Pixel Scroll 11/11/18 I’m Scrolling On The Bad Side And I Got My Pixels To The Wall

(1) YA FOR YA. Vicky Who Reads has a lot of interesting observations about “The Many Ways YA Books & The Community Isolates Teens”. Following up her first point, that teens lack money and often do their reading in ways that don’t register with the market (e.g., borrowing books), she says that leads to —

Character Problems

Adults’ money speaks, and adults oftentimes support YA novels with older characters.

Actually–scratch that. Characters who are in their teen years, but basically act like adults.

I find this is both because adult publishing doesn’t want YA-style stories–character relationships and lots of entertainment value. But adults do want to read these types of books, and they show it by influencing the YA category.

So, we end up with lots of upper YA books featuring young adult characters that are acting older and older, but they’re still the same age.

And this doesn’t mean YA readers can’t enjoy adult characters or adult novels or novels with characters that act like adults. But it does mean that these books are taking up the space of books that should be representing teens and the teenage experiences–not a YA style story representing an adult experience.

(2) BREAKING THROUGH. From Odyssey Workshop: “Interview: Guest Lecturer Fran Wilde”.

Why do you think your work began to sell?

That’s a tough question because predicting what works for markets, when markets are always changing, is like trying to read tea leaves when you don’t know how. But early in my writing career, I read slush at a magazine, and that gave me some clues.

For me, tightening everything and making every image and scene as vivid as possible was part of it. And making sure first scenes are crystal clear in intent, voice, setting, and theme—essentially answering the question of why the reader should give this story their time—was part of what helped the work find its audience.

(3) SETTING BOUNDARIES. Con or Bust, which helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions, has adopted a minimal set of anti-harassment policies for cons that wish to donate memberships, “because when Con or Bust accepts donated memberships, it necessarily promotes the conventions in question…” The guideline has been announced now, and will take effect in a year — “Con or Bust will require anti-harassment policies before accepting donated con memberships”.

Here are our requirements for a meaningful anti-harassment policy.

  • The policy’s definition of harassment must:

o   include offensive verbal statements, physical contact, and actions other than physical contact (e.g., stalking, non-consensual photography or recording); and

o   state that the convention prohibits harassment in relation to—at minimum—race, gender, sexuality, impairment, physical appearance, and religion.

  • The policy must state where and when it applies. (Does it extend to off-site events associated with the con, or to con-related online spaces? Does it apply before the con, or after?)
  • The policy must state what happens if someone violates it, including:

o   Who can report the harassment;

o   How to report the harassment. This must include a method of reporting that is not in-person and must include a method of reporting after the convention; and

o   The potential consequences for both the violator and the reporter, including what privacy the reporter will be provided and to what extent the con will take the reporter’s wishes into account when determining what action to take.

(4) NO KSM AWARD. The 20Booksto50K Vegas conference came and went without a word about the “Keystroke Medium Reader’s Choice Awards” expected to debut there following last February’s announcement. I sent a query and KSM’s Josh Hayes answered:

The KSM Awards project was put on hold indefinitely. We didn’t get enough responses to produce a fair and accurate accounting of winners. It’s something we’re looking into for the future!

(5) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. The Book Smugglers have announced retrenchment plans:

We have some important news to share with regards to Book Smugglers Publishing. As of December 31st 2018, we will be shifting our business away from for sale short stories, novellas, and novels….

After much thought, discussion, and agonizing–we came to the only decision that we felt was fair for our readers and our creators: to focus on our key Book Smuggler strengths as a website, and as a publisher of short fiction. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on The Book Smugglers as a website with our regular coverage of books–just as we’ve always done since the beginning. We would like to still acquire short stories in the future, but they will only be available for free on our website and without the for sale distribution into e-retail markets.

(6) RAPPING FOR SCIENCE. Rivkah Brown, in “When Rap Gets Physical” in the Financial Times, discusses rapper Consensus, who works with CERN to produce rap videos that explain particle physics. (I could access the article from Bing, but the URL copied here ends up at a paywall. So no link.) His latest video can be found is you look for “Consensus Dark Matter” on YouTube,’

Realising how rapidly CERN’s research moved, Consensus decided to avoid the theoretical and stick to facts. “I didn’t want to write a song, only for the science to change.”

The result of his research was ConCERNed. Released last year, the album condenses an astronomical amount of physics into nine tracks. The most densely packed is, unsurprisingly, “Higgs”. The other eight tracks, Consensus tells me, respect the fact that “there’s only so much people can absorb in four minutes”. But to do justice to the Higgs boson, a particle to which many devote their entire careers, he would have to surpass that saturation point.

Indeed, the lyrics to “Higgs” are pretty cryptic to those who don’t have a deep understanding of the science (“I’m looking to vacuum whatever you’ve got / And the value of what I’m expecting is not / To be zero”). They are, however, menacing. Borrowing from battle rap, Consensus delivers a guttural rhyme that moves between boasts (“People call me Higgs ’cos I’m massive”), insults (“You’re weak, and your life isn’t long”) and threats (“Treat ’em like the LHC / Smash ’em up collide”) to personify a particle that — given that it is known as the “God” particle — probably should intimidate. As he says on the track, “I’m practically the reason you exist.”

 

(7) DORRIS OBIT. Marcia Illingworth writes, “It pains me to have to tell you that Maurine [Dorris] passed away last night [November 11], shortly after 01:00 AM. She passed peacefully with her son Jimmy and friend JoAnn Parsons by her side.”

Maurine is old time SF Fandom. She and Joann Parsons started World Horror Convention. She was active in WorldCon Fandom and World Fantasy. She in known for running ASFA Suites and SWFA Suites at quite a few Worldcons.

(8) RAIN OBIT. Canadian actor Douglas Rain, who was the voice of HAL 9000 in 2001 and 2010, died November 11. (He also voiced Bio Central Computer 2100, Series G, the computer aiding in Our Leader’s cloning in Woody Allen’s comedy Sleeper.)

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

The SAL9000 was voiced by Candice Bergen.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 11, 1951Flight to Mars premiered in theatres.
  • November 11, 1994 Interview with the Vampire was released.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 11, 1916Donald Franson. Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. When I first stumble across an author and their works I’m reminded how deep the genre is. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917Mack Reynolds. Author of a couple hundred published short stories and several novels, he sold more work to John W. Campbell Jr.’s Analog than just about anyone — but not the oft-anthologized “Compound Interest” which appeared in F&SF. His 1962 story “Status Quo” was a Hugo nominee, and he had two stories up for the Nebula in 1966, the clever Sherlock Holmes pastiche, “Adventure of the Extraterrestrial,” and “A Leader for Yesteryear.” OGH met him at the 1972 Worldcon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1925Jonathan Winters. Yes he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”,  a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as Albert Paradine II in the TV movie More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The ShadowThe Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He even of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.)
  • November 11, 1948Kathy Sanders, 70, Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book.
  • Born November 11, 1960Stanley Tucci, 58. Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy resume of character roles in genre films including The Core (Yay! The Core!), Prelude to a Kiss, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Muppets Most Wanted, Beauty and the Beast, The Lovely Bones, Captain America: The First Avenger, Jack the Giant Slayer, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and The Hunger Games films, as well as numerous voice roles including Leonardo da Vinci in Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

(12) WHAT A PICTURE IS WORTH. Jeanette Ng visits The Fantasy Inn to tell about “5 Things That Medieval Bestiary Writers Almost Got Right”. Here’s one of them —

The Gold-Digging Ants

The story of the giant gold-digging ants date back to Herodotus, the father of lies and history. The story goes that these giant dog-sized, furry ants dig grains of gold from the ground. They guard this gold with military precision and diligent action.

It’s a ridiculous tall tale story, but where did it come from?

And is an ant really an ant when it is quite that big and furry?

Herodotus was also very keen on there being winged serpents in Egypt. I’ve long thought of him as travel writer keen to tell you all the stories random people tell him at the pub.

And with the ants, it is possible that it’s just a misunderstanding born out of a translation error. The Persian word for marmot and mountain ant are similar, and there is indeed a species of fox-sized marmot who regularly uncover gold dust in a province of Pakistan due to how rich that ground is in gold.

(13) DOCTOR WHO DOSSIER. Find out what police officer Yasmin Khan has on file about the Pting.

(14) ANIMATION CONFLAGRATION. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik has an overview of the animation industry, “In epic rumpus, Hollywood’s animation sector looks to sort its royalty from its minions”, including whether Disney-Pixar will be in trouble after longtime CEO John Lasseter ended his employment because of sexual harassment allegations and whether Illumination will use its success in the Minions franchise to move into the top tier.

The sector known as one of the film world’s most stable — “Incredibles 2” and “Hotel Transylvania 3” were both hugely lucrative this past summer — is slowly playing out its own mythic dramas, if with less-catchy music.

Companies are beset by mergers, or #MeToo scandals. Studios are wedded to big ambitions, or shackled to past successes.

