Pixel Scroll 7/15/18 Old Filer’s Scroll Of Practical Pixels

(1) AMERICA’S FAVORITE DOCTOR. Welby? Casey? Kildare? Guess Who….? Thursday on BBC America:

Have TARDIS, will time travel: The new special “Doctor Who: The Lost Episode” uses remastered footage and new animation to reconstruct an unfinished 1970s-era tale from the venerable British science fiction drama penned by “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author Douglas Adams and starring Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor. 8 p.m. BBC America

(2) DEAL ALL THE CARDS. The Doctor figures in “The Pigs in Space” sketch at The Muppets Take the O2 (Arena) show, too.

(3) TASTE TEST. Cat Rambo turns in another sweet critique to The Green Man Review: “The Prettiest Candy: Albanese World’s Best Mini Gummi Butterflies”.

Having recently discovered that my favorite gummi bears were possibly made with child labor, I went looking for a substitute recently and picked up a bag of Albanese Mini Gummi Butterflies.

Candy is often not pretty, particularly when chocolate is involved, but these candies, shaped like butterflies, look like little stained glass jewels. The flavors are blue raspberry, cherry, grape, green apple, orange, and strawberry, with the usual scheme of color vaguely indicating flavor….

(4) SHADOW CLARKE JURY DELIBERATIONS. Fell a little behind linking to these posts…..

…I went a bit overboard (OH GOD HELP I CAN’T STOP) but you get the point. There’s a completely functional and immensely fun version of this story that puts it solidly in the Hunger Games/Limetown bracket of ‘tough heroic female lead discovers something terrible and vows to defeat it.’ I love stories like those, especially when they’re folded into this kind of post-apocalyptic subset of fiction.

But what Curtis does here is untidier, harder to achieve, newer and ultimately more rewarding. Nerissa is living day to day after losing everything, so she isn’t party to what would be the central plot in a more traditional dystopia. The parts she discovers, especially the transhumanism elements of the final act, feel earned and contextualized precisely because she discovers them when she does….

 As I said when making my selection of books to review for the Shadow Clarke, I didn’t expect to see Ian McDonald’s Luna: Wolf Moon on the shortlist. Having read it, I don’t have any direct criticism of the Clarke jury for neglecting it but that is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the novel. In fact, I enjoyed it very much and also its predecessor, Luna: New Moon, which I read immediately beforehand. That, of course, is one of the problems with considering a sequel or volume from a series for an award; it is going to be difficult to judge it without knowledge of the preceding story. Especially, when, as in this case, we are dealing with the middle volume in a trilogy which directly picks up strands from the first volume and also does recognisable work in setting up its successor. Therefore, despite the fact that Luna: Wolf Moon contains a strong narrative arc of its own and leaves the reader feeling as satisfied as if they have read a standalone novel, it is nonetheless not directly comparable because it is not entirely self-contained. Experience suggests that judges are generally inclined to favour the single-volume work (and on a practical level they are probably unwilling to read earlier series volumes on top of lengthy submission lists).

To kick off my Shadow Clarke experience, I’ve started with John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, a novel based on a singularly intriguing premise. In a far distant future, humanity exists in an interplanetary empire called the Interdependency, its far-flung outposts connected by the Flow: a series of natural space-time currents that facilitate fast travel between different parts of the universe. As the Flow exists without concern for human planetary preferences – and as the Flow route to Earth was lost centuries ago – the majority of people live underground, in planetary habitats or in space stations along these Flow routes, with trade and travel controlled by aristocratic Guild families. Only one habitable world exists: the planet of End, so-called because it’s the most distant realm in the Interdependency, accessible only by a single pair of Flow streams connecting it to Hub, where the Emperox rules. But the Flow, so long assumed stable, is collapsing, threatening the survival of the entire Interdependency – and, as a consequence, of the human race….

…When I originally added Water & Glass to my short list, I suspected that the plot’s concern with a group of (largely European-coded) survivors onboard a submarine, the Baleen, would herald “an already present anxiety about intimacy, trauma, and reproductive concerns.” Given its thematic concerns from the blurb, I guessed that as a Noah’s Ark tale, the plot would likely revolve around questions of “precariousness and interdependent survival, resettling, and the possibility or repopulation or extinction,” though within the frameworks of the novel itself they were unable to gather more than a few animals, rather than any idea of two of a wide variety. Since reproduction felt central to Water & Glass’ concerns, the blurb itself led me to worry about the likelihood of queerphobia or eugenics in play, and unfortunately this assumption is almost entirely borne out. While queerness is entirely and frustratingly absented from this narrative (its own form of queerphobia), a concern with eugenics and human evolution through human-animal gene splicing is one of the grand revelations of the piece….

Dreams Before the Start of Time is beautifully written. The prose is clear, sometimes sparse, quite subtle in the way it provides a smooth emotional surface whilst signalling a great depth of feeling within the many characters. It is also an excellent science fiction novel-of-ideas, with clear themes and careful working out of the societal implications of new technology. How wonderful! …

American War has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

Rich with warmth and suspense and surprise, Spaceman of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish. Very seldom has a novel this profound taken readers on a journey of such boundless entertainment and sheer fun. It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

HUMANKIND IS EXTINCT.

Wiped out in a global uprising by the very machines made to serve them. Now the world is controlled by OWIs — vast mainframes that have assimilated the minds of millions of robots.

But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality, and Brittle is one of the holdouts.

