Pixel Scroll 5/9/18 They Had Many Books For Their Kindles And Nooks And Hardcovers Kept In A Pile

(1) AWARD REVOKED. While I haven’t located any related protests in social media that would explain the decision, evidently the Romance Writers of America received enough complaints after making their award to the Washington Romance Writers to change their minds: “Update on 2018 Chapter Excellence Award”.

On May 1, 2018, RWA’s board voted to rescind the 2018 Chapter Excellence Award granted to Washington Romance Writers. This decision was made after extensive review and deliberation, because the board found it impossible to hold Washington Romance Writers up as an example of excellence due to a number of complaints received after the board voted to grant the award.

Incidents reported to RWA were submitted by WRW members as well as meeting and retreat attendees who were made to feel unwelcome, disrespected, and embarrassed by members of Washington Romance Writers. Such incidents potentially violate RWA’s Code of Ethics for Members, RWA’s By-Laws, Chapter By-Laws, and are clearly in violation of the Chapter Code of Conduct recently adopted by RWA and required to be included in all chapters’ governing documents by March 2019.

RWA’s board is dedicated to ensuring that all members feel respected, and we will no longer tolerate insensitive or biased behavior. We hope and expect that WRW is willing to take steps to ensure its future success as an RWA chapter. Only by working together can we make RWA stronger.

(2) COCKY OR NOT TO COCKY, THAT IS THE QUESTION. You may have already read news stories about Faleena Hopkins’ effort to trademark the word “cocky” for a series of romance books (her works include Cocky Romantic and Cocky Cowboy) and reports that she warned off some other writers who use the adjective in the titles of their books (see “Romantic novelist’s trademarking of word ‘cocky’ sparks outcry” in The Guardian.)

(3) THE CASE OF THE MISSING COCKY. Now there have been claims that Amazon, a primary sales channel, has been culling other authors’ titles based upon her claim.

What’s more, there have been claims that Amazon has removed some customer reviews using the word “cocky,” and delayed the posting of others (which their makers tried to post either in protest or to test Amazon’s policy.)

You can see this one’s gone:

Original URL: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3A3NXV2FH4Q4A

Google cache copy of page with review: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zxJaTw9kaAcJ:https://www.amazon.com/Falling-Hard-New-Adult-Anthology/dp/098614150X

However, there are both titles and reviews still on Amazon with “cocky” in them which are not by the author claiming the trademark. There’s no way to tell whether any of those were zapped, then restored, by Amazon.

JJ ran a search of customer reviews containing the word “cocky” and got only 3 hits, which seemed rather low:

https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&biw=1234&bih=656&q=%22cocky%22+romance+site%3Aamazon.com%2Freview

I don’t know. It does seem like a very small search return; they’re almost all “trending” results rather than individual review results, which would indicate that they are quite recent reviews.

Heidi Cullinan did a thread on the topic:

If Amazon is deleting things — what’s with their legal staff? Do they really think they have exposure from this?

The Romance Writers of America have gotten involved:

(4) GILLIAM STROKE. And it was just the other day we were reporting his luck had finally changed for the better: “Terry Gilliam Suffers Minor Stroke Days Before Verdict on Cannes Closer ‘Don Quixote'”.

Terry Gilliam suffered a minor stroke over the weekend, days before a final verdict on whether his long-gestating passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will be screened as the closing film at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Gilliam, 77, had a minor stroke but is fine now and recuperating at his home in England, awaiting the outcome of a court ruling regarding the screening of Don Quixote on the last night of the festival May 19. French newspaper Nice-Matin first reported the news.

(5) FIRST LOOK. The Daily Beast tells about “The Secret Photographs of Stanley Kubrick”.

According to Michael Benson’s authoritative Space Odyssey, Kubrick shot setups with the Polaroid then, based on the results, he and cameraman John Alcott adjusted lighting and the placement of his Super Panavision 70mm cameras.

“I think he saw things differently that way than he did looking through a camera,” Alcott told Benson. “When Kubrick looked at this Polaroid still, he would see a two-dimensional image — it was all one surface and closer to what he was going to see on the screen.”

It’s estimated Kubrick shot some 10,000 insta-images on 2001, and if you only know Kubrick as a reclusive eccentric that reliance on the Polaroid might seem a characteristic quirk.

But in fact it was an extension of the creative sensibility he developed as a teenager working for Look. From 1945 to 1950, Kubrick was a photographer for the picture magazine, evocatively and empathically documenting ordinary New Yorkers, celebrities, athletes, and post-war playgrounds like the amusement park.

He shot more than 135 assignments for Look while honing the skills, relationships, and chutzpah that led him to filmmaking.

Yet this vital strand of Kubrick’s artistic DNA has been criminally underexplored. The Museum of the City of New York’s new exhibition Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs, on view through October 28, aims to change that….

