Pixel Scroll 6/30/18 Pixels Like Us, Baby We Were Born To Scroll

(1) KICK ASTEROID! Bill Nye and the Planetary Society want funds to educate people about the threat of asteroid impacts. Their Kickstarter, “Kick Asteroid!”, has raised $27,884 of its $50,000 target, with 25 days left to go.

The Planetary Society is excited to partner with space artist and designer, Thomas Romer, and backers around the world to create Kick Asteroid—a colorful graphic poster that will illustrate the effect of past catastrophic impacts, and methods to deflect future asteroid threats. Compelling and scientifically accurate art will be created for posters and other “merch” that backers can use in their everyday lives to spread the word about planetary defense.

… Thomas is collaborating directly with the Society’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Bruce Betts, to depict the asteroid threat in a compelling and scientifically accurate way. Bruce has briefed Thomas on the current state of the science related to Near Earth Objects (NEOs), as well as on the most promising asteroid deflection techniques.

(2) WRITER’S BLOCK. “How do you handle writer’s block?” Rachel Swirsky shares her advice about blocks from two sources. The first kind is medical:

…I think one of the best solutions is to be gentle with yourself about it. Hammering yourself and making yourself feel guilty because of your health is in the way is only likely to make you miserable and increase your stress–which can make the health problem worse. It can be hard to be generous with yourself, especially when the illness is lasting a long time and you have deadlines. …

(3) TWELVE RULES. The Chicago Tribune’s Stephen L. Carter lists his “12 science fiction rules for life”.

Like so many other scribes, I have been inspired by psychologist Jordan Peterson’s fascinating book to sketch my 12 rules of life. But mine are different, because each is drawn from canonical science fiction. Why? Maybe because this is the literature on which I grew up, or maybe because I have never lost the taste for it. Or maybe because the sci-fi canon really does have a lot to teach about the well-lived life. Here, then, are my 12 rules. I cannot pretend that I always follow them, but I certainly always try.

  1. “An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.” — Isaac Asimov, “Foundation.”

This is one of the clearest expressions of the basis of the liberalism of process. It matters not only whether one accomplishes an end but also how. Any tool available to the “good guys” today might be wielded by the “bad guys” tomorrow. One should always take this proposition into account when choosing a toolkit.

  1. “Happiness consists in getting enough sleep. Just that, nothing more.” — Robert Heinlein, “Starship Troopers.”

OK, happiness does consist of more than this — but getting enough sleep is indeed one of its key components. The larger point is that taking physical, emotional and spiritual care of the self is crucial to being truly happy….

(4) LANDING IN THE LAP OF LUXURY. Sarah Gailey ended up cruising through the skies with the 1%. See all the details in a Twitter thread that starts here.

(5) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. If you’re curious what the experience is like for finalists brought to LA for the workshops and ceremony, Eneasz Brodski covers it all: “Writers of the Future vol 34 – The Award Ceremony & The People”.

Let’s start with the ceremony!

This was a delight. It was fun to be treated special and given an award and just the belle of the ball for a day! Of course, it was apparently pretty quickly that this award ceremony wasn’t really for us. It was for the Scientologists. This was their party, for them to say to each other “Look at us! We’re helping these people at the start of their career, and supporting the arts! We are doing good in the world.” And good on them for it! They are helping new artists, and contributing to the SFF world in a meaningful way. They can have as big a party they want to celebrate that, it’s their money. I didn’t mind at all being the excuse for that. It kinda felt what I imagine being a unicorn for a couple would feel like? The experience is primarily about them, but they couldn’t have it without me facilitating, and I’m happy to serve that role to bring them that. Of course that’s probably my super-idealized fantasy of unicorning. But /shrug. I got the literary-award equivalent of that fantasy, so I’m happy. 🙂

(6) I HAVE NO CATEGORY AND I MUST SCREAM. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett would like to tell you a Harlan Ellison story about the 1964 Hugos and the plan to omit the Dramatic Presentation category: “London Calling”. It includes this passage by Ron Ellik from the fanzine Vair-Iner.

…When I had lost perhaps half a dollar, Harlan phoned again. He read me a letter. He had talked to two dozen people since his trans-Atlantic call – other Study Committeemen, convention committeemen from past years, etc – and this letter, signed by Harlan, cited these several people as being, each, in at least passive agreement that London should not do this thing. In conclusion, Mr. Ben Jason and the group producing the physical Hugo trophies had agreed with him to withhold the trophies from the London convention.

We eagerly await news of London’s answer.

And there you have it folks, if you want to be a successful squeaky wheel then you need to really apply some of that old-fashioned elbow grease. Ah, I hear you ask, and was Harlan, that tiger of the telephone, a truly successful squeaky wheel? Well, yes….

(7) A PRIVATE MOMENT. And Bill provided a clipping from Ellison’s army days.

(8) WOULD YOU BELIEVE? What record has sold the most copies in 2018? “The Year’s Top-Selling Singer Isn’t Kanye — It’s Hugh Jackman”.

Halfway through a year filled with new work from some of the most popular artists alive, the best-selling album is the soundtrack to a movie musical with Hugh Jackman that never led the box office.

“The Greatest Showman’’ has sold almost 4 million copies for Atlantic Records, outpacing works from Kanye West, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake. Music from the film based on the life of circus promoter P.T. Barnum has outsold the next most popular album of the year, Post Malone’s “Beerbongs & Bentleys,’’ by about 2-to-1.

(9) HUMP MONTH: At Featured Futures, the middle of the year doesn’t mean middling stories, as Jason has compiled another list of standout fiction gleaned from the SF magazines, plus links to reviews and other postings in Summation: June 2018.

This month produced nine noted stories (four recommended) from a total of forty-five (215 Kwds). Compelling made a strong and welcome return on its new semi-annual schedule. “Nightspeed” also contributed a couple of powerful tales.

(10) HUNTER OF THE SKY CAVE. Need a good laugh? Read Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag’s wonderful post “Inkwell and the Sky Raisin”.

…As anyone who has bothered to read this blog for any length of time knows, my husband and I are owned by a black cat named Inkwell. These are some of his recent adventures, mostly from Facebook and a few of his “Inkwell Sings the Blues” from his Twitter Feed.

This morning I woke up late, and my husband was already off running errands. I looked around the house for Inkwell, fearing he might have somehow gotten outside (he’s very much an indoor cat). I went from room to room looking for him, and when I opened the door to the garage, a fly (aka Sky Raisin) flew into the house. Eventually I found Inkwell by shaking his treats. He casually wandered out from wherever he was hiding to get his reward for being a cat from his mommy.

A half an hour later, he noticed the fly….

(11) TUNE IN. BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read this week included Gibson’s Neuromancer, plus had some other SF discussion. (Thanks for the share to Jonathan Cowie of Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation.)

Writers Juno Dawson and Pandora Sykes discuss favourite books Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan, Neuromancer by William Gibson, and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett, with Harriett Gilbert. How will Juno and Pandora enjoy Harriett’s foray into science fiction? And how did Sagan’s novel, written at the tender age of 17, influence Juno’s writing for young adults?

(12) COLLINS OBIT. Four-time F&SF contributor Reid Collins died on April 19. See his Washington Post death notice at Legacy.com.

…In 1982 he succeeded Dallas Townsend to become anchor of “The CBS World News Roundup”- the longest running news broadcast in history. His passion, however, was space. He anchored live coverage of all the nation’s manned space flights for CBS News from Gemini up to the Space Shuttle, including all the Apollo flights to the moon. In 1985, Mr. Collins took “one giant leap” from radio to television and became an anchor for CNN, where he remained until his retirement in 1996. During retirement, he enjoyed golf, cigars on his front porch in Kensington, his 1977 Saab convertible and spending time fishing and relaxing on the East Rosebud River at his vacation home outside Roscoe MT. Arrangements will be private. If so moved, donations in his name may be made to the Montana Historical Society, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201.

Collins had four short stories in F&SF between 1978 and 1984.

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 30, 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory opened.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 30 — Vincent D’Onofrio, 59. Men in Black and the animated Men in Black series as well, genre series work including Emerald City, Daredevil and Ghost Wars.
  • Born June 30 – Molly Parker, 46. Currently on The Lost in Space series as Maureen, but genre roles on The Nightmare Cafe, The Outer Limits, HighlanderThe Sentinel, and Deadwood. Cat Eldridge says, “Ok the last may not be genre but it is a great love of Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. Emma’s novel Territory reflects her passion for the Old West.”

(15) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian relays a warning from a well-known comic book hero delivered in Bliss.
  • Mike Kennedy shares how in Monty, robot sidekick EB3’s left arm had achieved a sentience of its own, was rebelling, and had to be replaced.  Doc and Monty found a use for the old arm…

(16) A FLUCTUATION IN THE FORCE. JDA’s Twitter followers had a market crash:

(17) HERETICAL PRONOUNCEMENT. Camestros Felapton dares to ask, “Is HAL 9000 a robot?”. Worse than that, he dares to answer!

So what about HAL? HAL presents as an AI. He’s talked about as a brain. He is shown as a computer. But what is he the brain of? Simple, HAL is the brain of the Discovery One and has control over the ship. Discovery One is HAL’s body. HAL is a robot.

Your Good Host has a meltdown in his comments section.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Synthetic Biology on Vimeo, Vasil Hnatiuk posits a future where giant bees race and living organisms became starships.

(19) RETRO FANDOM. Simpler times! A clipping courtesy of David Doering:

ACKERMAN  BEATS   BRADBURY   TO   A   PULP!

April 1, 1941 — Eyewitness account:

A low-flying, longstanding feud between the two would-be fun-rulers of Shangri-LA, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman, broke into the open here late on the night of March 27 with serious injuries sustained by Bradbury — tangle occurred after a Club meeting — when Bradbury and FJA were leaving Cliftons and walked around the corner toward the newsstand. Each was playing the perennial game of trying to out-pun the other, when the now Stirring Science Stories was simultaneously spotted, Both fans leaped forward to secure the issue, Ackerman getting there first. So it was that Ackerman beat Bradbury to a pulp.

(20) BRADBURY AGAIN. Susan Sackett’s Inside Trek book promo site includes a small gallery of photos from a 1976 recording session.

In 1976, I suggested to my friend Ed Naha, A&R person for Columbia Records, that he should sign Gene to do a “spoken word” record. Gene loved the idea and wrote some great copy, inviting many science fiction luminaries to join him. “Inside Star Trek” was recorded at United Western Studios in LA, with Gene, Bill Shatner, and Ray Bradbury all present at this first session. (Isaac Asimov recorded his contribution in New York; DeForest Kelley and Mark Lenard’s sessions came later.) I was there too, of course, snapping pictures for posterity. As you can see from this shot, Gene, Bill and Ray were discussing something important. I call this Gene’s “shaggy dog” period.

(21) HOT OFF THE DIGITAL PRESS. The 20th issue of Rich Lynch’s personal fanthology My Back Pages is now online at the eFanzines website. [PDF file]

Issue #20 is a “getting closer to retirement” issue and has essays involving close-up magic and far-off business destinations, oppressive desert heat and refreshing evaporative cooling, fast cars and slow bicycles, large buildings and small details, Madisonian libertarianism and Rooseveltian progressivism, 1950s space ships and current-day space stations, famous cowboys and famous Missourians, posh hotels and run-down motels, first fans and First Fans, State Capitols and County Courthouses, steamy blues and cool jazz, hot barbecue and the Cold War, bronze statues and scrap metal constructs, large conventions and larger conventions, fan libraries and fanfiction, no reservations and “No Award”.  And colophons… Why did it have to be colophons?

(22) IN A CAST. “Jared Leto ‘joins Spider-Man movie universe’ as vampire Morbius” reports the BBC.

The 30 Seconds To Mars frontman would hop from DC to Marvel, having previously played The Joker in Suicide Squad.

Morbius is the third movie currently in production based on characters in the Spider-Man comic books.

After reports of the casting spread online, Jared shared some artwork of the character on Instagram.

(23) OVERRUNS. China Film Insider says it’s “This Year’s Most Expensive Summer Film”

When it comes to this year’s summer films in China, although Chinese audiences have been abuzz with Jiang Wen’s Hidden Man, Guo Jingming’s L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties, and Xu Ke’s action movie Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings, the most expensive summer film is another one: Yang Zhenjian’s Asura. This film reportedly costs 750 million yuan ($115.5 million). Based on the current revenue-sharing model in China, it has to make at least 2.3 billion yuan ($350 million) in order to breakeven. In a recent interview with WeChat media outlet D-entertainment, the film’s director Yang Zhenjian explained that a big portion of the budget was allocated to hiring international technicians and visual effect teams. In addition, the film was made by a huge crew within a long period of time.

(24) DOCTOR WHO COMIC. Titan Comics and BBC Studios have announced Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor Vol. 0 – The Many Lives Of Doctor Who – a special primer edition, which celebrates the Doctor’s many lives, and leads directly into Titan’s brand-new Thirteenth Doctor comic series – launching this fall in the U.S. and UK.

It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes when you die, and the Doctor’s had many of them! As the Doctor regenerates from his twelfth incarnation to her thirteenth (as played by Jodie Whittaker), she relives unseen adventures from all her past selves from Classic through to New Who.

(25) THE JOHNNY RICO DIET. It’s not Heinlein’s Mobile Infantry powered armor, though it may be a step toward it. It’s not even in deployed use. But the US military does seem to be getting serious about testing powered exoskeleton for both upper and lower body uses. In Popular Science: “Power-multiplying exoskeletons are slimming down for use on the battlefield”.

…newly developed exoskeletons is starting to meet […] slimmed-down, stealth requirements  […] Among the most promising, and weird-looking, is the “third arm” that the U.S. Army Research Laboratory developed to help soldiers carry and support their weapons on the battlefield. The lightweight device, which weighs less than four pounds and hangs at a soldier’s side, stabilizes rifles and machine guns, which can weigh up to 27 pounds. This improves shooting accuracy and also minimizes fatigue. It can even be used while scrambling into position on the ground.

…In May, Lockheed Martin unveiled its lightest weight powered exo for lower body support. Dubbed ONYX, the form-fitting suit, which resembles an unobtrusive web of athletic braces, reduce the effort soldier’s need for walking, running, and climbing over varied terrain while carrying a heavy loads of up to 100 pounds.

The suit uses tracking sensors, mechanical knee actuators, and artificial intelligence-based software that predicts joint movement, all of which reduce stress on the lower back and the legs.…

(26) ALWAYS TO CALL IT RESEARCH. Sixth Tone is hot pursuit of the story: “Chinese Fantasy Show Accused of Stealing Harry Potter’s Magic”.

Harry Potter fans threaten to Avada Kedavra drama accused of plot-copying.

After “Legend of Fu Yao” premiered in China on Monday, some viewers pointed out that the television series appeared to have plagiarized “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire,” the fourth installment in British novelist J.K. Rowling’s seven-part series. Twelve episodes have aired so far — and online clips from or related to the show had gained over 350 million views within a day of the season premier.

In the series, the heroine Fu Yao is a disciple at Xuanyuan, a Taoist school that teaches swordsmanship and sorcery. The story focuses on the Tiandou Competition, an event held every eight years. To join in the contest, hopefuls must throw a piece of paper dipped in their own blood into a bronze cauldron. Once they’re signed up, there’s no getting out of the three-round competition, which sees challengers fight against a buffalo-shaped mythical creature, among other tasks.

Loyal Potterheads were quick to notice the similarities with the fourth installment’s Triwizard Tournament, a competition held every five years between three wizarding schools….

(27) HUMANITY NEEDS SAVING AGAIN. The Predator opens in theaters September 14:

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black’s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a young boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

 

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Jason, Bill, Rich Lynch, David Doering, Jonathan Cowie, Todd Mason, Brian Z., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Camestros Felapton.]