Left to my own devices, it’s rare for me to write criticism for books I haven’t finished. If I find a book boring or if it simply isn’t for me, there’s little motive to write a partial review to that effect, and so I don’t say anything; alternatively, if a work annoys me so much that I want to nitpick it in detail, I usually spite-read the entirety to be sure my facts are in order. In this instance, however, I feel justified in submitting criticism based on partial reads for two main reasons. Firstly, the Shadow Clarke jury is, by design and definition, reactive: we are here to pass judgement on award selections that have already been made by other people, and to do so in only 300-500 words per book. That being so, while we’ve certainly been given the scope and opportunity to write longer, more in-depth criticisms if we want, at base, we’ve been asked to provide a pass/fail grade on whether we feel a particular book merited its inclusion on the shortlist, with only a cursory explanation as to why.

Which leads to the second point: we are doing this on a fairly tight schedule which – for me, personally – overlaps with packing up my house and family in preparation for an international move. Work on the Shadow Clarke is unpaid, done as a labour of love for the genre; and while I’m happy to participate on those conditions, I am not a masochist….

Reading American War directly after Borne is an interesting experience, if not exactly a cheerful one. Where Vandermeer’s novel carefully files the comfort of specific geography off every element of it’s world, El Akkad builds his dystopian America in painful familiarity. North and South, Blue and Red. CNN and Fox. The political and ideological dividing lines that it’s impossible to avoid in the hourly news cycle are the frame work for El Akkad’s novel. Or at the very least, the foundation.

In a near-future London, Millie Dack places her hand on her belly to feel her baby kick, resolute in her decision to be a single parent. Across town, her closest friend—a hungover Toni Munroe—steps into the shower and places her hand on a medic console. The diagnosis is devastating.

In this stunning, bittersweet family saga, Millie and Toni experience the aftershocks of human progress as their children and grandchildren embrace new ways of making babies. When infertility is a thing of the past, a man can create a child without a woman, a woman can create a child without a man, and artificial wombs eliminate the struggles of pregnancy. But what does it mean to be a parent? A child? A family?

Through a series of interconnected vignettes that spans five generations and three continents, this emotionally taut story explores the anxieties that arise when the science of fertility claims to deliver all the answers.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…Cargill is a screenwriter first and foremost and its impossible not to see the influence of his primary craft here. That’s not a criticism either, there’s no sense of this being a lightly expanded movie treatment designed to be dropped onto a producer’s desk as an unusually fancy leave behind. Rather, this is a book steeped in the iconography and tempo of modern American cinema and that’s both interesting and not always a good thing for book or reader….

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.

At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

…The greatest problem for me with Gather the Daughters is that no one is allowed to behave or think or speak like an adult. (We have only to think of the depth of field achieved by Margaret Atwood in her characterisation of The Handmaid’s Tale to see how Melamed’s novel is deficient in this regard.) A narrative that depends on compliance will inevitably run out of steam, as this one does. History has proved to us time and again that holding down a dictatorship is difficult work – sooner rather than later the peasants begin to uncover the injustices and deceptions perpetrated against them, and start to revolt. You have to kill a lot of people to keep these systems going, and even so your days as a despot are numbered from the beginning. On the island, the only reason nothing has come unstuck for the Wanderers so far is because everyone else in the community insists on behaving like characters in a YA dystopia….

It has been short-listed for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke award. A selection of our panel of shadow jurors respond to the novel below…

What is it I look for in science fiction? The answer will be different for everyone, of course, and some who followed last year’s Shadow Clarke project may have come away with the impression that I don’t really like science fiction at all, that I’ll always find something to gripe about because that’s the kind of critic I am.

The truth is that I want books to be brilliant, and that’s what I go in hoping, every time. Most of all I hope to be shocked and surprised by a new voice or a new idea or a new way with words, to be seduced by science fiction all over again. Although Jeff VanderMeer can scarcely be described as a new voice, the effect of reading Borne has been transfiguring, like water after drought. After a long dry spell in which I honestly thought I’d had it with the genre, encountering Borne has left me on a high, inspired to join in the conversation once again.

(5) EXERCISE YOUR FRANCHISE. One of File 770’s self-imposed duties is to chronicle the many genre awards. Few are as exotic as Chuck Wendig’s — “Awkward Author Contest 2018: Winner, And Now It’s Your Turn”. He has picked JD Buffington as the first winner, and called on his blog readers to vote on the other entries.

Here are the rest — there are 40 more submissions.

They are utterly weird and wonderful. You will find some familiar faces in here, perhaps.

Your job now is:

Pick your favorite.

Just one.

JUST ONE.

Go to the comments section below.

Type in the number of your favorite photo — the number that corresponds with the photo in Flickr. Aka, the photo’s title.

That’s it.

Type nothing else, or your vote may not be counted.

Do not choose two.

Choose one, type only the number.

We’ll keep voting open till Wednesday, July 25th.

Enjoy. Vote. See you on the other side.

(6) COMICS SECTION.

  • A bad pun produced by a great mashup of comic and movie references in Brevity.

(7) BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS. Business Insider lists “15 books famous scientists think you should read”.

We compiled a list of book recommendations from a handful of illustrious minds by combing the web for quotes, checking out personal blogs, and just asking them directly. The picks below come from popular scientists including author and television personality Bill Nye, surgeon-turned-writer Siddhartha Mukherjee, and globe-trotting primatologist Jane Goodall.

The books they’ve recommended range from high fantasy, like Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” to canonical, like Plato’s seminal work “The Republic.”

Here are 15 books that brilliant scientists consider must-reads…

(8) AIR CAB. No discussion of what fares will be: “Rolls Royce develops propulsion system for flying taxi”.