(6) HIRED HELP. BuzzFeed takes you “Inside Amazon’s Fake Review Economy”. Given the ongoing debate on deleted reviews on Amazon, it may be interesting that a ReviewMeta algorithmic analysis (per CEO Tommy Noonan) of 58.5 million reviews on Amazon found 9.1% of them (5.3 million) to be “unnatural” and possibly fake. Unsurprisingly, Amazon disagrees claiming that <1% are “inauthentic.” Note that this article is concerned with paid reviews (both positive and negative), not tit-for-tat reviews as have been discussed in File 770.

The systems that create fraudulent reviews are a complicated web of subreddits, invite-only Slack channels, private Discord servers, and closed Facebook groups, but the incentives are simple: Being a five-star product is crucial to selling inventory at scale in Amazon’s intensely competitive marketplace — so crucial that merchants are willing to pay thousands of people to review their products positively.

…In October 2016, Amazon banned free items or steep discounts in exchange for reviews facilitated by third parties. But Tommy Noonan, CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon listings, said what he calls “unnatural reviews” — that is, reviews, that his algorithm indicates might be fake — have returned to the platform. In June 2017, Noonan noticed an uptick in unnatural reviews along with an increase in the average rating of products, and the rate of growth hasn’t slowed since.

Amazon’s ban didn’t stop sellers from recruiting reviewers. It only drove the practice underground. Reviewers are no longer simply incentivized with free stuff — they’re commissioned specifically for a five-star rating in exchange for cash. The bad reviews are harder to spot, too: They don’t contain any disclosures (because incentivized reviews are banned, and a disclosure would indicate that the review violates Amazon’s terms). Paid reviewers also typically pay for products with their own credit cards on their own Amazon accounts, with which they have spent at least $50, all to meet the criteria for a “verified purchase,” so their reviews are marked as such.

(7) CYBER TAKEDOWN. Equifax has been in no hurry for the complete damages to be made public. The Register has the latest totals: “Equifax reveals full horror of that monstrous cyber-heist of its servers”.

Late last week, the company gave the numbers in letters to the various US congressional committees investigating the network infiltration, and on Monday, it submitted a letter to the SEC, corporate America’s financial watchdog.

As well as the – take a breath – 146.6 million names, 146.6 million dates of birth, 145.5 million social security numbers, 99 million address information and 209,000 payment cards (number and expiry date) exposed, the company said there were also 38,000 American drivers’ licenses and 3,200 passport details lifted, too.

(8) LOOKING FOR CIVILIZATION THAT PREDATES HUMANITY. Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA, published a recent paper about what could be left in the geological record that could identify a pre-human technologically advanced civilization.

The drier scientific discussion is here: “The Silurian hypothesis: would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?”

Abstract

If an industrial civilization had existed on Earth many millions of years prior to our own era, what traces would it have left and would they be detectable today? We summarize the likely geological fingerprint of the Anthropocene, and demonstrate that while clear, it will not differ greatly in many respects from other known events in the geological record. We then propose tests that could plausibly distinguish an industrial cause from an otherwise naturally occurring climate event.

Impressively, he has also written a short story about the impact of making such a discovery: “Under the Sun” at Motherboard.

(9) CRAIG OBIT. Noble Craig, U.S. actor, died April 26, 2018. Severely injured during wartime service in Vietnam, he used his disabilities to forge an acting career, taking roles those with four limbs were unable to fill, beginning with Sssssss (1973). Also appeared in Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Big Trouble in Little China (both 1986), The Blob (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Bride of Re-Animator (both 1989).

(10) STAR TOY. Have you fiddled with this yet? — ESASky is an application that allows you to visualize and download public astronomical data from space-based missions. Mlex sent this sample:

(11) 1984. Fanac.org has posted another Hugo ceremony video: “L.A.con II (1984) Worldcon – Hugos and Special Tributes – Robert Bloch, MC.”

Hey, there’s R. A. MacAvoy at 13:00. And guess who at 22:16 and 23:45.

L.A.con II, the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Anaheim, CA in 1984. Toastmaster Robert Bloch’s introductory remarks are tantamount to standup comedy, and the video also includes several special and moving tributes along with the Hugos. The first tribute is presented by Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison to fan and editor Larry Shaw (who died within the next year) and the second to Robert Bloch himself. There’s also some fun with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle on stage having to do with a rocket shaped object. Thanks to the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (SCIFI) for this recording.

 

(12) PLANETARY AWARDS. The 2017 winners of the Puppy-influenced Planetary Awards have been announced.

  • Best Shorter Story: “The First American” by Schuyler Hernstrom (Cirsova).
  • Best Novel: Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge) by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole.

(13) FREE CELL. A better model? “Artificial Intelligence Takes Scientists Inside Living Human Cells”

A new application of artificial intelligence could help researchers solve medical mysteries ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

It’s a 3D model of a living human cell that lets scientists study the interior structures of a cell even when they can only see the exterior and the nucleus — the largest structure in a cell. The model was unveiled to the public Wednesday by the Allen Institute for Cell Science in Seattle.

The technology is freely available, and Roger Brent, an investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who was not involved in the tool’s development, has been using it for several months. He’s a big fan.

“This lets you see things with a simple microscope that are going to be helpful to researchers all over the world — including in less affluent places,” Brent says.

