Pixel Scroll 11/17/19 Maybe Quality Time With the Cats Would Be Better

(1) XKCD ANSWERS. A New York Times interviewer learned that “Randall Munroe Loves Outdated Views of the Future”.

Your web comic XKCD counts a lot of science fiction fans among its audience. Are you a science fiction fan yourself?

I grew up reading Asimov short stories, and I’ve read some miscellaneous stuff over the years, but I never feel like I’ve read more than a tiny fraction of what’s out there. I honestly don’t read all that many books, at least not compared to a lot of writers I know, and that extends to sci-fi too. But I do occasionally read high-concept/hard sci-fi — the kind of book where something big and physics-y is threatening to destroy the planet and/or universe. I’m also a total sucker for time travel stories.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

Whatever was lying around my house or our town library. I read lots of newspaper comic collections, like “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side,” and an awful lot of “Star Wars” novels…

(2) TAKEI Q&A. Rosanna Greenstreet, in “George Takei: ‘My dream dinner party? My colleagues from Star Trek, with one exception’”, in the Guardian, doesn’t have George Takei name the exception, but you learn his favorite show tunes.

What would your superpower be?
Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, said that the strength of the Starship Enterprise was its diverse team working in concert. I would like to have the superpower to bring that kind of society to ours today.

(3) NAMES TO CONJURE WITH. “13 ‘Avengers: Endgame’ actors submitted for Oscars contention” — Disney submitted 13 actors/actresses from Endgame to the Oscars… All in the supporting categories.

Even Martin Scorsese would have to admit that Avengers: Endgame was one of the biggest cinematic achievements of 2019. 

…It looks as though Disney are going to give Avengers: Endgame  a big Oscar push, too, as it has just been revealed that the studio aren’t only aiming for a Best Picture nomination but they’ve also submitted 13 actors in the the Best Supporting categories, too.

That means that Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Josh Brolin, Paul Rudd, and Don Cheadle will be hoping for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, while Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, and Brie Larson will be aiming for the Best Supporting Actress category.

(4) HEAR IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS. After working on it for six years, Gene Weingarten has a book coming out, and has been sharing all kinds of advice with readers of the Washington Post Magazine.

2. As you are bringing the book in for a landing, resist the urge to assemble your 23 chapters into one long document, because that will make it possible to idly search for words and phrases that you think you might overuse. And that is when you will discover just what a shocking, tedious hack you are. For instance, the number of times I had written “slap-to-the-forehead revelation” (five) was a slap-to-the-forehead revelation to me. Not in a good way.

… So things were going swell, right up until something happened. I think you might suspect what it is.

Man on phone, from TV company: Hi, I’m a lawyer, and …

Me: GO AWAY. (Hangs up.)

Okay, I didn’t really hang up. We kept talking but my nerve endings were atingle. It turned out that the company required me to sign a contract, which they assured me would be routine, simple and no problem whatsoever. It turned out to be seven single-spaced pages. It required me to agree to surrender my work to the company “in perpetuity,” which, from context, as near as I could tell, includes all future time up to and including the eventual Heat Death of the Universe. 

(5) MOUSE AUCTION. “Disneyland ‘Tiki’ birds among vast theme park auction” – Reuters has the story.

The History of Disneyland and Walt Disney World auction will be held in Los Angeles over two days starting on Dec. 7.

There will also be familiar characters up for sale, including animatronic birds from the Enchanted Tiki Room, a bronze statue of Mickey Mouse, and an “It’s a Small World” animatronic doll.

The animatronic birds are estimated to sell between $80,000 and $100,000, while the doll is estimated to sell for between $15,000 and $20,000.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 17, 1978 — The Star Wars Holiday Special premiered on CBS. Directed by Steve Binder, it was the first Star Wars spin-off film, set between the events of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back. On Rotten Tomatoes, it currently has a rating of nineteen percent. 
  • November 17, 2001 Justice League began on the Cartoon Network. It would under this name and and Justice League Unlimited last five seasons. Ninety one episodes would be produced a cross the two series. Among the voice actors would Kevin Conroy, George Newbern and Susan Eisenberg. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 17, 1925 Rock Hudson. Best known genre role was as Col. John Wilder in The Martian Chronicles series. He also played President Thomas McKenna in the World War III miniseries which you may or may may not consider SF. That’s it.   (Died 1985.)
  • Born November 17, 1956 Rebecca Moesta Anderson, 63. Wife of Kevin James Anderson with whom she collaborates more often than not. They’ve done dozens of Star Wars novels including the Young Jedi Knights series, and even one in the Buffyverse. 
  • Born November 17, 1965 Sophie Marceau, 53. Elektra King In The World Is Not Enough, the 19th Bond Film. Also Eloïse d’Artagnan in Revenge of the Musketeers, Hippolyta in that version of A Midsummer Night’s DreamandLisa / Belphegor in Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre. She’s also one of the voice actors in Nature is Speaking, a Gaian series. 
  • Born November 17, 1958 Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, 61. She had a recurring role on Grimm, playing Kelly Burkhardt, mother of Nick Burkhardt. And she had a leading role in Limitless as FBI Special Agent in Charge Nasreen ”Naz” Pouran. In the Marvel Universe, she played Marion James, CIA Deputy Director on Marvel’s The Punisher
  • Born November 17, 1966 Ed Brubaker, 53. Comic book writer and artist. Sandman Presents: Dead Boy Detectives I’d consider his first genre work. Later work for DC and Marvel included The Authority, Batman, Captain America, Daredevil, Catwoman and the Uncanny X-Men. If I may single out but one series, it’d be the one he did with writer Greg Rucka which was the Gotham Central series. It’s Gotham largely without Batman but with the villains so GPD has to deal with them by themselves. Grim and well done. In 2016, he joined the writing staff for the Westworld series where he co-wrote the episode “Dissonance Theory” with Jonathan Nolan.
  • Born November 17, 1978 Tom Ellis, 41. Currently playing Lucifer Morningstar in the rather excellent Lucifer series  created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg from The Sandman series. It’s quite good. Also had roles in Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, Messiah, The Strain and Merlin
  • Born November 17, 1983 Christopher Paolini, 36. He is the author of the Inheritance Cycle, which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. In December of last year, The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm, the first book in a series called Tales of Alagaësia, was published. A film version of the first novel came out in 2006.

(8) NO SMOKING PLEASE. Speaking of the burning issues of the day — “John Lewis and Waitrose unite for 2019 Christmas ad – the fiery fairytale of Excitable Edgar”.

In a first for the two ‘& Partners’ brands, John Lewis and Waitrose have combined their festive creative efforts and released a joint Christmas ad, opting for a fairytale spot that – true to form – features a loveable mascot in Edgar the excitable dragon.

The heartwarming story of a little girl, Ava, and her friendship with an excitable young dragon opens ‘far, far, away’ in a quaint, snow-engulfed town as it prepares for Christmas.

Edgar – a toddler-sized, winged and unequally horned dragon – struggles to control his flame breathing. And while he loves Christmas, unfortunately for the town, his over-eagerness often gets the better of him.

(9) AUTHOR READINGS IN ORANGE. The Speculative Collective reading series will convene in Orange, CA on January 23, 2020.

The SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE Winter Salon will celebrate steampunk, weird westerns, and mad science fiction with readings and conversation with local authors Eddie Louise, Michelle E. Lowe, and Jonathan Fesmire. The authors will have books to sign and sell, and time will be set aside to chat and network with like-minded fans of science fiction, fantasy, and all otherworldly genres. Costumes and cosplay welcome. Also, we’ll be discussing the new critique group and writing contest.

SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE is an author reading series devoted to science fiction, fantasy, and all otherworldly genres.

(10) WHO NEEDS IT? The LA Review of Books presents Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1963 essay “Who Needs Literature?” translated from Yiddish for the first time by David Stromberg.

…As for literary prose, we often feel like it’s doing well. Books of prose are still bought in hundreds of thousands of copies. But when we look a little deeper into the matter, we see that what we nowadays call “literary fiction” is often far from literary fiction. Works are often sold under the label “novel” that are in fact three-fourths or a 100 percent journalism.

At no other time has the boundary between journalism and literature been so thin and so blurred as in ours. It often seems to me that modern critics suffer from amnesia. They’ve forgotten the elementary rules of the game called literature. It’s no feat to score grand victories in a chess game if, right from the start, one player gets more pieces than another, or if the rules of the game change with each round.

(11) AMAZING. Slashfilm says fans will have one more shot at seeing this actor: “Robert Forster’s Final Performance Will Be in ‘Amazing Stories’ for AppleTV+; Here’s What the Episode is About”

Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) passed away two weeks ago, but it turns out he completed one final performance before his death that will make it to the screen. Forster will appear in an episode of Amazing Stories, the resurrected anthology series that will debut on AppleTV+. 

When Forster died on October 11, myself and many of his fans thought the last time we’d see him on screen would be in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, the Netflix film which debuted the same day as his death. But according to Deadline, he had also completed work on an episode of Amazing Stories, and the episode will be dedicated to the late actor.

“Dynoman and The Volt,” the relevant episode, is “about an awkward tween boy and his grandpa (Forster) who wrestle with feeling powerless. When a superhero ring Grandpa ordered out of the back of a comic book arrives 50 years late, they discover it has the power to turn them into actual superheroes.” That’s a really fun premise for an episode of television, and in his older age, Forster was so great at playing characters who felt like they were sturdy enough to take what the world threw at them, but also had a tinge of sadness behind the eyes. I eagerly await the opportunity to experience one final performance from him, even if I am exhausted of the conversation around superhero-related media that still seems to be dominating every waking moment in our culture right now.

(12) BANGERS AND MASHUPS. The Wrap looks back: “‘The Big Bang Theory’: 23 Most Memorable Guest Stars, From Stephen Hawking to Carrie Fisher”, a 2018 post.

Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones: James Earl Jones told IGN that amazingly, before this Season 7 “Big Bang” cameo, he and Carrie Fisher had never met, with Jones always doing his scenes as Darth Vader inside a sound booth. The segment features Jones and Sheldon pranking Fisher, but even funnier is their story that when they finally met, Fisher greeted Jones as “Dad!” 

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

Pixel Scroll 11/3/19 When You’re At The Bottom Of A Pixel, It’s Time To Put Down The Scroll

(1) FAN NONPROFIT CALLS FOR SUPPORT. Con-or-Bust, the organization that helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions, has put out a call for workers to keep it going. Their Twitter thread about what’s needed starts here.

(2) FRESH MONSTERS. “Creepy Stories (and More) from Victor LaValle and Benjamin Percy” on Lit Hub links to an episode of the Lit Hub podcast Fiction/NonFiction, which features interviews with LaValle and Percy and each author reading three excerpts from their fiction.

LaValle explains how devices like monsters make it possible to write about how something feels, rather than merely what happened; Percy discusses doppelgängers, and asks whether politically, the call is coming from inside the house.

(3) COMPLETING THE ARC. John Scalzi had a good time at the movies — “Terminator: Dark Fate Review” on Whatever.

…As I walked out of the film last night I posted a five word recommendation of this film: “It gets Sarah Connor right.” This actually matters because despite the name of films, the “Terminator” films are about Sarah Connor, and the arc of her life dealing with the terrible fate that life has dealt her: Victim to fighter to avenger. Sarah Connor is realistically (with the context of these films) damaged by this fate of hers; particularly in this film she’s a PTSD wreck. And, well, she would be, wouldn’t she. It’s important that the Terminator films show her this way. It’s for better or worse the grounding the films need to make every other absurd thing that happens in them function on the level of plausibility.

(4) NOT SO BLITHE SPIRIT. In “Like It or Not, Damon Lindelof Made His Own Watchmen”, Vulture’s Abraham Reisman gets showrunner Damon Lindelof to answer several ethical questions about Watchmen, including the morality of how he is making the series without Allan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’s permission because the rights were supposed to revert to them if the comic books were out of print, and they’ve never gone out of print, and how Robert Redford is “in the series” as the perpetual president but the actual Robert Redford was neither approached or asked because he had retired before the series started production.

Does it keep you up at night? Or have you made your peace with it?
It wakes me up at night, but much less so now that it’s done. I’m about to say something very ridiculous, but in all sincerity, I was absolutely convinced that there was a magical curse placed upon me by Alan [Moore]. I’m actually feeling the psychological effects of a curse, and I’m okay with it. It’s fair that he has placed a curse on me. The basis for this, my twisted logic, was that I heard that he had placed a curse on Zack [Snyder]’s [Watchmen] movie. There is some fundamental degree of hubris and narcissism in saying he even took the time to curse me. But I became increasingly convinced that it had, in fact, happened. So I was like, “Well, at least I’m completely and totally miserable the entire time.” I should be!

(5) ALL ABOARD PULLMAN. The new BBC/HBO His Dark Materials mini-series starts Monday, November 4. The credits alone are enough to leave Io9’s Julie Muncy bowled over: “The Opening Title Sequence for His Dark Materials Is Stunningly Good”.

His Dark Materials is a sweeping fantasy epic, and it deserves a title sequence to match. Fortunately, thanks to HBO and the BBC, it’s got one. Today, BBC released the opening for the upcoming His Dark Materials TV show, and it absolutely lives up to the pedigree of the series. If you’re looking for something to build hype, this is it. I’m especially partial to the graphics at the end. Like, wow.

(6) HIS BARK MATERIALS. The previous item also reminded Daniel Dern of a photo he shot at Arisia 2016 of an “Armored polar bear” from The Golden Compass.

DanielDern-Arisia2016-DSC08657-DogCosplay

(7) NANOWRIMO AT 20. The New York Times celebrates the anniversary: “Ready. Set. Write a Book.” Article includes tips and tools.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the National Novel Writing Month project, which challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel in November. NaNoWriMo, as it is known, is a nonprofit that supports creative writing and education. Those who sign up for the group’s free annual event get community support, progress tracking and motivational advice to complete a book draft.

If you think you have a novel in you, here is a quick guide to digital tools to help you along your way.

(And if the thought of cranking out an average of 1,667 words a day in the NaNoWriMo challenge doesn’t fit in with your schedule or you need more prep time — don’t despair. You could write it at your own pace.)

(8) SLADE OBIT. Bernard Slade, who co-created The Flying Nun and wrote 17 episodes of Bewitched, has died at the age of 89 reports the New York Times. Outside of genre his successes were creating the 1970s television series The Partridge Family, and the Broadway play “Same Time, Next Year.”

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 3, 1954 — In Japan, Godzilla (Gojira) premiered. This is the very first film in the Godzilla franchise.  It was written by Honda, Takeo Murata, and Shigeru Kayama, and was produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya.  It enjoys a 89% rating at Rotten Tomatoes among viewers and an even more impressive 93% among critics. It made almost nothing on its first run here on the States. 

And here is a good place to link to Funny or Die’s Rambo/Godzilla mashup (released in June).