And internal questions are only the start. Leaders such as Disney and Pixar are trying to maintain dominance over the field, while close competitors like Illumination are closing in. Once-great studios such as DreamWorks are struggling to find their way back. And well-funded upstarts from Sony to Netflix are seeking to knock them all off.

…In interviews with The Washington Post, 16 animation executives and experts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly competitive nature of the field, described a world of intense battles, complex strategies and, maybe most telling, modern motivations. In an era in which entertainment has become fragmented and niche, with kids and parents rarely agreeing on what to watch, animation’s reliable power to attract whole families is the reason studios can’t let it go.

At stake is not just which Hollywood conglomerate will reap financial bounties — major franchises like Toy Story can take in $2 billion or more globally — but which will define the tone and style of animation moviegoers see for years to come. Will the category continued to be dominated by the computer-generated soulfulness of Disney and Pixar? Or will the off-kilter, European flavor of Illumination and its lovably goofy “Minions” make more inroads?

(15) FEMINIST FUTURES. Joe Sherry adds a file on Sheri S. Tepper’s book to Nerds of a Feather’s series: “Feminist Futures: The Gate to Women’s Country”.

The Gate to Women’s Country has a reputation for being among the great works of feminist science fiction, and it may have been at the time, but now thirty years after it was first published, The Gate to Women’s Country does not quite hold up to that legacy. Its importance to the canon of science fiction is not in question. The Gate to Women’s Country has earned that importance. Its reputation as a novel that remains great today is, however, very much in question.

(16) WHERE TO FIND REVIEWS. This week’s collected links to book reviews at Pattinase: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, November 9, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker, DEATH ON THE NILE, Agatha Christie
  • Les Blatt, THE CONQUEROR, E.R. Punshon
  • Elgin Bleecker, GUNS OF BRIXTON, Paul D Brazill
  • Brian Busby: “Grant Allen”
  • Kate Jackson/CrossExaminingCrime, ROCKET TO THE MORGUE, Anthony Boucher
  • Curtis Evans, THE ELECTION BOOTH MURDER, Milton M. Propper
  • Elisabeth Grace Foley, REST AND BE THANKFUL, Helen MacInnes
  • Rich Horton, SKIN HUNGER and SACRED SCARS, Kathleen Duey
  • Jerry House, STAR OVER BETHLEHEM AND OTHER STORIES, Agatha Christie Mallowan
  • George Kelley, END OF THE LINE, Burt and Dolores Hitchens
  • Margot Kinberg, DESERT HEAT, J.A. Jance
  • Rob Kitchin, SIRENS, Joseph Knox
  • B.V. Lawson, VOICE OUT OF DARKNESS, Ursula Curtiss
  • Evan Lewis, THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, Nicholas Meyer
  • Steve Lewis, SHADY LADY, Cleve Adams
  • Todd Mason, THE AMERICAN FOLK SCENE ed. David DeTurk & A. Poulin, Jr.; BOB
    DYLAN: DON’T LOOK BACK transcribed & edited by DJ Pennebaker et al.;
    DANGEROUSLY FUNNY by David Bianculli
  • Kent Morgan, IN A TRUE LIGHT, John Harvey
  • J. F. Norris, MAYNARDS’S HOUSE, Herman Raucher
  • James Reasoner, THE COMPLETE MIKE SHAYNE, PRIVATE EYE, Ken Fitch and Ed Ashe (1960s comics adaptation)
  • Richard Robinson, THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS, Frederik Pohl
  • Mike Sind/Only Detect, DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND, Dennis Lehane
  • Kevin Tipple, CORKSCREW, Ted Wood
  • TomCat, THE HOUSE OF STRANGE GUESTS, Nicholas Brady
  • TracyK, THE BIRTHDAY MURDER, Lange Lewis

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Why Does The Grim Reaper Exist?” on YouTube, The New Yorker looks at the 132 Grim Reaper cartoons published in their magazine (including ones by Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson) to see why the Grim Reaper exists and why we think he can be mocked.

[Thanks to JJ, Marcia Illingworth, Karl-Johan Norén, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day cmm.]

Sheri S. Tepper

By Robin Anne Reid:

NOTE: Spoilers for a number of Tepper’s novels occur throughout the essay.

WARNING: For references to rape and abuse of young women as an element of Tepper’s novels.

The Fan

I found my first Tepper novel in the early 1980s. I remember standing in the University of Washington bookstore reading the opening pages of King’s Blood Four, the first of what would become the nine-novel triple trilogy The True Game. Had Tepper’s work continued in that vein, interesting world-building with a male protagonist, I am not sure I would have become such a fervent fan.

However, even this early novel had threads of the feminist themes Tepper would develop in more detail in her later work. Peter starts out as a typical fantasy orphan hero. He is a young man, a foundling, raised in an all-male environment, who almost immediately embarks on a quest. The setting is the world of the True Game where characters have fantastic powers echoing medievalist fantasy conventions. But the initiating event is an attack on King Mertyn in which Peter is used and injured by his male lover, and the outcome of Peter’s journey is learning about the Immutables (those outside the Game who lack any of the powers valued in the Game) and meeting his mother (not his father!). Those differences were different enough to keep me reading the trilogy and keeping an eye out for her other work.[1] I was lucky since she published so many novels so quickly: her entry in Wikipedia lists ten novels published in 1983-1985.

The later trilogies in the True Game series, Mavin’s and Jinian’s, turn away from the male bildungsroman to twist fantasy conventions on multiple levels. Suddenly, as with Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, I found myself in a science fiction narrative of sorts, a lost colony settled by humans. But even before I read the later trilogies in the True Game series, I found the Marianne Trilogy.

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Reading the first in this series put Tepper’s name immediately on my “buy as soon as they appear” list of authors, and that response never changed although some of her later works appeal to me much less than the earlier ones. I tend to be completist when I love an author’s works even if I do not love all of them.[2]

The opening paragraph of Marianne, The Magus, and the Manticore remains one of my favorites:

During the night, Marianne was awakened by a steady drumming of rain, a muffled tattoo as from a thousand drumsticks on the flat porch roof, a splash and gurgle from the rainspout at the corner of the house outside Mrs. Winesap’s window, babbling its music in vain to ears which did not hear. “I hear,” whispered Marianne, speaking to the night, the rain, the corner of the living room she could see from her bed. When she lay just so, the blanket drawn across her lips, the pillow crunched into an exact shape, she could see the amber glow of a lamp in the living room left on to light one corner of the reupholstered couch, the sheen of the carefully carpentered shelves above it, the responsive glow of the refinished table below, all in a kindly shine and haze of belonging there. “Mine,” said Marianne to the room.  The lamplight fell on the first corner of the apartment to be fully finished, and she left the light on so that she could see it if she woke, a reminder of what was possible, a promise that all the rooms would be reclaimed from dust and dilapidation. Soon the kitchen would be finished. Two more weeks at the extra work she was doing for the library and she’d have enough money for the bright Mexican tiles she had set her heart upon. (1).

This scene is vital, so present in its appeal to the senses (the sounds of the rain—a sound I often lie awake listening to—the light reflecting off bookshelves, a “refinished table,”), that I become immersed in the world immediately. Marianne’s achievement differs greatly from that of most fantasy novels: she is remodeling an old house and refinishing furniture primarily through her own labor in order to reclaim the color and feel of her childhood home, lost with her parents’ death. The fantasy worlds in this trilogy seem unique (even in the context of Tepper’s work), and I fell in love.

I love Marianne and her momegs, Marjorie and her horses, Mavin’s refusal to compromise, Jinian and her animals, Jinian’s Seven, and the Seven–Carolyn, Agnes, Bettiann, Ophelia, Jessy, Faye, and Sova—in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.

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I love Tepper’s world-creation, the animism and ecological/environmentalist themes in her work, the creativity of her names for characters and animals, and, most of all, her descriptions of trees and forests. Tepper and Tolkien’s work seem so alike to me in their love for trees although I wonder how many readers would see any similarity.

I love the feminist elements (some of them!): my love for Grass is not only because of Marjorie and her horses but because of Marjorie’s quest to save her daughter. An additional feminist elements (which I had not thought of until the early drafts of this essay) are some of the male characters who do not fit the model of heroic (or toxic) masculinity: there are two of them in Grass (Rillibee Chime and Brother Mainoa).[3]

I also (and I’ve not seen many reviews talking about this element!) love the skewering of academia that Tepper does in some of her novels (notably in the True Game series and in Sideshow).

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The opening paragraphs of Chapter 1 of Grass are also very high on my list of favorite openings:

Grass!

