Wesley Crusher: Naming Calls

ST:TNG had just started its second season when Rick Foss and I organized the 1988 Loscon program. Every fan I knew watched the show and had opinions about the assorted minor controversies involving its creator Gene Roddenberry and how the characters were scripted. We expected a panel about Wesley Crusher, the precocious teenaged boy who all too often saved the Enterprise, to be a good draw, and we had excellent writers to use on it.

We also had the prospect of springing a celebrity guest on the panelists – just not the one who actually showed up. Here’s what happened. (From File 770 #78, recently uploaded to Fanac.org)

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The Star Trek-oriented “Solving the Wesley Problem” filled every seat and had fans lining the walls They got a bonus when the actor who plays Wesley unexpectedly dropped in.

The panel began with D.C. Fontana, Joe Straczynski (then known as story editor for the new The Twilight Zone), Sonni Cooper (a Trek novelist), Mel Gilden and Jane Mailander (local writers) and a hoped-for surprise guest – but not the one we got.

As the program began, Bjo Trimble was stationed at the front of the Pasadena Hilton, and John Trimble at the back door, waiting for the arrival of Patrick Stewart, whom a contact at Paramount had supposedly sent our way seeking some word-of-mouth publicity for his Charles Dickens reading scheduled in December.

While I was shuttling between John and Bjo for news of Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, who plays Wesley, materialized in the “Solving the Wesley Problem” audience and virtually took over the panel. As I learned from him the next day, he simply came to Loscon because he likes sf conventions. But Guy Vardaman, his stand-in, looked in the pocket program and told him, “Hey, there’s an ‘I Hate Wesley’ panel; I think you should check it out.”

Wheaton’s gesture to explain the panelists’ changing tone when he arrived was one of extracting foot from mouth. (Actually, the panelists had criticized the series, rather than Wheaton’s acting.) They didn’t know he hadn’t been there for most of it.

Patrick Stewart never did show up, but I like to think of the alternate world where he walked in on the panel after Wil Wheaton had already joined it. What pandemonium!

Before Wheaton’s unexpected appearance, our biggest “star” was going to be Paul Marco, joining the “Plan 9 From Outer Space 30th Anniversary” panel. He played Kelton the cop, and ever since the film came out he’s been working very hard to turn himself into a cult figure, despite the movie’s reputation as the worst film ever made.

Pixel Scroll 2/16/16 Think Pixel, Count Scroll

(1) CARNEGIE AND GREENAWAY LONGLISTS. The longlists for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals have been announced.

The Carnegie Medal, established in 1936, is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book for children. The Kate Greenaway Medal has been given since 1955 for distinguished illustration in a book for children.

Locus Online has identified the works of genre interest on both lists.

(2) TOLKIEN POEMS DISCOVERED. Two poems by J.R.R. Tolkien have been discovered in a 1936 copy of a school annual reports the BBC.

The Shadow Man, and a Christmas poem called Noel, were found at Our Lady’s School, Abingdon.

It is thought Tolkien got to know the school while he was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.

The poems were printed a year before Tolkien’s first literary sensation The Hobbit was published.

The Shadow Man is an earlier version of a poem eventually published in 1962 in Tolkien’s Adventures of Tom Bombadil collection.

The existence of the poems came to light after American Tolkien scholar Wayne G. Hammond got in touch with the school.

According to The Guardian

The first poem, The Shadow Man, is an early version of a poem that Tolkien went on to publish in his 1962 collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It tells of “a man who dwelt alone/ beneath the moon in shadow”, who “sat as long as lasting stone,/and yet he had no shadow”. When “a lady clad in grey” arrives, he wakes, and “clasped her fast, both flesh and bone;/and they were clad in shadow”.

The second, Noel, is a Christmas poem, albeit one set in scenery that would not be out of place in Middle-earth. “The hall was dark without song or light,/The fires were fallen dead,” writes Tolkien, going on to portray “the lord of snows”, whose “mantle long and pale/Upon the bitter blast was spread/And hung o’er hill and dale”.

