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.]

Pixel Scroll 12/14/17 Don’t Crush That Scroll, Hand Me The Pixels

(1) THE CLOCK IS DRIPPING. Mary Anne Mohanraj reminds everyone today’s the last day for becoming a founding sponsor of the Speculative Literature Foundation on Drip. Minimum is a buck a month.

The Speculative Literature Foundation encourages promising new writers, assists established writers, supports magazines and presses, and develops a greater public appreciation of speculative fiction.

(2) ANNUAL ASIMOV DEBATE. You have until December 15 at 5 p.m. Eastern to enter the lottery for the right to purchase tickets to the 2018 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. It takes place at the Hayden Planetarium in New York on Tuesday, February 13, beginning at 7 p.m.

Each year, the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate brings the finest minds in the world to the Museum to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Join host and moderator Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, for the 2018 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.

There is no purchase necessary, and no cost to enter the lottery. The lottery is randomized, and the order of entry has no effect on your chances of winning. …A full description of terms and conditions can be found here.

(3) NICOTINE OVERDOSE ON MARS. James Davis Nicoll turned the crew loose on Piper’s classic “Omnilingual” at Young People Read Old SFF. They took no prisoners!

H. Beam Piper’s career was cut short when, believing himself a failure and his career effectively over, he shot himself1. One of John W. Campbell’s stable of writers, he stands out as one of the few in that crowd willing to give women agency, even if he did not often feature one as a protagonist. Omnilingual is one of the few Piper stories with a woman lead, something I hope will distract from Piper’s stylistic quirks—the cocktail parties, the endless smoking—that tie the story’s creation to the early sixties. Presumably the people who suggested it had similar hopes. But what did my Young People think?

(4) CANADA’S ILLEGAL ALIENS. Echo Ishii’s series about old genre TV shows continues with “SF Obscure: First Wave”.

First Wave was a Canadian action/Adventure SF series that ran from 1998-2001. It ran for three seasons on the Space Channel in Canada. Yay Canada!

The plot centers around Cade Foster who’s framed for his wife’s murder and is on the run to uncover a vast alien conspiracy. From what I gathered-it took a bit to put the pieces together-the aliens kidnapped him and made him part of an experiment to test emotions or responses or something. Anyway, Foster doesn’t become their pawn and goes on the run. He is helped along by Eddie, a guy who ran a paranormal magazine and does all the computer nerd stuff. They are later joined in their quest to stop the aliens by an alien assassin turned ally named Joshua.

(5) HISTORIC ROCKET. Lookie what appears in “To Boldly Go,” the 11th and final episode of webseries Star Trek Continues (screenshot from around 44:00m) —

JJ explains:

It’s the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation won by “The Menagerie” (it’s the lucite rocket used in 1967, see screenshot). Rod Roddenberry was a big supporter of this webseries and was an extra in one of the episodes; I’m guessing that he lent it to the show as an Easter egg for fans.

As far as a prop, it’s a rocket and that’s the desk of an Admiral in a space force. I’m sure that lots of people at NASA have / had rocket and spaceship-related trinkets on their desks, too. And if you start at 44:00 and play forward, Robert Sawyer’s model display of all the starships Enterprise also appears in the Admiral’s office. (Sawyer co-wrote some of the ST:C episodes, including this one, and also appears as an extra.)

(6) THE TYPO FROM HELL. Adweek makes sure you don’t miss out when “Anomaly Goes to Hell This Holiday With Diabolical ‘Dear Satan’ Film Narrated by Patrick Stewart”. Video at the link.

Satan—the original Heat Miser!—reduces Santa Claus to a pile of ash, but ultimately saves Christmas, sort of, in this fiendishly farcical animated holiday film from Anomaly London.

The heavenly voiced Patrick Stewart narrates “Dear Satan,” portraying various characters with impressive wit and charm. Dude’s on fire throughout, basically.

… The new six-minute film begins with a little girl named Hope mistakenly asking Satan, rather than Santa, for a puppy at Christmastime. (She makes an unfortunate typo in her letter, and on the envelope, you see.) Naturally, her note goes straight to hell. And if you’re thinking the plot takes an infernal turn at that point, you’re getting warmer. Much warmer.

(7) OSCAR-WORTHY SHORTS. The Hollywood Reporter offers “Oscars: Breaking Down the 10 Animated Short Contenders”. Very little explicit sff content, however, there is a fannish tendency to think all animation is fantasy so that may not be a problem.