Millions of square miles of it; numberless wind-whipped tsunamis of grass, a thousand sun-lulled caribbeans of grass, a hundred rippling oceans, every ripple a gleam of scarlet or amber, emerald or turquoise, multicolored as rainbows, the colors shivering over the prairies in stripes and blotches, the grasses—some high, some low, some feathered, some straight—making their own geography as they grow. There are grass hills where the great plumes tower in masses the height of ten tall men; grass valleys where the turf is like moss, soft under the feet, where maidens pillow their heads thinking of their lovers, where husbands lie down and think of their mistresses; grass groves where old men and women sit quite at the end of the day, dreaming of things that might have been, perhaps once were. Commoners all, of course. No aristocrat would sit in the wild grass to dream. Aristocrats have gardens for that, if they dream at all.

Grass. Ruby ridges, blood-colored highlands, wine-shaded glades. Sapphire seas of grass with dark islands of grass bearing great plumy green trees which are grass again.  Interminable meadows of silver hay where the great grazing beasts move in slanted lines like mowing machines, leaving the stubble behind them to spring up again in trackless wildernesses of rippling argent (1-2).

Tepper’s books occupy a major part of my “favorites” bookshelves (the ones in my bedroom as opposed to the ones in the library or in my home office or in my office at school). I took this picture of her books stacked up on my bedroom chair the day after I heard of her death.

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Complications

I wrote Mike to ask if he would be interested in a tribute essay when I learned Sheri Tepper died (October 22, 2016). I began scribbling notes and re-reading some of her books immediately. I got (immediately!) sidetracked (academic habits now ingrained), looking at the scholarship and some critical discussions of her work online. I kept writing, and cutting, and cutting, and writing, until I realized there was a huge amount I wanted to say that I did not have time for and could not yet develop at this point.

My original impulse was to write a fan tribute, but apparently, I am a different kind of fan in 2016 than I was in 1986.[4] I still love (some) of Tepper’s work passionately (and find I am immediately grabbed/immersed in my favorites the moment I open them and read the first paragraphs) even though I can see the validity of many of the criticisms I’ve read. It’s nothing as simple as the suck fairy visiting loved books from my early years (I’ve been reading Tepper, like my other favorite writers, more or less continuously since I found her work thirty-four years ago).

I haven’t yet figured out what has happened although I am beginning to think that the flaws in her work are representative (for me) of some of my own flaws, and some of the flaws in some feminist discourses, and even in the broader American culture. To figure that out, I have to write more, but that has to come later. It’s all connected to my life and experiences, and to the development of Anglo-American feminist speculative fiction and to the current political situation in the U.S.

I wrote the first draft of this piece Wednesday, November 9, nearly twelve hours after it became clear that Donald Trump would win the presidency. The weeks since then have featured events that I think go well beyond what Tepper in even her most “heavy-handed”[5] message fiction thought of writing even though her focus on the dangers of patriarchal authoritarianism, particularly that flavored by a certain flavor of American evangelical fundamentalism (similar to that of the Quiverfull Movement) seems prescient to me.

For some years, I have thought that Tepper, among all the sff writers whose work I know, was the most focused on detailing the threats to women’s rights, especially the right to reproductive choice, that have been the focus of the GOP/Tea Party/social conservative movement the past few decades and which are reading unprecedented heights.[6] These attacks are not the only threats from the social conservatives/GOP who are exulting in the chance to dismantle the legislation and overcome court rulings that addressed systemic sexism, racism, homophobia, and poverty in this country, but I do not see much contemporary sff addressing this particular issue.[7] Tepper’s work is informed by the feminist discourses that are labelled “Second Wave Feminism,” a focus I see as connected to the strengths of her work as well as its flaws.[8]

One of the quotes from her 2008 interview at Strange Horizons is very much reflective of what I’ve been feeling since the election:

SST: Post-apocalyptic, post- or mid-holocaust? You say that’s a grim place to go on a daily basis, yet we both do it every day, don’t we? We’re living in it, Neal. Did you think it was still in the future? Read the daily paper. How do I hold myself there? I read the daily paper. How do I recover? I don’t. Do you?

I discovered Tepper, as I found so many other women writers, after I left academia in 1982 because of sexism in a graduate theatre program where I was doing a Master’s in playwriting (some of my experiences in that graduate program, and others, are why I do not see Tepper’s male antagonists as “straw-men” or unrealistically flat). I spent several years working in low-level clerical jobs and adjunct teaching while reading nothing but feminist theory and women writers. I started by finding and reading all the writers discussed in Joanna Russ’ brilliant How to Supress Women’s Writing, but I also pursued a longtime strategy of mine that predated becoming a feminist: read the bookshelves at libraries and bookstores. If a title or a cover caught my attention, I’d read the first page and see what if it grabbed me.

That’s how I found Tepper.

At the time, I was happy to see the feminist ideas in her work and did not see some of the more problematic aspects relating to Second Wave feminism, particularly in regard to the whiteness of her characters and a view of sex / gender / sexual orientation that defaults to straightness and erases or condemns queerness, flaws that are typical in most cultural productions, of course, as the debates in sff fandom the past few years have highlighted.

I returned to academia in the late 1980s because I could do feminist work in a doctoral program; I did not realize how much intersectional feminist work had been done during the 1970s/1980s until I took my first theory course. That course, and the ones following, changed everything for me. Among other things, critical theory freed me from the limitations of the training I received in my undergraduate days (which excluded popular genres by fiat): Foucault was the one whose work gave me my first tools for writing about science fiction in an academic context (though I had to sort of sneak it into my dissertation­). The work by intersectional feminists gave me an entirely different perspective on the sff I loved.

The Academic

As a lifelong fan turned academic who got a Ph.D. in English in part so I could teach sff, I have always been aware of how literary canons are built to exclude. The exclusionary nature of canon-building did not disappear when the 1970s led to so many challenges to the Anglo-American canon of literature: what came about was more an “explosion” of canons.

Thus, there is a feminist sf canon that developed over time, with scholars focusing until recently on the relatively small body of text known as the “seventies feminist utopias” (or the lesbian separatist utopias). Feminist sf scholarship has grown and developed in recent years, and I think the early focus on utopias/dystopias was inevitable given that utopias/dystopias were the only “science fiction” allowed in literary studies at the time.[9] I love some of the novels (particularly those by Joanna Russ and Marge Piercy), but never felt that I had much of anything to say about them as opposed to work by other women sff writers.

My love for Tepper’s work was one of the main reasons that I became interested in the ways in which (some) women writers publishing in the 1980s integrated feminist ideas into their sff in ways that differed from the 1970s feminist utopias (a genre which has nearly disappeared, as Peter Fitting discusses in his excellent essay, “Reconsiderations of the Separatist Paradigm in Recent Feminist Science Fiction,” published in Science Fiction Studies in 1992).

The Marianne trilogy, along with Mavin’s and Jinian’s, and the Arbai Trilogy (Grass, Raising the Stones, and Sideshow are my favorite Teppers.[10] My first major academic presentation in 1991 was on Grass as feminist epic revision of Frank Herbert’s Dune. I have published one article on Tepper’s work in which I talk about the trilogies in the context of feminist utopias, arguing that Tepper’s work explores feminist themes through the concept of “momentary utopias” or “momutes.”[11] The paragraphs below echo some of what I discussed in that essay.

The early trilogies (Marianne’s, Mavin’s, and Jinian’s) are all stories about young women who resist the expectations of their male-dominated families and cultures in ways that differ from the 1970s feminist utopias (with the exception of Woman on the Edge of Time). Since more women began publishing in the 1980s, a greater range of feminist ideas began to appear along with a greater range in genres. Tepper did write one book that can arguably be considered a feminist utopia or dystopia (The Gate to Women’s Country) but I consider most of her work to be feminist speculative fiction with strong fantastic/fantasy elements.

The blend of fantastic worldbuilding and systems of magical powers existing with stories of male family members raping girls, restricting their education, and forcing them into marriages inform these novels. The protagonists resist/escape family pressures but focus on individual resistance for the most part. All the protagonists escape their families but only one is involved in an attempt to change the dominant culture.

Marianne changes her life by changing the time-line (with the help of the momentary gods which she learns how to use by watching her aunt, the villain of the narrative) rather than by changing social expectations or cultural systems. Her power comes from her birth as a Kavi, a member of the hereditary ruling class in Alpenlicht. This trilogy stands out as one of the few of Tepper’s stories in which heterosexual marriage is presented as a positive relationship. I loved it for its worldbuilding, the momegs, the beautiful descriptive prose of the natural world, and the secondary worlds.

Mavin is born into an oppressive extended family, a group of Shapeshifters in the Land of the True Game. Mavin escapes by leaving the Shifter compound, rescuing her younger brother, and, much later, her older sister, and others along the way. Not only does she face rape as she as she is deemed adult (is able to Shift), but the ongoing rape and abuse of her older sister is revealed. Mavin’s trilogy is very much a quest narrative covering twenty years of her life, but she never marries. She loves Himaggery, a wizard she meets in the first novel, but does not stay with him. One of her quests is to rescue him, and shows that they were happy only when shifted into magical beasts (singlehorns described as very similar to unicorns).  Mavin gives their son, Peter, to her brother to raise. Mavin does not change the cultures or communities she passes through, but she goes beyond what Marianne does by rescuing women and girls. The extent of the world beyond the Land of the True Game is shown in Mavin’s journeys—and the environmentalism/ecological elements are very strong.

