big problem with the next Camarilla book for Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition. The next day, publisher White Wolf replied:

White Wolf Community – We realize the way we have portrayed various topics in the recent Camarilla and Anarch setting books can be viewed as crude and insensitive. We appreciate this feedback and we are actively examining our choices in these books. Earlier this year, we made a pledge to you to meet certain standards and be more direct with the community regarding the World of Darkness and our games. That’s a pledge we failed to uphold, and we are deeply sorry.

White Wolf is currently undergoing some significant transitions, up to and including a change in leadership. The team needs a short time to understand what this means, so we ask for your patience as we figure out our next steps.

We thank you for your support, and for calling us out when it’s needed. Your thoughts and opinions are essential to the improvement of White Wolf.

(13) NOVEMBER BOOKS. Raise Mt. Tsundoku high! Andrew Liptak recommends “11 new sci-fi and fantasy books to check out in late November” at The Verge.

I wonder if my daughter will want to read this one –

Firefly: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove and Nancy Holder

Earlier this year, Titan Books announced that it was releasing a trilogy of Firefly novels, expanding the world of Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV show. With Whedon on board as a consulting editor, the first novel follows the crew of the Serenity as they’re hired to transport a cargo of explosives to a buyer. Things go sideways the Alliance takes an interest in the cargo and as a band of rebel Browncoat veterans begin to cause trouble. In the midst of it all, Captain Malcolm Reynolds goes missing, and his first mate, Zoë, has to make a choice between finding him and saving her crew.

And for the rest of you, there’s –

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin recently won her third consecutive Hugo Award for The Stone Sky, the concluding volume of her phenomenal Broken Earth trilogy. She has another book in the works right now, but her next will be her first collection of short fiction, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? The book features 22 of her fantastic, shorter works. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review and said that the stories “demonstrate both the growth and active flourishing of one of speculative fiction’s most thoughtful and exciting writers.”

(14) SECOND OPINION. Answering Collins Dictionary’s choice of “single-use” (Pixeled recently), “’Toxic’ Is Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of 2018”.

(15) WHERE HE’S LEAST EXPECTED. BBC tells how “Lost Disney ‘Oswald’ film found in Japan”.

An anime historian had the cartoon for 70 years before he realised it was one of seven lost films.

The two-minute short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a precursor to Mickey Mouse.

Yasushi Watanabe, 84, bought the film from a toy wholesaler in Osaka when he was a teenager, paying only ¥500 (£3.45 at current exchange rates).

Originally called Neck & Neck, the 16mm cartoon was tagged with the name Mickey Manga Spide (Mickey Cartoon Speedy), and remained in Mr Watanabe’s personal collection for 70 years.

(16) DUMBO. Here’s a recommendation for you – io9’s Beth Elderkin promises “The New Trailer for Disney’s Live-Action Dumbo Will Pretty Much Rip Your Heart to Shreds”. Not to mention, you’ll believe an elephant can fly…

(17) WORLDBUILDING. In this case, literally. Nature shares “A key piece in the exoplanet puzzle”.

The detection of a low-mass exoplanet on a relatively wide orbit has implications for models of planetary formation and evolution, and could open the door to a new era of exoplanet characterization.

The orbital distance of the reported planet is similar to that of Mercury from the Sun (Fig.). This places the planet close to the snow line of Barnard’s star — the region out from the star beyond which volatile elements can condense. The snow line is a key region of planetary systems. In particular, there are indications that the building blocks of planets are formed there.

(18) MORE ABOUT THAT EXOPLANET. Mike Kennedy notes, “The planet is, alas, probably outside the zone where liquid water could be expected to exist. Wikipedia has a partial list of stories taking place at or near Barnard’s Star. The earliest they note is Jack Williamson’s The Legion of Space.”

National Geographic notes:

[…] Barnard’s star is a small red dwarf that’s older than the sun and about a sixth its size. It’s invisible without a decent telescope—the close star wasn’t even discovered until 1916.

Still, Barnard’s Star has long been buttoned into the lore of science fiction, inspiring astronomers to propose the presence of orbiting worlds as far back as the 1960s, and prompting fiction authors to weave tales of adventure around the hidden pinprick of light.

[…] “We’re 99-percent sure this is a planetary signal—but 99 is not 100,” he says. “What if the Barnard Star planet is not really there? It will be shot many, many times and people will try to kill it, but that’s how science works.”

(19) ONE PAGE SF. Jonathan Cowie announces SF2 Concatenation just posted its penultimate Best of Nature  ‘Futures’ 1-page SF story of year.

(20) ORIGIN STORY. The Verge tells us that “YouTube’s tech-noir series Origin is Lost… in space (With a hefty dose of Alien and Dead Space on the side)”. The YouTube Originals show is on YouTube Premium, which is available in about 30 countries.