Revolting Rhymes

In celebration of what would be the 100th birthday of author Roald Dahl, Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer adapted his poetry collection based on classic fairy tales. Dominic West, Rose Leslie and Gemma Chan lend their voices to the likes of the Big Bad Wolf and Snow White.

(8) FEELING BETTER. Mike Kennedy recommends a video at Gizmodo, “An Undead Outbreak Summons a Stealth, Ruthless Response in Chilling Short The Plague.

It’s an otherwise quiet night when a woman hears a noise—and discovers her elderly father has wandered from his nursing home for an unannounced visit. Things then take a turn for the decidedly insane in Guillermo Carbonell’s short The Plague. Zombies are involved… but not how you’d expect.

(9) DON’T SAY HE CAN’TERBURY. The artist known as Chaucer hath some lofty ambitions:

(10) WEHRLE OBIT. Fan, artist, writer Joe Wehrle, Jr. died December 10. The Larque Press Blog has numerous examples of his work:

Joe Wehrle, Jr. is a writer and artist. His stories and artwork have appeared in the Cauliflower Catnip Pearls of Peril, Menomonee Falls Gazette, 1971 Clarion Anthology, Vampirella, Two-Gun Raconteur, Worlds of If, Galaxy and many other publications.

The family obituary is here:

Joseph J. Wehrle, Jr., 76, Punxsutawney, died Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh. Joseph was a self-employed artist working for The Digest Enthusiast. He was an illustrator, cartoonist and writer.  He enjoyed collecting comic books, original comic art and science fiction and fantasy genre books. Joseph loved jazz and blues music and loved playing the guitar and saxophone. He also loved his cat, Khufu. He is survived by a daughter, Jillian Rouse and husband Jim of Punxsutawney. Services will be private for family and are under the direction of the Deeley Funeral Home, Punxsutawney.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 14, 1984 Dune premiered.
  • December 14, 1984 Starman opened in theaters.
  • December 14, 1990 – Marvel’s Captain America (but not the movie you’re thinking of) was released in the UK. This iteration didn’t make it to the U.S. for two years, then went direct-to-video.
  • December 14, 2007 — Another film adaptation of version of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend was released. Matheson famously wondered why studios kept optioning his novel because they never once made a movie that followed the book.

(12) TIME CAPSULE. It’s not easy for humorists to keep ahead of reality.

(13) MOUSE EATS FOX. The Verge tries to figure out “What does Disney’s acquisition of Fox mean for the MCU?”

Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox’s film and TV studios in a landmark $52 billion deal. This means that the door is open for Disney to incorporate the Marvel properties previously controlled by Fox — including X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool — into its Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In its statement, Disney says the agreement will allow it to reunite these characters “with the Marvel family under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of inter-related characters and stories that audiences have shown they love.” Marvel is already planning to overhaul the MCU after the studio’s “Phase Three” arc. That will finish with a fourth and supposed final Avengers film in 2019, which will end the Infinity War story. “There will be two distinct periods. Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after,” Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has previously said.

(14) CHEAPER BY THE HUNDRED. Here’s a diagram showing who owns what Marvel characters after the Disney/Fox merger.

(15) BLUNDER DOWN UNDER. Michael J. Walsh gifted Filers with this link to the recipe for Vegemite Icy Poles, a sweet treat that violates the Geneva Convention. The instructions begin –

COMBINE in a saucepan the sugar, cocoa, honey, VEGEMITE, corn flour and milk.

(16) SURVIVOR. The BBC profiles the plesiosaur: “Sea reptile fossil gives clues to life in ancient oceans”.

A new fossil is shedding light on the murky past of the sea reptiles that swam at the time of the dinosaurs.

With tiny heads on long necks and four pointed flippers, plesiosaurs have been likened to Scotland’s mythical Loch Ness monster.

The German discovery proves that these sea creatures were alive more than 200 million years ago during the Triassic.

The fossilised bones give clues to how the animal survived a mass extinction that wiped out most living things….

By being warm-blooded, plesiosaurs were able to roam the open seas in late Triassic times.

”Warm-bloodedness probably was the key to both their long reign and their survival of a major crisis in the history of life, the extinction events at the end of the Triassic,” said Prof Sander.

Plesiosaurs were not as hard hit by the extinction as shallow water and coastal animals. Their fossils have been found all over the world in Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks.