(14) VACUUM POWER. BBC video: “The amazing power of the world’s largest vacuum” — is used for testing spaceworthiness; also tests noise resistance, and was used in first Avengers movie.

(15) DOUBLE STAR. Michael B. Jordan was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about his recent and his upcoming star turns in sff epics.

‘Fahrenheit 451’ star Michael B. Jordan approaches every role by journaling the character’s backstory, including his portrayal of Erik Killmonger in the blockbuster film ‘Black Panther.’

 

[Thanks to JJ, Steve Green, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Rob Day, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributingh editor of the day Joe H.]

Pixel Scroll 7/10/16 Captain Pixel Pants

(1) JIM HENLEY POOPS ON SPACE. In comments, Jim deposited this link to a report that long-duration space habitation impairs vision in 80% of astronauts. (Hey, “poops” is his word.)

In 2005, astronaut John Phillips took a break from his work on the International Space Station and looked out the window at Earth. He was about halfway through a mission that had begun in April and would end in October.

When he gazed down at the planet, the Earth was blurry. He couldn’t focus on it clearly. That was strange — his vision had always been 20/20. He wondered: Was his eyesight getting worse?

“I’m not sure if I reported that to the ground,” he said. “I think I didn’t. I thought it would be something that would just go away, and fix itself when I got to Earth.”

It didn’t go away.

During Phillips’ post-flight physical, NASA found that his vision had gone from 20/20 to 20/100 in six months.

Rigorous testing followed. Phillips got MRIs, retinal scans, neurological tests and a spinal tap. The tests showed that not only had his vision changed, but his eyes had changed as well.

The backs of his eyes had gotten flatter, pushing his retinas forward. He had choroidal folds, which are like stretch marks. His optic nerves were inflamed.

Phillips case became the first widely recognized one of a mysterious syndrome that affects 80 percent of astronauts on long-duration missions in space. The syndrome could interfere with plans for future crewed space missions, including any trips to Mars.

(2) THE TAKING-UP-SPACE PROGRAM. You might say The Traveler at Galactic Journey doesn’t see eye-to-eye with editor John W. Campbell, who spent 20 pages criticizing the space program in Analog: “[July 10, 1961] The Last Straw (Campbell’s Wrong-Headed Rant In The August 1961 Analog]“

Campbell’s argument is as follows:

1) America could have had a man in space in 1951, but America is a democracy, and its populace (hence, the government) is too stupid to understand the value of space travel.

2) The government’s efforts to put a man in space are all failures: Project Vanguard didn’t work.  Project Mercury won’t go to orbit.  Liquid-fueled rockets are pointless.

3) Ford motor company produced Project Farside, a series of solid-fueled “rock-oons,” on the cheap, so therefore, the best way to get into space…nay…the only way is to give the reins to private industry.

Campbell isn’t just wrong on every single one of these assertions.  He’s delusional.

(3) WHO DAT? The Mirror stirs up rumors in its news article “Can Matt Smith be the first Doctor Who to regenerate as himself?”

Matt Smith may be about to travel back in time to play Doctor Who again.

Show boss Steven Moffat has hinted Smith could be the first of the 12 Doctors to return to the Tardis after regenerating.

Matt, who stars as Prince Phillip in Netflix’s big-budget royal drama The Crown in November, has made no secret of his desire to return, saying last year: “They will ask me back one day, won’t they?”

Matt’s successor Peter Capaldi has been tipped to bow out after the next series, currently being filmed for release in 2017.

And Moffat, who is leaving after his sixth season next year has said Matt is “quite open about how much he misses it, and how much he wishes he hadn’t left”.

(4) OH SAY DID YOU HEAR? A piece by Carly Carioli in the July 1 Boston Globe called “Did the Star-Spangled Banner land Igor Stravinsky in Jail?” explores the issue of whether or not Stravinsky was arrested for playing a radical arrangement of the national anthem in 1944.  (He wasn’t because he substituted the traditional arrangement at the last minute.)

The sf connection is that Carioli linked to a photo of Stravinsky.  “The novelist Neil Gaiman thought it was a mug shot.  He sent the image to the blog Boing-Boing a few years ago, along with an astounding plot-point:  He claimed that Stravinsky had been arrested in Boston” for his weird arrangement.

Spoiler alert: The photo is not a mug shot, and Stravinsky was never arrested. But the real story of what happened to the composer in Boston is an incredible tale. He did compose a weird arrangement of the national anthem, and the Boston police really did ban him from performing it — sparking a national uproar and a tense showdown that played out live on the radio.

The Boston Globe has a tight paywall of five articles a month, so good luck clicking through.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 10, 1923 – Earl Hamner, Jr.
  • Born July 10, 1926 – Fred Gwynne
  • Born July 10, 1929 – George Clayton Johnson
  • Born July 10, 1941  — David G. Hartwell

(6) HUGO NOVELETTES REVIEWED. Rich Horton explains how he is ranking the Hugo-nominated Novelettes on Strange at Ecbatan.