Rolls said the initial concept for EVTOL used gas turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, specially designed to have a low noise profile.

Its wings would be able to rotate 90 degrees, enabling the vehicle to take off or land vertically. It could also use existing heliports and airports.

“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” the firm said.

(9) PROJECT LAUNCHED. The BBC reports — “Lift-off for Scotland: Sutherland to host first UK spaceport”.

Lockheed has made no secret of its desire to bring the Electron rocket to Scotland. Currently, this vehicle flies out of New Zealand.

A British version of the rocket would have an upper-stage developed and built at LM’s UK HQ in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

“This is a defining moment for UK Space,” a spokesperson for the company told BBC News. “Lockheed Martin has been working with Britain for over 80 years and we stand ready to support the development of UK launch capability should our extensive experience in developing space infrastructure be called upon.”

(10) INFLUENTIAL ANIME. In the Washington Post, Hau Chu looks at the 30th anniversary of Akira (first released in Japan on July 15, 1988) and sees it as “inspiring a generation of works to come”, including “Stranger Things,” a Kanye West music video, and Rian Johnson’s Looper: “Why the pioneering Japanese anime ‘Akira’ is still relevant 30 years later”.

For the film’s cyberpunk look, Otomo drew from his own pop culture obsessions, including “Blade Runner,” which influenced the towering skyscrapers of Neo Tokyo, and “Tron,” whose neon-illuminated motorcycles inspired the hordes of biker gangs.

Otomo had been a respected illustrator of manga, Japanese comics. But for “Akira,” instead of trying to match his anime peers in Japan, he was working from European comic artists such as Moebius — an influential artist for the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Otomo’s drawings for “Akira” were distinctive for their realism; he used lighting, color and an attention to detail to create a vivid, lived-in space.

(11) DRAGONS FOREVER. In August, the USPS will issue a set of stamps featuring dragons: “Postal Service to Feature Mythological Creatures on Stamps at APS National Summer Convention Stamp Show”.

The U.S. Postal Service will be joined by the American Philatelic Society (APS) to unveil four colorful stamp designs of 16 Forever stamps depicting dragons — the high-flying, fire-breathing mythological creatures that have roamed our imaginations for millennia — at the APS national summer convention and stamp show Aug. 9-12 in Columbus, OH.

“We’re very excited to bring these beautiful stamps to the 132nd annual APS convention,” said U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner. “This is one of the premier stamp shows in America and serves as an excellent platform to showcase these special stamps.”

…The new stamps will be issued as a pane of 16 stamps showcasing one of four designs: a green fire-breathing dragon towering over a medieval-inspired castle; a purple dragon with orange wings and sharp black armor on its back snaking around a white castle; a black dragon with green wings and green armor on its back swooping past a ship on the sea; and a wingless orange dragon weaving its way around a pagoda.

The stamps feature digital illustrations created by artist Don Clark of Invisible Creature studio.

(12) TRAILER PARK. 7 Splinters in Time — now in theaters.

Directed by: Gabriel Judet-Weinshel Detective Darius Lefaux is called to identify a body that is identical to him. As he dives into the harrowing case, different versions of himself begin to emerge and haunting memories of lives not lived fill his mind. Darius soon realizes that not all versions of himself are good and that he must find his other self, before it finds him.

 

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

Royal Mail Issuing Star Wars: The Last Jedi Stamps

Britain’s Royal Mail will issue a set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi commemorative stamps on October 12.

STAR WARS:THE LAST JEDI, is blasting its way onto cinema screens from 14 December 2017. To celebrate, we’re proud to announce eight new STAR WARS stamps, limited-edition collectibles and gifts, packed with friendly (and not so friendly) characters.

Beautifully illustrated by UK digital artist, Malcolm Tween, some of the stamps feature secret details, revealed only by UV light.

The iconic stamps, first day covers, and related souvenirs can be pre-ordered now.

Pixel Scroll 5/5/17 Precog Ergo Sum

(1) AND THEY’RE OFF. Fictional horses, ranked by their chances. Emily Temple handicaps the field in “Who Will Win The Literary Kentucky Derby?”  at LitHub. Finishing at the back of the field….

The Skin Horse, of The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams

“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces.”

Adding the fact that toy horses are generally smaller than normal horses, not to mention fantasy horses, it seems unlikely that such a creature could beat any of the others listed here in a race. At least he’s wise, though. Not to mention Real. Imagine him, all Real and worn and loved, his little legs all seamy, limping across the finish line in the dimming afternoon, long after everyone else has gone home…no, you’re crying.

(2) STICKING TO IT. Canada will be issuing another new set of Star Trek stamps this year, featuring the five captains with their ships. Available from Canada post’s website here.

The five legendary leaders of Starfleet stand as the paragons of excellence: Kirk (William Shatner), Picard (Patrick Stewart), Sisko (Avery Brooks), Archer (Scott Bakula) and Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) are featured on this collectible pane of 5 stamps.

But a hero is nothing without an obstacle, a threat or an antagonist. No villain has tested our protagonists as much as their infamous counterparts: Khan, Locutus of Borg, Dukat, Dolim and the Borg Queen, who shadow the heroes on the stamps.

This pane pits each legendary hero against their nemesis on a stylized background containing their respective starships navigating the cold and dark expanse of Federation space. The wormhole from Deep Space Nine also makes a looming appearance.

The only thing more stunning than this mini-poster is a phaser.

(3) GEEK GENESIS. Patrick Read Johnson’s long-awaited Biopic about being the first Star Wars Geek! Opening 5-25-17 everywhere!!!