(17) ACCIDENTAL FANFIC. People are loving it — “Harry Potter gets a weird new chapter from a computer”.

Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash is a new story created by a predictive keyboard.

“He saw Harry and immediately began to eat Hermione’s family,” runs one line from the ridiculous – and funny – tale.

It was created by the team at Botnik, who fed all seven books through their computer programme.

(18) ROBOCRIMINAL. Jackie Chan fights somebody who looks vaguely like the lovechild of Voldemort and the Terminator in this Bleeding Steel trailer.

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

Erin Roberts Wins SLF’s 2017 Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants

Erin Roberts

Erin Roberts is the recipient of the Speculative Fiction Foundation’s 2017 Diverse Writers Grant and 2017 Diverse Worlds Grant. The two $500 awards support any purpose that a writer recipient chooses to benefit their work. Both awards are intended to foster the creation of speculative fiction work rich in diversity by facilitating completion of new, in-progress work, rather than recognizing already-published work.

Roberts said, “Winning an award for writing about diverse worlds as a person of color is a special honor for me because I know that one of the reasons that I am drawn to and able to tell the stories that I do is that because I am a black woman in America.  I love filling my stories with the type of people I grew up with, that I am friends with, that I live and love and laugh with, with all their joys and sorrows and quirks and flaws.” She writes the stories that she does, “because of who I am.” Her website is Writing Wonder.

  • 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.”

Erin Roberts’ work has been published or is forthcoming in Podcastle and The Dark. Her non-fiction has been publishing in Tor.com and in People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy, People of Color Take Over Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, and Cascadia Subduction Zone. She is an MFA candidate at Stonecoast and a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and is a writer or editor for Zombies, Run!, Stonecoast Review, and Escape Pod.

Roberts says, “I have always been drawn to things beyond the world we see around us.” She says she writes stories of outcasts, and about “of the burdens placed on people by the societies they live in, of the ones who get left behind when technology takes a step forward.”

In 2016, there were 12 applications for the grants, which are awarded by a volunteer jury based on merit. This year’s jurors were led by Managing Director Malon Edwards.

The Honorable Mentions for the Diverse Writers grant were Lindsay Wong, Nibedita Sen, Maria Isabel Alvarez, and Julie Steinbacher, while the Honourable Mentions for the Diverse Worlds grant were Nia Davenport, LA Davis, and Julie Steinbacher.

The 2015 winner of both grants was author Carmen Maria Machado, whose short fiction collection, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories, was a finalist for the National Book Award. The 2016 winners were Gabriel Thibodeau and Eden Royce.

Founded in January, 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as four awards made annually to writers.

[Based on the press release.]

Pixel Scroll 6/28/17 Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul, I Really Love That Pixel Scroll

(1) MINIONS GETTING PAID. The Seattle law firm Rekhi & Wolk, P.S. sends word they have settled the class action they were litigating against Emerald City Comicon (See Scroll for 5/18/16, item #13).

Former volunteer Jerry Brooks alleged Emerald City Comicon violated Washington State law by failing to pay people classified as volunteers – which they called “minions” — the minimum wages they were owed under Washington laws for performing services at the 2014 and/or 2015 Emerald City Comicons in Seattle.

The defendant denied the claim, reported Seattlish, emphasizing that “…The volunteers not only willingly enter into an agreement stating that they’ll work for free, but the culture of the convention fosters a competitiveness for the volunteer positions.”

According to the FAQ about the class action settlement, Emerald City Comicon will pay $493,227.84 to resolve all claims, some of which will go to attorneys, the plaintiff, and the settlement administrator, with the remaining approximately $348,397.33 to be distributed to Class Members who submit Claim Forms by July 31. (Click on the FAQ for additional information.)

Remembering this was at bottom a complaint about unpaid wages, it’s only fair that payroll taxes will be levied on the distributions:

One-half (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as wages and subject to normal payroll tax withholdings and payments. The other one-half (50%) of each award to a Class Member will be treated as non-wages on which there will be no tax withholding.