Pixel Scroll 6/13/18 But File’s Just A Pixel And Pixels Weren’t Meant To Last

(1) WW 1984. Director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot tweeted today about Wonder Woman 2 — now called Wonder Woman 1984.  Jenkins’ tweet shows that Chris Pine is in the movie even though his character, Steve Trevor, was killed at the end of Wonder Woman.

(2) YOON HA LEE ON TOUR. The 1000 Year Plan is today’s stop on the “Revenant Gun Blog Tour – A Q&A with Yoon Ha Lee”.

In nearly two decades of publishing short fiction, you’ve built so many different universes and mythologies where we are only offered a glimpse of what seems like a much richer context. Most of these stories are one-offs; what was it about the Hexarchate concept that compelled you grow it into a larger epic? Have you entertained the idea of expanding on any of your other stories?

I’d been wanting to write a novel for a while, but my first substantive attempt, which I (affectionately?) call the Millstone Fantasy Novel, was ten years in the making and turned out to be fatally flawed, so I trunked it. I love space opera, though, everything from Simon R. Green’s Deathstalker books to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga to Jack Campbell’s Black Jack Geary books, and I wanted to try my hand at it. Even then, Ninefox Gambit was originally going to be a one-off. When I came to the end, however, I realized that I had more to say about the setting and more ideas for plot. I suppose part of it’s laziness as well–having generated all those setting details, it seemed a shame not to get some more use out of them!

I’ve occasionally thought about revisiting a few of my past stories, but most of them feel complete in themselves. Especially at shorter lengths, I’m really more focused on the idea than building an elaborate world that can be explored again and again. I’m probably more likely to do something new and different to keep myself entertained.

(3) IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. In “Timothy and Babies”, Camestros Felapton and Timothy the Talking Cat get into a big brawl over terminology despite never once using the word “decimate.”

Dramatic Personae:

  • Camestros Felapton – raconteur and bon-vivant
  • Timothy the Talking Cat – a rat-auteur and bomb-savant
  • Mrs Brigsly – an inhabitant of Bortsworth and carekeeper of a baby
  • A baby – a baby of unknown provenance in the care of Mr Brisgly

[Timothy] I had to look up ‘bon-vivant’ and the dictionary did not say ‘binges on Netflix and chocolate hob-nobs’
[Camestros] It is more of an attitude than a strictly prescribed lifestyle.
[Timothy] and I’m the one who tells anecdotes in a ‘skilful or amusing way’
[Camestros]…well…
[Timothy] It cleary says “OR”!
[Camestros] Let’s change the subject shall we? I’m already on the sixth line of dialogue, I’m not going back and changing the list of characters now.

(4) QUESTION AUTHORITY. Rachel Swirsky speaks up: “In Defense of ‘Slice of Life’ Stories”.

Many poems attempt to communicate an impression or an emotion. A poem about nature might not be intended to communicate “here is an intellectual idea about nature,” but instead “this is what it looked like through my eyes” and “this is how it felt.” Fine art landscapes can be like that, too. They depict a place at a time, both transient, through the eye of the painter (where the eye of the painter may figure more or less into the image, depending on whether it’s a realistic painting, etc).

What this makes me wonder is–why are we so dismissive of this in fiction? Plots are excellent; ideas are excellent. But what’s so wrong with a slice of life, that we refer to it with distaste? Why can’t fiction be about rendering transient, momentary emotions? Why do we demand they always be in the context of a plot?

(5) A GOOD EXAMPLE. Tor.com’s Leah Schnelbach tells “How Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice Avoids the Dreaded Infodump”.

…In the interest of slaying this monster, I’m going to walk you through the opening pages of Ann Leckie’s Hugo Award-winning Ancillary Justice—which gives the reader the perfect amount of info, without becoming too dumpy.

Think of this like going on a date, or grabbing coffee with a new friend—you give a few details, sure, but you don’t narrate a bullet list of your whole life. When you’re writing, you’re on a date with your reader. Ideally, your story will charm them enough that they lose track of time and hang out with you until you both suddenly realize that the restaurant has closed, all the other diners have left, and an annoyed busboy has to unlock the front door to let you out.

To get a feel for how to include lots of worldbuilding without killing your story’s momentum, let’s look at an example of a great opening. The first four pages of Ancillary Justice introduce us to a mysterious narrator, a harsh world, and two different conflicts right away, all while seeding in enough questions about the book’s world to keep us turning pages. You can read the first chapter over on NPR; below, I’ll pull the text apart (roughly half of NPR’s excerpt) paragraph by paragraph and unpack how and why it works.

(6) STAN LEE NEWS. The Hollywood Reporter says “Stan Lee Granted Restraining Order Against Business Manager, LAPD Investigating Claims of Elder Abuse”.

The move comes two days after Keya Morgan was arrested on suspicion of filing a false report to police.

Stan Lee on Wednesday filed for a restraining order against the man he said last week was the only person who was handling his affairs and business, Keya Morgan, a Los Angeles Superior Court media relations rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lee was granted a temporary restraining order against Morgan, authorities told THR. The request for a permanent order is 43 pages long. A court date to decide that request is set for July 6.

The restraining order request was filed two days after Morgan was arrested on suspicion of filing a false report to police. Morgan was released from jail on $20,000 bail.

The LAPD is investigating reports of elder abuse against Lee. The investigation began in February, but only became public knowledge Wednesday.

(7) WELDON ON INCREDIBLES 2. NPR’s Glen Weldon says: “Retrofuturistic ‘The Incredibles 2’ Is More Retro Than Futuristic”.

Brad Bird’s virtuosic 2004 animated movie The Incredibles is the best superhero film that has ever been made and is likely the best superhero film that ever will be made.

This is a fact — a cold, hard one. The massive, resolute, essential truth of this fact is abiding and irresistible and immovable; it possesses its own magnetic field, its own solar day….

The villain — a mysterious masked figure known as the Screenslaver, who uses television to control the minds of hapless citizens (and heroes) — arrives with a villainous manifesto, albeit a slightly muddier one than that of the first film’s nemesis. And that same conceptual muddiness, a byproduct of the sequel’s need to expand on and complicate the world of the first film, seeps slowly into the entire film.

(8) KNOCK IT OFF. Another response to abusive Star Wars fans — “John Boyega tells Star Wars fans to stop harassing cast”.

Star Wars actor John Boyega has urged fans of the franchise to stop harassing the cast on social media.

His comments came after two co-stars, Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran, quit Instagram after receiving online abuse.

The actor, who plays Finn, tweeted: “If you don’t like Star Wars or the characters, understand that there are decisions makers [sic] and harassing the actors/actresses will do nothing.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 13, 1953The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms was released theatrically.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 13 – Malcolm McDowell, 75. Alex in A Clockwork Orange of course but King Arthur in Arthur the King, Dr. Miles Langford in Class of 1999, Soran in Star Trek: Generations, Arcady Duvall in the Jonah Hex episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Roarke, The Host, in the second Fantasy Island series, and far, far took many other roles to note here.
  • Born June 13 – Tim Allen, 65. Galaxy Quest’s Jason Nesmith and Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear.
  • Born June 13 – Ally Sheedy, 56. In X-Men: Apocalypse  Scott’s Teacher as Scott’s Teacher.
  • Born June 13 – Chris Evans, 37. Various Marvel films including of course The Avengers and Thor.
  • Born June 13 – Aaron Taylor-Johnson, 28. In Avengers: Age of Ultron  as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver,

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) PURE IMAGINATION. The Washington Post’s John Kelly asks “Are cartoon characters on lottery scratch-off tickets a way to lure young gamblers?”. The journalist investigates the Willy Wonka Golden Tickets currently being sold by the Maryland Lottery, and is told by Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency director Gordon Medenica that they aren’t trying to get kids hooked on lottery tickets because Willy Wonka “has almost zero resonance with children today.”

To put it another way: Are colorful, cartoonish Racing Presidents and Willy Wonka scratchers the alcopops and fruit-flavored vape pens of the lottery world?

I contacted the two lottery agencies and they said no. Oh, good, okay then. .?.?.

But, you know, let’s explore this a little more.

Gordon Medenica, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said he was actually a little reticent when first approached by the company that created the Willy Wonka scratch-off, Scientific Games of Las Vegas.

“Frankly, we avoided it for some period of time,” he said. “My concern was still mainly just a personal thing: Isn’t this a children’s brand? Shouldn’t we be avoiding something like this?”

What changed Medenica’s mind were assurances from Scientific Games that Willy Wonka was no longer a children’s character. Many casinos, they reminded him, have Willy Wonka-branded slot machines.

“The adults who play the games have a fond memory of that movie, but in fact it has almost zero resonance with children today, oddly enough,” Medenica said.

(13) MOAT NOT INCLUDED. One of Mike Kennedy’s local news feeds (WAFF TV) alerted him to the availability of some prime unreal estate: “You can own this castle in Georgia for less than $1 million”.

Kennedy says there is a Zillow listing for the residence in question:

This 57,000 sq.ft. castle is in Menio GA — that’s near the state line with Alabama but not terribly near any sizable city. By road, it’s about 100 miles NW of Atlanta, about 50 miles SSW of Chattanooga TN, and a little over 100 miles NE of Birmingham AL. From my home (Huntsville AL), I’d have to travel over 80 miles EbS — part of it through some seriously back-country roads across the Cumberland Plateau.

The owner has dropped the asking price from $1,500,000 to a mere $999,999 (it’s been on Zillow for over 1000 days, after all). Earlier in the decade it was listed for as much as $5,9000,000. It has 30 bedrooms; 15 bathrooms; and sits on almost 250 acres.

Only 18,000 sq.ft. of the 57,000 sq.ft. floor space is finished, but Zillow says materials are on site to finish out most of the rest. Only some of the exterior stonework is installed. Think of it as your own little fixer upper. (You should be handy with a backhoe if you want to extend the ceremonial water feature in front to a full moat.)

(14) NO FALL OF MOONDUST. Figuratively speaking, this genie is still in the bottle. Now, who gets to keep the bottle? Yahoo! News has the story — “Woman Says Neil Armstrong Gave Her A Vial Of Moon Dust, Sues NASA To Keep It”.

A Tennessee woman is proactively suing NASA to keep what she says is a vial of moon dust gifted from astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Laura Cicco said Armstrong was a family friend, and that her mother gave her a tube of priceless lunar particles when she was 10, along with a note that read: “To Laura Ann Murray — Best of Luck — Neil Armstrong Apollo 11

Cicco told The Washington Post she kept Armstrong’s autograph in her bedroom but didn’t see the dust until she was going through her parents’ possessions five years ago.

NASA has not confiscated the vial, but Cicco says she doesn’t want the space agency to take it, so she filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to proactively assert her rights.

It might seem strange to sue at this point, but proactive law maintains that in some cases, such as those involving trademarks, contracts, and potential disputes, it is easier, cheaper and faster to address problems before they happen instead of reacting to them.

(15) BLOWN UP, SIR. Strange Angel premieres tomorrow, and I don’t remember linking to it before.

Watch the official trailer for Strange Angel, premiering June 14th, exclusively on CBS All Access. Strange Angel, a drama series created by Mark Heyman (Black Swan, The Skeleton Twins) and based on George Pendle’s book of the same name, is inspired by the real life story of Jack Parsons and explores the dramatic intersection between genius and madness, science, and science fiction.

 

(16) NOT EXACTLY AMAZING. After you read Galactic Journey’s review, you probably won’t jump into your time machine to look for a 1963 newsstand where you can buy this issue: “[June 13, 1963] THUD (the July 1963 Amazing)”.

Jack Sharkey’s serialized novella The Programmed People, which concludes in this July 1963 Amazing, describes a tight arc from mediocre to appalling and lands with a thud….

(17) BRADBURY CALLING. This is from a column by Nilanjana Roy called “When Books Are Burned” in the Financial Times (behind a paywall).

Fahrenheit 451 began in 1951 as a novella called The Fireman. Bradbury set down 25,000 words in nine days, renting a desk in the typing room in the basement of the UCLA library.  He wrote to a fan in 2006, ‘How could I have written so many words so quickly?  It was because of the library.  All of my friends, all of my loved ones, were on the shelve above and shouted, yelled, and shrieked at me to be creative…You can imagine how exciting it was to do a book about book burning in the very presence of hundreds of my beloveds on the shelves…’

…What he (Bradbury) anticipated, even in the pre-Internet, pre-Twitter, pre-WhatsApp 1950s, was the time we’ve reached–an age of manic consumption of a constant stream of often useless information.  For Bradbury, what was terrifying was not just the burning of books, it was the way in which people were prepared to turn against those who refused to sup at the same shallow pools, to persecute those who step away from the stream.

Re-reading Fahrenheit 451 decades after I’d first read it as a teenager, I heard Bradbury’s plea far more clearly.  In a world gone mad from too much junk, don’t forget reading, or books, or the necessaity of slow conversations and contemplative silence in a time of howling mobs and incessant noise.

(18) GENRE INTEREST LIBERALLY CONSTRUED. Hey, is this an appropriate headline, or what? USA Today reports that a “Kickstarter aims to make Ruth Bader Ginsburg into action figure”.

If you’ve ever wanted an action figure of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, your chance is coming.

FCTRY, a product incubator, kicked off a crowd fundraiser on Tuesday to raise the money to create an action figure of the 85-year-old associate justice.

It gave itself 35 days to raise its $15,000 goal on Kickstarter. As of Tuesday evening, just hours after launch, the company had raised more than $67,000.

(19) DUMBO TRAILER. Now out –  the teaser trailer for Tim Burton’s all-new live-action Dumbo, coming to theatres March 2019.

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

 

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Fish With Legs is a Screen Australia cartoon on Vimeo, directed by Dave Carter, about what happened when all the fish in Australia suddenly sprouted legs!

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

Pixel Scroll 6/7/18 We All Live In A Yellow Pixel Scroll

(1) 2020 WORLDCON & 2019 NASFiC SITE SELECTION VOTING. Paper ballots started going out a couple of weeks ago with Worldcon 76’s Progress Report 3, and PDF ballot forms were posted to the Worldcon 76 web site yesterday.

The 2020 Worldcon and 2019 NASFiC Site Selection Ballots are now available here. Members of Worldcon 76 can vote to select the site of the 2020 Worldcon and the 2019 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). You can vote in advance by mail or e-mail, or in person at Worldcon 76.

In addition to being member of Worldcon 76, to vote on site selection, you must pay an additional Advance Supporting Membership (Voting) fee of $30 for NASFiC and $50 for Worldcon….

Kevin Standlee sent the link with an explanation:

Note that we’re going to try and do a form of electronic voting: members can buy a “voting token” from the Worldcon 76 web site through the membership maintenance section, as instructed on the ballot. You can then either print-complete-sign-scan your ballot or complete the PDF and electronically sign it, including the token (number) from Worldcon 76, then e-mail that back to site selection. All of the bidders agreed to this process.

Chair Kevin Roche responded in a comment here with more information after someone raised an issue:

Tokens may be purchased by logging back into RegOnline with the email address you used to register in the first place. The page after the personal information form now offers the tokens for sale. Tick the box for each you want, then click through to the checkout page (you can use the tabs at the top to jump ahead to it) and pay the balance due. You should get your tokens from my regbot software within 10 minutes, if everything is behaving.

(2) SEE LE GUIN TRIBUTE JUNE 13. There will be a “Simulcast of the sold-out Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin event”

Literary Arts and the Portland Art Museum will host a simulcast of the SOLD OUT Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin event on June 13. Seating is free and open to all.

Tickets to the live event are no longer available, but we invite the public to attend the live simulcast at the Portland Art Museum. The simulcast is free and open to all, offering a space for us to gather together as we celebrate the life and legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin.

This event will be livestreamed on Youtube Live. Click here to visit the livestream page.

