Pixel Scroll 10/15/16 Go Hang A Pixel, I’m A Lasagna Scroll.

(1) SPACE REMAINS THE FINAL FRONTIER. Howard Tayler is right – pass along the dream.

(2) A CENTURY OF CARL SLAUGHTER. Adding together all the interviews, book features, series features, author profiles, essays, and news items he’s written for File 770, today I published Carl’s 99th and 100th submissions. I’m grateful he’s been so generous with his talent here.

(3) AGENT SECRETS. Liana Brooks tells aspiring writers when is “The Best Time To Query”.

These are just the tidbits that everyone in the industry takes for granted and assumes everyone knows.

1 – Literary agents close for several months of the year so always check their websites to see if they are open to queries right now.

2 – Summer is con season and, on Fridays, the agents and editors leave work early. If your deadline falls on a Friday, make sure the manuscript gets in early.

3 – Between Thanksgiving (American) and Groundhog’s Day, publishing is slow and full of NO. Everyone wants to clear their desk for the new year and empty their inboxes so agents (and editors) are quicker to say no this time of year.

That means February is one of the best times to query. Everyone is back from their holidays. Everyone is over their “no booze” New Year’s Resolution. Everyone is excited about the coming spring and in the mood to say YES!

(4) ATWOOD DISAPPROVES DYLAN WIN. Margaret Atwood, in England to receive the PEN Pinter Prize, had this exchange with her Guardian interviewer:

On Thursday, just as I am saying goodbye to Margaret Atwood at the end of our interview, I get a text message. “Oh,” I say. “Bob Dylan’s won the Nobel prize.” She is about to have her photograph taken, and is arranging a rakish grey felt hat atop her steely curls. She looks at me, opens her mouth very slightly, and widens her eyes. They are the faintly unrealistic blue of a Patagonian glacier.

“For what?” she says, aspirating the word “what” with devastating effect.

If Atwood herself occasionally checks her phone for missed calls from Stockholm on such mornings, she does not admit to it; in any case, fellow Canadian Alice Munro’s victory in 2013, commemorated with a generous tribute by Atwood in this paper, will have queered that particular pitch for some years to come.

(5) BUT HOW DID THIS NOT PREVENT DYLAN FROM WINNING THE NOBEL PRIZE? Though it may be the reason it took so long.

(6) BOB WEINBERG MEMORIAL. Steven H Silver sent this report about the celebration of the late Robert Weinberg, who passed away September 25.

A memorial party was held for Bob Weinberg today at the Orland Park (IL) Civic Center from 12:00-4:30. There were about 70 people attending. Doug Ellis and others spoke about their relationship with Bob. Attached is a picture showing Phyllis and Alex Eisenstein, Tina Jens, Randy Broecker, and Richard Chwedyk. Images of Bob and his art collection were shown on a screen and some of Bob’s jigsaw puzzles were available for people to work on or take home.

bob-weinbergs-memorial-c

(7) AVOIDING ANTISOCIAL MEDIA. Kevin Hearne is taking a break from Twitter and Facebook, however, he still recommends Instagram and imzy.

I am currently hiding from the icky people of the world. Many of them are on Twitter, so I’ve taken a Twitter break until after the election. Quite a few are also on Facebook so I’ve stopped hanging around there too: It’s like people are just waiting for you to show up so they can poot in your face. I’ve noticed that if I spend any time on either platform my mood turns sour like milk from four months ago, and I’d rather not let that negativity poison my days.

I am, however, still posting happy pictures on Instagram, if you’d like to follow me there: I’m @kevin_hearne. And I’m on imzy as well. If you’d like to follow me there & become part of that community, click on this link, ask for an invitation, and I’ll approve it quick as I can.

Both Instagram and imzy, I have found, are poot-free.

(8) ADD THESE TO MOUNT TBR. Open Culture has a list of five for us: “A Clockwork Orange Author Anthony Burgess Lists His Five Favorite Dystopian Novels: Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Island & More”.

Before John Stuart Mill coined the word “dystopia” in 1868, pessimistic post-Enlightenment thinker Jeremy Bentham created an earlier, perhaps even scarier, word, “cacotopia,” the “imagined seat of the worst government.” This was the term favored by Anthony Burgess, author of one of the most unsettling dystopian novels of the last century, A Clockwork Orange. Depicting a chaotic future England filled with extreme criminal violence and an unnerving government solution, the novel can be read as either, writes Ted Gioia, “a look into the morality of an individual, or as an inquiry into the morality of the State.” It seems to me that this dual focus marks a central feature of much successful dystopian fiction: despite its thoroughly grim and pessimistic nature, the best representatives of the genre present us with human characters who have some agency, however limited, and who can choose to revolt from the oppressive conditions (and usually fail in the attempt) or to fully acquiesce and remain complicit.