(2) BARNUM. The Verge introduces the new trailer: “Watch the first trailer for Hugh Jackman’s movie musical The Greatest Showman”

The first trailer for 20th Century Fox’s P.T. Barnum biopic and original musical The Greatest Showman is here. Hugh Jackman plays Barnum, a charming, down-on-his-luck guy in a top hat, hanging out in Connecticut in the early 1800s. From what we can see, he’s going to be smooching Michelle Williams, teaming up with Zac Efron, and eventually inventing the circus as we know it. “Every one of us is special, and nobody is like anyone else. That’s the point of my show,” he tells a child. Sure! I’m buying it.

 

(3) YOUNG KING. Once upon a time Stephen King came to hang out at sf conventions. Someone with a camera was present when he spoke at the 1983 DeepSouthCon. Next best thing to a time machine.

Raw photojournalist footage of a panel discussion from a SF/Horror convention held in Knoxville in 1983. Participants include Stephen King, Peter Straub, Karl Edward Wagner, Charles Grant, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Whitley Streiber, Dennis Etchison, and others.

 

(4) BROSNAN ZINES SOUGHT. Twenty-two years after his death, John Brosnan has inspired a devoted Australian fan to want to read all his stuff, even his Sixties fanzines. “John Brosnan’s 1960s pre-internet fanzines sought by new fan at National Library”.

The work of an almost forgotten Australian writer has been unearthed and made available to a new audience following the chance discovery of a 1960s fanzine in a comic collection at the National Library of Australia (NLA).

Perth-born John Brosnan (1947-2005) specialised in science-fiction….

His sci-fi fanzine Big Scab was a joint winner of the 1974 UK Nova Award.

NLA cataloguer Alison Carriage became fascinated with Brosnan’s work after stumbling across an issue of his 1960s fanzine Why Bother? in the library’s John Ryan comic collection.

She was struck by the “wonderfully entertaining” way he wrote and the insight the fanzine provided into the pre-internet era.

Brosnan’s accounts of everyday life include getting mugged, looking for a job and being bitten by a tick.

“I kind of compare it to Seinfeld — the episodes were about nothing, but they were nothings you could relate to and therefore you found them really funny,” Ms Carriage said.

“His work’s still relatable and still really important.”

(5) AMAZONIAN LOVE. Hope Nicholson and Karen K. Burrows tell SciFiNow readers “Let’s be Straight: Wonder Woman is into Women”.

Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Mystique, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy are names that even non-comic book fans can identify, thanks to their films.

Aside from being leading ladies of comics (Catwoman, the oldest at 77 years old, our pal Harley Quinn a millennial baby at just 24 years old), each of these characters have another thing in common: they’re bisexual in the pages of (some) of their comics, but not yet identified as such in their movie counterparts.

Despite increased representation in the source comics, more recognizable queer characters rarely cross that barrier to film. Representation matters in every form – but blockbuster films have a greater reach than comics. Confirming in worldwide media that characters who have been part of the popular consciousness for decades can also be queer would be a true step forward!

Let’s take a closer look at the queer history of these characters and think about what might have been – and what still could!

(6) THE FILMING LAMP IS LIT. An update on item #15 from the May 16 Scroll: George R.R. Martin announced progress on the TV adaptation of another of his stories:

The SyFy Channel has just greenlit the pilot for a proposed NIGHTFLYERS series, based on my 1980 Hugo-losing novella, one of my SF/ horror hybrids.

(7) SUPPORT DIVERSE GRANTS. The Speculative Literature Foundation is raising money at Generosity.com to fund their Diverse Worlds & Diverse Writers Grants.

The Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writers Grants were launched in 2013 after an initial fundraiser covered the grants for three years. Help us keep both grants going for five more years!

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.

So far they have raised $695 towards the $5,000 goal.

(8) BOND OBIT. Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond died June 27 at the age of 91.

Bond published his first book, A Bear Called Paddington, in 1958.

The character, a marmalade-loving bear from “deepest, darkest Peru” who comes to live in London, went on to inspire a series of books, an animated TV series and a successful 2014 film.

Born in Newbury in 1926, Bond began his career at the BBC and later worked on Blue Peter as a cameraman.

He served with the RAF and the army during World War II and began writing in 1945 while stationed in Cairo.

More than 35 million Paddington books have been sold worldwide. The most recent, Paddington’s Finest Hour, was published in April.

(9) THE FUNDAMENTAL THINGS REMAIN AS TIME GOES BY. The Filer who sent the link said they were surprised that Steven Johnson’s article for the New York Times, “Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us)”, doesn’t mention The Three-Body Problem.

