Pixel Scroll 9/6/21 I Fought The Laws Of Newton, Thermodynamics, Robotics And Grammar, And All But One Of Them Laws Won

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Ellen Klages and Mari Ness via livestream on Wednesday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Link to come.

Ellen Klages

Ellen Klages is the author of three acclaimed MG novels: The Green Glass Sea, White Sands, Red Menace, and Out of Left Field, which won the New-York Historical Society’s Children’s History Book Prize.  Her adult short fiction — fantasy and some SF — has been translated into a dozen languages and been nominated for or won multiple genre awards. Ellen lives in San Francisco, in a small house full of strange and wondrous things.

Mari Ness

Mari Ness has published short fiction and poetry in Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Uncanny, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Fireside, Apex, Diabolical PlotsStrange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction. Her poetry novella, Through Immortal Shadows Singing, is available from Papaveria Press, and an essay collection, Resistance and Transformation: On Fairy Tales, from Aqueduct Press.  She lives in central Florida under the direct supervision of two magnificent cats.

(2) COUNTING THE DOLLAR SIGNS FOR 2020 COMICS. Comichron has published its “Industry-wide Comics and Graphic Novel Sales for 2020”. Lots of stats and graphs at the link.

Combined comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in the pandemic year of 2020, according to a new joint estimate by ICv2‘s Milton Griepp and Comichron‘s John Jackson Miller. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.28 billion in 2020, a 6% increase over sales in 2019. The increase was due to strong sales of graphic novels online and in mass merchants and strong digital sales, which overcame big declines in comic and book store sales.

“The challenges of retailing in the pandemic had profound impacts on the market, including the acceleration of trends that have been in place for years,” Griepp said of the 2020 estimates. “The book channel increased its share dramatically vs. comic stores, and graphic novels increased their share vs. periodical comics, while digital sales were turbocharged.”

Numlock News also did a Q&A with the person who oversees the report: “John Jackson Miller on the huge growth of the comic book industry – by Walter Hickey”.

Comichron and your partners at ICV2 released your 2020 comic book sales report. It was a really surprising and very complex year in comics, very tumultuous to say the least, but the number was up year-over-year.

That’s right. Part of the key is it depends on where do you work in the business, what the business looked like, because not every part of the business was under the same constraints. The graphic novel part of the market, and, in particular, the young adult part of the market typified by books like Dog Man, these are all part of the book channel which never really shut down, those books continue to circulate and the best selling kids graphic novels had the additional advantage that the Walmarts of the world that are kind of like the music industry where they only stocks the hits.

Places like that, which had been declared essential services, which never shut down and had small selections of graphic novels, they continue to sell all through the pandemic and there’s a dynamic that happens where the best sellers became really best sellers. You have that part of the market, which was continuously running. Digital is a sector that has kind of, I don’t want to say stagnated, but it had reached its level a few years ago and had not really gone anywhere. But during the pandemic, there’s a stretch there where the physical comics aren’t coming out, people can’t get to the comic shops, and also you have some of the major publishers basically going direct to video.

They basically took their poor selling titles and didn’t even go to press at all with them, but they went directly to digital on those. That’s supplemented that part of the market and so we have a significant increase in digital downloads, the comics you can pay for and actually get to keep, as opposed to the subscription model comics that are digital. Then the direct market, which, for the first quarter of 2020 was doing fine, it was ahead for the year and then we have in succession, a few things that happened. We had DC’s printer Transcontinental had to close temporarily. Diamond, the exclusive distributor for at the time all of the major publishers, it judged that it needed to pause as well, because there were going to be comics piling up at stores that weren’t open….

(3) EVERYTHING’S UP TO DATE IN KANSAS CITY. Fanac.org has added video of the “MidAmeriCon (1976) Worldcon – Hugo and other Awards, with Bob Tucker & Pat Cadigan”.