(3) TWITTER WISHES. John Scalzi, in “What I Want Out of Twitter”, explains the changes he’d like to see made in this social media platform.

What I’m more interested in is how Twitter can make itself better, which is a different question than how Twitter can be saved. Twitter’s major issue, as everyone except apparently Twitter’s C-bench knows, is that there are a bunch of shitheads on it who like to roll up to whomever they see as targets (often women and/or people in marginalized groups) and dogpile on them. That’s no good….

So, if Twitter were asking me what I wanted out of Twitter to make it an optimal service for me, here’s what I would suggest, in no particular order:…

Other things to allow filtering of:

  • Profile keywords: If I could filter out every single account that had “#GamerGate” in its profile text, as an example, my replies would have been a lot quieter in the last couple of years.
  • Accounts based on who they follow: Right now I’m thinking of five Twitter accounts of people I think are basically real assholes. I suspect that if you are following all five of them, you are probably also an asshole, and I don’t want to hear from you. In this particular case I think it’d useful to have the filtering be fine-grained, as in, rather than just filtering everyone who followed one account, you’d filter them if they followed Account 1 AND Account 2 AND Account 3 (and so on). It would also be useful to be able to do this more than once, i.e., have more than one follower filter, because often it’s not just one group being annoying.

(4) THE HAMMER. Robot6 asks “Are you worthy to wield this Thor’s Hammer Tool Kit?”

Noting a serious lack of geek-themed hardware, Dave Delisle came up with an idea for a tool set to tackle virtually any home-repair project in the Nine Realms, even the famed clogged drains of Jotunheim.

As you can see, the Thor Hammer Tool Kit looks like the fabled Mjolnir, until it’s opened to reveal a claw hammer, wrench, screwdriver, socket set and so on.

Click through to see an animated gif that makes it all clear.

(5) UNREADY PLAYER ONE. Science Fiction.com reports “’Ready Player One’ Moves Release Date To Dodge ‘Star Wars’”.

And now that the release date for Rian Johnson’s ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ has officially moved from May 2017 to December 15, 2017, it looks like even the legendary Steven Spielberg is jumping out of the way in hopes of not getting steamrollered.

According to Variety, the iconic filmmaker’s latest film ‘Ready Player One’ will push back it’s release date to March 30, 2018. Originally slated for December 15, 2017, the movie based on Ernest Cline’s acclaimed nostalgia-filled sci-fi adventure has vacated that spot to give a galaxy far, far away some space. After all, they definitely don’t want to end up like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s ‘Sisters’, which went up against J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated blockbuster during this past holiday season and didn’t stand a chance against the intergalactic juggernaut.

(6) A MUNDANE YEAR FOR GRAMMY. The 2016 Grammy Award winners didn’t have much of genre interest. I’m really going to have to stretch a point…

Best pop duo/group performance

“Uptown Funk”: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Although the music video for the song wasn’t a Grammy nominee, it’s the main reason I’m reporting any of these awards, because fannish actor Ed Green appears in the background of it beginning at :25 — he’s on the left, speaking on the pay phone. (He also appears at right, below, in the title frame.)

Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media

Birdman

Antonio Sanchez, composer

Then, Jimmy Carter won the Best Spoken Word Album category, where Janis Ian was also a nominee.

(9) ONLY IN IT FOR THE PUN. The Telegraph says “BBC to axe television and radio divisions as part of radical management overhaul”.

Lord Hall, the director-general of the BBC, will not replace Danny Cohen, the corporation’s recently departed director of television, and is instead moving ahead with radical plans to abolish the broadcaster’s radio and television divisions.

“’Doc Martin’ and ‘Doctor Who’ to be combined into new programme, ‘Doc Who’,” reports Andy Porter.

(10) LE GUIN. Ursula K. Le Guin continues answering people’s questions about writing in “Navigating the Ocean of Story (2)” at Book View Café.