In Nov. 16, 1974, a few hundred astronomers, government officials and other dignitaries gathered in the tropical forests of Puerto Rico’s northwest interior, a four-hour drive from San Juan. The occasion was a rechristening of the Arecibo Observatory, at the time the largest radio telescope in the world. The mammoth structure — an immense concrete-and-aluminum saucer as wide as the Eiffel Tower is tall, planted implausibly inside a limestone sinkhole in the middle of a mountainous jungle — had been upgraded to ensure its ability to survive the volatile hurricane season and to increase its precision tenfold.

To celebrate the reopening, the astronomers who maintained the observatory decided to take the most sensitive device yet constructed for listening to the cosmos and transform it, briefly, into a machine for talking back. After a series of speeches, the assembled crowd sat in silence at the edge of the telescope while the public-address system blasted nearly three minutes of two-tone noise through the muggy afternoon heat. To the listeners, the pattern was indecipherable, but somehow the experience of hearing those two notes oscillating in the air moved many in the crowd to tears.

That 168 seconds of noise, now known as the Arecibo message, was the brainchild of the astronomer Frank Drake, then the director of the organization that oversaw the Arecibo facility. The broadcast marked the first time a human being had intentionally transmitted a message targeting another solar system. The engineers had translated the missive into sound, so that the assembled group would have something to experience during the transmission. But its true medium was the silent, invisible pulse of radio waves, traveling at the speed of light.

It seemed to most of the onlookers to be a hopeful act, if a largely symbolic one: a message in a bottle tossed into the sea of deep space. But within days, the Royal Astronomer of England, Martin Ryle, released a thunderous condemnation of Drake’s stunt. By alerting the cosmos of our existence, Ryle wrote, we were risking catastrophe. Arguing that ‘‘any creatures out there [might be] malevolent or hungry,’’ Ryle demanded that the International Astronomical Union denounce Drake’s message and explicitly forbid any further communications. It was irresponsible, Ryle fumed, to tinker with interstellar outreach when such gestures, however noble their intentions, might lead to the destruction of all life on earth….

But in the 40 years since Drake transmitted the message, just over a dozen intentional messages have been sent to the stars, most of them stunts of one fashion or another, including one broadcast of the Beatles’ ‘‘Across the Universe’’ to commemorate the 40th anniversary of that song’s recording. (We can only hope the aliens, if they exist, receive that message before they find the Hitler footage.)…

Now this taciturn phase may be coming to an end, if a growing multidisciplinary group of scientists and amateur space enthusiasts have their way. A newly formed group known as METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), led by the former SETI scientist Douglas Vakoch, is planning an ongoing series of messages to begin in 2018. And Milner’s Breakthrough Listen endeavor has also promised to support a ‘‘Breakthrough Message’’ companion project, including an open competition to design the messages that we will transmit to the stars. But as messaging schemes proliferate, they have been met with resistance. The intellectual descendants of Martin Ryle include luminaries like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, and they caution that an assumption of interstellar friendship is the wrong way to approach the question of extraterrestrial life. They argue that an advanced alien civilization might well respond to our interstellar greetings with the same graciousness that Cortés showed the Aztecs, making silence the more prudent option.

If you believe that these broadcasts have a plausible chance of making contact with an alien intelligence, the choice to send them must rank as one of the most important decisions we will ever make as a species. Are we going to be galactic introverts, huddled behind the door and merely listening for signs of life outside? Or are we going to be extroverts, conversation-starters? And if it’s the latter, what should we say?

(10) CARNEGIE MEDAL. Colson Whitehead accepted the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago on June 24. The award was announced in January.

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. the previous year. The winners (one for fiction, one for nonfiction) are announced at an event at the ALA Midwinter Meeting; winning authors receive a $5,000 cash award, and two finalists in each category receive $1,500.

Michael Chabon’s non-sf novel Moonglow was one of the fiction runner-ups.

(11) UNACQUIRED TASTES. Joe Sherry tackles the Hugo-nominated novels at Nerds of a Feather. Too Like the Lightning landed below No Award on his ballot, Death’s End just above. Jemisin’s novel ranks first.