(4) SIX EASY SLICES. Cat amanuensis Camestros Felapton finds inspiration in the kitchen: “Timothy the Talking Cat Presents: How to cook a frozen pizza the Hugo way”.

Frozen pizza: the forbidden food. Yet these instructions defeat me. Yes, I, a cat who can field strip an AR-15 in the dark and without the aid of opposable thumbs, am incapable of reading these tiny instructions or operating the big heaty kitchen box thingy.

Time to turn to wiser heads. Who better than the six nominated writers for the Hugo 2017 Best Writey Book Prize!

If it worked for Bret Harte, why not Timothy?

Box’s End: The Three Pizza Problem

Yun Tianming listened to the radio from his hospital bed. The United Nations had jointly formed a resolution to condemn the doctrine known as ‘not being arsed to cook anything nutritious’. With the Trisolans a hundred years away from Earth, humanity had, in despair, stopped making an effort to cook anything decent….

(5) WE’RE GOING TO THE VOLCANO TO BLOW UP ROBOTS. National Geographic has changed a lot since I was a kid: “Robot vs. Volcano: ‘Sometimes It’s Just Fun to Blow Stuff Up’”.

“Sharkcano.” It’s not the title of some campy summer blockbuster, but rather a real-world phenomenon that went viral in 2015, when scientists on a National Geographic expedition found sharks living inside one of the most active underwater volcanoes on Earth. Not surprisingly, the team was eager to go back and learn more, but how do you explore an environment that could easily kill you? You send in robots, of course.

(6) ALL’S WELLS. Martians meet The Mudlark. “BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series” says The Verge.

Earlier today, the BBC announced a number of new shows, including a three-part series based on H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. The show is scheduled to go into production next spring, and it appears that, unlike most modern adaptations, it will be set in the Victorian era.

The series will be written by screenwriter Peter Hartness, who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Victorian-era fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for the network, as well as a handful of Doctor Who episodes.

(7) DYING FOR DUMPLINGS. Scott Edelman dines on dumplings and discusses writing with Brenda Clough in Episode 36 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

During last year’s Capclave in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Brenda Clough tantalized me with tales of JDS Shanghai Famous Food, telling me they made some of the best soup dumplings in the D.C. area. So when it was time for her appearance on Eating the Fantastic, how could we go anywhere else?

Brenda has published short fiction in Analog, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, my own Science Fiction Age, and many others, and was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for her novella “May Be Some Time.” She’s also written many novels across multiple series, and teaches writing workshops at the Writers Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

 

Brenda Clough

Scott also says the future holds good things in store: “Check out the five guests I managed to record with during StokerCon!”

If you’re hungry for more, come back in two weeks when my guest will be Cynthia Felice, who’ll be followed by five episodes recorded during the recent StokerCon: William F. Nolan, Elizabeth Hand, Dennis Etchison, Nancy Holder, and George R. R. Martin.

(8) FONDLY REMEMBERED. This video was presented at Costume-Con 35 to recognize members of the community lost in the previous year. Other memorial videos posted on the International Costumers Guild site in the past few months include tributes to the late Robin Schindler, Toni Lay, and Adrienne Martine-Barnes.

(9) HOWARD FRANK OBIT. SF Site News reports Howard Frank (1941-2017) died on May 1. Husband of Jane Frank, a Chicon 7 GoH in 2012, he co-authored two books with his wife based on their collection. He won First Fandom’s Sam Moskowitz Archive Award in 2013.

(10) TODAY’S DAYS

  • Revenge of the Fifth

Not had enough Star Wars on May the 4th? Thinking of stepping over to the Dark Side? Think you’d be a great Sith? Well keep swinging those light sabers, Revenge of the fifth is here to keep the force going with another Star Wars-themed observance!

  • International Space Day

On the first Friday of each May, space boffins and science fans alike celebrate space with a dedicated day of observance to everything in the great beyond. Because there’s so much out there in space, you can be sure that there’s always going to be enough to celebrate on this day as every year comes! The History of International Space Day International Space Day started out as plain and simple Space Day in 1997. The day was created to observe the many wonders of the unknown space that our planet floats in, and encourage children to have more of an interest in the scientific field. In 2001, Senator John Glenn, himself a former astronaut, changed the day to International Space Day to widen its scope of celebration across the world.

  • Cartoonist’s Day – May 5

The History of Cartoonist’s Day In 1895 a man named Richard F. Outcault introduced a small bald kid in a yellow nightshirt [The Yellow Kid] to the world in an incredibly popular publication in the big apple at the time, the New York World. While the paper itself was looked upon with a sort of disdain by ‘real’ journalists of the time, the yellow kid was embraced by people everywhere. Little did Richard know that when he first created this character, it would lead to a revolution in how stories were told and presented in sequential art pieces (That’s comics kids), but would in fact create a new standard piece of content for newspapers everywhere. Cartoonists’ day was created to celebrate this man and his accomplishments, and all the good he brought to the world as a result. Everything from our Sunday Comics to animation can be linked back to him and his creation. Just a simple bald kid in a yellow nightshirt.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • May 5, 1961 — From Cape Canaveral, Florida, Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. is launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 space capsule, becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space. The suborbital flight, which lasted 15 minutes and reached a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere, was a major triumph for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

(12) PUZZLE WRAPPED IN AN ENIGMA. Well, now that you mention it….

FARGO. That rocket-shaped award continues to be of interest to those unraveling the mysteries of Fargo. Warning: The Bustle’s episode recap contains SPOILERS.