Do you consider it a good idea to offer your work in progress to numerous and/or unselected critics? If so, how do you decide which criticisms are valid and useful?

To offer work for critique to an unselected group on the Net, people who remain strangers, is to extend trust to absolute strangers. Some of them will take advantage of the irresponsibility afforded by the medium.

Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth: Don’t do it unless you’ve considered the risks. Pay attention to any comment that really makes sense to you; value any intelligent praise you get. That’s about as far as trust can take you. Keep an eye out for know-it-alls who make like critics, spouting secondhand rules. And remember some may be there because they want to make soup out of your bones.

This is not the voice of experience. I never gave my work to strangers to criticize in first draft or at any stage. I never submitted a piece to an editor or agent until it was, to the best of my knowledge and ability, finished.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 16, 1923 – Archeologists opened the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • Born February 16, 1958 – Lisa Loring, the actress who played Wednesday Addams in the original Addams Family TV series.

Lisa Loring as Wednesday Addams

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 16, 1926 – Rusty Hevelin
  • Born February 16, 1957 – LeVar Burton, Jr., who played ST:TNG’s Geordi LaForge.

(14) CHAOS HORIZON. Chaos Horizon comments on the final SFWA 2015 Best Novel Recommended Reading List. It’s interesting that only six novels have more than 20 recommendations.

Gannon [Raising Caine] and Schoen [Barsk] have shot up this list like rockets, going from nowhere in November to dominating by the end. Those 34 and 33 numbers are so impressive it’s hard to imagine them not getting Nebula nominations at this point. Overall, there were 728 total recommendations; that has to represent a substantial amount of the final Nebula nomination vote. Gannon and Schoen will raise some eyebrows if they get nominations; these SF books certainly got less press, acclaim, and online discussion than other SF books like Sevenves or Aurora. The Nebula is quirky like this, often favoring smaller authors over the big names. If they get nominated, I think the question is whether or not one of those books can win. Will Gannon follow the McDevitt route—get nominated enough and eventually you’ll win? Will Barsk grab a ton of new readers and take the Nebula? I think there’s a definite advantage to being fresh in your voters’ minds.

(15) WRIGHT BACKS HIS BEST EDITOR. John C. Wright adds his endorsement to the Rabid Puppy slate.

The Puppy-kickers are our ideological foes bent on replacing popular and well crafted sci fi tales with politically correct science-free and entertainment-free moping dreck that reads like something written by a highschool creative writing course dropout.

The Puppy-kickers have repeatedly and vehemently assured us assured us that soliciting votes from likeminded fans for stories you judge worthy was a “slate” and therefore was (for reasons not specified) totally and diabolically evil and wrong and bad, was not something insiders had been doing for decades, and was always totally inexcusable, except when they did it, and voted in a slate to grant ‘No Award’ to categories where they had lost their stranglehold over the nominations.

In that spirit, I hereby officially announce in my capacity as the Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors, that the following list is the recommended reading list of our Darkest Lord only, and not a voting slate.

These are the recommendations of my editor, Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, the most hated man in Science Fiction, but certainly the best editor I have had the pleasure to work with.

(16) MESSAGE FREE. Those who feel the yarn is the most important thing may find themselves voting for this —

Geeknits

(17) MILLENNIALS. “Millennial Fans: An Interview with Louisa Stein (Part Two)” conducted by Henry Jenkins at Confessions of an Aca-Fan.

Many of the shows you write about as Millennial programs are also shows with strong female leads and targeted at female consumers — Friday Night Lights would be a notable exception on your list. So, what happens to the gendering of fandom as we move towards Millennial fan culture? 

Issues of gender permeate millennial culture, fan culture, and the relationship between the two. Masculinizing—or feminizing—fan culture has been one way industry interests tame fandom’s perceived unruliness. Seemingly masculine forms of fandom (and I would emphasize that these areas, like gender itself, are social constructs) have already been categorized as industrially legible and profit friendly. The fanboy stereotype has its share of taboo associations, going all the way back to the “Get a Life” bit on Saturday Night Live that Textual Poachers opens with; but the fanboy position has since been spun into industry heralded narratives of superfans and fanboy auteurs (see Scott, Kohnen), with the lines toward brand support and profit already clearly delineated.

