Court Crushes FanX with Award of Attorneys Fees in SDCC Lawsuit

An incensed federal judge has done his best to make up what San Diego Comic-Con couldn’t get from a jury after winning its trademark infringement lawsuit against Salt Lake Comic Con, hammering the defendants with a trademark ban and an order to pay nearly $4 million of SDCC’s attorney fees and costs.

Last December, the federal jury ruled that Salt Lake Comic Con infringed on a trademark held by San Diego Comic-Con by using the words “comic con” in their name without permission. However, the jury did not award the $12 million in damages sought by San Diego Comic-Con, only $20,000, finding no willful infringement of the copyright by SLCC.

The Salt Lake Convention has since changed its name to FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention.

Judge Anthony J. Battaglia’s August 23 order scolded defendant Dan Farr Productions (DFP), run by Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, as he justified the award of attorneys fees. An excerpt from the ruling quoted by Salt Lake City’s CBS station KUTV (see “San Diego Comic Con awarded nearly $4 million in ruling against FanX”) reads:

Battaglia chided DFP for ignoring court rulings, including making items marked “confidential” public, including on Twitter.

Part of what made the case exceptional in the judge’s decision was press releases and interviews DFP gave after getting a cease and desist letter from SDCC. Battaglia wrote:

“The Court’s analysis under this factor is best explained by quoting to Defendant Brandenburg himself. In a news article, Mr. Brandenburg explained his reaction to receiving SDCC’s cease and desist letter:

Our knee jerk reaction was that [SDCC was] trying to intimidate us” . . . “We were not going to cease and desist using the name. We decided to go public about it.” After consulting with their lawyers, the team behind the Salt Lake Comic Con knew they had strong legal ground to stand on, but they didn’t want to go to court, they wanted to win in the court of public opinion . . . “Everyone said that San Diego had no leg to stand on, but the only way to win this would be to outspend them on legal fees” … “Our strategy was, if we are going to spend legal fees vs. legal fees, we wanted to be creative. We put it out to the public, challenging the cease and desist letter publically.

“Refusing to cease and desist and turning to the media to litigate a trademark infringement case in the court of “public opinion” is objectively irrational,” the judge wrote while also explaining it didn’t seek to limit free speech.

“The Court finds that this case is not a dime a dozen. Instead, it is a trademark infringement lawsuit that stands out from others based on the unreasonable manner it was litigated and thus an award of attorneys’ fees and costs to SDCC is justified.”

Courthouse News hosts a PDF file of the court’s attorneys fees order.

San Diego wanted about $5 million in attorney’s fees and it will end up with 80 percent of the request.

The Hollywood Reporter’s article “Judge Issues ‘Comic-Con’ Injunction” says the court also put teeth in the jury verdict by forbidding the defendants from using “comic con” or anything that sounds like it:

Battaglia, in his order on an injunction, has enjoined Salt Lake from “Comic Con” and “Comic-Con” and any phonetic equivalents (i.e. ComiKon). Additionally, Farr and Brandenburg can’t operate any social media site that incorporates the trademark, nor can they even advertise how the festival they run was “formerly known as Salt Lake Comic Con.”

On the other hand, the judge rules it would go too far to prevent the phrase “comic convention” and won’t require defendants to destroy all of their already-made merchandise and marketing materials bearing the banned phrases.

The Hollywood Reporter opined that this “may be the beginning of the end of the road for any self-described ‘Comic-Con’ that doesn’t take place in San Diego.”

It’s important to note that San Diego has sued or asserted claims against others who operated “Comic-Cons” around the nation — and most of those cases were put on hold for this one. San Diego vs. Salt Lake was a test case.

Both sides in the SDCC/SLCC case had asked for a new trial, victor San Diego because they disputed the jury’s finding of non-willfulness and wanted more money. That, at least, the judge refused to grant, pointing to evidence that Brandenburg thought it was okay to use “Comic Con” because so many others were also doing it.

The defendants’ past statements indicated a desire to appeal the original verdict. Meanwhile Farr and company will be busy running FanX from September 6-8.

[Thanks to David Doering for the story.]

2018 Inkpot Awards

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Wow! This just happened! #inkpotaward

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Many creators were honored at Comic-Con International 2018 with Inkpot Awards for their contributions to the worlds of comics, science fiction/fantasy, film, television, animation, and fandom services.

The convention has not yet updated its list of winners, but all of the following artists, writers, and media figures were reported by social media as 2018 award recipients.

  • Rafael Albuquerque
  • Yoshitaka Amano
  • Marc Bernardin
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Brian Fies
  • Richard Friend
  • Elizabeth Hand
  • Deborah Harkness
  • R.C. Harvey
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Larry Houston
  • Jason Lutes
  • David Mack
  • Nichelle Nichols
  • Anne Nocenti
  • Liniers
  • Brian Pulido
  • Randy Reynaldo
  • Eric Reynolds
  • Kevin Smith
  • Peter Tomasi
  • Shannon Wheeler

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This morning was, perhaps, the best morning I’ve ever had at ##SDCC. I was scheduled for a Spotlight on Me panel, which I’d asked my friend @evnarc to moderate. I thought it was just gonna be he and I and 14 people talking about comics. When i got there, 100 or so people were already in their seats. Then SDCC’s Gary Sassaman introduced me, and then announced that I was a recipient of an Inkpot Award, for my contributions to the Comic Arts and a journalist and a creator. Already speechless as fuck, @evnarc launches into his own introduction, tracing our history as friends and colleagues, which left us both in tears. (My twitter feed has the text of his intro, in case you want to cry, too.) This morning broke me, then rebuilt me, and I can’t thank everyone enough.

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Pixel Scroll 7/25/18 Pun For A Headline, Pixels Comment Underground

(1) DILLON KICKSTARTER. A Kickstarter to crowdfund “Daydreamer’s Journey, a new Art Book by Julie Dillon” was launched July 24. Dillon is one of the top artists in the field, a three-time Hugo Award winner (plus five Chesley Awards, three Locus Awards, and a British Fantasy Award).

I absolutely love to draw and paint, and art has been a vital part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Art can offer an escape as well as an invitation; a way to process one’s experience of the world, a way to offer a different perspective. It can illuminate and reveal the magic lurking just beneath the surface of the world, and that is what I’ve attempted to do throughout my career as an artist.

I’ve put together an art book that will let me share with you more of my art and ideas than I ever have before….

Daydreamer’s Journey will be a 200 page 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover book, on beautiful thick glossy paper. This book will contain personal work, freelance projects, sketches, studies, and illustration drafts, some of which either has never been posted online or that hasn’t been available online in over a decade. Also included will be my commentary and thoughts, as well as progress shots for most pieces so you can see part of my painting and brainstorming process.

With 29 days to go, Dillon so far has raised $12,653 of her $18,500 goal.

(2) #METOO AT COMIC-CON. SFGate evaluates the attention to antiharassment efforts at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego: “Comic-Con in the #MeToo Era: Progress Comes One Panel at a Time”.

…Officially, Comic-Con was silent about #MeToo. When SDCC programming director Eddie Ibrahim gave his traditional kick off speech in Hall H on Thursday morning, notably absent was any mention of the convention’s harassment policies. That continued for all four days of the convention.

…Comic-Con for its part has chosen not to update those anti-harassment policies, which state in part that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated,” and that “persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy” should seek out security or SDCC staff.

Whatever actions the organization is taking behind the scenes, it ultimately chose not to discuss them publicly. Comic-Con International did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap

Unofficially, fans and creators were frequently vocal in support of greater inclusion and representation, and in talking about harassment and abuse.

The panel for NBC’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Friday night was a particular stand out, with cast members, producers, and fans touching on a range of sensitive issues. Notably, one fan thanked Terry Crews, who accused William Morris Endeavor agent Adam Venit of groping him, “for your part in #MeToo,” adding, “I’m so sorry for all of us that are part of #MeToo that you have to be part of it.”

And at a panel called “The Future Is Female,” “Bumblebee” and “Birds of Prey” screenwriter Christina Hodson got huge cheers and lots of knowing muttering when she celebrated the successes of the #MeToo era but noted that much work remains.

“Nine months ago, no one gave a s—. Like, no one cares what happens. Now everything has shifted. So I think behavior on set, in writers’ rooms, that’s all going to shift. So I’m very happy about that,” she said.

(3) ELFQUEST PROFILED. Rob Beschizza explores “The Weird Of Wendy Pini” at BoingBoing. “Voices from another world spoke with sublime otherness, helping an indie cartoonist face down prudes, pain and the patriarchy.”

Elfquest began in 1978 and concluded this spring, forty years in the telling. Devised and written with her husband Richard, its story follows the Wolfrider clan and its chief, Cutter, burned from their ancient forest home by vengeful humans. Sweeping from a rough fantasy premise to epic science fiction, the Wolfriders find other elfin refugees, the derelict spaceship of their shape-shifting ancestors, and unsettling truths concerning their own nature. At its sales peak, the magazine-sized pamphlets were selling 100,000 copies at an intersection of fandom rarely seen in comic book stores: women, queer folk, people of color.

The American Library Association describes Elfquest as “one of the most important works in American fantasy”. Georgy Khoury and Alex Ross, in Comic Book Fever, call it one of the “first long-form sagas of the art form,” unique for its “confident and inspired storytelling.” Artist and historian Trina Robbins told me that Wendy’s strong women characters were responsible for getting countless young girls into comics. Elfquest was one of the books targeted as obscene material in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s first case. Buzzfeed ranked it as the most life-changing graphic novel of all time.

(4) TODAY’S VISION. Rick Liebling recalibrates the historic look of sf in a post for Medium: “The Aesthetics of Science Fiction. What does SciFi Look Like After Cyberpunk?” (First in a two-part series.)

But now, some three decades-plus since we first “saw” Cyberpunk, what do we have now? Is there a unifying visual idea that we associate with modern (2000 and beyond) science fiction? I’ve noticed over the last decade or so that there are some recurring themes. Perhaps not exclusive to science fiction – in the same way that the Cyberpunk aesthetic wasn’t exclusive to science fiction (see: Black Rain) – but that I’ve seen recurring in genre work.

I call it Hard Concrete.

Like Cyberpunk and Atomic Age &Space Age design before it, Hard Concrete is linked to the realities of the times. If Cyberpunk was the visual embodiment of the corporation as mysterious behemoth, Hard Concrete parallels a world where corporations and governments have been exposed as brutal, uncaring and stripped of their shiny, mirror-glass facades. They may be no less controlling, violent or malevolent, they just no longer bother to hide it.

(5) ORDER ME ANOTHER SCREWDRIVER. The Thirteenth Doctor has a collectible out already: “Jodie Whittaker Reveals the New Sonic Screwdriver Fan Collectible at San Diego Comic-Con”.

Today in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Jodie Whittaker revealed the new Sonic Screwdriver Fan Collectible, a replica of the one her character will use in the new series of Doctor Who, now available to pre-order.

Designer Arwel Wyn Jones talked through the new sonic; “It’s a privilege to have been asked to redesign the iconic Sonic Screwdriver for the Thirteenth Doctor and a new generation of audiences.  I can’t wait for people to see how the Doctor acquires it!”

(6) ORIGINAL WONDER. Al Abbazia’s superb Rockwell-inspired Saturday Evening Post magazine cover featuring Wonder Woman can be seen on Facebook. The artist said:

It’s beyond gratifying that the granddaughter of William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman, found me and took a special liking of my art piece, saying it honored her family. My daughter, Emily Claire Abbazia (who came up with the concept) and myself thank you Christie Marston 🙂

And thank you to the wonderful Shiree Collier for her excellent modeling and Gal Gadot for that pretty face.

(7) ‘WARTS AND ALL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those cunning Danes are at it again, dreaming up ways to take your money. LEGO has announced a new Hogwarts set (io9: “Lego’s New 6,020-Piece Hogwarts Castle Set Is Huge and Pricey”) priced at a “mere” $399.99. It’s built on their “microscale” standard, to use microfigs rather than the more familiar minifigs—presumably to keep the both the overall size and the price in check.