(9) STEAMING ALONG. Gail Carriger includes lots of photos with “Con Report ~ Fun at Gaslight Gathering in San Diego”.

I really wish this con were closer to me, I would go every year if I could. It was like meeting old friends for the first time (shout out to Madame Askew and The Grand Arbiter). Tea Dueling is my new favorite sport of all time and everyone should do it everywhere forever.

(10) RINGS. From NPR: “Spin To Survive: How ‘Saturn On Steroids’ Keeps From Self-Destructing”. The accompanying astronomical art is by Ron Miller.

In 2007, data showed that a young star about 400 light years away from our solar system was blinking. It was being covered, uncovered and covered again in what astronomers call a “series of complex eclipses.”

The eclipses told astronomers that something was orbiting the young star, and that the something was very large….

…In 2012, [Eric Mamajek] and colleagues published a paper announcing what they thought was causing what he calls “the weird eclipse.”

It was an enormous ring system swirling around a planet.

“This planet is much larger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is roughly 200 times larger than Saturn’s rings are today,” Mamajek said at the time….

(11) FRANCE IN 2023. The fans behind the Worldcon in France bid are holding an awareness meeting at Utopiales on October 29.

(12) THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE. Terry Bisson’s classic “Bears Discover Fire” is available as a free read at Lightspeed Magazine.

“What’s this I hear about bears discovering fire?” she said on Tuesday. “It’s true,” I told her as I combed her long white hair with the shell comb Wallace had brought her from Florida. Monday there had been a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal, and Tuesday one on NBC or CBS Nightly News. People were seeing bears all over the state, and in Virginia as well. They had quit hibernating, and were apparently planning to spend the winter in the medians of the interstates. There have always been bears in the mountains of Virginia, but not here in western Kentucky, not for almost a hundred years. The last one was killed when Mother was a girl. The theory in the Courier-Journal was that they were following 1-65 down from the forests of Michigan and Canada, but one old man from Allen County (interviewed on nationwide TV) said that there had always been a few bears left back in the hills, and they had come out to join the others now that they had discovered fire.

“They don’t hibernate anymore,” I said. “They make a fire and keep it going all winter.”

“I declare,” Mother said. “What’ll they think of next!”

The nurse came to take her tobacco away, which is the signal for bedtime.

(13) PRE-ARRIVAL RAVES. Comedian Patton Oswalt (who is also a geek supreme) did a tweet storm that raved about the upcoming movie Arrival, based on Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life.”

Arrival comes to theaters on November 11.

(14) STOP THE PRESSES. While I was finishing the Scroll (or so I thought) Tom Becker posted this instant classic Dylanesque filk lyrics.

Scroll along the pixel tower
Filers kept the view
While all the SMOFs came and went
Techno-peasants, too
Outside, in the distance
An angry troll did growl
Two puppies were approaching
The wind began to howl

[Thanks to Rob Thornton. John King Tarpinian, Petréa Mitchell, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Josh Jasper. Hate to disillusion anyone, but I don’t know what this one means myself…]

Pixel Scroll 10/13/16 A Simple Pixeltory Scrollipic

(1) FREE CLIMATE CHANGE SF ANTHOLOGY. Twelve stories from the Climate Fiction Short Story Contest are collected in Everything Change, a new fiction anthology from Arizona State University’s Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative (ICF). Kim Stanley Robinson wrote the foreword, and there is also an interview with Pablo Bacigalupi.

In the midst of Earth’s hottest year on record, the effects of climate change are more apparent than ever. But how do we come to grips with the consequences on the ground, for actual people in specific places? New York Times bestselling science fiction author Paolo Bacigalupi believes the answer lies in fiction: “Fiction has this superpower of creating empathy in people for alien experiences. You can live inside of the skin of a person who is utterly unlike you.”

The anthology includes the grand prize winner of the Climate Fiction Short Story Contest, “Sunshine State,” a quasi-utopian disaster story set in the Florida Everglades. The story’s authors, Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson of Oakland, CA, will receive a $1000 prize, and four other prizewinners will receive book bundles signed by Bacigalupi. The contest received 743 submissions from 67 different countries and from more than half of the states in the U.S.

The title Everything Change is drawn from a quote by Margaret Atwood, the first Imagination and Climate Futures lecturer in 2014.

The book is free to download, read, and share in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats at the Imagination and Climate Futures website, and at the Apple iBooks store and the Kobo store.