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Jinian’s trilogy moves from the focus on the individual to that of the groups attempting to change the dominant culture before the world dies. On her quest, Jinian learns about the origin and history of human settlement on Lom. Humans colonized the planet, not realizing that Lom (embodying the Gaia hypothesis) was sentient and able to communicate with all its native creatures. Lom tries to bring humanity into the web, but humans resist; then, Lom grants humans magical Talents. But their increased power leads to more violence against each other and the destruction of the environment.  The groups working to try to change human society, the Wizards and Dervishes specifically, are mostly (but not exclusively) women.[12]

Jinian is raised in an abusive family (who turns out not to be her birth family), but is helped from the start by a group of older women, called a Seven, who are Wizards /Wize arts. She is a Wizard and a beast-talker, able to communicate with animals and the other sentient beings of Lom. She is the one who discovers that the spirit is trying to commit suicide. As a result of the efforts Jinian leads, Lom decides to live but takes away the humans’ Talents. Jinian becomes involved with and marries Peter during the course of her quest, but also has strong relationships with other women, not only with her Seven, but with Silkhands the Healer.

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Over time, as I read Tepper’s late work in the context of my graduate courses and first attempts to write feminist scholarship on science fiction, I became aware of the problematic aspects relating to race and heteronormativity. Those patterns are not unique in sff either at the time or today. Additionally, I saw the tendency in her narratives to construct sexism as institutionalized by authoritarian religions and regimes as a genetic component of humanity.[13]

Thus, her novels showed that only a change in the human genome could change human nature, leading to eugenics/breeding programs (explored in detail in The Gate to Women’s Country but also central to The Waters Rising and Fish Tails. Some novels show groups of humans running the breeding programs while others feature external agents causing the change, at times with the cooperation of some humans (the Goddess in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, the Arbai device in the Arbai trilogy, the Pistach in The Fresco).[14]

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The Question for the Future

I am ending this piece by noting the question that I keep coming to as I’ve been working on the drafts: the extent to which Tepper’s gender/genetic essentialism is representative of popular ideas in feminism specifically and more broadly in U.S. culture.

The entry on Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender shows that some feminist theories are essentialist (meaning the assumption that sex or gender differences are “natural,” or genetically created).

P. Z. Myers noted in a recent post in his blog, the idea that “male” and “female” DNA exists is so widespread that even a Young Earth creationist cites “science” (incorrectly, but still tying the claim to “scientific knowledge”) to support his claim of the essential differences between men and women: There’s no such things as male and female DNA by P. Z. Myers.

This genetic essentialism is heavily implicated in concepts of “race.” This conversation between two anthropologists, (which Myers linked to in another blog post) covers the widespread and common understanding that DNA is “race”: New Articulations of Biological Difference in the 21st Century: A Conversation, Agustin Fuentes and Carolyn Rouse, at Anthropology Now.

Agusti?n: The core problem here remains that biology courses in high school and college are taught by individuals who, at least subconsciously, buy into the “race as biology” and “genetics as deterministic” perspectives. There are very, very few high schools in the United States where accurate information on human biological diversity is offered. There are few courses even at the college level where such information is provided or where contemporary evolutionary theory and biology are the norm. Inside and outside the classroom, students are mired in implicit “race talk” related to issues of biology and an overemphasis on genetic control of behavior. Think about discussions of professional sports, testosterone, violence, sexuality.

The history of deterministic genetics is tied to the history of genetics, with the impact on popular understanding of sex, race, and sexual orientation being documented fairly extensively.[15] The tendency to assume a “natural” (aka genetic) cause for differences is widespread.

Tepper’s work definitely assumes a genetic component, but stories/novels are sneaky. They twine around and bite their own tails. As I was re-reading Tepper’s work for this essay, I kept thinking about how Fish Tails, unlike some of the earlier novels, seems to critique the common trope of breeding programs as solutions in the two plot lines: Lillis and Needly’s life in Hench Valley, one of Tepper’s most clearly delineated (and yes, heavy-handed!) portrayals of patriarchal authoritarianism, and Xulai’s story (which began in The Waters Rising. I agree with the various critical reviews I’ve seen that this trilogy has a number of problems in narrative technique, characterization, and themes, but it also contains some criticism of the attempt to improve the human race through breeding programs that did not exist in the earlier works.

So this piece seems to be the start of something longer trying to figure out what I see going on in Tepper’s work, and how people (including but not only me) have responded to it over the years. I don’t really need any more projects added to the mountain, but I don’t think this one is going to go away anytime soon.

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[1] One of my favorite parts of Raising the Stones is the way in which the narrative deconstructs the “father quest” in Samasnier (Sam) Girat’s arc. Sam, having been brought up on Hobbs Land after his mother Maire escaped from Ahabar, misses the legends and religion, or his idealization of them, and embodies those ideals in his father.

[2] My least favorite work is Beauty (so much so that I don’t think I have ever re-read it), and others that I rarely reread are The Awakeners duology North Shore and South Shore), The Companions, and Shadow’s End).

[3] The major male characters who are antagonists can be described as flat characters/stereotypical villains (and there are many of them) although I keep thinking of the behaviors Tepper must have observed over her years working at CARE and Planned Parenthood, and of behaviors I growing up in the 1950s/1960s. This reviewer’s comment struck me as revealing: criticizing the characterization of Rigo (especially the sections in which he is the point of view character) in Grass as stereotypical, they also say: Sadly, I’m sure this isn’t too far afield from some real battered spouse situations, but it’s not anything I wanted to read about. Real life may be like this, but if any author is going to put it into a book, I want the catharsis of Marjorie kicking his ass by the end of the novel. I’m left wondering what they would define as “kicking ass” because Marjorie saves her daughter, saves her horses, convinces the Foxen to intervene, helps solve the mystery of the plague, rejects the handsome younger male who is trying to restrict her to his romantic ideal, walks away from Rigo and her religion, and then leaves for her own quest (bits and pieces of which we get in the other novels in the trilogy) with First.

[4] In 1986, I was just starting my doctoral work which focused on which focused on gender, queer, and critical race theories and was years away from learning how to be a fan of problematic things.

[5] “Heavy-handed” is in quotes because I tend to think one person’s heavy-handed message fic can be another person’s incisive description of reality. Tepper is pretty up-front about preaching in her fiction (and rejecting “literary fiction” as she notes in this 2008 interview. And after two decades of reading (and enjoying but aware of) the “heavy-handed” message science fiction by men about men written for a (perceived to be) male audience, I was pretty happy to find a feminist message back then.

[6] Politics USA details various legislative attempts to restrict women’s rights to reproductive care, especially abortion services. It’s worth remembering that there’s a major push to define most contraceptive methods as “abortion.”

[7] I have been recommending Meg Ellison’s The Book of the Unnamed Midwife to everyone I talk to: it’s a brilliant post-apocalyptic dystopian evocation of the fundamental importance of reproductive rights: and one that speaks directly to current circumstances in the wake of the Zika virus.

[8] I’d imagine the majority of feminist readers can identify the Second Wave elements in her work; a very good review of Tepper’s dystopias by The Rejectionist can be found at Tor.com.

[9] Given the dominance of feminist utopias in the feminist sf canon, it’s not surprising the more articles have been written on The Gate to Women’s Country than on Tepper’s other novels.  When I checked the Modern Languages Association International Bibliography, I found 23 articles or book chapters listed: not all of them are peer-reviewed because the MLA currently includes popular criticism (such as reviews from the New York Review of Science Fiction) and dissertations. Nine of the articles are on Gate; six of those focus on the topic of feminist utopias. Beauty is the second most popular (three articles), and there are single articles on Raising the Stones and Six Moon Dance. I’m the only one who has written on her earlier novels, or the trilogies.

[10] My favorite stand-alone novels are Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, The Family Tree, The Fresco and, in other genres, her horror duology about Mahlia and Roger Ettison. I enjoy her two mystery series, published under the open pseudonyms of Orde and Oliphant, but they do not do the kind of work her sf does.

[11] “Momutes”: Momentary Utopias in Tepper’s Trilogies.” The Utopian Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Twentieth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Edited by Martha Bartter. Praeger, 2004. 101-108.