Quoting the io9 article:

…Lego is also bundling 27 microfigures with the set, including Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Snape, McGonagall, Remus, Umbridge, and even Lord Voldemort, as well as Aragog the spider, the Basilisk, a Hungarian Horntail dragon, and five dementors.

There are minifigs involved, thogugh. The founders of the four houses of Hogwarts (Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin, and Rowena Ravenclaw) are included in minifig form. Writing for io9, Andrew Liszewski seems taken by the quality of the set:

Despite the smaller overall footprint of the set, Lego has still managed to stuff an incredible amount of detail into Hogwarts, including the castle’s Great Hall, the library, potions class, the Room of Requirement, the giant chess set, and the Chamber of Secrets, among other places for the microfigures to re-enact scenes from the books and movies.

(8) KGB READINIGS. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Michael Swanwick and Jeffrey Ford on Wednesday, August 15, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Michael Swanwick

Michael Swanwick has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards, and has the pleasant distinction of having been nominated for and lost more of these same awards than any other writer. He has written ten novels, over a hundred and fifty short stories, and countless works of flash fiction. His latest novel The Iron Dragon’s Mother, will be published by Tor Books in 2019

Jeffrey Ford

Jeffrey Ford is the author of the novels The PhysiognomyThe Girl in the GlassThe Portrait of Mrs. CharbuqueThe Shadow Year, and the four collections: The Empire of Ice CreamThe Drowned LifeCrackpot Palace, and A Natural History of Hell. His most recent novel is Ahab’s Return: Or The Last Voyage published by HarperCollins. He has been the recipient of the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Edgar Award. He lives in Ohio and teaches writing part time at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The KGB is at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) New York, NY. Website: www.kgbfantasticfiction.org.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WORLDCON 76 BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA. More items have been added, so WSFS Secretary Linda Deneroff suggests you re-check the Business Meeting Agenda.

(11) ONE IS THE ONLIEST NUMBER. James Davis Nicoll asks “What’s With Sci-Fi’s Fixation on Single-Gendered Planets?” at Tor.com.

I recently reread three thematically similar books: Poul Anderson’s Virgin Planet, A. Bertram Chandler’s Spartan Planet, and Lois McMaster Bujold’s Ethan of Athos. All three imagine single-gender planets: worlds whose populations are either all men or all women. This particular selection of books to reread and review was mere chance, but it got me thinking…

There are actually quite a few speculative fiction books set on single-gender planets (in which gender is mainly imagined in terms of a binary model) 1. Most of them are what-if books. As one might expect, they come up with different extrapolations….

(12) REMEMBERING THE PAPERBACK REVOLUTION. Kim Huett of Doctor Strangemind, in “Doubling Down With Don Wollheim”, says “The Ace Double paperbacks have long been a favourite of science fiction collectors. So here are 15 amazing facts about the Ace Doubles, #6 will shock you to your very core (he claims tongue in cheek).”

…So how similar was the packaging? Well this is the cover of the very first Signet Double….

And this is the cover of the very first Ace Double….

Okay, so they don’t look that alike and the Ace artwork is decidedly pulpier in style. But then it would be, wouldn’t it? Don Wollheim wasn’t going to try and muscle in on Signet’s classier patch. No, Don Wollheim was going to do what he knew best and let’s not forget that Don’s editorial career had begun with Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories, two of the pulpiest of the pulp magazines.

Covers not withstanding it’s pretty clear to me that the Ace books borrowed a lot of layout detail from Signet. If you have any doubt about that compare the spine of Signet’s Knock On Any Door with the spine of a 1958 Ace Double featuring Eric Frank Russell I just happen to have laying about.

Oh, Don Wollheim you clever scamp.

Now you might be thinking that this is all very well but really, what did the Ace Doubles do other than borrow some layout details from Signet? The core feature, the two different novels in one volume, well that’s clearly unique to Ace, isn’t it? Now if you’ve been thinking anything like that then you are so very wrong. Consider the examples pictured below and their publication dates; Two Complete Detective Books (Winter 1939), Two Daring Love Novels (January 1948); and Two Complete Science-Adventure Books (Winter 1950). Three magazine titles that predated Ace Doubles by years (and the first two even left Kurt Enoch and his Signet Doubles in their dust).

(13) THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll complains that “Classic Sci-Fi Star Systems Keep Getting Ruined by Science”. Well, complains is probably overstating things….

There are a lot of SF novels, particularly ones of a certain vintage, that feature that particular set of stars. If one is of that vintage (as I am), Alpha Centauri, Epsilon Indi, Epsilon Eridani, Procyon, and Tau Ceti are old friends, familiar faces about whom one might comment favourably when it turns out, for example, that they are orbited by a pair of brown dwarfs or feature an unusually well-stocked Oort cloud. “What splendid asteroid belts Epsilon Eridani has,” one might observe loudly, in the confident tone of a person who never has any trouble finding a seat by themselves on the bus.

In fiction, Procyon is home to L. Sprague de Camp’s Osiris, Larry Niven’s We Made It, and Gordon R. Dickson’s Mara and Kultis, to name just a few planets. Regrettably, Procyon A should never ever have been tagged as “possesses potentially habitable worlds.” Two reasons: solar orbits and Procyon B’s DA classification.

(14) THE LATE MR. ELLISON. Mark Evanier tells “A Harlan Ellison Story” at News From Me.

Now with Harlan’s passing, the Internet is filled with remembrances and honors and cyber-mourning and tributes, and in lot of them you’ll see some version of the phrase, “He inspired me to become a writer.” Harlan did a lot of that. He inspired people in other ways, as well. He occasionally inspired someone to hate Harlan Ellison but we won’t go into that here. Here, I’m celebrating him for inspiring so many people in a good way. Like I said, he was a writer who made other writers proud to be writers.

So many of us learned good, valuable things from him but a few writers I can think of learned to yell and scream about every rewrite, every note, every alteration. I can’t guarantee the following but supposedly, someone once asked Ray Bradbury if it was a wise idea for a writer to fight about each bit of interference the way Harlan did. Bradbury reportedly replied — and this sure sounds like an answer he’d give — “I don’t know if that’s okay but if you try it, check first and make sure you have the talents of a Harlan Ellison.”

…But he was late with so much of what he wrote, and I suspect…well, I know there are writers who think, “If Harlan Ellison can be weeks/months/years late, so can I.” To quote Ray Bradbury again, assuming he even said it, “I don’t know if that’s okay but if you try it, check first and make sure you have the talents of a Harlan Ellison.”

One might argue that he was not late with the Batman story he promised in 1971 to write for Julie Schwartz since he never had a firm deadline. But it finally saw print in the October, 1986 issue of Detective Comics, fifteen years later…and eight years after Julie had stepped down as the editor of Detective Comics. Deadline or no deadline, that’s late…

And all that is just an introduction to the story Evanier promised in the title….

(15) MORE TO BE READ. Publishers Weekly lists books of interest to adult-age readers of children’s literature in the ambiguously-titled post “2018 Adult Books on Children’s Lit”:

From an analysis of the psychological impact of fairy tales to an illustrated biography of a well-known illustrator and a book about the landscape that inspired Anne of Green Gables, there’s plenty to inform and inspire adult readers of children’s books.

What are we talking about? Here are three of the titles on the list:

Astrid Lindgren: War Diaries 1939–1945

By Astrid Lindgren, translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death (Feb. 27, Yale, $20 paper, ISBN 978-0-300-23456-5).

Originally released in hardcover in 2016, the wartime diaries of the author of Pippi Longstocking are now in paperback.

Daemon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling

By Philip Pullman (Sept. 18, Knopf, $30 ISBN 978-0-525-52117-4).

The author of the His Dark Materials series shares the secrets behind how he writes his influential novels.

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

By Anne Boyd Rioux (Aug. 28, Norton, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-25473-0).

In time for the 150th anniversary of the story of four American sisters, Rioux, a professor of gender studies, explores the impact the novel has had through its depiction of female growth.

(16) CALL GOES OUT. Manifold Press is relaunching and Managing Editor Farah Mendlesohn wants to spread the word.

As from today, we are delighted to announce that after a period of reorganisation, Manifold Press will relaunch on the 1st January 2019.

Please note: we are revamping our web pages so none of the menu links work. That will change bit by bit over August.  We’ll announce on the blog and on twitter and fb etc as we create new pages.

At our AGM in July we bade a fond farewell to Julie Bozza who is heading back to Australia; Fiona stood down as Managing Editor after 9 years with the press.

The new Board consists of Farah Mendlesohn (Managing Editor), Sandra Lindsey, Fiona Pickles and Aleksandr Voinov. We are actively recruiting others.

We have opened a new call for submissions.

(17) DO YOU GROWL WHEN YOU’RE PLEASED? The BBC story “The complicated truth about a cat’s purr” notes that cat research lags behind the study of dogs because dogs are more willing subjects….

Part of the mystery around the purr is that we often only notice cats purring “when we tickle them in places that they like to be tickled”, says Debevere. Yet they also purr when we’re not around, and the extent of that purring varies between individuals. “All cats are different, some never purr and some will purr constantly,” she says. She draws the comparison between her cat Luigi – a stray who followed someone in to their office and was subsequently taken to a shelter – and Archie, who “moved in from next door” and became part of the family. Luigi purrs little, and Archie a lot.

“I’ve photographed more than 3,000 cats so far [at shelters] and no two are the same,” Debevere says. “I’ve witnessed a lot of cats purring when they’re dying, and when they’re being put to sleep. The vet will say something like ‘They were purring right up until the end’, and people assume they’re happy when they’re purring. That’s just not always the case.”

(18) UH-OH. Sarah Kaplan and Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post report that the James Webb Space Telescope, which has already cost $7,6 billion, will have its launch delayed until 2021 because of screws that fell off of the sun shield during a test, leaving critics to argue that the telescope could be “too big to fail and too complicated to work.” “NASA’s next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors”.

The Webb’s problems have rattled many powerful constituencies. NASA is embarrassed and dismayed by the human errors that have snarled its biggest robotic science project, which was identified by the astronomy community back in 2000 as its top priority.

(19) NOT THE SAME SHAPE. Judge dismisses The Shape of Water copyright suit – the BBC has the story.

The plot of Oscar-winning fantasy film The Shape of Water was not copied from a 1969 play, a US judge has ruled.

Judge Percy Anderson has dismissed a legal action that claimed Guillermo del Toro’s film copied the story of Let Me Hear You Whisper by Paul Zindel.

The late playwright’s son sued del Toro, the Fox Searchlight studio and others in February, claiming the two works were “in many ways identical”.

In his ruling, however, the judge said they only shared “a basic premise”.

(20) THE STARS THEIR DESTINATION. Something people of the future will be running into: “Japanese firm to launch wedding plaques into space”.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the Warpspace start-up in the city of Tsukuba is working with Kibo, Japan’s orbital science module, to launch wedding plaques from the International Space Station.

The company, which is largely staffed by faculty members from the University of Tsubuka, says that it will engrave couples’ names, messages, and other information on titanium plaques, measuring some 16 millimetres by eight millimetres.

The plaques will then be loaded onto miniature cubic satellites, which can hold several hundred plaques, and be released into orbit. They will join the tens of thousands of satellites, man-made objects and space junk already orbiting the Earth.

(21) BATMAN’S AMBITION. On the Conan O’Brien show, “Batman Wants To Join The Marvel Universe.”

Batman is sick of the perpetually rainy and depressing DC Universe; he’d rather have a seat at the Avengers’ table.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Daniel Dern, James Davis Nicoll, Julie Dillon, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anthony.]

Pixel Scroll 7/21/18 Number Five: Where Am I? Other Number Five: In The File.

(1) THE MAN WHO LOST THE MOON. Where do you hide something this big? “Giant moon artwork goes missing in post on way to Austria”.

A giant replica of the moon which is displayed all over the world has gone missing in the post.

The 7m (23ft) orb, covered in detailed imagery of the lunar surface, has been created by Bristol-based Luke Jerram and was en route to a festival in Austria.

Mr Jerram said the disappearance of the structure, titled Museum of the Moon, was “really annoying and upsetting.”

Courier firm TNT said it was looking into the issue.

Mr Jerram said the artwork has been booked for a series of public events across Europe over the summer.