Table of Contents:

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Foreword
  • Manjana Milkoreit, Meredith Martinez, and Joey Eschrich, Editors’ Introduction
  • Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson, “Sunshine State”
  • Kelly Cowley, “Shrinking Sinking Land”
  • Matthew S. Henry, “Victor and the Fish”
  • Ashley Bevilacqua Anglin, “Acqua Alta”
  • Daniel Thron, “The Grandchild Paradox”
  • Kathryn Blume, “Wonder of the World”
  • Stirling Davenport, “Masks”
  • Diana Rose Harper, “Thirteenth Year”
  • Henrietta Hartl, “LOSD and Fount”
  • Shauna O’Meara, “On Darwin Tides”
  • Lindsay Redifer, “Standing Still”
  • Yakos Spiliotopoulos, “Into the Storm”
  • Ed Finn, “Praying for Rain: An Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi”

(2) THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’. The New York Times reports on another history-making moment in the career of this musician: “Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature”.

Half a century ago, Bob Dylan shocked the music world by plugging in an electric guitar and alienating folk purists. For decades he continued to confound expectations, selling millions of records with dense, enigmatic songwriting.

Now, Mr. Dylan, the poet laureate of the rock era, has been rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature, an honor that elevates him into the company of T. S. Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison and Samuel Beckett.

Mr. Dylan, 75, is the first musician to win the award, and his selection on Thursday is perhaps the most radical choice in a history stretching back to 1901. In choosing a popular musician for the literary world’s highest honor, the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, dramatically redefined the boundaries of literature, setting off a debate about whether song lyrics have the same artistic value as poetry or novels.

(3) CALIFORNIA COLLECTIBLES LAW UPDATE. The American Booksellers Association says: “California Collectibles Bill Clarification Expected”.

At press time, Bookselling This Week learned that California Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang plans to submit a letter to the state legislature stipulating that a new law covering the sales of collectibles does not apply to either general bookstores or author signing events. Chang was the sponsor of the bill. The law requires sellers of signed books and artwork to provide the buyer with a certificate of authenticity (COA) for any item sold for $5 or more.

“While ABA’s reading of the bill matched that of Assemblywoman Chang’s intent in drafting the law — that the law was meant specifically for the collectibles industry to stave off fraud — we are grateful for how responsive Assemblywoman Chang and her staff were to the concerns of booksellers,” said David Grogan, senior public policy analyst for ABA. “It also clearly shows how much of an impact booksellers can have when they voice their concerns to their legislators. We are happy that a clarification is expected to be entered into the record.”

The clarification comes as a direct response to a blog post and subsequent letters from independent bookstores in California. Concerned that some might assume the law applied to general bookstores, Eureka Books in Eureka, Book Passage in Corte Madera, and others opposed the new law, fearing that it would have a negative financial impact on their businesses.

(4) VENUS IF YOU WILL. Here’s a clickbait-worthy headline: “Why Obama may have picked the wrong planet”.  And as a bonus, the article quotes SF writer and NASA scientists Geoffrey Landis.

On Tuesday, Obama published an op-ed at CNN laying out his vision (once again) for visiting Mars.

“We have set a clear goal vital to the next chapter of America’s story in space: sending humans to Mars by the 2030s and returning them safely to Earth, with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time,” he wrote.

The Obama administration has been pursuing a visit to Mars for years. But Obama may be overlooking an easier target, if the arguments of one NASA researcher (and numerous supporters) are to be believed. While Mars may seem to be an attractive destination, we should consider sending people to Venus instead, these people argue….

You see, Mars is a challenging destination. It’s far away, the gravity is a fraction of Earth’s — posing additional health hazards beyond the lack of atmospheric radiation shielding — and you have to be suited up just to breathe outside.

By contrast, Venus is a lot closer to Earth than Mars is. At their closest points, Venus is only 25 million miles away, compared with Mars’s 34 million miles. The shorter distance means you’d need less time and fuel to get there, reducing the cost. And although Venus’s surface temperature is hot enough to melt metal, and the crushing pressure will squish you like a bug, the upper atmosphere is actually rather habitable.

“At about 50 kilometers above the surface the atmosphere of Venus is the most earthlike environment (other than Earth itself) in the solar system,” wrote Geoffrey Landis, a NASA scientist, in a 2003 paper. Landis has spent much of his career dreaming up ways to make a human trip to Mars actually feasible, so he knows what he’s talking about.

At high altitude, Venusian temperatures are hot but not unbearable, and the barometric pressure drops to the equivalent of one Earth atmosphere. You’d have droplets of sulfuric acid to worry about, but only if your skin is directly exposed.

It helps that NASA has already taken steps to research a manned mission to Venus.

(5) RON MILLER ON SPACESHIPS. Smithsonian.com plugs artist Ron Miller’s new opus from Smithsonian Books in “How Artists, Mad Scientists and Speculative Fiction Writers Made Spaceflight Possible”.

The realization of human spaceflight has long stood as a testament to the power of human temerity, a triumph of will and intellect alike. Pioneers such as Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride have been immortalized in the annals of history. Their impact on terrestrial society is as indelible as the footprints left by the Apollo astronauts on the windless surface of the Moon.