  • November 3, 1967 — The Trek episode of “I, Mudd” first aired. Starring Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd with Richard Tatro as  Norman,  Alyce Andrece as Alice #1 through #250, Rhae Andrece as Alice 251 through 500 and, lest we forget, Kay Elliot as Stella Mudd. Written by Stephen Kandel as based on a story by Gene Roddenberry.  

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 3, 1921 Charles Bronson. He didn’t do he a lot of genre acting but I’ve got him in One Step Beyond as Yank Dawson in “The Last Round” and he’s in The Twilight Zone in “Two” as The Man opposite Elizabeth Montgomery as The Women. He was also in Master of The World which is  based on the Verne novels Robur the Conqueror and its sequel Master of the World. (Died 2003.)
  • Born November 3, 1932 Monica Vitti, 87. She’s best remembered in the English language movie going world for her performance as the lead agent in Modesty Blaise. It‘s rather loosely based upon the Modesty Blaise strip by Peter O’Donnell, who co-wrote the original story upon which Evan Jones based his screenplay. 
  • Born November 3, 1932 Jack Harness. Usually I’d give a précis of his fan bio based Fancyclopedia 3 and sources. Oh, this time you really need to go read the Fancyclopedia 3 write-up as the writer has detailed a true character among characters: Jack Harness (Died 2001.)
  • Born November 3, 1933 Aneta Corsaut. If you saw The Blob, the original Fifties version, she was Jane Martin. Her only other genre film work was as an uncredited tourist mother in Blazing Saddles. And unless I’m mistaken, she had no other genre series work at all though she was popular in Westerns. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 3, 1933 Jeremy Brett. Still my favorite Holmes of all time. He played him in four Granada TV series from 1984 to 1994 in a total of 41 episodes. One source said he was cast as Bond at one point, but turned the part down, feeling that playing 007 would harm his career. Lazenby was cast instead. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 3, 1933 Ken Berry. He’s making the Birthday Honors for Disney’s The Cat from Outer Space in which he was Dr. Frank Wilson. No, the cat wasn’t Goose. And he played seven different roles on the original Fantasy Island which well may be a record. Oh, he like pretty much everyone else was a guest performer on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. I know it’s not genre, I just find that amusing. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 3, 1952 Eileen Wilks, 67. Her principal genre series is the World of Lupi, a FBI procedural intertwined with shapeshifters, dragons and the multiverse. Highly entertaining, sometimes considered romance novels though I don’t consider them so. The audiobooks are amazing as well! 
  • Born November 3, 1953 Kate Capshaw, 66. Best known as Willie Scott in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which I’ll confess I’ve watched but a few times unlike the first film which I’ve watched way too much), and she was in Dreamscape as well. She retired from acting several decades ago.
  • Born November 3, 1953 Adam Ant, 66. He actually has a decent genre acting history having been on the Eighties Amazing Stories, in Out of Time (a time travel film), Love Bites (oh guess), Tales from The Crypt, voiced a role on Batman: The Animated Series and Cyber Bandits. Oh and voicing Sri Charge-A-Lot on The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries!
  • Born November 3, 1956 Kevin Murphy, 63. Best known as the voice and puppeteer of Tom Servo for nine years on the Mystery Science Theater 3000. He was also the writer for the show for eleven years. I’m surprised the series was never nominated for a Hugo in the Long Form or Shot Form. Does it not qualify?
  • Born November 3, 1963 Brian Henson, 55. Can we all agree that The Happytime Murders should never have been done? Thought so. Wash it out of your consciousness with Muppet Treasure Island or perhaps The Muppet Christmas Carol. If you want something darker, he was a puppeteer on The Witches, and the chief puppeteer on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And he voices Hoggle in Labyrinth.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) CARTOON-LIKE SCULPTURE. This towering figure sits in front of a new high-rise on the waterfront in Greenpoint, NYC.

(13) KEEPING AHEAD. Steven James advises authors “How to Write Crime Fiction Set in the Near Future” at CrimeReads.

2) Trust your reader’s imagination.

In my latest novel, Synapse, I refer to slates, which are basically the tablets of the future. Who knows what phones thirty years from now or even five years from now will be able to do? Don’t make the smartphones of the future too dumb. If you can imagine it, there’s probably some software engineer somewhere out there who’s thought of the same thing.

So, when it comes to technology don’t try to get so specific that the technology will be outdated by the time the book comes out.

Here’s a prime example: years ago when I was writing my book The Rook, I thought it would be cool if someone could look up a song online just by humming it and search using sound-based search algorithms rather than just text-based ones. Cutting-edge, right? Well, as I was writing the manuscript, that technology was released. If I’d included it in my book as something new or innovative, readers would have shaken their heads: “They’ve been able to do that forever.” It’s important to keep an eye on current trends and technological breakthroughs.

(14) FANTASTIC ART. CBS’ Sunday Morning paid a visit to “Art collective Meow Wolf”.

What is Meow Wolf? An art collective founded in Santa Fe, N.M., whose name came from words picked out of a hat, and which puts on immersive exhibitions that tantalize audiences with vivid visuals and storytelling that is magical, mysterious, or just downright weird. Their latest exhibit, called “The House of Eternal Return,” is contained in a former bowling alley purchased by one of the group’s benefactors, “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin. Conor Knighton reports.

(15) NEXT WEB. Looper sounds the alert: “Get ready for a Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel”.

The news drop came after several days of teasing and a pair of cryptic tweets posted to the official Twitter account for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. On October 27, the account posted a GIF of a genetically modified spider silk-gliding down to the streets of New York and creepy-crawling toward the camera — a moment fans will remember from the aesthetically striking film. The post was accompanied by an emoji of a pair of eyes, often used to indicate that secrecy, sneaky behavior, or some kind of deceitful act is taking place. Then, on October 31, the Into the Spider-Verse Twitter page shared a hype-boosting warning: “Something’s up. Our Spidey sense is tingling. RT if yours is, too.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “How To Power Your House, With xkcd’s Randall Munroe” on YouTube, Randall Munroe offers all sorts of options for powering your house using the amount of space in a typical front yard.

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

Pixel Scroll 9/9/19 How Odd. It Wasn’t Science Fiction At All

(1) COSPLAY ON THE HOOF. Andrew Liptak’s latest Wordplay starts off with a parade — “Reading List: The Cosplayers of Dragon Con”

…For someone familiar with the world of cosplayers and conventions, it’s an overwhelming affair. For those unfamiliar, it’s an alien world; a new, bizarre mashup of everything pop culture. It’s not quite as big — around 85,000 people attended this year — half that of what the San Diego con typically draws. And while its bigger cousins attract plenty of cosplayers, Dragon Con is a mecca for them. Everywhere you turn, you see your typical superheroes: Spider-man is big this year, as are variations of Marvel’s Tony Stark, depressed Thor from Avengers: Endgame, Valkyrie, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, Superman and Superwoman, and of course Batman.

There are plenty of other properties represented in the crowds. Zelda and Link from various Legends of Zelda mingle with Master Chief and his fellow Spartans from the Halo games. Humanized versions of Pokémon march behind characters from Witcher. There are characters from webcomics, Aziraphale and Crowley from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, members of Star Trek’s Starfleet Command, of the Night Watch from Game of Thrones, a long column of Spartans from Frank Miller’s 300, spaceship crew members and soldiers from The Expanse, and members of the 501st and Rebel Legions…

(2) SEE AND HEAR SF HISTORY. Fanac.org has posted a video of Rusty Hevelin interviewing Jack Williamson at MagiCon, the 1992 Worldcon.