A man wakes up abruptly, gasping in shock. He’s alone in an unexpected place. Something has clearly gone wrong with the trip he was on, but he won’t know just how wrong until he finds his fellow passengers. They’ll have to work together to manage their basic needs and unravel the mystery of why they didn’t arrive safely at their destination. But can they trust each other, given their various unsavory backgrounds, which will largely be revealed by a series of flashbacks? On Lost, this man’s name is Jack Shephard. But in YouTube Premium’s new space series Origin, it’s Shun Kenzaki (Sen Mitsuji).

In Origin, the passengers wake up from stasis, en route to the distant planet Thea. They were supposed to reach the planet before being revived, but they’re still on board their transport ship, Origin. The Siren Corporation, which put them on the ship, offers its colonists a clean slate. Signing on for a colony means having all records of their history on Earth sealed — which gives the writers a perfect excuse to create crew members with particularly colorful pasts. “We’re five light-years from Earth. Who’s going to stop us?” one Siren spokesperson says in a promotional VR experience, channeling the sort of corporate hubris that always goes so well in science fiction stories.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Rachel Swirsky, Mike Allen, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/18 That’s One Sure Road To Mount Tsundoku Blues, Pixels On The Scrolls Of Your Shoes

(1) HUGO HISTORY BY WALTON. At Locus Online, “Gary K. Wolfe Reviews An Informal History of the Hugos by Jo Walton”.

…So the value of Walton’s book – in some ways a companion piece to her other collection of Tor.com columns, What Makes This Book So Great – lies not in identifying such howlers – in fact, she con­cludes that Hugo voters got it more or less right some 69% of the time – but in the lively and opinionated discussions of the winners and losers, of which books have lasted and which haven’t, and why. Walton includes not only her original columns, but selec­tions from the online comments, and the comments, especially from Locus contributors Gardner Dozois and Rich Horton, are so extensive and thoughtful as to make the book virtually a collaboration….

(2) A GENEROUS SPIRIT. Rachel Swirsky had a great experience at “an unusually good convention, with a lot of space and help for new writers” — “Open-Hearted Generosity at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference”.

The administrators established an atmosphere of open-hearted generosity which reflected through everyone. The agents and editors were eager to find new clients, and also to help nurture new ones. The professional writers treated the new ones like colleagues, not supplicants or intruders who would have to prove themselves worthy before being given respect. The new writers were excited and respectful of the professionals’ time and experience.

I think one thing that really helped foster the positive environment was the expectation that presenters join the attendees for meals and announcements. It got everyone used to being around each other, and reinforced that we were all in it together as people at that conference, sharing the goals of telling stories and making art.

Anyone can have a worthy story to tell. Everyone seemed to have a strong sense of that, and to respect it.

I think the administrators also chose carefully–and wisely–presenters whose native inclination is to come to new people with warmth. My experience of the colleagues I already knew who were there–Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Nalo Hopkinson–bears that out. They’re all excellent teachers who are thoughtful and kind, and excited by teaching and learning. I can only aspire to match their generosity.

(3) ZICREE WINS INAUGURAL GOLDEN DRAGON. The Cardiff International Film Festival honored Space Command creator Marc “Mr. Sci-Fi” Zicree this past weekend. Wales 247 covered the festival’s award ceremony: “Winners announced for world class cinema in Cardiff”.

The highlights of the ceremony were the lifetime achievement award for Dame Sian Phillips and the naming of American science fiction writer and director Marc Zicree as the first recipient of a Golden Dragon award for excellence in cinema and the arts.

[Zicree said – ] …“The thing that’s wonderful about accepting this award here in Wales is that Elaine and I have received such a warm welcome here this weekend. My own writing career began as a teenager having watched The Prisoner television show, which was filmed in Portmeirion. So Wales is in part responsible for my career as a screenwriter.”

Marc Zicree and his wife Elaine, have sold over 100 teleplays, screenplays and pilots to every major studio and network, including landmark stories for such shows as Star Trek – The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, The New Twilight Zone, and Babylon Five. Their work has been nominated for the American Book Award, Humanitas Prize, Diane Thomas Award, and Hugo and Nebula Awards, and they’ve won the TV Guide Award, the prestigious Hamptons Prize and 2011 Rondo and Saturn Awards. Their new production, Space Command, premiered at the Cardiff International Film Festival.

(4) STONY END. James Davis Nicoll gives pointers on “How to Destroy Civilization and Not Be Boring”. For example —

Large eruptions like Toba 70,000 years ago or the Yellowstone eruption 640,000 years ago are very sexy: one big boom and half a continent is covered by ash. But why settle for such a brief, small-scale affair? Flood basalt events can last for a million years, each year as bad as or worse than the 18th century Laki eruption that killed a quarter of the human population in Iceland. Flood basalts resurface continental-sized regions to a depth of a kilometer, so it’s not that surprising that about half the flood basalts we know of are associated with extinction events. In terms of the effect on the world, it’s not unreasonable to compare it to a nuclear war. A nuclear war that lasts one million years.

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series gives some idea what a world in the midst of the formation of a Large Igneous Province might be like.