Perhaps yet more wondrous than the Cold War-era achievement of extraterrestrial travel, however, is the long and meandering trail that we as a species blazed to arrive at that result. Such is the argument of author-illustrator Ron Miller, an inveterate spaceship junkie and one-time planetarium art director at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Miller’s just-published book, Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and the Imagined from Smithsonian Books, is a paean to the exploratory yearning of humankind across the centuries. The profusely illustrated volume tracks technological watersheds with diligence, but its principal focus is those starry-eyed visionaries, the dreamers….

(6) TOO TANGLED FOR TINGLE? I was wondering what the chances were of Chuck Tingle setting up his own SadPuppies.com site when it’s Hugo season again. But Huge Domains already has that registered and is asking $1,895 for the rights.

Well then, what about SadPuppies5.com? Nope, that’s registered, too, by a proxy that contains a reference to the real Sad Puppies site, SadPuppies.org – have they been thinking ahead?

Of course, if Tingle wanted  to make a File 770 reference, he could always start up SadPuppiesSecond5th – and that would be fine by me.

(7) VULICH OBIT. Special effects make-up artist John Vulich died October 13. Dread Central recalls:

Vulich worked on some of the horror genre’s most classic films and TV shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead, The Dark Half, Castle Freak, From Beyond, Ghoulies, Dolls, TerrorVision, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, The Lost Boys, Two Evil Eyes, “The X-Files,” “Angel,” and “Werewolf: The Series” and was one of the founders of Optic Nerve Studios.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born October 13, 1957 — Chris Carter, creator of “The X-Files.”

(9) FIFTH NEWS IS BEASTLY. We’re always on the lookout for news items featuring the number five. I may run only about 10% of them, but Tor.com broke through with “J.K. Rowling Confirms There Will Be Five Fantastic Beasts Films”.

At Warner Bros’ global fan event for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them today, the studio made a big announcement: There will be five Fantastic Beasts films total, instead of the trilogy, as originally thought.

(10) SHOCKED, I TELL YOU. In “thoughts on the processing of words” at Text Patterns, a blog on The New Atlantis website, Baylor University English professor Alan Jacobs gives a long review of Matthew Kirschenbaum’s Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing, including the revelation that the first author to write a book on a word processor was not Gerrold, Pournelle, or Crichton, but historical novelist Gay Courter.

In any case, the who-was-first questions are not as interesting or as valuable as Kirschenbaum’s meticulous record of how various writers — Anne Rice, Stephen King, John Updike, David Foster Wallace — made, or did not quite make, the transition from handwritten or typewritten drafts to a full reliance on the personal computer as the site for literary writing. Wallace, for instance, always wrote in longhand and transcribed his drafts to the computer at some relatively late stage in the process. Also, when he had significantly altered a passage, he deleted earlier versions from his hard drive so he would not be tempted to revert to them.

(11) LACKING THAT CERTAIN SOMETHING. IGN’s’ video interview with the actor reveals “Why George Takei Doesn’t Like the New Star Trek Movies and the Old Animated Series”.

Mr. Sulu explains why he doesn’t like the Star Trek cartoon and reveals the magic ingredient he believes the new films are missing. The Star Trek 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection Blu-ray Boxset is out now.

(12) WELLS MEETS SOLOMON. Richard Chwedyk’s “Teaching Stuff: Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic” at the SFWA Blog tells about a fascinating exercise:

Here’s an assignment I give my students:

They receive a copy of the first chapter of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

It is roughly 2,250 words.

I tell the students that Mr. Wells has just received a note from his editor. “Great stuff, Herbie, but you go on too long here. Cut this first chapter in half.”

How to make 2,250 words into 1,125 words?

Mr. Wells, alas, has passed on. Fortunately for us, so has the novel’s copyright.

…Ask students to do this to their own stories and their faces turn ashen. Their babies? By half? What madness is this?

So by practicing at first on Wells, they can see what the process entails before going on to apply the knife to their own deathless prose. The exercise not only requires careful editorial skills, but an equally careful reading of the text. What’s important in the telling? What’s icing on the cake?

(13) DEEP READING. Connie Willis, in an article for Unbound Worlds, discusses her new book Crosstalk“Connie Willis Wants You to Think Twice About Telepathy”.

What led me to write Crosstalk?  Oh, lots of things.  For one, like everybody else, I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of telepathy and have often thought how nice it would be to be able to tell what other people were thinking, to know if they were lying and how they really felt about you.  For another, I live in Colorado, home of the infamous Bridey Murphy, who started the whole channeling-past-lives thing back in the fifties by claiming she’d had a previous life in nineteenth-century Ireland.  Which turned out not to be true and which left me with a healthy skepticism of all things paranormal, from psychics to Dr. Rhine’s ESP experiments.