MidAmeriCon, the 34th World Science Fiction Convention, was held in Kansas City in 1976. In this recording, Toastmaster Bob Tucker orchestrates a relatively compact ceremony, nevertheless with time and space for a little fannish humor, with the assistance of Pat Cadigan. The evening includes the awarding of the E. Everett Evans Big Heart Award, and a heartfelt presentation by Lester Del Rey of the First Fandom award given to Harry Bates. Ben Bova and Joe Haldeman are among the Hugo recipients accepting awards. The recording is a little damaged in places, but very watchable. Video and video restoration provided by David Dyer-Bennet and the Video Archeology Project.

(4) RU12? BBC Culture expounds on “The 100-year-old fiction that predicted today”.

One day in 1920, the Czech writer Karel Capek sought the advice of his older brother Josef, a painter. Karel was writing a play about artificial workers but he was struggling for a name. “I’d call them laborators, but it seems to me somewhat stilted,” he told Josef, who was hard at work on a canvas. “Call them robots then,” replied Josef, a paintbrush in his mouth. At the same time in Petrograd (formerly St Petersburg), a Russian writer named Yevgeny Zamyatin was writing a novel whose hi-tech future dictatorship would eventually prove as influential as ?apek’s robots.

Both works are celebrating a joint centenary, albeit a slippery one. Capek (pronounced Chap-ek) published his play, RUR, in 1920 but it wasn’t performed for the first time until January 2021. And although Zamyatin submitted the manuscript of his novel, We, in 1921, it was mostly written earlier and published later. Nonetheless, 1921 has become their shared birth date and thus the year that gave us both the robot and the mechanised dystopia – two concepts of which, it seems, we will never tire. As Capek wrote in 1920, “Some of the future can always be read in the palms of the present”….

(5) FRANK HERBERT Q&A. From Seventies video archives: “DUNE Author Frank Herbert on Environmentalism”.

Frank Herbert, author of the ‘Dune’ series, discusses environmentalism in this 1977 interview with WTTW’s John Callaway.

(6) JUDITH HANNA. Fanzine fan Judith Hanna died September 6 of cancer. She is survived by her husband, Joseph Nicholas. The Australian-born Hanna was a member of the Sydney University Tolkien Society. She emigrated to the UK in the early Eighties. She was a member of the Australia in ’83 bid committee. Hanna wrote for many fanzines, and with Nicholas published Fuck The Tories, which won the Nova Award in 1990.She was a reviewer for Vector and Paperback Inferno, among others. Her fanwriting was selected for Fanthology ’88, Fanthology ’89, and Fanthology ’93.  

(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • 1953 – Sixty-eight years ago on this date, the first Science Fiction Achievement Awards, which would be nicknamed the Hugo Awards, are presented during the 11th World Science Fiction Convention. This Worldcon was informally known as Philcon II. Isaac Asimov was the Toastmaster that year. Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man won for Best Novel, The award for Best Professional Magazine went to Astounding Science Fiction as edited by John W. Campbell, Jr., Hanes Bok was voted Best Cover Artist, Virgil Finlay won for Best Interior Illustrator, Willy Ley won it for Excellence in Fact Articles, the Best New SF Author was Philip José Farmer and #1 Fan Personality was Forrest J Ackerman. 

(8) TODAY’S DAY.

  • September 6 – Read A Book Day

Sumiko Saulson says this is how “HWA Celebrates Read a Book Day”:

September 6 is National Read a Book Day, one day a year that is set aside to encourage all of us to curl up with a good book. The Horror Writers Association would like to take this time out to honor and celebrate the international horror writing community, and the book lovers all over the world who love to read the scary books we write.