(5) CARNEGIE MEDAL CONTENDERS. I’m easily spoiled. The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction 2019 Finalists were announced today. Last year, two of the three novels were of genre interest. This year, none, although Washington Black does include a trip in a hot air balloon. It’d be a shame to waste my research, though, so here’s the shortlist —

Fiction

Esi Edugyan
Washington Black
Knopf

This evocative novel, equally rich in character and adventure, tells the wonderfully strange story of young George Washington Black who goes from Caribbean slavery to Arctic exploration, via hot-air balloon, to search for his mentor in London.

Rebecca Makkai
The Great Believers
(Viking)

Makkai’s ambitious novel explores the complexities of friendship, family, art, fear, and love in meticulously realized settings––WWI-era and present-day Paris, and 1980s Chicago––while insightfully and empathically illuminating the early days of the AIDS epidemic.

Tommy Orange
There There
(Knopf)

Orange’s symphonic tale spans miles and decades to encompass an intricate web of characters, all anticipating the upcoming Big Oakland Powwow. Orange lights a thrilling path through their stories, and leaves readers with a fascinating exploration of what it means to be an Urban Indian.

Nonfiction

Francisco Cantú
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
(Riverhead)

Readers accompany Cantú to parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as he recounts his years working for the U.S. Border Patrol. Remaining objective without moralizing, he shares a heart-wrenching, discussion-provoking perspective on how a border can tear apart families, lives, and a sense of justice.

Kiese Laymon
Heavy: An American Memoir
(Scribner)

In his artfully crafted and boldly revealing memoir, writing professor Laymon recalls the traumas of his Mississippi youth; the depthless hunger that elevated his weight; his obsessive, corrective regime of diet and exercise; his gambling, teaching, activism, and trust in the power of writing.

Beth Macy
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America
(Little, Brown)

Macy’s years of reporting on the still-unfolding U.S. opioid crisis earned her remarkable access to people whose lives have been upended by these drugs. Hers is a timely, crucial, and many-faceted look at how we got here, giving voice to the far-reaching realities of the addicted and the people who care for them.

(6) CALL ME ISHMAEL. David Brin posted an entertaining collection of “Fabulous First Lines of Science Fiction”.

Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. – Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ, with guest appearance by Standback]

  • Born October 24, 1893 – Merian Cooper, Aviator, Writer, Director and Producer. After spending WWI in the Air Force, Cooper became a writer and researcher for The New York Times and later the American Geographic Society, traveling the world, and writing stories and giving lectures about his travels. He then turned some of his writing into documentary films. He had helped David Selznick get a job at RKO Pictures, and later Selznick hired him to make movies. He developed one of his story ideas into a movie featuring a giant gorilla which is terrorizing New York City. King Kong was released in 1933, and for reasons which are utterly unfathomable to JJ, the story has been sequeled, remade, comicbooked, and rebooted innumerable times in the last 85 years.
  • Born October 24, 1915 – Bob Kane, Writer and Artist who co-created, along with Bill Finger, the DC character Batman. Multiple sources report that “Kane said his influences for the character included actor Douglas Fairbanks’ movie portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro, Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Roberts Rinehart’s mystery novel The Circular Staircase.” He was inducted into Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. The character he created has been featured in countless comic books, stories, movies, TV series, animated features, videogames, and action figures in the last eight decades.The 1989 movie based on his creation, featuring Michael Keaton in the title role, was a finalist for both Hugo and British Science Fiction Association Awards.
  • Born October 24, 1948 – Margaret “Peggy” Ranson, Artist, Illustrator, and Fan, who became involved with fandom when she co-edited the program book for the 1988 Worldcon in New Orleans. She went on to provide art for many fanzines and conventions, and was a finalist for the Best Fan Artist Hugo every one of the eight years from 1991 to 1998, winning once. She was Guest of Honor at several conventions, including a DeepSouthCon. Sadly, she died of cancer in 2016; Mike Glyer’s lovely tribute to her can be read here.
  • Born October 24, 1952 – David Weber, 66, Writer of numerous novels and short works in several science fiction series, most notably the popular Honor Harrington series, which has spawned spinoff series and numerous anthologies bearing contributions from other well-known SFF authors. He has been Guest of Honor at more than two dozen conventions, including the 2011 UK Natcon, and received the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement from Southern Fandom.
  • Born October 24, 1952 – Jane Fancher, 66, Writer and Artist. In the early 80s, she was an art assistant on Elfquest, providing inking assistance on the black and white comics and coloring of the original graphic novel reprints. She adapted portions of C.J. Cherryh’s first Morgaine novel into a black and white comic book, which prompted her to begin writing novels herself. Her first novel, Groundties, was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award, and she has been Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at several conventions.
  • Born October 24, 1954 – Wendy Neuss, 64, Emmy-nominated Producer. As an associate producer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, her responsibilities included post-production sound, including music and effects spots, scoring sessions and sound mixes, insertion of location footage, and re-recording of dialogue (which is usually done when lines are muffed or the audio recording was subpar). She was also the producer of Star Trek: Voyager. With her husband at the time, Patrick Stewart, she was executive producer of three movies in which he starred, including a version of A Christmas Carol which JJ says is absolutely fantastic.
  • Born October 24, 1956 – Dr. Jordin Kare, Physicist, Filker, and Fan who was known for his scientific research on laser propulsion. A graduate of MIT and Berkeley, he said that he chose MIT because of the hero in Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. He was a regular attendee and science and filk program participant at conventions, from 1975 until his untimely death last year. He met his wife, Mary Kay Kare, at the 1981 Worldcon. He should be remembered and honored as being an editor of The Westerfilk Collection: Songs of Fantasy and Science Fiction, a crucial filksong collection, and later as a partner in Off Centaur Publications, the very first commercial publisher specializing in filk songbooks and recordings. Shortly after the shuttle Columbia tragedy, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, on live TV, attempted to read the lyrics to Jordin’s Pegasus Award-winning song “Fire in the Sky”, which celebrates manned space exploration. He was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was named to the Filk Hall of Fame. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him can be read here.
  • Born October 24, 1960 – B.D. Wong, 58, Tony-winning Actor of Stage and Screen who has appeared in the Hugo-winning Jurassic Park films and The Space Between Us, had main roles in Mr. Robot and Gotham, had guest roles in episodes of The X-Files and American Horror Story, and voiced a main character in Disney’s Mulan films. He was also in Executive Decision, which is only borderline genre, but holds a special place in JJ’s heart for killing off Steven Seagal, and JJ feels that all of its cast members should be heartily applauded for that.
  • Born October 24, 1971 – Dr. Sofia Samatar, 47, Teacher, Writer, and Poet who speaks several languages and started out as a language instructor, a job which took her to Egypt for nine years. She won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and is the author of two wonderful novels to date, both of which I highly recommend: Stranger in Olondria (which won World Fantasy and British Fantasy Awards and was nominated for a Nebula) and The Winged Histories. Her short story “Selkie Stories are for Losers” was nominated for Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, and BFA Awards. She has written enough short fiction in just six years that Small Beer Press put out Tender, a collection which is a twenty-six stories strong. And she has a most splendid website.