 

(2) FUTURICON. Rijeka, Croatia is going to host Eurocon 2020, which will be called Futuricon. Their bid was accepted this week at Eurocon in Amiens. Their site has been home to Rikon for almost two decades.

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka
October 2-4, 2020

Rijeka, the coastal city in Croatia in which the annual convention Rikon has already been held nineteen times, has won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture 2020. As part of the ECoC nomination, the SF society 3. zmaj, is announcing Futuricon, our bid for Eurocon 2020, for which we will combine the most important things the city of Rijeka has to offer – centuries of culture, diversity and tolerance, and a fresh glimpse into a positive future created by the people who live and breathe culture. With the support of the City and University of Rijeka, as well as other Croatian SF societies, we are confident that we can create a unique European experience for everyone.

(3) ALWAYS IN STYLE. Debra Doyle, novelist and editor, makes a statement “With Regard to the Recent Email to Nominees for the Hugo Awards”.

Science Fiction’s Hugos would not be what they are without accompanying periodic outbursts of controversy. This year’s topic is the email sent out to nominees for the award, “encouraging” them to dress professionally for the awards ceremony. The backlash from the sf/fantasy community was, shall we say, vociferous and overwhelmingly negative.†

As well it should be. To quote my elder daughter, on an occasion some time ago when I was fretting about the advisability of going out in public with my hair pulled back using a kid’s Snoopy-the-Flying-Ace hair tie:

“Don’t worry, Mamma. You’re a science fiction writer. You can wear anything.”

(4) THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME. You may not have thought the question of what Worldcons want people to wear to events was a new controversy. But would you have expected E.E. “Doc” Smith to be the person complaining about it? In 1962? Here’s a letter the author of the Lensman Series wrote to Chicon III chair Earl Kemp before the con.

(5) ONE BIG CHECK. That’s what you’ll be writing if you want any of his stuff — “One giant sale: Neil Armstrong’s collection goes to auction”. ABC News has the story.

Admirers of Neil Armstrong and space exploration have a chance to own artifacts and mementos that belonged to the modest man who became a global hero by becoming the first human to walk on the moon.

The personal collection of Armstrong, who died in his native Ohio in 2012, will be offered for sale in a series of auctions handled by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, beginning Nov. 1-2 and continuing in May and November 2019.
The collection includes a variety of artifacts from Armstrong’s 1969 lunar landing and private mementos that include pieces of a wing and propeller from the 1903 Wright Brothers Flyer that the astronaut took with him to the moon.

The article names several other flown artifacts that will be in the auctions.

(6) ACCLAIMED SHORT FANTASY. Rocket Stack Rank lists 46 outstanding stories of high fantasy from 2016-2017 that were either finalists for major SF/F awards, included in “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, or recommended by prolific reviewers in short fiction (see Q&A). That’s 46 out of 166 high fantasy stories from those two years, and out of 470 outstanding SF/F stories from 2016 and 2017.

For our purposes, we define “high fantasy” as a fantasy story that takes place in a secondary world. That is, something like Lord of the Rings, where Middle Earth is clearly not in the past or future of our world.

(7) ADDRESSEE UNKNOWN. There was just one problem with choosing John Crowley as the winner: “Maine Literary Award withdrawn because of ineligibility; new winner named”….

The winner of a 2018 Maine Literary Award was found ineligible because he is not a resident of Maine, and the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, which gives the awards annually, has named a new winner of its speculative fiction prize.

The award, which had gone to Massachusetts resident John Crowley for his book “Ka,” since has been given to Unity College writing instructor Paul Guernsey, who had come in second place for his book “American Ghost.”

“Ka” was nominated by the editorial director of Saga Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, whose marketing manager told the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance that Crowley owned a home in Maine and lived here part time. Crowley, who was born in Maine, was named the winner of the award in a June ceremony.

According Joshua Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, Crowley notified the group that he did not live in Maine. While the award can go to seasonal or part-time residents, it is open only to people who live in Maine. Crowley reached out to say that he was unaware that his publisher had nominated him or that his publisher and his editor had said he met the eligibility requirements.

(8) STOPPING FOR ICE. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard tells about the latest trend in fiction 55 years ago: “[July 21, 1963] Ice Cold Spies”.

I marvel at how quickly SF concepts have gone mainstream. With so many SF ideas transitioning into mainstream fiction, one of the current trends I see is the fascination with the Cold War and spies. Who as I’ve alluded to earlier, are it seems to be found everywhere.

The result is the creation of a new genre that blend SF with contemporary thriller to create what is being called a “techno-thriller.” A techno-thriller will use many of the ideas that were once purely science fictional, but set them within a conventional world that’s recognizable as our own.

A new novel by Allister MacLean called Ice Station Zebra has caught the public’s imagination. Whether this is as a result of all the stories of spies in the news I don’t know. MacLean is well known as a writer of action-adventure stories, but this new novel sees him move into a new genre.

Maclean is not the first author to do so. Fellow Scottish writer Ian Stuart wrote a similar techno-thriller, which came out last year called, The Satan Bug….

(9) A PAIR TO DRAW TO. SYFY Wire’s SDCC story “Guillermo del Toro confirmed to guest on The Simpsons in season 30” that confirms the celeb writer/producer/director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, The Hobbit trilogy, the Hellboy movies and games, and many more) will guest star on The Simpsons this coming season. He joins Gal Gadot (the Wonder Woman movies and others in the DC Cinematic Universe) in the “confirmed” column. There was apparently no indication the two would be on the same episode. The season’s first episode of their 30th season will will air September 30.

(10) FRONT ROW TO A SHARKNADO. Syfy Wire reports from SDCC: “Sharknado will return next year… with a live stage show!” Mike Kennedy says, “The article title pretty much says it all. I expect next we’ll have <engage echo effect> Sharks [arks… arks… arks] On [on… on… on] Ice [ice… ice… ice] !!!! <disengage echo effect>.”

You can’t keep a good Sharknado down. On Friday, at San Diego Comic-Con, the cast and crew held a panel on The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Yes, as you might imagine, this is the sixth and final in the Sharknado film franchise. But Sharknado will live on…

… with a live stage show.

Indeed, there is going to be a live stage version of Sharknado. No details were offered at the panel, other than it is expected to premiere at a resort/casino in 2019, and will be a sensory overload, if you will. An official announcement is expected later this year.

(11) HELL WARMED OVER. You may recall that Lucifer, canceled by Fox at the end of this past season, was picked up by Netflix for a 10-episode 4th season. At SDCC, star Tom Ellis dropped a few hints about what might be coming up after the major season 3 cliffhanger. SYFY Wire wraps up stories from other sources in “Lucifer’s Tom Ellis Teases Season 4 on Netflix”.

“We get straight back into it,” Ellis told TV Line of the start of Season 4, and teases that Lucifer was unaware that he had the devil face on at the time, so Chloe’s likely shock will come as a surprise. The pair are “apparently” still working together, but Ellis added that “The weird thing this year about coming to Comic-Con is that I can’t talk about the show and what’s going to happen so much, because I don’t know.” The scripts haven’t been written yet, and production begins August 13. Netflix has yet to announce a premiere date….

And he’s in no hurry to have Lucifer and Chloe embrace a romantic relationship. “I think it’s the heartbeat of the show, Chloe and Lucifer’s relationship,” he told [Entertainment Weekly]. “It wouldn’t be very wise to get these two characters together now… When you get the characters together, ultimately that’s kind of resolution. And you don’t want resolution till the very, very end.” But if/when that finally happens, “I am all for it.”

There were hints that Ellis could drop trou on Netflix, something that would have been Right Out on Fox.

(12) SHAZAM! Let’s catch up on our comic history before watching the trailer:  “DC’s ‘Shazam!’ Makes a ‘Big’ First Impression in Comic-Con Trailer”.

And for those of you asking, yes, he really is the first hero called Captain Marvel, debuting 20 years before Marvel Comics existed as a brand. Fawcett Comics was sued by DC in the early 1950s over claims that “Captain Marvel” ripped off “Superman,” and went temporarily out of business after it agreed never to publish the character’s comics again. However, in 1972 DC licensed “Captain Marvel” from Fawcett and brought the character into the DC universe.

But during the intervening decades, Marvel realized the trademark on the name “Captain Marvel” had lapsed, and introduced its own character of the same name. Which is why, to avoid legal problems, DC called its re-launched comic book “Shazam” and eventually changed the character’s name outright.

 

(13) SDCC TRAILERS. Here are several more trailers that got released this weekend.

(14) GRAND BOOK THEFT. These weren’t books he checked out. Now he may be checking into the pokey: “Men accused of stealing $8M in rare books, items from Pittsburgh library”.

Two men are facing charges of stealing or damaging more than $8 million in rare books and materials from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh over more than two decades.

Investigators on Friday charged Greg Priore and John Schulman with the crimes, alleging the two men worked together to remove the items from the Oliver Room.

According to the criminal complaint, Priore worked as the manager and sole archivist of the library’s Oliver Room, which houses rare books and items, for 25 years before being fired in June 2017. Schulman is the co-owner of Caliban Book Shop in Oakland, which specializes in rare books.

The Oliver Room closed more than a year ago once authorities discovered the thefts.

Priore first contacted Schulman about the scheme in the late 1990s, according to the criminal complaint. Priore allegedly told police he made between $500 and $3,000 for items he stole and gave to Schulman to sell.

(15) BE ON THE LOOKOUT. Lou Antonelli, who was slated onto the Hugo ballot in 2015, mourns his “Lost Rockets” [Internet Archive link].

…I decided I’d start wearing my pins this year, and I took them with me when I went to SoonerCon in Oklahoma City June 22. After I checked in and got my badge, I took them out and I was going to stick them on.

I took the first one out, and as I tried to stick it on, I fumbled it. I never saw it land. It disappeared. I never saw it again. I put the second one back in its bag. The next day, I realized I’d lost it also.

After I told this story to one colleague at Libertycon, he said, “Well, you can always ask WorldCon for a replacement.”

I laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding! They didn’t want us to have them in the first place! Do you think they would ever give me a replacement!”

(16) JANELLE MONAÉ. Rolling Stone lets you “Watch Janelle Monae Perform ‘Americans,’ Talk Science Fiction on ‘Colbert’”. Video at the link.

Twice during Monáe’s Late Show appearance, the singer danced atop Colbert’s desk: Once to close out the interview portion – where she and the host talked about first meeting at Barack Obama’s 55th birthday party at the White House – and again to kickstart “Americans.”

During the 10-minute interview, Colbert and Monae also discussed their shared love of science fiction, which heavily influenced the singer’s new LP Dirty Computer.

“I loved being able to see these different worlds that were different from mine, that allowed me to kind of escape from where I was,” Monáe said of the genre. “It just stayed with me. I started to write science fiction as a teenager… It stayed with me throughout my work.”

(17) ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. I ran this link yesterday before seeing Mike Kennedy’s take, which I think Filers will enjoy seeing just the same.

[Item by Mike Kennedy.] Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana

In 2016. the British Antarctic Survey asked the public to pick the name for their new survey vessel. They picked Boaty McBoatface. Well, the BAS was not particularly happy with that, and named the craft the RRS Sir David Attenborough, though they did relent and name an autonomous underwater vehicle Boaty McBoatface (the lead vehicle of its class).

Jump to the present.

The European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency are asking the public for help naming an upcoming Mars rover to be launched in 2020 (and land in 2021).

You get three guesses what the public wants so far (and the first two don’t count). Yep, Time Magazine notes that Rovy McRoverface is already trending on Twitter. Gizmodo throws in Marsy McMarsface and Spacey McSpaceface as their suggestions.

But apparently ESA and UKSA did learn at least a little from the Boaty McBoatface incident, since they say that they’ll be using a panel that they appoint to make the final choice. Or, at least they do if you dig deep enough into their 5-page PDF of Terms and Conditions. With no mention of this on the page where you make your recommendation, it would be easy enough for someone to misunderstand and think this was a straightforward popular vote.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Fired on Mars” on Vimeo, Nick and Nate ask, “What happens if you’re a corporate drone who gets fired–except your bosses are on earth and you’re on Mars?”

