Pixel Scroll 10/3/19 I’d Like To Scroll A Pixel, I’d Like To Tick A Box, I’d Like To Read A Book So Good It Launches My Two Socks

(1) 1990 SOUVENIR BOOK. To help promote the planned Reunicon 2020 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ConFiction 1990, Kees Van Toorn and friends have uploaded the Souvenir Book of ConFiction 1990 on their website in flipbook format.

(2) GAME OF THE NAME. If you have the Scrivener writing app, something you can get it to do for you is make up character names (see “How to Use Scrivener’s Name Generator” at Fairies, Zombies and Agent Queries.) Here’s Exhibit A:

(3) ANOTHER BITE OF THE APPLE. Magical mysteries unfold in Ghostwriter, coming November 1 to the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.

According to TVLine, the upcoming reboot will center around four friends who discover a ghost in their neighborhood’s bookstore. This ghost seems to be decidedly less helpful than the Ghostwriter of the ‘90s; instead of helping the friends solve mysteries, he “releases” fictional characters from books into the real world. TVLine adds that each episode will highlight a particular book or novel.

(4) KAFKAESQUE CRIME. CrimeRead’s Peter Steiner calls him — “Franz Kafka: Misunderstood Crime Author”. Tagline: “How The Trial upended what we know about crime fiction.”

…Kafka’s language does not arouse suspicion, but it should. He describes the goings on with great precision, objectively noting peculiar elements, odd turns of events, strange settings and physical characteristics as a scientist might describe what he sees through a microscope, giving nothing special place, offering no opinion or emotional reaction, as though everything that takes place is equally worthy of notation. Random, apparently peripheral elements get the same attention as the most dramatic happenings. The supervising inspector arranges objects around a candle that sits on a night table he is using as a desk. He places his index fingers side by side as though comparing their length. Three men Josef K. does not seem to know examine a framed picture on a wall. But these are not clues, for K. or for us. They are disconnected observations that lead nowhere, that add up to nothing.

The disconnect between Kafka’s language and what is being described is what unsettles. Shocking, bizarre, and funny moments are described in the most mundane and unemotional language. Kafka has no reaction to anything himself and gives no clues how we should react. His almost pedantic detail and dry tone cast things in an oddly familiar light.

(5) LE GUIN AND MUSIC. [Item by Rob Thornton.] At the Electric Literature website, writer and editor Tobias Carroll wonders “Why Has Ursula K. Le Guin Inspired So Many Musicians?” He discusses how musicians are not only  mentioning her works in song titles and lyrics, they are also grappling with the themes from Le Guin’s stories in their works. Bands such as Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House, heavy metal bands Keep of Kalessin and Ragana, and San Francisco darkwave act Cold Beat are mentioned:

“[Cold Beat songwriter] spoke about the potential of science fiction to offer a glimpse of a better world. ‘When we broaden our vocabulary and learn more, there’s a lot out there to discover,’ she said. ‘I think it’s inspiring, especially when we’re getting down. It’s really healthy to remember that there’s a lot more out there.’ It’s the same kind of thought experiment that one might see in an Ursula K. Le Guin essay or story?—?albeit in the process of being transfigured into a catchy and propulsive song. And while Le Guin’s own foray into music hasn’t necessarily spawned a legion of sound-alikes, the fact that she felt compelled to create such a work suggests that she left room in her writings for music—a gateway that this group of musicians has passed through, creating memorable work as they go. “‘

To prove Carroll’s point, there are other bands who have somehow made Le Guin a part of their music, including Ekumen (a hardcore punk band from New Orleans), Spanish Kalte Sonne (a post-metal band from Spain with an album named Ekumen), Fogweaver (Earthsea-inspired dungeon synth act from Colorado), and Street Eaters (punk band from San Francisco) among others.

(6) A GOOD OMEN FOR BUYERS. AudioFile applauds Michael Sheen’s narration of Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, volume 2) here.

Michael Sheen throws himself wholeheartedly into narrating this sequel to LA BELLE SAUVAGE, and listeners will be rapt. Lyra is now 20, and she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, are uneasy with each other in ways they never have been before. This central conflict is the catalyst for a series of journeys and is just one of many, many threads that Pullman will presumably pick up again in the final volume in the Book of Dust trilogy. For the ever-expanding international cast of characters, Sheen conjures a multitude of accents and delivers rapid-fire conversations between them. He’s in step with the text at every turn; when situations become fraught or dangerous, Sheen ramps up the tension exquisitely…

(7) LISTEN TO LONDO. AudioFile also tips a Babylon 5 actor’s voicing of J. Michael Straczynski’s Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood:

If you’re going to reveal your life story, it’s good to have a friend and fellow “Babylon 5” cast member perform it. Peter Jurasik, known to “Babylon 5” fans as the sleazy alien Londo Mollari, narrates the startling life of the series creator, J. Michael Straczynski, and his victories over a monstrous father, an abusive family, and, seemingly, an entire world out to destroy him. Jurasik soberly recounts his friend’s life, a fascinating, almost unbelievable, tale of courage and determination.

(8) BIRTH OF LASFS. More delving into the past of LA fandom at Rob Hansen’s fanhistory website THEN: “Vernon Harry and the Birth of LASFS” (originally, LASFL).

The birth of the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League was announced in the pages of the February 1935 issue of WONDER STORIES, thus:

(9) FLYING OUT OF MY… Here’s a problem most of us don’t have — “Google faces winged-monkey privacy protest”.

Google has angered a privacy expert by repeatedly identifying him as a “dwarf character actor” famous for playing a winged monkey in The Wizard of Oz.

Pat Walshe told BBC News he had had the issue resolved twice, only to discover last week it had happened again.

The issue involves his photo being run next to text from another source about a dead American who had the same name.

He now aims to make an official complaint to data privacy watchdogs. Google has once again fixed the flaw.

(10) METCALF OBIT. Longtime fan Norm Metcalf (1937-2019) died September 21, within a few months after he was hospitalized for injuries sustained in a fall.

Robert Lichtman remembers:

I knew him via the science fiction fan subculture, where he published a fanzine, New Frontiers, that saw four issues (1959-1964) with noteworthy contributors including Poul Anderson, Anthony Boucher, Stanton Coblentz,  L. Sprague de Camp, August Derleth and Wilson Tucker.  He was a longtime member of several amateur publishing associations —  the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) 1963-1969 and 1973 to the present, and the Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS) 1961-1967 and 1987 to the present — and published a variety of titles for their mailing distributions.  He also researched and edited a reference, The Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1951-1965, which was published in 1968.  Norm was a serious student of science fiction.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 3, 1961A For Andromeda aired “The Message”, the premier episode. Written by Fred Hoyle and John Elliot, this UK series was broadcast in seven episodes. As was the practice at the time, the BBC’s copies of the serial were trashed after broadcast and most of the serial still remains missing.
  • October 3, 2000 — The Dark Angel series first aired. Starring Jessica Alba, it would run for two seasons. It was executive produced by James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee andRené Echevarria. 
  • October 3, 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted on the Cartoon Network. created by George Lucas and produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the series is was renewed for a seventy season to air in 2020. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1874 Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which may been the only genre production he appeared in. (Died 1949.)
  • Born October 3, 1927 Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson, 88. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame this year.
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 75. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
  • Born October 3, 1964 — Clive Owen, 55. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 46. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) EAT YOUR GREENS. Taste of Home promises “Nestle’s New Grinch Cookie Dough Is Mean, Green and Perfect for the Holidays”.  

The Grinch is one of our all-time favorite Christmas movies, so this cookie dough is a holiday miracle. The dough bakes into scrumptious, bright green sugar cookies made for a tall glass of milk. In theme with the story we all know and love, the Grinch cookie dough features an adorable red candy heart that brings the Dr. Seuss character to life. It’s the perfect thing to bake with the kiddos (or just yourself) this year.

