Pixel Scroll 11/12/19 You Don’t Bring Me Vacuum Flowers

(1) X FACTOR. LAist interviews comics artist Bill Sienkiewicz: “Abstract Expressionism Gave ’80s X-Men Comics Their Superpowers — And This LA Artist Was The Mastermind”

He evolved his style over several issues of Moon Knight, then started putting it into comic book covers. Marvel offered him the chance to be the artist on X-Men — but he turned it down.

“Because, I told them, I want to do some experimentation. I want to just push and see what’s possible. So I don’t want to take Marvel’s flagship characters and drive them into the ditch,” Sienkiewicz said.

But he found a way in sideways. X-Men writer Chris Claremont came to him and asked if he wanted to work on X-Men spinoff New Mutants, and with more free range, he took the assignment as part of his quest to help change the perception of what comics are.

He used abstract expressionism, doing art that was more about the feeling than about being exactly true to reality. He describes his own work as being drawn well enough to look like what it’s supposed to, but that he’s more interested in what the people and the story feel like.

(2) PLAGIARIZED STORY? Pro-paying short story outlet Daily Science Fiction has published a story apparently plagiarized from another online source. Today’s story “No Time For Guilt Now” [Internet Archive link] credited to Abdullahi Lawal, is a copy of Avra Margariti’s “Ephemera”  [Internet Archive link] which ran in The Arcanist earlier this year. (Wayback Machine links to the respective pages are provided in case either original gets taken down.)

Several readers took notice in comments on DSF’s Facebook page. DSF has yet to respond either there or on its own website.

The Arcanist tweeted this reaction:

Update: Daily Science Fiction’s Jonathan Laden subsequently took down the story and posted this statement: “Apologies”.

A reader (and contributor) let us know that today’s story was evidently plagiarized from another story published by another site on the internet.

Please visit the Arcanist to read Ephemera by Avra Margariti.

We are reaching out to both the Arcanist and to Avra Margariti to make amends for our error in accepting this story as original by another writer.

(3) BEST FOOT FORWARD. SYFY Wire assesses “The best shoes in genre movies”. This is the kind of investigative reporting we need more!

Aliens (1986)

Sometimes a movie taps up a brand to design a shoe for a specific outfit and scene, which is how Reebok came to birth the Alien Stomper. A basic model of a basketball shoe provided the foundation for the sneaker that was worn by those operating the yellow Power Loader. A close-up reveals the Reebok logo in a moment of product placement. The sneaker saves Ripley in the climatic airlock sequence; which informed how the shoe was constructed, as designer Tuan Le explains — it needed to slip off with ease. On the 40th anniversary of Aliens, Reebok released a limited run of this iconic model.

(4) ASF IS CENTERPIECE OF SYMPOSIUM. “The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium: An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact” takes place December 12 from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. at the New York City College of Technology, 285 Jay St., A105, Brooklyn, NY 11201. In addition to participants from academe are Analog veterans Stanley Schmidt, Trevor Quachri, Emily Hockaday and others from sff.

The Fourth Annual City Tech Science Fiction Symposium celebrates “An Astounding 90 Years of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.” Bringing together SF writers, scholars, and fans, the conversations today will reflect on the past, comment on the present, and contemplate the future of Analog SF. Linked to these discussions is the role of SF in a college of technology that recognizes the importance of the genre through its Science Fiction class and support for the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. Together, we will explore these connections.

(5) UNEXPECTED CONNECTION. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Ursula K. Le Guin is the only science fiction author that is discussed in Harold Bloom’s last book,The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Pynchon, which is a collection of essays about significant authors in America. According to Max Rubin, president and publisher of the Library of America, Le Guin and Bloom knew each other. “He “lived and breathed literature”—Library of America remembers Harold Bloom, 1930–2019”.

“Poetry…was always more important to Bloom than prose. Later in life he came to a real appreciation for the poetry of Ursula K. Le Guin and enjoyed a friendship with her via email.”

(6) THE FUTURE IS NOW. BBC’s David Barnett says it’s time to ask, “Are we living in  Blade Runner world?”.

…This may sound far-flung from our own reality, but as the opening credits tell us, the film is set in Los Angeles, November 2019. In that sense, Blade Runner is no longer science fiction. It’s a contemporary thriller. The question is: in the 37 years between Blade Runner’s release and its setting – our present – how close have we come to the future presented in the movie?

…However, beyond particular components, Blade Runner arguably gets something much more fundamental right, which is the world’s socio-political outlook in 2019 – and that isn’t particularly welcome, according to Michi Trota, who is a media critic and the non-fiction editor of the science-fiction periodical, Uncanny Magazine.

“It’s disappointing, to say the least, that what Blade Runner ‘predicted’ accurately is a dystopian landscape shaped by corporate influence and interests, mass industrialisation’s detrimental effect on the environment, the police state, and the whims of the rich and powerful resulting in chaos and violence, suffered by the socially marginalised.”

In the movie the replicants have a fail-safe programmed into them – a lifespan of just four years – to prevent a further revolution. Trota believes there is “something prescient in the replicants’ frustration and rage at their shortened lifespans, resulting from corporate greed and indifference, that’s echoed in the current state of US healthcare and globalised exploitation of workers.” She adds: “I’d have vastly preferred the flying cars instead.”

(7) JOIN SLF. The Speculative Literature Foundation has launched a fundraiser for its operating needs, a reading series, and a major project —  

THE PORTOLAN PROJECT. We’ve set ourselves an ambitious goal for 2020 — to develop the Portolan Project, an open-source creative writing resource — sort of a Khan Academy for fiction.

We’ve begun interviewing masters of the field (including so far George R.R. Martin, Nalo Hopkinson, Kate Elliott), on aspects of craft. We’re building out a free website to host those interviews, along with syllabi, lesson plans, individual lectures and assignments on aspects of craft (plot and structure, language and style, setting and world building, etc.), the writing business, and the writers’ life.

We’re also interviewing emerging writers from across the planet, developing a better understanding of the international speculative fiction landscape, and the challenges and opportunities for writers in both independent and traditional publishing. We have academics helping us build a searchable database of speculative literature, to make it much easier to find stories that are relevant to you and your own work.

SLF Director Mary Anne Mohanraj encourages people to become dues-paying members and to volunteer.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • November 12, 1995 — The rebooted Invaders premiered on Fox.  Directed by Paul Shapiro, it starred Scott Bakula, Elizabeth Peña, DeLane Matthews, Richard Thomas and Terence Knox. Invaders Roy Thinnes very briefly appeared as David Vincent. The two ninety minute episodes were intended as a pilot for a series that never happened. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born November 12, 1917 Dahlov Ipcar. Though primarily an artist and you really should go visit her website, she wrote three amazing young adult novels between 1969 and 1978 which are The Warlock of Night, The Queen of Spells and A Dark Horn Blowing. She lived but thirty miles north of here and I was privileged to meet her a few times. Lovely lady! (Died 2017.)
  • Born November 12, 1922 Kim Hunter. She portrayed the chimpanzee Zira in the Planet of the Apes films For the first three outings. Her first genre role was also her first film role, as Mary Gibson in the early Forties movie The Seventh Victim. She’s June in A Matter of Life and Death, and Amanda Hollins in The Kindred. She has one-offs on Project U.F.O.Night GalleryMission Impossible and even appeared on The Evil Touch, an Australian horror anthology series. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 12, 1929 Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film.  Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time.   The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike The Neverending Story and Momo, which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)
  • Born November 12, 1943 Julie Ege. A Bond Girl On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Helen, the Scandinavian girl. She also appeared in Hammer ‘s Creatures the World Forgot and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. And in The Mutations which got released under the alternative title of The Freakmaker. She had a role in De Dwaze Lotgevallen Von Sherlock Jones which got dubbed into English as The Crazy Adventures of Sherlock Jones. (Died 2008.)
  • Born November 12, 1943 Wallace Shawn, 76. Probably best remembered as the Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film.
  • Born November 12, 1945 Michael Bishop, 74. David Pringle included his Who Made Stevie Crye? novel in Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, An English-Language Selection, 1946-1987, high praise indeed. Though slightly dated feeling now, I’m fond of his Urban Nucleus of Atlanta series. And Philip K. Dick is Dead, Alas is simply amazing.
  • Born November 12, 1952 Max Grodénchik, 67. He’s best known for his role as Rom, a recurring character on Deep Space Nine. He has a long genre history with appearances in The Rocketeer, Here Come The MunstersRumpelstiltskin, Star Trek: Insurrection (scenes as a Trill were deleted alas), Tales from The Crypt, SlidersWienerlandThe Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bruce Almighty.
  • Born November 12, 1982 Anne Hathaway, 37. She starred as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in The Dark Knight trilogy. More impressive she was The White Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass, and she was Agent 99 in the remake of Get Smart! No, not as good as the original but fun none-the-less.