MagiCon, the 50th Worldcon, was held in Orlando, Florida in 1992. In this video, Rusty Hevelin interviews author Jack Williamson. Jack talks candidly about his life and career, from his experiences with psychoanalysis to his apprenticeship with (early SF writer) Miles J. Breuer to how he changed with the market over 50 years. WARNING: You have to listen closely as Jack speaks softly, and the interview is very slow till about midway. There’s a lot of “I don’t recall” early on. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with insights into one of the field’s most important early writers.

(3) NOT A DRY SUBJECT. Timothy the Talking Cat inaugurates a new feature at Camestros Felapton: “Timothy Reads: The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin”.

…Of course I immediately dropped the book on discovering it had politics in it. I will not abide politics in my science fiction. Science fiction should be apolitical and concern itself with mighty space empires and their impressive armies colonising new worlds and fighting evil aliens who want to destroy our liberties and steal my guns just like Venezuela and don’t get me started on California.

Anyway, not long after Camestros was shouting “Timothy did you put my book in the toilet!” And he was really angry but it wasn’t me and I don’t know how it got there but he still blamed me even though he didn’t see me do it and whatever happened until innocent until proven guilty? I am most unjustly persecuted….

(4) TV ADAPTATION OF ANDERS BOOK. ScienceFiction.com’s report “Sony Is Bringing Charlie Jane Anders’ ‘The City In The Middle Of The Night’ To The Small Screen” might be a little bit of the news that could not yet be revealed in Carl Slaughter’s recent interview with the author:

Fans of Charlie Jane Anders’ work have something to look forward to as she has struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television to bring ‘The City In The Middle Of The Night’ to the small screen! Sharon Hall (‘The Expanse‘,’Utopia’) is serving as an executive producer and is helping bring the series to life through her Mom de Guerre Productions. Hall’s company has a first-look deal with Sony, and it appears the studios agree that this one is going to be a hit! Nate Miller and Dan Halsted are also slated to be executive producers through Manage-ment who reps Anders.

(5) CREAM OF CONDENSED PANEL. For those who couldn’t make it to her Dublin 2019 panel, Sara L. Uckelman shared the gist of it on the Worldcon’s Facebook page:

Here’s a link to the slides from my talk (the first one in the academic track!) on “Names: Form and Function in Worldbuilding and Conlangs”

And for more background and detail that I didn’t have time to get to in the talk, see these three blog posts:

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 9, 1900 James Hilton. Author of the novel Lost Horizon which was  turned into a film, also called Lost Horizon by director Frank Capra. It is best remembered as the origin of Shangri-La. (Died 1954.)
  • Born September 9, 1915 Richard Webb. Captain Midnight on the Captain Midnight series in the Fifties on CBS. Called Jet Jackson, Flying Commando when it was syndicated. He play Lieutenant Commander Ben Finney in “Court Martial” of Star Trek. And in the Fifties, he was Lane Carson, the lead investigator in The Invisible Monster. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 9, 1922 Pauline Baynes. She was the first illustrator of some of J. R. R. Tolkien’s lesser known works such as Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major and of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. With the help of cartographers from the Bordon military camp in Hampshire, Baynes created a map that Allen & Unwin published as a poster in 1970. Tolkien was generally pleased with it, though he didn’t particularly like her creatures especially her spider. (Died 2008.)
  • Born September 9, 1929 Joseph Wrzos, 90. He edited Amazing Stories and Fantastic under the name Joseph Ross from August 1965 through early 1967. He was responsible for their move to mostly reprints and a bimonthly schedule while the publisher refused to pay authors for the reprints saying he held the rights to them without needing pay additional renumeration and leading to severe conflict with SFWA. With Hannes Bok, he edited in 2012, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration.
  • Born September 9, 1943 Tom Shippey, 76. Largely known as a Tolkien expert, though I see he wrote a scholarly 21-page introduction to Flights of Eagles, a collection of James Blish work, and under the pseudonym of John Holm, he is also the co-author, with Harry Harrison, of The Hammer and the Cross trilogy of alternate history novels. And early on, he did a lot of SF related non-fiction tomes such as Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative (edited with George Slusser). 
  • Born September 9, 1949 Jason Van Hollander, 69. A book designer, illustrator, and occasional author. His stories and collaborations with Darrell Schweitzer earned a World Fantasy Award nomination. It was in the Collection category, for Necromancies and Netherworlds: Uncanny Stories. I’m fairly sure he’s done a lot of work for Cemetery Dance which make sense as he’d fit their house style.
  • Born September 9, 1952 Angela Cartwright, 67. Fondly remembered as Penny Robinson on the original Lost in Space. She, like several of her fellow cast members, made an appearance in the Lost in Space film. She appeared in the Logan’s Run series in “The Collectors” episode as Karen, and in Airwolf as Mrs. Cranovich in the “Eruption” episode. 
  • Born September 9, 1952 Tony Magistrale, 67. There’s a particular type of academic mania you sometimes encounter when a professor dives deep into a genre writer. Here we have such when one encounters Stephen King. Between 1988 and 2011, he wrote ten tomes on King and his work ranging from Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic to The Films of Stephen King: From Carrie to The Mist with I think my favorite being The Dark Descent: Essays Defining Stephen King’s Horrorscape. He’s a poet too with such scintillating titles as “Ode for a Dead Werewolf” and “To Edgar Poe on Father’s Day”.
  • Born September 9, 1954 Jeffrey Combs, 65. Though no doubt his best known genre role was as Weyoun, a Vorta, on Deep Space Nine. However, his genre portfolio is really, really long. it starts with Frightmare, a horror film in the early Eighties and encompasses some forty films, twenty-six series and ten genre games. He’s appeared on Babylon 5, plus three Trek series, Voyager and Enterprise being the other two, the Enterprise appearance being the only time an actor played two distinct roles in the same episode.  He’s played H.P. Lovecraft and Herbert West, a character by that author. Each multiple times. 
  • Born September 9, 1955 Janet Fielding,  64. Tegan Jovanka, companion to the Fifth Doctor. The actress had a rather short performing career starting with the Hammer House of Horror series in 1980 where she was Secretary Mandy on the “Charlie Boy” episode” before landing the the Doctor Who gig through 1984 before her career ending in the early Nineties. She was part of the 2013 50th Anniversary The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
  • Born September 9, 1960 Hugh Grant, 59. He appeared in The Lair of the White Worm as Lord James D’Ampton and in the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E as Mr. Waverly. And he was the Handsome Doctor in Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, the 1999 Doctor Who special made for the Red Nose Day charity telethon. 
  • Born September 9, 1971 Henry Thomas, 48. Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Let’s just say that he’s had a busy if mostly undistinguished post-E.T. acting career, though I will single him out for his rather good work in Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King and The Haunting of Hill House series. He’s playing Doctor Mid-Nite in the forthcoming Stargirl series on the DCU streaming service. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) PINEWOOD’S NEW TENANT. BBC ponders “What does Disney’s Pinewood deal mean for Marvel, Bond and British film?”

Disney is to make more blockbusters at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire after signing a deal to take over most of the complex for at least a decade.

The film and TV giant behind the Star Wars, Marvel and Avatar movies will lease 20 stages plus other facilities.

Pinewood is famously the home of James Bond, not a Disney franchise – throwing 007’s future at the site into question.

The deal comes two months after Netflix announced it had taken a long-term lease at Pinewood’s Shepperton Studios.

…From next year, it will have near-exclusive use of the UK’s most famous studio complex. In fact, it will have the whole site except three TV studios and an underwater stage.