(15) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. The Washington Post’s Christian Davenport, reporting from Boca Chica Island, Texas, discusses the construction of Elon Musk’s spaceport on the Texas coast and the irony of having one of the world’s richest men building in one of the nation’s poorest counties: “Elon Musk’s improbable Mars quest runs through a border town concerned with more than getting to space”.

…But now, across the water on South Padre Island, the county has spent about $31 million building new pavilions and an amphitheater that would host concerts and weddings and make a prime viewing area for rocket launches. Local officials hope for a future where residents and tourists line the beach, the way they have for years along Florida’s Space Coast, cheering rockets as they tear through the sky.

“It’s exciting,” said Sofia Benavides, a county commissioner who represents Boca Chica. “I’m 69 years old and have never been to a rocket launch. For my children and grandchildren, it’s great that this is happening in their backyard.”

Not everyone is cheering, though.

A handful of residents who live next door to SpaceX’s facilities recently received letters from SpaceX, which said the company’s footprint in the area was going to be bigger and more disruptive than originally imagined. As a result, it was seeking to purchase their properties at three times the value determined by an appraiser hired by SpaceX. The deal was nonnegotiable, the letter said, and the company wanted an answer within two weeks, although some have received extensions.

Called Boca Chica Village, the area is made up of about 30 homes within walking distance of the Gulf of Mexico, occupied mostly seasonally. Many are boarded up. A few have weeds as high as the mailboxes….

(16) SNUBS. Travis M. Andrews’ “The Missing Oscars” in the Washington Post is about actors he thinks should have won Oscars but didn’t.  About a third of the people he picked were in sf or fantasy films, including Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, Michael Keaton for Beetlejuice, and Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix.  (Most of the actors he picked in sf and fantasy films were men.)

John Lithgow for
“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (1984)

Lithgow’s primary strength as an actor is range. Look at his portrayal of long-standing, slow-burning dedication in “Love is Strange,” or his take on an alien trying to understand humanity in “3rd Rock From the Sun,” or as a hardline preacher who can’t tolerate dancing in “Footloose.” At times he’s also, to use a colloquialism, realllllllly gone for it, like when he portrayed a man with multiple personalities in “Raising Cain.” That role bordered on parody, but his most extravagant performance was parody, as Lord John Whorfin/Dr. Emilio Lizardo in Earl Mac Rauch’s and W.D. Richter’s sci-fi sendup. To play the mad intergalactic doctor, Lithgow lifted an Italian accent from an MGM tailor and changed his walk to that of an “old crab, because my alien metabolism is supposed to be messed up,” he later explained. The bizarre result is a deeply committed performance that’s wildly over-the-top and a singular, hilarious character.

(17) AI. Nature’s review ofStuart Russell’s latest book examines how artificial intelligence could spin out of control: “Raging robots, hapless humans: the AI dystopia.” Full review article here (open access).

In Human Compatible, his new book on artificial intelligence (AI), Stuart Russell confronts full on what he calls “the problem of control”. That is, the possibility that general-purpose AI will ultimately eclipse the intellectual capacities of its creators, to irreversible dystopian effect.

The control problem is not new. Novelist Samuel Butler’s 1872 science-fiction classic Erewhon, for instance, features concerns about robotic superhuman intelligences that enslave their anthropoid architects, rendering them “affectionate machine-tickling aphids”. But, by 1950, Norbert Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics, was writing (in The Human Use of Human Beings) that the danger to society “is not from the machine itself but from what man makes of it”. Russell’s book in effect hangs on this tension: whether the problem is controlling the creature, or the creator. In a sense, that has been at the core of AI from its inception…

(18) APOLLO’S CREED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 28 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Arwa Haider profiles the London Video Game Orchestra, a 65-piece orchestra that will perform Assassin’s Creed Symphony at the Eventim Apollo in London on October 5. Haider interviewed the founder of MGP Live, concert producer Massimo Goletta.

In an era when the entertainment industry is obsessed with ‘immersive’ events, video game concerts also present the possibility of grand spectacle on a globalized scale, such as MGP Live’s tours of classic gaming soundtracks,  Its current show Assassin’s Creed Symphony, based on the historic action-adventure series (and co-developed with its creators, Ubisoft) premiered in Paris over the summer and elicited a six-minute standing ovation at the Palais des Congrès.  It is now embarking on an autumn tour of the US and Europe, with a full international tour planned next year.  The company works with local musicians, rather than transporting an 80-piece instrumental and choral line-up from country to country….

…Video game concerts may in fact offer a financially savvy form of ‘future-proofing’ for traditional orchestras.  A recent GlobalData reported estimated that video games could be a $300bn industry by 2025.And with each passing year and the library of games growing, the bigger the repertoire MGP Live will have to draw on. The Assassin’s Creed Symphony draws on a series that spans more than a decade, and blends what Goletta describes as ‘the epic beauty and drama of the themes.’ He enthuses, ‘There are parallels with Beethoven and Bach, then elements of world music–along with the nostalgic effect.”

The London Video Game Orchestra’s website is here.

(19) DEADPOOL DEATH. Officials have determined “’Safety failures’ led to death of Deadpool 2 stuntwoman” says BBC.

An investigation into a stuntwoman’s death on the Vancouver set of Deadpool 2 has attributed her fatal motorcycle accident to a series of safety errors.

Government agency WorkSafeBC said the film’s makers should have ensured Joi Harris was wearing a helmet.

It also said barriers should have been in place to stop her “leaving the set perimeter” on 14 August 2017.

20th Century Fox, which made the 2018 film, said it “respectfully disagree[d] with some of the report’s findings”.

“Safety is our top priority, and while we respectfully disagree with some of the report’s findings, Fox thoroughly reviewed its stunt safety protocols immediately following the tragic accident and has revised and implemented enhanced safety procedures and enforcement,” it said in a statement.

Professional road racer Harris was killed while doubling for actress Zazie Beetz in the comic book-inspired sequel.

(20) WOMAN WINS HORROR FILM AWARD. “Horror film wins first-time director Rose Glass £50,000 award”

A film-maker who set her first feature in the traditionally male-dominated horror genre has won a £50,000 prize.

Rose Glass, 30, was named the winner of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award at a ceremony held on the eve of this year’s London Film Festival.

Her film, Saint Maud, tells of a devout young nurse who becomes the full-time carer of a chronically ill dancer.

Danny Boyle, chair of the jury, called the film “a thrilling cinematic journey through madness, faith and death”.

…The bursary, one of the largest arts prizes in the UK, allows film-makers at the start of their careers time to grow and develop.

(21) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] “Canadian mint releases UFO-themed glow-in-the-dark coin”. See picture — since when does Canada have rectangular coins? Or is this some new meaning o the word “coin” that I haven’t previously been acquainted with?

Over 50 years ago, on the night of 4 October, strange lights appeared over the sky of a small Canadian fishing village.

Witnesses watched as the lights flashed and then dived towards the dark waters off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Now, what some believe to have been a UFO sighting has been commemorated by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The mint has released a collector’s coin that tells the story of a “unique and mysterious event”.

The scene on the glow-in-the-dark coin depicts a specific moment described by various eyewitnesses.

After seeing four strange flashing lights in the offshore night sky, they spotted an object 60-feet in length flying low, which dropped down at a 45 degree angle.

The coin comes with a flashlight that when used brings out the lights of the UFO, the stars in the night sky, and a haze over the water reported by locals.

(22) HAUNTED FIXER UPPER. Girl on the Third Floor is due out October 25, streaming, or limited theatrical release.