As I wrote in my first post in this series: I am not planning to reflexively rank Rabid Puppy entries below No Award. I am of course disgusted by the Rabid Puppy antics, and I feel that many worthier stories were kept off the ballot by the Rabid choices. And if a story is bad enough, it will certainly be off my ballot, with No Award the last choice. (That’s always been my approach.) But, this year in particular, many of the nominees supported by the Rabid Puppies were either unaware of that, or aware and quite clearly not happy with that. Also, I don’t want to reduce the meaningfulness of the win for those worthy winners – if they finish first and No Award is second, to my mind it to some extent delegitimizes their wins, through no fault of their own. Better to have been chosen the best with every voting on merit than voted best simply because all the other choices were automatically rejected regardless of quality.

(7) STEPHEN KING. Lisa J. Goldstein reviews Stephen King’s Hugo-nominated novelette: “Obits” at inferior4+1.

Sometimes I think that Stephen King is too skilled a writer for his own good.  No, wait, hear me out.  “Obits” is about an obituary writer who discovers that when he writes obituaries about live people, they end up dead.  It’s not an earth-shattering idea, and I’d bet that any number of writers have come up with something similar.  Other writers, though, would try to figure out where the story should go, how it should end, if it would be too predictable — and when they finished with all of that, they’d decide that the idea wouldn’t work, that it’s just not a very good concept for a story.

(8) CHIMERA CREATURES. Mary Lowd has been rescuing stuffed animals and playing mad scientist in order to resurrect them. She displays the results in a photo gallery.

The Subjects:

For this project, subjects were gathered from local dispensaries of unwanted toys.  Most of the specimens were procured from various Goodwills, but a few were found at St. Vinnie’s and Sarah’s Treasures.  Excluding a few exceptional specimens, they all cost between $1 and $2.  Even the exceptional ones cost at most $4.  In order for a specimen to be suitable, it had to be in good condition, contain nice parts, but be — shall we say — uninspiring in its totallity.  Several specimens were rejected for inclusion due to being too lovable in their original, unaltered forms.  All of the specimens selected for final inclusion in the project are pictured below in Fig. 1 – 3.

(9) WHEN LUCY LAUNCHED A THOUSAND STARSHIPS. Many writers have been fascinated to discover Lucille Ball played a role in getting Star Trek on the air. The latest retelling of the tale is “How Lucille Ball Saved Star Trek at Entertainment Weekly.

While many series were being shot at Desilu, the studio was in dire need of original programming of its own following the end of The Untouchables in 1963. Herbert Solow, hired to help locate new projects for the studio, brought two notable proposals to Desilu in 1964. One was Mission: Impossible; the other was Roddenberry’s quirky sci-fi idea. When Lucy’s longtime network CBS said no to Trek, Solow and Roddenberry took it to NBC. Science fiction was alien to the network’s schedule, but it ordered a pilot.

According to Solow in Marc Cushman’s history These Are the Voyages, Lucy initially thought Star Trek was about traveling USO performers. But her support for the show was necessary as it became clear how expensive the pilot would be. Lucy overruled her board of directors to make sure the episode was produced.

(10) STAND BY ME (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE). There is a flurry of weird news stories about Pokémon Go players getting hurt or whatnot. Here is the first of several people have sent me today: “Players in hunt for Pokemon Go monsters feel real-world pain” reports ABC’s Chicago affiliate.

Beware: “Pokemon Go,” a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, can be harmful to your health. The “augmented reality” game, which layers gameplay onto the physical world, became the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. And players have already reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world – eyes glued to their smartphone screens – in search of digital monsters.

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters early Thursday. He cut his hand on the sidewalk after hitting a big crack, and blames himself for going too slowly. “I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch,” he says. “I don’t think the company is really at fault.”

(11) ACHIEVEMENT UNBURIED. One player got more than she bargained for: “Pokémon Go player finds dead body in Wyoming river while searching for a Pokestop”.

The augmented reality game, which was released last week, gets people to catch virtual monsters using the person’s location on their phone.

Nineteen-year-old Shayla Wiggins, from Wyoming, was told to find a Pokemon in a natural water source but instead found a man’s corpse.

“I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water,” she told County 10 news.

“I had to take a second look and I realised it was a body.”

(12) DARWIN REWARD. Police in Darwin, Australia requested on their Facebook page that players not waltz into their station, which of course is a Pokestop in the game.

For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokemon Go – whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs.

It’s also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn’t going anywhere fast.

Stay safe and catch ’em all!

(13) ROBBERMON. And then there are the robbers who figured out that setting up a beacon in the game was a surefire way to attract victims.

Police in O’Fallon, Missouri are investigating a series of armed robberies believe that the robbers used the Pokemon Go smartphone app to target victims, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Four suspects were arrested early Sunday morning near the intersection of Highway K and Feise Road in O’Fallon after a report of an armed robbery. Police say they are suspected of multiple armed robberies in St. Louis and St. Charles counties in Missouri. A handgun was recovered.

Police believe they used the game to, “add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players” and then used the app to locate victims.