(14) WHAT’S WRONG WITH THINKING OUT LOUD. She also did an interview with The Verge“Novelist Connie Willis explains why telepathy is a terrible superpower”.

You’ve said many of your stories are about working through arguments with yourself, and working through different aspects of the idea you obsess over. Are you working through an argument in Crosstalk?

Well, looking at the society we’re living in right now, we’re bombarded with information. We have all these new ways of communicating. We can talk face-to-face to somebody in Asia, you can have a best friend who lives across the world. But our relationships don’t seem to be improving radically as a result of all this extra communication.

We’re always looking to technology, thinking it can solve our human problems. Usually it does, but with big side effects we hadn’t counted on. It’s an argument I don’t know how to solve. I’m not suggesting we go be Luddites. But occasionally I’m on panels with all these really gung-ho tech people, and they’re like, “Oh this new development will solve all our problems.” And I think “Anything that solves all our problems will create a whole mess of new problems that would have never occurred to us.” We need to start thinking more in terms of cost-benefit analysis. Maybe that would be more productive.

But mostly with Crosstalk, I just wanted to have fun with the idea of whether communication is a good idea, generally. Not tech communication, communication between people. Most people would say, “We all need more communication in our relationships.” But really, most relationships benefit from all the things we don’t say, all the things we keep to ourselves.

(15) MEMORIES. In a Rue Morgue interview, the actress looks back: “35 years of pleasant screams: an interview with Cassandra Peterson, aka ELVIRA”.

When it comes to the horror genre, there are many icons in the business but none more so than a woman who created a character that has permeated pop culture; her name is Cassandra Peterson and her wonderful, wicked, and hilarious alter ego is Elvira, Mistress Of The Dark. For 35 years, the sexy, dark, and comedic valley girl/gothic goddess has appeared on television, film, pinball machines, comic book covers, record albums, and any other product you could imagine. She is one of the most beloved incarnations in history, and is still surging in popularity to this very day. Peterson herself is now in her mid-sixties but looks like she has discovered the fountain of youth, or made a deal with the devil, she is absolutely beautiful and timeless. Her comedic timing is unmatched, quick fire and quite daunting considering the jokes come straight from her mind like bullets, one of the funniest women alive, hands down. She is also one of the hardest working women in the business, an actress who became her own boss and made her own rules (and still does); truly an inspiration in regard to drive, conviction, and perseverance.

Rue Morgue spoke to Peterson about her 35th Anniversary and her new photo book, entitled ELVIRA MISTRESS OF THE DARK, which is a love letter to her fans, and a testament to her many years as a reigning queen in horror comedy….

(16) ACES AND BAIT. In addition to the news I missed while I was in the hospital, I also fell behind reading Adventures With Kuma. From August “Dodge City Bear”.

Bears wents to lots of places todays. Boys will writes abouts bigs holes in the grounds laters. Bears gots to plays a games in Dodges Citys withs a nices Doctors nameds Hollidays.

Bears saids, “Bears has fives fishes. Whats yous gots?”

 

Kuma Meets Doc Holliday

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Joseph Eschrich, Bartimaeus, Sean R. Kirk, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing edtor of the day Cath.]

Pixel Scroll 2/3/16 Superscrollapixelistbutextrabraggadocious

(1) THANKS FACEBOOK. Pat Cadigan joined the legions who have committed this social media gaffe — “Happy Birthday, Sorry You’re Dead”.

Well, it happened again…I wished someone a Happy Birthday on Facebook and then discovered they had passed away last year. This is what happens when you have an impossible number of Facebook friends, most of whom you don’t know personally….

Anyway, thinking or not, I have committed a birthday faux pas. And as usual, I feel awful about it. When the person’s loved ones saw that, they probably wanted to go upside my head. Because that’s how it is when you’re on the sharp end of a disaster, whether it’s something of epic proportions or the personal loss of a beloved friend or relative. Your life has changed forever, and yet the world goes on like nothing out of the ordinary has happened. Like, WTF? The stock exchange opens and closes. The sun rises and sets and rises again. People go to work, go home, go grocery shopping, go online, tweet, check Facebook––and they can’t even take a few extra minutes to find out if someone’s alive or dead? Seriously, WTF?

(2) THANKS TSA. James Artimus Owen shared a memo with his Facebook readers.