(10) EUPHEMISMS FOR DOLLARS. The Publishers Lunch news service shared an intriguing bit of intelligence with potential contributors.

The Key

A handy key to our Lunch deal categories. While all reports are always welcome, those that include a category will generally receive a higher listing when it comes time to put them all together.

“nice deal”: $1 – $49,000
“very nice deal”: $50,000 – $99,000
“good deal”: $100,000 – $250,000
“significant deal”: $251,000 – $499,000
“major deal”: $500,000 and up

(11) READY FOR TAKEOFF. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum gives you a video ride-along: “Douglas DC-3 Moved to Udvar-Hazy Center”.

One of our collections staff takes you through the process of lowering, disassembling, and transporting large artifacts like the Douglas DC-3. These artifact moves are part of the multi-year renovation project at the National Air and Space Museum in DC to transform the museum from the inside out.

(12) DEALING WITH MOLD. Cnet says the Discovery Season 2 Blu-Ray gives fans an earful: “Star Trek: Discovery exclusive clip shows Vulcan-ear options”.

The clip shows two different Vulcan-ear options for actor James Frain in his role as Spock’s father, Sarek. We also get a look at how Kelpien faces are made.   

The clip comes from Creature Comforts: Season Two, a behind-the-scenes feature that takes fans into the design process behind the characters, from make-up to making molds. It includes a one-on-one discussion with makeup artist James McKinnon and Mary Chieffo (L’Rell).

(13) HEDGEHOG MAKEOVER. The Hollywood Reporter introduces “New ‘Sonic’ Trailer Sees Redesigned Character With Bigger Eyes, Less Teeth”.

The film’s original trailer dropped in April, and led to a deluge of mockery and fan backlash on social media for the way Sonic looked. The reaction was so negative it led to the film’s director Jeff Fowler announcing that his team would rethink Sonic’s design, all of which led to a three-month delay to the release date. 

(14) TRAILER TIME. Pixar In Real Life is a hidden-camera show on Disney+ that watches what happens when people meet live versions of Pixar animated characters on the street.

(15) AGE, SOCIAL MEDIA, BROKEN FRIENDSHIPS. Laura Lippman confesses she “is bummed by the ways in which friendships end as one gets older” in “The Art of Losing Friends and Alienating People” at Longreads.

…As a friend, I frequently break the first rule of fiction: I’m all tell, no show. I’m not going to remember your kid’s birthday, or even yours, despite Facebook’s helpful nudges. When you’re in a crisis, I won’t know the right questions to ask. I blame my Southern parents for placing so many topics in the forbidden zone. I grew up being told it was rude to discuss age, income, health, feelings. I often think that’s why I became a reporter.

I have a list in my head of all the friends I let down. It’s not long, but it’s longer than I’d like, and it’s probably longer than I know. Most of those friends have forgiven me, but I never lose sight of my failures. It’s like a stain on a busily-patterned rug; once you know where to look, your eye goes there every time. I know where to look. I am aware of my misdeeds. Every friend who has ever called me out on being a bad friend had me dead to rights.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe” on Vimeo is a surreal film about a rationalist scientist who discovers religion in a surreal manner.

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

SLF Deep Dish Chicago Reading (October 3, 2019)

The latest Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) Deep Dish Reading series was held on October 3 at Volumes Book Cafe in Chicago, Illinois. Co-hosted by award-winning author Mary Anne Mohanraj and Chris Bauer, the event featured readings by G. Scott Huggins, Jane Rosenberg LaForge and Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  Other readers included Sue Burke, Anaea Lay, Jeremiah John and Mary Anne Mohanraj. These periodic free events are sponsored by the SLF with assistance from SFWA grants. The next reading will be held in March of 2020. We’re currently open to interested readers.

For the latest SLF news please visit us at www.speculativeliterature.org

Pixel Scroll 10/1/19 Attention, Slans! This Is a Porgrave Pixel-Broadcasting Scroll

(1) DEEP DISH READING SERIES. The Speculative Literature Foundation will be hosting the Deep Dish Reading Series Thursday, October 3 at 7pm at Volumes Bookcafe (1474 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622).  This event is being done in partnership with the Plurality University Network as part of their Many Tomorrows Festival.

Transcending boundaries of space, time, and imagination, we will gather together in Chicago speculative fiction authors from various communities, each with their own unique vision of the world. This event is co-sponsored by SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) (www.sfwa.org) and Chicago Nerd Social Club (www.chicagonerds.org). 

The event’s Featured Readers will be Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jane Rosenberg LaForge, and Scott Huggins, with Rapid-Fire Readers Sue Burke, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Jeremy John, and Anaea Lay. Deep Dish readings are open to the public and all are welcome, free of charge.

(2) COUPLE OF AMAZON TRIBUTARIES DRYING UP. The Digital Reader reports a pair of changes will soon be made to Amazon’s marketing strategies.

On September 27 they wrote: “Amazon is Shutting Down Amazon Giveaways on 30 November”.

Amazon is shutting down its nearly five-year-old giveaway service in two weeks.

The retailer sent out an email today, informing authors and others who have run contests that the service is being wound down over the next couple months. The option to start a new giveaway contest will end on 10 October, and Amazon will end all current contests on 17 October. 

A couple days later this item followed: “Amazon is Shutting Down Kindle Matchbook, Its Print+eBook Bundling Program”.

…Launched in 2013, Kindle Matchbook was a program where authors and publishers had the option of creating ebook+print bundles that combine a Kindle ebook with a print book sold by Amazon. The ebook could be given away for free, or sold for $1.99 or $0.99.

If you’ve never heard of this program, you’re not alone. Aside from the stories about the publishing industry losing its shit when Amazon launched Kindle Matchbook, it has gotten almost no media attention.

Most authors have never heard of it, and the ones that do have books in the program report that there was little interest from readers.

(3) BREAKING A RULE. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett assembles an entertaining array of authors reproving critics in “Taking Care When Biting the Bear”. Keith Roberts lights up a pseudonymous reviewer, while James Blish is racked by Anthony Boucher and Isaac Asimov.

It has often been said, and rightly so, that there is little value in an author complaining about what others say about their work. No matter how wrong-headed an author might think such opinions, in the normal course of events complaining about them rarely does the author much good. The problem for any author who feels slighted is that we all form opinions about everything we experience and few of us will happily accept being told our opinions are worthless. Thus when an author uses the argument ‘that X did not understand what I was trying to do’ most of us feel our hackles raise in empathy with the critic.

To argue about anything but clear errors of fact (as Jack Vance once did in response to James Blish) is risky business for this very reason….

(4) MARS BY WAY OF KENSINGTON. Forbes advises travelers, “From A Mars Exhibit To An Out-Of-This-World Tea Time, Here’s How To Have The Perfect Space-Themed London Day”. The itinerary begins here:

…On October 18, the London Design Museum will launch their “Moving to Mars” exhibition, which considers both the science and design behind what going to Mars will look like for humankind. The exhibit is divided into three aesthetically pleasing exhibitions – one on Mars in popular culture, one on what life and living conditions will be like on Mars, and one on what the future of Mars could look like. Guests are then invited to make their own conclusions about how and when humans should make the leap to the red planet. Because it’s a design museum, the curators have collected more than 150 Mars-related objects and commissioned an interior design firm to create a multi-sensory experience. Guests will be able to walk through a prototype of a Martian habitat and study the clothing that will need to blend style and functionality with heavy-duty protection and technical performance. The exhibit will run until February 23, 2020. It’s best to buy your tickets in advance and is recommended for children 8 and older.

(5) POLL CATS. At Tor.com, James Davis Nicoll comments on “Four Speculative Novels Featuring Important Elections”. (And has no trouble reaching that number even before mentioning Double Star.)

My nation (which may not be yours) is in the midst of another election. On the one hand, it’s a glorious celebration of our right to choose who runs the nation for the next four years. On the other hand, many of us view with dismay the endless election—thirty-six full days of bloviation and punditry!—and the sinking feeling that it is all an exercise in deciding which of our colourful array of parties  is least objectionable. Still, even if it feels like one is being asked to choose between the Spanish Influenza and Yersinia pestis, it is important to remember one take-home lesson from Herman Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War: even undesirable outcomes can be ranked in order of preference. The Spanish flu is bad. The Black Death is worse.

All of which led me to consider how elections have figured in speculative fiction novels.