Thesis paragraph:  First, to explain the origins of my invented word, “momutes.”  In Marianne, The Madame and The Momentary Gods, Tepper’s second novel of the Marianne trilogy, Tepper introduces creatures/creations called momentary gods, or “momegs.”  Momegs are “basically a wave form with particular aspects,” beings who “give material space its reality by giving time its duration” (53-4).  An infinite number of momegs exist, each with its own locus, and the momegs describe themselves as both a wave and a particle.  I argue that Tepper’s trilogies are feminist science fiction and include “momutes,” or momentary visions of utopian possibilities. However, a reading of the trilogies in order of publication reveals that the momutes change over the course of the novels and that the changes in the nature of these momutes correlates with the development of a more complicated narrative structure and with a decreasing trust in human beings’ ability to create feminist/utopian societies.  The correlation between the nature of the momutes and narrative structures reveal a change in emphasis from Tepper’s focus (perhaps also reflecting differences in feminist theory) upon the feminist empowerment of an individual woman within a patriarchal and oppressive culture, to the problem of how cultural change on a larger level occur.  Cultures are rarely if ever changed by the actions of single individuals who call for such change.  Instead, systemic changes beyond the agency of any single individual, involving demographics, technology, and economics, are what lead to cultural changes.  Considering the change in culture, the subject of feminist utopias, is a more complex task than the changes in a single individual.

[12] The Plague of Angels trilogy, completed in 2014 with Tepper’s last published work, Fish Tails, crosses over into the True Game World. As a fan of the earlier trilogies, I enjoyed this attempt which I consider equal to if not superior to the similar attempts by Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov to link up all their earlier works as well.

[13] Octavia Butler explores similar themes, notably in the Xenogenesis series in which the Oankali ‘diagnose’ human’s flaws as our intelligence and hierarchical natures and begin a breeding program, and in her Patternmaster series, from a very different perspective and with different results. The difference in their respective handling of this idea—and I think it’s a very important one—is that Butler complicates/explores the negative results of such attempts while Tepper does not (though I think there are some attempts at such complication in her later work).

[14] James Davis Nicoll noted Tepper’s tendency towards eugenics in one of his reviews, and Wendy Gay Pearson wrote an excellent critical analysis in “After the (Homo)sexual: Queer Readings of Anti-Sexuality in Sheri S. Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country,” <em>Science Fiction Studies</em>. Vol. 23 Iss. 2 (1996).  The Abstract for Pearson’s work is here; I am not able to find a version online, though SFS used to have it available.

[15] A Short History of Scientific Racism

 

Pixel Scroll 11/7/2016 Ugly Giant Bags of Mostly Pixels

(1) SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME. Last spring the EMP Museum opened public voting on the 2016 finalists for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

In honor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary, we invited the public to submit their favorite Creators and Creations. After tallying up your nominations (nearly 2,000 submissions!), a committee of industry experts narrowed down the list to the final twenty nominees.

After waiting some months for further news, I contacted the EMP Museum and received this answer:

Announcement of the new inductees is tentatively planned for Spring 2017, with a more exact date to be announced later this month.

(2) THIS WEEK IN WORDS. Wonder what book she’s busy reviewing here?

(3) CELEBRITIES SAVING THE WORLD ON THEIR DAY OFF. Pretty damn funny. “Rachel Bloom, Elizabeth Banks Sing Their Support for Hillary in Profanity-Filled Funny or Die Video”.

“Holy f—ing shit, you’ve got to vote.”

Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Adam Scott, Mayim Bialik, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Rachel Bloom were among the celebrities who gathered together with the help of Funny or Die to plead with voters to choose Hillary Clinton as the next president.

In an anti-Trump music video posted Friday, veteran Broadway star Patti LuPone and musician Moby are also seen belting out lyrics (with more than a handful of curse words) urging people to hit the polls.

(4) TWICE FIVE. On the eve of the election, Emily Temple offers 10 literary apocalypses from books published in the last five years.

Lucy Corin, One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses

The apocalypses in this book—most just a few lines long, because sometimes that’s all it takes for the apocalypse, some a paragraph or more—are not necessarily global. They can be the end of a relationship, or a moment, or an idea, because any of these can feel like cosmic destruction. None of these apocalypses are likely to caused by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but they do serve as a reminder of what havoc we can wreak on ourselves.

(5) RAISING KIDS’ INTEREST IN ASTROPHYSICS. Hungarian illustrator Róbert Farkas wants to publish a trilogy that will attract kids to astrophysics. He’s raising money on Indiegogo to foot the bill.

farkas-about-the-universee

Clever Fox’s Tales about the Universe

Overview

’Daddy, what are those million shiny spots up in the black sky?’ This is the question I want to be able to answer by the time my daughter will ask it. I invite you to help me answer this same question for hundreds, hopefully thousands of other kids all around the world.

About me

My name is Róbert Farkas, I am a freelance illustrator and animator. I live in Europe in Hungary with my family. Aside from drawing I like to read books about astrophysics in my free time, which influenced me in creating this trilogy.

About the trilogy

The first book is about the Big bang and particle physics, no joking! The second part takes us to the middle of the solar system, explains about core fusion, vacuum and what lies in the middle of a black hole. The third is a leap into quantum physics, with a taste of the speed of light, gravitational lens effect and dark matter.

To date $1,563 of the $6,900 goal has been pledged, with 25 days to go.

(6) NEW TERM BEGINS. Camestros Felapton takes in the opening stanzas of the latest Doctor Who spinoff in “Review: Class (episodes 1 & 2)”.

Class knows that it is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer clone and it knows that you know that it is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer clone. Coal Hill Academy is a school that sits at the site of damage caused to the space-time continuum by the Doctor’s meddling, a plot device that so neatly matches the hell-mouth of Buffy’s Sunnyvale that characters have to comment on it. And why not? Buffy was fun, so why not have a Buffy spin-off but set it in Britain and have a “bung-hole of the universe” instead of a Hell Mouth?

To this end (do a Buffy revival because the late 90’s/early 2000’s are due for a revival) the show just really needs permission to be strange and for viewers to suspend disbelief. Hence the Doctor Who connection – it is British and it is weird and hence it needs a blessing from the Pontiff of British weirdness.

(7) WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT? James Davis Nicoll has an “Idea for a movie”.

Unable to surmount a career-ending injury, a Taoist sorcerer moves from Hong Kong to Boston, where he masters engineering in six weeks.

(8) BIRTH OF AN INDIE. Nick Cole, Dragon Award winner for CTRL Alt Revolt!, says “Never mind the Bullydom of Writing”.

Here’s what happened: Last year I wrote a novel called CTRL Alt Revolt! Fun little gamer novel, what some call LitRPG (Kinda like Ready Player One) My publisher (Harper Collins) was so offended by the fact that I showed an Artificial Intelligence being horrified by the callous act of murder we as a society call Abortion (It’s just a minor plot point in the book I used to give the Antagonist, a new born A.I. a good reason to fear for its life before it nuked the world) that they fired me. So I pub’d it as an Indie.

I’m recalcitrant that way.

I awaited the storm of self-righteous indignation from my peers within the community at large. I considered a career change.

Nothing.

Well, some scorn from the usual scolds but they’re boring and tired. Ask anyone.

Instead I sold a ton of copies. Won a major Science Fiction Award and significantly increased my reader base, as a whole community of angry fans and readers who are just plain tired and bored with agenda-driven message fiction swarmed Amazon and bought my book in droves. And here’s a stunner: They don’t even believe in what I believe. Some disagreed with me openly. Even super hardcore leftist socialists bought it, read it, and had a good time despite disagreeing with a few points. See, they’re smart people who can read something and think for themselves instead of needing a sermon via Slate, Salon, Wired, or whatever other entertainment the Radical Left is propping up these days, and still continue holding on to their beliefs. While having a good time. These are people who aren’t worried about being triggered by an image of a guy in a superhero costume. Or that Ghostbusters might give them PTSD. These are people who hate that “the right people” are playing games with what people get to write. These are the real free thinkers! They hate that PC ideas are taking the place of story and good old fashioned fun. They hate the scolds.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 7, 1963 It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the first film ever shown at Hollywood’s famous Cinerama Dome.

(John King Tarpinian reminds everyone, “The palm trees at the end inspired the logo for In-N-Out Burger.”)

(10) A VISIT FROM THE SUCK FAIRY. In the Washington Post, Stephanie Merry talks about Quantum Leap and how she enjoyed the show a great deal as a teenager but finds it boring and dated now on rewatching — “Is it better to leave our favorite childhood shows and movies in the past?”

Sam, played by Scott Bakula, was an earnest everyman, not to mention a brilliant physicist, and he was trapped in a time-travel loop. Each episode, he teleported to a different era and inhabited a stranger’s body to alter history for the better. All the while, he kept hoping the next leap would bring him home.

I wasn’t a science fiction fan, but the show won me over anyway. Every adventure was so singular, and the series was remarkably progressive. Sam became a leggy blonde in the 1960s dealing with sexual harassment and a black man fighting discrimination in 1955, but also an unenthusiastic Ku Klux Klan member from Alabama. At one point he landed in the body of Lee Harvey Oswald.

(11) SUBMISSIONS OPENING AND CLOSING. The SFWA Markert Report for November is online, compiled by David Steffen.

(12) COUNTING THE HOUSE. France’s rapidly-growing Utopiales con drew 82,000 says Europa SF, about 17,000 more than reported a year ago.