At the heart of the film is Don Koch (CM Punk), a man who is failing as a husband. For years he has skated by on charm and charisma, until it nearly landed him in jail. He now views fixing up an old house as a chance to make up for past mistakes. Meanwhile, his wife, Liz Koch, is concerned about the renovation timeline as they have a baby on the way. With all this pressure it’s no wonder Don responds to the flirtations of an attractive stranger. As Don tears the house apart, it begins to tear him apart as well, revealing the rot behind the drywall.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

Pixel Scroll 6/4/19 De Scrollus Non Est Disputpixelum

(1) CAT RAMBO. In “So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish”, Cat Rambo begins a seven-part series about her time on the SFWA board.

As I’m composing them, I’m asking you for a favor. If there is some SFWA moment that has been particularly meaningful for you in the past five years, I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to know if there is a SFWA volunteer or volunteers that have helped make your experiences with SFWA positive. This is YOUR chance to give them a shout-out; drop me an e-mail about it!

And Cat asked me:

Would you pass this along to the Filers?

I really very much would like to hear from the F&SF community at large about how they think SFWA is doing, if there’s been highlights for them, and what they’d like in the future from the organization. 

File 770 has been one of the places I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and suggestions from during my time with SFWA and it’s been the source of so many titles that I added to the recommended reading lists each year. I’m doing a lot of writing up thank yous this final month and I definitely owe them one.

(2) STRANGE HORIZONS ROUND TABLE. Participating in The Strange Horizons Book Club discussion of  Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner are Zen Cho, the award-winning author; Charlotte Geater, a poet and editor at the Emma Press; and Abigail Nussbaum, blogger, critic and columnist. The discussion is moderated by Aishwarya Subramanian.

…Kingdoms of Elfin was first published as a collection in 1977 and comprises sixteen stories by Sylvia Townsend Warner; all but two of these had originally been published in The New Yorker earlier in that decade. Set in and around various, predominantly European, fairy courts, the stories were a consequence of Warner’s desire to write “about something entirely different [than the human heart]” following the death of her partner, Valentine Ackland, in 1969. The result is a set of stories that, Greer Gilman notes in her foreword to this new edition (Handheld Press, 2018, with an introduction by Ingrid Hotz-Davies), return constantly to images of “captivity and flight. The cages here are courts, Gormenghastly in their etiquette; but glittering.”

Abigail Nussbaum: Well, I’ll take the easy answers and mention Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, for the way that it attaches class so strongly to the fairy realm, and Gormenghast, for the way that it stresses ossified rituals that govern the lives of even the most elevated members of the court (I thought the similarity was particularly notable in “The Five Black Swans”). And, of course, if you mention Clarke, you have to assume that Mirrlees and Dunsany are not far behind. They both see fairies as fundamentally irrational beings and tell stories about humans getting caught in their webs. One thing that I found interesting about the Elfland stories was how rarely humans figured into them at all, and how the arrow of irrationality tended to point the other way when they did—it’s the fairies who find humans bizarre and hard to parse.

Another connection that I made while reading and that I’ve been mulling over since then is to Tove Jansson’s Moomin books. There’s something about the way the fairy courts are constructed—hidden in the wilderness but so comfortable and hypercivilized (in a way that can be stifling as well as comfortable once you’re allowed in)—that reminds me of the Moomin house, and of the way the books, especially the later ones, reveal an undertone of wildness and danger that is only just held at bay by the Moomins’ fundamental goodness….

(3) PAY RAPT(OR) ATTENTION. Check in to Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous, an all-new animated series coming to Netflix in 2020. According to ScienceFiction.com:

Little is known about the series so far, but it will be set within the timeline from the 2015 release of ‘Jurassic World.’ The plot will have the show follow “a group of six teenagers chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a new adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar. But when dinosaurs wreak havoc across the island, the campers are stranded. Unable to reach the outside world, they’ll need to go from strangers to friends to family if they’re going to survive.”

(4) POLISHING THE BELLE. Erik Nelson argues that “Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used to Be” at Talkhouse.

The Cold Blue‘s director on his new doc, restoring William Wyler’s The Memphis Belle and propaganda and “fake news,” then and now.

“Of all the liars, the smoothest and most convincing is memory.” My pal Harlan Ellison used to say that all of the time (and he would also want you to know that that line wasn’t his. Harlan was picky about giving credit where due). How then is it possible to tell the truth about our shared past? We have recently seen the emergence of three documentaries that revolve around the restoration of archival footage to depict a forensic kind of truth. They Shall Not Grow Old takes us back to the devastating British experience of World War 1, Apollo 11 recreates a moment of technological triumph and the last call of American “can-do” optimism, and my film The Cold Blue celebrates the “last of the best,” the young men who flew suicidally dangerous combat missions in B-17s over Germany in World War II. All of these films spraying Windex onto the murky window of the past – and give it a good big-screen, immersive-sound-design wipe.

These three documentaries have all generated a surprising amount of critical attention and box-office success, clearly speaking to modern audiences in a way that has surprised many. Nostalgia for a lost past has never seemed so vital, which perhaps says more about the dysfunction and demoralization of our current life and times than we might care to admit.

As for myself, I have long been fascinated with the secret history of the 20th century. Not what is in the books, but what really happened behind the scenes and in the margins. All too often, history has been reduced to cliché, or black-and-white images that immediately distance us from the past, with the quotidian details that bring history to life obscured.

The Cold Blue was a chance for me to attend to those details, as well as pay homage to a generation that became inadvertently great, along with a filmmaker who worked very hard at staying great, William Wyler.

It started with a chance discovery of all 34 reels of the source material for Wyler’s classic documentary The Memphis Belle — filmed during the spring and summer of 1943 on 8th Air Force bases in England, and on bombing missions over Nazi occupied Europe. During production, one of Wyler’s cameramen, Harold Tannenbaum, was lost along with his plane over France. Since The Memphis Belle’s original release, all copies have deteriorated, and laboratory scratches inflicted on the original footage in 1943 remained. When I learned about the existence of the 15 hours of Wyler’s raw footage, in radiant color, that captured, home-movie style, the insanely risky missions flown by the 8th Air Force, I knew there was a new story that demanded to be told. But first, we replaced 500 individual shots of this raw footage over the 1944 The Memphis Belle’s existing soundtrack, and fully restored that film to pristine condition….

(5) COLLABORATION. Neil Gaiman was interviewed by Pasadena radio station KPCC’s The Frame today about Good Omens.

Novelist and comic book creator Neil Gaiman is no stranger to writing for television — from episodes of “Babylon 5” and “Doctor Who” to bringing his own book, “American Gods,” to the Starz network. But for his latest mini-series for Amazon, “Good Omens,” starring Michael Seen and David Tennant, Gaiman had the added task of honoring the memory of the late Terry Pratchett. In 1990, Gaiman and Pratchett co- wrote the novel, “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnus Nutter, Witch.” Before Pratchett’s death in 2015, the two had hoped to bring the story to the screen but a production never came to light. In an interview at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, Gaiman told John Horn what it’s like to finally bring “Good Omens” to television all these years later without Pratchett as a writing partner. 

(6) ON THE SHELF. Kim Huett analyzes what it takes to be “The Next Big Thing” at Doctor Strangemind.

… I’m not sure that even book series such as Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern or Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga would work (even though I’m sure many people would be excited if they did, I’d certainly like to see the latter)….

(7) RAISED BY WOLVES. This game was played before there was a throne: “Sky Italia to Explore Birth of Rome in New Series ‘Romulus'”The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

The show will be shot in archaic Latin and feature 700 stunt people and thousands of extras occupying meticulously recreated historic locations.

Sky Italia is going back in history — way back to the eighth century B.C., and the creation of Rome — in its new series Romulus. Sky is producing the new 10-episode original with ITV Studio’s Cattleya and Groenlandia.