Dear TSA – I’m breaking up with you. It’s you, not me. Or anyone else you and American Airlines conned into this big threeway. We were awesome dates, going along with everything you asked for, giving you sweet, sweet lovin’, and lots of money, and always on time, and you didn’t care. You still just wanted me to get half undressed, and to feel me up, and poke me in my special place, and go through all my stuff – and then your drunk buddy American Airlines overbooked the flight…, and complained about carryons, and then broke their own damn plane while we were sitting here. And now someone is trying to “fix” things, but the air is off, and we have to sit here for another half an hour, and the paperwork is going to take longer than the repair. So, I just wanted you to know – I’m getting a private plane. With my own crew. And you can date my “people” but I’m not taking my belt and shoes off for you again just so you can lecture me about the difference between 3.5 ounces and 11 ounces.

(3) HOW DID SOME GOOD NEWS SLIP IN HERE? Hobart and William Smith Colleges (in New York’s Finger Lakes region) have announced that Jeff VanderMeer will join the Trias Residency for Writers for the 2016-17 academic year.

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer

Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula Award, and three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books, including the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (“Annihilation,” “Authority,” and “Acceptance”), released in 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The trilogy explores, among other issues, environmental degradation in extremis, creating, as the New York Times puts it, “an immersive and wonderfully realized world” with language that is “precise, metaphorical but rigorous, and as fertile as good loam.”

During the residency, VanderMeer will teach one class in the fall of 2016 and work with a number of select students the following spring. Additionally, he will offer a public reading and lecture, participate in a service event for the greater Geneva community and curate a reading series featuring Dexter Palmer (who writes sf), Ottessa Moshfegh and a third writer to-be-announced.

Beyond his work on campus, VanderMeer adds that he is looking forward to “a creative writing visit to the super max prison [in Auburn, N.Y.] and a possible partnership with the Colleges’ environmental center.” He has also invited artist John Jennings, a professor at University of Buffalo, to visit in the fall of 2016 “for some cross-media conversation about narrative and creativity.”

…The Peter Trias Residency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is designed to give distinguished poets and fiction writers time to write. Academic expectations allow for sustained interaction with our best students while providing the freedom necessary to produce new work. Residents are active, working artists whose presence contributes to intellectual environment of the Colleges and the town of Geneva.

(4) MORE THAN MONEY. “Stephen King On What Hollywood Owes Authors When Their Books Become Films: Q&A” at Deadline.

DEADLINE: So rather than making the old deal, with big upfront money, you figure you’ll make your money on the other side?

KING: The other side of this, too, is that if you do that, you can say to these people, what I want is a share in whatever comes in, as a result, from dollar one. So it isn’t just a creative thing, it’s also the side where I say, if you want to do this, let me make it easy for you up front and if the thing is a success, the way that 1408 was a success for the Weinstein brothers, then we all share in it together. You know, of all the people that I’ve dealt with, Harvey and Bob Weinstein were the ones who were most understanding about that. They were perfectly willing to go along with that. A lot of people feel like you want to get in their business. I don’t want to do that at all. I want to be part of the solution. There were things about the 1408 screenplay that I thought were a little bit wonky actually, you know. There’s a part where you brought in the main character’s sad relationship about how his wife had died, she’d drowned, and he was kind of looking for an afterlife a la Houdini. I thought, well this seems a little off the subject. But it was great in the movie.

DEADLINE: So you’re not an author who feels that what’s in your book is sacrosanct, even when it’s translated to the screen?

KING: No. And the other thing is, you start from the belief that these people know their business. There are a lot of writers who are very, very sensitive to the idea, or they have somehow gotten the idea that movie people are full of sh*t. That’s not the truth. I’ve worked with an awful lot of movie people over the years that I think are very, very smart, very persistent and find ways to get things done. And I like that.

(5) TIL DADDY TAKES THE T-BIRD AWAY. From The Guardian: “Elon Musk personally cancels blogger’s Tesla order after ‘rude’ post”.

Unimaginable wealth has brought Elon Musk a lot of benefits, from being able to build a private spaceflight company to planning a magnet-powered vacuum tube supersonic transport system between LA and San Francisco – and be taken seriously. But perhaps the best perk of being Elon Musk is the ability to be unbelievably petty.

The Californian venture capitalist Stewart Alsop learned that to his cost, he says, after he wrote an open letter to Musk about the badly run launch event for the Tesla Motors Model X (the newest car from Musk’s electric vehicle startup).

Headlined “Dear @ElonMusk: you should be ashamed of yourself”, the letter listed Alsop’s issues with the event: it started late, it focused too much on safety, and it was so packed that even people like Alsop, who had placed a $5,000 deposit on the car (which was originally supposed to ship in 2013, but had only delivered 208 cars by the end of 2015), didn’t get the chance to test drive it.

Alsop concluded that “it would still be nice if you showed some class and apologised to the people who believe in this product”.

Instead, Alsop says, Musk cancelled his pre-order.

(6) HARTWELL OBIT IN NYT. Here is the link to David G. Hartwell’s obituary in the New York Times.