(13) LATE BLOOMER. Genevieve Valentine wrote an appreciation of Sheri Tepper for NPR “Remembering Sheri S. Tepper, Eco-Feminist Sci-Fi Firebrand”.

She began publishing later in life (her first novel at age 54), and wrote more than forty under several pseudonyms. But she used her own name for the works that made her a fixture in science fiction and fantasy. Her most influential works straddle lines between her forebears and her peers; she sits among Margaret Atwood and Marge Piercy’s second-wave-feminist parables, and somewhere alongside the all-out otherworlds of Frank Herbert and Jack Vance.

Perhaps her most infamous book is 1988’s The Gate to Women’s Country, in which enclaves of women run society, relegating men to hyper-masculine garrisons, sending them off to war to thin the numbers, and trying eugenics to solve the problem of men. 1991’s Beauty is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth — a stew of fairy tales Tepper chews up and spits out, with a little time travel in case you wondered what’s in store for the natural world. (Nothing good.) And 1989’s Grass — the first in a trilogy, and perhaps her most famous work — circled questions of faith, ecology, class, and the ways nature gets classified as monstrous when people are the invaders.

(14) IN THE BAY AREA Remember when people banded together to save Borderlands Books? It really looks worth it when you see a list of forthcoming author events like these:

* Chris Roberson, FIREWALK (Night Shade Books, Hardcover, $24.99) on Saturday, November 12th at 2:00pm.

* Megan E. O’Keefe, BREAK THE CHAINS (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) on Sunday, November 13th at 1:00pm.

* Mary Robinette Kowal, GHOST TALKERS (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99) on Sunday, November 13th at 3:00pm.

* SF in SF with authors Nick Mamatas and Rick Wilber (at American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina, San Francisco) on Sunday, November 13th at 6:30pm – Suggested donation $10. Doors and bar at 5:30 pm, event begins at 6:30 pm. Each author will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A moderated by Terry Bisson. Authors will schmooze & sign books after. Seating is limited; first come, first seated. Bar proceeds benefit the American Bookbinders Museum.  Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015, or <sfinsfevents@gmail.com>.

* CYBER WORLD (Hex Publishers, Trade Paperback, $14.99) event with Richard Kadrey, Aaron Lovett, Josh Viola, Isabel Yap, and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro on Saturday, November 19th at 2:00pm.

* Dan Wells, EXTREME MAKEOVER: APOCALYPSE EDITION (Tor Books, Hardcover, $27.99 and Trade Paperback $17.99) on Saturday, November 19th at 5:00pm.

* Richard Lupoff, WHERE MEMORY HIDES: A WRITER’S LIFE (Bold Venture Press, Trade Paperback (B&W Edition, $22.95), Trade Paperback (Collector’s Color Edition, $49.95) on Sunday, November 20th at 3:00pm. Local legend Richard Lupoff will show off his autobiography. From the book: “In half a century of publishing books and short fiction under his own name and at least six pen names, Richard A. Lupoff has spun some of the strangest fables, written a respected biography of Edgar Rice Burroughs, won a Hugo and has been nominated for multiple Nebula Awards.”  Dick Lupoff is a treasure trove of stories, both fictional and not.

(15) THE MONEY KEEPS ON ROLLING IN. At Kickstarter. The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project, “to create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity,” is almost 40% funded with 23 days to go.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cora, Bence Pinter, and Rob Thornton for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Pixel Scroll 10/25/16 Bears Discover File 770

clarke-center-arrivalcarouseli

(1) ARRIVAL PREMIERE BENEFIT FOR CLARION. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination will host the San Diego premiere of the film Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. After the film, there will be a conversation and Q&A with Ted Chiang, whose novella “Story of Your Life” provided the basis of the screenplay.

All proceeds from the screening benefit the Clarion Foundation, which supports the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego. Click on the link to buy tickets.

Arrival is the the story of what happens when mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. An elite team, led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers-and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and, quite possibly, humanity.

Ted Chiang is a graduate and, later, instructor in the renowned Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, organized at UCSD by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Known for his exacting craftsmanship in writing profound and psychologically rich science fiction, Chiang this year alone has the honor of having a story (“The Great Silence”) in both the Best American Short Stories 2016 and Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016, after it was originally written for a collaboration with the visual artists Allora & Calzadilla.

(2) NEW CLARKE CENTER PODCAST. Into the Impossible: A Clarke Center Podcast launches November 1.

clarke-podcast-logoInto the Impossible is a podcast of stories, ideas, and speculations from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. Early episodes will take listeners through exciting, ranging conversations with and between scientists, artists, writers, and thinkers of different stripes, on the nature of imagination and how, through speculative culture, we create our future. The first episode includes Freeman Dyson (physicist and writer), David Kaiser (physicist, MIT), Rae Armantrout (Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, UCSD professor emeritus), and Brian Keating (astrophysicist, UCSD).

Later episodes will feature actors like Herbert Siguenza (Culture Clash), futurists like Bruce Sterling (writer, design theorist, WIRED columnist), and science fiction authors like Vernor Vinge (novelist, mathematician, computer scientist), as well as looks into Clarke Center activities like Dr. Allyson Muotri’s lab growing Neanderthal brain neurons and the new Speculative Design major. We will also premiere an audio performance created in collaboration between artist Marina Abramovic and science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, created in workshop here at the Clarke Center with Adam Tinkle and local and student volunteers.

(3) LEARNING AND RELEARNING. Cat Rambo’s speech is now online — “Into the Abyss: Surrey International Writers Conference, Morning Keynote for October 23, 2016”.

I try to write, every day, 2000 words, because that’s what Stephen King does and I think he’s a pretty good role model. Note that I say try, because I don’t always hit it. But you must write. Every day you write is a victory.

Figure out your personal writing process and what works for you. And then do it, lots. I realized that my most productive time is the mornings. So if my mother calls in the mornings, she knows I will answer “Is this an emergency?” and if she says no, I will hang up. (I did warn her before implementing this policy.) Find the times and places you are productive and defend them from the world. You will have gotten a lot of writing advice here and the thing about writing advice is this. All of it is both right and wrong, because people’s process differs and moreover, it can and will differ over the course of time. Find what works for you and do it.

Be kind to yourself. We are delicate, complex machines both physically and mentally. Writers are so good at beating themselves up, at feeling guilty, at imagining terrible futures. You are the person with the most to gain from being kind to yourself; do it. Don’t punish yourself for not hitting a writing goal; reward yourself when you do.

(4) ZOMBIE PROM REVIEW. Martin Morse Wooster personally eyeballed the production and returned with a verdict:

I saw Zombie Prom on Friday, and I think Nelson Pressley’s review was unfair.  Unexpected Stage Company, which did the production, is a minor-league company.  I doubt any member of the cast was over 25 and no one was a member of Equity.  That being said, everyone hit their marks and remembered their lines and most of the cast had pretty good voices.  I thought the production was pleasant.

The title of the musical is misleading, because there’s only one zombie in the cast. (I guess they couldn’t call it One Zombie at a Prom.) It’s the 1950s, and we’re at Enrico Fermi High.  Jonny Warner gets jilted by his girlfriend and leaps into a vat of nuclear waste, which turns him into a zombie.  Will anyone accept him–including his former girlfriend?

I have never heard of Dean P. Rowe, who did the music, and John Dempsey, author of the book and lyrics, but they have talent and my guess is in five years we will hear a lot from them.  There are some mildly deep references to ’50s pop culture, including what I thought was a reference to The Milton Berle Show.  The two best performers were Dallas Milholland, who for some reason decided to play semi-villainous Principal Delilah Strict in a pseudo-British accent, and Will Hawkins, who played Jonny Warner with a great deal of gusto.

Their website is Unexpected Stage Company.

(5) LONG LISTENER ANTHOLOGY. David Steffen says there will be an audiobook of the Long List Anthology Volume 2 after all, using a modified table of contents.

I have been talking with Skyboat Media and we have decided to go ahead with the audiobook, with some alterations to the table of contents from the original stretch goal to get it to just the right length for the resources available.  So there will be an audiobook again this year, this time with 6 stories.

The table of contents is:

  • Our Lady of the Open Road by Sarah Pinsker
  • Today I Am Paul by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Pocosin by Ursula Vernon
  • Damage by David D. Levine
  • Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg

The title will also be different to reflect the different table of contents from the book/ebook:

OUR LADY OF THE OPEN ROAD & OTHER STORIES FROM THE LONG LIST ANTHOLOGY, volume 2

(6) TEPPER OBIT. The SFWA Blog posted an obituary for Sheri S. Tepper.

Cat Rambo says, “If I had to name one series by her I adore more than any other of the many excellent choices, it’s the Marianne series, and I highly recommend them to the File 770 readers.”