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

SDCC Code of Conduct Still Deficient

Comic-Con International starts in San Diego on Thursday. Associated Press reporter Lindsay Bahr’s preview article, “1st Comic-Con of the MeToo era grapples with harassment”, picked up by papers like the Miami Herald, outlines the con’s historic harassment issues and turnover in this year’s guest list, but also speaks uncritically about the SDCC Code of Conduct. The SDCC CoC has not had a good reputation in the past — see for example the 2014 post “San Diego Comic-Con Pushes Back on Harassment Policy Petition” — and I reached out for comments on its current deficiencies for this File 770 post.

The AP article says —

…The convention has always been a home for comic book and genre enthusiasts, and a refuge for like-minded fans to mingle, but it’s also been a place rife with harassment of women and others, whether it’s cosplayers (people who dress up in costumes), general attendees or even those hawking merchandise (sometimes called “booth babes”).

“I don’t think any convention has historically been a safe or inviting space for women,” says Cher Martinetti, the managing editor of SYFY Wire’s Fangrrls site.

Sexual harassment at fan conventions is a subject that is often raised, but the scrutiny will be even more intense this year with the heightened awareness about misconduct.

Just weeks ago, Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick, a mainstay at Comic-Con and moderator of numerous panels, stepped aside from moderating AMC and BBC America panels amid allegations from an ex-girlfriend , which Hardwick has denied. And since last fall a handful of familiar Comic-Con faces, have been accused of misconduct as well, like Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles and “Honest Trailers” creator Andy Signore.

Comic-Con has a code of conduct that representatives say was, “Intentionally created to serve as a comprehensive measure that makes attendee safety a priority.

“We want all participants to feel if they are treated in a manner that makes them uncomfortable, that there is a system in place that will respond to misconduct and sexual harassment,” Comic-Con International told The Associated Press in a statement Sunday.

According to the code, attendees must “respect commonsense rules for public behavior” and “personal interaction” and that “harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated.” The code specifies that anyone who feels at risk should report it to a security person or a staff member and outlines the location of the show office in the San Diego Convention Center, which is open during show hours. Anyone who violates the code is at risk of losing their pass….

The Comic-Con International convention Code of Conduct reads:

Attendees must respect commonsense rules for public behavior, personal interaction, common courtesy, and respect for private property. Harassing or offensive behavior will not be tolerated. Comic-Con reserves the right to revoke, without refund, the membership and badge of any attendee not in compliance with this policy. Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate the nearest member of security, or staff member, so that the matter can be handled in an expeditious manner.

The Comic-Con Show Office is located in the lobby of Hall E of the San Diego Convention Center. During show hours you can always find a Comic-Con staff member or security guard at the Show Office. Please stop by there if you have any questions or concerns.

Four people who answered my call made these observations about the Code of Conduct.

A.G. Carpenter

The flaws with the Comic-con’s approach seem obvious, but here are my immediate (and general) thoughts about it.

I went and read through the actual policies page and, in addition to the Code of Conduct being woefully short and vague, there are no policies that address what “commonsense rules” for public behavior, interaction, etc actually looks like. Nothing to address videotaping or taking photos of people in public or private spaces. (They have two different policies regarding not recording panels/panelists or any images or video footage being presented because proprietary and exclusive, blahblahblah.) Nothing about asking permission to hug strangers or touch them or put your arm around someone for a photograph. Nothing about what harassing or offensive behavior means.

I mean, sure – you can’t write out *everything* that would be problematic. And things that are an issue for some folks won’t be for others. But by giving no examples it leaves the door wide open for abuse. (“I didn’t know they’d mind if I snapped this photo of her bending over.” “All my friends let me hug them, it’s no big deal.”) And it means that folks who are having problems will be even more reluctant to report them because they won’t know if the staffer they approach for assistance will take them seriously because there are no written guidelines about what the convention considers inappropriate. Of course, not writing anything down also lets the con off the hook if something with a higher profile guest happens because they could claim that there was no violation of written policy. Which does make the obvious omission of anything looking like an actual Code of Conduct seem suspicious.

Nchanter

Taking a quick look over the Code of Conduct on the convention website, the glaring omission here to me, other than the Code of Conduct being a little vague (no attempt at defining “common sense rules”), is any sort of information about what to expect when one makes a report, or what will happen after a report is made.  Lack of evidence that there is a post report process concerns me, as does the fact that there is no number to call in case going to the show office would not be a safe option.

Karl-Johan Norén

I’m far from a code of conduct expert, and even less so in working on enforcing them (I’m one of the last fen I know who I know should be put into that spot). But having read some code of conducts, discussed them sometimes, and seen a few incidents play out, I can give the following comments.

The code of conduct has some things in its favour: it is brief, it contains no parts that obviously contradict its purpose, and it gives the right to rescind memberships. If this was a small con, with maybe a couple hundred attendees, with no prior history of harassment, and known good people in the concom, this would be a workable CoC. And it does not contain the dread “your right not to be harassed is not a right not to be offended” clause.

Its deficiencies are in the things that are not said, because none of those three factors above are likely true for SDCC.

(1) No dedicated chains for reporting harassment. Handling harassment cases beyond any initial intervention is psychologically tricky at the best of times. The only con security people I’d trust to have a clue here are the Finnish ones. A con the size of SDCC should list a phone number, e-mail account, and at least physical point of contact dedicated to CoC issues. These points of contact should be heavily promoted (I’d not be averse to putting at least the phone number on the badge itself). Given SDCC’s size, the phone should probably be staffed 24/7 during the con, not only during show hours.

(2) There are no promises from the con regarding how CoC issues will be handled. Granted, the CoC itself is not the place where one should detail instructions to staff, but it should at least: (a) give a promise of confidentiality and discretion from the con towards the person reporting the issue, (b) outline the assistance and help the con can or will provide.

(3) The highest sanction the con reserves is to rescind a membership. Arguably, it should mention contacting the authorities as well, even if it is only like “we will assist any person wishing to contact the authorities, and assist the authorities in any following investigation”. I know US police are far worse than the Swedish police (which also have a poor historical track record), but the con might find itself dealing with cases of reported rape or sexual assault.

(4) No specific guidelines regarding cosplay or photography, nor any examples (clearly not limited to the list itself) of what the con sees as harassing behaviour.

John Scalzi says the CoC is why he keeps passing on chances to attend the convention:

The SDCC’s code never offers examples of what it considers harassing or inappropriate behavior (see the code of conduct at New York Comic Con as an example of a good version of explaining what it is) — it’s all a judgement call by whomever is taking the complaint, and it allows harassers more wiggle room than they should have. That’s not acceptable to me, and it’s one reason I haven’t been back to SDCC in several years.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 7/8/18 My Friend, Can Your Heart Stand The Shocking Facts Of Pixel Scrollers From Outer Space?

(1) CASH THEFT AT MONTREAL COMIC CON. Peter Chiykowski, creator of Rock, Paper, Cynic, told fans that thieves took over $1,000 from his booth at Montreal Comic Con on July 7. He has written a long post on Facebook about the theft, its toxic emotional impact on him, plus a full description of the three perpetrators, who have hit other vendors, too.

Peter Chiykowski and Husein Panju at Montreal Comic Con booth.

Yesterday an organized group of thieves stole about $1,000 cash from my booth at comic con. (Fellow vendors: details at the bottom about how to recognize them and fight back.)

I’m feeling a lot of things right now. Angry. Hurt. Defeated. Spiteful. Grateful to all the people who helped me in the aftermath, including friends and fellow vendors and comic con staff.

…They stole $1,000 in 30 seconds.

I was one of about 4 booths they hit in an hour. I seem to have been hit the hardest. Apparently this is the 3rd con they’ve done this at.

This year has been personally terrible for me. There’s been a lot going in my personal and professional life that I haven’t discussed and that has made this by far the low point and most difficult and financially strained year of my career. On the way to this show I was very seriously questioning if I want to keep doing this.

I can’t help feel like yesterday was a sign. A big fuck you, because no matter how hard I work, there will always be shitty people who can take it away.

I am going to move on from this, because I have to move on from this, and in the grand scheme of my life, $1,000 is far from the biggest thing I’ve lost….

Rodney Valerio has set up a fundraiser with the goal of replacing the thousand dollars that was taken: “Peter’s Rock, Paper, Cyncic Dream”.

(2) SMOFCON SCHOLARSHIPS OFFERED. CanSMOF Inc. is taking applications for three scholarships for convention runners to be used towards the cost of attending SMOFcon 36, to be held in Santa Rosa, CA, November 30-December 2, 2018. SMOFCon is the annual convention about organizing Science Fiction conventions.

  • The first Scholarship of up to 500 CAD is open to a Canadian citizen or resident involved in running conventions with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
  • The second scholarship of up to 1000 CAD is open to anyone not residing in North America, involved in running conventions with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.
  • The third scholarship of up to 500 CAD is open to anyone involved in running conventions, regardless of their place of residence with a preference for those who have not previously attended a SMOFCon.

Preference will be given to fans who have not previously attended a SMOFCon, but this is not necessary to be an applicant. The submission deadline is September 9.

To apply for a scholarship, follow this link: https://goo.gl/forms/4rNPJbZ7f2Vx1NMJ2

(3) KEPLER NEARS RETIREMENT. On July 6, NASA announced that they have put the Kepler space observatory in a “no-fuel-use safe mode” in preparation for downloading data from what may have been the final Kepler observational campaign. Kepler has been very successful at finding exoplanets (both confirmed and candidates) since commissioning in 2009. After 2 of the 4 reaction wheels failed (the second in 2013), the mission was replanned to use thrusters as well as the remaining reaction wheels to point the telescope. Now, however, thruster fuel is critically low. NASA currently “expects it to run out of fuel in the next few months.”

NASA plans to take Kepler out of safe mode on August 2. It will then be commanded to reorient and point its high-gain antenna at Earth so data currently stored onboard can be downloaded. This reorientation maneuver uses significantly more fuel than observation mode and NASA notes that, “Returning the data back to Earth is the highest priority for the remaining fuel.” If the download is successful, NASA will command one more observation campaign (the 19th), to begin 6 August.

(4) WONDER WOMAN DROPS BY. Syfy Wire, in “’Wonder’-ful surprise: Gal Gadot visited a children’s hospital in her full Wonder Woman costume”, reports Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot made a surprise appearance at Inova Children’s Hospital in Annandale VA on Friday 6 July… in her full battle armor costume.

Surgeon Dr. Lucas Collazo posted a photo to his Twitter account of Gadot posing with nearly a score of staff members and thanking her for brightening the day of many of the children (and staff).

Other pics were posted on Twitter (@WonderWomanHQ) and on Reddit (/u/oligarchyoligarchy). Gadot was apparently in the area while shooting Wonder Woman 1984, the upcoming sequel.

(5) PREMIERE. The Verge posted an excerpt of Rich Larson’s debut novel from Orbit: “A transgender girl rises up against alien invaders in Rich Larson’s novel Annex”. Previous work from Larson includes short genre fiction in Apex Magazine, in Clarkesworld Magazine, at Daily Science Fiction, on Tor.com, and in the anthology War Stories: New Military Science Fiction.

Later this month, Rich Larson will publish his debut novel, Annex, the start to his Violet Wars trilogy. The book is set in the aftermath of an alien invasion, and follows Violet, a transgender girl who has escaped capture and discovered that an alien parasite has given her strange powers. The aliens have tagged the adults of the world with a device that leaves them in a zombie-like state. She and a group of children called “Lost Boys” struggle to survive in order to take the fight back to the otherworldly invaders.

(6) SF V. LITERATURE. Gautham Shenoy interviews Adam Roberts in his 100th sff column for Factor Daily: “‘We’re Winning the War’: A Q&A with SF writer, critic and historian, Adam Roberts”.

Shenoy: I remember a few years ago, Kim Stanley Robinson angrily (I’d presume) calling the judges of the Man Booker Prize ignorant for ignoring science fiction, singling you out as the author who should’ve won that year, for your book, Yellow Blue Tibia. How did that make you feel? Which leads me to the second part of this question, where do you stand on this ‘literary apartheid’ if I can call it as such, where the ‘literary establishment’ tends to ignore if not sneer at ‘low brow’ science fiction, which in turn one could say has become ghettoised.