Director Matteo Rovere (Italian Race, Drifters) will serve as showrunner for the series, which will be shot in archaic Latin. His latest film, Romulus & Remus: The First King, debuted earlier this year in Italy, revealing the mythology of the two twin brothers whose turbulent story led to the founding of Rome. Michele Alhaique and Enrico Maria Artale are also slated to direct episodes.

(8) HE BLAMES THE TROLLS. “‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Director Ron Howard Says Trolls Contributed To Poor Box Office Performance” – that’s what he told ET Canada.

…Howard believes the core fan base was interested in the product but it failed to spark the mainstream’s attention. “Whatever millions [‘Solo’] made worldwide, those were the core fans, but it didn’t hit that zeitgeist point, for whatever reason,” he told the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. “Timing, young Han Solo, pushback from the previous movie, which I kept hearing was maybe something.”

And of course, “some trolling, definitely some trolling. Some actual aggressive… It was pretty interesting,” he shared. “It was especially noticeable prior to the release of the movie. Several of the algorithms, whether it was Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, there was an inordinate push down on the ‘want to see’ and on the fan voting.”

(9) DUBLIN 2019 DAY PASSES. Available soon.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 4, 1936 Bruce Dern, 83. Here for Silent Running, a film I’d completely forgotten I’d seen until compiling this Birthday. It’s the directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull who went on to much more famous projects. He also shows up in a number of other genre films such as The Incredible 2-Headed TransplantThe HauntingThe Astronaut Farmer and Freaks. Needless to say, you’ll find him on series such as The Outer LimitsAlfred Hitchcock Presents and Land of the Giants
  • Born June 4, 1951 Wendi Pini, 68. With husband Richard, responsible for ElfquestOver the years Elfquest has been self-published by the Pinis through their own company Warp Graphics, then Marvel Comics, then the Pinis again, more recently DC Comics and then Dark Horse Comics. Everything prior to 2013 is free online. Be prepared to spend hours lost in great reading! 
  • Born June 4, 1953 Kathleen Kennedy, 66. Film producer and current president of Lucasfilm. In 1981, she co-founded the production company Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and husband Frank Marshall. If you’ve liked a major genre film, be it Raiders of the Lost ArkWho Framed Roger Rabbit or The Secret World of Arrietty to give three very random examples, she most likely had a hand in it.
  • Born June 4, 1960 Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 59. If you’ve not discovered the amazements of her Diving Universe series, you’re in for a treat — it’s that good. Her Retrieval Artist series is one that IIRC can be read in no particular order but is great deal of fun no matter where you start. Other than those two series, I’ve not read deeply of her, so recommendations are welcome. 
  • Born June 4, 1964 Sean Pertwee, 55. Let’s see, where did I see him first? Oh, of course playing Sheriff Hugh Beringar on Cadfael but that’s not really genre, is it? Captain Heinz in “Trenches of Hell, Part 2 “, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles was his first genre role followed being Pilot Smith on Event Horizon and Macbeth in a UK film the same year. He did a bit of low budget horror playing Bradley Cortese in Tale of the Mummy and likewise in being Sergeant Harry G. Wells in Dog Soldiers. There were some fairly low budget SF as well, say Father in Equilibrium. Not to mention Brother Proteus in Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie! All of which gets redeemed by his Inspector Lestrade in Elementary, a stunning take on that character. And then there’s his Alfred in Gotham. 
  • Born June 4, 1972 Joe Hill, 47. I’ve met him once or twice down the years as he shows up here in Portland for signings. Nice guy. Locke & Key is an amazing series and I’m fond of all of his short stories, particularly those collected in 20th Century Ghosts
  • Born June 4, 1975 Angelina Jolie, 44. I really liked her two Tomb Raider films and thought Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was a really cool film. I never saw her early Cyborg 2 undertakingbut think Hackers and her role as Kate “Acid Burn” Libby was rather good. I’ve not seen, nor have any desire to see, her two Maleficent films. 

(11) CARL BRANDON ON BRADBURY. This is from the pastiche “The Cacher In The Rye” by Carl Brandon (Terry Carr with Bhob Stewart), first published in 1956, and available again in Jeanne Gomoll’s collection Carl Brandon, recently published through Lulu.

Who the hell wants to see the program of a stfcon?  But anyway, we went and heard goddam Bradbury.

Bradbury’s talk wasn’t as bad as some I’ve heard.  I mean he wasn’t like old Ackerman with that toastmaster gag he pulls every convention. Bradbury just read one of his stories.  It was kind of on the cruddy side.  I know lots of fans think Bradbury is great and all, but I don’t.  He writes real smooth and all, and he’s got good characterization and lots of goddam emotion in his stories…the only trouble is he writes too good.  I mean, you don’t pay attention to what’s happening.  You just notice how good he writes.  But he was different, anyway.  A hell of a lot better than old Ackerman pulling his toastmaster gig.

(12) BIG THREE. In contrast, Charlton Comics was much kinder toward Ray in this quick bio from Haunted #61 (published in 1971).

(13) YOUNG ERB. According to True West, a magazine that covers the history of America’s Old West, Edgar Rice Burroughs’s stories were influenced by his two-year stint in the 7th U.S. Calvary as they hunted for an elusive outlaw: “Edgar Rice Burroughs Hunted the Apache Kid”.

Dateline: Fort Grant, Arizona Territory, Saturday, May 23, 1896.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, age 20, arrived here today to begin a harrowing ten-month tour of duty with the 7th U.S. Cavalry. A graduate of Michigan Military Academy, Burroughs had recently failed the entrance exam to West Point. Yet youthful optimism led him to believe a commission might still be attained from the ranks. Enlisted at Detroit with consent of his father (former Civil War Maj. George Tyler Burroughs), underage Ed had now achieved his rather perverse but expressed desire to be sent to “the worst post in the United States.” At Fort Grant his high hopes for rapid advancement would soon be crushed upon hard Arizona rocks.

Unknown to Burroughs, those same jagged rocks concealed a living legend—the Apache Kid. Kid roamed ghost-like through the remote mountain vastness, a $5,000 bounty on his head on both sides of the border. Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose own legend was still unlit, would soon join the hunt for this famed phantom outlaw—thus tying his name forever to the Apache Kid saga.”

Rob Thornton sent the link with a note of warning: “Some sexism here, including the use of the term ‘soiled dove’ when the article refers to prostitutes).”

(14) NOT SO FAST, ROBIN HOOD. NPR tells why “Astronomers Worry That Elon Musk’s New Satellites Will Ruin The View”.

Victoria Girgis was leading a public outreach session at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., when one of her guests noticed a string of lights moving high overhead.

“Occasionally, you’ll see satellites, and they look kind of like shooting stars moving through the sky,” Girgis says. “But this was a whole line of them all moving together.”

The guest hadn’t spotted a UFO invasion. Rather, it was the first installment of billionaire Elon Musk’s vision for the future: a constellation of satellites known as Starlink that’s meant to provide Internet to the entire planet.

On May 23, Musk’s company SpaceX launched a rocket that carried 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. The 500-pound satellites fanned out like a deck of cards. From the ground, they looked like a glittering string whizzing across the arc of the sky.

The crowd watched as the satellites moved in front of the small telescope Girgis had trained on some distant galaxies. The bright satellites created over two dozen streaks across an image she was taking.

“My first immediate reaction was, ‘That’s visually kind of cool,'” she says. “But my second reaction was, ‘Man you can’t see a single galaxy.’ “

The picture was useless.

(15) THE TELLTALE CURE. BBC says “‘Pumping heart patch’ ready for human use”.

A “pumping” patch containing millions of living, beating stem cells could help repair the damage caused by a heart attack, according to researchers.

Sewn on to the heart, the 3cm (1in) by 2cm patch, grown in a lab from a sample of the patient’s own cells, then turns itself into healthy working muscle.