One of the weirder, seemingly superfluous details of Fargo Season 3 comes to the forefront in the spectacularly odd May 3 episode, which focuses on the backstory of Ennis Stussy, née Thaddeus Mobley, and his adventures in science-fiction writing. But is The Planet Wyh a real book? And what about the bizarre events that transpired around the book’s success?

The pulpy paperback is first discovered by Gloria Burgle after her stepfather is murdered, hidden in a box under the floorboards of his house. Viewers see the book again — along with a newspaper clipping about Mobley winning an award, and a trove of other books with bizarro titles like The Plague Monkeys, Space Elephants Never Forget, and Organ Fish Of Kleus-9 — in the second episode. And in “The Law Of Non-Contradiction,” Gloria travels to the City Of Angels to do some digging into her stepfather’s secret past.

It turns out that, in 1975, Mobley traveled to Los Angeles to accept the prestigious Singularity Award for Best Science-Fiction Novel at the Golden Planet Awards. A producer named Howard Zimmerman quickly approached the naïve author about turning the book into a movie; but as Mobley wrote check after check and no progress seemed to be forthcoming, it eventually became clear that the whole thing was a scam to fund the lavish lifestyles of Zimmerman and his actress girlfriend. Enraged, Mobley assaulted Zimmerman and practically left him a vegetable, fled California, and changed his name to Ennis Stussy — inspired by the brand name of his hotel room toilet.

(13) THE WEED OF CRIME. Lou Antonelli ends his feghoot “Calling Grendel Briarton” with a really awful, no good, very bad pun – I liked it.

One day, while I was a teenager in Massachusetts, a group of high school students volunteered to help with a beach clean-up. It was an uncommon spill, but not unheard of – illicit drugs had washed up on a beach in the Cape Code National Seashore…

(14) THE SOUND OF WIKI. I just discovered WikiWikiup, a YouTube channel dedicated to making Wikipedia available to people with limited vision. Is this voiced by a robot?

(15) WHAT’S THE NEWS ACROSS THE NATION?  I also discovered this Puppyish satire about the fate of Castalia House’s The Corroding Empire, masquerading as a report on a daily sf news channel.

(16) OH, THE INHUMANITY! The first teaser trailer for Marvel’s Inhumans.

(17) STAY UP LATE OR GET UP EARLY. I believe the writer is referring to Eastern time zone: “Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower, Crumbs of Halley’s Comet, Peaks This Weekend: What to Expect”.

The annual, week-long Eta Aquarid meteor shower is predicted to reach its maximum on Saturday morning (May 6). The bright moon will be a few days past first quarter (a waxing gibbous, 81 percent illuminated), and it will set just prior to 4 a.m. local daylight time, leaving only about an hour of reasonably dark sky for early morning observations of this shower before the increasingly bright dawn twilight becomes too restrictive.

(18) WHO KNOWS? “Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts?” in Scientific American.

The world will likely not end because we aren’t returning our shopping carts — that would be an amazing butterfly effect — but it’s an example of a quality of life issue we can control. That guy who didn’t return his cart may not be a complete jerk. He may just be using the example set by others so he can get home a little more quickly. But if everyone does that, then we’re shifting the balance of what is acceptable, which may have greater ramifications to the social order. We have a greater influence over seemingly mundane situations than we realize.

Cat Eldridge sent the link with a comment, “My hypermarket, Hannaford’s, embeds a RFID in theirs that locks the front wheels if one of ether goes beyond the parking lot.”

(19) CUTENESS CONQUERS. The Life of Death on Vimeo is a video by Marsha Onderstijn about what happens when Death encounters an adorably cute animal!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, and bookworm1398 for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/8/16 Happy Birthday Star Trek

A modest Scroll, but mine own.

(1) WORLD FANTASY CON EVOLVES. Meg Turville-Heitz posted a statement about potential changes in World Fantasy Con on Facebook on August 26.

Apologies for the length of the following, but it is in response to a lengthy letter to the board from Andy Duncan and thus requires some length in return…..

Since we are in the process of agreeing on a new structure for the board, issues of board make up and authorities will be discussed as part of our larger conversation about what we will look like in the wake of David’s passing, and thus will be addressed when that is finalized.

We’ve heard, as well, a number of concerns that we as a board have been non-responsive. This is a product of time scales. We approve conventions two to three years out and thus requirements that we put in place in a given year required already seated conventions to react, which can appear like disorder, when it is not. In 2012, a series of incidents regarding harassment, beginning at other conventions, led us to add a harassment policy to our guidelines and a requirement that upcoming conventions draft one. The word, harassment, however, became a problem. Some of the jurisdictions require anything that can be called harassment be reported to the police for incidents that, in convention culture, wouldn’t be appropriate. We modified this to a requirement for a code of conduct and have been building upon the code of conduct language from DC in 2014. We’ve shared this language with upcoming committees as we work through what we want in place. We are limited, again, by local jurisdictions that could supersede our policy regarding something such as, for example, concealed weapons.

Additionally, concerns about the hotel setup in Saratoga Springs in 2015 (board members were participants on panels where the issues were evident, and were also highly dissatisfied with the hotel’s response to an inaccessible dining room) led the board to add the requirement for accessibility guidelines be provided by incoming conventions and as part of upcoming bids. Board members were working on drafting an acceptable guidance document when David died.

Our difficulty with that document comes from the fact that as a mobile convention, we are landing in places where other laws again supersede our guidelines. We have guidance that we will be looking at that suggests language and kinds of policies, but it must remain flexible.