Roberts: Stan was being kind (really, incredibly kind and flattering) rather than wholly accurate when he said that. I’m never going to win the Man Booker, and I’m content with that. By the same token, I wonder if the ghetto doesn’t figure the opposite way to how it’s often invoked. It’s not that SFF is a ghetto inside the glorious city of ‘Literary Fiction’, but the reverse. “Literary” novels sell abominably badly, by and large; popular culture in the main belongs to SF and Fantasy, eighteen of the top twenty highest grossing movies of all time are SFF, everybody recognises SFF icons and memes, and not only popular bestsellers like Andy Weir’s The Martian but the best in contemporary experimental fiction is now SF. Nicola Barker’s Goldsmith’s Prize-winning H(a)ppy is SF; Kim Stanley Robinson’s own New York 2140 is as stylistically and formally innovative as Dos Passos, and so on. We’re winning the war.

(7) NEWS TO ME. Fafnir – Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research is “a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary academic journal published by the The Finnish Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy Research.”

Fafnir aims at serving as an international forum for scholarly exchange on science fiction and fantasy and for discussion on current issues on the field. Fafnir welcomes contributions from a wide range of perspectives.

(8) TRIBUTE TO DITKO. Sam Thielman, in “Steve Ditko’s Genius Made Him Something He Disdained–A Beloved Celebrity” in The Daily Beast, offers an appreciation of Ditko, and explains that many comics fans made the trip to 1650 Broadway, Suite 715 (an address that was in the phone book) only to find that Ditko refused to give interviews to anyone, including Neil Gaiman, who left Ditko’s office with a bag of comics and no interview.

For this beloved artist, the focus was entirely on his work, and he wanted other people’s focus there, too. “I never talk about myself,” he said when his own editors asked for a promotional interview after he’d created a new character, The Creeper, for DC Comics in 1974. “My work is me. I do my best, and if I like it, I hope somebody else likes it too.”

Pretty much everybody else did like it. There is a peculiar grammar to comics, a way that one panel suggests the next panel, that is ephemeral and hard to learn; some people intuitively understand it and reading their comics is like watching actual movement. Ditko is their patron saint.

(9) VANZINA OBIT. Carlo Vanzina (1951 – 2018): Italian screenwriter and director, died July 8, aged 67. Often collaborated with his brother Enrico. Genre work included Nothing Underneath (1985), A spasso nel tempo (1996), A spasso nel tempo – L’avventura continua (1997), 2061: Un anno eccezionale (2007).

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Why are UFO sightings down? Mike Kennedy learned the answer in Brewster Rockit.

(11) SHE LIGHTS UP THEIR LIVES. Mark Jenkins in the Washington Post reports on a forthcoming concert by Hatsume Miku, who is a hologram (her name means “first sound of the future” whose manga-loving fans have composed 100,000 songs in at least five languages for her, some of which have gotten 25 million hits on YouTube. “This singer is part hologram, part avatar, and might be the pop star of the future”.

When Japanese pop idol Hatsune Miku makes her Washington debut at the Anthem on Thursday, fans will be asked to use the official glow sticks for sale at the show instead of the regular brighter ones. The thing is, if too much light shines from the audience, Miku might simply disappear.

That’s because Miku is a hologram — at least when she performs in concert, backed by a quartet of flesh-and-blood musicians. She’s also an anime character, a video-game avatar, a bundle of sophisticated “vocaloid” code and a fascinating experiment in crowd-sourced pop art.

(12) AN INCREDIBLE NUMBER. ComicBook.com has pointed out that Incredibles 2 is about to set a record—the highest domestic gross for an animated film. According to BoxOfficeMojo’s Domestic Gross table, as of 5 July 2018, I2 was sitting at $475,361,414 (and #13 overall for all films), just behind Finding Dory at $486,295,561.

On the other hand, I2 would have a long way to go to gain the same distinction internationally. On BoxOfficeMojo’s Worldwide Gross chart, Frozen is the highest ranked animated film (#12 overall; $1,276.5 million) while I2 is way down the rank (#109 overall; $693.4 million). Animated films between them include Up (#96), Monsters University (#94), Madagascar 3 (#91), Shrek Forever After (#89), Maleficent (#85), Shrek the Third (#74), Coco (#73), Inside Out (#63), The Secret Life of Pets (#57), Ice Age: Continental Drift (#56),  Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (#52),  Shrek 2 (#49), Finding Nemo (#45), The Lion King (#38), Despicable Me 2 (#37), Zootopia (#32), Finding Dory (#29), Despicable Me 3 (#27), Toy Story 3 (#23), and Minions (#16).

Of course, when adjusting Domestic Gross for inflation, no animated film can beat out Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (#10 overall) or even 101 Dalmatians (#12 overall). And those two films together don’t add up to the inflation adjusted Domestic Gross for #1 Gone with the Wind. [Item penned by  Mike Kennedy.]

(13) SDCC PROGRAM. Comic-Con has released its program. They’ve finally found something for all the Hollywood lawyers to do.

(14) ELLISON TRIBUTE AT SDCC. San Diego’s Comic-Con International also will host a panel discussion about the late Harlan Ellison on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Room 6DE.

Josh Olson, Bill Sienkiewicz, William Stout, Erik Nelson, Steve Barnes, Nat Segaloff, Jude Meyers, Scott Tipton, J. K. Woodward, Christine Valada, Jason Davis will honor the memory of Harlan Ellison and the lasting effects of his work.

(15) PIERS ANTHONY ON ELLISON. Piers Anthony devotes a long section of his latest Newsletter to reminiscing about Ellison.

Yet there are limits. When Harlan made comments that could be dangerous to my career, I wrote to him privately saying in essence that I did not want trouble with him, as we were on the same side in so many cases, but if he repeated some of the things in print I would have to take legal action to protect my reputation. He was dismayed, listing three things that I should have said and had not. I replied by quoting all three things from the first page of my letter. Again he had accused me without cause. It was apparent that he was incorrigible, simply not capable of getting such things straight; he was a loose cannon, possibly more dangerous to friends than to enemies. Strike Three. I decided to disengage. “Fare well, Harlan,” I wrote, and cut him off.

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

Pixel Scroll 6/5/18 Scroll Is A Pixel, And I Want My Money Back

Brian Keene. Photo by Scott Edelman.

(1) BRIAN KEENE BURN INJURY. Horror author and podcaster Brian Keene is hospitalized, reports Stephen Kozeniewski, who has started a “Brian Keene Burn Fund” at GoFundMe:

On June 5, 2018, author, podcaster, philanthropist, and father Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident.  At this time he is conscious and in good spirits but has first degree burns on his face and second degree burns on his body.

As a freelance author, Brian does not have health insurance.  We’re not sure at this time how long he’ll be in treatment, or how much the bill will be, but any visit to the hospital is expensive, and will only be compounded by lost wages from not being able to work.

We’re asking the community of writers, horror fans, and just decent human beings in general to chip in a few dollars to help get Brian back on his feet and spending time with his loving girlfriend and sons.  We’d be very grateful for anything you can afford to contribute.

The appeal has raised $14,415 of its $15,000 goal in the first four hours online.

Keene co-hosts of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Last May, they held that 24-hour telethon and raised roughly $21,000 in support of Scares That Care.

Kozeniewski added in an update, “What we know right now is that the wind shifted while Brian was burning brush.”

(2) ALL YOUR COMIC CONVENTION ARE BELONG TO US. Those lovable knuckleheads who run San Diego Comic-Con International would like a federal judge to award them several million dollars in attorney fees after winning their lawsuit against the Salt Lake Comic Con. Courthouse News has the story: “San Diego Comic-Con: ‘Comic Convention’ Is Ours”.

…U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia heard a host of posttrial motions Thursday, including San Diego Comic-Con’s request for over $4.5 million in attorney fees which have already been paid in full.

San Diego Comic-Con attorney Callie Bjurstrom with Pillsbury Law told Battaglia Thursday he should find the case is “exceptional” so that attorney fees and costs can be awarded.

“This was a very expensive case; the reason this case was so expensive was because of defendants and their counsel and the way they litigated this case,” Bjurstrom said.

She pointed out Brandenburg testified at trial he knew about San Diego Comic-Con’s trademarks but still used “Comic Con” to name his Utah convention. Bjurstrom said the Salt Lake owners engaged in a “public intimidation campaign” once San Diego Comic-Con sent them a cease-and-desist letter to stop infringing the trademark and that Salt Lake’s attorneys filed meritless motions, “flip-flopped” on legal theories and violated court orders throughout the three-year litigation.

“If this case isn’t exceptional, I don’t know what is,” Bjurstrom said.

San Diego Comic-Con also asked Battaglia to permanently bar the Salt Lake convention from using its trademarks, arguing its reputation has been irreparably harmed by the confusion to consumers.

During the trial, San Diego Comic-Con presented evidence its attendees had contacted its employees about the Salt Lake convention, believing the two events were associated.

But San Diego Comic-Con’s request went a step further than simply asking Battaglia to enjoin the Salt Lake convention operators from infringing its trademarks: it asked the judge to bar the Salt Lake convention from using the words “comic convention” or phonetic equivalents to “Comic Con” or “comic convention.”

Bjurstrom said the injunction should include any spelling variation on “Comic Con” which is pronounced the same as the San Diego trademark, including spelling it with a “K” or “Kahn.”

“Whether you spell Comic Con with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’, it’s pronounced the same. It is exactly the same when you say it,” Bjurstrom said.

San Diego Comic-Con also asked the judge to order the Salt Lake operators to destroy marketing and advertising materials which make reference to “Comic Con” and to cease operating websites and social media accounts which reference the trademark.

Battaglia took the motions under submission and will issue a written order.

(3) WIKIPEDIA. Juliet McKenna asks “What can SFF fandom do about the inherent bias of Wikipedia?”. The author looked into the question because the Wikipedia entry about her was flagged for deletion, on grounds that she is not sufficiently notable:

It seems Wikipedia is aware of its systemic bias, as detailed in this article. Read this, and related pieces, and I imagine many of you will note, with the weary contempt of familiarity, the repeated insistence that it’s up to women themselves, and other under-represented groups to do all the hard work here. Though I haven’t found anything addressing the issue I raise above, explaining what we’re expected to do when sufficient acceptable citations simply do not exist, and those references that do exist are not deemed acceptable. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

On the plus side, I have learned that there are dedicated groups of female and other special-interest Wikipedians spending considerable time and effort updating and expanding pages, intent on correcting this bias. Mind you, I also learned their work is frequently challenged and even undone by other Wikipedians applying the all too prevalent and far too often white western male logic of ‘not of interest to me personally = not of interest to anyone’. And of course, such challenges can very easily be a thinly veiled cover for actively discriminatory behaviour. Having read the Wikipedia page on handling tendentious editing, I am not in the least reassured that this is in any way satisfactorily addressed.

(4) LUCRATIVE SFF AUCTION. Fine Books & Collections was standing by the cash register: “Sci-fi from the Stanley Simon Estate Breaks Records in Swann Literature Auction”.

Science fiction ruled on May 15 at Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature. Selections from the Estate of Stanley Simon, featuring 84 rare and first editions of cornerstones of the genre, boasted a 98% sell-through rate. All of the offered titles by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Stephen King sold, with many achieving auction records.

Leading the pack was a signed first edition of Dick’s dystopian novel The Man in the High Castle, 1962, which was purchased by a collector for $10,400, above a high estimate of $6,000, a record for the work. Another record was achieved by a signed first edition of Ubik, 1969, at $5,500, while the auction debut of the rare galley proofs for Valis, 1981, reached $5,000.

Simon had acquired several uncorrected proofs of important works, none of which had previously appeared at auction. While not strictly science-fiction, material by Stephen King outperformed in this category. The highlight was the presentation copy of an uncorrected proof of The Stand, 1978, which sold to a collector for $9,100. Also available were one of apparently 28 copies of proofs of King’s The Shining, 1977, inscribed, which sold for five times its high estimate for $6,250, and the complete six-volume set of uncorrected proofs of King’s The Green Mile, 1996, exceeded its $1,200 high estimate to sell for $5,200.