(14) RISK ASSESSMENT. Fitting in with the week’s tragic news is this take on playing the game: “Warning: Pokemon GO is a Death Sentence if you are a Black Man”.

I spent less than 20 minutes outside. Five of those minutes were spent enjoying the game. One of those minutes I spent trying to look as pleasant and nonthreatening as possible as I walked past a somewhat visibly disturbed white woman on her way to the bus stop. I spent the other 14 minutes being distracted from the game by thoughts of the countless Black Men who have had the police called on them because they looked “suspicious” or wondering what a second amendment exercising individual might do if I walked past their window a 3rd or 4th time in search of a Jigglypuff.

When my brain started combining the complexity of being Black in America with the real world proposal of wandering and exploration that is designed into the gameplay of Pokemon GO, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing.

(15) TOY QUEST. John King Tarpinian went to a store and personally checked out several of the Hallmark collectible ornaments discussed in a post here at File 770. He says the fidelity of the recordings is “surprisingly good.”

Fidelity COMP

Though about this one he cryptically commented, “No sound but yabba dabba doo.”

Flintstones COMP

(16) MORE TOYS. ScreenRant previews Star Wars toys and figure fans can see at Comic-Con.

Folks heading to San Diego Comic-Con can also get their Star Wars fix from July 21 – 24. If you plan on attending SDCC later this month, make sure to swing by the Hasbro booth (#3213) and have your fill of some new Star Wars figures. Hasbro will also have a panel on Friday, July 22nd at noon to introduce their latest line of exclusives….

As noted above, the Darth Vader, Kanan Jarrus, and Biker Scout figures are 12? models while Rey and Hera Syndulla are just under 4? tall. Kanan and Vader also have “electronic touches” which could mean their light sabers actually glow. These figures will be on display at SDCC, but fans will have to exercise some patience because they won’t be available for purchase until fall 2016 — just in time for Christmas

(17) STAR WARS CON IN LONDON. The same ScreenRant post also links to the 3-day Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 that takes place in London from July 15 – 17. This event will see several exclusives including the premiere of the third season of Star Wars Rebels and a huge presence from Star Wars video games.

For those of us who can’t make it across the pond, some panels will be streamed, including the Rogue One panel, where we should be in for a new trailer for the spinoff film.

(18) REMEMBERING GEORGE. There will be a George Clayton Johnson Memorial Gathering at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 21 at 9:00 p.m.

Let’s share our memories and adventures of our pal and mentor for over 40 years. George wrote “The Man Trap” the very first Star Trek episode that aired. He also wrote 8 original Twilight Zone episodes, Oceans 11 movie and the “Logan’s Run” novel with William F. Nolan. Panel participants include David Gerrold, Craig Miller, Greg Koudoulian, Gene Henderson, Clayton Moore, Scott Smith, Jimmy Diggs and Anthony Keith

(I don’t know which Clayton Moore this is but it can’t be the one from The Lone Ranger – he passed away in 1999.)

(19) KUBRICK LOST AND FOUND. A 2015 documentary on YouTube, Stanley Kubrick: The Lost Tapes, is based on tapes that a New Yorker writer produced in 1966 for a Kubrick profile. Kubrick discusses the making of Dr. Strangelove at about 20 minutes in to this 25-minute documentary. He discusses his professional relationship with Arthur C. Clarke very briefly beginning at 22:00.

(20) ROD SERLING AND GROUCHO MARX. You Bet Your Life was retooled as Tell It To Groucho and sold to CBS for one short season in early 1962. Here’s half of one of the very few episodes available to view today, featuring Rod Serling.

(21) MORE HARLEY QUINN. The Suicide Squad international trailer dropped.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Petréa Mitchell, Dawn Incognito, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, Jim Henley, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 8/10 Where the Scrolled Things Are

Where there’s smoke there’s… Well, exactly what there is is a subject of debate in today’s Scroll.

(1) Do not miss – “Dilbert Writes A Sci-Fi Novel”.

(2) Oh brave New World! Scientists claim to have pinned down one of Shakespeare’s previously unsuspected literary influences

South African researchers announced they found cannabis residue on pipe fragments found in William Shakespeare‘s garden.

Francis Thackeray, an anthropologist at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand and the lead author of the study published in the South African Journal of Science, said he and his team used gas chromatography mass spectrometry to analyze residue found on 24 pipe fragments from the bard’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, and cannabis residue was discovered on four fragments taken from Shakespeare’s garden.

(3) When Arthur C. Clarke introduced interviewer Jeremy Bernstein to Stanley Kubrick, he accidentally launched their 25-game chess duel.

I told Clarke that nothing would please me more. Much to my amazement, the next day Clarke called to say that I was expected that afternoon at Kubrick’s apartment on Central Park West. I had never met a movie mogul and had no idea what to expect. But as soon as Kubrick opened the door I felt an immediate kindred spirit. He looked and acted like every obsessive theoretical physicist I have ever known. His obsession at that moment was whether or not anything could go faster than the speed of light. I explained to him that according to the theory of relativity no information bearing signal could go faster. We conversed like that for about an hour when I looked at my watch and realized I had to go. “Why?” he asked, seeing no reason why a conversation that he was finding interesting should stop.