Mr. Hartwell worked at several publishing houses before starting as a consulting editor at Tor/Forge Books in the early 1980s. At his death, he was a senior editor there. He was nominated more than 40 times for Hugo Awards, among the most prominent prizes in science fiction, and won three times for editing.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a senior editor at Tor, said in an email that Mr. Hartwell had edited and published hundreds of books, including Mr. Dick’s novels “The Divine Invasion,” “The Transmigration of Timothy Archer” and “Radio Free Albemuth,” as well as novels in Mr. Herbert’s “Dune” saga and Gene Wolfe’s “The Book of the New Sun” series.

He also compiled dozens of anthologies, many with Ms. Cramer, including “The Space Opera Renaissance” (2006) and “Spirits of Christmas: Twenty Other-Worldly Tales” (1989), and he wrote “Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction” (1984).

Mr. Hartwell championed genre fiction long before crossover hits like the “Lord of the Rings” films, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” broadened its audience.

(7) BERKELEY AUTHOR APPEARANCE. Carter Scholz, author of Gypsy, Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Lucky Strike, and Terry Bisson, author of Fire on the Mountain, at Books Inc. in Berkeley, CA on February 18th.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

Carter Scholz, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Terry Bisson.

(8) DOLLENS ART REMEMBERED. Ron Miller’s post at io9 has a gallery of “Scenes from the 1950s Space Movie That No One Saw”.

Morris Scott Dollens is best known to aging SF fans as one of the most prolific space artists who ever lived.…

These three interests—-astronomy, photography and model-making—-led to an endeavor that that was especially close to his heart: The creation of a movie that would take audiences on a journey through the solar system.

It was to be called “Dream of the Stars,” and Dollens created dozens of meticulous models of space ships and alien landscapes. He assembled these into tabletop dioramas which were then photographed in the same way Hollywood special effects artists would create miniature effects scene. Dollens sent these photos to magazine and book publishers, who ran them with captions that declared that “Dream of the Stars . . .is said to be best space film yet.” I remember seeing these photos in books about space when I was a kid and desperately trying to track down this movie. It wasn’t until decades later, when I contacted Dollens while researching my book, “The Dream Machines,” that I finally learned the truth: that “Dream of the Stars” was just that: a dream.

(9) HAT TIP. The New York Post noticed a fan favorite is back — “’X-Files’ tips a (straw) hat to iconic ’70s TV character”.

The latest episode finds FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) interrogating a person of interest, Guy Mann (Rhys Darby), as they hunt for a reptilian “were-monster.” Mann’s quirky attire — straw hat, seersucker jacket and cheap knit tie — bears a striking resemblance to clothing worn by Carl Kolchak, the rumpled creature tracker played by the late Darren McGavin in the 1970s ABC series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”

The homage to McGavin’s vampire- and werewolf-hunter is intentional.

(10) HINES ON REPRESENTATION. Suvudu interviewed “Jim C. Hines on Representation and the Seeds of Possibility”, and Jim made his case in a lucid and fair manner, as he always does. It’s not his fault that his examples play so well against the next item in today’s Scroll….

I don’t understand why this is such a heated topic, but people get quite distraught when you suggest our genre should be more inclusive. Just look at the attempted boycott of Star Wars for daring to cast a woman and a black man in lead roles, or the oceans of man-tears surrounding Mad Max: Fury Road and its competent and kick-ass protagonist Furiosa.

Imagine the backlash to a science fiction show in which the main starship crew—the captain, first officer, navigator, engineer, and doctor—are all women. The only male character is basically a switchboard operator.

(11) TIMING IS THE SECRET. Who knew Ghostbusters will be putting Jim’s example to the test? “Receptionist Chris Hemsworth is Here For You” at Tor.com.

Last night Paul Feig announced that the official Ghostbusters site is up and running, with the first trailer set to drop later this month. If you poke around on Ghostbusters.com (which also has pages for the original movies), you’ll find a new batch of images, featuring the ladies in civilian garb… and their adorable receptionist, played by Chris Hemsworth.

You know how there’s that silly TV/movies trope of putting glasses on a girl to make her less attractive? Yeah, that definitely doesn’t work here.

(12) CHATTACON REPORT. Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds writes about “The Importance of Community”.

Do we need Cons like ChattaCon today?  Aren’t SF fans all shut-in introverts who make snarky anonymous comments on blogs and YouTube videos?  Even if we do need communities, couldn’t we move the Con experience to the internet, where we’ve moved so much of our communal interactions in the 21st century? A ChattaCon Report While the internet is great (you’re reading it!), I think physical meetings are still an essential part of community.  To make my case, consider some of the things I did last weekend:

…One of the guests was Larry Correia (of the Sad Puppies).  I went to one of his panels with a few friends.  Given my opposition to the whole Sad Puppy fiasco, I was wondering what he’d be like in person.   Answer: not all that different than most author guests, although nobody asked him about the Puppies.