Obsession_inc (and many others citing her) have termed this divide “affirmational fandom,” versus “transformative fandom,” with the latter perceived as more the practice of female consumers who transform media texts into art and fiction, often in so doing significantly changing their meaning. In Millennial Fandom, I actually argue that transformational and affirmational fandom are more deeply intertwined than we might at first assume, but nevertheless, at a discursive level, the distinction helps us to see why and how transformative (perceived “feminine”) practices have been and continue to be treated as suspect, marked as taboo, and policed.

(18) AQUA JODHPURS. “Our first good look at Jason Momoa’s full Aquaman costume comes from ToyFair” at Yahoo! TV.

Then along came ToyFair 2016. Ahhhh, good old ToyFair. Hosted in New York City at the beginning of each year, the convention showcases the best of upcoming merchandise to look forward to. It’s also ALWAYS good for a spoiler or two. One of this year’s was a complete look at Jason Momoa’s costume in Batman v Superman, complete with colors. Behold!

The tattoos on Aquaman’s chest appear to continue onto his pants(?) which are a murky green. The better to blend into the ocean floor with. Of course, the camo look is marred by the bright gold knee-highs, but a king has to make concessions for style. I’m curious if Aquaman’s asymmetrical armor has a backstory is just there to look cool. Also, he is totally standing in rubble. Could it be that Wonder Woman isn’t the only superhero to show up at the end to clean up Batman and Superman’s mess?

(19) SHATNER BOOK REVIEW. Ryan Britt at Tor.com says “William Shatner’s New Memoir Leonard is Surprising and Moving”.

Whether they’re in their Kirk and Spock guises, or just being themselves, it’s hard to prefer William Shatner to Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy just seems more comfortable and real of the two, whereas Shatner appears to be putting on airs. Over the years, William Shatner seems to have figured this out and embraced the fact that no one will ever totally take him seriously. All of this makes the publication of a memoir written by him about Leonard Nimoy both look like a cynical cash-grab and a disingenuous maneuver of faux-love.

But if you’re a Star Trek fan, or casually interested in Leonard Nimoy, Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship With a Remarkable Man reveals that not only is Shatner a good guy, but that Leonard Nimoy may not have been the cool one, and did in fact fight all sorts of demons both inside and out.

(20) CORREIA’S SCHOOL FOR BUSINESS. Larry Correia says “One Star Reviews Over Book Prices are Dumb”, which is absolutely true.

I know writers aren’t supposed to respond to reviews, but I’m not responding to this as a writer, I’m responding to it as a retired accountant.

I am the author in question. Your review doesn’t hurt anything except my overall average. You aren’t sticking it to the man. You aren’t harming the corporate fat cats. If you think the book sucks, give it one star. That’s awesome. That’s what the stars are for. But you don’t use one star to bitch about the price of eBooks. That just makes you look stupid. We shouldn’t still be having this conversation with anybody who isn’t a Bernie Sanders supporter.

Now, Accountant Hat on. This is pretty basic stuff. This is how basic costing works, not just for books, but quite literally everything. But today, we’ll talk about books, because your ridiculous review has pissed me off.  I’m going to dumb this down and keep it simple as possible.

The rest is a long but lighthearted lesson about the business of producing books that makes cost accounting entertaining. (I know you think I’m being facetious, which is why I need to say, no, I really found it entertaining.)

(21) ANOTHER OPINION ABOUT THE KENYON SUIT. Amanda S. Green at Mad Genius Club begins her “And the World Keeps Turning”  column: “I will give the same caveat here that Sarah gave in her post. I have not read the pleadings filed on Ms. Kenyon’s behalf. Nor have I read Ms. Clare’s books.”