I told him I had a date with a chess hustler in Washington Square Park to play for money. Kubrick wanted the name. “Fred Duval” I said. Duval was a Haitian who claimed to be related to Francois Duvalier. I was absolutely positive that the name would mean nothing to Kubrick. His next remark nearly floored me. “Duval is a patzer,” is what he said. Unless you have been around chess players you cannot imagine what an insult this is. Moreover, Duval and I were playing just about even. What did that make me?

Kubrick explained that early in his career he too played chess for money in the park and that Duval was so weak that it was hardly worth playing him. I said that we should play some time and then left the apartment. I was quite sure that we would never play. I was wrong.

(4) The new Fantastic Four reboot is getting the kind of reaction that explains why the phrase “stinks on ice” was invented.

Not only were reviews scathing — resulting in a 9 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — audiences on Friday night gave the $120 milliion Fox tentpole a C- CinemaScore, the worst grade that anyone can remember for a marquee superhero title made by a major Hollywood studio. (CinemaScore, based in Las Vegas, was founded in 1979.)

…For the weekend, Fantastic Four, starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, topped out at a dismal $26.2 million from 3,995 theaters in North America, one of the lowest openings of all time for a Marvel Comics film adaptation

(5) Carrie Cuinn explained why Lakeside Circus killed plans to publish a Lou Antonelli story, what Antonelli did next, and the verbal attacks she received as a result.

I couldn’t stand by and do nothing after Mr. Antonelli publicly admitted to essentially SWATing someone in our community, especially given the numerous deaths by police and in police custody that have recently made the news. As I said in my letter, it’s a matter of SAFETY. Antonelli took away Gerrold’s safety when he filed that false police report, and I won’t support that by giving him my money or promoting his work.

I was content to do what I felt necessary privately, between Mr. Antonelli and myself, but he dragged me up in front of his fans and made a target of me. He knew people were defensive and angry on his behalf, and he gave them me as a target. Doing that, he took away my safety, too.

(6) Lou Antonelli says what happened wasn’t his intent, and apologized again.

I want to make it clear than when I posted about Carrie Cuinn and Lakeside Circus’ decision taking back their decision to publish a story of mine, I meant it as a cautionary tale – don’t be a jackass like I was, because there are repercussions. Experience is a hard teacher. I don’t begrudge the decision at all. I apologized to David Gerrold because I realized I did something stupid and I made a mistake. But I didn’t think I made a mistake in revealing Cuinn’s decision. Fact was. I thought people would commend her for it, and I thought there would be some people who would like to give her credit for it.

Now she says she’s gotten threats over the revelation. That’s not why I posted it! So I’m sorry again, in this case, because it never occurred to me her action would be seen negatively.

(7) K. Tempest Bradford has a take on the Antonelli/Gerrold story.

You hear all this, and your response is UGH, how terrible! That crosses a line! Antonelli should explain himself and apologize!

Oh? Really? A guy contacts a police department in a serious effort to have said police pay extra special attention to a convention attendee in an atmosphere where there’s already plenty to worry about with police overreacting and you want him to apologize?

Sure, Gerrold isn’t a young black man, so he’s already much safer around police than a lot of folks. But Antonelli’s intent was bring police into a situation for the purpose of causing alarm and harm to Gerrold for no other reason than that he can’t handle Gerrold having an opinion and a platform….

There are real ramifications here, real consequences. There may be a good chance nothing bad will happen. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. That doesn’t mean an apology is enough….

The difference between how we treat people from marginalized identities who do things harmful to our community and how we treat white men who harm our community is so stark, so blatant, that I feel like I’m living in a Onion article right now.

This is how you fail, white people of SFF. This right here….

(8) Some commenters are extrapolating Bradford’s post to mean that Benjanun Sriduangkaew, the subject of a report by Hugo nominee Laura Mixon, ought to be treated with comparable leniency.

Jason Sanford, for one, has written a post “On the double standard of genre apologies”.

Here’s a simple test. Can you figure out why the following situations are different?

(9) Ann Somerville sharply disagreed that these cases are comparable.

The crucial differences are – and Tempest fucking knows these:

  • Antonelli does not carry out secret campaigns of abuse. He does everything, for good or ill, under his own name (which is now mud).
  • He hasn’t been carrying out harassment of people, white/POC, male and female, straight and gay, cis and trans for over ten years
  • he apologised for what he actually did, in full – unlike Miss Hate who sort of vaguely alluded to bad behaviour, without acknowledging the full scope of what she did or directly apologising to her actual victims
  • his victims don’t include people of colour, but include one of Hate’s much loathed white women (that should make him a hero, according to Bradford and Hate)
  • People don’t feel constrained from criticising Antonelli on account of his oh so persecuted race and sexuality – which is still the case with Hate (despite the fact she is massively class privileged and not racially disprivileged in her own country.)

(10) In an earlier post, Jason Sanford made an appeal for peace in the genre.