(13) SHOCKING. Max Florschutz at Unusual Things calls it “The Indie Scam”.

There are a lot of blogs, posts, and news articles out there decrying the pricing of the big publisher’s books. They make regular appearances on smaller author’s sites, reddit’s r/books, and very frequently in the circles of indie authors. “Publishers are making their books too expensive!” they cry. Look at the price of these books!

…Then came the bit I didn’t agree with. That everyone should flock (and was flocking) to ebooks and indie because the prices were so much better.

The problem is, this isn’t always true….

Let me tell you a story. About a year ago, I was attending a con and talking with a bunch of authors about ebook sales and indie publication. One man in the “group” we’d sort of formed in the hallway was a known trailblazer in the ebook world, one of the first authors to jump ship from his publisher and go straight indie, a decision that had been great for him. Naturally, he being the one with the most experience in success, everyone was letting a lot of questions and comments gravitate his way.

At some point, ebook pricing came up, and I mentioned I was trying to figure out a price for the draft I was about to finish. He shrugged and said it was simple, and asked me how long it was. 300,000-odd words, I said. Eyes wide, he shook his head, and then told me the best way to sell a book of such length:

Cut it up into 8 or 10 sections and sell them for $2-3 a pop.

This, readers, is what I’ve started to see as “The Indie Scam.”

You see, as already mentioned, a lot of indie authors will decry the cost of “big pubs” and their ilk. Like the classic meme, they repeat the line that the prices are “just too d**n high” while showing that their books are so much cheaper at their low, low prices.

But are they really? Well, in a lot of cases … no. And that’s the problem. It’s a misdirect. Because a lot of these indie books? They’re a lot smaller than what they’d have you believe.

(14) RABID PUPPIES TODAY. Vox Day’s picks for the Rabid Puppies slate in the Best Fan Writer category are Jeffro Johnson, Dave Freer, Morgan, Shamus Young, and Zenopus.

(15) KEEPING THE WARDROBE BUDGET DOWN. Den of Geek asks: “Saturn 3: the 1980s’ weirdest sci-fi movie?”

Saturn 3 wasn’t exactly the sci-fi blockbuster its makers might have hoped. Neither broad and upbeat like Star Wars nor as claustrophobic and disturbing as Alien, it instead became one of the great oddities of 80s science fiction. This is, after all, a movie which features such bizarre lines as “No taction contact!” and “That was an improper thought leakage.”

Then there’s the bizarre scene in which Kirk Douglas (nude, of course) chokes out Harvey Keitel after he utters the line, “You’re inadequate, Major. In EVERY department.”

Saturn 3’s by no means a classic, then, but it is undoubtedly one of the most weirdly fascinating sci-fi misfires of the 1980s.

(16) DON’T ORDER THE SOUP. Gizmodo touts a photo series created by Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong.

A lovely shepherdess in a flowing white dress tends to her flock in these gorgeous photographs reminiscent of a fairy tale. The twist: the shepherdess is underwater, and her charges are white-tipped reef sharks.

The image is part of the latest series from conservation photographer Benjamin Wong, a.k.a. Von Wong, who has a bit of an adventurous streak, taking his models into the field for a bit of storm-chasing and to underwater shipwrecks—all in the name of capturing that perfect shot. This time, he took model Amber Bourke to Fiji, a hot spot for ecotourism specializing in shark dives.

But his focus isn’t on thrill-seeking or purely aesthetic pursuits; in this case, he wanted to draw attention to the plight of sharks worldwide. “Sharks are almost always depicted as menacing and terrifying, yet it is humans that are responsible for killing them in the millions just to make soup,” he wrote on his blog. “I wanted to create a series of images that would help break those stereotypes.”

 

[Thanks to James H. Burns, David K.M. Klaus, John King Tarpinian, Jeff VanderMeer, Susan Toker, Moshe Feder, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Stick.]

Ron Miller on Bonestell at io9

io9 may not need my signal boost but no fan will want to miss Ron Miller’s fine piece on Chesley Bonestell, The Artist Who Helped Invent Space Travel. Accompanying it are many classic examples of Bonestell’s astronomicals. There also were some biographical insights that were new to me —

 In 1938, Bonestell began a new career in Hollywood as a spe­cial effects matte painter. The first film he worked on was Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. All the views of turn-of-the-century New York and of Charles Foster Kane’s mansion, Xan­adu, are Bonestell’s artwork. In The Fountainhead, Bonestell in a sense was Howard Roark: all of the buildings created by Ayn Rand’s superheroic architect are by Bonestell. He eventually became Hollywood’s highest-paid matte artist.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]