Regarding Columbus’ program, we have looked at the guerilla site and agree that there are great ideas there. Some topics are not relevant to WFC (e.g. science fiction); others clarify topics we have and we plan to steal from it liberally. Darrell’s role in programming is far advanced, and the timing in the convention planning process does not allow for Columbus to seek a replacement. Ellen Datlow has worked with him to vet and build a better and more diverse program. Critical errors were a draft, unvetted program being published.That’s partly due to disrupted leadership as David had always assumed final authority on the program. We aren’t flush with volunteers who know how to program. If we were, some of these issues wouldn’t even need to be debated

And continues at great length.

(2) SNAIL MAIL SALUTES STAR TREK. Classic Trek went on the air 50 years ago today, and the US Postal Service has issued a sheet of stamps in commemoration.

On September 8, 1966, Star Trek premiered. Centered on the interstellar voyages of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the prime-time television program’s mission was to boldly go where no man has gone before.With an intricate futuristic setting, multicultural cast, and story lines that touched on social issues, Star Trek pushed past the boundaries of popular science fiction and became a worldwide phenomenon. Each of the 20 self-adhesive Star Trek stamps showcases one of four digital illustrations inspired by elements of the classic TV show…

Star Trek

(3) PLANETARY POST.  Robert Picardo’s latest Planetary Post for the Planetary Society.

In this issue, I share my journey to San Diego Comic-Con, where I quiz Trekkies and NASA scientists with trivia to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Engage:

 

(4) A TRIBE THAT FITS THE DESCRIPTION. Meir Soloveichik makes a Tolkien-endorsed case in “The Secret Jews of The Hobbit” for Commentary Magazine,

…The dwarves of Middle Earth, the central characters of one of the most beloved books of all time, are indeed based on the Jews. This was confirmed by Tolkien himself in a 1971 interview on the BBC: “The dwarves of course are quite obviously, [sic] couldn’t you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews?” he asked. “Their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic.” Similarly, in a letter to his daughter, Tolkien reflected, “I do think of the ‘Dwarves’ like Jews: at once native and alien in their habitations, speaking the languages of the country, but with an accent due to their own private tongue.” …

(5) NO CHILLS. The Guardian reports on a study that found “One third of parents avoid reading children scary stories”.

A psychologist has stressed the importance of scary children’s literature, after new research revealed that a third of parents would avoid reading their children a story containing a frightening character. A survey of 1,003 UK parents by online bookseller The Book People found that 33% would steer clear of books for their children containing frightening characters. Asked about the fictional creations they found scariest as children, a fifth of parents cited the Wicked Witch of the West from L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with the Child Catcher from Ian Fleming’s Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang in second place. Third was the Big Bad Wolf, in his grandmother-swallowing Little Red Riding Hood incarnation, fourth the Grand High Witch from Roald Dahl’s The Witches, and fifth Cruella de Vil, from Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians…

(6) DROPPED IN THE PUNCHBOWL. Don’t let the birthday party stop you. Cheat Sheet fights another round in a timeless culture war: “’Star Wars’ vs. ‘Star Trek’: Why ‘Star Trek’ is Losing”

Star Wars versus Star Trek. The classic debate continues to rage on. But while Star Trek has gained popularity in recent years with both Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) achieving mainstream appeal and box office success, it’s still nothing compared to what The Force Awakens (2015) did this past December both at the box office and when it came to popular culture. In fact, to date the Star Wars series has made $2.8 billion with eight films compared to Star Trek’s $1.2 billion through 12 films. So why has Star Wars continued to be such a juggernaut in the cultural landscape compared to its sci-fi foe? Here are six reasons why Star Wars might be winning the long battle with Star Trek.

(7) MARTINSON OBIT. Leslie H. Martinson, a ubiquitous TV director who was active for decades, has died at the age of 101 reports the New York Times.

Just a partial list includes, from the 1950s, the live drama series “General Electric Theater” and “Chevron Theater,” the sitcom “Topper,” the drama “The Millionaire” and the westerns “The Roy Rogers Show” and “Tales of Wells Fargo.” In the ’60s, he directed episodes of “Surfside 6,” “Maverick,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “The Roaring Twenties,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “No Time for Sergeants,” “Run for Your Life,” “Batman,” “Mister Roberts,” “Mission: Impossible” and “The Green Hornet.” His output in the ’70s included “Ironside,” “Love, American Style,” “The Brady Bunch,” “Room 222,” “Mannix,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Barnaby Jones,” “Wonder Woman” and “Dallas.” He wound up his television career in the ’80s with, among others, “Eight Is Enough,” “Quincy, M.E.,” “CHiPs,” “Fantasy Island” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

 [Thanks to Andrew Porter and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 7/26/16 I Am The Very Pixel Of A Modern Scrolling General

(1) WONDER WOMAN FOREVER. At the San Diego Comic-Con the Postal Service announced “Wonder Woman’s 75th Anniversary to be Celebrated on Forever Stamps”. The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony will take place October 7 at New York Comic-Con.

wonder woman stamps

This new issuance showcases four different stamp designs on a sheet of 20 stamps depicting Wonder Woman during four eras of comic book history:  Golden Age (1941–55), Silver Age (1956–72), Bronze Age (1973–86) and Modern Age (1987–present).

On the first row of stamps Wonder Woman of the Modern Age wields a hammer with a power and determination befitting her roots in the heroic world of Greek mythology.

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The Bronze Age Wonder Woman’s bold stance empowers the second row of stamps. With her fist held high and bulletproof bracelets gleaming, the Amazon princess leads the charge against injustice.