But this incident has also brought into focus how much bad blood there is in the science fiction and fantasy genre. The letter Lou wrote wasn’t merely an attack on David — it was an attack on Worldcon and the entire genre.

Which I’m certain isn’t what Lou intended. I have no doubt he loves the genre. I’m certain he wants the genre to thrive and grow.

We have reached the point in the SF/F genre where people must decide what they want. Because there are now two simple choices: To destroy the genre or reach for peace.

Reaching for peace doesn’t mean silencing your views or beliefs. Our genre has long been a big tent where all viewpoints and people can co-exist. Yes, the genre has often not lived up to this ideal. And that doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements and arguments and people who hate each other.

But at the end of the day a shared love of science fiction and fantasy joins us together. We must never forget this.

(11) Though prompted by her experience at the BEA, not by this latest kerfuffle, Kameron Hurley’s article for Locus “Your Author Meltdown Will Be Live-Tweeted” seems prescient.

The more people respect what you have to say, the more folks will come out of the woodwork trying to tear you down. Having been one of the people flinging arrows at authors myself (and let’s be real, I still do), I get it, and I accept it, but that doesn’t make it any easier to navigate when you’re sitting in a restaurant and wondering if your dinner conversation will end up in an Instagram video.

In the ten years I’ve been writing online, I’ve mostly been hated as some kind of women’s lib boogeyman, and that’s just funny more than anything. It’s a lot easier for me to dismiss haters when they’re sending me death threats for believing women are people. It’s harder to dismiss people who want me dead because they despise me in general. In the same breath they’ll say I should be garroted to keep me from speaking and Starbucks should stop serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes because, gosh, those lattes are gross.

More and more, ‘‘being a writer’’ isn’t about writing at all. It’s about the writer as celebrity. The writer as brand. The writer as commodity. And more and more, I see authors themselves reviewed as if they’re busi­nesses on Yelp.

(12) Is it possible that the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies could be even more violent than the version shown in theaters? TheOneRing.net theorizes that will be so —

According to a bulletin published today by the Motion Picture Association of America Classification and Rating Administration, the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will carry an “R” rating for “some violence.” Of course, it’s no news flash that the movie contains violence. The theatrical version’s PG-13 rating came with an advisory for “extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.” So, it’s intriguing to imagine what, exactly, in the EE bridged that gap, especially with only “some violence” to go by. Possible EE spoilers ahead!

(13) The late Terrence Evans (1934-2015) is remembered at StarTrek.com:

Evans ventured to the Star Trek universe to play Baltrim, the mute Bajoran farmer, in the DS9 episode “Progress,” and Proka Migdal, the Bajoran who adopted a Cardassian war orphan, in “Cardassians.” He also appeared as the Kradin ambassador, Treen, in the Voyager hour “Nemesis.”

(14) Voice of Trillian in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Susan Sheridan, has passed away. SF Site News has more at the link.

(15) I believe Matt!

[Thanks to Gregory Benford, JJ, Andrew Porter and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Warren Clarke (1947-2014)

Clarke (far left) in A Clockwork Orange.

Clarke (far left) in A Clockwork Orange.

Warren Clarke, a British actor who appeared in A Clockwork Orange and was best known for his role in television’s Dalziel And Pascoe, died November 12 after a short illness. He was 67.

In Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange he played Dim, one of Malcolm McDowell’s sociopathic droogs who tagged along on his sprees of “ultraviolence.”

On the 40th anniversary of the film’s release in 2011, Clarke spoke to The Guardian about working with Kubrick:

“If he thought your performance was false he would ask: ‘Why are you doing that?’ If you didn’t have an answer, he’d shout at you. But I got on well with him and I would shout at him if I thought he was pushing us too hard,” said the actor.

The film’s violent scenes of rape and murder passed British film censors, but when the film was blamed for copycat violence Kubrick withdrew it from British distribution in 1974 and it was not shown there again until after the director’s death in 1999.

Clarke’s extensive professional resume includes turns in genre series such as The Avengers (1968) and Blackadder the Third (1987).

[Via Andrew Porter and Paul Di Filippo.]

Frederick Ordway III (1927-2014)

Ordway_Slayton_Clarke_YY_Kubrick_&_NASAGeorge_Mueller_tour_Shepperton_Studios

Ordway with NASA officials touring MGM Borehamwood during pre-production of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (L-R), Fred Ordway, astronaut Deke Slayton, author Arthur C. Clarke, NASA assistant, director Stanley Kubrick, and George C. Mueller, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight (essentially, boss of Project Apollo).

Frederick I. Ordway III, a NASA scientist who was a special assistant to the first director of the Department of Energy and worked as technical adviser on 2001: A Space Odyssey, died July 1. He was 87.

His obituary in the Huntsville Times outlined his professional accomplishments:

Ordway developed his in depth knowledge of rockets and space travel with a career that started in the 1950s working with guided missiles. From 1960-64 he was Chief of Space Information Systems at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He would later hold various positions, including special assistant to the first director for the Department of Energy. He taught at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, which would award him an honoring doctorate degree. He also authored other books including “Visions of Spaceflight: Images from the Ordway Collection,” “The Rocket Team: From the V-2 to the Saturn Moon Rocket,” and (with Wernher von Braun) “History of Rocketry and Space Travel.”