The sold-out event features tributes from writers and friends who represent the wide-ranging influence Le Guin has had on international literature for more than 50 years, including Margaret Atwood (by video), Molly Gloss, Walidah Imarisha, Jonathan Lethem, Kelly Link, China Miéville, and Daniel José Older. Andrea Schulz, Le Guin’s editor at Viking Books, and Julie Phillips, Le Guin’s biographer, will also speak at the tribute. The event will include rare documentary footage of Le Guin, along with photos and images from her life and work.

(3) SFF POETRY CLASS. Rachel Swirsky announces details about her class “Verses of Sky & Stars: How to Write the Poetry of Science Fiction & Fantasy” and reprints one of her poems in “How Long Does It Take To Write a Poem? Also, “Inside Her Heart,” and a class!”

I’m teaching an online class on writing science fiction and fantasy poetry on June 30 at 9:30-11:30 PDT. It’s a fun class because it draws people from many different backgrounds with many different goals. Some are dedicated poets, looking to sharpen their edge or find inspiration. Others are prose writers who’ve barely touched poetry before, trying something new, or hoping to pick up a trick or two to bring back to their novels and short stories.

As I prepare for the class, I’ve been going over some of my own poetry, thinking about how I wrote it, and what inspired it, and that kind of thing.

Full information is posted here: “Writing Speculative Poetry”.

Poetry requires intense linguistic control. Every word matters. Whether you’re a poet who wants to create fantastical verses, or a prose writer who wants to learn the finely tuned narrative power that poetry can teach, you’ll find something in this class.

Over the course of a few brief lectures, peppered with plenty of writing exercises, we’ll discuss some common forms of speculative poetry, and the challenges they represent. I’ll also send you home with market listings, and lists great authors, poems, and books to pick up to continue your journey.

(4) MEOW. And for those of you who have gone too long without a cat photo, Rachel Swirsky says help is on the way: “That’s a mixing bowl”.

(5) MATHEMATICAL CATS. Adweek covers a public service ad campaign: “Cats Are Great at Multiplying but Terrible at Math, Says This PSA That Urges Neutering”.

Here are some staggering feline facts: A female cat at 4 months old can start having kittens, producing as many as four litters a year for as long as a decade. The result in even a few years is hundreds of furry (often homeless or feral) offspring.

In short, kitties can sure multiply. But they’re actually terrible at math, if their time in a classroom for a new PSA campaign for the Ten Movement is any indication. They’d rather fly paper airplanes, pretend to study (with an upside-down book) and generally confound their arithmetic teacher with nonsensical answers on a pop quiz.

The setup of “Cat Math,” which spans outdoor, digital, social and TV, puts a group of Siamese, calico and other adorable kitties in the fictional Purrington Middle School (“Home of the Fighting Tabbies!”) for a lesson they can’t possibly learn on their own. Or they just refuse to because it wasn’t their idea and they’d rather be napping. In their defense, the figures are pretty crazy: 1+1 = 14? (That’s two adult cats capable of spawning 14 kittens in less than a year).

The campaign comes from Northlich, Cincinnati, the folks who in 2014 birthed “Scooter the Neutered Cat” starring a badass ginger with “hip spectacles, no testicles.” As with the previous PSA, the indie agency continues its spay-and-neuter message on behalf of the Ohio-based nonprofit, with the goal of creating a “100 percent no-kill nation.”

 

(6) TRAN RETREATS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA. The Guardian’s Luke Holland poses the challenging question, “Why are (some) Star Wars fans so toxic?”.

With at least one new film every year, you’d think it would be easy being a Star Wars fan in 2018, but it isn’t.

That’s not because JJ Abrams killed off Han Solo in Episode VII, or The Last Jedi snuffed out Luke Skywalker. It isn’t because we never got to see Luke, Han and Leia fighting side-by-side, which would have been cool. It isn’t porgs, or that superfluous giraffe-horse bit in Episode VIII. And it most certainly isn’t due to the introduction of a character called Rose. None of these things make being a Star Wars fan remotely difficult. They’re just some things some film-makers put into a family film. No, there’s only one thing that makes Star Wars fandom a drag in 2018, and that is other Star Wars fans. Or, more specifically, that small yet splenetic subsection of so-called “fans” who take to the internet like the Wicked Witch from the West’s flying monkeys to troll the actors, directors and producers with bizarre, pathetic, racist, sexist and homophobic whingebaggery about the “injustices” that have been inflicted upon them. Truly, it’s embarrassing to share a passion with these people.

It’s a poisonous tributary of fanboyism that appears again and again. Earlier this week, Kelly Marie Tran, the Vietnamese-American actor who plays Rose (and the first WoC in a lead role in the saga) deleted all her Instagram posts. While Tran hasn’t specifically stated that online trolling is the reason she left social media, since the release of The Last Jedi in December she’s been on the receiving end of a torrent of online abuse.

(7) FROM DABNEY OBIT. Chris Garcia was quoted in the Washington Post’s obituary for Ted Dabney, who co-founded Atari and was one of the developers of Pong — “Ted Dabney, Atari co-founder whose engineering paved the way for Pong, dies at 81”.

“He devised the form that the arcade game would take when he did Computer Space,” said Chris Garcia, curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Mr. Dabney, he said in a phone interview, built a standing cabinet to house the game’s circuit board, power supply and television monitor, and “his engineering methodology became a major influence on [Allan] Alcorn,” the engineer hired by Bushnell and Mr. Dabney to create Pong.

(8) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

Unlike a palindrome, which reads the same backward and forward, a semordnilap reads one way forward and a different way backward. Examples of “stressed” and “desserts,” “dog” and “god,” and “diaper” and “repaid.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 7 – Liam Neeson, 66: Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV Series), voice of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Ra’s Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises
  • Born June 7 – Karl Urban, 46: Bones in the new Star Trek movies

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy encountered Han Solo controversy even in this Bloom County strip.

(11) TO THE MOON. ScienceFiction.com says “First Photos Reveal Ryan Gosling-Starring ‘First Man’ Is More Than A Neil Armstrong Biopic”.

…So don’t expect a dry, clinical look at the early days of the space program, but something more akin to ‘Apollo 13’, but perhaps even more exciting.

“This is 100 percent a mission movie. It’s about going to the moon as seen through the eyes of the guy who got there. We have at least five major set pieces that are action, and if your heart rate doesn’t go through the roof, if you’re not gripping the edge of your seat the entire times, I’ll be shocked.”

The trailer has been out for awhile –

(12) CONCAROLINAS. At iPetitions signers are supporting the “Removal of Jada and Luis Diaz from ConCarolinas Committee”. However, most of the signers are anonymous, and some of the comments left by signers are critical of the effort.

Please sign below if you have been a part of ConCarolinas but have decided not to return if Jada and Luis do not step down. Feel free to remain anonymous. This is NOT a forum to discuss issues, this is a platform to show the current impact to the continued survival of the Convention.

(13) PACKING CHEAT. Apartment Therapy recommends this four-point evaluation process in “Moving? This Book Purging Method Is Bibliophile-Approved”.

Below is my checklist for conducting a book purge that won’t leave you huddled in the floor, clutching books close to your chest and mourning their disappearance. Use it and you, too, will have room for new ones!

  1. Do I remember at least 50% of what this book was about?

There were many books that I certainly enjoyed, but couldn’t quite recount the plot past what you’d find on the back cover. If a book means something to you, then you will remember not only what happened, but you’ll have a special, emotional connection with how it made you feel….

(14) DON’T LOOK. Everybody’s busy staring at their phones anyway, right? “Emirates looks to windowless planes” — screens on walls give as good a view (they say), and not having windows would require less weight for the same strength.

Emirates Airline has unveiled a new first class suite on board its latest aircraft that features virtual windows.

Instead of being able to see directly outside, passengers view images projected in from outside the aircraft using fibre-optic cameras.

The airline says it paves the way for removing all windows from future planes, making them lighter and faster.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said the images were “so good, it’s better than with the natural eye”.

(15) SUNK COST. Expendable? “Microsoft sinks data centre off Orkney” — lots of wind power on hand, sealed no-oxygen environment may reduce failures and water provides free cooling, but no repairs for failed CPUs.

The theory is that the cost of cooling the computers will be cut by placing them underwater.

“We think we actually get much better cooling underwater than on land,” says Ben Cutler, who is in charge of what Microsoft has dubbed Project Natick.

“Additionally because there are no people, we can take all the oxygen and most of the water vapour out of the atmosphere which reduces corrosion, which is a significant problem in data centres.”

(16) LISTEN IN. PRI has released Eric Molinsky’s radio documentary “American Icons: ‘Fahrenheit 451’”.

As part of our continuing series on American Icons, a close look at how the novel came to be, and how it had held up, with the novelists Neil Gaiman, Alice Hoffman and more.

(17) A MARTIAN CHRONICLE John King Tarpinian declares “Bradbury was right all along!” The Christian Science Monitor has this take on the news — “Organic matter found on Mars, opening new chapter in search for life”.

…Today, four decades later, NASA scientists announced that Curiosity has found what Viking didn’t: organic molecules. This is not a certain detection of life. Organic molecules make up all known life, but they can also form in abiotic chemical reactions. Still, the discovery of any organics on Mars is an astrobiological breakthrough. Together with the other habitability clues scientists have amassed over the years, this opens up a new phase in astrobiology on Mars. “The next step,” says Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA astrobiologist on the Curiosity mission, “is to search for signs of life” again.

(18) LOOK UP. See the schedule for Pasadena’s AstroFest at the link on City of Astronomy “About AstroFest 2018”.

Join lovers of astronomy from across the city for a week of FREE and family friendly space-themed events. On July 14 from 2-8pm, AstroFest kicks off the week with a festival of hands-on activities, robotics demos, creative art displays, planetarium shows, star gazing, and more near the Pasadena Convention Center.

Together with scientists from all over the world who will be gathering during the same week for the 42nd COSPAR Assembly, we invite you to take part and explore our place in the Universe.

The blog also points to this ongoing exhibit at the Huntington Library:

Radiant Beauty: Rare 19th Century Astronomical Prints (April 28 – July 30)
10:00am-5:00pm (Wednesday through Monday) | Huntington Library, West Hall

 

(19) LOOK OUT. Steam has changed its policy: “Steam games store to ‘allow everything'”.

The Steam video game store has changed its content policy to “allow everything”, unless it is illegal or “straight up trolling”.

The shift comes after controversy surrounding games which many people considered were offensive.

A school shooting simulation game was removed from the store last month.

But now games publisher Valve, which owns Steam, said it was not up to the company to decide what should or should not be on sale.

The new policy paves the way for pornographic games to be made available on the platform, including in virtual reality. It would make the Steam store the first major VR platform to offer adult content.

(20) CALORIE HUNTERS. NPR relates a theory about “Why Grandmothers May Hold The Key To Human Evolution”.

Kristen Hawkes is an anthropologist at the University of Utah. She tries to figure out our past by studying modern hunter-gatherers like the Hadza, who likely have lived in the area that is now northern Tanzania for thousands of years. Groups like this are about as close as we can get to seeing how our early human ancestors might have lived.

Over many extended field visits, Hawkes and her colleagues kept track of how much food a wide sample of Hadza community members were bringing home. She says that when they tracked the success rates of individual men, “they almost always failed to get a big animal.” They found that the average hunter went out pretty much every day and was successful on exactly 3.4 percent of those excursions. That meant that, in this society at least, the hunting hypothesis seemed way off the mark. If people here were depending on wild meat to survive, they would starve.

So if dad wasn’t bringing home the bacon, who was? After spending a lot of time with the women on their daily foraging trips, the researchers were surprised to discover that the women, both young and old, were providing the majority of calories to their families and group-mates.

Mostly, they were digging tubers, which are deeply buried and hard to extract. The success of a mother at gathering these tubers correlated with the growth of her child. But something else surprising happened once mom had a second baby: That original relationship went away and a new correlation emerged with the amount of food their grandmother was gathering.

(21) TOO CONVENIENT. Welcome to the future: “Ship hack ‘risks chaos in English Channel'”.

A commonly used ship-tracking technology can be hacked to spoof the size and location of boats in order to trigger other vessels’ collision alarms, a researcher has discovered.

Ken Munro has suggested that the vulnerability could be exploited to block the English Channel.

Other experts suggest the consequences would be less serious.

But they have backed a call for ship owners to protect their vessels against the threat.

(22) DRAGON TRAIN. Here’s the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon 3. “Coming Soon.”

(23) ANIME PILGRIMAGE SITE. This British B&B is replicated in amazing detail in a Japanese anime, to the amusement of the B&B’s owner who is also replicated (somewhat less faithfully, with the addition of a daughter). A popular place to stay for fans of the show.

Hotel owner Caron Cooper has become a celebrity in Japan after manga-style series Kinmoza was created about her B&B. Japanese tourists are now flocking to stay at her hotel in the Cotswolds following its new found fame.

[Thanks to Laura Haywood-Cory, John King Tarpinian, Francis Hamit, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Rachel Swirsky, Martin Morse Wooster, Harold Osler, Kendall, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 4/14/18 The Adventures Of Scrolli And Pixelwinkle

(1) ISSUES IN SFF REVIEWING. Several interesting threads about reviews and reviewing in sff. Each tweet is the jumping off point for the thread.

  • Bogi Takács

  • Charles Payseur

  • Cecily Kane

  • Also, Jason Sanford did an overview which includes numerous links to reviewers.

(2) WORLD FANTASY AWARDS. John Joseph Adams advises that the 2018 World Fantasy Awards nominations have opened and voting continues until May 31.

The World Fantasy Awards will be presented in Baltimore, MD during the World Fantasy Convention (Nov. 1-4). Deadline for nominating is and ballots must be received by May 31, 2018.

All registered members of the 2016 World Fantasy Convention, the 2017 World Fantasy Convention, and the 2018 event in Baltimore will be eligible to vote before the deadline. If you didn’t attend one of the previously mentioned World Fantasy conventions, and you don’t plan to attend this year, you can still nominate by purchasing a supporting membership.

Already registered? Go and nominate your favorite works! Voting information is available on the World Fantasy Convention 2018 website.

(3) CODE OF OMELAS. Ursula Vernon tells about the ones who stagger away…

(4) SUPER TRAFFIC MONITOR. The Caped Crusader says, “Don’t get run over!” Or something like that. From the BBC: “Lost footage of Batman star Adam West to be screened”. [Video]

Previously lost footage of Batman star Adam West teaching road safety will be screened for the first time in more than 50 years.

The clip from May 1967 of Batman teaching children the Kerb Drill will be shown to an audience of TV professionals and enthusiasts in Birmingham to kick-off a hunt for 100 missing television clips.

Kaleidoscope, which specialises in finding missing television footage, recently discovered the segment, which was never screened outside of the UK.

It will be shown at Birmingham City University on Saturday, as the company launches its list of the UK’s top 100 missing TV shows that industry professionals most want to see recovered.

This includes early episodes of Doctor Who featuring Mark Eden as Marco Polo, Top Of The Pops and The Avengers.

(5) UTAH WESTERCON NEWS. Westercon 72 (July 4-7th, 2019 in Layton, Utah) has added Special Guest Eric Flint. Westercon also will host the 2019 1632 Minicon.

Eric Flint’s writing career began with the science fiction novel Mother of Demons. His alternate history novel 1632 has led to a long-running series with over thirty novels and anthologies in print. He’s also written many other science fiction and fantasy novels. He resides in northwest Indiana with his wife Lucille.

Along with Mr. Flint, we are also pleased to announce the 2019 1632 Minicon will be held in conjunction with Westercon 72. The minicon is the annual event that allows the 1632 fans and authors to get together. (Of course, in the case of 1632, fans and authors overlap substantially.) Each year the minicon is held “inside” a science fiction convention in a different part of the country. Many cons have agreed to host the minicon over the years. (Wording courtesy of https://1632.org )

(6) DISNEY PIXAR. A fresh trailer for Incredibles 2.