Too Like the Lightning: I tried, folks.  I tried. Except for Death’s End, this was the finalist I was more concerned about reading. Something about the futuristic utopia written with stylistic flourishes harkening back to the 1800’s (despite being set in the 2400’s) just didn’t work for me. I know I gave up on the book too soon, but three chapters / 40 pages seemed to be enough to know that I didn’t care enough to even to the central mystery / conceit / story of Too Like the Lightning. Reading other reviews suggest that there is richness to be found, if only I take the time to push through. Perhaps I will try again in the future (after all, my reading of This-Census Taker changed on a second go-round), especially if this happens to win the Hugo Award. Though, given how other awards have shaken out so far this year, this seems somewhat unlikely. I do subscribe to the idea that sometimes we come to a book at the wrong time to appreciate or enjoy the work and coming to it again at a different time results in a different and stronger appreciation. Hopefully that’ll happen here, otherwise this is just a miss for me.

(12) MÍEVILLE. Camestros Felapton is also posting about his award reading: “Review: This Census Taker – Hugo2017 Novella”

China Miéville’s novella This Census Taker is not a roman à clef although it does feature keys but it has the aesthetics of an unsolvable puzzle. The story points at things as if they are clues but those elements (the deep hole into which things are thrown, the father’s affectless violence, the boy/narrator’s inconsistent recollections) don’t ever come together as a finished puzzle. The novella is like a painting of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle – the edges artfully done but with the looming chasm of the centre incomplete.

(13) DOG YEARS. Felapton has worked up a new diagram tracing how the Puppy movements are playing out, “Rise of the Scrappy Doos”.

In terms of existing movements they are closest to the Superversive movement and the Pulp Revolutions movement. Those two movements* can be seen as offshoots of the Rabid Puppies but this can be misleading. The Rabids had a core of straight Alt-Right griefers willing to do exactly what Vox Day told them to do for the lulz. Superversive began independently of the Rabids but has attached itself to Castalia for promotion and is focused on literary works (although of a right leaning nature). Pulp Revolution arose from the Castalia House blog and hence is more closely connected to Rabid Puppies but again is not the same as the griefing group.

[eta – paragraph went astray] Whereas the Rabids collectively were not particularly interested in the field of SFF, the Scrappy-Doos have more in common with the Sad Puppies in so far as they tend to be actively involved in writing, publishing and books. In this sense they are more like other groupings in fandom. However, where significant voices in Sad Puppies (Correia, Torgersen, Hoyt, Freer) had had some success in trad-publishing (mainly centred around Baen Books), the Scrappy Doos are involved with small publishing groups or self-published.

(14) SPUD ON WHEELS. Marek Baczynski told his YouTube followers:

I made a self driving potato. And then named him “Pontus” and adopted him as a pet. This went well. By popular demand, I wrote a detailed list of parts, you can find it in this reddit comment: https://www.reddit.com/r/shittyrobots…

One commenter summed up the experience:

I’m not quite sure of what I just saw but it was highly emotional to me and I loved it.

 

(15) TAPPING OUT. The step after psychometric ID? “This man had the chip from his travel card implanted under his skin”.

This Australian can now tap in and out at train stations with a travel card chip implanted in his left hand.

Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow (yes, that’s his legal name) says he had it put under his skin by a professional piercer….

“If someone stole my wallet I could still get home,” he told ABC News.

It’s not the best super power in the world, but it’s better than nothing.

(16) CELEBRATE THE 42ND ANNIVERSARY OF JAWS. “We’re gonna need a bigger beer can,” says Andrew Porter. So popular they’re now on backorder — “Honor the Man Jaws Poster”.

Jaws fans have seen this poster in liquor stores and begged the clerks to buy them… They’ve sent emails and called our contact line in search of this awesome poster too. Maybe you’ve even bargained with us at promotions to no avail… Well, here at Narragansett Beer, we’re all about making dreams come true which is why we’ve printed large 27″x40″ limited edition wall posters just for you!

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dawn Sabados, Lis Carey, elusis, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to  File 770 contributing editor of the day Charon D.]

Mohanraj Wins Seat As Library Trustee

Mary Anne Mohanraj has been elected a Library Trustee for The Village of Oak Park, IL. When voters went to the polls on April 4th four seats were open, and she received the second-highest number of votes out of the 10 candidates for the board.

Author, academic, journal editor, and founder and director of the Speculative Literature Foundation, Mohanraj responded to Trump’s election by becoming more active in local politics. She attended an Oak Park Progressive Women meeting and was approached about running for office, eventually deciding to enter the Library Trustee race.

Here is video of a candidates’ forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on March 14. Mohanraj first speaks at 6:15.