(6) HARLEY QUINN. The first Birds of Prey trailer has dropped. In theaters February 7, 2020

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 1, 1957 The Brain From Planet Arous premiered. Starring John Agar, Joyce Meadows, and Robert Fuller, it was made on a budget of $ 58,000. It went into appeared in wide distribution in 1958 as a double feature with Teenage Monster.
  • October 1, 1998Futuresport aired on ABC. Starring Dean Cain, Vanessa Williams, and Wesley Snipes, it polled 23% at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • October 1, 2001 — The Mutant Xseries first aired. It lasted for three seasons and sixty episodes. John Shea who was Luthor in the 1990s Lois & Clark was a cast member. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 1, 1896 Abraham Sofaer. The Thasian in “The Charlie X” episode of the original Trek. He’s also been on  The Man from U.N.C.L.E in “The Brain-Killer Affair” as Mr. Gabhail Samoy, head of U.N.C.L.E. operations in Calcutta, and also had one-offs on Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff’s ThrillerTime Tunnel, I Dream of JeannieKolchak: The Night Stalker and Lost in Space. (Died 1988.)
  • Born October 1, 1914 Donald Wollheim. Founding member of the Futurians, Wollheim organized what was later deemed the first American science fiction convention, when a group from New York met with a group from Philadelphia on October 22, 1936 in Philadelphia. As an editor, he published Le Guin’s first two novels as an Ace Double. And would someone please explain to me how he published an unauthorized paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings? (Died 1990.)
  • Born October 1, 1930 Richard Harris. One of the Dumbledores in the Potter film franchise. He also played King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lion Hearted in Robin and Marian, Gulliver in Gulliver’s Travels, James Parker in Tarzan, the Ape Man and he voiced Opal in Kaena: The Prophecy. His acting in Tarzan, the Ape Man him a nominee for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. Anyone seen that film? (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 1, 1935 Dame Julie Andrews, DBE, 84. Mary Poppins! I could stop there but I won’t. (Hee.) she had a scene cut in which was a maid in The Return of the Pink Panther, and she’s uncredited as the singing voice of Ainsley Jarvis in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Yet again she’s uncreated in a Panther film, this time as chairwoman in Trail of the Pink Panther. She voices Queen Lillian in Sherk 2Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. And she’s the voice of Karathen in Aquaman.
  • Born October 1, 1944 Rick Katze, 75. A Boston fan and member of NESFA and MCFI. He’s chaired three Boskones, and worked many Worldcons. Quoting Fancyclopedia 3: “A lawyer professionally, he was counsel to the Connie Bailout Committee and negotiated the purchase of Connie’s unpaid non-fannish debt at about sixty cents on the dollar.” He’s an active editor for the NESFA Press, including the six-volume Best of Poul Anderson series.
  • Born October 1, 1948 Michael Ashley, 71. Way, way too prolific to cover in any detail so I’ll single out a few of his endeavours. The first, his magnificent The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, 1926 – 1965; the second being the companion series, The Time Machines: The Story of the Science-Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1990. This not to slight anything he is done such as The Gernsback Days: A Study in the Evolution of Modern Science Fiction from 1911 to 1936.
  • Born October 1, 1953 John Ridley, 66. Author of Those Who Walk in Darkness and What Fire Cannot Burn novels. Both excellent though high on the violence cringe scale. Writer on the Static Shock and Justice League series. Writer, The Authority : human on the inside graphic novel. And apparently the writer for Team Knight Rider, a female version of Knight Rider that last one season in the Nineties. 
  • Born October 1, 1989 Brie Larson, 30. Captain Marvel in the Marvel film universe. She’s also been in Kong: Skull Island as Mason Weaver, and plays Kit in the Unicorn Store which she also directed and produced. Her first genre role was Rachael in the “Into the Fire” of Touched by an Angel series; she also appeared as Krista Eisenburg in the “Slam” episode of Ghost Whisperer. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Where are they now? Grimmy answers the question for one rainbow vaulter.

(10) AT A GLANCE. Camestros Felapton in “Cat Psychology” provides a handy chart of facial expressions so you can tell what your cat is thinking – provided yours thinks the same way as Timothy the Talking Cat.

(11) WRONG ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter watch a contestant lose money with this response on tonight’s episode of Jeopardy!

Category: What’s that award for.

Answer: The Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Wrong question: What is tennis?

(12) NEW SFF. Victoria Sandbrook praises an author’s debut novel: “Review: THE LESSON by Cadwell Turnbull”.

…Turnbull’s narrative is measured, calm, until it isn’t, a thundercloud too easily written off until it looms above you. The central, external conflict remains taut and ever-present, even as Turnbull explores the deeply individual experiences of each character with an awareness and love of place rooted in his own history there.

(13) DON’T MISS THE APOCALYPSE. The Daily Mail’s article “Enter the Thunderdome: 4,000 Mad Max fans and their weaponry-festooned vehicles gather in the California desert for Wasteland Weekend – the ‘world’s largest post-apocalyptic festival'” comes with myriad photos.

Roughly 4,000 people have descended on to California‘s Mojave Desert for an annual post-apocalyptic festival called Wasteland Weekend. 

The festival, which was inspired by the Mad Max film series, celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and revelers flocked to the desert in their masses. 

Created in 2010 by Karol Bartoszynski, Jared Butler and James Howard, the festival sees its participants spend the entire weekend in post-apocalyptic costume. 

They proudly note:

The permanent festival site sits between the defunct Nevada nuclear test site, where from 1951 a total of 928 nuclear warheads were tested during the cold war, and Hollywood.

(14) BEAR ANCESTRY. Scientists are “Collecting polar bear footprints to map family trees”.

Scientists from Sweden are using DNA in the environment to track Alaskan polar bears.

The technique which uses DNA from traces of cells left behind by the bears has been described as game changing for polar bear research.

It’s less intrusive than other techniques and could help give a clearer picture of population sizes.

Environmental DNA (eDNA) comes from traces of biological tissue such as skin and mucus in the surroundings.

Scientists and now conservationists are increasingly using such samples to sequence genetic information and identify which species are present in a particular habitat.

It’s often used to test for invasive species or as evidence of which animals might need more protection.

In another application of the technique, geneticist Dr Micaela Hellström from the Aquabiota laboratory in Sweden worked with WWF Alaska and the Department of Wildlife Management in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow) to collect snow from the pawprints of polar bears.

They tested the technique on polar bears in parks in Sweden and Finland.

“We realised that for the first time we could reach the nuclear DNA within the cells. The material outside the cell can tell what species you are and there are 1,000 or 2,000 copies. But the DNA in the nucleus which identifies an individual has only two copies, so it’s an enormous challenge to get out enough from these snowsteps,” she said.

(15) ONTOGENY RECAPITULATES PHYLOGENY.  “Babies in the womb have lizard-like hand muscles” – BBC has the story.

Babies in the womb have extra lizard-like muscles in their hands that most will lose before they are born, medical scans reveal.

They are probably one of the oldest, albeit fleeting, remnants of evolution seen in humans yet, biologists say, in the journal Development.

They date them as 250 million years old – a relic from when reptiles transitioned to mammals.

It is unclear why the human body makes and then deletes them before birth.

The biologists say the developmental step may be what makes thumbs dextrous. Thumbs, unlike other digits, retain an extra muscle.

(16) GOOD USE. BBC reports “Virtual reality PTSD treatment has ‘big impact’ for veterans”.

Virtual reality could be used to help military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who have struggled with mainstream treatment.

It involves patients walking on a treadmill in front of a screen which projects images depicting the type of trauma experienced.

A two-year trial found some patients could see almost a 40% improvement in their symptoms.

One veteran said it had given him the “biggest impact” out of any treatment.

(17) NOT IN HAWKINS ANYMORE? Netflix has greenlighted a fourth season of Stranger Things. The announcement took the form of this video:

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Speculative Literature Foundation Deep Dish Reading Series

The latest Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF) Deep Dish Reading series was held on August 8 at Volumes Book Cafe in Chicago, Illinois. Co-hosted by award-winning author Mary Anne Mohanraj and Chris Bauer, the event featured readings by Scott Woods, S.L. Huang and T.J. Martinson. Other readers included Dawn Bonanno, Richard Chwedyk, Beth Kander and Aurelius Raines II.

These periodic free events are sponsored by the SLF with assistance from SFWA grants. The next reading will be held October 3, 2019, 7 p.m., at Volumes Book Cafe, 1474 N. Milwaukee; all are welcome. Readers will include Jane Rosenberg LaForge, Siliva Moreno-Garcia and Sue Burke.

For the latest SLF news please visit www.speculativeliterature.org.

Ahmad Wins New SLF Grant

Senaa Ahmad is the iaugural winner of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature, founded in fond memory of Ashim Chandra Bose by his children, Rupa Bose and Gautam Bose.

The grant, worth $1,000, is given to a South Asian / South Asian diaspora writer developing speculative fiction. The winner is announced on the anniversary of A.C. Bose’s birth, May 26, to help foster his legacy.

Senaa Ahmad, who grew up in a sleepy immigrant suburb of a Canadian steel town, crafts well-written, heartfelt, and powerful stories. “My short fiction lives at the intersections of Indian, Islamic, and family history, diaspora poetics, and classic genre fiction,” she says, when describing her work. “I draw influence from the magical realist fiction of Salman Rushdie and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the speculative parables of Margaret Atwood, Kelly Link, and Sofia Samatar.”