Another highlight from the Simon estate was the complete Foundation trilogy, 1951-53, by Isaac Asimov. Together, the three signed first editions achieved an auction record of $9,750. Also by Asimov, a signed first edition of I, Robot, 1950, reached $6,250, above a high estimate of $3,500. Important editions of Ray Bradbury’s magnum opus Fahrenheit 451, 1953, were led by the limited author’s edition personally inscribed to Simon ($7,500). The popular asbestos-bound edition reached $5,200. All six editions offered were purchased….

(5) LE GUIN’S LAST EARTHSEA STORY. The Paris Review has a story by Ursula K. Le Guin. And not just any story, but a final Earthsea tale, written a year before her death. (So I’m guessing it’s the last one.)

He was thinking of Lookfar, abandoned long ago, beached on the sands of Selidor. Little of her would be left by now, a plank or two down in the sand maybe, a bit of driftwood on the western sea. As he drifted near sleep he began to remember sailing that little boat with Vetch, not on the western sea but eastward, past Far Toly, right out of the Archipelago. It was not a clear memory, because his mind had not been clear when he made that voyage, possessed by fear and blind determination, seeing nothing ahead of him but the shadow that had hunted him and that he pursued, the empty sea over which it had fled.

(6) BUMBLEE TRAILER. This movie will be in theaters at Christmas.

Every adventure has a beginning. Watch the official teaser trailer for Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena.

 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PRODUCER

  • Born June 5, 1953 – Kathleen Kennedy

(8) IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Of possible interest to Sarah Gailey fans (because of a hippo reference) is this segment from the June 3 episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, on the subject of guardianship for the elderly. The relevant portion starts at about the 13:20 mark. That’s where John Oliver introduces a new PSA on the subject, starring several celebrities – including William Shatner.

(9) DOG DAYS. This perfect poem inspired a thread of deep appreciation for the artist…

(10) DINO APPRECIATION SUMMIT. Chuck Tingle and Jeff Goldblum had an internet encounter —

(11) WALL POLITICS. And they’ll make the schwein pay for it. (Oh, wait, that’s something else….) “Denmark backs fence on German border to keep out wild boar”.

Denmark’s parliament has voted to build a 68-km (42-mile) fence along the border with Germany in a bid to protect the pork industry from the spread of African swine fever.

The vote aimed at keeping out wild boar is controversial for several reasons.

Environmental campaigners doubt it will stop the animals entering Denmark, while others say Germany has no trace of the virus.

Some in Germany have condemned the move as gesture politics.

Work on constructing the fence is unlikely to start until autumn, after an assessment by Denmark’s environmental protection agency.

(12) MORE WALL POLITICS. Security décor from another era: “The 12 best posters from the very odd NSA archive”.

Long before it was at the centre of a huge spying scandal, the US National Security Agency had the communist threat to deal with – and wanted to make sure its staff did not spill secrets.

A vast archive of posters, apparently for display at the spy agency’s offices, has been posted online thanks to a freedom of information request from governmentattic.org.

The website asked for “a digital/electronic copy of the NSA old security posters from the 1950s and 1960s”, although confusingly it also got one featuring John Travolta.

Here are some of our favourites. The full, 139-page document, can be found here.

(13) CASTLE COCKY. More trademark hoo-hah: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your trademark restrictions”.

Rapunzel, the long-haired maiden locked in a tower by an evil witch, has been immortalized in countless bedtime stories and adaptations, from the Brothers Grimm to Disney. There is even a teenage rapper who goes by the name RapUnzel.

Now, a private company wants to lock the princess’s name in a castle fortified by United States trademark law.

But this attempt to register the trademark for the name Rapunzel has unleashed fervent opposition, not from Hasbro or Mattel, but from an impassioned group of Suffolk University Law School professors and students.

(14) DINO DUBIOSITY. The BBC asks “Does Jurassic Park make scientific sense?” Can you guess the answer? I knew you could…

In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s film Jurassic Park defined dinosaurs for an entire generation.

It has been credited with inspiring a new era of palaeontology research.

But how much science was built into Jurassic Park, and do we now know more about its dinosaurs?

As its 25th anniversary approaches, visual effects specialist Phil Tippett and palaeontologist Steve Brusatte look back at the making of the film, and what we’ve learned since.

So, first of all, what did Jurassic Park get wrong? It started off by inheriting some complications from Michael Crichton’s novel, on which the film was based.

“I guess Cretaceous Park never had that same ring to it,” laughs Brusatte.

“Most of the dinosaurs are Cretaceous in age, that’s true.”

(15) SWEET WRITING. Cat Rambo tasted these chocolate bars for Green Man Review: “Chuao Chocolatier’s Chocolate Bars with All the Add-ins”.

Here in America we like our add-ins, ice cream and candy full of other candy, nuts, random sweets, and sometimes savories. Chuao (pronounced Chew-WOW) has a shelf-load of such, chocolate bars with all the goodies, created by Venezuelan chef Michael Antonorsi.

Most of the bars I tried were terrific but some are more successful than others. Idiosyncrasies of taste may make a difference; when I tweeted about the one I really disliked, someone mentioned that was their favorite, and bemoaned not being able to find it. And it’s not entirely fair to stack dark chocolate up against milk, particularly given that my sweet tooth resembles that of a six-year-old’s. Still, I present them in order of how much I liked them, from most to least.

First up, the “Baconluxious”. Described as “delicate maple sweetness, a sprinkle of bonfire smoked sea salt and crispy, uncured bacon in milk chocolate.” This had a nice aroma and when tasted, an immediate smoothness to its mouth feel, followed by a wash of saltiness and not-unpleasant grittiness before the final bacon note, leaving just a few salt crystals to be crunched between the tooth and savored. This was delicious to the point where I thought I would and then did readily pick one of these up again. And probably will again and again….

(16) A BOY AND HIS ROBO DOG. The AXL Official Trailer came out recently.

In the vein of classic ‘80s family movies SHORT CIRCUIT and FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, A.X.L. is a new adventure about a down-on-his luck teenage bike rider, Miles (Alex Neustaedter), who stumbles upon an advanced, robotic, military dog named A.X.L. Endowed with next-generation artificial intelligence but with the heart of a dog, A.X.L. forms an emotional bond with Miles, much to the chagrin of the rogue military scientists who created A.X.L. and would do anything to retrieve him. Knowing what is at stake if A.X.L. gets captured, Miles teams up with his smart, resourceful crush, Sara (Becky G), to protect his new best friend on a timeless, epic adventure for the whole family.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jonathan Cowie, Martin More Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, K.M.  Alexander, Rev. Bob, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael D. Toman, Carl Slaughter, Steve Johnson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

Pixel Scroll 5/12/18 Don’t Pixel Under The Kitten-Tree With Anyscroll Else But Me

(1) PLUG PULLED ON GAMING CON. The Dark Carnival Games convention in Denver was shut down by the hotel this weekend. Violence between some people on the premises seems to have been the cause – for example, see this video of a fight that purportedly occurred there.

Trae Dorn explains one of the con’s unusual characteristics in his post at Nerd & Tie.

Dark Carnival Games Con (or “Dark Carnival Game Con” according to some of the other official materials) isn’t exactly your typical gaming convention. It’s a game convention for Juggalos hosted by the Insane Clown Posse themselves.

In fact, after the shutdown, Insane Clown Posse issued a statement on Facebook:

…Juggalos…we love you. We appreciate you. And we acknowledge all your wonderful work and creativity in making DCG a Dark Carnival blessed and beautiful space that was truly For Juggalos, By Juggalos. However, due to circumstances that are beyond our control, the DCG Con Conventiion Hall has been shut down, to the tears and heartbreak of our wonderful 100% Juggalo-run staff and amazing attendees who put their hearts and souls into making this space for our beloved Juggalo Family. This was COMPLETELY out of our hands, ninjas. We here at Psychopathic Records apologize and we are with you, we will be here in the hotel, and we love you more than you will ever know….

(2) ARE CODES OF CONDUCT WORKING? Alisa Krasnostein has made available the results of her “Audit of Australian Science Fiction convention Codes of Conduct”. Her survey received 81 responses. Analysis and graphs at the link.

Executive Summary

After personally hearing recounts of a few very troubling incidents, I decided to conduct a survey of attendees at Australian SF conventions to assess the prevalence of harassment still being experienced there….

…Drilling down into the details of how these codes of conduct are being enforced, and how complaints are being addressed, raised some real issues for concern.

The successful enforcement of a code of conduct relies on a reporting process that is well publicised, accessible, supportive, safe and trusted.

Only 85% of the respondents were aware of the code of conduct. 70% knew whom to approach for assistance as per the code of conduct. All three of the main SF conventions inform attendees to report any incidents of harassment to the convention committee. Swancon includes WASFF board members as a point of contact. Only one of the conventions tells attendees how to identify these points of contact (by the colour of their con badge).

I find this to be grossly insufficient. It relies on convention attendees to know not only the names but also match them to the faces of organisers of the event they are attending, and to be able to locate them during a personally stressful or distressing time. Additionally, in my experience, both as a convention attendee and organiser, convention committee members are incredibly busy and not remotely accessible at the best of times. Let alone when you need a quiet and private moment to lodge an upsetting complaint….

(3) AS IF MILLONS OF VOICES SUDDENLY CRIED OUT. Inverse reports “That pesky Obi-Wan Kenobi movie might actually be happening” — “Obi-Wan ‘Star Wars’ Movie Rumored to Be in Secret Pre-Production”.

Since August of 2017, persistent rumors have suggested that a standalone Star Wars movie about Obi-Wan Kenobi, and starring Ewan McGregor is definitely going to happen. However, since then, there has been no official confirmation from Lucasfilm about this project. But, on Thursday, the day of the early Los Angeles premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a new rumor surfaced that the Obi-Wan movie is already in secret pre-production.

…[A]ccording to an anonymous source who spoke to Fantha Tracks on Thursday, “The project is sufficiently along that an art department is now in full pre-production mode at Pinewood Studios, England…A number of concept artists, prop modelers, and storyboard artists are working as a team across the two locations on the film…”

(4) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman says don’t miss a chance to  chow down on chive dumplings with Mary SanGiovanni in Episode 66 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Scott adds, “Warning: The post — though not the episode itself — include video of me strumming ‘Monster Mash’ on the ukulele!” Hm, I better see if my liability insurance covers that….

Did you listen to the 24-hour Scares That Care Telethon, hosted by Brian Keene and his cohorts from The Horror Show with Brian Keene podcast, which ended at noon today after having raised $21,591 for that 501c3 charity devoted to helping those coping with childhood illness, burns and breast cancer? If not, don’t worry. Because though its content was for the most part livestreamed only, never to be seen or heard again, I’ve got some of it for you right here.

Because once again, Eating the Fantastic invaded!

During last year’s telethon, as captured in Episode 34, I brought BBQ and chatted with that best-selling zombie author himself, while this year I picked up takeout from Viet Thai Cafe for dinner with Mary SanGiovanni.

Mary’s the author of The Hollower trilogy, the first volume of which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, plus the recent novels Chills and Savage Woods. Her collections include Under Cover of Night, A Darkling Plain, and Night Moves. She’s also the host of the Cosmic Shenanigans podcast.

We discussed H. P. Lovecraft’s racism and sexuality (or lack thereof), how having grown up in New Jersey might have given her the toughness she needed to survive her early short story rejections, why she ended up writing horror instead of science fiction even though her father read her Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert when she was a kid, which novella she wrote that will never see the light of day, how watching The Exorcist III changed her life, why she’s no longer afraid of vampires, the reason her motto if she founded a religious cult would be “doorways are meant to be opened,” the first writer she met who treated her like an equal, the identify of “the George Carlin of Horror,” and much, much more.

(5) PREFERRED BOOKSTORES. N. K. Jemisin contributed to Lonely Planet’s list: “11 authors recommend US bookstores worth traveling for”.