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 25, 1892 — Leo G. Carroll in 1892  (played Topper, and Alexander Waverly in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
  • Born October 25, 1924 — Billy Barty. His sf/f resume includes the animated The Lord of the Rings (1978, rotoscope footage) Snow White (1987), Masters of the Universe (1987) and Lobster Man from Mars (1989).

(8) CHAT WITH THREE-BODY AUTHOR. An excellent interview at SF Crowsnest: “Cixin Liu: interviewed by Gareth D Jones”.

GDJ: My favourite character in the books is Da Shi, especially in the second volume, ‘The Dark Forest’. Do you have a favourite character out of the ones you wrote about?

CL: In terms of Da Shi, he’s one of the most liked characters amongst Europeans and American readers. I think it’s because he’s like a caricature of a Chinese person of Beijing police, real well-connected, good with people. But this kind of people are actually really common in China, so we all know someone like that. But for non-Chinese readers, he immediately captures the attention. In terms of favourite character, I don’t think I have a favourite character really because they’re just there to propel the story forward. So it’s where the story is taking them that affects them, so I don’t have a favourite.

(9) ET, PHONE US. “Either the stars are strange, or there are 234 aliens trying to contact us” says Phys.org news. Obviously, these guys haven’t read the Three-Body Trilogy.

What we’re talking about here is a new study from E.F. Borra and E. Trottier, two astronomers at Laval University in Canada. Their study, titled “Discovery of peculiar periodic spectral modulations in a small fraction of solar type stars” was just published at arXiv.org. ArXiv.org is a pre-print website, so the paper itself hasn’t been peer reviewed yet. But it is generating interest.

The two astronomers used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and analyzed the spectra of 2.5 million stars. Of all those stars, they found 234 stars that are producing a puzzling signal. That’s only a tiny percentage. And, they say, these signals “have exactly the shape of an ETI signal” that was predicted in a previous study by Borra.

Prediction is a key part of the scientific method. If you develop a theory, your theory looks better and better the more you can use it to correctly predict some future events based on it. Look how many times Einstein’s predictions based on Relativity have been proven correct.

The 234 stars in Borra and Trottier’s study aren’t random. They’re “overwhelmingly in the F2 to K1 spectral range” according to the abstract. That’s significant because this is a small range centred around the spectrum of our own Sun. And our own Sun is the only one we know of that has an intelligent species living near it. If ours does, maybe others do too?

(10) THE HULK V. THE THING. CinemaBlend reports Stan Lee’s definitive answer to America’s most asked question. (And no, it’s not “Does your chewing gum lose its flavor in the bedpost overnight?”)

It’s a question that has dogged comic book fans for decades: who would win in a fight between The Hulk and The Thing? Of course, there’s only one man who has the definitive answer to this quandary: Marvel icon Stan Lee himself. So when it was finally posed to the comic book legend, the world waited with bated breath to hear the answer, which, as it turns out, is The Hulk.

Stan Lee made this admission during his chat with The Tomorrow Show. But there were a few caveats to Stan Lee’s answer, who predicted that The Thing/Ben Grimm would definitely give The Hulk/Bruce Banner a run for his money, as he’s a little smarter than his counterpart. But that didn’t stop Stan Lee from picking The Hulk as the winner, as he explained:

“Oh, The Hulk would win. The Thing is faster and smarter, so he would probably find a way to turn it into a draw or save himself. He’d trap or trick the Hulk. But, in a fair fight, there’s no way the Hulk [would lose]. He’d win.”

(11) FIFTH OF INDIANA. ScreenRant says a fifth Indiana Jones movie will be out in 2019, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg. But what about George Lucas? “Indiana Jones 5: George Lucas Is Not Involved With Story”.

In an interview with Collider, the screenwriter mentioned that Lucas does not have a hand in crafting the Indiana Jones 5 story, saying, “I haven’t had any contact with him.” Spielberg’s earlier claims that Lucas would be an executive producer could still be true, but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Lucas is attached to an Indiana Jones film and isn’t helping design the narrative. It would appear that Lucas would rather enjoy his retirement than jump into the Hollywood machine again, which isn’t all that surprising considering his comments about Disney in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For many fans, this is a bittersweet revelation; like Star Wars, Lucas is an integral part of the Indiana Jones property, but he was responsible for some of the more unfavorable elements in Crystal Skull, such as his insistence aliens be in the film. Some viewers would prefer Lucas stay away.

(12) SFWA MARKET REPORT. SFWA President Cat Rambo says, “The latest market report went out a little late this month and I wanted to make sure people were aware of it. Dave Steffen is doing a terrific job assembling it.” Find it here: http://www.sfwa.org/2016/10/sfwa-market-report-october/.

(13) OPENINGS IN RAMBO/SWIRSKY CLASS. There are still slots open in “Re-Telling and Re-Taleing: Old Stories Into New”, the Cat Rambo/Rachel Swirsky live online class happening Saturday, October 29.

Authors constantly draw on the stories that have preceded them, particularly folklore, mythology, and fables. What are the best methods for approaching such material and what are the possible pitfall? How does one achieve originality when working with such familiar stories? Lecture, in-class exercise, and discussion will build your proficiency when working with such stories. Co-taught with Nebula-award winning writer Rachel Swirsky.

(14) ARCHEOTELEVISION. Echo Ishii has a new post about another antique sff TV show – “SF Obscure: Children of the Stones”.

Children of the Stones is a 1977 television drama for children produced by ITV network. I know of this show mainly because of the late Gareth Thomas. So, I decided to watch it because I had heard good things about it.

Astrophysicist Adam Brake and his son Matthew go to a village called Millbury which has a megalithic circle of stones in the middle of it. (It’s filmed on the prehistoric monument of Avebury) Things get strange as soon as they arrive. First of all, the housekeeper and neighbors all seem abnormally happy. Matthew has strange feelings of evil and is immediately hostile towards the new neighbor. His father chides him, but Matthew can’t help but feel something is wrong. We later learn that Matthew has some psychic abilities and this is why he reacts the way he does….

(15) DISSECTING THE FALL TV PREMIERES. Asking the Wrong Questions’ Abigail Nussbaum continues “Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2016 Edition, Part 2”.

Westworld – Easily the most-anticipated new series of the fall, the consensus that has already formed around HBO’s latest foray into genre is that it represents the channel’s attempts to grapple with its own reputation for prurient violence, particularly violence against women (see Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker, and Aaron Bady in The Los Angeles Review of Books).  You can see how that consensus has formed–Westworld builds on the 1973 movie to imagine a lush and impeccably-detailed theme park in which customers pay lavishly to indulge their every fantasy, which almost inevitably seem to involve murder, mayhem, and of course rape.  The metaphor for how HBO’s pretensions to highbrow entertainment ultimately rest on the sumptuously-filmed and -costumed violence of Game of Thrones, True Detective, and The Night Of pretty much writes itself.  For myself, I’d like to believe that there’s more to Westworld than this glib reading, first because I simply do not believe that anyone at HBO possesses this level of self-awareness–this is, after all, the channel whose executives were genuinely taken aback, in the year 2016, by the idea that their shows had become synonymous with violence against women–and second because it’s by far the least interesting avenue of story the show could take.

(16) WOMEN INVISIBLE AGAIN. Juliet McKenna takes to task “Andrew Marr’s Paperback Heroes – a masculine view of epic fantasy entrenching bias”.

Two things happened on Monday 24th October. News of Sheri S Tepper’s death spread – and a lot of people on social media wondered why isn’t her brilliant, innovative and challenging science fiction and fantasy writing better known?

Then the BBC broadcast the second episode of Andrew Marr’s series on popular fiction, looking at epic fantasy.

The programme featured discussion of the work of seven, perhaps eight, major writers – six men and one, perhaps two women if you include the very passing reference to J K Rowling .

Four male writers were interviewed and one woman. Please note that the woman was interviewed solely in the context of fantasy written for children.

If you total up all the writers included, adding in cover shots or single-sentence name checks, eleven men get a look-in, compared to six women. Of those women, three got no more than a name check and one got no more than a screenshot of a single book.

It was an interesting programme, if simplistic in its view, to my mind. There’s a lot of fantasy written nowadays that goes beyond the old Hero’s Journey template. There’s a great deal to the genre today that isn’t the male-dominated grimdarkery which this programme implied is currently the be-all and end-all of the genre….

(17) MASQUERADE VIDEOS. The International Costumers Guild has posted the final version of the “MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade Look Back”.

This episode features highlights from the MidAmeriCon 1 masquerade held in Kansas City, MO. Having discovered another version of this masquerade after the initial upload, we’ve replaced it with this one because the color is more vivid. There is also one additional costume entry that has been added to the video. Note: This video, while not the sharpest in detail, could still be considered slightly NSFW.

 

They have also just released a quick memorial to author and costumer Adrienne Martine-Barnes.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Rambo, Nora and Bruce Mai, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 10/24/16 I’m Free. I’m Free, And Waiting For Scroll To Pixel Me

(1) KEEP ON FIBBING. Diana Pharaoh Francis says according to “Writer Club Rules: Truth is No Excuse” in a post at Book View Café.