Those influences commingle in her first short story collection, The Extra-Terrestrials, whose 10 stories follow teenage occultists, hijabi girl-wonders, and Persian tricksters. Aptly titled, each story in the collection, Ahmad says, takes on the notion of “the extra-terrestrial—what it means to be on the margins of society, to feel dislocated or disconnected, to feel like you might belong to an entirely different species.”

Ahmad’s short story collection has garnered her a wide range of attention. ”Samples from the collection,” she says, “earned me two grants for the purpose of prioritizing my writing, plus an invitation to attend the prestigious Clarion Writers Workshop this past summer where I studied with world-class writers like Mat Johnson, Holly Black, and Kelly Link.”

Jurors for the Speculative Literature Foundation took notice as well. One of her short stories in her collection, “The Glow-in-the-Dark Girls”, was part of her application for the A.C. Bose Grant for South Asian Speculative Literature and helped win her the grant.

The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Honorable Mentions for the 2019 A.C. Bose Grant went to Isha Karki, Lavanya Lakshminarayan, and Geetha Iyer for their unique and thought-provoking submissions.

[Based on a press release.]

Nemma Wollenfang Receives SLF’s 2018 Working Class Grant

Nemma Wollenfang

The Speculative Literature Foundation has awarded its 2018 Working Class Writers Grant to Nemma Wollenfang.

The $1,000 Working Class Grant is intended to assist working class, blue-collar, poor, and homeless writers who have been historically underrepresented in speculative fiction due to the financial barriers that have made it much harder for them to access the writing world. SLF created the annual grant in 2013.

The SLF announcement says that science fiction, fantasy, and horror are the genres Wollenfang “generally writes when she puts pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard), but she is ‘absolutely thrilled’ that the excerpt within her application for the 2018 Working Class Writers Grant, I, Phoenix, caught the jurors’ interest this year.”

A perennial applicant for the Working Class Writers Grant, Wollenfang was named Honorable Mention for the grant twice: once in 2015, and then again in 2016.  

Her unpublished steampunk novel, Clockwork Evangeline, won the Retreat West First Chapter Competition in 2016, and was also ranked as a finalist and Judges’ Favorite for the Insights Novel Award in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

It should be no surprise then that Wollenfang finally made the impact she wanted upon the jurors for the grant this year. Working Class Writers Grant juror Rebecca Gibson said of Wollenfang’s winning entry and excerpt from I, Phoenix: “This story is thoroughly fascinating, making me want to know more—the world and character building are tight, the premise is sound, and the attached synopsis shows that the story will be spectacular when fully fleshed out.”

Receiving Honorable Mentions for the 2018 Working Class Writers Grant are Julie Borden, Dominik Parisien, and Alanna Faelan “for their entertaining and thought-provoking submissions, which made the selection of the winner a difficult but enjoyable process for our jurors.”

[Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 4/26/19 UnPixelish BeScrolling

(1) A MOLE IN BLACK. If everyone could just look right here… Men In Black arrives in theaters June 14.

The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.

(2) SPECULATIVE LITERATURE FOUNDATION. The application period for the Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds begins May 1 and runs until July 31, 2019. Full application guidelines here.

The $500 Diverse Writers grant is intended to support new and emerging writers from underrepresented and underprivileged groups, such as writers of color, women, queer writers, disabled writers, working-class writers, etc. — those whose marginalized identities may present additional obstacles in the writing / publishing process.

The $500 Diverse Worlds grant is intended for work that best presents a diverse world, regardless of the writer’s background.

(3) HWA MENTOR OF THE YEAR. The Horror Writers Association has named its “2018 Mentor of the Year Award – JG Faherty”.

The Mentor of the Year Award was established in 2016 to recognize a writer who has offered extraordinary service to the Horror Writers Association’s Mentor Program, which pairs newer writers with more established writers. Mentors work with their mentees on developing their craft and their business, in the interest of assisting writers in establishing careers.

The year, the Mentor Program Chair has chosen JG Faherty as the 2018 Mentor of the Year.

Upon hearing news of the award, JG said, “It’s really an honor to be chosen as Mentor of the Year. I am a firm believer that the Mentorship program is one of the most important benefits of membership we have, and under Brian Hatcher’s guidance, it’s reached new heights of success. Way, way back in the dark ages (2007 or so), I was a mentee, working on my first novel. I got lucky enough to be paired with then-president Deborah LeBlanc as my mentor. She helped me immensely with my novel and several short stories, and in the process became a friend as well. Without her help, I might never have sold that first book. Because of her, and because of other people in the organization who’ve taught me that giving back is one of the most important things Active members can do, I signed up as a mentor the moment I earned my Active status. My goal is to help each of my mentees the way Deb helped me, because that’s what writers should be doing, helping other writers succeed. And I’m happy to say that along the way, I’ve made several more friends. What could be better?”

You can follow him at www.twitter.com/jgfaherty, www.facebook.com/jgfaherty, and www.jgfaherty.com.

(4) TODAY’S DAY

April 26: Did you know April 26 was “Alien Day” since Alien was released on April 26, 1979? In the Yahoo! Entertainment story “#AlienDay:  James Cameron On How He Expanded The Universe in Aliens and Where The Franchise Went Wrong,” Ethan Alter interviews James Cameron, who said that David Fincher shouldn’t have killed off the characters played by Lance Henriksen and Carrie Henn in Aliens and that he considers Alien 3 a “brilliant failure.”

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Baptism today – April 26, 1564: William Shakespeare. World’s greatest playwright and perhaps one of our earliest fantasy writers. 
  • Born April 26, 1914 H. L. Gold. Best known for launching Galaxy Science Fiction in 1950, which was soon followed by its companion magazine, Beyond Fantasy Fiction which lasted but several years. He was not a prolific writer having published but two novels, None but Lucifer with L. Sprague de Camp and A Matter of Form, plus a generous number of short stories. None but Lucifer didn’t see printing in novel form until 2002. (Died 1996)
  • Born April 26, 1922 A. E. van Vogt. Ok, I admit it’s been so long since I read that I was fascinated by the wiki page who noted that Damon  Knight took a strong dislike to his writing whereas Philip K. Dick and Paul Di Filippo defended him strongly. What do y’all think of van Vogt? (Died 2000.)
  • Born April 26, 1943 Bill Warren. American film historian, critic, and one of the leading authorities on science fiction, horror, and fantasy films. He wrote the script for the murder mystery Fandom is a Way of Death set at the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention which was hosted by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society which he and his wife were very much involved in. His 1968 short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” would be printed in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy. During the Seventies, he also wrote scripts for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. His film reference guide Keep Watching the Skies! American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties would be revised and expanded several times. (Died 2016.)
  • Born April 26, 1955 Brad W. Foster, 64. From 1987 to 1991 he was a regular contributing illustrator to the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. In 2008 he began producing illustrations for the newsletter Ansible, creating a full color version for the on-line edition, and a different black-and-white version for the print edition. He won an amazing eight Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist! 
  • Born April 26, 1961 Joan Chen, 58. You’ll remember her from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and the tv series as Jocelyn ‘Josie’ Packard, and probably less so as Ilsa Hayden in the first Judge Dredd film. I certainly don’t. She was Madame Ong in Avatar. No, not that film, is a Singaporean sf film from twenty years back. She was the first customer on the very short-lived Nightmare Cafe series. 

(6) POUND FOOLISH? “Shut up very much,” may have been the message on their pink slips: “After Pentagon Ends Contract, Top-Secret Scientists Group Vows To Carry On”.

A secretive group of scientists who advise the U.S. government on everything from spy satellites to nuclear weapons is scrambling to find a sponsor after the Defense Department abruptly ended its contract late last month.

The group, known as the Jasons, will run out of money at the end of April. The Pentagon says that the group’s advice is no longer needed, but independent experts say it has never been more relevant and worry the department is throwing away a valuable resource.

Russell Hemley, the head of the Jasons, says that other government agencies still want advice and that the Jasons are determined to give it.

…The Jasons group comprises about 60 members. By day, they’re normal academics, working at colleges and universities and in private industry. But each summer, they come together to study tough problems for the military, intelligence agencies and other parts of the government.

…”The department remains committed to seeking independent technical advice and review,” Pentagon spokesperson Heather Babb said. But Aftergood sees another reason for the end of the relationship. He says that the Jasons are a blunt bunch. If they think an idea is dumb or won’t work, they aren’t afraid to say so.

“They were offering the opposite of cheerleading,” he says. “And DOD decided that maybe they didn’t want to pay for that any longer.”

(7) THE BUZZ. NPR will clue you in —“How Do Mosquitoes Taste DEET? Hint: It’s Not With Their Mouthparts”.

Emily Dennis has spent hours, if not days, watching mosquitoes buzz around her bare, outstretched arm. Carefully, she’s observed the insects land, stab their mouthparts through her skin and feed.