(7) TIN FOIL HATS FOR CATS. Did you know these were a thing? From the Archie McPhee catalog:

It’s a tin foil hat for conspiracy cats! They want to know what your cat is thinking. They want to control your cat’s thoughts. Not on our watch! We’ve made a Tin Foil Hat for Cats to make sure that kitty’s thoughts stay private. This mylar hat fits most cats, has a comfy felt lining and is held in place with an elastic strap. It even has holes for cat ears! Take that, Illuminati! Restores the dignity of your kitty. Very effective against MKUltra satellites, cat food company dream-insertion marketing, Guy Fieri, Soviet cat control protocols, psychic dogs, skull tapping, focused magnetic pulse and the neighbor’s labradoodle. Great for pictures! Fits most cats.

(8) BELL OBIT. Art Bell (1945-2018), the original host of the paranormal-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM, died April 13. At its peak in popularity, Bells show was syndicated on more than 500 radio stations and claimed 15 million listeners nightly

(9) TOWFIK OBIT. Sindbad Sci-Fi eulogizes an influential Egyptian sf writer: “Remembering Ahmed Khaled Towfik (1962 – 2018)”.

Ahmed Khaled Towfik is no longer with us. After a period of prolonged illness, he died of a heart attack on 2 April 2018 in El-Demerdash hospital, Cairo, at the age of 55.

By day, Dr Ahmed Khaled Towfik practised as a medical professor at Egypt’s Tanta University. Over time, he was an obsessively prolific writer who became the Arab world’s most prominent bestselling contemporary author of Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror genres. He is claimed to have written over 500 titles of which one third is science fiction, including his Arabic translations of English Sci-Fi.

(10) TODAY’S SFF BIRTHDAYS

  • April 14, 1936 – Arlene Martel. She played Spock’s betrothed, co-starred with Robert Culp in the Outer Limits Demon with a Glass Hand written by Harlan Ellison plus a couple of Twilight Zone episodes.
  • Born April 14, 1958 – Peter Capaldi
  • Born April 14, 1977 — Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Born April 14, 1982 – Rachel Swirsky

(11) SWIRSKY CELEBRATED. Steven H Silver shares his appreciation in “Birthday Reviews: Rachel Swirsky’s ‘The Monster’s Million Faces’” at Black Gate.

Rachel Swirsky was born on April 14, 1982. To this point, her writing career has been focused on short stories, although in 2010 she co-edited the anthology People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy with Sean Wallace. Her stories have been collected in two volumes, Through the Drowsy Dark and How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

Courtesy of mlex:

(13) GOOD TO THE LAST DROP. Charles Payseur tests a new batch of short fiction: “Quick Sips – Strange Horizons 04/02/2018 & 04/09/2018”.

The short SFF from the first two weeks of April’s Strange Horizons looks at faith and education, memory and time, fiction and hope. The stories feature characters either revisiting their pasts or desperate to do so. They also feature relationships between parents and children, though in opposite directions (one with a mother as main character, the other with a son). And they explore memory and trying to rewrite the past with something better than the crushing weight of the present. The poetry looks at religion and education, at expectation and death. It’s a rather complex collection of pieces, but it makes for some compelling reading. So let’s get to the reviews!

(14) ARE YOU KIDDING? The Deseret News reports “Former FBI director James Comey is a fan of Utah author Brandon Sanderson”.

In an interview with The New York Times Book Review “By the Book” section, Comey said he’s an avid reader of fiction, “almost always (reading) something my kids are reading, so I can … pretend to be cool.”

When asked what books readers would be surprised to find on his shelf, Comey answered with “The Fault in Our Stars,” by John Green; the Mistborn series, by Brandon Sanderson, and the Red Rising series, by Pierce Brown.

(15) SFF HISTORY. Tom De Haven remembers what it was like to write for Byron Preiss in a memoir at Café Pinfold.

…I met Byron Preiss in the 1970s, near the start of both our careers—as I recall, it was at an art show that he’d curated in a small Manhattan gallery (somewhere up near Bloomingdale’s, I believe) that consisted of super-realistic, high-key paintings of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys (yes, the Beach Boys; don’t ask me why, although probably it was the first or second or third step in a scheme to produce a “Byron Preiss Book” sometime in the future). He was the most confident man I’d ever met. Soft spoken, slow moving, but confident as hell. Always well dressed.  Good clothes but they could get rumpled looking. For as long as I knew and saw him, and it was quite a while, Byron always had a hundred ideas for new projects and the sublime confidence they’d all make millions.

So far as I understood it, he worked like this: he’d pitch a slew of different ideas to a variety of book editors in New York City, ideas that (again, so far as I understood it) he’d dreamed up himself, ideas inspired by current trends in publishing or pop culture (U.S.S.A., for example, followed in the wake of the original Red Dawn movie). Whenever Byron got the go-aheads for specific packaging projects, he’d call up writers to do the actual writing. (He was also likely to call up cartoonists and illustrators since most of his books came illustrated. Later, when he was one of the first people to pionneer digital publishing, he probably called up programmers.)

For me, and no doubt for many other “midlist” authors like me, it was often a lifesaver to get a telephone call from Byron Preiss; he took a big cut of any advance, naturally, and the advances were never better than just okay, but when you were in-between books and fresh out of ideas, or in-between advances for novels of your own, or had a major house repair that you couldn’t afford, or there was a new baby on the way, you were glad—at least I was glad—for an offer from Byron….

(16) WILL ROBINSON REBOOTY. NPR’s Glen Weldon goes back and forth in “Will Robinson, Meet Danger; Danger, Will Robinson: The ‘Lost In Space’ Reboot”, props for competent women, points off for repetition.

The original Lost in Space, which ran on network television from 1965 to 1968, began as a straightforward, if high-concept, adventure show: A colony spaceship carrying a nuclear family, a dashing pilot and a sniveling doctor got stranded on a remote planet. They had adventures while wearing v-neck sweaters over their turtlenecks, presumably because Irwin Allen, who produced the show, imagined that the future would be a chilly place. Or maybe he got a deal on velour, who knows.

Over the course of its run, the focus of the show shifted from the family to that weaselly doctor. Looking back, it’s easy to see why: The family was a bunch of white-bread squares in matchy-matchy outfits, but the doctor – played with a sublimely mincing menace by Jonathan Harris, was a revelation. The character of Doctor Smith was vain, overdramatic (“Oh, the pain, the pain!”), selfish, self-pitying, self-aggrandizing – a campy, eminently hissable villain out of a Christmas panto, down to the clipped British accent (which was something the Bronx-born Harris sniffily affected).

(17) LOST ATTENTION. In contrast, the Boston Globe reviewer describes the robot and the series as “sleek, shiny, and boring”: “‘Lost in Space,’ we have a problem” (may be passworded soon).

The casting is a problem, except in one case — Parker Posey as Dr. Smith. Molly Parker, a favorite of mine from “Deadwood” and “Swingtown,” is OK as the logic-and-science-loving Maureen — but she can be so much better than OK. The writers try to give her a personal storyline, since she and husband John, played sternly by Toby Stephens, are dealing with a troubled marriage. But it’s hard to care about the fate of their relationship because they’re so bland and heroic. The rest of the Robinsons are bland too, with Will (Maxwell Jenkins) a sweet but dramatically inert presence. I didn’t worry about their safety during all of their dangerous missions because I just didn’t care enough about them. TV’s original Robinson family wasn’t particularly exciting, either, but at least whimpering Jonathan Harris’s Dr. Smith brought enough camp and cowardice to keep things entertaining.

(18) SHARKE BITES. Shadow Clarke juror Maureen Kincaid Speller shares her picks: “A Shadow Clarke 2018 selection box – six exciting centres”. First, what you won’t find in her box:

This year, inevitably, my decision-making process is going to be more focused and more self-conscious, so I’ve laid out a few ground rules for myself. First, I have tried to avoid seeing what the other jurors are choosing, so this selection process has been conducted in isolation. Second, my Shadow Clarke to-read list isn’t going to feature anything I’ve already read, although there are some titles there I’d dearly like to discuss with the other jurors: Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon, for example, which is very much my kind of novel – formally inventive, a challenging read, a great story. But Gnomon is among a handful of titles already touted as shoo-ins for the official Clarke shortlist, and I have also decided to avoid putting any of those on my to-read list. I’m going to read them anyway and at this stage I’d rather experiment in my reading and see what’s going on in sf. This may seem very perverse but I would remind you that this exercise is categorically not about attempting to second-guess the official shortlist. As such I have leeway to explore.

With those decisions made, things become both easier and more complicated. Critics and reviewers are mortals like the rest of the world, and we all have our prejudices. For example, as I’ve noted before, I dislike zombie novels and while I could test that prejudice by reading a zombie novel – there seems to be a prime candidate on the list – I’ve come to the conclusion that I am secure enough in my understanding of my active dislikes to avoid wasting everyone’s time by confronting them, because the chances of anything positive emerging from the encounter are unlikely.

(19) CALL FOR PAPERS. Sublime Cognition is a very catchy name for a conference:

(20) SOLO CARDS. I don’t think I covered this with the rest of the Denny’s Star Wars-themed advertising: “Solo: A Star Wars Story exclusive trading cards, available only at Denny’s!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Camestros Felapton, JJ, Mark Hepworth, Chip Hitchcock, Michael O’Donnell, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, mlex, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 12/8/17 Is There A Hologram On My Shuttlecraft That Says ‘Dead Klingon Storage’?

(1) CHECK-IN. The 1954 Worldcon chair Les Cole and Esther Cole, who live in the vicinity of the Ventura, CA fires answered Rich Lynch’s query about how they are doing —

Thanks for asking. Les and I and doggies are OK. Fire went passed us. The air is heavy, so we stay indoors. Much of southern California is rough.

(2) HERBERT MAY BE HONORED BY HOMETOWN. Metro Parks Tacoma Public Information Manager Michael Thompson says a recommendation to name a local peninsula “Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park” and its loop trail “Frank Herbert Trail” probably will go to the Park Board for a vote in January. The proposal has been working its way through the system for some time. The News Tribune has an update: “‘Dune’ author Frank Herbert finally set to get his due in his hometown of Tacoma”:

While the Metro Parks Board will have the final say on the matter — and it’s the elected body’s prerogative to deviate or tweak — it’s clear that the public has spoken, and Metro Parks’ staff has attempted to listen. During a public outreach effort earlier this year, more than 500 possible names were submitted via an online survey. The majority of responses referenced Herbert or “Dune.”

“This name provides a simple, evocative identifier that highlights the uniqueness of the peninsula remediation and new park features,” according to the staff recommendation. “On a literary level, it honors the name of the book series by Frank Herbert, a famous Tacoma author, which was inspired by the environmental history of Tacoma’s Asarco copper smelter site, directly adjacent to the peninsula.”

Last month, Thompson helped a local radio reporter tour the peninsula with park commissioner Erik Hanberg. “‘Dune’ And The City Of Destiny: How Tacoma Inspired One Of The World’s Most Acclaimed Sci-Fi Authors”.

If you go to the base of Point Defiance in Tacoma and look east, you’ll see a finger of earth jutting into Puget Sound.

It formed as toxic slag spilled from a copper smelter during the city’s industrial heyday.

For years, it was a foreboding sliver of black, glassy material. Today, workers and machines roam the peninsula as they transform it into a grassy park with Puget Sound views.

Tacoma Metro Parks Commissioner Erik Hanberg has a space-age term for what’s going on there. He calls it “terraforming.”

(3) BACK TO THE STACK. Doris V. Sutherland does a good job framing the issues in “Rocket Stack Rumpus: Critics, Authors, and Non-Binary Science Fiction” accompanied by light analysis. Sutherland concludes:

Greg Hullender responded by writing an apology-cum-rebuttal in collaboration with Eric Wong and altering the offensive reviews. Despite this, he has paid a high price for his faux pas. Locus decided that he was unfit to recommend stories to readers and removed him from its reading list jury, making the following announcement on Twitter.

Thank you to those who brought their concerns about RSR to our attention. Greg Hullender will not be involved in the Locus Recommended Reading List. We support our wonderfully complex and diverse SF community, and hope for continued positive dialogue on these issues.

The reference to positive dialogue seems out-of-place. The Rocket Stack Rumpus marks a breakdown in communications all around, from a reviewer missing the point of the stories he was covering, to authors misreading his reviews in turn. Meanwhile, the issue of Rocket Stack Rank’s provincial approach to stories set against non-Western cultural backdrops–as flagged up by Rose Lemberg in this Twitter thread–ended up being lost alongside Hullender’s misunderstanding of non-binary SF, which is perhaps a secondary issue.

There may well be positive dialogue to come out of the controversy, but at the present moment, there is little of it to be seen.

(4) MEAT AND PROPER. Autocorrect is being blamed rather than legislators falling down on the job: ” Typo in Bill C-45 legalizes cannibalism instead of cannabis”.

Canada is one step closer to the accidental legalization of cannibalism after the House of Commons passed a typo-ridden Bill C-45, formerly known as The Cannabis Act.

“I think no one wanted to be the one to point out the error,” MP Sara Anderson said. “We all thought someone else would do it, and then they called the vote, and here we are, all voting to legalize cannibalism.”

(5) RADICAL CHANGE. If this catches on, Twitter will get awfully quiet.

(6) ANDERS STORY COLLECTION. At Locus Online, “Rachel Swirsky reviews Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders”.

Anders’s unique humor provides a uniting theme. Only some of the stories are explicitly comic, but all benefit from her linguistic wit and her quirky but generous characterization. Her stories seem to say with affection, “People. We’re weird. What can you do?” She’s particu­larly good at tailoring prose to her characters, revealing their lives through their diction. Char­acters go to “one of those mom-and-pop Portu­guese places” and “the kinda-sorta gay bar.”

(7) MCDUFFIE AWARD OPEN. The 4th Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics is taking entries until December 31.

Please attach a link or a 15mb .PDF file of the work to be considered. When submitting work, we strongly suggest sending the first issue of a series. If submitting anything other than the first issue, a one-page synopsis of what came before must accompany the submission. Also, we suggest sending the first 25-30 pages or first chapter of a graphic novel. We cannot guarantee anything more will be considered. If one is available, please also attach a .JPG photo of the entrant to the email. Please do not include any further attachments.

The award’s three new selection committee members are Jennifer de Guzman, Jamal Igle and Mikki Kendall, who join Mark D. Bright, Joan Hilty, Heidi MacDonald, Kevin Rubio, Gail Simone, and Will J. Watkins.

(8) ELIGIBILITY POSTS. Cat Rambo is doing her annual award eligibility post round-up, this year including editors, publishers, and magazines: “2017 Award-Eligible Work Blog Posts & Roundups for F&SF”. Right now there are about 20 entries on the list. She will be doing daily updates.

(9) CLASS TOMORROW. Cat Rambo says there is still space, including a couple of free slots, in the December 9 class “Speculative Poetry with Rachel Swirsky”.

Next classes are Saturday, December 9 – 9:30-11:30 AM or Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 4-6 PM. (Each class is a separate session.)

Poetry requires intense linguistic control. Every word matters. Whether you’re a poet who wants to create fantastical verses, or a prose writer who wants to learn the finely tuned narrative power that poetry can teach, you’ll find something in this class.

(10) WRITER’S LIFE. A short interview with Ursula K. Le Guin at Shelf Awareness:

Who do you write your blog for? Do you ever read the comments, and if so, what do you learn from them, if anything?

I write them for anybody who wants to read them. (Writers live in hope.)

Yes, sure, I read all the comments. They’re mostly good-natured, and some are thoughtful and enlightening.

You say that dystopian literature is yang-driven, and its opposite–utopian literature–is also yang-driven. Is there a literature that presents a realistically complex vision of a world in balance? Or is that just fantasy?

Of course it’s just fantasy. That’s why I write fantasy…

(11) NOBODY LIKES BEING SLAPPED. Cat Rambo, talking about writers and audiences: “Nattering Social Justice Cook: This Is Not A Review”.