It also releases chemicals that repair and regenerate existing heart cells.

Tests in rabbits show it appears safe, Imperial College London experts told a leading heart conference in Manchester.

Patient trials should start in the next two years, the British Cardiovascular Society meeting heard.

(16) FEAST ON THAT. And heart health is going to become important if you take up Chowhound’s offer to teach you “How to Make the Food You See in ‘Game of Thrones’”—or at least some reasonable substitutes for them.

Winter may have arrived in Westeros, but that’s not going to stop our favorite “Game of Thrones” characters—the ones who are left, anyway—from indulging in their favorite sweets, meats, and goblets upon goblets of various boozes. (Or at least that’s what we assume. Not even a White Walker seems like it’d stand in the way of a Lannister, Stark, or Targaryen and his or her meal.)

[…] While waiting to see what the final episode has in store, we’ve rounded up some of the most notable dishes below, along with recipes that you can try for yourself.

Recipes are offered for Lemon Cakes; Kidney Pie; Purple Wedding Pie; Pork Sausage, Oysters, Clams, and Cockles; Roast Boar; Whole Roasted Chicken; and Mulled Wine.

(17) 2020 BOOK FAIR. The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) returns to the Pasadena Convention Center on February 7-9, 2020 for the 53rd California International Antiquarian Book Fair

The world’s largest rare book fair, this biennial event features more than 200 exhibitors from across the globe.

In 2020, we are celebrating the 100 years of national women’s suffrage with special exhibits, lectures, and panel discussions. 

There will also be an additional exhibit and seminar in honor of the 100th anniversary of Ray Bradbury’s birth.

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

Q&A With Jason Heller About Strange Stars

ROB THORNTON: Would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?

JASON HELLER: I’m a writer, editor, and musician from Denver. I do lots of writing about music and books, including reviews and essay for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and NPR. I’m also the former nonfiction editor for Clarkesworld, and I won a Hugo as part of that editing team in 2013.

Since then, I’ve edited a couple of fiction anthologies, most recently Mechanical Animals with Selena Chambers. I’ve been playing in bands for many years, and my current band is called Weathered Statues. We just toured Europe last fall, and it was pretty amazing to get up from behind the writing desk and hit the road with my guitar!

ROB THORNTON: What inspired you to write a book about the relationship between SF/F and popular music?

JASON HELLER: My first concert was seeing David Bowie in 1987, and at that point, I was already a huge fan of science fiction. I devoured books and music as a kid, and the deeper I got into Bowie, the more I began to pick up on these hints and fragments of futurism and science fiction in the music I heard on the radio, including bands like Rush, Devo, and Parliament.

Years later, after becoming a professional music journalist, I began writing lots of essays about the crossover between my two biggest loves, and in 2015 I started shopping around a book proposal for a history of this crossover. When Bowie died in 2016, I was already in the midst of writing Strange Stars. He was always going to be the central figure in the book, so that heartbreaking loss lit an extra fire under me.

Basically, I’ve always thought that music has never been given due credit for being one of the most fertile and inventive vessels for science fiction concepts and storytelling. In a nutshell, I wanted to set the record straight and show how so many works of popular music should be considered part of the science fiction canon.

Jason Heller

ROB THORNTON: What kind of audience do you envision for the book?

JASON HELLER: I hope that anyone remotely interested in the realms of science fiction or popular music would find something to float their boat in Strange Stars. I tried to walk the pathway between the two as sensitively as I could; I didn’t want to assume that all science fiction lovers are huge music nerds or vice versa (although, of course, many are, myself included).

Of course, I hoped my fellow Bowie fans would be particularly intrigued, but the book is not about Bowie only. Everything from obscure disco to underground punk is covered in Strange Stars, along with the huge artists you might automatically expect, such as Pink Floyd and Rush. I made every attempt to tease out to the bigger picture, the overall narrative arc, that connects everything from Heinlein to Kraftwerk to Star Wars, so there’s a story to be absorbed, not just a guide to great music for people to discover.

ROB THORNTON: How did you decide to use David Bowie’s career as a recurring theme in Strange Stars?

JASON HELLER: If all the musicians who were influenced by science fiction in the ’70s, David Bowie was the most visible, not to mention the most visibly science-fictional. But more than that, his very influential contributions to science-fiction music bookended that decade perfectly; he released his first science-fiction hit single, “Space Oddity,” in 1969, and he released “Ashes to Ashes,” the sequel to “Space Oddity,” in 1980. The ’70s fit perfectly between those songs, and as it turns out, Bowie’s on-off fascination and engagement with science fiction that decade perfectly paralleled so many larger events and trends that were happening in both science and science fiction, as well as in popular music. To use him as the barometer of science fiction rock in the ’70s just felt like the most natural thing I could do. Almost all roads in science fiction music lead either to or from Bowie in the ’70s.

ROB THORNTON: What was it like to work with editors on a book about the intersection of two minutiae-oriented pop cultures?

JASON HELLER: I loved working with my editor at Melville House, Ryan Harrington, who is not only brilliant but also very good at pointing out how my crazy, sprawling idea for a book could be focused into something tighter and more accessible. He helped me immensely when it came to making Strange Stars a book that both music fans and science fiction fans could relate to.

ROB THORNTON: Who was your favorite interview for Strange Stars and why?

JASON HELLER: I actually didn’t interview anyone for Strange Stars! It was all meticulous and exhausting research, including lots of quotes from past interviews with the musicians I covered in the book. Since Bowie died while I was in the process of writing Strange Stars, the possibility of interviewing him was sadly off the table. I figured if I couldn’t interview the main person in this book, it would feel imbalanced if I interviewed many of the lesser figures in my narrative, as important as they each are in their own right.

And it turned out there was simply no shortage of research material out there! As it is, I had to leave out tons of great quotes and anecdotes that weren’t entirely necessary to the story I was telling. If I’d had another few tens of thousands of words of original interview material to incorporate into Strange Stars, it would have vastly exceeded the wordcount my publisher gave me to work with! But I think everything worked out for the best.

ROB THORNTON: What was the most rewarding audio discovery you made while you were writing the book?

JASON HELLER: I made so, so many discoveries while working on Strange Stars. I went into this project thinking I had a pretty deep knowledge of science-fiction-influenced music, but as it turned out, I knew maybe half the story. Of all the musical rabbitholes I went down while researching for the book, the one that delighted me the most was science fiction funk. I’d always known that funk (and disco) were important parts of my story, and I collect funk and disco records from the ’70s, but none of that prepared me for the wealth of groups and artists of the era who contributed to the canon of science-fiction funk, besides the big names we all probably know like Parliament-Funkadelic.

If I had to pick a favorite discovery, it would be the 1979 song “Dark Vader” by Instant Funk. In it, the story of Darth Vader is retold from a sympathetic perspective — remember, this was before the revelations about his character seen a year later in The Empire Strikes Back! — that folds Star Wars fanfic and blaxploitation swagger into Afrofuturism. As I point out in Strange Stars, the song does for Darth Vader what Wicked did for The Wicked Witch of the West decades later.

ROB THORNTON: What surprised you the most during the research for Strange Stars? I was amazed to learn that Ian Curtis wanted to work with Michael Moorcock!

JASON HELLER: That was definitely one of the biggest surprises to me too! It’s hard to imagine what a collaboration between Joy Division and Michael Moorcock would have sounded like, but it’s amazing just to know they actually conversed about the prospect prior to Curtis’ death in 1980. Joy Division are so deeply associated with the bleak futurism (no-futurism?) of the post-punk movement, and Moorcock resides at the other end of the ’70s science-fiction-music spectrum thanks to his close ties to Hawkwind.