On Friday of last week, the Guardian published an article that addresses, from Ms. Clare’s point of view. Two things stood out for me and, yes, I know I am paying attention to lawyer-speak but the attorney, John Cahill, does bring up some interesting questions. First, “the lawsuit failed to identify a single instance of actual copying or plagiarism by Cassie.”  The second is that Ms. Clare has been writing these characters and series, iirc, for ten years. That’s a long time to wait before filing suit and part of me wonders if the fact Ms. Clare’s series is being made into a television series wasn’t the impetus for the suit.

To be fair, the suit does allege that Ms. Clare, in her series, does, “employ a line of warriors who protect the normal world from demons”, both cover how “a young person becomes part of the Dark-Hunters’ (or Shadowhunters’) world after being saved by a gorgeous blond Dark-Hunter (or Shadowhunter)”, and “both Dark-Hunters and Shadowhunters have enchanted swords that are divinely forged, imbued with otherworldly spirits, have unique names, and glow like heavenly fire”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of any number of books, short stories, TV shows and movies that could fall under that description. Those are, indeed, story elements, but does it rise to the level of plagiarism and copyright infringement?

Green steps into the judge’s shoes, for at least a few sentences, to voice skepticism about the plaintiff’s case. Not having read the complaint, Green missed the opportunity to see its list of the statutes the judge is asked to apply. With the help of Google she could have tested lawyer Cahill’s argument, as well as her own doubts that the infringement is actionable.

(22) A MENU ALOFT. Rick Foss was interviewed by Leanna Garfield for her Tech Insider post “We’re in a golden age of airplane food – for some people”.

When American Airlines recently launched a 15-hour direct flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia, it also debuted a new menu. Flight attendants offer first-class passengers complimentary glasses of 2010 Penfolds Grange Shiraz (normally $850 per bottle) and roasted sirloin steak with red wine sauce.

Travelers in the economy cabin are still only treated to peanuts (But hey, at least they now get complimentary spirits — quite the perk).

The improvements in first and business class have more to do with the economics of the airline industry than they do with a desire to provide better service, Richard Foss, culinary historian and author of “Food in the Air and Space: The Surprising History of Food and Drink in the Skies,” tells Tech Insider.

Foss has studied the history of airline food for over a decade, from the glory days in the ’70s when airlines served lobster to today’s inflight tuna sandwiches. Here’s a look at that history, and how airlines are trying to bring back the golden age of airline dining for high-paying passengers.

[Thanks to Will R., JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jonathan Edelstein.]

LASFS Cuts the Birthday Cake

The Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League (No. 4) began meeting in 14-year-old Roy Test Jr.’s family garage in 1934. On October 28, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society celebrated 70 years of friendship and fanac. Founding member Forrest J Ackerman performed the duty of gaveling the 3,507th meeting to order with President Van Wagner’s pink plastic lobster.

For Ackerman, Len and June Moffatt, this was their second consecutive day of celebration. A group of eofans gathered on October 27, the real anniversary, at their old stomping grounds, Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown LA. Local TV news covered the get-together because it also included those teenaged fans who grew up to have stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen.

The October 28 club meeting drew around a hundred fans, about evenly divided between the usual crowd of active members and old-timers from bygone decades. The more widely-known regulars included John Hertz, Joe Minne (who introduced me to LASFS), Rick Foss, Matthew Tepper, Elayne Pelz, Drew Sanders, Charles Lee Jackson 2, Marc Schirmeister, Marty Massoglia, Christian McGuire (L.A.con IV chair), Francis Hamit, Leigh Strother-Vien, Ed Green, Liz Mortensen, John DeChancie, Marty Cantor, Tadao Tomomatsu (“Mr. Shake Hands Man”) and Mike Donahue. Some of the graybeards present were notables in national fandom back in the day, like Arthur J. Cox, and others remain well-known, like Fred Patten, John Trimble, William Ellern, Dwain Kaiser and Don Fitch.