So why did this book hit me so hard in an unhappy place? Because it was so smart and funny and beautifully written and involved connected stories about a favorite city and magic, which are three of my favorite things. And because it had a chapter that was one of the best short stories about addiction that I’ve read, and that left me thinking about it in a way that will probably shape at least one future story.

And yet. And yet. And yet. Women were either powerful and unfuckable for one reason or another or else fell into the category marked “women the protagonist sleeps with”, who usually didn’t even get a name. Moments of homophobic rape humor, marked by a repeated insistence on the sanctity of the hero’s anus, and a scene in which he embraces being thought gay in order to save himself from a terrible fate, ha ha, isn’t that amusing. And I’m like…jesus, there is so much to love about this book but it’s like the author reaches out and slaps me away once a chapter or so.

(12) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 8, 1991 Hook premieres in Hollywood.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 8, 1950 – Rick Baker, the Monster Maker

(14) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian saw that First Contact isn’t going too well in Close To Home.

(15) END OF THE MAZE. Maze Runner: The Death Cure comes to theaters January 26.

In the epic finale to the Maze Runner saga, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet. To save their friends, they must break into the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.

 

(16) CONTRARIAN. Go figure. While Patreon was in flames yesterday, Jon Del Arroz climbed aboard — “Jon Del Arroz Patreon Launch!”.

(17) EWW. It’s admittedly a mixed message when I say “Don’t look!” then put in a link anyway — “Here’s What It Looks Like When You Fry Your Eye In An Eclipse”.

“We were very surprised at how precisely concordant the imaged damage was with the crescent shape of the eclipse itself,” noted Dr. Avnish Deobhakta, a retina surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York, in an email to NPR.

He says this was the most severely injured patient they saw after the eclipse. All in all, 22 people came to their urgent care clinic with concerns about possible eclipse-related damage, and most of them complained of blurred vision. Of those, only three showed some degree of abnormality in the retina. Two of them had only mild changes, however, and their symptoms have gone away.

The young woman described in this case report, at last check, still has not recovered normal vision.

(18) SUPPORTING SPACE EXPLORATION. Bill Nye says The Planetary Society’s latest collaboration with the Chop Shop store is mission posters for kids, like this one:

(19) TENTACLE TIME. In the garden: “‘Underwater city’ reveals mysterious octopus world”.

Once thought of as solitary creatures, scientists discover ‘underwater city’ full of octopuses living side by side

A couple of assumptions are often made about octopuses. First, that they are smart. There is truth in that: octopus behaviour such as tool use, predation techniques and puzzle-solving suggest a higher level of intelligence than other invertebrates. Everyone has watched an octopus unscrewing a jar.

Second, they have a reputation for being solitary. So solitary in fact that an official collective noun for octopuses doesn’t even exist (though ‘tangle’ has been suggested).

This may have to change, however. Over the last decade, scientists have discovered that octopuses aren’t always lone beasts. In fact, octopuses engage in rich, fascinating and unusual behaviours when they interact with each other.

(20) PATREON SURVIVOR, IF POSSIBLE. Cat Rambo is weathering the storm by asking readers how to add more value to her Patreon campaign (and also whether or not to bail from it): https://www.patreon.com/catrambo

Cat She says, “I’ve lost about 15% of my income from there so far, but I’m a very minor player. however if there is something the F&SF is not seeing from me but desperately yearns for, now’s the time to weigh in: “Patreon Changes”.

(21) FRONT PAGE NEWS. I have added to the File 770 sidebar a link to John Hertz’ review of The Glass Bead Game (Hesse), which has found a permanent online home.

(22) KRYPTON. SyFy has put out a teaser trailer for its series about Superman’s homeworld. ScienceFiction.com sums it up:

The series is set two generations before the destruction of the Man of Steel’s home planet. ‘Krypton’ follows Superman’s grandfather (Cameron Cuffe), whose House of El was ostracized and shamed, as he fights to redeem his family’s honor and save his world from chaos. The Seg-El name is both a nod to Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and a reference to John Byrne’s 1980s miniseries, ‘The World of Krypton.’ Cameron Cuffe is set to play Seg-El alongside with Georgina Campbell as Lyta Zod.

 

(23) THE DARK SIDE. Charles Payseur turns his attention to dark fantasy and horror in “Quick Sips – The Dark #31”.

December brings a pair of stories to The Dark Magazine that focus sharply on observation and theater. In both, women drawn into roles where they are closely watched by men, and in both these experiences are further framed in terms of a sort of voyeurism. In one, a woman is filed, in the other, a woman is part of a play. Both feature stages and bring the reader in as spectators and in some ways as participants. We are the eyes that act as camera and as audience.

(24) BLOW BY BLOW. Sci-Fi Design has a gallery of “Comic Book Covers Recreated Using Balloons”.

Comic book cover art is awesome. They use a variety of styles, but have you ever seen comic book covers that are made from balloons? These awesome balloon sculptures as comic book covers were created by Phileas Flash. They take days to make and the pieces themselves fit into a 10 foot by 10-foot space. Then photoshop is used to add the letters which are also balloons. I love all of the detail that he gets with this unusual medium.

(25) POP CULTURE SUMMIT. Rolling Stone took notes: “Alice Cooper on His Dinner With David Bowie and Ray Bradbury”.

After Cooper’s initial meeting with Bowie in the late Sixties, they later forged a friendship. Once, they even had dinner together with Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury. “It was really interesting, because these guys were in outer space somewhere,” he says. “They were talking about quantum physics, and I’m going, ‘So … what kind of car are you driving?'” Cooper laughs.

(26) CAMERON PROJECT. Alita: Battle Angel Official Trailer.

From filmmakers James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Alita Battle Angel is in theaters July 20, 2018. Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley, Keean Johnson.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Greg Hullender, David K.M. Klaus, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Rich Lynch, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darren Garrison.]

Pixel Scroll 11/2/17 Contraterrenean Homesick Blues

(1) LEWIS & CLARKING AROUND. Charles Payseur, in “MAPPING SHORT SF/F: Part 2: Fun Short SFF” at Nerds of a Feather, leads readers through a highly interesting survey of where to find the fun stories in sff.

Fun. For some people, fun evokes childhood and a certain kind of carefree energy. For others, it means something more like excitement and adventure and novelty. Mapping fun short SFF is something of a challenge, not because I cannot point to works that I’d consider fun, but because fun is a weirdly nebulous term that, like most things, I probably define oddly in terms of genre. But, as that what I’m seeking to do in this series, I’ll do my best.

To me, fun as a genre operates a lot like horror does. It’s not so much about elements of world building or how the piece conveys message. It’s not about theme or about any one style. When I say it operates a lot like horror, what I mean is that they both are built around a feeling. Horror as a genre is defined (or at least I define it) by its ability to evoke fear and unease in the reader. Whether the story seeks to do that through gore or violence, or through atmosphere and suspense, doesn’t matter so much, because it’s all horror. Similarly, for a story to be fun, it has to be about evoking an emotion. Instead of fear, though, I’d say that fun is about joy. To me, fun SFF stories are those that seek to make the reader feel joyous. Which, given the times, is both an incredibly difficult and important mission….

(2) URBAN UPHEAVAL. James Davis Nicoll presents: “Twenty Core Speculative Fiction Works Featuring Notable Cities Every True SF Fan Should Have On Their Shelves”. The list includes —

(3) PAGES OF RAGE. Cat Rambo is taking submissions for “If This Goes On”

This project is born of rage and sorrow and hope. Rage at the way America has been stolen and how those thieves have been eating away at its infrastructure. Sorrow at the lives being destroyed in the sorrow as well as for the earth as its protections are stripped away by a kleptocratic and corrupt regime. Sorrow for the way words themselves have been distorted and twisted away from truth.

And hope. Because humans continue to progress and evolve, even though that climb is a rocky one and we slide back sometimes. We seem to have done so recently. And so this anthology, an attempt to rally, to inspire, and to awaken. Some stories will despair, but others will have the light we seek, lamps to light the path and show the pitfalls as we continue upwards.

This anthology is part of my resistance. I hope it will be part of yours as well.

The publisher says:

The anthology will contain up to thirty original stories including contributions from Steven Barnes, Andy Duncan, Chris Kluwe, Alexandra Renwick, and E. Lily Yu. Release is planned for 2018 mid-term election season in order to maximize engagement and encourage readers to take the long view when heading to the polls.

(4) ADDITION TO HUGO VOTING HISTORY. Kevin Standlee announces another gap has been filled-in.

We have updated the 1951 Retro-Hugo Award history page by adding the nominating and final ballot statistics for that year.

(5) CAN’T MAKE UP MY MIND. Four days left to answer Adam-Troy Castro’s poll question –

(6) CONSTRUCTION CREW. Jeffe Kennedy tells how she tapped the SFWA Forums for useful help in “Building Worlds with SFWA” at the SFWA Blog.

Still, when I went to self-publish a whole new series, to be safe as possible and avoid any trouble, I wanted it to be very clearly an entirely different world. The “easy” way to do that, I decided, was to give this world two moons. It also fit in thematically with the magic system I had in mind, as well as the partnership between enemies that formed the core of the story.

One big problem: I’m a biologist, not an astrophysicist (or whatever discipline this sort of thing falls under) and I had zero clue how the presence of two moons would affect the world.

So, I asked on the SFWA forums! I did not expect what I got: an immediate, detailed deluge of information from how the moons themselves would look, to their phases and orbits, to their effects on the tides, etc. It was amazing and I used almost all of it. By the end of the series—I’m up to four books now—I might indeed use every bit.

(7) EXTIRPATE! Did you know “Dalek operator” is a job? Or that one of them is unemployed today? And that he issued a little F-you on the way out the door? The Gallifrey Times has the story: “Nicholas Pegg fired after including a cryptic offensive message in DWM”.

Nicholas Pegg is known to fans as one of the main Dalek operators since 2005, but he has also been the man behind the entertaining Wotcha column on the final page of Doctor Who Magazine. But not anymore. It was first pointed out in the Mirror that Pegg, under the pen name The Watcher, left a cryptic message in his column in issue #518 of DWM.

If you take the first letter of every sentence, it spells out: Panini and BBC Worldwide are c*nts.

Panini are the publishers of the magazine, while the BBC distributes the TV series.

There is even a clue at the end, as Pegg himself writes, “If you look hard enough, there is always something hidden in plain sight.”

A BBC Worldwide spokesman told the Mirror:

“The matter was raised with the publisher who has dismissed the writer.”

It was also revealed that Pegg was not expected to be involved in Series 11.

It’s unknown why he included this attack…

(8) ON DISPLAY. In the foyer of San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 2 is a display of famous writers’ typewriters, including the one used by Orson Welles, another belonging to Tennessee Williams, and Ray Bradbury’s own, below. The photographer warns that the exhibit is in the secure area of the terminal, so you can’t casually wander through the airport to see it.

(9) NEXT TREK. Popular Mechanics asked “8 Sci-Fi Writers on Where Star Trek Should Go Next” – Kameron Hurley, Mur Lafferty, Christopher Brown, Rob  Boffard, Genevieve Valentine, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Annalee Newitz, and Charles Yu.

By Mur Lafferty, author of Six Wakes

I’ve always been fascinated by the transporter and the various capabilities it has. The fact that the transporter saves a limited-time backup of every person it transports was only touched on a few times in any of the series. This makes sense; there are too many ways it could be abused as a Deus Ex Machina fix for half the problems they come across in the series. (Oh, Tasha got killed by a black goo? It’s OK, we saved her DNA and can print you a new one right away, Captain!)

Still, putting aside the difficulties surrounding the aging and dead actors, the ultimate Star Trek show would be for a Ferengi-financed hacker to gain access to the transporter traces of every member of every Star Trek show and bring them all back.

The new Star Trek crew would be assigned the many-season rescue of each character from all the other shows. The characters would be mixed up and scattered around the universe. For example, the Klingons would be having gladiatorial battles with Kirk and Picard to finally settle the greatest debate to plague my generation. (Team Picard all the way.)

There would be a side romantic plot with Troi, Worf, every version of Dax, and Alexander living on Risa. Speaking of Alexander, all the kids, Nog, Jake, Alexander, Molly, and young Wesley, could have a Risa-based Stand By Me-kind of adventure. Riker and Bashir could be stranded on an all-male planet where no one is impressed by them. Bones and Data could have an Odd Couple/Buddy Cop kind of adventure. I can see The Doctor, Crusher, Bashir, Pulaski, and Phlox in their own ER-type story.

I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s always a good idea to limit your tech when you make it “oh dear God, that thing is too powerful!” But it’s also a possibility to make a compelling plot about the abuse of said powerful machine when it’s put in the hands of an incompetent, or a villain.

(10) BANGING WITH WHEATON AND NEWHEART. Although I lost interest in Big Bang Theory awhile ago, I may have to watch this episode:

(11) CASH IN POINT. There could be a Twilight Zone reboot coming to CBS All-Access.

CBS has announced a new Twilight Zone anthology series from Get Out director Jordan Peele, over 50 years after the iconic scifi series ended its initial run. This comes about five years after the studio tried and failed to reboot the series with X-Men director Bryan Singer, and in the wake of Bioshock creator Ken Levine’s stalled attempt to revive the franchise as an interactive movie or series. Right now, it’s not clear whether Peele’s show has already been picked up for a series, or if the project is simply in development.

(12) D POTTER OBIT. Bay Area fanzine fan D Potter passed away in her Oakland apartment (probably on October 25) reports Sue Rae Rosenfeld on Facebook.

Fancyclopedia lists the amateur press associations she was active in over the years:

Apa-nu, A Women’s APA, APA-Q, Myriad, Mixed Company (of which he has been OE), Spinoff, MISHAP, ALPS, FAPA, Intercourse. She was a co-founder and OE of ALPS [The Amateur Long-Playing Society.]

She was Fan GoH of Balticon 16 in 1982.

(13) COMICS SECTION

  • Darrah Chavey would never drop a bad pun like “the umpire strikes back,” but I would: it came to mind when I saw his linked installment of Pearls Before Swine.
  • Rich Lynch found a rare Bradbury joke in Mutts!

(14) KSR. Kim Stanley Robinson is interviewed by José Luis de Vicente for CCCBlab: “Angry Optimism in a Drowned World: A Conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson”.

In New York 2140, I wanted sea level rise to be significant enough to make Lower Manhattan like a Venice, to be a kind of giant symbol of the current situation with climate change. For that reason I pushed it out to the year 2140, which is 120 years from now. For reasons of plausibility: it takes that long to get that much of a sea level rise, which is what I wanted for telling my story.

The truth is that we are actually already at that moment of climate change and crisis. The political project that my novel discusses really ought to be enacted now, not 120 years from now. In the real world, what we’ve got is a necessity for our economic system to take damage to the ecosystem into account, and pay for that damage.

The way that we create energy and the way that we move around on this planet both have to be de-carbonized. That has to be, if not profitable, affordable. Humans need to be paid for that work because it’s a rather massive project. It’s not that it’s technologically difficult (we already have the solar panels, the electric cars, we have the technical problems more or less solved in prototype) but the mass deployment of those is a huge human project, equivalent of everybody gathering together to fight World War II. Everybody agrees that, yes, this is important enough that people’s careers, lives, be devoted to the swapping out of the infrastructure and the creation of a de-carbonized, sustainable, physical plan for the rest of civilization.

Well, this isn’t the way capitalism works, as currently configured; this isn’t profitable. The market doesn’t like it. By the market I mean – what I think everybody means, but doesn’t admit – capital, accumulated capital, and where it wants to put itself next. And where it wants to put itself next is at the highest rate of return, so that if it’s a 7% return to invest in vacation homes on the coast of Spain, and it’s only a 6% rate of return to build a new clean power plant out in the empty highlands of Spain, the available capital of this planet will send that money and investment and human work into vacation homes on the coast of Spain rather than the power plants. It’s just the way it is and there is no control over that except for nation-state governments, each one looking at its own responsibility and power and feeling in competition with others, not wanting to lose its differential advantage. So, If Spain were to do a certain amount for its country, but was sacrificing relative to international capital or to other countries, then it would be losing the battle for competitive advantage in the capitalist system.