The kinship between Curtis and Moorcock is one of those startling little anecdotes I dug up that really tied so much of Strange Stars together for me. Likewise, so did the discovery that Paul McCartney asked Gene Roddenberry to help him write a science fiction musical for Wings in 1975! It never came about, of course, but wow, if only.

ROB THORNTON: How would you describe the relationship between popular music and SF/F?

JASON HELLER: It’s an interesting relationship. Neither popular music nor science fiction/fantasy acknowledge each other that openly. Crossovers pop up all the time — and as I detail in Strange Stars, they were especially rife in the ’70s — but there’s almost an introvert/extrovert dichotomy the two. That’s a massive oversimplification, but I think it does get to the heart of it, in a way.

Music is an openly joyous and collective thing; SF/F, and literature in general, is more intimately and personally experienced. But when the two feed off each other, the results can bring out the best in both. I’ve always wished the SF/F world in particular would pay more attention to the many musicians who struggle to find an audience with their science-fiction music, but I’m just happy people still make such music and pay attention to its rich history at all. Which is why writing Strange Stars was such an honor for me.

Pixel Scroll 6/17/18 Come Away, O Meredithed Book, To The Kindle And The Nook

(1) ADVICE AND DISSENT. When Elon Musk described himself as “…a utopian anarchist of the kind best described by Iain Banks” on Twitter he got plenty of pushback. Soon Lee and Rob Thornton report that the pushers included Charles Stross, Hal Duncan, Cory Doctorow, and —

For those who need an introduction, Edward Champion’s 2013 essay “The Culture Novels of Iain M. Banks” looks promising:

When not committing his considerable energies to such intense Bildungsromans as The Wasp Factory or bleak-humored narratives like The Crow Road, Banks inserts an M into “Iain Banks” and writes science fiction novels. Most of these speculative volumes concern the Culture, a utopian-anarchist society that extends across a sizable cluster of the universe. These Culture vultures gambol across the galaxy in ships with such eccentric names as Don’t Try This at Home and Serious Callers Only. Culture citizens live for centuries, and can even change their appearances if they grow discontent with their corpora. These conditions encourage these civilized sybarites to have more fun than a flighty Dalmatian discovering a chiaroscuro sea of spotty companions. Never mind that there’s always an intergalactic war going on.

(2) DOLLAR BLAST. Just as you’d expect superheroes to do: “‘Incredibles 2’ crushes animation box office record”.

The Disney and Pixar film premiered to an estimated $180 million at the domestic box office this weekend. The sequel to the popular 2004 computer animated film soared past the record for biggest animated film opening in box office history by $45 million.

That record belonged to another Pixar film, “Finding Dory,” which opened to roughly $135 million two summers ago.

So far the film brought in $231.5 million around the world.

(3) BIG CAT. Should an owner discourage the ambitions of an SJW credential?

(4) HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED LEX. Some fantastic beasts who practice law in Hollywood are sowing darkness across the land: “Warner Bros. Crackdown Puts Dark Mark Over Harry Potter Festivals”.

Warner Bros. is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it’s necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they wll transfigure the events into generic celebrations of magic.

“It’s almost as if Warner Bros. has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town,” said Sarah Jo Tucker, a 21-year-old junior at Chestnut Hill College, which hosts a Quidditch tournament that has coincided with an annual Harry Potter festival in suburban Philadelphia.

Philip Dawson, Chestnut Hill’s business district director, said Warner Bros. reached out to his group in May, letting them know new guidelines prohibit festivals’ use of any names, places or objects from the film series. That ruled out everything from meet-and-greet with Dumbledore and Harry to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.

(5) WELL ABOVE MINIMUM WAGE. Owen King tells readers of The New Yorker about “Recording Audiobooks For My Dad, Stephen King”.

My father gave me my first job, reading audiobooks on cassette tape. He had caught on to the medium early, but, as he explained later, “There were lots of choices as long as you only wanted to hear ‘The Thorn Birds.’ ” So, one day, in 1987, he presented me with a handheld cassette recorder, a block of blank tapes, and a hardcover copy of “Watchers,” by Dean Koontz, offering nine dollars per finished sixty-minute tape of narration.

This was an optimistic plan on my father’s part. Not only was I just ten years old, but when it came to reading aloud I had an infamous track record. My parents and I still read books together each night, and I had recently begun demanding an equal turn as narrator. Along our tour through Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped,” I had tested their love with reckless attempts at a Scottish accent for the revolutionary Alan Breck Stewart, whom the novel’s protagonist, David Balfour, befriends. Even as they pleaded for me to stop, I made knee-deep haggis of passages like the following:

“Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins, the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.”

Despite this, my father enlisted me to narrate “Watchers.”

(6) WHAT A RUSH. It’s not going to take long for Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2018 to fill up –

(7) ARCHEOVIDEOLOGY. Echo Ishii returns to the history of TV sff in “SF Obscure: Ace of Wands.

Ace of Wands is an ITV fantasy show broadcast in 1971 to 1972. It’s technically a children’s/ family show, but it’s fairly sophisticated and one that held my interest. Ace of Wands ran for three series, however, only the third series remains. At the time, ITV wiped old series due to the high cost of production materials and storage.

(8) CATCHY TITLE. Anna-Marie Abell gave her novel an irresistible name — Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth. For the next couple of days it’s a 99-cent special on Amazon. If somebody reads it they can tell the rest of us whether it lives up to the promise of the cover.

Anna-Marie Abell grew up in a trailer park. Well, several actually. Her trailer was on wheels so she got to experience the Pacific Northwest’s vast array of mobile home parks as her parents moved her from one to the other. Somewhere along the way, she got totally into UFOs. Probably because she was hoping extraterrestrials would come and abduct her. But they never did. Luckily for her she was smart, because her only hope of escaping trailer life was college and a full scholarship. Moving to sunny California on her almost full ride to Chapman University, she was well on her way to her new life. Two bachelor degrees later (Film and Television Production and Media Performance), and several honors and awards for her accomplishments, she managed to start working in an almost completely unrelated industry from her majors: infomercials.

It was in college that she got bit by the “ancient alien” bug after listening to Zecharia Sitchin on Coast to Coast AM. In her pursuit to uncover the truth, she has spent the last twenty years researching the ancient Sumerian culture—in particular their “gods” called the Anunnaki—and their connection to the creation of the human race. What she found changed her life, her beliefs, and her understanding of the universe and everything beyond. Her humorous science fiction trilogy, The Anunnaki Chronicles, is a culmination of all her research, her borderline obsession for all things paranormal, and approximately 2,300 bottles of wine.

(9) FRONT, PLEASE. Dorothy Grant’s “Cover caveats” at Mad Genius Club is a great introduction to the process.

So where do you find your cover art and cover designer? Well, you can search the premade options put together by artists and designers, so you know exactly what it’ll look like when you get the “Your Title” swapped out for your actual title, and “Author Name” swapped for your pen name or real name.

Or you can get one designed for you. If you have no idea what you want or need, this can involve writing up a short description of the book or sending the book to the designer. Be aware that a busy professional designer probably will not read your entire book, but is skimming for worldfeel, character descriptions, possibly an iconic scene.

Or, if you’re a little more artistically inclined, you’ll send the designer / artist basically three sets of URLs.

First, links to bestselling books in the same subgenre that have covers similar to what you want. (send 3, so they can get a feel for what’s standard to that subgenre vs. particular to that single cover.)

Second, Send them URLs from stock photo sites that say “models like this”

Third, URLs from stock photo sites saying “backgrounds like this”

Artists think in pictures, not words, so communicate in visuals as much as possible.

(10) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. I watched the first part of Live Slush Session 2 and was intrigued to hear Baen’s publisher and a contributing editor give candid reactions to authors’ manuscripts.

Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf and “Slushmaster General” Gray Rinehart read the openings of volunteer submissions to give writers some insight into the evaluation process.

 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian saw how Deadpool celebrates Father’s Day at Brevity.
  • And Ben Solo’s dad featured in yesterday’s Brevity.
  • Mike Kennedy sent along Pearls Before Swine’s suggestion for how to get people to read. (He didn’t say it was a good suggestion….)

(12) ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL. The Stage’s George Hall reviews the opera based on a Silverberg story: “To See the Invisible review at Britten Studio, Snape – ‘a musical patchwork’”.

New at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, Emily Howard’s chamber opera To See The Invisible has been freely adapted by playwright Selma Dimitrijevic from a taut and distinctly Kafkaesque short story by the American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg.

The central character has been found guilty of the crime of coldness and is sentenced to a year’s invisibility, during which he is completely ignored by (almost) everyone he meets.

In Dimitrijevic’s libretto the character’s isolation remains severe, though he now has a family consisting of a mother, father and sister. His encounters with them and other individuals – in court, in a public gardens and a brothel – ameliorate his plight while also allowing some of Silverberg’s focused purity to dissipate.

In the opera he also has a kind of shadow in the shape of what the libretto describes as The Other Invisible – Anna Dennis’ female soprano regularly in synch with Nicholas Morris’ baritonal male. The character’s dual vocality is undoubtedly one of the more successful features of Howard’s score….

(13) IT’S NOT EASY BEING MEAN. Olga Polomoshnova analyzes the villain who gave evil a bad name — “On Sauron’s motives” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.

Having risen like the shadow of Morgoth, Sauron was nevertheless different from his former lord. His downfall arose out of good motives, nor was he the beginner of discord. Sauron belonged to the Maiar — spirits created from Ilúvatar’s thought. He came into existence before the physical world took shape. Originally Sauron, who was known as Mairon (the Admirable) at that time, was associated with the people of Aulë, so he was a very skillful smith….

(14) EATON PHOTOS ONLINE. Andrew Porter labors on, identifying people in Jay Kay Klein’s photos. At the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3, this shot of a panel audience showed Walt Liebscher, Ray Fisher, Arnie Katz, Lee Hoffman, and Bob Tucker:

(15) A PENNYFARTHING FOR YOUR THOUGHTS. Ninety years ago, when Frank R. Paul painted his cities of the future, he didn’t include any bicycles at all. Now the BBC is asking — “Tomorrow’s Cities: Will the bike become an urban must-have?”

Fifteen years ago there were just four bike-sharing schemes in cities around the world, but now there are close to 1,000.

Most require you to pick up and leave a bike at a designated area, but new “dockless” schemes from China are coming to cities around the world – and proving controversial.

(16) THE MUMMY DIET. There’s a blog devoted to mummies, and Michele Brittany’s Musing on Mummies is up to “Episode 11: Sokushinbutsu and the Mummification Method Not Often Discussed”.

Ii-wey! Natural or intentional is usually what comes to mind when discussing the process of mummification. Certain environments, deserts, high altitudes or arid cold for example, will naturally dry the deceased, arresting the process of decay as a result. Intentional mummification requires human intervention after a person has died and most often, the Egyptian mummies come to mind. However, there is a third process that is not as well known.

Sokushinbutsu is a Japanese term that refers to a Buddhist mummy that remained incorrupt, or without decay after death….

(17) RADIO FREE BRADBURY. Listen to Ray Bradbury’s Tales of the Bizarre on BBC Radio 4. Four episodes are available online, with three more to come.

(18) NOT THIS WAY. “Astronaut Chris Hadfield says the rockets from NASA, SpaceX, and Blue Origin won’t take people to Mars” — Hadfield told Business Insider why he’s skeptical.

…NASA’s Space Launch System, which is slated to debut in the 2020s, will power its engines with a combination of liquid hydrogen and solid chemical fuels. Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, is also looking to use liquid hydrogen. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is staking its future on burning liquid methane, which the company believes it can generate on the Martian surface.

Like other experts, Hadfield doesn’t doubt that any of the vehicles could actually get to Mars; his issue is about the safety of any humans on board. Explosions, radiation, starvation, and other problems would constantly threaten a mission.

“We could send people to Mars, and decades ago. I mean, the technology that took us to the moon back when I was just a kid, that technology can take us to Mars — but it would be at significant risk,” he said. “The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it. They’d die. Because the technology is still quite primitive.”

(19) EMMY TREK. Star Trek: Discovery submitted a long list of material to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in over 20 categories. The full list is available at the linked GoldDerby story: ”’Star Trek: Discovery’ Emmy Submissions: How Many Will it Win?”.

That post also links to a separate story showing Trek Emmy winners from the past series.

The original “Star Trek” series ran from 1966-1969 and didn’t win any Emmys, but it was nominated 13 times, including twice for Best Drama Series (1967-1968). “Star Trek: The Next Generation” followed two decades later and aired for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994, during which time it won a whopping 19 Emmys, all in Creative Arts categories. “TNG” struggled in top races, however, and wasn’t nominated for Best Drama Series until 1994 for its final season.

(20) DON’T QUIXOTE. Terry Gilliam’s tragedy-plagued project is still plagued but it may not be his anymore. Io9 reports: “Terry Gilliam Has Lost the Rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”.

Well, this is a strange new chapter in one of the strangest stories in modern film. For decades, famed genre director (and former Monty Python, uh, snake) Terry Gilliam struggled to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his own surreal take on the classic Spanish novel. He succeeded, finally, with a rendition starring Adam Driver, and the film premiered this year at Cannes Film Festival.

Except, uh, apparently Terry Gilliam just lost the rights to it. Yes, that’s correct: as reported by Screen Rant, the Paris Court of Appeal just ruled in favor of the film’s former producer, Paulo Brancho, who sued for rights to the project on the grounds that Gilliam made the film illegally.

(21) OH NOOO…. When will they make an end? Comicbook.com is spreading the alarm, er, the — “Rumor: ‘Star Wars’ Actor Claims 9 Movies in Development, Including More ‘Story’ Stand-Alones”. Voice actor Tom Kane is said to have claimed there are nine Star Wars movies in some stage of development. Kane has provided voices for Star Wars video games (starting with Shadows of the Empire in 1996), TV shows (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels), and several of the more recent movies (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi).

Only six of the projects are known:

Disney-owned Lucasfilm also has plans for fan-favorite Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and famed bounty hunter Boba Fett, who will reportedly receive his own stand-alone from 3:10 to Yuma and Logan director James Mangold.

Lucasfilm is also said to be developing an all-new trilogy under The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson, which will be unconnected to the Skywalker saga depicted in the episodic installments and set in an unexplored corner of the galaxy.
Johnson’s producer, Ram Bergman, recently gave an update on the “completely new trilogy,” saying, “It’s all new characters. Everything is new.” The project, he added, is “just in the early stages.”

Abrams’ Episode IX, Johnson’s planned three-movie series, and two new anthologies in Obi-Wan and Boba Fett make six, leaving three supposed projects on the docket.

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

Finding New Science Fiction and Fantasy: The Short Form

By Rob Thornton:  In the Pixel Scroll for March 11, 2018, the Filers discussed a blog post from Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, which alleged that science fiction was “no longer writing” what he wanted to read. As a result of those discussions, John A Arkansawyer suggested that someone create a resource named “Seven simple ways for the casual SF fan to find a likely new book without investing too much time.”

This post attempts to fulfill that request. Here is a collection of links to sites that generate lists of newly published science fiction and fantasy books. If possible, the link leads to a source’s latest list (such as Amazon). If not, the link leads to a list of search results (such as “best new science fiction and fantasy” at Barnes & Noble) which captures the most recent lists. Please add other sources in the comments.