Guest birthday bio from Filer Standback:

  • Born October 24, 1970 – Vered Tochterman, 48, Israeli Writer, Editor, and Translator. From 2002-2006, she was the founding editor of Chalomot Be’Aspamia (“Pipe Dreams”), a science fiction and fantasy magazine for original Israeli fiction which has been massively influential on Israeli fandom and writing community. Her short story collection Sometimes It’s Different won the first Geffen Award for original Hebrew fiction; more recently, her novels Blue Blood and Moonstone depict vampires in modern-day Tel Aviv. As a translator, she has brought major English novels — from Tim Powers to Susannah Clarke to Terry Pratchett — to Israeli readers. One of her more eclectic contributions was a fan production she co-wrote, which is a mashup between Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the Buffy musical episode. She has been, and remains, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli fandom.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) BANDERSNATCH. See video of Diana Glyer’s talk at Vanguard University last evening here on Facebook. (Warning — the image looks sideways.)

(10) NEXT YEAR’S MYTHCON. Mythcon 50 has announced its dates — August 2-5, 2019, in San Diego, California.

Theme: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Our theme is a head-nod to Roman mythology’s Janus, the god of beginnings and endings, gates and doorways, transitions and passages and duality. So we are moving forward into the future while also, at least for this Mythcon, looking backward toward the place from where we’ve come.

(11) TIM MOONLIGHTS. Timothy the Talking Cat takes his show to Amazing Stories: “timTalk: Tonight’s Episode – Schroedinger’s Cat”.

TimTALK: Tonight’s Episode – Schrodinger’s Cat.

[Theme music fades out and the title fade out to reveal a small studio. Two cats sit in comfortable chairs with a coffee table between them. Timothy the Talking Cat (for it is he) is looking at the camera, while his guest sits opposite.]

Timothy the Talking Cat: Good evening, hello and welcome to another edition of timTALK where I, Timothy the Talking Cat, ask the tough question of the day of the great, the good and the feline. Tonight, I’m talking to one of the Twentieth Century’s most notable thought leaders. A cat who has done more for surprisingly cruel thought experiments in physics than any animal since Zeno made a tortoise race Achilles. I am, of course, talking to Schrödinger’s Cat.

[Timothy turns to his guest]
Good evening. You’ll be eighty-three years old this November, shouldn’t you be dead already?

Schrödinger’s Cat: Ha, ha, let me just say that reports of my death have been exaggerated. No, wait…they haven’t been exaggerated at all.

(12) OCTOCON REPORT. Sara (“Not Another Book Blogger”) has written up Octocon, the Irish National Convention, held last weekend in Dublin –

(13) RUINING FANDOM. free to fanfic purports to show “how web 2.0 (and especially tumblr) is ruining fandom”.

how does the structure of web 2.0 socmed harm fandom?

in aggregate: it forces fandom[$], a diverse space where people go to indulge niche interests and specific tastes, into overexposure to outsiders and to one another, and exacerbates the situation by removing all semi-private interaction spaces, all moderation tools, all content-limiting tools, and all abuse protection.