Disney hasn’t commented on the deal. But with studio space at a premium, this gives them the security of a long-term dedicated UK base capable of handling their biggest films.

…Which films will be made there?

Disney won’t confirm, but it will continue to be the home of Star Wars movies, three of which are scheduled for the next seven years.

The company is planning four Avatar sequels, a fifth Indiana Jones film and numerous other live action flicks. Many of those can be expected to come to Pinewood….

(9) A FORMER JAMES SAYS HE’S READY FOR JANE BOND. “Next 007 should be a woman says Bond star Pierce Brosnan” – BBC has the story.

The Goldeneye actor, who played the role in four films, told the Hollywood Reporter he believes it would be “exhilarating” and “exciting” to see a female Bond.

“I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last 40 years,” said the 66-year-old.

“Get out of the way guys and put a woman up there!” he added.

…There have been reports British actress Lashana Lynch will take over Bond’s famous codename after his character leaves MI6 in the new film, but she will not be the next Bond.

(10) SHRINKAGE. “Book Expo attendance is now smaller than some Worldcons,” says Andrew Porter. “I remember when it had 45,000 attendees.” Publishers Weekly reports, “Amid Changes, BookExpo Limits Exhibit Hours to Two Days”.

After experimenting with different time frames for BookExpo, Reed Exhibitions has decided to return to an event that features two days of exhibits preceded by a full day of educational programming.

In a letter sent to industry members, event manager Jenny Martin said that, after analyzing customer feedback, the consensus was that the three-day 2019 show proved “challenging and costly” for many. As a result, BookExpo 2020 will open Wednesday, May 27, with a day dedicated exclusively to educational programming. That day will be followed by two days of exhibits. BookCon will be held immediately after BookExpo, running May 30-31. Exhibitors will once again have the option of exhibiting at both shows, or at just one.

 (11) IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] At Worldcon in Dublin at the Memphis 2023 bid party of all things, I not only ran into the assembled German SMOFdom, but also into Alex Weidemann, a reporter of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s most prestigious newspapers. Though the FAZ is a quality newspaper they are surprisingly genre friendly. Alex Weidemann’s article about WorldCon is now online, though most of it is sadly behind a paywall: “Sie kommen in Frieden”.

(12) WITH MALLARDS TOWARDS 87,000+ The Outline profiles “A Good Place: The fake town where everybody knows your name”.

…Strange, new places do take some getting used to and it might take you a few minutes to get the hang of subreddit r/HaveWeMet’s premise, where users roleplay as longtime neighbors in a non-existent town called “Lower Duck Pond.” The joke’s attracted over 87,000 users since the community started two years ago, making it the fastest-growing open-source fictional town on Earth. While the residents, streets, and buildings are fake, the absurdity, purity, and sense of community for its daily users has become very real.

Reddit user u/Devuluh, who’s really a sophomore computer science major named David (he declined to share his last name), started r/HaveWeMet in early 2017 when he was still in high school. The idea was to create an online space where everyone pretends to know each other….

(13) HIGH & TIGHT OR LOW & AWAY? Tagline: “Get yourself a heat shield, and throw the parcel really hard—backward.” An excerpt from Randall Munroe’s latest book, How To, appeared online at WIRED. Before you click, note that there’s a partial paywall, limiting you to just a few free Wired articles each month. 

Based on the 2001–2018 average, 1 out of every 1.5 billion humans is in space at any given time, most of them on board the International Space Station.

ISS crew members ferry packages down from the station by putting them in the spacecraft carrying crew back to Earth. But if there’s no planned departure for Earth any time soon—or if NASA gets sick of delivering your internet shopping returns—you might have to take matters into your own hands.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/4 Reach For The Pixels: Even If You Miss, You’ll Be Among Scrolls

(1) CONSUMER COMPLAINT. io9’s Germain Lussier reveals, “Rey Is Missing From New Star Wars Monopoly, And This Is Becoming a Real Problem”.

The problems of female characters being under-represented in geek merchandise is real. But when it’s a secondary character like Gamora or Black Widow, at least toy companies have an excuse. When the girl is not just the star of the movie, but of the whole franchise, that’s another story.

That character, of course, is Rey, the main character of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the latest problem has to do with Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens Monopoly. In the game, the four playable characters are Luke Skywalker, Finn, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. No Rey.

(2) REWRITING CULTURE. Laurie Penny’s New Statesman post “What to do when you’re not the hero anymore”, while not about marketing oversights, covers some reasons why they should be taken seriously.

Capitalism is just a story. Religion is just a story. Patriarchy and white supremacy are just stories. They are the great organising myths that define our societies and determine our futures, and I believe – I hope – that a great rewriting is slowly, surely underway. We can only become what we can imagine, and right now our imagination is being stretched in new ways. We’re learning, as a culture, that heroes aren’t always white guys, that life and love and villainy and victory might look a little different depending on who’s telling it. That’s a good thing. It’s not easy – but nobody ever said that changing the world was going to be easy.

I learned that from Harry Potter.

(3) GATES KEEPERS. Bill Gates says “The Best Books I Read in 2015” included Randall Munroe’s bestseller —

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, by Randall Munroe. The brain behind XKCD explains various subjects—from how smartphones work to what the U.S. Constitution says—using only the 1,000 most common words in the English language and blueprint-style diagrams. It is a brilliant concept, because if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t really understand it. Munroe, who worked on robotics at NASA, is an ideal person to take it on. The book is filled with helpful explanations and drawings of everything from a dishwasher to a nuclear power plant. And Munroe’s jokes are laugh-out-loud funny. This is a wonderful guide for curious minds.

(4) PHILISTINE TASTE. Cracked delivers “6 Great Novels that Were Hated in Their Time”. Number one on the list – The Lord of the Rings.

The New Republic described the book and its characters as “anemic, and lacking in fiber” which was apparently a real burn back then in the pre-Cheerios days.

(5) TEA TIME. Ann Leckie talks about “Special Teas”.

I am cleaning and organizing my tea cupboard because SHUT UP I DON’T HAVE A NOVEL TO WRITE YOU HAVE A NOVEL TO WRITE that’s why. Also, it had gotten to be quite a disorganized mess and I wasn’t sure what I still had. (Yes, the cats are up next, just gotta remember where I stowed the dust buster.)

Anyway. I came across a sad reminder of Specialteas.com. They were an online tea seller, and they had an East Frisian Broken Blend that was my go-to super nice and chewy for putting milk in tea, and they had a lovely, very grapefruity earl grey.

(6) SHE BLINKED. A video of Ursula K. Le Guin celebrating Christmas Eve at the Farm.

(7) OPEN FOR SUBMISSONS. Apex Magazine has reopened for short fiction submissions. Poetry submissions will remained closed at this time. Apex Magazine’s submission guidelines and the link to its online submissions form can be found here.

(8) COVER WEBSITE TO CLOSE. Terry Gibbons’ site Visco – the visual catalogue of science fiction cover art will go away when its domain name expires February 9, unless someone else wants to take over hosting responsibilities. He posted thousands of images online before moving on to other projects in 2005 – and for the moment, they can still be seen there.

I have tried to find time to do something about Visco at intervals since then but matters came to a head when I got a new Windows 10 computer recently and realised that I no longer have the technology to maintain it.  It was developed on a Windows 95 platform – remember that? – using Internet Explorer 3 and such and I guess it is a miracle that it is still accessible at all. But none of the software I used to build it now works on my current machine, so I cannot develop it further even if I had the time.