But if her arm is slathered with DEET — shorthand for the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in many insect repellents — mosquitoes stay away.

“DEET works better than any other insect repellent, and despite it being around since the late 1940s, we still don’t really understand why,” says Dennis, a neuroscientist currently at Princeton University who endured many bug bites while studying how DEET repels insects en route to her Ph.D. at Rockefeller University.

Those bug bites paid off. In a paper published Thursday in Current Biology, she and her colleagues show that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, common transmitters of diseases such as dengue and Zika, sense DEET through their feet, not their mouthparts. According to the authors, the finding narrows the path for future research that could potentially help scientists develop more desirable alternatives to DEET — for example, repellents that don’t need to be reapplied as often as DEET.

(8) STUDYING THE OCCULT(ATION). Saturn disappeared behind the Moon for awhile last night:

And another nice photo here on the Dunedin Astronomical Society’s Facebook page.

(9) TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE. NPR asks: “Blockbuster Films Keep Getting Longer; How And Why Did We Get Here?”

“No amount of money ever bought a second of time,” says Tony “Iron Man” Stark, patient zero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, midway through the new Avengers: Endgame.

As has frequently been the case in the nine Marvel films in which he has appeared, Mr. Stark is right but also wrong. Endgame, the long-promised commencement ceremony/farewell tour for the founding class of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, has both commodities in abundance. Contrast that with the 1990 Cannon Films production Captain America, starring Matt (Revenge of the Nerds) Salinger as Steve Rogers, which runs a svelte 97 minutes and looks like it may well have cost several hundred dollars.

That was then. As the capstone of Marvel Studios’ 11-year, 22-film saga, freely adapted from more than half a century of comic books, the no-expense-spared Endgame dares what few blockbusters have, occupying a bladder-taxing, intermission-free 182 minutes. But then, movies such as this one — franchise entries, popcorn flicks, movies that often harbor artistic ambitions but are always designed to draw a huge audience — began to Hulk out years before Iron Man arrived in May of 2008…

(10) COOL PICTURES. “Hayabusa-2: Spacecraft’s ‘bomb’ crater found” – BBC has the story.

The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft has sent back images of the crater made when it detonated an explosive charge next to the asteroid it is investigating.

On 5 April, the Japanese probe released a 14kg device packed with plastic explosive towards the asteroid Ryugu.

The blast drove a copper projectile into the surface, hoping to create a 10m-wide depression.

Scientists want to get a “fresh” sample of rock to help them better understand how Earth and the other planets formed.

Hayabusa-2 has now taken pictures of the area below where the “small carry-on impactor” (SCI) device was to have detonated, and identified a dark disturbance in which fresh material has been excavated from beneath the surface.

(11) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Clock Face” on Vimeo Natalia Ryss has a beautiful fantasy about life in old Jerusalem with plenty of clocks!

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

Pixel Scroll 4/22/19 Ceci N’est Pas Un Pixel Scroll

(1) HELP IS ON THE WAY. Jimmy Kimmel Live plugs the “Game of Thrones Hotline for Confused Fans.”

There is a lot going on in “Game of Thrones,” and it can be difficult to keep track of what’s what and who’s who. But fortunately help is on the way. Cast members Sophie Turner, Lena Headey, John Bradley, Joe Dempsie, Maisie Williams, Kristian Nairn, Iwan Rheon & Liam Cunningham host a new hotline to assist their confused fans.

(2) RONDO SETS RECORD. Never mind the Dragon Awards – voting just closed in the “17th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards” and would you like to guess how many participants they had? The administrator says —

The final votes are still be tallied, but close to 4,500 people voted this year, a new record.

The results will be posted soon, once the vote is finalized and visual material is prepared for the release.

(3) RELATIVELY LITERATURE. Gautham Shenoy contemplates “Ian McEwan and the (re)invention of science fiction: Why contempt for SF only exposes ignorance” at Factor Daily.

…So in this light, in the context of authors who actively avoid a novel of theirs being described as ‘science fiction’, and given the latest instance of Ian McEwan distancing himself from said label, I’d like to humbly offer a way in which one can tell if it’s an SF novel or not. “Whether a novel is science fiction—or not—depends on who the author is and who reviews it”.

As an advertising professional who has spent almost 20 years in the marketing business and who knows a thing or three about positioning and target audiences, this is perhaps the best description that I think we can arrive at. But where does this leave the reader?

It is up to the individual reader to decide whether he/she/they would rather go by convenient labels than follow interests or read what he/she/they would like to. As a reader – and not just of SF – I am in agreement with the author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks, the writer David Mitchell who says that genre snobbery is a bizarre act of self-mutilation because, “It’s convenient to have a science fiction and fantasy section, it’s convenient to have a mainstream literary fiction section, but these should only be guides, they shouldn’t be demarcated territories where one type of reader belongs and another type of reader does not belong…What a shame. All those great books that you’re cutting yourself off from.”

(4) WEIMER DOUBLE-HEADER. Paul Weimer told Facebook readers:

If you thought “Self, I want to hear @PrinceJvstin on a podcast”, today is YOUR day.

You can hear Paul on @SFFAudio talking about @nevalalee’s Astounding – “The SFFaudio Podcast #522 – READALONG: Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee”

-AND-

On @SkiffyandFanty, he talks with their Hugo Finalist crew about Komarr — “Reading Rangers #10: Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold”.

Hello, Rangers! We’re back with everyone’s favorite Space Nancy Drew in Komarr! This time Stina, Paul, and Trish sit around the campfire to talk about women’s agency, budding relationships, whether or not Miles is “dad” material, how good intentions can go horribly, horribly wrong, the politics of isolationism, and more!

(5) KNOWING CAMPBELL. Stanley Schmidt’s guest editorial for Analog “John and Me” takes off from the “The Astounding John W. Campbell, Jr.” panel at last year’s Worldcon moderated by Alec Nevala-Lee. Schmidt’s views of Campbell’s work are very different than those of fellow panelist Robert Silverberg, and he says in closing —

…As for what kind of editing John was doing in his last years, my experience indicates that he was still doing the kinds of things he was famous for, and still doing them very well. It’s unfortunate that some of his personal idiosyncrasies drove away some of his best writers, but that’s a separate question from the quality of his work. Maybe I was fortunate that I didn’t know him personally before I started writing for him, or I might have found it harder, too—though I hope I wouldn’t have let my disagreements with him, even on big issues, make me reject him entirely as a person. I did disagree with his editorials more often in those years than I had earlier, but as far as I knew he was just doing the professional argument-baiting he had always done. Even if I had known that he really held beliefs that I found highly objectionable, I doubt that I would have found that adequate reason to sever all contact with him and his work. A lot of people hold misguided beliefs, but my experience, I think, is a good example of how it’s possible to work productively with somebody, and respect some of his qualities, even while sharply disagreeing with some of his views. Maybe that’s a lesson that a whole lot of people need to relearn about now.

(6) SLF READINGS. The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Deep Dish Reading Series in Chicago resumes on May 9.

(7) DOC WEIR AWARD. The Doc Weir Award is voted on by attendees at the Eastercon and is presented to a fan who has worked hard behind the scenes at conventions or in fandom and deserves recognition. As Fandom.com explains —

The award consists of a silver cup (which must be returned the following year) and a certificate (if someone remembers to create one!)

The cup is engraved with the names of the previous winners, and in fine fannish tradition, it is up to each year’s winner to have their own name engraved at their own cost!

Jamie Scott is the 2019 winner.

Bill Burns of eFanzines has more info on the Doc Weir Award, and a list of all winners from 1963 to 2018 here.

(8) 71ST EASTERCON. Next year’s UK Eastercon, called Concentric, will be in Birmingham at the Hilton Metropole (NEC).

(9) ON THE AIR. Eneasz Brodski offers a “Crash Course in Creating a Podcast” at Death Is Bad.

1. Bona fides

I’m Eneasz Brodski. I produce the Methods of Rationality podcast. It began as me, in my bedroom, with a lot of enthusiasm and a handheld mic after a few hours of research. As of this writing it’s been 6.5 years since I started. I’ve spent over 10,000 hours working on this podcast, I’ve produced over ninety hours of audio fiction spread across 185 episodes, totaling almost 4.5 million downloads. I’ve been a finalist for the Parsec Awards three times. I’ve never done professional audio work, but I have some idea of how to get an amateur podcast going.

(10) WOLFE’S MEANING. In a New Republic article, Jeet Heer declares “Gene Wolfe Was the Proust of Science Fiction”.