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The third row of stamps depicts Wonder Woman during the Silver Age. Although she possesses great strength and speed, the world’s favorite superheroine prefers compassion to the use of brute force. With her golden lasso of truth close at hand, she compels honesty from her foes.

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In the last row of stamps, Wonder Woman from the Golden Age bursts onto the scene as originally envisioned by creator William Moulton Marston.

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Art director Greg Breeding of Charlottesville, VA, designed the stamp pane.

(2) SIGNATURE TRAITS. Max Florschutz continues his “Being A Better Writer” series of posts with “Giving Characters a Leitmotif”.

….Now, to some of you long-time readers, this may sound somewhat familiar. After all, we’ve spoken before of ways to show a reader character through dialogue choice or body language. Here and now, however, I’m sort of pulling all of this together into a single, overarching idea: What leitmotif have you given your character? What element of their personality, attribute of their view of the world, are you going to weave into their parts (or perhaps point of view) in order to let the reader know exactly who they’re following even before you give them a name?

No joke. With strong enough characterization to a character’s perspective, it’s entirely possible to write a piece that, without ever mentioning a character’s name, is identifiable wholly as that character’s own. Through use of specific dialogue ticks, phrasing, complexity of language, or even things like catch phrases, general attitudes, or body language, you can inform a reader exactly who your character is.

Better yet, such an action will, if varied (we’ll talk about that in a moment) bring the character to life. Because let’s be honest here: We all have a “leitmotif.” Each of us has very recognizable traits that allow others to see who we are quite quickly(an old friend of mine once—no joke—identified me in the dark, only from my silhouette, on the explained logic of “no one else walks with that much casual swagger” … and come to think of it, that’s happened more than once).

Likewise, as you sit down to create—and then write—a character, what “leitmotifs” are you going to give them? What verbal cues, what methods of thought, or what reactions will they have. Will they be fight or flight? Will they be brusque to those they don’t know? Courteous? Do they think of themselves in first or second person when thinking?

Now, I know this all sounds like character design and development stuff—and it is! But what I’m bringing to the front here is not just the act of deciding all this stuff, but of picking the ones that you’ll weave into everything about the character….

(3) BOIL ‘TIL DONE. The New York Times invites you to “Meet Luca, the Ancestor of All Living Things”. At least, that’s the theory.

….Luca, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, and is estimated to have lived some four billion years ago, when Earth was a mere 560 million years old….

….Genes that do the same thing in a human and a mouse are generally related by common descent from an ancestral gene in the first mammal. So by comparing their sequence of DNA letters, genes can be arranged in evolutionary family trees, a property that enabled Dr. Martin and his colleagues to assign the six million genes to a much smaller number of gene families. Of these, only 355 met their criteria for having probably originated in Luca, the joint ancestor of bacteria and archaea.

Genes are adapted to an organism’s environment. So Dr. Martin hoped that by pinpointing the genes likely to have been present in Luca, he would also get a glimpse of where and how Luca lived. “I was flabbergasted at the result, I couldn’t believe it,” he said.

The 355 genes pointed quite precisely to an organism that lived in the conditions found in deep sea vents, the gassy, metal-laden, intensely hot plumes caused by seawater interacting with magma erupting through the ocean floor.

…Dr. Sutherland, working from basic principles of chemistry, has found that ultraviolet light from the sun is an essential energy source to get the right reactions underway, and therefore that land-based pools, not the ocean, are the most likely environment in which life began.

“We didn’t set out with a preferred scenario; we deduced the scenario from the chemistry,” he said, chiding Dr. Martin for not having done any chemical simulations to support the deep sea vent scenario.

Dr. Martin’s portrait of Luca “is all very interesting, but it has nothing to do with the actual origin of life,” Dr. Sutherland said.

(4) PRINCESS CHARMING. Roby and Kreider have turned to Kickstarter to get their next project out of the starting gate – Princess Charming: for a Few Princesses More.

Josh Roby has been writing professionally for more than a decade (and writing unprofessionally for a long time before that), and has worked as an editor for curriculum development and a number of early reader titles. Nowadays, most of Josh’s time is spent as a home maker and raising two darling children.

Anna Kreider is a writer, game designer, and illustrator who spends a lot of time blogging about depictions of women in pop culture. She is also attempting to raise a toddler, despite the toddler’s best efforts to the contrary.

Here’s what they’re doing —

Princess Charming

We started the Princess Charming book series to make children’s books that feature active, competent princess characters who do more than wait around to get rescued. We’ve already published six books across three different reading levels, but we’re far from done.

Publishing the first six books was a great experience, and we’re ready to bring out the second batch, starting with Princess Rowan Charming.

Only one thing slows down our Rowan — her friend, Prince Sundara, who insists on coming along. Something about Rowan having only one hand and that he has to protect her. But he only gets in the way! Somehow Rowan has to make the boy understand that he’s not cut out for adventuring… before he gets hurt.

And In the Wings…

If we fund all of Princess Rowan’s titles, we’ve got two more princesses lined up and ready to go: Princess Chandra and Princess Nayeli are both penciled in for three books, which we will unlock as stretch goals.

With a week to go, the appeal has raised $1,875 of its $3,000 goal.

(5) SEVEN DEAD GODS. Westercon 67 alumnus Valynne Maetani has hit it big. Publishers Weekly has the story – “Two YA Authors Tweet Mutual Interests into Six-Figure Deal”.