I could leave Visco sitting there indefinitely, or until advancing technology renders it unusable, but it costs a certain amount of money to run and, more to the point, it is a constant reminder of past glories. So I have decided to let it go to that place in cyberspace where once-loved web sites go to die.

(9) READING RODDENBERRY’S DATA. Joe Otterson at Yahoo! News tells how “’Star Trek’ Creator Gene Roddenberry’s Lost Data Recovered From 200 Floppy Disks”.

Although Roddenberry died in 1991, it wasn’t until much later that his estate discovered nearly 200 5.25-inch floppy disks. One of his custom-built computers had long since been auctioned and the remaining device was no longer functional.

But these were no ordinary floppies. The custom-built computers had also used custom-built operating systems and special word processing software that prevented any modern method of reading what was on the disks.

After receiving the computer and the specially formatted floppies, DriveSavers engineers worked to develop a method of extracting the data.

(10) SIDEBAR TO AXANAR. Kane Lynch’s article in comics form, “Final Frontiers: Star Trek fans take to the Internet to film their own episodes of the original series”, is based on an interview with someone who’s worked on both New Voyages and Star Trek Continues.

(11) BENFORD ON NEW HORIZONS. Click to read Gregory Benford’s contribution to Edge’s roundup “2016: What Do You Consider The Most Interesting Recent [Scientific] News? What Makes It Important?”

The most long-range portentous event of 2015 was NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft arrowing by Pluto, snapping clean views of the planet and its waltzing moon system. It carries an ounce of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes, commemorating his discovery of Pluto in 1930. Tombaugh would have loved seeing the colorful contrasts of this remarkable globe, far out into the dark of near-interstellar space. Pluto is now a sharply-seen world, with much to teach us.

As the spacecraft zooms near an iceteroid on New Year’s Day, 2019, it will show us the first member of the chilly realm beyond, where primordial objects quite different from the wildly eccentric Pluto also dwell. These will show us what sort of matter made up the early disk that clumped into planets like ours—a sort of family tree of worlds. But that’s just an appetizer….

(12) PU 238. The Washington Post reports the U.S. has resumed making plutonium-238, in “This is the fuel NASA needs to make it to the edge of the solar system – and beyond”.

Just in time for the new year, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have unveiled the fruits of a different kind of energy research: For the first time in nearly three decades, they’ve produced a special fuel that scientists hope will power the future exploration of deep space.

The fuel, known as plutonium-238, is a radioactive isotope of plutonium that’s been used in several types of NASA missions to date, including the New Horizons mission, which reached Pluto earlier in 2015. While spacecraft can typically use solar energy to power themselves if they stick relatively close to Earth, missions that travel farther out in the solar system — where the sun’s radiation becomes more faint — require fuel to keep themselves moving.

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

Tales in the Grimm brothers’ collection include “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Rapunzel,” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” The brothers developed the tales by listening to storytellers and attempting to reproduce their words and techniques as faithfully as possible. Their methods helped establish the scientific approach to the documentation of folklore. The collection became a worldwide classic.

  • Born January 4, 1643 – Sir Isaac Newton. Don’t sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me…

(14) ZSIGMOND OBIT. Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who won an Oscar for his achievements in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and worked on a long list of major productions, died January 1 at the age of 85.

His genre credits included The Time Travelers (1964) directed by Ib Melchior, The Monitors (1969) based on Keith Laumer’s novel, Real Genius (1985), The Witches of Eastwick (1987), and The Mists of Avalon TV miniseries based on Marion Zimmer Bradley’s novel.

(15) THE YEAR IN COMPLAINTS. The Book Smugglers continue Smugglivus 2015 with “The Airing of Grievances”. (I’m getting a migraine from looking at those GIFS, and I don’t get migraines, just saying…)

SOMEONE IS (ALWAYS) WRONG ON THE INTERNET – PART II: THE SFF EDITION

Speaking of awards: Another BIG thing in SFF fandom happened when the World Fantasy award announced that it would be remodeling its award statuette, which had been a bust of the late HP Lovecraft’s face. (Lovecraft, if you did not know, was an openly venomous racist in his personal opinions and in his writings–both fiction and nonfiction.) This news–from one of the most prestigious international awards for Fantasy and speculative fiction, no less!–was a long time coming, and many of us within the SFF community celebrated this move… but there were people who were SUPER upset. Because, you know, by not using Lovecraft’s face on the award, we were all like ERASING HIM FROM HISTORY FOREVER LIKE MAGIC. Or something.

(16) MORE FEEDBACK. After what others have written about reconciliation this past week, the Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer sounds practically mellow.

…To the other side this is life or death important. The clique of Trufen who pushed their favorites (and they’re a small, interconnected socio-politically homogenous group of the same people, over and over) have some short term motives in doing exactly what they did last year and the years before. Long term, for anyone with an intellect above gerbil there is a strong motive for the Trufen in general to get rid of that clique and to reach some kind of accommodation with the Sad Puppies. But that clique are powerful and nasty and regard WorldCon and the Hugos as theirs. They have no interest in a future that they do not control completely.

I don’t see the foresight or commitment to take any of the painful (to them) steps they’d have to take to give the Sad or Rabid Puppies a motive for reconciliation, to get them to sharing motives like going to WorldCon. As a writer I simply don’t see characters of sufficient strength or integrity who have the vision or the following to take those steps.

Besides this an election year, both sides will be heated and angry.

We all love sf.

But the motives for our actions are very different.

I am glad I don’t have to write a happy ending for this one. It’d take a clever author to do it convincingly.

(17) RECONCILIATION. Don’t be misled by the placement — I doubt Freer or Gerrold are commenting about each other, just about the same topic. David Gerrold wrote today on Facebook:

…I know that some people have talked about reconciliation — and that’s a good thing. But other people have pointed out why reconciliation is impossible, because for them, the past is still unresolved. I understand that — but rehearsing the past does not take you into the future, it just gets you more of the past.

The only conversation I would be interested in having is not about who’s right and who’s wrong, who should be blamed, and who needs to crawl naked over broken glass to apologize.

No. What a colossal waste of time.

The only conversation worth having is about what you want to build and how you want to get there — stick to the issues and leave the personalities out of this…

(18) PRE CGI. It’s like seeing a star with and without makeup. Bright Side has large format color photos comparing the scenes in “17 favorite movies before and after visual effects”.

(19) GET YOUR RED HOT FOMAX. Charles Rector heartily endorses his fanzine Fomax #7 [PDF file] hosted at eFanzines. Among other things, it has 8 movie reviews and a fair number of LOC’s.

[Thanks to Eli, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 11/19 The Endochronic Pixils of Resublimated Scrollotimoline

(1) Randall Munroe has a piece on The New Yorker blog called “The Space Doctor’s Big Idea”.  He’s explaining Einstein and relativity, but doing it with his cartoons and quirky humor.

The first idea is called the special idea, because it covers only a few special parts of space and time. The other one—the big idea—covers all the stuff that is left out by the special idea. The big idea is a lot harder to understand than the special one. People who are good at numbers can use the special idea to answer questions pretty easily, but you have to know a lot about numbers to do anything with the big idea. To understand the big idea—the hard one—it helps to understand the special idea first.

(2) Steven Barnes’ new book Star Wars Saved My Life: Be the Hero in the Adventure of Your Own Lifetime has been released. Amazon Prime members can borrow it free, all others pay cash!

SW Saved My Life COMP

It’s finally here! The book I’ve been hinting about for months, STAR WARS SAVED MY LIFE is the first self-help book ever written for science fiction fans, the LIFEWRITING system applied to healing finances, career, health, and the wounded heart. A pure work of love, available FREE to anyone with an Amazon Prime membership, it is my way of saying “thank you” to all of you who helped me find my way, gave me friendship, support, and love.