(15) MARKET NEWS. The submissions window will soon close for Glass & Gardens: Solarpunk Summers:

GLASS & GARDENS: SOLARPUNK SUMMERS

Anthologist: SarenaUlibarri

Open for Submissions: August 15, 2017 – November 15, 2017

Expected Publication: Summer 2018

Story Length: up to 8,000 words

Payment: $0.01 per word + contributor copy Solarpunk is a type of eco-conscious science fiction that imagines an optimistic future founded on renewable energies. It might take place in a wind-powered skyscraper or on a solar-powered robotic farm, in a bustling green-roofed metropolis or in a small but tech-saavy desert village. Often coupled with an art nouveau aesthetic, and always inclusive and diverse, solarpunk stories show the ways we have adapted to climate change, or the ways we have overcome it….

(16) HALLOWEEN LEFTOVERS. Hate to think I almost missed this – let’s start with the intro from Nerdist, “Wayne Brady Sings “Thriller” Like a 1930s Jazz Song”.

The video starts with a nod to Cab Calloway and jumps right into the upbeat cover and ’cause this is “Thiller” (Thriller night!), PMJ even brought on a few tap dancers in order to pay homage to the iconic dance moves from the original video. They even worked in some Charleston moves for good measure. Is it weird that we’d want to see all the dancing in the original video with this era-specific spin?

 

(17) HANGOUT AND LEARN. Cat Rambo announces two upcoming online classes:

Sunday, November 5, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific time.

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.

Sunday, December 17, 9:30-11:30 AM, Pacific time.

There’s an art to food writing. Anyone who has read a professional restaurant review can tell you that. We react viscerally to descriptions of food. Our mouths water, our minds color with tastes we can almost experience. In fiction, this can be used to enrich world-building, and to further blur the lines between the reader and the text.

Join Cat and award-winning game writer, author, tech journalist Cassandra Khaw for a session where we will discuss food writing, the sensualities of taste, how to incorporate and interpret our understanding of food, and how all this can be used to shape one’s stories.

(18) INDUSTRY ROLE. Here’s a thread on what sensitivity readers actually do.

(19) TO SERVE FAN. John C. Wright has taken up the quest of reading in their order of publication the Conan stories of Robert E Howard. This necessarily (?) required a fling at Damon Knight for belittling Howard in an early 1950s magazine piece (which you can find in the 1956 collection, In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction).

Here, for example, is a quote from the loathsome Damon Knight. If the reader is surprised I use so harsh a word for this well-known figure in science fiction, please reflect that he is not well known for any creative writing, only for his ludicrous claim to be a critic…

…We need not dwell long here in the chamberpot of Mr. Knight’s performance as a critic. I am content with noting that there is not a word of actual criticism anywhere in the passage. It is merely a stream of insults against Robert E Howard, as everything from unintelligent to maniacal to emotionally crippled to sick, with occasional flippant insults against Mr. Howard’s fans and admirers, not to mention studied insults against other luminaries of the field.

The ”not well known” fiction of Damon Knight includes his frequently-anthologized “To Serve Man,” the basis for a famous episode of The Twilight Zone and a 2001 Retro Hugo winner. His criticism was recognized with a 1956 Hugo for Best Reviewer. Surely someone who has accepted as many Hugo nominations as Wright respects the imprimatur of the Hugo Award. No, really.

(20) BIG MONTH FOR GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Marvel has declared a Thanksgiving feast for Guardians of the Galaxy fans, serving up multiple comics about the team, and Rocket and Groot individually.

Week of 11/6

 

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1

A NEW ERA OF COSMIC ADVENTURE BEGINS HERE! Double ships every month! The Guardians of the Galaxy have taken off into space once more, on their biggest and weirdest misadventures yet! Kicking things off with the biggest heist they’ve ever tried, we join Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and company as they blast their way through the galaxy, the peacekeepers of the Nova Corps hot on their tails. And once they find themselves caught in a war between The Collector and The Grandmaster, there will hardly be time to explain why Groot can’t grow any bigger, what Gamora is searching for or why Drax has sworn off violence! But don’t worry, we will — with a new twice-monthly schedule, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy has space for ALL your Marvel Cosmic needs!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MISSION BREAKOUT #1

The Collector’s many-worlds-famous collection is opening its doors to the public — and you won’t believe the star attraction. Only the Guardians can break through Taneleer Tivan’s security and BREAK OUT! The Marvel Universe story of Disney’s newest, raddest ride!

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: MOTHER ENTROPY #1

The Guardians owe everyone on Knowhere money, so they’re forced to do a job for the local police. But that gets them running afoul of Pip the Troll and a mysterious entity known only as Mother Entropy. And that’s when the fun begins.

Week of 11/13

ROCKET #1

GET READY FOR A LIFE OF SPACECRIME! It’s a dirty universe out there, even when you’re not regularly mistaken for trash-foraging vermin. And it’s about to get dirtier. He thought his paws were clean, that he was on the up-and-up. But then an old flame swam back into his life, and he was back in the game… the heist game. If you need a safe cracked, a vault busted or a score taken…ask for Rocket. Just don’t call him a raccoon.

Week of 11/27 

I AM GROOT #1

GROOT IN HIS OWN SERIES, SMALLER AND BETTER THAN EVER! When the Guardians of the Galaxy get caught in a wormhole, a smaller-than-normal Groot is separated billions of light-years away from the team. Falling to a planet below, Groot discovers he is on an entirely alien and unknown world full of strange creatures and societies. Seriously underdeveloped and with nobody who can understand him, Groot will need to make the journey to the center of this world and find the way back to his family!

(21) ENTRY LEVEL. TIME Magazine tells “How Much You Can Earn in the Comic Book Industry — From Artist to CEO”.

Marvel and DC Comics are once again facing off in an epic box-office duel this month, with the release of Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League — two superhero films that, of course, have their roots in the comic book industry. Print isn’t dead to this world — the industry makes $800 million-a-year annually and employs tens of thousands to do so.

So how do you get started in this type of career? And more importantly, what does it pay?

Like any career in the arts, you can get started in the industry by going to school to and majoring in something that translates well into this world, like animation, sequential art, or illustration. Marvel artist Irene Strychalski recently told attendees of New York Comic Con she majored in sequential art and minored in animation at Savannah College of Art and Design. Other schools that comic book artists seem to gravitate towards include Ringling College of Art and Design and Rhode Island School of Design. However, if you don’t want the college experience, the Kubert School is a trade school in Dover, N.J. that offers a three-year training program.

I think Vox Day plans on skipping all these steps.

(22) ARCHEOLOGY. “I’m ready for my closeup”: new tech discoveries: “‘Big void’ identified in Khufu’s Great Pyramid at Giza”.

It is not known why the cavity exists or indeed if it holds anything of value because it is not obviously accessible.

Japanese and French scientists made the announcement after two years of study at the famous pyramid complex.

They have been using a technique called muography, which can sense density changes inside large rock structures.

The Great Pyramid, or Khufu’s Pyramid, was constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu between 2509 and 2483 BC.

(NPR also covers, but their diagram isn’t as readable: “Scientists Say They’ve Found Hidden Space In Great Pyramid Of Giza”

(23) THINK NICK FURY. Samuel L. Jackson talks Game of Throne newcomers through the basics as only he can.  “The first thing you need to know about this world is…no, not dragons…**** those dragons!  Focus!”

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth, John King Tarpinian, James Davis Nicoll, Stephen Burridge, Carl Slaughter, Cat Rambo, Rich Lynch, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Darrah Chavey, and Tasha Turner for some of these stories,. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]

Pixel Scroll 1/14/17 On A Cold And Gray Trisolarian Morning, A Baby Scroll Was Filed

(1) EYE EYE AYE. From r/Star Wars on Reddit: “Noticed this Mon Calamari who can’t find his monitor while re-watching Return of the Jedi” generated a vast set of amusing comments, half developing the joke, half creating headcanon to explain away the joke.

  • Fun fact: predators evolve to have eyes that are close together and face forward to improve depth perception and acuity in a narrow arc, whereas prey have eyes farther apart so that they have better peripheral coverage to spot threats. Apparently Mon Calamari are not natural predators, hence their keen ability to spot traps.
  • No the guy sitting just moved his desk to the right, you can see him snickering when the guy turn around and doesn’t see the monitor where it usually is.
  • He’s blind and on the wall is written in brail: “more to the right.” These ship are made like that; with brail instructions everywhere because if the percentage of mon-calamari individuals who devellop blindness in their late 30’s. Apparently this happens after they successfully mated the first time.
  • Simple: He has an eye on each side of his head. He can see the screen from that angle. He was actually looking at two things at once.

(2) INELIGIBILITY POST. Ruthless Culture’s Jonathan McCalmont, who thinks award eligibility posts are a bane, says: “Don’t Vote For Me”.

What this means in practice is that every year begins with an ungainly scramble for visibility as hundreds of aspiring authors try to get out their personal votes. These visibility campaigns may start on a bashful and self-deprecating note but the pitch soon rises, growing steadily more grasping and unpleasant until finally reaching the level of demented screaming in the run-up to the annual distribution of fish heads known as the Hugo Awards, at which point the voices collapse either into silence or disgruntled muttering before beginning afresh the following December.

The cycle begins in earnest with the opening of the Hugo nominations period but the year’s first tangible chunk of ego-boo is usually the shortlist for the awards handed out by the British Science Fiction Association. For reasons that doubtless made sense to someone at the time, the process for generating BSFA award shortlists has now changed meaning that people are now expected to nominate for a longlist as well as a shortlist. My piece on the history of the New Weird has made it onto the non-fiction longlist and while I am grateful to everyone who took the time to nominate my piece, I would be even more grateful if it progressed no further as I have decided to decline any and all future award nominations.

(3) A DEAD IDEA COMES BACK. Somebody thinks they’ve got a workable personal jetpack.

“Jetpacks will be part of future cities,” Peter Coker, vice-president of innovation at KuangChi Science, Martin Aircraft Company’s major Chinese shareholder.

“I see it as being the Uber of the sky.”

Martin Aircraft Company, based in New Zealand, already has a working prototype that can fly at 2,800ft (850m) at 45km/h (27mph) for 28 minutes.

And Mr Coker says commuters will be able to hail an unmanned jetpack via a smartphone app.

He admits there will be “regulatory hurdles” to overcome and, if the airways become packed with jetpacks, a need for “automatic collision avoidance”.

(4) WHO’S ON FIRST? If you want to know the firms controlled by the Big 5 Publishers, this searchable graph will show you.

(5) DUTTON OBIT. What a great bookstore he had. “Dave Dutton, the landmark L.A. bookstore owner, dies at 79”. The North Hollywood location – only a couple of miles from the old LASFS Clubhouse – was gloriously stuffed with interesting books.

But he would never stray far from Dutton’s Books, a Los Angeles landmark with its overflowing shelves, hard-to-find titles and customers wondrously thumbing through their options. A “cultural museum,” Dutton once called the bookstore.

Dutton died Friday at his home in Valley Village, roughly a decade after he and his wife packed up the last 50,000 books and closed up the North Hollywood shop for the final time. Dutton was 79 and suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

…When Dutton and his wife packed up the North Hollywood shop, loading the remaining books into a 30-foot truck, Dutton reflected on the virtues of being an old-school bookseller in a market dominated by the Internet.

“The book business used to be a place where idealists and dreamers of a better world who perhaps didn’t like business, didn’t admire the business tactics generally necessary to survive, could find a happy compromise.”

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 14, 1954 — Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio. (Honestly, no sff connection that I could think of. But a big blip on the pop culture screen.)

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born January 14, 1943 — Astronaut Shannon Lucid

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born January 14, 1874 Thornton Burgess, author of Old Mother West Wind, whose array of anthropomorphics included a Peter Rabbit (intentionally using the same name as Beatrix Potter’s character). He wrote about animals and nature in his newspaper column, Bedtime Stories, and by the time he retired, had penned more than 170 books and 15,000 stories for the daily newspaper column.
  • Born January 14, 1924 – Guy Williams, who played Zorro and Professor John Robinson.

(9) ANOTHER VISIT TO THE SEVENTIES. Another tweet from 70s Sci-Fi Art.

(10) WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER GIBBONS? The name. BBC reports ”’Star Wars gibbon’ is new primate species”.

A gibbon living in the tropical forests of south west China is a new species of primate, scientists have concluded.

The animal has been studied for some time, but new research confirms it is different from all other gibbons.

It has been named the Skywalker hoolock gibbon – partly because the Chinese characters of its scientific name mean “Heaven’s movement” but also because the scientists are fans of Star Wars.

The study is published in the American Journal of Primatology.

(11) TWIN TITANS. I don’t doubt the misleading innuendo “Power Couples” gets more clicks, though it detracts from homage intended by the publication.

The Jewish Women’s Archive’s “Power Couples” project showcases pairs of extraordinary Jewish women from many different disciplines, matching an early female trailblazer with a modern woman at the top of her game. This project highlights the lives and accomplishments of important pioneers in various fields and the next generation of leaders and innovators, demonstrating the impact of women in the arts, sciences, fashion, athletics, business, and activism….

Fantasy Authors: Jane Yolen and Rachel Swirsky

In 2010, a Jewish Review of Books article asserting that Jewish authors don’t write fantasy precipitated an Internet uproar. Commentators named hundreds of Jewish authors who write about magic, mythical creatures, quests, and adventures—two of whom are Jane Yolen and Rachel Swirsky. Yolen has written almost 300 fantasy and fairytale-inspired books, and was recently named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, an award honoring lifetime achievement. Swirsky has written more than 70 short stories and has twice won the prestigious Nebula Award. Both women expand the definition of the fantasy genre and use their work to espouse themes of social justice….

Actress-Scientists: Hedy Lamarr and Mayim Bialik

You probably wouldn’t expect that we could have multiple entries in a category for actress/scientist. After all, we tend to think of people as being either/or. If you’re a scientist or inventor, you must be mono-focused, introverted, anti-social. If you’re an actor or celebrity, stereotypes suggest that you’re gorgeous but flighty, lacking intelligence or substance. Despite our knowledge that most women are multi-talented multitaskers, we insist on fitting them into narrow categories, denying their complexity. Hedy Lamarr and Mayim Bialik challenge us to rethink our limiting assumptions and to recognize the creative range of women’s abilities.

(12) PRESUMPTIVE GUILT. It’s not quite a “have you stopped beating your wife” gotcha — Disney did already use Fisher’s digital image in Rogue One. In The Guardian, “Disney deny negotiating with Carrie Fisher’s estate for rights to her digital image”.

Disney have denied they are negotiating with Carrie Fisher’s estate for the rights to use the actor’s digital image in future Star Wars film, according to industry sources.

The BBC’s Newsnight programme had reported that, “with what might be regarded as unseemly haste, Star Wars studio Disney had opened with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise.”

But in a statement the Walt Disney Company said: “Disney is not in conversations with the estate of Carrie Fisher at this time and any reports to the contrary are false.”

Fisher’s likeness as the young Princess Leia in the original 1977 Star Wars was digitally rendered and appeared in the final frames of prequel Rogue One – along with Peter Cushing’s. As filming occurred prior to Fisher’s death, her permission was presumably obtained. However, reports have emerged of discussions between the makers of Episodes VIII and IX, as Leia had been expected to play a significant part in both films. Apart from the technical challenge, a number of ethical considerations emerged in the wake of Cushing’s “resurrection” in Rogue One, 22 years after his death.

The BBC’s use of the words “continuing appearance” suggested the film-makers were considering using Fisher’s digital image in future films, although there are also other ancillary uses, such as video games.

(13) WHERE LIGHTSPEED SEEMS SLOW. Ty Franck answers questions about the existence of the internet in The Expanse.