(14) SHORT ON SENSE OF WONDER. Abigail Nussbaum reviews “First Man” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

…I have to admit that I approached First Man in genuine puzzlement as to why it had even been attempted. 2016’s Hidden Figures, it seemed to me, provided a much better template for future fiction about the Apollo program, shining a light on little-known corners of the endeavor, and on the people who took part in it who were not white men. Why go back to Armstrong and Apollo 11, whose story has surely been covered from every possible angle?

First Man doesn’t really give you a satisfying answer to this question. It’s a fantastic piece of filmmaking, with some stunning visuals and set-pieces—particularly the long final sequence on the moon itself, though I couldn’t shake the sneaking suspicion that in shooting these scenes Chazelle was driven primarily by his crushing disappointment that none of the real moon landing footage is in HD. And there are moments in Josh Singer’s script where you can almost sense a unique approach to the material. Where, instead of Right Stuff hyper-competence, or even Apollo 13 improvisation, the film highlights the ricketiness of the edifice NASA built to take men into space, the flimsiness of the technology that Armstrong and his fellow astronauts trusted with their lives, and the danger and uncertainty they met when they left the earth’s atmosphere….

(15) WORLDS WITHOUT END. Mylifemybooksmyescape interviews Dave, administrator of the Worlds Without End sff book site.

DJ: Which feature or aspect of WorldsWithoutEnd.com do you actually like most/sets its apart from other sites in the community?

Dave: One of the things that we have tried to do is replicate the brick and mortar bookstore experience online.  We have set up the site to be browse-able in a way that sites like Amazon or other online bookstores just aren’t.  On those sites you go in already knowing what you want. You can’t really browse like you’re wandering around in a bookstore.  On WWEnd we present you with shelves of books in different categories that you can easily browse through.

You might start off looking through the Nebula shelves for something to read.  You spot a great looking cover, just like you might in a store, and click over to read about The Three-Body Problem.  You read the synopsis, just as you would flip the book over to read the back blurb. Then you read the excerpt as if you held the book in your hands.  Then you skim through the reviews to see what other folks are saying about that book as if there was someone else on the isle in the store you could talk to.  Then you notice that the book is also on the WWEnd Most Read Books of All-Time list so you wander over there to see what else is on that shelf. Then you see an author like N. K. Jemisin that everyone is talking about so you click her name and see what’s on her shelf.

And as you go you’re tagging books to put them on your to-read list for later examination or marking the ones you’ve already read and slowly but surely the site is getting color-coded to your reading history — suddenly you realize you’re only six books away from reading all the Campbell Award winners.  Or you find out that you haven’t read as many books by women as you thought you had. The experience is fun and intuitive and we provide an abundance of information so you can make more informed choices before you plunk down your hard-earned money.

(16) CLEANUP THE DEAD ON AISLE THREE. Gizmodo peeked behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall and discovered “The Urban Legend About Scattering Human Ashes at Disney Is True, and It’s Worse Than We Thought”. There’s even a special code to call for cleanup.

The Journal report continues with more specific details:

Human ashes have been spread in flower beds, on bushes and on Magic Kingdom lawns; outside the park gates and during fireworks displays; on Pirates of the Caribbean and in the moat underneath the flying elephants of the Dumbo ride. Most frequently of all, according to custodians and park workers, they’ve been dispersed throughout the Haunted Mansion, the 49-year-old attraction featuring an eerie old estate full of imaginary ghosts.

“The Haunted Mansion probably has so much human ashes in it that it’s not even funny,” said one Disneyland custodian.

(17) PYTHON TRIBUTE. BBC finds that “Dutch ‘silly walks’ crossing is a hit”.

The people of Spijkenisse have taken to the idea with great enthusiasm, and filled social media with clips of pedestrians crossing with a variety of outlandish gaits.

Aloys Bijl was also on hand to show passers-by the 12 steps of the traditional John Cleese silly walk.

(18) JOHN WILLIAMS SICK. He’s had to miss an engagement — “John Williams: Composer pulls out of concerts due to illness”.

The 86-year-old had been due to appear with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday.

But the venue said he had pulled out because of a “last-minute illness”.

(19) CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE A BOOKSELLER. One moment he was a customer, the next moment…. “Dutchman’s ‘pure shock’ after winning Cardigan bookshop”

Paul Morris and his wife Leila, owners of Bookends in Cardigan, are giving their beloved bookshop away.

The couple will now fulfil a lifetime ambition by travelling the world.

The winner of that draw, Dutchman Ceisjan Van Heerden, known as CJ, will run the shop with his Icelandic friend Svaen Bjorn, 23, who he had never met….