(3) Downthe tubes.net reports that Star Trek comic strips published in various UK comics and annuals back in the 1970s (and never in the US) will be republished in a collection next year.

In all, the British Star Trek ran for 257 weekly magazines spanning five years and 37 storylines and in addition to its weekly appearances, more original material drawn by Ron Turner, Jack Sutter, Jim Baikie and John Canning appeared in the 1969 Joe 90 Top Secret annual, the Valiant 1972 Summer Special, the 1971-1973 TV21 hardcover annuals and the 1978-1979 TV Comic annuals.

An original Frank Bellamy Star Trek strip also appeared in the June 27, 1970 issue of Radio Times to promote the show’s return to BBC1.

These strips have never been published in the United States and were not written with strict adherence to Star Trek‘s core concepts. The U.S.S. Enterprise frequently traveled outside our galaxy, and the crew committed many violations of the never-mentioned Prime Directive along the way. Spock shouted most of his lines and often urged Kirk (or “Kurt,” as his name was misspelled in early issues) to shoot first and ask questions later.

(4) Nancy Hightower’s picks for the “Best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015” at the Washington Post include one that hasn’t been heavily discussed here.

THE ONLY ONES

By Carola Dibbell (Two Dollar Radio)

This fascinating first novel details the emotional journey of Inez Fardo, a 19-year-old who has survived terrible trauma and yet still manages to find life sometimes wondrous. In a time when most of the population has been wiped out by a series of superviruses, she makes a meager living cleaning up contaminated sites. But when it’s discovered that she is resistant to the viruses that continue to threaten the world, an amateur scientist and his team offer to harvest her DNA to make healthy babies for others. Inez goes along with the plan, but soon a series of events forces her to raise the one child produced by the experiment. What follows is a heart-piercing tale of love, desire and acceptance as Inez tries to give her daughter a different life from the one she’s experienced.

(5) Larry Correia turns off the game long enough to offer “Fallout 4, Initial Thoughts”.

The atmosphere is great. Unlike many post apocalyptic things, Fallout doesn’t take itself too seriously. So everything has that retro cool, 50s but blown up vibe.

It gets really buggy at times, but better than the last one. This engine is dated, and it shows. Sometimes you kill stuff and it flies up into the air and spins around for a while. Other times a body will get stuck in the wall and vibrate forever. I’ve had a few crashes, freezes, and once I had to unplug and replug in the Xbox to get it to launch. But still better than the last one, and less buggy than Skyrim.

I had to turn on subtitles, because the music has a tendency to get annoyingly loud when people are trying to tell you important things. Then I learned that the subtitles only show up about half the time. So I turned the music way down and the voice volume way up, and even then I miss lots of things my companions are telling me. Damn it, Piper. Speak up. My character has been in like 400 gun fights without hearing protection, so maybe this is just added realism.

(6) John DeNardo has a fun discussion of “Why I Love Retro Science Fiction” at Kirkus Reviews.

Simply put, retro-futurism is what people of the past thought their future might look like. It’s our great-grandparents’ depiction of today. Or, the future that could-have-been.

Retro futures can be observed in many mediums: books, television, film, even sculpture. When you see an “old school” ray gun, you’re looking at a retro future. When you see the people wearing shiny white uniforms on Moonbase Alpha in Space: 1999, that’s the show’s creators’ view of how people in their future might dress. When you see Captain Kirk pull out his cellphone—er, personal communicator—you’re seeing someone from the past predict what cool gadgets the future might bring.

(7) Jason Sanford calls for writers to “Stop Duotrope’s attempt to own authors’ personal submission data”. The service authors use to track submissions and research markets is now trying to restrict users’ rights to their data.

According to Duotrope’s terms of service, “Any data downloaded from this website, including but not limited to submission histories, is strictly for personal use and may not be shared with any third parties or used for commercial purposes.”

What does this mean? It means that if you upload your submission information to Duotrope, you no longer have the right to use your own data as you see fit. You can’t use the data to write an article about submissions for a magazine or upload your data to another online submission system such as the site run by Writer’s Market. Basically, once you use Duotrope you can’t leave and take your data elsewhere.

Duotrope also attempts to make a blatant copyright grab, with their terms stating “The website and its database are also protected as a collective work or compilation under U.S. copyright and other laws and treaties. All individual articles, pages and other elements making up the website are also copyrighted works. Use of any of these original works without written permission of Duotrope LLC is expressly forbidden.”

Duotrope is skating on thin ice here because you can’t copyright data. But combine this copyright statement with their terms of use for the data and Duotrope is essentially saying they own any submission data uploaded to their system by authors.

(8) Annie Bellet asks people not to nominate her for awards in 2016.

I don’t wish to have my work considered for awards this year. I’d like to just have 2016 to get stuff done, worry about my readers and my career, and (hopefully!) not be involved in any award business. I’m not attending Worldcon 2016 either (I’ll be there for 2017 though, yay excuse to go to Finland!).

So please… if you read and enjoyed something of mine that was published this year (and there were a few things I think are some of my best work),  thank you. But don’t vote for my stories.   I’ve got cool work coming out next year, and maybe by 2017 I’ll have healed the stress of this last award season, but for now… please, I want a year of not having to even worry about it, slim as my chances might be.

(9) Fantasy Literature has launched its “Second annual Speculative Fiction Haiku Contest”. Leave your entries in the comments. Can you improve on this entry from last year? I knew you could…

a meddlesome god
sows nightmares in childhood dreams
meesa jar jar binks

(10) Sarah Avery writes the kind of immersive conreport I like. Now at Black Gate — “World Fantasy 2015: It’s the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead of Convention Reports”.

Lots of interesting stuff about trying to line up an agent is woven around accounts of WFC’s panels and conversations in the bar. I’m picking this passage for the excerpt, because Avery was actually on one of Mari Ness’ panels that made news here:

After reminding myself a couple of times that panels were not, overall, my mission, I prepared for the one panel I was on.

That panel turned out to be newsworthy not for its content, but because of accessibility issues. Author Mari Ness, who uses a wheelchair, was unable to get onto the stage because there was no ramp. This issue has been covered elsewhere, with all its ramifications for policy, conrunning logistics, and ethics. All I can add to the accessibility discussion is that the other panelists (David Hartwell, Darrell Schweitzer, Stephen R. Donaldson) and I were nearly as uncomfortable with the situation as Ness was. The hotel staff said they’d have to take the stage entirely apart to put their ramp on it, and we were late already, so Ness decided to do the fastest thing. She positioned her wheelchair close enough that we could pass her a microphone. Donaldson was an excellent moderator, and Hartwell and Schweitzer (who on occasion have been known to hold forth) kept themselves uncharacteristically concise to make space in the discussion for Mari. The physical space might not have been inclusive, but we were all determined that the discussion would be.

As it turned out, Mari was the only one whose remarks drew spontaneous applause. We were talking about the ancient epics, contemporary fantasy epics, and what kinds of lineages do or don’t connect them. What, Donaldson asked, were our personal favorites among the modern epics? And though the rest of us got more and more obscure with our picks, Mari’s was Star Wars. And that felt more personally foundational than any other epic we’d discussed.

(11) And as often as I’ve been invoking her name lately, I should also publicize Sarah Avery’s Kickstarter appeal to fund publication of her fantasy novel The Imlen Bastard, which has raised $6,695 to date, achieving its initial $4,500 goal, then a stretch goal that will pay for the audiobook, and finally aspires to raise $9,600 which will allow Avery to commission more Kate Baylay art.