Q: Why call them ‘hand terminals?’

A: Because they are not phones. In the universe of The Expanse, we are living in the true internet of things. Nearly every object more complex than a hair brush is a smart or semi-smart device connected to the network around it. The hand terminal is barely a device, on its own. It has little or no memory or processing power. It is literally just a dumb terminal to give the user access to the network and to the various devices around them. It is a portable UI for operating other things. Which is why when the networks go down, the hand terminals become bricks. You can’t even play that game of angry birds classic you downloaded with your google store coupon.

(14) YOU CAN’T STOP IT, YOU CAN ONLY WATCH IT HAPPEN. Something for you to put on your calendar – “In 2022 we’ll be able to watch an 1,800-year old star collision”.

Before their collision the two stars were too dim to be seen without the aid of an extremely powerful telescope but astronomers expect the collision to increase the brightness of the pair ten thousand fold, making it one of the brightest stars in the heaven for a time. The explosion, known as a Red Nova, will then dissipate and the star will remain visible as a single bright, but duller, dot.

The prediction is based on a study of the two stars, which are orbiting each other in ever decreasing circles and appear to be on course for a collision. Assuming they are correct, it would be the first time such an event was predicted by scientists.

(15) BITE YE. The Santa Clarita Diet, for people with good taste… and people who taste good. Drew Barrymore teases a series coming to Netflix in February. There’s also a gag website: http://santaclaritadiet.com/

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Gregory N. Hullender, John King Tarpinian, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer Sylvester, with an assist from Bonnie McDaniel.]

Pixel Scroll 10/5/16 That’s Appertainment!

(1) BEST SERIES HUGO FLAW? Sami Sundell is dissatisfied with the 2017 Hugo test category, judging by his title: “Best Series is a popularity contest”.

Last year, Eric Flint wrote about the discrepancy between popularity in bookstores and winning (Hugo) awards. I then pointed out, that the big time bookstore magnets tend to write series. So, on the face of it, adding a new category could bring the awards closer to general populace…..

Re-eligibility of a nominee

The actual series proposal suggests a non-winning nominee for Best Series could become re-eligible after at least two additional tomes and 240 000 words. If the series is long enough and the writer prolific enough, you might see the same series popping up every few years, adding at least quarter of a million words to the reading effort every time.

You see, that’s another thing about the popular series: they hook their readers. Even if the quality wanes, it’s hard to let go of a series you’ve started – and some of those series have gone on for 40 years.

There’s nothing wrong with the same author and series being nominated multiple times; that happens regularly with other categories. In this case, however, it’s not just the latest installation that should be considered. It’s the whole body of work, which may span multiple authors, media, and decades.

More than any other written fiction category, Best Series has makings of a popularity contest in it: people will vote for whatever they are familiar with and attached to. That’s fine for selecting what to read next, but it shouldn’t be grounds for a Hugo.

(2) AUDIBLE INKLINGS. Oxford fellow Michael Ward (Planet Narnia) narrates Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings in the Audible Audio Edition, released September 26.

Bandersnatch cover

(3) MYTH BUSTED OR INTACT? Aaron Pound looks at the “2007 Hugo Longlist” and commences to bust what he feels is a Hugo voting “myth.”

Whenever a Worldcon is held outside of the United States, people suggest that genre fiction works produced by local authors and editors are going to receive a boost in the Hugo nomination process and subsequent voting. Nippon 2007, the Worldcon held in 2007, was located in Yokohama, and given that Japan has an active science fiction and fantasy scene, one would think that the ballot would have been filled with Japanese books, stories, movies, and television shows. At the very least, one would think the Hugo longlist would be filled with such works. With the exception of Yoshitaka Amano’s appearance on the Best Professional Artist category, the 2007 Hugo longlist appears to be entirely devoid of any influence from Japanese voters.

Based upon the evidence of the statistics from 2007, it seems that the “bump” for local writers and artists is negligible at best….

This question really requires a more nuanced investigation of ALL Worldcons held outside North America, not just the one in Japan (inexplicable as the result was).

Looking at the final ballots from UK and Australian Worldcons, you can see a number of nominees (especially in the fan categories) who don’t get that support when the con is in North America.

However, the membership of most Worldcons is predominantly US fans, which gives things a certain consistency, wanted or not.

(4) KNOW YOUR GENRE. Sarah A. Hoyt explains the traits of a long list of genres and subgenres in a breezy column for Mad Genius Club.

If I had a dime for every time someone approaches me and says “My erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy isn’t selling and I can’t tell why.”  And/or “I keep getting these really weird comments, like they’re angry at me for not being what I say it is.” I’d be buying a castle somewhere in England, as we speak.

And almost everytime I look into the matter, my answer is something like “But that’s not an erotica/romance/science fiction/fantasy.”

I will say right here that most of the time the problem is that people don’t read the genres they’re identifying their books as.  They just heard of them, and think that must be what they are.  This also explains all the people who assure me I write romance (rolls eyes) and that’s why they won’t read Darkship Thieves, or Witchfinder, or…

Because there is a romance in the book, somewhere, and they think that’s what the romance genre is.

It’s time to get this figured out, okay?…

(5) LUKE CAGE’S SHORTCOMINGS. Abigail Nussbaum finds a new Marvel superhero series wanting — “Tales of the City: Thoughts on Luke Cage” .

“For black lives to matter, black history has to matter.”  A character says this shortly into the first episode of Luke Cage, Netflix’s third MCU series, and the fourth season of television it has produced in collaboration with Marvel as it ramps up for its Defenders mega- event.  It’s easy to read this line as a thesis statement on the nature of the show we’re about to watch, but it’s not until some way into Luke Cage‘s first season that we realize the full import of what creator Cheo Hodari Coker is saying with it, and how challenging its implications will end up being.  As has been widely reported and discussed, Luke Cage is the first black MCU headliner–not just on TV or on Netflix, but at all.  And, unlike the forthcoming Black Panther, whose story is set in a fictional African superpower, Luke Cage is explicitly a story about African-Americans in the more-or-less real world, at a moment when the problems and indignities suffered by that community are at the forefront of public discussion.  It is, therefore, a show that comes loaded with tremendous expectations, not just of introducing a compelling character and telling a good superhero story, but of addressing increasingly fraught issues of race, in both the real world and the superhero genre.  It’s perhaps unsurprising that Luke Cage falls short of these expectations, but what is surprising is how often it doesn’t even seem to be trying to reach them.  Or, perhaps, not surprising at all–as the first episode spells out, Luke Cage is less interested in black lives than it is in black stories.

(6) FINAL INSTALLMENT. Renay from Lady Business has produced her last column for Strange Horizons:

When I started this column back in 2013, I didn’t know a lot of things. I didn’t know a lot about the depth and breadth of the science fiction and fantasy community. I didn’t know what it felt like to have a wider audience. I didn’t know yet how many people would be kind to me and also didn’t know (thankfully, because I might have run the other way) that people would be cruel. I hadn’t done any of the things that would change my perspective as a fan: write a fan column, be paid for writing, be included in a fan anthology, edit a fan anthology, become a Barnes & Noble reviewer, start a podcast with another big name fan, be a Hugo nominee, or go to Worldcon. But I’ve done all those things now and here’s what I’ve learned….

(7) CHARACTER (ACTING) COUNTS. Edward L. Green’s website for his acting career is now online.

(8) SUPPORTING HOMER HICKAM. San Diego fan Gerry Williams is encouraging a boycott of the musical October Sky at the Old Globe Theaters in his hometown. He explains:

ROCKET BOYS author Homer Hickam is in a very serious dispute and lawsuit with the corporate establishment at Universal Studios and with The Old Globe Theaters. He has tried to have his name removed from the Old Globe’s production (to no avail) for their Rocket Boy’s version of his story. You can read about all the problems on his blog here: http://homerhickamblog.blogspot.com/2016/09/my-struggle.html Personally I’m urging our local Southern California space community to stand with Homer Hickam and BOYCOTT The Old Globe’s production.

Hickam’s many frustrations about the rights struggle include the effect it’s having on the musical adaptation he himself has written Rocket Boys, the Musical.

Meantime, if you’re curious about the version being produced at the Old Globe —

October Sky

Book by Brian Hill and Aaron Thielen Music and Lyrics by Michael Mahler Directed by Rachel Rockwell Inspired by the Universal Pictures film and Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hickam,  Jr.

“A sumptuous production of an old-fashioned crowd-pleaser. October Sky feels good all over!” —Talkin’ Broadway

The beloved film is now a triumphant new American musical that will send your heart soaring and inspire your whole family to reach for the stars! In the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia, every young man’s future is in the coal mines, but after the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the world’s race to space inspires local highschooler Homer Hickam to dream of a different life. Against the wishes of his practical-minded father, he sets out on an unlikely quest to build his own rockets and light up the night sky. October Sky is an uplifting musical portrait of small-town Americana packed with youthful exuberance, and a sweeping, unforgettable new score.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

October 5, 1969  — Monty Python’s Flying Circus first appeared on the British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC-1

(10) TERRY JONES RECEIVES BAFTA CYMRU AWARD. The Guardian has video of this touching acceptance:

Monty Python star Terry Jones collects his award for outstanding contribution to television and film at the Bafta Cymru awards on Sunday. Jones announced last month he has a severe type of dementia which affects his speech. He was accompanied on stage by his son Bill who told the audience it was a “great honour”

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 5 – Paul Weimer
  • Born October 5, 1958 — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

(12) WAYWARD FACULTY ADDITIONS. Who they are and what they’ll teach – the new faculty joining Cat Rambo’s Academy.

Now the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers (classes.catrambo.com) adds three new teachers to its roster: Ann Leckie, Rachel Swirsky, and Juliette Wade. Each presents both a live version of the class, limited to eight students and taught via Google Hangouts, as well as an on-demand version.

Swirsky’s class, Old Stories Into New (http://catrambo.teachable.com/p/old-stories-into-new/), discusses existing forms and how genre writers draw on the stories that have preceded them–particularly folklore, mythology, and fables, but also beloved literature and media. The class presents the best methods for approaching such material while warning students of the possible pitfalls.  Readings, written lectures, and writing exercises from Hugo and Nebula award winning writer Rachel Swirsky teach the student how to keep work original and interesting when playing with familiar stories.  A live version will be offered on October 29, 2016; the on-demand version is available here.

Wade’s class, The Power of Words (http://catrambo.teachable.com/courses/the-power-of-words-linguistics-for-speculative-fiction-writers), focuses on the study of linguistics and its relevance to genre writing. Wade shows how linguistics differs from the study of foreign languages, and gives a survey of eight different subfields of linguistics. The class examines principles of language at levels of complexity from the most basic articulation of speech sounds to the way that language is used to participate in public forms of discourse. Wade looks at how each subfield can be used to enhance a writer’s portrayal of characters and societies in a fictional world. Then she takes the discussion to the level of text to consider how principles of linguistics can hone point of view and narrative language in storytelling. A live version will be offered on December 17, 2016.

Leckie’s class, To Space Opera and Beyond, will centers on space opera: its roots as well as its current manifestations as well as how to write it.  Topics covered include creating and tracking multiple worlds, characters, and plots,  interlocking and interweaving plots, writing storylines stretching across multiple books, and developing engaging and distinct politics, languages, and other cultural institutions. Both live sessions of the class are sold out. The on-demand version will be available in November.

Live classes are co-taught with Cat Rambo; registration details can be found at: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/upcoming-online-classes/.

(13) THIS WASN’T A TEST WHERE I WANTED TO SCORE WELL. “10 Habits of extremely boring people”. Send help — it’s alarming how many of these I checked off…

(14) BUCKAROO BANZAI CAN’T GET ACROSS THE AMAZON. Joseph T. Major in concerned. He looked at this article and said, “It looks like the World Crime League is making a score.” — “Rights Issues Stymie BUCKAROO BANZAI Amazon Series”.

Buckaroo Banzai may be in trouble and this time it is not from the machinations of evil Lectroids from Planet Ten or the World Crime League, but from something far more vexing – rights issues.

In an interview, W. D. Richter, director of the 1984 cult classic The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The Eight Dimension, revealed that it is possible that the rights to the actual character of Buckaroo Banzai actually lie with screen writer Earl Mac Rauch. And that could impact the television version of the film that writer/director Kevin Smith is currently developing with MGM for Amazon Studios.

(15) WHERE DID YOU GET MY NUMBER? I don’t make a lot of phone calls, but when I do the person on the other end seems more surprised to be getting a call than that it’s from me, and that may be part of  trend – Slate explains: “The Death of the Telephone Call, 1876-2007”.

The phone call died, according to Nielsen, in the autumn of 2007. During the final three months of that year the average monthly number of texts sent on mobile phones (218) exceeded, for the first time in recorded history, the average monthly number of phone calls (213). A frontier had been crossed. The primary purpose of most people’s primary telephones was no longer to engage in audible speech….

Calling somebody on the phone used to be a perfectly ordinary thing to do. You called people you knew well, not so well, or not at all, and never gave it a second thought. But after the Great Texting Shift of 2007, a phone call became a claim of intimacy. Today if I want to phone someone just to chat, I first have to consider whether the call will be viewed as intrusive. My method is to ask myself, “Have I ever seen this person in the nude?” The sighting doesn’t have to be (indeed, seldom is) recent. Nor is it necessary that I remember it. I need only deduce that, sometime or other, I must have seen this person naked. That clears phone calls to a wife or girlfriend, to children, to parents, to siblings, to old flames, to former roommates from college, and very few others.

(16) TREKKIE STONELORE. UPI tells us Redditor Haoleopteryx posted a photo of the business cards he had specially printed to deal with constant jokes about the name of the profession.”

I’m a volcanologist and I really don’t know how it took me so long to actually get around to making these

 

View post on imgur.com

[Thanks to Cat Rambo, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day — Heather Rose Jones because I noticed her post it, and Kip W. because he actually suggested it first eight hours earlier. The bar is open — everybody appertain your favorite beverage!]

Pixel Scroll 9/30/16 How Much For Just the Pixels?

(1) WRITERS WITH POWER? Having lived through the days when few sf authors had any kind of industry prestige, I’m impressed how many genre writers are included in “Hollywood’s 25 Most Powerful Authors 2016”, compiled by The Hollywood Reporter. The list begins with Patrick Ness, and Lauren Oliver, drops Margaret Atwood in the middle, and spots Rowling at #1, Stephen King at #2, and George R.R. Martin at #4. Neil Gaiman and Diana Gabaldon are in there, too.

(2) QUESTION TIME. Shana DuBois has unveiled a new installment of a popular feature at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, “Mind Meld: The Imagined Possibilities of Science Fiction”.

In Istvan Csicsery-Ronay’s The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction, he states works of science fiction “may be credible projections of present trends or fantastic images of imagined impossibilities. Or an amalgam of both.”

Q: Do you enjoy science fiction that is more a reflection of where today’s society could be headed in the near future, or science fiction that reflects a far, far future, and why? What are some recent works you’ve enjoyed?

The participants are S. C. Flynn, Michael R. Underwood, Laura Anne Gilman, Andrea Phillips, K. C. Alexander, and Malka Older.

(3) CAT RAMBO AUTHOR NEWSLETTER. Cat Rambo sent a link to her newsletter:

Usually I don’t make my newsletter public, but I did so today so people can see a sampling what it’s like: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=5c1e6d30440f85da8e0ac39d3&id=5befcbc8ca

One of the news items is about — The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers.

On October 1, Rachel Swirsky and Juliette Wade will launch their classes in the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. The following week I’ll be announcing four single session workshops for October-December: the long-promised space opera class with Ann Leckie, live classes with Swirsky and Wade, and one solo workshop.

(4) WHO REVIEWS MOST BOOKS BY POC? James Davis Nicoll is not one to hold a grudge. He’ll tell you so – read “A challenge for Rising Shadows, Foundation, SFS, Analog, Asimov’s, Vector, F&SF, SFX, and Locus”

Nobody who made Strange Horizons’ annual count—still not holding a grudge—has reviewed as many books by POC as I have.