When he told CJ, who is from Vrij Bij Duurstede and a “regular customer” at the bookshop, Paul said “there was a lot of silence” and he could tell he was “stunned”.

“It was pure shock initially,” said CJ. “Then I thought ‘this is an amazing opportunity, let’s do it’.”

But CJ did not want to run the shop alone and called around some of his friends, one of whom had already shown an interest.

CJ had known Svaen Bjorn, a 23-year-old from Reykjavik in Iceland, for eight years through online gaming but the pair had never met in person.

“He got back to me and said ‘yeah, let’s do it’,” CJ recalled ahead of the official handover on 5 November.

(20) SOMETHING NEW AT THE BAR. Unlike Pohl and Kornbluth (Gladiator-at-Law), J.K. Rowling’s work has put down roots in the legal profession: “Harry Potter to ‘inspire’ budding India lawyers”.

A top Indian law university in the eastern state of West Bengal has introduced a course based on the fictional world of Harry Potter.

The course uses the role of law in the series to draw parallels between the stories and real-life situations.

Professor Shouvik Kumar Guha, who designed it, says it is an “experiment” to “encourage creative thinking.”

Several universities in the US and at least one in the UK also offer courses inspired by the famous series.

The course in India, which is entitled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse”, is expected to include a total of 45 hours of discussion-based teachin

Some of the topics mentioned in the course module point out how social and class rights in India can be equated with the “enslavement of house-elves and the marginalisation of werewolves” in the fantasy series.

(21) ALT-FLIGHT. There was a strange addition to the commute in the San Fernando Valley yesterday…. (Although marked as a WWII German fighter, the plane was a vintage U.S. Army trainer.)

The pilot, who flies for Alaska Airlines, walked away from the crash with minor injuries, according to AP News.

He told KTLA in a previous interview that he was interested in vintage airplanes because his father had flown in World War II. The single-engine model that crashed was a North American Aviation T-6 Texan, which was first developed in the 1930s and used by U.S. pilots to train during World War II, according to AP News.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 9/10/18 I Get Scrolled Down, I Pixel Up Again, You’re Never Gonna Click Me Down

(1) MESSAGE FROM THE RESISTANCE. Sometimes you need an inter-dimensional perspective to put things into their proper focus, like what Andrew Paul provides in “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult” at McSweeney’s.

Nyarlathotep is now facing one of the greatest threats in Its presidency so far. I should know, I clock in to kneel at Its feet upon the Altar of Despair every day.

In the year-and-a-half since the Black Pharaoh replaced the Oval Office with a literal blood fountain throne, I’ve watched as the hits keep on coming. The executive cabinet is wracked with scandal, ordinary citizens who signed the cultist oath are making good on their grave pacts, and, of course, the entirety of the country’s water supply is now teeming with pulsating eggs from some kind of inter-dimensional parasite. It’s easy to look at these kinds of headlines, to read these sorts of leaked stories from the desiccated Capitol Hill, and see an unsustainable administration. Rumors of reversal incantations are beginning to make the rounds, and if our Commander-in-Chief is not careful, It could find Itself cast back among the stars beyond the universe. The past few weeks, in particular, have seen our President certainly live up to our campaign slogan “I See All, and It Shall Burn.”…

(2) FOR THE RECORD. On the second night of the 2018 Creative Arts Awards no Emmys were given for works of genre interest, which made it hard to do a post about them….

(3) TREK ON EMMYS. On the Academy’s website you can watch a 12-minute video of Saturday’s “2018 Creative Arts Emmys: Tribute To Star Trek”, introduced by Bill Nye.

Eighty cast and crew members came together as William Shatner accepted the 2018 Governors Award for the Star Trek franchise.

(4) DUBLIN 2019 PROGRAM. Don’t be shy!

(5) DARRELL AWARDS. Nominations are open for the 2019 Darrell Awards in the following categories:

  • Best Midsouth SF/F/H Novel, Novella, or Short Story on a one year basis (works published between November 1, 2017, and October 31, 2018);
  • Best Midsouth SF/F/H Other Media on a two year basis (works that were published or first shown to the public between November 1, 2016, and October 31, 2018); and
  • The Coger Memorial Hall of Fame on an ongoing basis (for works that were not considered during their year of eligibility and were qualified at the time they were published).

Works must be published by October 31st (Halloween) of this year (2018) in order to qualify.  Please see the Rules for the other qualifications.

(6) RECOMMENDATIONS. Bryan Cebulski poses the question “How Do We Establish Speculative Fiction’s LGBTQ+ Canon?” at Tor.com.

Like many SF/F fans across the intersections of LGBTQ+ identities, I’m constantly on the lookout for good fiction that reflects something of my own experience. In seeking lists that recommend or simply catalogue such works, I’ve found many that, while well-intended, tend to mash an enormous body of work together without considering how authors actually deal with the content. This means that quite often, bigoted portrayals are set right next to works that feature positive representation, or else work that is as gay as possible will be set next to work with only the briefest passing mention of “non-normative” sexuality.