Direct Links

Search Results

Standalone Novels:

Thanks to: Both JJ and Dann for making contributions to the list and additional thanks to JJ for cleaning up some of my links as well.

Filers Destroy Lyrics

While you’re waiting for Santa, appertain yourself a hot chocolate (or stiff belt), settle back, and enjoy this collection of some parody verses and holiday filks that Filers have been leaving in comments the past few months.

Camestros Felapton

Did you get my vote, Chuck Tingle?
I can’t remember another Hugo vote like this
You were on their slate Chuck Tingle
But you were parodying yourself and softly pounding something new
I could see the cheesy artwork
And sounds of raptor calls were coming from the blue

There was something on the slate that starred
The buckaroos were hard, Chuck Tingle
They were pounding there for you and me
For liberty, Chuck Tingle
Though I hope that No Award will win
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Chuck Tingle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQsjAbZDx-4

Kip W

Don’t put your pixel in the scroll, Missus Woofington,
Don’t put your pixel in the scroll.
For the publishing field is vicious, and the going’s dog eat dog
The editing scene is angry and mean,
It’s right there in my blog.
It’s a quick read, though not substantial, I may say,
And written in a cloying way
And that’s enough of that.
No Award, Missus Woofington,
FNORD, Missus Woofington!
Don’t put your pixel in the scroll!

Camestros Felapton

Pokestops abound in San Jose
But I’ve been away so long, I might go wrong and catch a Magikarp
Pokestops are great in San Jose
I’m going back to find an electric kind in San Jose

Stoic Cynic

With profuse apologies to Porgy, Bess, George Gershwin, and 33,000 cover versions
(really, 33,000! Wikipedia says so):

Hugo Time And the votin’s not easy
Pups are slatin’
And the rotten is high

Your reading’s done
And No Award’s good lookin’
So hush little voter
Don’t you cry

One of these WorldCons
Pups’re going to give up trolling
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll fly to the sky

But till that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With EPH & 3SV standing by

One of these WorldCons
Pups’re going to give up trolling
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll fly to the sky

But till that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With EPH & 3SV standing by

PhilRM http://file770.com/?p=32560&cpage=1#comment-524729

Pacific Rim, Or A Vision on A Screen

For robinareid, because it’s all her fault.** **Not actually her fault. I took laudanum a few liberties with meter, but then, so did Coleridge.

In Pacific Rim did del Toro
A desp’rate Shatterdome decree;
The last defense ‘gainst humans’ foe,
By airlift mighty Jaegers go
Down to a Kaiju sea.

So twice ten miles of city ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
A bulwark to end the toll of Kaiju-kills.
But here is where I must beg to disagree
With those enthralled by Kaiju-punching thrills:
This movie really didn’t work for me.

Because oh! To me it doesn’t make any sense:
Why must they rely on giant robot fists?
We have missiles and nukes – mighty armaments!
Why don’t you zip it? replies the audience.
Can’t you see we’re all really enjoying this?
So: from the portal, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in CGI were breathing,
Two mighty Kaiju sinuously emerge.
Humanity’s end now looms on the verge:
While critical Kaiju-lore has been acquired,
A scientist’s bold risk that must be admired
Has tragically caused a new scale of trouble:
The Kaiju assault has literally doubled.
The Kaiju-pair’s most cruel and murderous attack
On crews Russian, Chinese and Australian –
Impossibly fierce – through no human failing
Leaves the noble Jaegers scattered like sea-wrack.
To face the next peril from Kaiju-hell:
Two half-teams, and two battered Jaeger shells.

To seal the breach is the only throw:
Chance so slight it’s all but lost.
A hopeless trip to depths below?
“No!” cries Stacker Pentecost:
“I don’t care if it’s Kaiju five or six;
“We are cancelling the apocalypse!”

Once child-wounded Mako Mori
As warrior does arise;
And enter into brave company,
To share the Drift with staunch Raleigh
New-found friend and best ally.
Chuck and Stacker clear the way
By noble sacrifice;
Gypsy Danger will the Kaiju slay,
With thermonuclear device.
Passage secured by Kaiju-skin,
They face the peril of the breach;
The Kaiju-masters wait within.
Will dauntless heroes really win?
Wait! They have a safety margin:
Rescue by escape pod (one each).
Compelled I’ll credit them with this:
The story ends without a kiss.
Mako Mori Test for the win.

Simon Bisson http://file770.com/?p=32440&cpage=2#comment-521355

"Santa Mike" by Lynn Maudlin

“Santa Mike” by Lynn Maudlin

Twas the night before Worldcon, when all through the blog
Not a godstalk was stirring, not even a fan
The pixels were scrolled by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Mike Glyer soon would be there.

The commenters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Hugo Awards danced in their heads.
And mamma in her lettercol, and I in my Chrome,
Had just settled our laptops for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the web there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the keyboard to see what was the matter.
Away to the Windows went Adobe Flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature pixel and eight tiny scrolls.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be our Mike
More rapid than eagles his bloggers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now, Kyra! now, Camestros! now, Kurt and Paul!
On, Meredith On, Hampus! on, Red and Wombat!
To the top of the page! to the top of the Google!
Now scroll away! Scroll away! Scroll away all!”

As dry scrolls that before the wild pixels fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the bloggers they flew,
With the sleigh full of books and Mike Glyer too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The scrolling and pixeling of each little post
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Mike Glyer came with a bound.

He was dressed all in badges from his head to his foot,
And his pixels were all tarnished with ashes and scroll.
A bundle of Hugos he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a faned, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they pixeled, his dimples how scrolled!
His cheeks were like gravatars, his nose like an emojii!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a scroll,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pixel he held tight in his teeth,
And the scroll it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his pixel and a twist of his scroll,
Soon gave me to know I had a huge to-be-read.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the scrollings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the pixel he rose!

He sprang to his posts, to his scrolls gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a pixel,
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Worldcon to all, and to all a good-fan!”

Kurt Busiek http://file770.com/?p=32472&cpage=1#comment-521579

“Pixels and scrolls, pixels and scrolls
Mean so much more when I see
Pixeled and scrolled declarations
On File Seven Seven, um, Tee”

Jack Lint http://file770.com/?p=32472&cpage=1#comment-522130

The file and the pixel,
When they are on a roll,
Of all sites that are on the web,
The file bears the scroll.

Rob Thornton http://file770.com/?p=32472&cpage=2#comment-522307

On a Sunday morning slidewalk,
I’m wishing, Lord, that I was scrolled.
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a pixel feel alone….

rea http://file770.com/?p=32472&cpage=2#comment-522495

Outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did scroll
Two pixels were approaching
And the wind began to howl

Rev. Bob http://file770.com/?p=32614&cpage=1#comment-526891

This is the theme to Pixel Scrolls
The off-meter theme to Pixel Scrolls
Filers looked me up and asked if I would filk a theme song

It’s almost halfway finished
No, I didn’t say it was Finnish
How do you like this ode to Pixel Scrolls?

This is the theme to Pixel Scrolls
The crudely-filked theme to Pixel Scrolls
This is the tune that’s guaranteed to shoo off all the Barflies
We’re almost to the part
Where I run out of lyrics
Now let’s read the latest Pixel Scroll!

Charon D. http://file770.com/?p=32614&cpage=2#comment-527403

What pixel is this who scrolled to rest
From Glyer’s laptop of wonders
Where scrollers revel in riotous puns
And appertain when they find blunders

This, this is pixel scroll!
Where fifths flow freely and so do trolls
Tick, tick, the follow-up box
Or you might miss some epic filking

Tom Becker http://file770.com/?p=32667&cpage=1#comment-528522

It’s beginning to look a lot like pixels
Everywhere you go
Take a look in the seven and seventy glistening once again
With rocket pins and silver scrolls aglow