What began as a casual Twitter conversation between two long-time friends who for years talked about writing a book together – Valynne Maetani and Courtney Alameda – has become a hot property that recently was sold to HarperCollins in a two-book, six-figure deal after an auction earlier this year in which four major publishers participated. The final contract was signed in June.

Seven Dead Gods, the YA novel co-written by Maetani and Alameda, who have both been represented by John Cusick (now with Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr.) since 2012, is scheduled to publish in winter 2018. While Cusick described Seven Dead Gods as a combination of “An Ember in the Ashes and Daughter of Smoke and Bone meets Akira Kurosawa,” Alexandra Cooper, the HarperCollins editor who acquired it, used more cinematic terms: “Mean Girls meets Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

According to the two co-authors, it’s simply the inevitable culmination of their mutual passion for horror, anime, comic book culture, and Kurosawa’s classic Japanese epic movies. In Seven Dead Gods, which is set in modern-day Japan, 17-year-old Kira, who is the victim of bullying at her school, finds solace working in her grandfather’s Shinto shrine. After realizing that she can see and commune with demons, Kira – with her younger sister in tow – partners with seven “death gods,” or “Shinigami” in Japanese, to save Kyoto from destruction.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 26, 1969 — First Moon rock samples analyzed.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 26, 1894 –Aldous Huxley
  • Born July 26, 1928 — Stanley Kubrick

(8) MONUMENT TO A HUGO BALLOT. Lurkertype finished voting for the Hugos and Retro-Hugos and celebrated by using the Pulp-O-Mizer mentioned in yesterday’s Scroll to make this faux pulp cover.

(9) WILL JRRT FOLLOW GRRM ON HBO? That’s what iDigital Times would like to see: “’The Silmarillion’ TV Series: HBO Should Adapt ‘The Silmarillion’ After ‘Game of Thrones’”.

The Silmarillion would be an incredible successor to Game of Thrones on HBO, not least because the two would be so different. The Silmarillion is firmly set in the epic vein, in the realm of the mythic; Game of Thrones is a story of kings and princes, but has always been down to earth, even in its new epic fantasy phase. The battles in The Silmarillion are more elemental; these are wars between Elves and dragons, Balrogs, giant spiders and endless hordes of orcs, and sometimes the gods themselves intervene. But the story itself is incredibly interesting—it has the depth and complexity to carry a series, even one that’s more directly fantastical than Game of Thrones.

Could it happen? It’s not impossible. The Tolkien family still holds the film rights to The Silmarillion, and Christopher Tolkien has made it very clear that Peter Jackson isn’t getting those rights, not after the debacle of The Hobbit movies. But that doesn’t mean no one is getting them. HBO has shown itself a relatively careful steward of such properties, and it’s willing to invest in the money and talent to do such shows right.

(10) WHAT WILL DARTH SAY? After Tor Books announced its latest round of promotions, Elizabeth Bear voiced the joke that immediately came to some people’s minds —

(11) NEEDS A CLUE. Spacefaring Kitten is “No-Awarding Editors and Avengers”.

I don’t think that any of the novel editors does a bad job (ok, maybe one of them). This is strictly a protest vote against the insane category. How can anybody who is not an industry insider come to any conclusion about who is better than someone else in turning mediocre books into great ones? I have no clue.

So when you have no clue, why cast a vote that in principal can obstruct others who don’t feel that way from giving an award?

(12) ONE TRICK. Was there any question about this being the end times?

“Zombie Dog – The Barking Dead Messenger Pet”

zombie dog

(13) MASHUP. Brian Kesinger came up with a good one —

(14) PIONEER OF UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. Sir Julius Vogel, for whom New Zealand’s national sf award is named, was remembered at a special memorial service in London at the beginning of the month, though not for reasons to do with his fantasy writing, which was never mentioned.

Vogel had a visionary imagination. He wrote about air cruisers, driven by engines much like jet engines, the inventor of which was a young Jewish woman, niece of the spymaster. He envisages large irrigation schemes in the South Island, electricity as the prime source of domestic light and heat, hydro-electricity as a major source of power.

In political developments, he foresaw a global federation of financial interests that maintained world peace, taxation as the great divisive issue threatening to break up the empire, and the resolution of the issue of Irish Home Rule.

There is no limit to Vogel’s seemingly far-fetched ideas.

The Southland Times, reviewing Vogel’s book, said: “In Anno Domini 2000, it is easy to detect the hand of a beginner. The plot, if plot it can be called, is not very ingenious, the dialogue is not very brilliant and the characterisation is decidedly poor. The whole story is moreover ridiculously improbable.”

What is interesting is that Vogel, who was reminded of his Jewish identity throughout his life, whom his political opponents described as the “wandering Jew”, whose newspaper, the Otago Daily Times, was referred to as “that despicable literary dish clout”, “the Jew’s Harp”, created a positive image of Jewishness in one of the leading characters of his work of fantasy.

(15) A HUMMER. I must have missed this one the first time it came around in 2006.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, JJ, and James Davis Nicoll for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Planet Stamps – And Pluto Too

Pluto Explored

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Pluto—Explored! and Views of Our Planets Forever stamps took place on May 31 before a crowd of 500 at the World Stamp Show-NY 2016.

The Pluto—Explored! souvenir sheet contains two stamp designs, an artist’s rendering of the New Horizons spacecraft, and the spacecraft’s image of Pluto taken at its closest approach.

Honoring Pluto with its own stamp helps skate around sentimental attachments to the former ninth planet, now reclassified, which might have prevented some fans from enjoying the Views of Our Planets stamp set, with just eight planets…. *sniff*

Views of Our Planets