This raises some potentially thorny questions: How should we approach the idea of canon, in this particular set of circumstances? What should we look for when we compile lists of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction? What are we compiling for? Do we consider any mention at all? Focus mainly on positive representation? What about historical context and works by authors who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community?

(7) WRITING CLASS HIGHLIGHTS. Connect with Cat Rambo’s livetweeted highlights from last weekend’s classes at the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers:

  • Rachel Swirsky talking about Breaking the Rules: thread starts here.
  • Rachel Swirsky’s Ideas Are Everywhere class: thread starts here.
  • Fran Wilde’s Fantastic Worldbuilding class: thread starts here.

(8) DAVID R. BUNCH. AV Club’s Alex McLevy cheers that “An obscure but enduring science fiction author finally gets his due” in a collection with an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer.

If you’ve read David R. Bunch, there’s a good chance it’s because of Harlan Ellison. The famed author (and renowned grouch of popular culture) selected not one, but two short stories by the little-known writer for his landmark 1967 New Wave sci-fi collection, Dangerous Visions—the only contributor to have more than one piece included. As a result, “Incident In Moderan” and “The Escaping” are where most people’s awareness of Bunch begins—and ends. He published hundreds of short stories in his life, but mostly in small digests, obscure literary magazines, and even fanzines. No definitive bibliography exists; his last published work (a book of poetry) was from 18 years ago, and neither of his two collections of fiction have been in print for decades.

That changes with the publication of Moderan, the latest entry in NYRB Classics’ series, and a fascinating testament to Bunch’s strange talent….

(9) TODAY’S TRIVIA

Andre Delambre, The Fly, 1958 —

“Take television.  What happens?  A string of electrons  –  sound and picture impulses  –  are transmitted through wires into the air.  The TV camera is the disintegrater.  Your set [the reintegrater] unscrambles or integrates the electrons back into pictures and sound…the disintegrator/will completely change life as we know it.  Think what it’ll mean.  Food.  Anything.  Even humans will go through one of these devices.  No need for cars or railways or airplanes, even spaceships. We’ll just set up matter transcieving devices throughout the world, and later the universe.  They will never be a need or famine.  Surpluses can be sent instantaneously at almost no cost anywhere.   Humanity need never fear or want again.”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 10, 1993The X-Files premiered

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 10 – Thelma J. Shinn, 76. Author of Worlds Within Women, Myth and Mythmaking in Fantastic Literature by Women and Women Shapeshifters: Transforming the Contemporary Novel.
  • Born September 10 — Nancy A. Collins, 59. Ok, I consider her Sonja Blue punk vampire series which ran I think to nearly a baker’s dozen works starting in the early 90s to be one of the best of that genre, easily the equal of the Blade comic series. She also did more than a smattering of short fiction, essays and reviews as well.
  • Born September 10 – Victoria Strauss, 63. An author of nine fantasy novels largely in the Stone and the Way of Arata series. Has written myriad reviews for both print and website venues.
  • Born September 10 – Pat Cadigan, 65. Writer whose work has been described as cyberpunkish. Won a Hugo for “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” in the Novelette category. Garnered the Arthur C. Clarke Award for her novels Synners and Fools.  Tea from an Empty Cup is my favorite work by her.

Pat Cadigan herself celebrated with this post: “The Second Birthday I Wasn’t Supposed To See”.

I wanted to write something profound and wise about life, the universe, all the fish, and everything else. However, when I woke up this morning, the party in my head was already in full swing.

I’m alive! I’m alive! I’m alive! Everybody conga!

Steven H Silver joined in saluting the day at Black Gate with “Birthday Reviews: Pat Cadigan’s ‘New Life for Old’”.

Cadigan won a Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 2013 for “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi.,” which has also won a Seiun Award. She had previously won a World Fantasy Award in the Non-Professional category for co-editing the fanzine Shayol with Arnie Fenner. She won two Arthur C. Clarke Awards for her novels Synners and Fools. In 1979, her story “Death from Exposure” won the coveted Balrog Award. In 2006, Cadigan received the third (and most recent) Richard Evans Memorial Prize, given to genre authors who were considered insufficiently recognized for their excellence. Cadigan served as the Toastmaster for MidAmericon II, the 2016 Worldcon in Kansas City.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

(13) HATERS LOSE. Marketing analysts report “Nike sales defy Kaepernick ad campaign backlash”.

Nike sales appear to have increased in the wake of its controversial advertising campaign, using Colin Kaepernick as the face of the brand.

Online sales grew by 31% in the bank holiday weekend after the ad launched, according to researcher Edison Trends.

The rise will confound critics, who encouraged people to destroy Nike goods in protest at the use of Mr Kaepernick.

(14) HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN. These farms look like moon bases: “Are hot springs the future of farming?”

In the centre of the small downtown, on the banks of the San Juan River, sit three conspicuous, geodesic greenhouses, each 42ft (13m) in diameter. They stand in stark contrast to the old-timey buildings on the road above. All will house gardens, but each has a different mission.