Nicoll is speaking of Strange Horizons’ “The 2015 SF Count”. The editors there explain:

Welcome to the sixth Strange Horizons “SF count” of representation in SF reviewing. The goal of the count is straightforward: for the last calendar year, for a range of SF review venues, to calculate the gender and race balance of books reviewed, and of reviewers.

Despite being just about the most prolific reviewer in the field, a review-writing dynamo, Nicoll is not included in the Strange Horizons survey. Maybe if he pretended  to be a magazine?

(5) FUNDRAISER. Family members of the Yosts have started a GoFundMe page to benefit the two girls, ages 6 and 8, who survived the murders reported here the other day.

I am a family member of the Yost Family and even typing these words out now still doesnt make it real.  The unimaginable as happened to two little innocent girls who are now left with out parents to raise them.  Our hearts are completely broken and will miss them every single day that passes.  We will remember the good times we had and remind these two beautiful girls of how much they were loved by their parents.  The girls are 6 and 8 and will need all the help they can get in this extremely tragic event.

Every donation received will be to help for future care of these children.

Our family sends our deepest gratitude for any help.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.  We truly appreciate all of your help and kind words while our family mourns the loss of two beloved family members.

(6) GOLDEN DUCK. Still catching up with awards announced in August.

2016 Golden Duck Awards

The 2016 Golden Duck Awards were announced by Doug Drummond and Helen Gbala at MidAmeriCon II on August 18.

  • Picture Book Interstellar Cinderella, by Deborah Underwoon (author) and Meg Hunt (illustrator) (Chronicle)
  • Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grade Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sacher (Delacorte)
  • Hal Clement Award for Young Adult Armada, by Ernest Cline (Crown)

(7) KANSAS CITY BBQ. Scott Edelman and David Levine sat down for barbecue while attending the Worldcon, and that culinary inspiration led to Episode 19 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

daviddlevineeatingthefantastic1-768x768

We talked about the things being a science fiction fan for so long taught him about being a professional science fiction writer, what it was like contributing to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards universe after having read the series since Day One, how pretending to live on Mars for two weeks helped him write his newly published novel Arabella of Mars, and much more.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 30, 1988 Elvira, Mistress of the Dark premieres in theaters.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 30, 1924 — Truman Capote.

And what, you may ask, is his connection to sf/f?

After a rejection notice from the pulp magazine Weird Tales, Ray Bradbury sent his short story “Homecoming” to Mademoiselle Magazine. There it was spotted by a young editorial assistant named Truman Capote, who rescued the manuscript from the slush pile and helped get it published in the magazine. “Homecoming” won a place in The O. Henry Prize Stories of 1947.  This was the first publication of a Ray Bradbury story in the mainstream.

(10) FAN FUND OF NEW ZEALAND. The FFANZ administrators have announced that Lynelle Howell is running to be the fund’s delegate to Continuum 13, in Melbourne, 2017:

The Fan Fund for Australia and New Zealand was created to strengthen the ties between Australian and New Zealand fandom.  FFANZ assists fans with travel to the Natcon of the other nation, and assists with as many of the attendant costs of travel as practical, as well as facilitating connections between fans.

This year’s FFANZ race is a westward bound one, facilitating travel by a New Zealand fan to the 56th Australian Speculative Fiction National Convention, Continuum XIII – Triskaidekaphilia, to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 9th-12th June, 2017. It is expected that after the trip the winner takes over as administrator of the fund, engages in fundraising for the fund, and that they promote links between the two fandoms via a trip report or other means.

Click the link above for the candidate’s platform, and her nominators’ statements.

(11) FREAKY FRIDAY MUSICAL. The Washington Post’s Jane Horwitz writes about the Disney-backed Freaky Friday musical, opening at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia this weekend, including how the show is simultaneously based on the Mary Rodgers novel, the first Disney movie, the second Disney movie and the 1995 TV movie and how stars Emma Bunton and Heidi Blickenstaff really like working together.

(12) WHAT DIDN’T MAKE IT TO THE PAGE. Some things are better left untold.

(13) HIDEOUS TO BEHOLD. The Good Show Sir blog promises to post “Only the worst Sci-Fi/Fantasy book covers. The amazing thing is, they never run out!

There are many pieces of cover art that are beautiful to behold. Yet, there are others which exhibit a rarer, odd form of beauty. We think that such conflicts of focal points, lettering choices, false perspectives, anatomical befuddlement, ridiculous transport vehicles, oversized and frankly unusable monster-hunting weaponry, clothing choices that would get you killed walking down the street let alone hiking a through a frozen wasteland, clichéd cat-people, and downright bad art deserve their own special form of tribute.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

The Hammer and the Horn

I think they’re living up to their promise….!

[Thanks to JJ, Scott Edelman, Michael J. Walsh, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, James Davis Nicoll, DMS, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 7/18/16 Dead Sea Pixel Scrolls

(1) EYEING EARTHSEA. Ursula K. Le Guin talks about working with Charles Vess, illustrator of The Big Book of Earthsea, in a post for Book View Café.

…So, this is how it’s been going:

Charles begins the conversation, emailing me occasonally with questions, remarks, while reading the books. I answer as usefully as I can. Also, we chat. I find out that he has sailed all around Scotland. He tells me about Neil Gunn’s novel The Silver Darlings, which I read with vast pleasure. I don’t know what I tell him, but slowly and at easy intervals a friendship is being established.

Suddenly Charles sends me a sketch of a dragon.

It is an excellent dragon. But it isn’t an Earthsea dragon.

Why?

Well . . . an Earthsea dragon wouldn’t have this, see? but it would have that . . . And the tail isn’t exactly right, and about those bristly things —

So I send Charles an email full of whines and niggles and what-if-you-trieds-such-and-suches. I realize how inadequate are my attempts to describe in words the fierce and beautiful being I see so clearly.

Brief pause.

The dragon reappears. Now it looks more like an Earthsea dragon….

(2) QUINN KICKSTARTER REACHES TARGET. Jameson Quinn’s YouCaring appeal today passed the $1,300 goal. I, for one, am glad to see that news.

(3) YA HORROR. “And Now for Something Completely Different: Adding Humor to Your Horror”: Amanda Bressler tells YA writers how, at the Horror Writers Association blog.

With the popularity of dark comedies, it should be no surprise that horror and humor can be a compelling mix. However, when it comes to young adult books, few succeed at the balance that keeps a funny horror book from losing its edge or appearing to try too hard. Here are a few humorous elements used in YA horror to enhance the story, characters, or setting without sacrificing their horror-ness.

(4) EARLY HINT OF ELVEN. Soon to be available in print again: “70-year-old Tolkien poem reveals early ‘Lord of the Rings’ character”.

A poem by J.R.R. Tolkien that’s been out of print since the year World War II ended will be published this fall for the first time in 70 years, the Guardian reports.

And even if you were around in 1945, you likely didn’t see the poem unless you were a dedicated reader of literary journal The Welsh Review. That’s where “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” (Breton for “lord and lady”) was published, based on a work Tolkien had started around 1930.

Why should modern readers care? The poem suggests an early version of elf queen Galadriel from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion.” The poem tells of a couple that cannot have children until visiting a witch known as the Corrigan, who grants them twins, but later demands a price be paid for her assistance.

(5) GOBBLE GOBBLE. New Scientist calls it “Einstein’s clock: The doomed black hole to set your watch by”.

OJ 287’s situation is a window into what must have happened in galaxies all over the universe. Galaxies grow by eating their own kind, and almost all of them come with a supermassive black hole at the centre.

Once two galaxies merge, their black holes – now forced to live in one new mega-galaxy – will either banish their rival with a gravitational kick that flings their opponent out of the galaxy, or eventually merge into an even bigger black hole.

In OJ 287, the smaller black hole is en route to becoming a snack for the larger one. The larger one is also growing from a surrounding disc of gas and dust, the material from which slowly swirls down the drain. Each time the smaller black hole completes an orbit, it comes crashing through this disc at supersonic speeds.

That violent impact blows bubbles of hot gas that expand, thin out, and then unleash a flood of ultraviolet radiation – releasing as much energy as 20,000 supernova explosions in the same spot. You could stand 36 light years away and tan faster than you would from the sun on Earth.

Even with all this thrashing, the smaller black hole has no chance of escape.  Energy leaches away from the binary orbit, bringing the pair closer together and making each cycle around the behemoth a little shorter than the last.

Although the outbursts may be impressive, the black holes’ orbital dance emits tens of thousands of times more energy as undulations in space time called gravitational waves.

Last year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US offered a preview of the endgame of OJ 287 in miniature. Twice in 2015, LIGO heard gravitational waves from the final orbits of black-hole pairs in which each black hole was a few dozen times the size of the sun, and then the reverberations of the single one left behind.

(6) SFWA CHAT HOUR. In SFWA Chat Hour Episode 4: Special Pokémon Go Edition, SFWA board and staff members Kate Baker, Oz Drummond, M.C.A. Hogarth, Cat Rambo, and Bud Sparhawk as they discuss the latest doings and news of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) as well as F&SF news, recent reads, Readercon, Westercon, and more.

(7) FLASH FICTION. Cat Rambo says her “Gods and Magicians” is a free read “brought to you by my awesome Patreon backers, who get bonuses like versions of new books, peeks at story drafts, and sundry other offerings. If backing me’s not in your budget, you can still sign up for my newsletter and get news of posts, classes, and publications as they appear.”

This is a piece of flash fiction written last year – I just got around to going through the notebook it was in lately and transcribing the fictional bits. This didn’t take too much cleaning up. For context, think of the hills of southern California, and a writing retreat with no other human beings around, and thinking a great deal about fantasy and epic fantasy at the time.

(8) LIVE CLASSES. Rambo also reminds writers that July is the last month in 2016 that she’ll be offering her live classes (aside from one special one that’s still in the works). Get full details at her site.

I’ll start doing the live ones again in 2017, but I’m taking the rest of the year to focus on the on demand school (http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/on-demand-classes/), which will adding classes by Juliette Wade and Rachel Swirsky in the next couple of months.

(9) FREE CHICON 7 PROGRAM BOOKS. Steven H Silver announced: “I’m about to recycle several boxes of Chicon 7 Program Books.  If anyone is interested in adding a copy of the book to their collection, I’d be happy to send them one (for the cost of postage). People should get in touch with me at shsilver@sfsite.com, but I need to hear from them before the end of the month.”

(10) DETAILS, DETAILS. In 1939, sneak preview of The Wizard of Oz, producers debated about removing one of the songs because it seemed to slow things down. The song: “Over the Rainbow.”

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

However, according to writer/director James Cameron, most people at that time tried to convince him not to make the movie.

After all, they reasoned, any positive elements of the film would be attributed to “Alien” director Ridley Scott, and all the negative parts would be viewed as Cameron’s fault.

“I said, ‘Yeah, but I really want to do it. It’ll be cool,'” he said in an interview. “It was like this ridiculous, stupid thing. It wasn’t strategic at all, but I knew it would be cool.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born July 18, 1921 – John Glenn. Here’s a photo from 2012.

(13) GROUNDWORK FOR PREDICTION. Brandon Kempner is back on the job at Chaos Horizon, “Updating the 2016 Awards Meta List”.

A lot of other SFF nominations and awards have been handed out in the past few weeks. These are good indication of who will win the eventual Hugo—every award nomination raises visibility, and the awards that using votes are often good predictors of who will win the Hugo. Lastly, the full range of SFF awards gives us a better sense of what the “major” books of the year than the Hugo or Nebula alone. Since each award is idiosyncratic, a book that emerges across all 14 is doing something right.

Here’s the top of the list, and the full list is linked here. Total number of nominations is on the far left….

(14) VANCE FAN. Dave Freer tells what he admires about Jack Vance, and tries to emulate in his own writing, in “Out of Chocolate Error” for Mad Genius Club. Freer, while straightforward as ever about his worldview, makes an unexpected acknowledgement that another view could be embodied in a good story. Under these conditions —

There are at least four ‘meanings’ and stories that I’ve spotted in this particular book. I’m probably missing a few. Because I wanted to write like this myself, I’ve tried hard to pick up the techniques. I think the first key is that there must be a very strong and clear plot-line. You’re asking it to balance a lot of subtle and quite possibly overpowering elements. The second of course is that your characters cannot be mere PC-token stereotypes. Yes, of course you can have a black lesbian hero, or whatever (it actually doesn’t matter)– but if that stereotype is in the face of the reader rather than the character themselves, that becomes a compound, rather than the portmanteau. The third is that you cannot preach, or tell, your reader your ‘message’. Not ever. You can show it, you can let them derive it. If they fail to: well they still got a good story. And finally – if your audience leaves your book saying ‘that was about feminism… you, as a writer, are a failure, at least at writing entertainment or portmanteau books. There is a market for message, but like the market for sermons: it is small, and largely the converted. If they finish with a smile: you’ve done well. If they leave your book with a smile thinking: “yeah, true… I hadn’t thought of it like that. Look at (someone the reader knows). I could see them in that character (and the character happens to be a woman who is as capable as her male compatriots) then, my writer friend, you are a talent, and I wish I was more like you… Out of chocolate error…

(15) GOTCHA AGAIN. Chuck Tingle announces his retirement.

(16) HE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE. Rue Morgue reports Guillermo del Toro told Fantasia ’16 attendees that he’s retiring from producing and will stick to directing from now on.

(17) GRAPHIC STORY SLATE. Doris V. Sutherland discusses the impact of the slate on The Best Graphic Story Hugo nominees in “Comics and Controversy at the 2016 Hugo Awards” for Women Write About Comics.

After a reasonably strong set of graphic novels, the Best Graphic Story category starts to go downhill when we arrive at the webcomics. When Vox Day posted his provisional choices for the category, the list consisted entirely of online strips: Katie Tiedrich’s Awkward Zombie, Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrig Court, Kukuruyo’s Gamergate Life, Aaron Williams’ Full Frontal Nerdity, and Grey Carter and Cory Rydell’s Erin Dies Alone.

Comprising strip after strip of anti-SJW caricatures, Gamergate Life obviously fits Day’s ideology; I have also heard it suggested that he chose Erin Dies Alone as a dig at Alexandra Erin, who wrote a short e-book spoofing him. Beyond this, it is hard to discern the exact criteria behind his choices. One of the comics, Gunnerkrig Court, proved controversial within Day’s comments section: “Gunnerkrigg Court recently gave us not one, but two big, fat, awful, in-your-face gay/lesbian subplots (involving the main characters no less!) and so I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it anywhere these days,” wrote one poster.

The final Rabid Puppies slate—and, consequently, the final ballot—included only two of the above strips: Full Frontal Nerdity and Erin Dies Alone.

(18) DEEP SPACE PROBE. Will a “broken umbrella” speed space exploration?

…This sounds impressive until you remember that Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, is fitted with early ’70s scientific instruments, cameras and sensors and has been voyaging for almost 40 years.

Before mankind attempts to send another probe out towards interstellar space, engineers hope to figure out a way to get there a lot faster and, ideally, within their working lifetime.

There are several options on the table. Some favour solar sails – giant mirrored sheets pushed along by the force of photons from the Sun. Others – including Stephen Hawking – suggest flying these sails on tightly focused beams of photons generated by lasers fired from Earth or satellites in orbit.

Nasa engineer Bruce Wiegmann, however, is investigating the possibility of flying to the stars using a propulsion system that resembles a giant broken umbrella or wiry jellyfish. The concept is known as electric, or e-sail, propulsion and consists of a space probe positioned at the centre of a fan of metal wires….

(19) HORNBLOWERS. Did John Williams tell these kids to get off his lawn? Watch and find out.

This is what happened when 2 guys with horns made a spontaneous decision to set up and play the Star Wars theme in front of John Williams’ house on 7/11/2016!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Chip Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, and Xtifr for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]