…News of Wolfe’s passing spread on the internet on Monday morning, as the first images of the fire at Notre-Dame also started circulating. Many Wolfe fans were struck by the coincidence. “Gene Wolfe is dead and Notre-Dame is engulfed in flames,” the writer Michael Swanwick tweeted. “This is the Devil’s own day.” Swanwick’s grief is understandable. Yet Wolfe himself might offer more consoling counsel. Death and life, his work often showed, are not so much opposites but partners, with the passing of the old being the precondition for the birth of the new. Cathedrals can burn but they can also be rebuilt, and in fact all cathedrals are in a constant state of maintenance and repair….

(11) MARTIN BÖTTCHER OBIT. German film composer Martin Böttcher (1927–2019) died April 19. Cora Buhlert pays tribute — “In Memoriam Martin Böttcher”.

…But Böttcher’s most famous film score would be the one he composed for Horst Wendlandt’s other series, the Winnetou movies of the 1960s, based on Karl May’s adventure novels. Ironically, Martin Böttcher himself had never read a single Winnetou novel, which must make him one of the very few Germans of his generation who did not read Karl May. When someone asked him why he didn’t read the novels, Böttcher answered, “I’ve seen every single Winnetou movie dozens of times. I know how the story goes. I don’t need to read it.”

I’ve written about the Winnetou movies and what they meant for several generations of Germans before, so let’s just listen to Martin Böttcher’s iconic Old Shatterhand theme….

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 22, 1916 Virginia Heinlein. Editor of Grumbles from the Grave. Also allowed Tramp Royale to be published after her husband’s death. And for some reason allowed longer versions of previously published works Stranger in a Strange Land, The Puppet Masters, and Red Planet to be published. Anyone read these? Used bookstores here frequently had copies of Stranger in a Strange Land so buyers didn’t hold on to it… (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1934 Sheldon Jaffery. Bibliographer who was a fan of Weird Tales, Arkham House books, pulps, and pretty much anything in that area. Among his publications are Collector’s Index to Weird Tales (co-written with Fred Cook), Future and Fantastic Worlds: A Bibliographical Retrospective of DAW Books (1972-1987) and Horrors and Unpleasantries: A Bibliographical History and Collector’s Price Guide to Arkham House. He also edited three anthologies which Bowling Green Press printed, to wit Sensuous Science Fiction from the Weird and Spicy PulpsSelected Tales of Grim and Grue from the Horror Pulps and The Weirds: A Facsimile Selection of Fiction From the Era of the Shudder Pulps. (Died 2003.)
  • Born April 22, 1937 Jack Nicholson, 82. I think my favorite role for him in a genre film was as Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick. Other genre roles include Jack Torrance in The Shining, Wilbur Force in The Little Shop of Horrors, Rexford Bedlo in The Raven, Andre Duvalier in The Terror, (previous three films are Roger Corman productions), Will Randall in Wolf, President James Dale / Art Land in Mars Attacks! and Jack Napier aka The Joker in Tim  Burton’s The Batman. I watched the last one, was not impressed.
  • Born April 22, 1946 John Waters, 73. Yes, he did horror films, lots of them. Shall we list them? There’s Multiple ManiacsSuburban GothicExcision, Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat and Seed of Chucky. The latter described as a “supernatural black comedy horror film” on Wiki. He also narrates Of Dolls and Murder, a documentary film about a collection of dollhouse crime scenes created in the Forties and society’s collective fascination with death.
  • Born April 22, 1950 Robert Elswit, 69. Cinematographer. An early short film he worked on was a 1982 TV adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story “All Summer in a Day.” He began his career as a visual effects camera operator working on films like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Empire Strikes Back, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. He worked on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  • Born April 22, 1959 Brian Taves, 60. Author of The Jules Verne Encyclopedia and Hollywood Presents Jules Verne: The Father of Science Fiction on Screen.  He also wrote Talbot Mundy, Philosopher of Adventure: A Critical Biography. Mundy is the author of the Jimgrim / Ramsden stories, a fantasy series. 
  • Born April 22, 1966 Jeffrey Dean Morgan,53. He’s best known for his roles as Dr. Edward Marcase in The Burning Zone, John Winchester on Supernatural, the Comedian in Watchmen, Negan on The Walking Dead  and Harvey Russell in Rampage. He also played Jeb Turnbull in Jonah Hex. And was Thomas Wayne in Batman v. Superman though he was uncredited for it. 
  • Born April 22, 1984 Michelle Ryan, 35. She appeared as the evil sorceress Nimueh in Merlin, and as Lady Christina de Souza in the Doctor Who episode “Planet of the Dead” in the era of the Tenth Doctor. She was also in the comedy film Cockneys vs Zombies as Katy,and played Elanor in Andron. And yes, they rebooted the Bionic Woman series in which she played the lead character Jaime Sommers. It lasted nine episodes. Points to who remembers the original actress without looking her up. 

(13) TV ON THE CHEAP Because Filers may still have time still available for consuming video content – yeah, right — ZDNet points you at the “10 best free video streaming services for cord cutters”.

It’s possible to watch a lot of excellent movies and TV shows for free — if you know how.

When cord-cutting became a thing, it was all about saving money. Today, cord-cutting costs are catching up with cable. Indeed, with Disney Plus coming, with its must-watch package of Marvel Universe, Star Wars, and Disney films, plus internet TV streaming services like AT&T DirecTV Now drastically raising its prices, I can easily see a cord cutter’s total viewing bill crossing the $100-a-month barrier. 

Fortunately, there are some answers.

There’s at least one inexpensive TV-bundling service: Philo TV. At $16 a month for three simultaneous streams of 45 popular channels, it’s a steal. But, if you can live with commercials, there are at least 10 good free streaming services to try.

(14) AFRICAN VOICES. CNN reports “Netflix to launch all girl superhero animation series from Africa”.

As part of its growing acquisition of content from Africa, Netflix has announced its first original African animated series – Mama K’s Team 4.

The series is produced by award-winning South Africa based studio, Triggerfish Animation, and London based kids and family entertainment specialist, CAKE.

Mama K’s Team 4 tells a story of four teenage girls living in a futuristic version of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city. The girls are recruited by an ex-secret agent to save the world.

Designed by Cameroonian artist Malcolm Wope, the animation drew inspiration for the visuals from retro 90s hip hop girl groups, Netflix said in a statement announcing the deal….

(15) BY THE BOOK. Steve J. Wright has completed his Hugo Novel finalist reviews.

(16) COMMEMORATIVES. These BrexitStamps are over a year old – but news to me!

(17) NAVIGATING BY THE PUPPY CONSTELLATION. Lou Antonelli has launched a semiprozine for original sff, Sirius Science Fiction, which offers $25 for each original story upon publication.

WHO WE ARE

Sirius Science Fiction is an on-line web site dedicated to publishing original speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, alternate history and horror. We like stories with a sense of wonder and excitement.

In a time when mainstream speculative fiction has been overrun by political correctness and identity politics, we offer a venue free of pretension and ideological litmus tests.

Sirius Science Fiction publishes one original short story a week, plus occasional reprints. Original stories are posted every Friday.

(18) SPOILER WARNING. Well, beware if you’re a fluent Rot-13 speaker. Here’s the surprise ending to “Beyond the Bounds of Genius: Chapter 8” of Timothy the Talking Cat’s autobiography:

Fbba jr fnj gur Juvgr Pyvssf bs Qbire be ng yrnfg gung’f jung jr nffhzrq gurl jrer ohg rirelobql ryfr jnf fubhgvat “VPR ORET!” Orsber lbh pbhyq fubhg “zna gur yvsr obngf” gur fuvc jnf fvaxvat naq Pryvar Qvba jnf fvatvat naq rirelguvat jnf orpbzvat irel pbashfvat.

(19) YAKETY-YAK. Here’s some art by an Ursula Vernon admirer:

(20) OLD GAME. NPR tells how “For Mongolia’s Ice Shooters, Warmer Winters Mean A Shorter Sports Season”.

On a bright Sunday afternoon in early March, the Tamir River in the steppes of Mongola becomes a bowling alley. Two dozen Mongolian herdsmen have gathered to play musun shagai, known as “ice shooting.” Right now, the ice on the river is perfect. Clear and smooth. The players are cheerful and focused.

Their goal? To send a small copper puck called a zakh down a 93-yard stretch of ice and knock over several cow ankle bones, painted red, none bigger than a golf ball, at the other end. Extra points for hitting the biggest target, made of cow skin.

Together, the targets form a line of tiny red dots that are difficult to see, let alone hit. When that happens, players know because the spectators raise a boisterous cheer.

…This competition, originally scheduled for mid-March, was bumped up by two weeks. “The river was already melting,” Gurvantamir said.

(21) IRON ART. Lots of photos accompany NPR’s feature “The Beauty And The Power Of African Blacksmiths”.

In the fictional world of Marvel’s Black Panther, the Afro-futurist utopia of Wakanda has a secret, almost magical resource: a metal called vibranium. Its mythic ability to store energy elevated vibranium to a central role in the fictional nation’s culture and the metal became part of Wakandan technology, fashion and ceremony.