(15) AM. Ryan Hollinger puts an intriguing Cold War frame around his video commentary “The Bleakest Sci-Fi World Ever Created: ‘I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream'”.

(16) GET READY TO CLICK. Kevin Canfield, in “The FBI’s Spying On Writers Was Literary Criticism at Its Worst”, in The Daily Beast, is a review of Writers Under Surveillance: The FBI Files.  It only has one paragraph on Ray Bradbury’s FBI file but that paragraph is a doozy!

(17) POWER OF THE MIND. Defense One’s story “It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm” tells how a communication interface directly connected to a human brain can control up to three drones. The serious implications extend well beyond the defense industry to potential help for the locationally challenged as well as those with artificial limbs.

Dann appreciated that the above link was followed in his RSS feed by a Dilbert comic that suggests there are some folks who might be beyond help.

(18) PAYING ATTENTION, In “The stunning artworks made of light”, the BBC reports on an interactive digital museum where each display of chandelieresque lights etc. changes according to the people in the room.

“The museum itself is one artwork,” Takashi Kudo of teamLab tells BBC Culture. The Mori Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderless is a 10,000 sq m (107,639 sq ft) digital art space in Tokyo, Japan, where everything is controlled by computers, right down to the electronic tickets. The museum is made up of 60 individual artworks, but as the name, Borderless, suggests, the place is meant to be experienced as a whole, rather than as a series of individual pieces.

Made up of 520 computers and 470 projectors, the museum is inspired by the concept of interactivity and the art responds to movement as visitors walk through the space. In this piece, Forest of Lamps, the lights react to a person’s presence. If there is more than one person in the room, the lights will change based on both of their movements, and the process continues the more people you add. Kudo explains that having multiple people experiencing an artwork at one time, and becoming a part of it, means the experience is enhanced for all.

(19) DOES ANYBODY REALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In a new scientific paper in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (“Universal method for robust detection of circadian state from gene expression”) Dr Rosemary Braun, et al., claim to have developed a new and simpler method to measure a person’s circadian rhythm. The paper is broken down in simpler terms in Popular Science (“This new blood test can figure out what time it is inside your cells”). The existing method requires numerous blood draws so that melatonin in the blood can be measured over time. The new method requires only two blood draws—a number of different markers are measured to determine the level of expression of different genes. Popular Science author Kat Eschner writes:

…To create this test, researchers trained [an] algorithm to look for chemical evidence of about 40 specific genes in the blood samples. They picked those 40 by analyzing a much larger dataset and finding the ones that express at specific times.

According to the research, the algorithm works regardless of whether the patient is sick or well. That’s significant because gene expression—the way your genes activate, prompting the production of chemicals and helping your body to function—is changed by things as simple as how much sleep you get.

…The researchers found something unexpected—the genes that are the best predictors of body clock aren’t all “what we could call the core clock genes,” Braun says. “A lot of them are genes that are related to other biological processes, but they’re regulated by the clock. They’re regulated so tightly by the clock that observing them becomes a good marker for the clock itself.”

(20) BATTLE BOTS. Well, what would you make a battle robot look like? CNET reports that “Kalashnikov battle robot concept looks like a Star Wars AT-ST”. (Maybe they’ll go for the full AT-AT experience next time.)

Kalashnikov Concern, a Russian manufacturer known for the AK-47 assault rifle, is thinking pretty big these days when it comes to new defense machines. The company unveiled a concept for a bipedal battle robot this week and all I can think about are the two-legged AT-STs from Star Wars.

The Kalashnikov creation seems to be solidly in the concept realm right now. It looks like its main job is to just stand there and look cool.

It has a couple of grabby arms and hands reminiscent of the Power Loader suit from Aliens and a large cabin at the top where presumably a human driver would sit to control the machine. It looks a bit top-heavy and not quite as lithe as an AT-ST.

(21) NPR HORROR POLL. “Click If You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories” carries the results of a poll of NPR followers. 7000 responses — over 1000 for King, but many others.

…And this year, we’re celebrating the 200th birthday of one of the most famous scary stories of all time: Frankenstein — so a few months ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite horror novels and stories, and then we assembled an expert panel of judges to take your 7000 nominations and turn them into a final, curated list of 100 spine-tingling favorites for all kinds of readers. Want to scar your children for life? We can help. Want to dig into the dark, slimy roots of horror? We’ve got you covered.

As with our other reader polls, this isn’t meant to be a ranked or comprehensive list — there are a few books you won’t see on it despite their popularity — some didn’t stand the test of time, some just didn’t catch our readers’ interest, and in some cases our judges would prefer you see the movie instead. (So no Jaws, sorry.) And there are a few titles that aren’t strictly horror, but at least have a toe in the dark water, or are commenting about horrific things, so our judges felt they deserved a place on the list.

One thing you won’t see on the list is any work from this year’s judges, Stephen Graham Jones, Ruthanna Emrys, Tananarive Due and Grady Hendrix….

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