WORD Books in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Recommended by NK Jemisin, author of The Stone Sky

WORD Books in Greenpoint is probably my current favorite. It’s tiny and cramped, yet they consistently manage to have at least one book that I absolutely HAVE to buy, every time I go there. And the downstairs event space makes up for the tight fit upstairs; I had the launch party for The Fifth Season there and it was lovely. There was even enough room for a homemade volcano! And readings, and talks and more. It’s on a gorgeous street with historic architecture and a little park, easily bike-able or train-able. All they lack is a bookstore cat. Why don’t bookstores do those anymore? Oh, allergies. Well, it’s perfect except for that.

(6) BUD PLANT OUT. One of the San Diego Comic-Con giants is going away: “Comic-Con Pioneer Vendor, Bud Plant, Calls it Quits After 48 Years”.

“I’m proud that we had as many as 11 booths up until 2008, 10 of new products and one with out-of-print material,” he said. “But since that disastrous year, when sales dropped by 40 percent, we’ve been downsizing in an effort to still make it work.”

Francis “Bud” Plant, 66, of Grass Valley noted how he spent “seven full days on the road” and 13-hour days at the annual July show.

He said event organizers had always treated him well, but “attendees these days are, in general, not our customers or they are not looking for books.”

(7) WHO’S WHO IN EOFANDOM. Fanac.org posted a scan of L.D. Broyles’ “1961 Who’s Who #1”. Lots of fans you never heard of before, I betcha. However, I did pretty well on page 4 – recognized 5 out of 9 fans listed, including Greg Benford and Ruth Berman. You might be intrigued by Roger Ebert’s entry, from before he made the big time —

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 12, 1988 Earth Girls Are Easy premiered on this day.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) WE INTERRUPT THIS WAKE… After Syfy cancelled The Expanse The Verge’s Andrew Liptak found a way to soften the blow: “The Expanse author James S.A. Corey is writing a new space opera trilogy”.

Coming off of this morning’s news that the Syfy channel was not going to renew The Expanse for a fourth season, there is some positive news for fans of the series: Orbit Books has announced that it has signed Expanse author James S.A. Corey for three books of a new space opera series.

Corey is actually two authors: Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who co-wrote The Expanse series, which is expected to run for nine novels, the last of which will hit bookstores in 2019. That series has become a popular hit with readers and was adapted as a television show on the Syfy channel that premiered in 2015 with Abraham and Franck as producers. The duo have written outside of the series before: they wrote a Star Wars novel about Han Solo in 2014, Honor Among Thieves. Abraham tells The Verge that Orbit is where James S.A. Corey really began, and I’m delighted that we have another projected queued up with them once The Expanse is complete.”

(11) DISNEY WORLD’S HOTTEST ATTRACTION – FOR ONE DAY. Syfy Wire has videos and stills — “WATCH: Maleficent the dragon bursts into flames during Disney World parade”.

We all know that dragons are supposed to breathe fire, not catch fire. Well,  Maleficent never got that memo.

Friday afternoon, during the Festival of Fantasy parade at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, an enormous animatronic float of Maleficent in dragon form caught fire. The fire occurred when the dragon arrived in Liberty Square, with about 15 minutes remaining in the parade. No one was injured, and the fire was extinguished quickly.

 

(12) A PENNY FOR YOUR VIKING THOUGHTS. Atlas Obscura delves into “The Mystery of Maine’s Viking Penny”.

On February 6, 1979, Kolbjørn Skaare, a Norwegian numismatist with a tall, wide forehead, walked into the Maine State Museum to see the coin. Just a few years earlier, he had published Coins and Coinage in Viking-Age Norway, a doctoral thesis that grew from the decade-plus he had spent as a keeper at the University of Oslo’s Coin Cabinet. The first specialist to examine the coin in person, he had just a day with it before Bruce J. Bourque, the museum’s lead archaeologist, had to address the national press.

Skaare saw “a dark-grey, fragmentary piece,” he later wrote. It had not been found whole, and the coin had continued to shed tiny bits since it was first weighed. A little less than two-thirds of an inch in diameter, it had a cross on one side, with two horizontal lines, and on the other side “an animal-like figure in a rather barbarous design,” with a curved throat and hair like a horse’s mane. In his opinion, it was an authentic Norwegian penny from the second half of the 11th century.

The mystery centered on its journey from Norway to Maine. It was possible to imagine, for example, that it had traveled through the hands of traders, from farther up the Atlantic coast, where Norse explorer Leif Eriksson was known to have built a winter camp. If the coin had come to America in the more recent decades, the hoaxer—presumably Mellgren, Runge, or someone playing a trick on them—must have been able to obtain a medieval Norse coin.

(13) FAMILIAR FIGURE. Here’s something else in silver that’s come from the mint a little more recently…. The New Zealand Mint has just introduced its very first Star Trek pure silver miniature: “Captain Kirk Takes the Silver”.

3D master sculptor Alejandro Pereira Ezcurra designed the Kirk miniature, which is available now in a limited worldwide production of only 1,000 casts. Produced from a minimum of 150g pure silver, it stands approx 10cm tall, is finished with an antique polish, and features a unique production number stamped into the base.

 

They want US$550 for the Captain. The New Zealand Mint is also offering some less expensive silver Trek collectibles. There’s a series of coin notes with images of the Classic Trek crew. Who knew the day would come when money would be issued with Lt. Uhura on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other?

Made from 5g of pure silver, the note’s reverse has images of Uhura and the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 and is coloured and engraved with Star Trek themes.

The obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and is legal tender in Niue.

(14) REPOPULATION TROPE. Wired headline: “How Hard Could It Be to Repopulate the Planet?” Editor Gordon Van Gelder addresses repopulating the Earth stories (including his collection Go Forth and Multiply), John W. Campbell, and much more in an episode of Wired’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

In the 1950s many science fiction writers explored the idea of a global disaster that leaves behind only a single man and woman, who would then have to carry on the human race. According to science fiction editor Gordon Van Gelder, a popular variant of this idea featured a twist ending in which the last man and woman turn out to be Adam and Eve.

“It was one of those stories that science fiction would lend itself to so readily, and newbies would be drawn to it, like ants going to a sugar cube,” Van Gelder says in Episode 308 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

The idea became so overused that magazines would specifically prohibit writers from submitting “Adam and Eve stories.” And while such stories would remain the bane of science fiction editors for decades, the theme of repopulation also produced a number of interesting thought experiments, many of which Van Gelder collected in his recent book Go Forth and Multiply. He says that despite obvious concerns about inbreeding, the idea of one man and one woman repopulating the world isn’t impossible.

(15) SWIMMING THE CHANNELS. SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie says, “Unless you have one of those new-fangled colour television things with auto-record, this Thursday 9 p.m. gives us Brit SF fans a tough choice.” At that hour they have to pick between —

  • Channel 4 the new season of Humans:

  • Or BBC4 and the French SF series Missions:

(16) WHIRLYBIRD. BBC reports “NASA will send helicopter to Mars to test otherworldly flight”.

The Mars Helicopter will be bundled with the US space agency’s Mars rover when it launches in 2020.

Its design team spent more than four years shrinking a working helicopter to “the size of a softball” and cutting its weight to 1.8kg (4lbs).

It is specifically designed to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is 100 times thinner than Earth’s.

(17) WHERE DINOS TROD. In case you hadn’t heard, some people are idiots: “Utah tourists urged to stop throwing dinosaur tracks in lake”.

Visitors to a US state park in Utah have been destroying 200 million-year-old dinosaur tracks by throwing them into the water, park officials say.

While this has been an ongoing problem for many years, officials say the damaging behaviour has increased dramatically in the last six months.

The dinosaur tracks are one of the biggest draws to Red Fleet State Park and many have been irrevocably damaged.

Visitors have been throwing the tracks around as if they were merely rocks.

(18) USING SPACE. The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna, in “Here’s why 2018 is a huge moment in the history of political cartoons”, studies the work of such prize-winning political cartoonists as Ruben Bolling, Tom Tomorrow, and Jen Sorensen and finds they are more like multi-panel comics than they used to be.

Many veteran political cartoonists occasionally create longer-form comics, but traditionally that work hasn’t garnered the mainstream awards. Now, formal recognition is catching up to both changing technology and new pools of talent.

“Without the space constraints print always had,” Sutton notes of drawing in an online era, “the number of panels in a cartoon is no longer the pressing issue it once was” — so more cartoonists can diversify their formats.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Destino:  Walt Disney & Salvador Dali (1945-2003)” is a short animated film on YouTube begun by Salvador Dali in 1945 and abandoned and ultimately completed by Disney in 2003.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Errolwi, Michael J. Walsh. Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, Scott Edelman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Andrew and Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 3/8/18 Stay Tuned For Pixels As They Break

(1) ELVES FOREVER. Olga Polomoshnova explores Elves’ immortality in “Who wants to live forever?” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

By their nature the Elves are bound to Arda, with their bodies being made of  “the stuff of Earth”. They live as long as the world endures….

What Men crave for and desire with all their hearts is, in fact, a burden. More accurately, this serial longevity becomes a burden with time. The Elves age very slowly, but during the course of their long lives they know death of wounds or grief, though not, like Men, of old age, and they fear death, too. Elvish ageing shows in their ever-growing weariness of the world. One of the best descriptions of this state was provided by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who experienced such longevity due to his possession of the One Ring. He compared his unnaturally long life with being “all thin, sort of stretched, […] like butter that has been scraped over too much bread” (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 42). So probably that is exactly how the Elves could feel many thousand years into their lives.

(2) HAMILL’S WALK OF FAME STAR DEDICATED. Star Wars icon Mark Hamill is now a star in the Hollywood firmament: “Mark Hamill Gets ‘Overwhelming’ Support From Harrison Ford & George Lucas at Walk of Fame Ceremony”.

On Thursday, some of the actor’s closest friends and colleagues came out to honor him as he was immortalized in Hollywood with the recognition befitting a cultural icon like himself.

Hamill got some sweet support from his former Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford, Star Wars creator George Lucas, recent Last Jedi co-star Kelly Marie Tran, as well as a pair of Storm Troopers and the iconic droid R2-D2. His wife of nearly 40 years, Marilou York, was also to celebrate the honor.

(3) CROWDFUNDING WILL REVIVE AMAZING. Steve Davidson has launched a Kickstarter to hasten “The Return of Amazing Stories Magazine!”

Amazing Stories is an institution. It is an icon of the field. Over the years it has represented both the best and the worst that this genre has to offer. It has inspired the careers of authors, artists, editors, academics, scientists and engineers. Its presence proved that there was a viable market for this kind of literature, a fact not lost on other publishers who quickly followed suit. By 1930 there were four magazines in the field, eventually many more. And the fans? They bought every single one of them.

Amazing Stories deserves to be an ongoing part of our community. It may be a bit worn around the edges, the spine may be cracked a little and it may shed bits of pulp here and there, but those are love scars. Amazing Stories is not just our progenitor, it is the embodiment of the heart and soul of the genre.

We love it. We love what it’s done for us, what it represents, what it created. How can we not, when we love Science Fiction?

We know you share that love. Please show that love. It’s time for Amazing Stories to live again.

On the first day Steve’s appeal brought in $5,079 of its $30,000 goal.

Here’s how the money will be used. (Experimenter Publishing is Steve’s company.)

Experimenter plans to publish its first new issue for a Fall 2018 release and will be distributing the magazine at Worldcon 76 in San Jose CA. Professional, SFWA qualifying rates of 6 cents per word will be paid and Experimenter intends to become a fully SFWA qualifying market within its first year of operation. Several stories by well known authors have already been contracted, as has cover art by a highly respected artist.

Following five years of growth and development as an online multi-author blog serving the interests of science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, the publication of well-regarded articles produced by over 175 contributors, read by over 40,000 registered members, and following the publication of three special editions, a comic book and a growing selection of anthologies, classic novels and facsimile reprints, Experimenter believes the time is right to launch the quarterly magazine.

(4) ABOUT THE BARKLEY PROPOSAL. What were signers of Chris Barkley’s YA Award name proposal told? One of them, Shawna McCarthy, wrote in a comment on Facebook:

I was a signatory and do not feel misrepresented to other than not knowing the name of the award had already been decided. It’s possible the sponsor thought I was more up on the state of WC business committee work than I was.