“Maybe he was a good historian of spaceflight because he lived through so much of its history,” suggests Bill “Beamjockey” Higgins.

Ordway joined the American Rocket Society in 1939, which later became the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, so this was the 75th year of his membership. He was a major collector of books on rocketry, astronomy, spaceflight, and science fiction. (Bill has a roundup of links to videos featuring Ordway plus other material on his LiveJournal.)

Fans are most likely to recognize Ordway’s name for his service as technical adviser on the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.  He wrangled a huge amount of information to help extrapolate technology thirty-five years into the future, then helped MGM’s army of filmmakers turn his ideas into designs for sets, props, and costumes.

Space Odyssey’s enduring popularity amazed Ordway… and though he had other significant professional accomplishments, he spent most of his free time the past 20 years giving talks about the film to fans.

In fact, Ordway recently participated in a discussion of the movie at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, on June 12, where he spoke about his life-long friendship with Sir Arthur Clarke. The video can be viewed here:

[Thanks to Bill Higgins for the story.]

2014 SF Hall of Fame Inductees

This year’s additions to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame have been announced.

  • Leigh Brackett
  • Frank Frazetta
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Hayao Miyazaki
  • Olaf Stapledon

The Hall of Fame is now part of the Icons of Science Fiction exhibit at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle.

Hall of Fame nominations are submitted by EMP members. The final inductees are chosen by a panel of award-winning science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, editors, publishers, and film professionals.

Founded in 1996, the Hall of Fame was relocated from the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas to its permanent home at EMP in 2004.

The full press release, including short bios of the new Hall of Fame members, follows the jump.

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Kubrick Tribute at LACMA

“Beyond the Infinite: Science Fiction After Kubrick”, a series of screenings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art of films that were influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey, begins March 22. It’s part of the Kubrick exhibit at LACMA running through June 30. The LA Times reports —

The series opens with a true rarity — Saul Bass‘ only narrative feature, 1974’s “Phase IV.” Bass, a graphic designer renowned for his bold poster designs and movie title sequences, directed this thriller about a cosmic event that causes the rise of intelligent ants that kill people and animals alike. The film was restored by the Academy Film Archive and will feature Bass’ original ending.

Silent Running completes the first evening’s double feature. Still to come are THX 1138 and The Terminal Man on March 29, Dark Star and Solaris on March 30, Zardoz and Fantastic Planet on April 5, and Quintet and The Man Who Fell To Earth on April 6.

(Trivia fans take note — none of these movies, despite commercial success or devoted cult followings, won the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo which Kubrick’s own films won twice – 2001 and A Clockwork Orange. As did 2010, a sequel written an directed by Peter Hyams.)

Additional interesting material is part of LACMA’s online Kubrick exhibit publicity

Stanley Kubrick was known for exerting complete artistic control over his projects; in doing so, he reconceived the genres in which he worked. The exhibition covers the breadth of Kubrick’s practice, beginning with his early photographs for Look magazine, taken in the 1940s, and continuing with his groundbreaking directorial achievements of the 1950s through the 1990s. His films are represented through a selection of annotated scripts, production photography, lenses and cameras, set models, costumes, and props. In addition, the exhibition explores Napoleon and The Aryan Papers, two projects that Kubrick never completed, as well as the technological advances developed and utilized by Kubrick and his team. By featuring this legendary film auteur and his oeuvre as the focus of his first retrospective in the context of an art museum, the exhibition reevaluates how we define the artist in the 21st century, and simultaneously expands upon LACMA’s commitment to exploring the intersection of art and film.

A LACMA blog post from one of Kubrick’s summer interns illustrates the director’s controlling style and command of details.

Another mystery quickly developed when the studio received a call from the manager of the Loews Capitol Theatre, MGM’s 5,500-seat showcase theater on Broadway (second largest in New York after Radio City Music Hall’s 5,700 seats). The projectionist was threatening to go on strike and close the theater, which meant no more showings of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Someone saying they were from MGM had gone into the projection booth and was using a chisel to file the aperture frame to remove the built up dust from the carbon arc projectors so that there would be sharp, not fuzzy, edges on the theater screen….

The smallest details, such as removing the built-up arclight dust, never escaped Stanley Kubrick, who was always finding new ways to ensure that his standards were met.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Makeup Artist Freeborn Dies

Stuart Freeborn, whose legacy as a movie makeup artist includes Yoda’s and Chewbacca’s looks in Star Wars, has died at the age of 98.

Freeborn’s six-decade career in film began in the 1930s, working with director Alexander Korda. In David Lean’s 1948 version of Oliver Twist he transformed Alec Guinness into Fagin.

Later he contributed to Peter Sellers’ portayal of multiple characters in Stanley Kubrick’s Doctor Strangelove, and designed the apes for 2001‘s “Dawn of Man” sequence.

He also created Jabba the Hutt for Star Wars.