Of course vibranium isn’t real. But one metal has held a similarly mythic role for over 2,000 years in many cultures across the African continent: iron.

African blacksmiths have been crafting agricultural tools, musical instruments, weapons and symbols of power and prestige out of the raw material for ages. “Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths,” a new exhibit at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. showcases Africa’s rich history of ironworking through 225 tools, weapons and adornments from over 100 ethnic groups across Africa.

(22) SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. “SpaceX capsule suffers ‘anomaly’ during tests in Florida”.

SpaceX has confirmed that its Crew Dragon capsule suffered an “anomaly” during routine engine tests in Florida.

A US Air Force spokesperson told local press the incident, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, had been contained and no-one had been injured.

An unmanned Crew Dragon successfully flew for the first time last month.

This latest incident, however, could delay plans to launch a manned mission to the International Space Station later this year.

Not since the end of the Space Shuttle programme in 2011 has the US been able to send its own astronauts into orbit. It has had to rely instead on Russia and its Soyuz spacecraft.

(23) A ‘STAN LEE’ MOMENT. Daniel Dern asks:

Wanna get caught up on the Avengers: Endgame related comics… or just overload your eyeballs and brain in general?

Try a month of the Marvel Unlimited streaming comic service for $4.99 (normall $9.99/month, jumps to that if you don’t cancel). ~ 25,000 digitized Marvel comics (ranging from from-the-beginning-of-time through at-least-six-months-old).

Best on, sigh, a tablet that can view a comic full size, like the non-cheap iPad Pro 12.9. (which is why I bought one a year or so ago).

(24) AFTER SHAKESPEARE. This is far beyond what prompted Independence Day’s Wil Smith to demand, “What’s that smell?” “Nathan Lane Cleans Up Broadway’s Biggest Pile of Dead Bodies in ‘Gary: a Sequel to Titus Andronicus’”.

Even before the lushly designed curtain rises on Taylor Mac’s Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus, which opens Sunday night on Broadway (at the Booth Theatre, to Aug. 4), the fluids start shooting forth.

A woman appears and begins to spurt blood from her slashed neck. The blood flies out sporadically, and this looks a little precarious if you are in the front two rows. The woman, inevitably raspy of voice given her injury, muses on the nature of sequels and revenge.

Then the curtain rises on one of the great stage designs of this Broadway season. The sight of hundreds of human bodies immediately confronts the audience….

In this banqueting hall turned charnel house, there is the prosaically named Gary (Nathan Lane), a former clown now turned laborer, here to do some tidying up of bodies before the inauguration of a new leader the next day. “Bit more of them than I was expecting,” he says of the bodies. His voice is Cockney. Lane—orbiting in his brilliant way from shy to showman, naughty schoolboy to moral fulcrum—at first seems like a mischief-maker, bored on the job and up for fun.

The fourth wall stays permeable throughout; the actors stare out at us, puzzled at our applause….

(25) DERAILERS. ScreenRant shares “10 Superhero Deleted Scenes That Could Have Changed Everything.”

Deleted scenes in movies are fun to watch but they are even more fun to watch when they are from superhero films. Instead of arguing over which Universe you enjoy more, DC or Marvel, sit back and watch these deleted scenes and let us know what you think in the comments below. Let’s take a look at Screen Rant’s video, ten Superhero Deleted Scenes That Could Have Changed Everything. And we have the plot holes from some of your favorite movies including the X-Men series, Marvel’s Iron Man, the Hugh Jackman film Logan, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice plus many more.

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

Speculative Literature Foundation Awards 2018 Older Writers Grants

The Speculative Literature Foundation has named J Tullos Hennig and Ann Dávila Cardinal winners of the 2018 Older Writers Grant. The $500 awards support any purpose the recipients choose to benefit their work.

J Tullos Hennig, who has always possessed inveterate fascination in the myths and histories of other worlds and times, has never successfully managed to not be a storyteller—ever—despite having maintained a few professions in this world, including equestrian, dancer, teacher, and artist. Her most recent work re-imagines the legends of Robin Hood, in a historical fantasy series featuring both pagan and queer viewpoints.

Ann Dávila Cardinal, a Latina novelist and Director of Student Recruitment for Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), where she also earned her MFA in fiction, was raised surrounded by shelves full of speculative fiction thanks to her older brothers. Writing in this genre has always been her goal, and fighting bias against speculative and genre literature in the literary world is her ongoing quest—an issue that is dear to her heart. Her upcoming young adult horror novel, Five Midnights in July, will be released in June 2019 from Tor Teen.

The Speculative Literature Foundation created the Older Writers Grants to support writers who are 50 years of age or older at the time of their application, and who are just beginning to professionally publish their work. The awards are intended to aid older writers in overcoming barriers to writing speculative fiction professionally.

SLF’s Honorable Mentions for the 2018 Older Writers Grant are Kerry Rawlinson, Carolyn Charron, Laura Bailey, Vincent Czyz, and Sheelagh Brown “for their entertaining and thought-provoking submissions, which made the selection of the winners a pleasant and enjoyable process for our jurors.”

Pixel Scroll 1/14/18 Like A File Over Scrolling Pixels, I Will Lay Me Down

(1) ALL KNOWLEDGE. TASAT (There’s a Story About That) is a new community hub for applying science fiction to solve real world problems.

Accessing more than a hundred years of science fiction thought experiments, TASAT will tap into a passionate, global community of writers, scholars, librarians, and fans to crowdsource science fictional stories (across media) that may provide applicable insight into the problems we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.

Applying Science Fiction to Solve Real World Problems

Envision: You work at an agency, corporation, or NGO, or you’re a citizen who has come across something… unusual. You’ve gathered a team to make recommendations. There seems to be a clear explanation. And yet, you wonder…

…might someone have thought about this very situation, in the past? Perhaps with an alternative idea your team missed? What if, already in some archive, There’s A Story About This?

As TASAT founder David Brin explains here, far-seeing tales can help us avoid mistakes, or at least give us a wider selection of scenarios to think about.

Accessing more than a hundred years of science fiction thought experiments, TASAT taps into a passionate, global community of writers, scholars, librarians, and fans. We aim to curate a reading list applicable to problems and possibilities of tomorrow. TASAT operates on two levels…

(2) MORE LIKE A BIG GULP. Quick Sip Reviews’ Charles Payseur unveils “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2017! The ‘There’s Something in My Eye’ Sippy for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF”. I don’t quite understand all of it – perhaps you can explain it to me!

The 3rd Annual Sippy Awards keep right on moving! That’s right, the SFF awards that no one asked for and few pay attention to is back! I’ve shipped my favorite relationships, and I’ve cowered in fear before my favorite horror stories. Which means that it’s week it’s time to reduce myself to a small puddle of tears somewhat resembling a functioning human being. yes, it’s time for…
The “There’s Something in My Eye” Sippy Award 

for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF

I’m something of an emotive reader, which means that there are times when reading that a story just hits me right in the feels and I need to take a moment to recover. These are stories that, for me, are defined most by their emotional weight. By the impact they have, the ability to completely destroy all the careful emotional shields we use to keep the rest of the world at bay. These are the stories that pry open the shell of control I try surround myself in and leave me little more than a blubbering mess. So joining me in smiling through the tears and celebrating this year’s winners!

(3) BRIDGE PARTY. ConDor joins forces with SanDiegoLan.net to host the Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator game at ConDor 25, to be held January 19-21 — “Artemis Bridge Simulation at ConDor”.

Artemis is a multiplayer, multi-computer networked game for Windows computers.

Artemis simulates a spaceship bridge by networking several computers together. One computer runs the simulation and the “main screen”, while the others serve as workstations for the normal jobs a bridge officer might do, like Helm, Communication, Engineering, and Weapon Control.

Artemis is a social game where several players are together in one room (“bridge”) , and while they all work together, one player plays the Captain, a person who sits in the middle, doesn’t have a workstation, and tells everyone what to do.

San Diego LAN is a group of people who love getting together and playing PC games over LAN. We always balance the teams and we have a very friendly bunch, (typically ages 18 to 45).

(4) SF IN SOCAL. The Pasadena Museum of History will host the free exhibition “Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction & Southern California” from March 3 through September 2.

Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California… explores the history of science fiction in Southern California from 1930 to 1980, and how it interacted with the advances of science, the changes in technology, and shifts in American society. Curated by Nick Smith, president of Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the exhibition will feature historic artifacts, fine and graphic art, books and ephemera, and historic photographs.  This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The museum is at 470 W. Walnut St. , Pasadena, CA 91103.

(5) DEEP DISH. The next Great Deep Dish SFF reading in Chicago will be on March 1, 7 p.m.

The inaugural event in December at Volumes Bookcafe was reported by Mary Anne Mohanraj at the Speculative Literature Foundation.