That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, that truth is no excuse for fiction. I’ve had students who want to fictionalize a real story and then have found themselves floundering because true things are often too unbelievable to work in fiction. Fiction needs to make sense. It needs to be plausible. Reality doesn’t. That’s why the saying, Stranger Than Fiction.

(2) SACRED QUESTER. In “Is This Economist Too Far Ahead of His Time?” in the October 16 Chronicle of Higher Education, David Wescott profiles Robin Hanson about The Age of Em, including where Hanson gets his wild ideas, how Hanson hopes to write sf someday, and how fans accost him with ideas about “transcension and living in blocks of computronium.”

Hanson considers himself something of an exception to that rule and has described his mission as a “sacred quest, to understand everything, and to save the world.” He argues that academics are primarily devoted to signaling their own importance, and not necessarily to the pursuit of intellectual progress. “We lie about why we go to prestigious colleges as students, we lie about why we fund research, we lie about why we do research … we lie about lots of things,” he says. “We are so tempted to bullshit and give the most noble reason for why we do things.”

For academics who do actually care about intellectual progress more than “prestige, promotions, salaries, funding, lots of students, and roaring crowds,” Hanson says, there is a lot of freedom.

For him it’s the freedom to study things like immortality, aliens, and what to do if you suspect you are living in a computer simulation. “There are important silly subjects,” he says. And while most academics shy away from silly, “silly doesn’t equal unimportant.”

(3) GHOSTBUSTER. Fox News reports “Bill Murray honored as he accepts Mark Twain prize for humor” in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night.

There were plenty of laughs at Murray’s expense in evening that took on the tone of a gentle roast. Jimmy Kimmel, Aziz Ansari, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Martin were among those who ribbed Murray for being aloof, unpredictable and difficult to reach — and somehow still lovable.

“I think you and I are about as close as two people can be, considering that one of them is you,” Martin said in a video tribute.

(4) TEPPER OBIT. Shari S. Tepper (1929-2016) died October 22 reports Locus Online.  The author of over 40 novels, Tepper received a lifetime achievement award from the World Fantasy Convention just last year.

John Scalzi paid tribute at Whatever:

Also a bit depressing: That Tepper, while well-regarded, is as far as I can tell generally not considered in the top rank of SF/F writers, which is a fact I find completely flummoxing. Her novel Grass has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series; the (very) loose sequel to GrassRaising the Stones, is in many ways even better, and the fact that Stones is currently out of print is a thing I find all sorts of appalling.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 24, 1893 — Film producer-director Merian Cooper (the original “King Kong”).
  • Born October 24, 1915 — Bob Kane, creator of Batman.

(6) FREER’S SCAPEGOAT OF THE WEEK. Remember when Dave Freer used to teach about writing in his column at Mad Genius Club? Me neither.

Here am I, in the esteemed company of such luminaries in my field as Larry Correia and John C Wright, as winners of the Wally Award, an honor I will treasure – because it isn’t every day I find myself lumped with authors that I try to learn from and imitate, and I hear some terribly tragic news.

There’s no doubt that being singled out by none other than Damien Walter of ‘The Grauniad’, a newspaper whose reputation for unbiased journalism is only rivaled by Pravda, legendary for its typos and grammos (hence Grauniad, rather than The Guardian), and with research and factual quality which is mentioned in the same breath as News of the World and Beano (although they cannot seriously compete with Beano in the opinion of most people of an IQ above ‘sheep, dim (Merino)’) and whose sf/fantasy correspondent’s effect on the sales and livelihoods of sf and fantasy authors has been equated with file 770. The last comparison I feel unfair, because despite Damien’s tiny readership his attempts to harm my career and ability to make a living, he actually had some effect on my sales, with his hatred of my unread work improving sales for me. It is for this reason I find the news that the floundering ‘Grauniad’ (the Venezuela of mainstream print media, which is running out of other people’s money) seems to have dispensed with his services, so sad.

(7) CLOSE CALLS. The BBC interviews Megan Bruck Syal about avoiding extinction by asteroid.

Sixty-five million years ago, a catastrophic impact forever changed the environmental landscape of Earth – and there was no way to see it coming.

This Earth-bound asteroid – or maybe several – changed the course of millions of years of evolution, altered the composition of our atmosphere – and the geology of Central America for good measure.

To prevent a similar event, we need to be prepared. Megan Bruck Syal, postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, works on the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment (Aida) – which, for the first time, will test how effective a kinetic impact mission would be in altering the course of an Earth-bound asteroid.

“It’s not a matter of if an asteroid will impact again, but when,” says Bruck Syal. “Planetary defence began to be an issue when more and more near-Earth asteroids began to be discovered.”

She warns of close calls, like the Chelyabinsk meteorite – which in 2013 made international headlines when it left hundreds of people injured and damaged thousands of buildings in Russia. “It really captured the world’s attention because no one saw it coming. And it was pretty small yet it still did a lot of damage for its size.”

(8) BLABBY MCBLABFACE. Apparently, if you want to know what’s happening in season 7 of Game of Thrones, it would not be too hard to find out — “MAJOR SPOILERS: The Entire Plot of ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 May Have Been Leaked on Reddit”.

A brave Redditor named awayforthelads dumped what appears to be the entire plot of Season 7 onto the Freefolk subreddit. The subreddit has a long history of being the go-to place for Thrones leaks and last season was incredibly reliable at thoroughly spoiling almost every detail of Season 6.

As further proof of authenticity, awayforthelads has deleted his account, presumably to evade the wrath of HBO.

And actress Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Daenerys Targaryen’s beautiful handmaiden Missandei, appears also to have confirmed the authenticity of the leak on Twitter:

(9) COSPAIN. Apparently it’s not a favorite holiday for some: “University of Florida offers counseling for students offended by Halloween costumes”.

Halloween can be scary, but it can also be… offensive?

The University of Florida wants students to know that counseling is available for students hoping to work past any offense taken from Halloween costumes.

“Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures, or religions. Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people,” the school administration wrote in a blog post. “If you are troubled by an incident that does occur, please know that there are many resources available.”

(10) THE ETHICS OF ASTRONOMICAL ART. NPR feature: “Out of This World: How Artists Imagine Planets Yet Unseen”. There’s a brief shout-out to Bonestell, but the artists interviewed aren’t likely to be known to fans.

“It’s tricky with computer graphics,” says Ray Villard, news director for the Space Telescope Science Institute. “You can make stuff in such extraordinary detail, people might think it’s real. People might think we’ve actually seen these features — canyons, all kinds of lakes and rivers.”

“The point of these illustrations is to create excitement, to grab the general public’s attention. But there is a danger that many people sometimes do mistake some of these illustrations for real photos,” agrees Luis Calçada, an artist with the European Southern Observatory’s education and public outreach department.

“Many, many astronomers actually do see this danger on this kind of illustration,” he says, “because it might create false images on people’s minds.”

(11) FIRE WHEN READY. NPR reports on experiments planned for the ISS, including deliberately starting a fire in the cargo ship in “Gotcha: Space Station Grabs Onto NASA’s 5,100-Pound Cargo Craft”.

Astronauts used the International Space Station’s robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus cargo spacecraft early Sunday morning, starting the process of bringing more than 5,100 pounds of supplies and research equipment aboard. The cargo’s experiments include one thing astronauts normally avoid: fire.

“The new experiments include studies on fire in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons,” NASA says.

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

2015 World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Awards for Campbell, Tepper

Ramsey Campbell and Sheri S. Tepper have been selected to receive World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell

Ramsey Campbell: S. T. Joshi predicts “future generations will regard him as the leading horror writer of our generation, every bit the equal of Lovecraft or Blackwood.”

The English author, editor and critic has been writing for well over fifty years. He sold his early stories to editors including August Derleth and Robert A.W. Lowndes. He was only 18 when his first collection, The Inhabitant of the Lake and Less Welcome Tenants (1964) was published by Arkham House. He is the Lifetime President of the British Fantasy Society.

Campbell has already racked up career honors including a Bram Stoker Award for lifetime achievement (1999), the International Horror Guild Awards Living Legend (2007), and as a World Horror Grandmaster (1999).

He has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award 15 times, with four wins. He has won three Bram Stoker Awards and 12 British Fantasy Awards.

Sheri S. Tepper

Sheri S. Tepper

Sheri S. Tepper: Her first fantasy novel was The Revenants (1984), however it was preceded in publication by her True Game books (King’s Blood Four and Necromancer Nine, both 1983), and Wizard’s Eleven (1984). She has written 36 genre novels.

Her novel Grass was a 1990 Hugo nominee, her novella “The Gardener” a 1989 World Fantasy Award nominee. She has had four novels shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and had seven works listed for the Tiptree Award.

She has also written horror as E.E. Horlak, and mysteries under the pseudonyms A.J. Orde and B.J. Oliphant.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]