(12) Movie footage was shot at the first Worldcon. We may see it someday, if it hasn’t been tossed, and if anyone can ever find it. Doug Ellis has been searching for years, as he explains in “The Elusive Film Footage of the Very First Worldcon” at Black Gate.

I have a carbon copy of a letter dated August 16, 1939 that Darrow wrote to his friend, Walt Dennis, concerning the first Worldcon. In part, it reads as follows.

The following day was the big day of the convention. [NOTE – DARROW IS REFERRING TO SUNDAY, JULY 2, 1939, THE FIRST DAY OF THE CON.] Otto [BINDER] picked up Bill, Jack [JACK WILLIAMSON], Ed Hamilton and myself and we took a bus to the convention hall. Bill and I had had no breakfast and it was almost noon, so we deserted the gang long enuf to invade an Automat. Arriving back at the hall we found a mob gathered at the door. Somebody shoved an autograph book in my face. [PERHAPS THIS IS WHAT’S CAPTURED IN THIS PHOTO] They way they worked this was to ask every stranger they saw for their autograph and then look to see who they got. I took several snaps (enclosed) and Bill took snaps and movies. There seemed to be a lot of excitement when Forrest J. Ackerman and I met for the first time. Bill took movies of the handshake. Forrie was quite a surprise to me. Tall, handsome and quiet. A very pleasant fellow. He was dressed in an outfit out of Wells’ pic Things to Come.

(13) Gregory N. Hullender has posted Rocket Stack Rank’s evaluation of “Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft”, and adds this incentive to click the link – “The fact that I not only worked at Microsoft for a long time but actually worked on some of these technologies might make this a bit more interesting.”

(14) Yes, I can imagine.

(15) This just in from 2009! “Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits”. We now join our conspiracy theories already in progress.

The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at www.nasa.gov.

NASA admitted in 2006 that no one could find the original video recordings of the July 20, 1969, landing.

Since then, Richard Nafzger, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, who oversaw television processing at the ground-tracking sites during the Apollo 11 mission, has been looking for them.

The good news is he found where they went. The bad news is they were part of a batch of 200,000 tapes that were degaussed — magnetically erased — and re-used to save money.

(16) Jeremiah Moss at Vanishing New York asks friends to help Jerry Ohlinger

A couple of years ago, I visited Jerry Ohlinger’s amazing movie material store in the Garment District. In business since 1976, it was the last store in New York City dedicated to movie photos.

Struggling with the rent, Jerry closed his shop and moved most of his “one million and one hundred thousand” photos to a warehouse in New Jersey as he downsized to a much smaller shop on West 30th, with limited hours.

Now Jerry needs help. The items in the warehouse need to be moved again, and there’s no money to do it. Visit <https://www.gofundme.com/996j7zvc> and consider giving him a hand.

Jeremiah wrote about the old store for The New Yorker a few years ago in “The Last Picture Shop”.

Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store has been in business since 1978. It started on West Third Street, moved to West Fourteenth, and eventually ended up on West Thirty-fifth, in the Garment District. With the Internet stealing customers, business isn’t what it used to be, and the nine-thousand-dollar-a-month rent is more than movie photos can pay. Jerry will be closing his shop and selling just online in the next three to six months.

This is unfortunate, because a computer screen will never provide the physical, sensory experience you get when you step into Ohlinger’s. An obsessively organized clutter of movie posters and postcards, stacks of DVDs, and boxes full of eight-by-seventeen poster reproductions, the small front of the store is walled by towering shelves packed with shopworn three-ring binders, all strapped with duct tape and hand-labelled in Magic Marker with the names of the movie stars contained within. The space smells of Jerry’s cigar and the musty vanilla aroma of old paper slowly decaying.

“We’ve got about two hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand photos in all these books,” Jerry says, waving his gummy, unlit cigar in the air.

(17) NPR is impressed —  “Amazon’s ‘High Castle’ Offers A Chilling Alternate History Of Nazi Triumph”.

Many of the goose-bump-inducing moments in this new drama are visual and are startling. Picture this: In Times Square, a giant neon swastika emblazons a building. Or an American flag with the familiar colors — but instead of stars and stripes, there’s a swastika where the stars used to be. Even the map of the former United States of America is disturbing to witness — much more so than those wind-up maps of opposing territories opening each episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

The alternate-history American map in The Man in the High Castle is made even more jarring, and creepy, by the sound, and the song, that accompanies it in the opening of each episode. It’s the sound of a film projector whirring into action — underscoring the importance of those illicit films — followed by the old familiar song “Edelweiss” being sung in a much more haunting performance than you’re used to from The Sound of Music.

(18) Rachel Swirsky collected writing advice from novelists about how to start your second book – quotes from Steven Gould, N. K. Jemisin, Ken Liu, and Helene Wecker.

Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni:

First, celebrate. Turning in your novel is a huge hairy deal. Go out for a fancy dinner with a significant other or something. Give yourself permission to relax for a few days. You’ve probably been holed up for a while, so go talk to some humans. Send a few emails to friends, accept an invitation to coffee. Go for a walk outside.

Ok, now back to work. It’s a good idea to focus on marketing during the pre-pub months, and to that end you’ll want to prep a master Q&A about the book. My publisher sent me one with about a dozen questions (“How did the idea come to you?” “Who were your favorite characters to write?” “Describe your research process,” etc). It took forever to fill out, but it meant I didn’t have to think on the fly during interviews or readings. If your publisher doesn’t do it for you, make one yourself, with what you’d guess are the most likely questions that a reader or interviewer would ask. It might feel tedious, but you won’t regret it.

(19) Songwriter P. F. Sloan died November 13 at the age of 70. Though best known for his hit “Eve of Destruction”, Sloan also wrote the theme song for Secret Agent Man, which became a hit for Johnny Rivers. The Wikipedia entry for “Secret Agent Man” sets the song in context of genre history:

The lyric “They’ve given you a number and taken away your name” referred to the numerical code names given to secret agents, as in “007” for James Bond, although it also acts as the setup to the “continuation” of Danger Man, the cult classic The Prisoner.”

(20) Wonder if the rest of the book lives up to this line?

 [Thanks to Janice Gelb, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Tasha Turner, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

The XKCD-Suomi Connection

grand_tourXKCD creator Randall Munroe, on tour to promote his book What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, is in Berkeley tonight and speaks at the Aero in Santa Monica on Sunday, September 14.

In between, he’ll make a virtual appearance on the Google+ Hangout On Air, moderated by Hank Green, that can be viewed live on YouTube beginning Friday, September 12 at 3:30 p.m. PT.

Munroe’s book blends the “serious science” of Bob Shaw with the inquisitive curiosity of Dave Feldman (Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?). You can read the first chapter on io9. It begins with this question:

Q. What would happen if
the Earth and all terrestrial
objects suddenly stopped
spinning, but the atmosphere
retained its velocity?
— Andrew Brown

A. NEARLY EVERYONE WOULD DIE. Then things would get interesting.

When Crystal Huff read the chapter one item pleased her very much. “Munroe states that waiting it out in Helsinki might be a good course of action, and even includes a comic partially in Finnish.” Crystal promises Worldcon voters, “Clearly, the Helsinki in 2017 team is prepared for all sorts of possible disasters!  😉 ” 

Helsinki-Global-Windstorm-WHAT-IF-640x527Munroe’s collection of essays features both material from the blog and unpublished work. You can hear more about the author and his book in an NPR interview here.