…thanks again to all the readers and speakers (Mary Robinette Kowal, Stephen Segal, Michi Trota, Michael Moreci, Angeli Primlani, Dan Gonzalez, Sue Burke, Valya Dudycz Lupescu) and everyone else who worked to make it a success, esp. my co-host, Chris Bauer.

(6) DOCUMENTING JDA’S TROLLING. Jim C. Hines has written a lengthy summary of “Jon Del Arroz’s History of Trolling and Harassing”.

Del Arroz’s defenders claim he’s a nice guy, and accusations that he harasses or trolls people are absurd. Del Arroz told me on Facebook that he doesn’t “escalate feuds.” He claims he’s just the victim of blackballing, harassment, threats, and so on.

I’m not saying nobody has ever given Del Arroz shit online. He alleges that people once doxxed his children and sent a glitterbomb to his house. Both were done anonymously. I have no problem condemning both incidents, whoever was responsible. I’ve also heard that people mocked him for his last name, which…yeah, that just seems racist to me.

But if you look through Jon Del Arroz’s interactions with others… Well, here’s a sampling of what people are talking about when they say Del Arroz harasses, insults, and trolls others, and distorts things for publicity and what someone once described as martyrbatiuon.

My goal isn’t to trash Del Arroz, but to document a pattern of behavior.

Warning: there’s a lot of material here….

Hines does an excellent job of mapping many of JDA’s acts of harassment and misogyny over the past year.

(7) LEST WE FORGET. Hines also noticed —

(8) NUSSBAUM BRANCHES OUT. Abigail Nussbaum has launched a new series of articles at Lawyers, Guns & Money “A Political History of the Future: Introduction”.

My plan is to devote each installment to a particular work and discuss how its themes reflect current issues. Even more importantly, I want to talk about how science fiction imagines ways of ordering society that are different from the ones we know, that offer alternatives to the existing social order.

That’s by no means the norm. A lot of the time, when science fiction tries to engage with hot-button political issues, it does so in the terms of post-apocalypse or dystopia. Most climate change novels, for example, can more accurately be described as climate catastrophe novels. That’s not unjustified, obviously, but my interest is in stories that imagine functional societies, even if those societies are also flawed or predatory. And while talking about accuracy and realism in the context of science fiction worldbuilding is often just an excuse to be nitpicky and dismissive, I’m more interested in stories that show their work, that think through how a policy or an institution would come into being, and how it would affect society as a whole.

To give an example from the negative, while I enjoyed it very much as a piece of TV-making and a feminist statement, I’m not planning to write about Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (though that might change according to how the second season shakes out). When Margaret Atwood published the original novel in 1985, she constructed its gender-dystopia world in response to forces she saw around her, a combination of anti-feminist backlash, Phyllis Schlafly’s Christianist anti-women doctrine, and the Iranian revolution. That this was an incoherent patchwork didn’t matter because the focus of the novel was on Offred’s mental state, and its scope rarely extended past her confined viewpoint. The television series recreates that world more or less uncritically, and even with the gloss of topicality it layers over, the result doesn’t really hold water. That’s not a criticism of the show, which to my mind is one of the most essential pop culture artifacts of the current era. But it means that I don’t have much to say about it as a piece of political worldbuilding.

(9) PENROSE ON DARK MATTER. On January 19, The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UC San Diego and the Penrose Institute present a “Roger Penrose Lecture: New Cosmological View of Dark Matter”.

Sir Roger Penrose will 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 will explain 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. The talk will blend Roger’s accessible style with an unapologetic detailed look at the physical principles. It should be of interest to practicing physicists and lay people who enjoy taking a more detailed look at physics.

Sir Roger Penrose, Emeritus Professor at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford, winner of the Copley Medal and the Wolf Prize in Physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking, has made profound contributions encompassing geometry, black hole singularities, the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity, the structure of space-time, nature of consciousness and the origin of our Universe. In 1989 Penrose wrote The Emperor’s New Mind which challenged the premise that consciousness is computation and proposed new physics to understand it.

On January 19, 2018, 3 p.m. in Liebow Auditorium, UC San Diego. Free and open to the public (seating first-come, first-served).

(10) OUTWORLDS LIVE. Fanac.org is the place to find “Outworlds Live! The 50th issue of Outworlds”, performed at the 1987 Corflu. Not sure if I’ve covered this before, so I’ll link to it now —

Bill Bowers was one of the most respected fanzine editors of his time. He started publishing fanzines in the 1960s. His most notable fanzines were Double-Bill, edited with Bill Mallardi, and Outworlds. Outworlds was published for 70 issues. Bill chaired Corflu IV, Cincinnati (1987). A highlight of the convention was this performance of the 50th issue of Outworlds, Outworlds Live! It featured readings and performances by Bill Bowers, Art Widner, Richard Brandt, Gary Hubbard, Al Curry, Bernadette Bosky, Arthur Hlavaty, Ted White, and Stephen Leigh. Featured is art by Steve Stiles and Joan Hanke-Woods.

Here’s the beginning of a 13-video playlist:

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 14, 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth premiered.
  • January 14, 1981 — David Cronenberg’s Scanners debuted.
  • January 14, 1976 The Bionic Woman aired its first episode.
  • January 14, 2005 — The first probe to land on Saturn’s moon, Titan, signaled it survived its descent. The Huygens space probe was designed to last only minutes on Titan’s surface, but surpassed the expectations of mission managers. Huygens descended the atmosphere, contacted the surface, and transmitted for at least an hour and a half.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Mike Kennedy can see how this might be a very short game — In the Bleachers.
  • Mike Kennedy and John King Tarpinian both demand to know “How dare they go out of business!” after viewing Pearls Before Swine.
  • John King Tarpinian finds aliens have changed their plans for the Earth in Frank and Ernest.

(13) FLOWER POWER. The BBC tells “How flowering plants conquered the world” (albeit after butterflies appeared):

Scientists think they have the answer to a puzzle that baffled even Charles Darwin: How flowers evolved and spread to become the dominant plants on Earth.

Flowering plants, or angiosperms, make up about 90% of all living plant species, including most food crops.

In the distant past, they outpaced plants such as conifers and ferns, which predate them, but how they did this has has been a mystery.

New research suggests it is down to genome size – and small is better.

“It really comes down to a question of cell size and how you can build a small cell and still retain all the attributes that are necessary for life,” says Kevin Simonin from San Francisco State University in California, US.

(14) CROWDSOURCED ASTRONOMY. They hit the jackpot: “Citizen science bags five-planet haul”.

A discovery by citizen scientists has led to the confirmation of a system of five planets orbiting a far-off star.

Furthermore, the planets’ orbits are linked in a mathematical relationship called a resonance chain, with a pattern that is unique among the known planetary systems in our galaxy.

Studying the system could help unlock some mysteries surrounding the formation of planetary systems.

The results were announced at the 231st American Astronomical Society meeting.

The system was found by astronomy enthusiasts using Zooniverse, an online platform for crowdsourcing research.

(15) THE ILLUSION OF DEPTH. From Germany, “The animation genius you’ve (probably) never heard of” (videos at the link.)

The charming story of how Lotte Reiniger became one of the great pioneers of early animation.

(16) ERROR OF THE DAY. Christopher Hensley shared a discovery of Facebook.

So, while doing a legitimate work thing I found out about the greatest HTTP error code ever invented: 418 Error – I am a Teapot. It was issued in RFC 2324 (https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2324) by the IETF as part of an April Fool’s day gag in 1998. But here we are, 20 years later. We are living in an age of the Internet of Things, with networked devices of all kinds in their home. Including, internet enabled electric kettles. And, if you attempt to make an HTTP connection to that electric kettle on the TCP port it uses to communicate with the world the the standards dictate the response code 418 Error – I am a Teapot.

(17) DR. DEMENTO The Doctor has a theme album reports the LA Times “Dr. Demento, comedic song hero and unsung punk rock legend, gets his due on new album”.

The punk connection takes center stage with “Dr. Demento Covered in Punk,” an exceedingly ambitious and densely packed double album — triple in the vinyl edition — being released Jan. 12.

The album comprises 64 tracks spread over a pair of CDs, pulling together new recordings of “mad music and crazy comedy” songs long associated with the quirky radio emcee. Participants include Yankovic, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, William Shatner, Adam West, the Vandals, Fred Schneider of the B-52’s, the Misfits, Japan’s Shonen Knife, Los Straitjackets, Missing Persons, the Dead Milkmen and at least a dozen more.

(18) BAD ROBOT. Quartz reports how “This robotics hobbyist makes a living creating shitty robots”

Simone Giertz’s morning routine involves a lot of really bad robots. They fail miserably at waking her up, brushing her teeth and making her breakfast. The 25-year-old Swedish robot enthusiast has parlayed their failures into a very successful YouTube channel, and full-time job.

Quartz’ video compilation is at the link. Here’s the introductory video from her channel:

[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]