(5) COMIC-CON’S QUASI-MUSEUM. Kinsee Morlan, in “Don’t Call Comic-Con’s Balboa Park Digs A museum–At Least Not Yet” for Voice of San Diego, says that Comic-Con International is upholding its nonprofit status by building a museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park (which will replace the San Diego Hall of Champions) and is hiring British museum designer Adam Smith to create it.

Smith said specifics are still hazy, but a few things are starting to become clear. For starters, he’s not ready to dub the new space a museum just yet. He’s toying with calling it a center or something else that better communicates its mission of showcasing contemporary exhibits that focus on what’s happening now or in the future — think virtual reality demos or participatory immersive television experiences (yeah, that’s a thing).

Smith also obliterated the traditional curator-led exhibition model. Instead of experts organizing most of the shows, he said, super fans will be likely be generating exhibitions and events. That’s a move taken from Comic-Con’s convention playbook, where fan-generated panels have always been a big part of the offerings.

David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of communications who’s been with the nonprofit for decades, fielded some of my questions, too.

Civic leaders are perpetually terrified that Comic-Con will pack up its bag and head to Los Angeles or another city if San Diego doesn’t expand its Convention Center soon. Glanzer said folks should not assume that won’t happen now that Comic-Con’s new center is opening in Balboa Park. He said they’re two separate projects and the convention could still relocate in the future if its space problems start impacting the quality of the convention.

(6) LOVED THE BOOK, HATED THE FILM. LitHub list of “20 Literary Adaptations Disavowed by Their Original Authors” has plenty of sff:

  • Earthsea (2004) – Based on: Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea cycle (1968-2001)

Le Guin hated the Sci-Fi Channel’s adaptation of her books, and she had quite a lot to say on the subject, but the biggest problem was that the miniseries completely whitewashed the original text. Early on, she was consulted (somewhat) but when she raised objections, they told her that shooting had already begun. “I had been cut out of the process,” she wrote at Slate.

Also:

  • Mary Poppins (1964) – Based on: P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (1934)
  • Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) – Based on: Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart (1986)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2003) – Based on: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  • Charlotte’s Web (1973) – Based on: E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)
  • Solaris (1972, 2002) – Based on: Stanis?aw Lem’s Solaris (1961)
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Based on: Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Based on: Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  • The Shining (1980) – Based on: Stephen King’s The Shining (1977)
  • The NeverEnding Story (1984) – Based on: Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979)
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – Based on: Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

(7) LOPATA OBIT. Steve Lopata’s daughter announced that he passed away March 5, peacefully, at the hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sammi Owens said:

…I deeply regret to inform you that his heart was failing and Worldcon 75 Helsinki was his last trip. He had heart surgery and despite valiant efforts he succumbed to his heart disease on March 5, 2018…. My mom Frances and I want the scifi community and all his friends to know how much he dearly loved you all. His all time favorite activities were working Ops for Worldcons and having an audience for his tales- umm, I mean true stories…. Peace be with you all and thank you for your friendship to our beloved man.

Patrick Maher was one of many fans who worked Ops with Steve with good words about him:

I didn’t know Steve very long, only since he walked into Shamrokon in 2014 and offered to help out. We didn’t know who he was but, as he said he had just come from Loncon III, we asked James Bacon who he was. James described him as Steve ‘Awesome Ops Guy’ Lopata. He sat in Ops all weekend and offered sage advice. When I took over Ops for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, he was the first person I went to for advice.

Lopata also did volunteer work with big cats, as he explained in an article for Mimosa in 2001.

One of the first questions I am asked when I tell people about working with lions and tigers is, “How did you get involved?” There are two answers. First the short, “I like kitties;” and the longer one, “I was at a convention and saw this guy walking a tiger on a leash. I asked if I could pet the tiger and about half an hour later, I was a volunteer at the breeding park.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock calls this too bad not to share: Arlo and Janis.
  • And here’s an International Women’s Day item from Bizarro.

(9) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Headstuff’s Aoife Martin celebrated the day by analyzing “Author Pseudonyms” used by women. A couple of instances came from sff —

Closer to modern times we have the case of Alice Bradley Sheldon who wrote science fiction under the pen name of James Tiptree Jr. In an interview she said that she chose a male name because it “seemed like good camouflage. I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damn occupation.” It’s interesting that Sheldon should have felt the need to do this but she was a successful science fiction writer – so much so that she won several awards including a Hugo for her 1974 novella, The Girl Who Was Plugged In and several Nebula awards. Her secret wasn’t discovered until 1976 when she was 61. Throughout her career she was referred to as an unusually macho male and as an unusually feminist writer (for a male). Indeed, fellow writer Robert Silverberg once argued that Tiptree could not possibly be a woman while Harlan Ellison, when introducing Tiptree’s story for his anthology Again, Dangerous Visions wrote that “[Kate] Wilhelm is the woman to beat this year, but Tiptree is the man.” Suitably, the James Tiptree Jr. Award is given annually in her honour to works of science fiction and fantasy that expand or explore one’s understanding of gender.

(10) A NEW KIND OF BARBIE. The Huffington Post reports Mattel is honoring a few living legends this International Women’s Day: “Frida Kahlo And Other Historic Women Are Being Made Into Barbies”. Genre-related figures include Katherine Johnson and Patty Jenkins.

Kids around the world will soon be able to own a Barbie doll bearing the likeness of Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart or Katherine Johnson.

All three women made herstory in different industries: Earhart was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; Mexican artist Kahlo was known for her unique painting style and feminist activism; and Johnson, who was highlighted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” broke boundaries for black women in mathematics and calculated dozens of trajectories for NASA, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The dolls, which are part of Mattel’s new series called “Inspiring Women,” will be
mass produced and sold in stores….

(11) ANOTHER STAR WARS SERIES. A well-known name in superhero movies will be responsible for a Star Wars series to appear on Disney’s new streaming platform: “Jon Favreau hired for ‘Star Wars’ series: Why fans have mixed feelings”.

The director whose film launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a galaxy far, far away. Jon Favreau, the filmmaker behind Iron Man, Elf, and Disney’s live-action Jungle Book and Lion King, will write and executive-produce a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s new streaming platform. Lucasfilm announced today that Favreau, who is also an actor with roles in the Clone Wars animated series and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story,  will helm the new show. While Favreau has a strong fanbase (going all the way back to his 1996 debut film Swingers), many on social media are wondering why Lucasfilm has hired yet another white man to steer the diverse Star Wars universe — and announced it on International Women’s Day, no less.

(12) STORYBUNDLE. Cat Rambo curated The Feminist Futures Bundle, which will be available for the next three weeks.

In time for Women’s History Month, here’s a celebration of some of the best science fiction being written by women today. This bundle gathers a wide range of outlooks and possibilities, including an anthology that gives you a smorgasbord of other authors you may enjoy.

I used to work in the tech industry, and there I saw how diversity could enhance a team and expand its skillset. Women understand that marketing to women is something other than coming up with a lady-version of a potato chip designed not to crunch or a pink pen sized for our dainty hands. Diversity means more perspectives, and this applies to science fiction as well. I am more pleased with this bundle than any I’ve curated so far.

In her feminist literary theory classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, science fiction author Joanna Russ talked about the forces working against the works of women (and minority) writers. A counter to that is making a point of reading and celebrating such work, and for me this bundle is part of that personal effort, introducing you to some of my favorites. – Cat Rambo

The initial titles in the Feminist Futures Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling
  • Alanya to Alanya by L. Timmel Duchamp
  • Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith
  • The Birthday Problem by Caren Gussoff

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Books 1-4 by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
  • Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth
  • The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley
  • Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard
  • To Shape the Dark by Athena Andreadis

(13) FAIL HYDRA. Cory Doctorow updated BoingBoing readers about a publisher accused of questionable practices: “Random House responds to SFWA on its Hydra ebook imprint”

Allison R. Dobson, Digital Publishing Director of Random House, has written an open letter to the Science Fiction Writers of America responding to the warning it published about Hydra, a new imprint with a no-advance, author-pays-expenses contract that SFWA (and I) characterize as being totally unacceptable. Dobson’s letter doesn’t do much to change my view on that:

(14) BEARING WITNESS. Lavie Tidhar has tweeted a noir Pooh adventure. Jump on the thread here:

(15) ANDROIDS AT 50. Here’s a clipping from Nature: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ananyo Bhattacharya toasts Philip K. Dick’s prescient science-fiction classic as it turns 50.” [PDF file.]

When science-fiction writer Peter Watts first opened Philip K. Dick’s 1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a word caught his eye. It was “friendlily”. How had Dick got that past an editor? As Watts told me: “I knew at that point that Dick had to be some kind of sick genius.”

(16) CURRENT EVENTS. This sounds like a job for Doctor Who: “A Political Dispute Puts A Wrinkle In Time, Slowing Millions Of European Clocks”.

For the past few weeks, something strange has been happening in Europe. Instead of time marching relentlessly forward, it has been slowing down imperceptibly, yet with cumulatively noticeable results, so that millions of clocks the Continent-over are now running behind.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity released a statement Tuesday saying that since mid-January, Europe’s standard electrical frequency of 50 hertz has fallen ever so slightly to 49.996 hertz.

For electric clocks that rely on the frequency of the power system — typically radio, oven and heating-panel clocks — the cumulative effect was “close to six minutes,” according to the agency.

(17) TAINT FUNNY MCGEE. The BBC says “Amazon promises fix for creepy Alexa laugh”.

Amazon’s Alexa has been letting out an unprompted, creepy cackle – startling users of the best-selling voice assistant.

The laugh, described by some as “witch like” was reported to sometimes happen without the device being “woken” up.

Others reported the laugh occurring when they asked Alexa to perform a different task, such as playing music.

“We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” Amazon said.

(18) CUBE ROUTER. Meanwhile, at MIT, they’re wasting their time saving time: “Rubik’s robot solves puzzle in 0.38 seconds”.

Ben Katz, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, collaborated with Jared Di Carlo to create the robot.

“We noticed that all of the fast Rubik’s Cube solvers were using stepper motors and thought that we could do better if we used better motors,” said Mr Di Carlo in a blog post.

Mr Katz said in his blog the 0.38 seconds included “image capture and computation time, as well as actually moving the cube”.

Their contraption used two PlayStation Eye cameras from the old PS3 console to identify the configuration of the cube.

However, mistakes often resulted in a cube being destroyed.

(19) DARK MATTER. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination released a video of a recent guest presentation: “Sir Roger Penrose: New Cosmological View of Dark Matter, which Strangely and Slowly Decays”.

Sir Roger Penrose joined the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination on January 19, 2018, to give a talk on his latest research and provide an insight into the thinking of a modern day theoretical physicist. Is the Universe destined to collapse, ending in a big crunch or to expand indefinitely until it homogenizes in a heat death? Roger explains a third alternative, the cosmological conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) scheme—where the Universe evolves through eons, each ending in the decay of mass and beginning again with new Big Bang. The equations governing the crossover from each aeon to the next demand the creation of a dominant new scalar material, postulated to be dark matter. In order that this material does not build up from aeon to aeon, it is taken to decay away completely over the history of each aeon. The dark matter particles (erebons) may be expected to behave almost as classical particles, though with bosonic properties; they would probably be of about a Planck mass, and interacting only gravitationally. Their decay would produce gravitational signals, and be responsible for the approximately scale invariant temperature fluctuations in the CMB of the succeeding aeon. In our own aeon, erebon decay might well show up in signals discernable by gravitational wave detectors.

 

(20) HANDY HINTS. And in case you ever have this problem: “Here’s How You Could Survive Being Sucked Into a Black Hole”. The article is honestly kind of useless, but I love the clickbait title.

OK, so maybe you aren’t going to get sucked into a black hole tomorrow. Or ever. Maybe even trying to imagine being in such a situation feels like writing yourself into a Doctor Who episode. But, for mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists attempting to understand cosmic strangeness in practical terms, these thought experiments are actually very useful. And they may be more practical in and of themselves than we’d realized.

At least, that’s what a team of researchers led by Peter Hintz at the University of California, Berkeley found through their study of black holes, recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters

[Thanks to Standback, Will R., John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, J. Cowie, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]