Many of us have bookshelves filled with tomes of terrifying tale and bone chilling anthologies of monstrosities of every kind. But when it comes to books, we’re sure you will agree that there is really no such thing as too much of a good thing.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 6, 1904 — Groff Conklin. He edited some forty anthologies of genre fiction starting with The Best of Science Fiction fromCrown Publishers in 1946 to Seven Trips Through Time and Space on Fawcett Gold in 1968. The contents are a mix of the obscure and well-known as Heinlein, Niven, Simak, Dahl, Sturgeon, Lovecraft and Bradbury show up here. He was nominated at NyCon II  for Best Book Reviewer which Damon Knight won (there’s a category that got dropped later), and was nominated at Millennium Philcon for a Retro Hugo that went to John W. Campbell Jr. Exactly one of his anthologies, Great Stories of Space Travel, is available at the usual suspects. (Died 1968.)
  • Born September 6, 1943 — Roger Waters, 78. Ok, I might well be stretching it just a bit in saying that Pink Floyd is genre. Ok, The Wall isdefinitely genre I’d say. And quite possibly also The Division Bell with its themes of communication as well. Or maybe I just wanted to say Happy Birthday Roger! 
  • Born September 6, 1953 — Elizabeth Massie, 68. Ellen Datlow, who’s now doing the most excellent Year’s Best Horror anthology series, was the horror and dark fantasy editor for the multiple Hugo Award winning Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror where she selected Massie’s “Stephen” for the fourth edition. A horror writer by trade, Massie’s also dipped deeper into the genre by writing a female Phantom graphic novel, Julie Walker Is The Phantom in Race Against Death! and a Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Power of Persuasion novel. Massie is also a two-time Bram Stoker Award winner.
  • Born September 6, 1953 — Patti Yasutake, 68. She’s best remembered  for her portrayal of Nurse Alyssa Ogawa in the Trek universe where she had a recurring role on Next Generation and showed up as well in Star Trek Generations and Star Trek First Contact. In doing these Birthdays, I consulted a number of sites. Several of them declared that her character ended her time as a Doctor. Not true but it made for a nice if fictional coda on her story. She was cast as a doctor in episodes of several other non-genre series.
  • Born September 6, 1972 — China Miéville, 49. My favorite novels by him? The City & The City which won a Hugo at Aussiecon 4 is the one I’ve re-read the most followed closely by Kraken. Scariest by him? Oh, that’d King Rat by a long shot. And I’ll admit the dialect he used in Un Lun Dun frustrated me enough that I gave up on it. I’ll hold strongly that the New Crobuzon series doesn’t date as well as some of his other fiction does. Now his writing on the Dial H sort of horror series for DC was fantastic in all ways that word means.
  • Born September 6, 1972 — Idris Elba, 49. He was Heimdall in the Thor franchise, as well as the Avengers franchise. First genre role was as Captain Janek in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and later he was in Pacific Rim as Stacker Pentecost. He’s the Big Bad as Krall in Star Trek: Beyond. His latest genre role was as Robert DuBois / Bloodsport in last Suicide Squad film.
  • Born September 6, 1976 — Robin Atkin Downes, 45. Though he’s made his living being a voice actor in myriad video games and animated series, one of his first acting roles was as the rogue telepath Byron on Babylon 5. He later shows up as the Demon of Illusion in the “Chick Flick” episode of Charmed and he’s got an uncredited though apparently known role as Pockla in the “Dead End” episiode of Angel. He does the voice of Edward in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, and he‘s Angelo on the 2016 Suicide Squad. (There’s a small place in a database Hell for film makers who make films with the same name.) 
  • Born September 6, 1976 — Naomie Harris, 45. She’s Eve Moneypenny in SkyfallSpectre and the still forthcoming No Time to Die. This was the first time Moneypenny had a first name. She also appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Tia Dalma. And lastly I’ll note she played Elizabeth Lavenza in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the National Theatre. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) GET YOUR KICKS IN YEAR ’66. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus tells us how things went at this year’s (1966) Worldcon in Cleveland: “[September 6, 1966] The Greatest (SF) show on Earth! (1966 Worldcon and Hugo Awards)”.

There are many science fiction conventions in the United States, from New York’s Lunacon to Westercon, held in San Diego this year!  But the granddaddy of them all is the annual Worldcon, which travels from city to city as various fan groups are able to submit a winning bid to the con’s members.

This year, Cleveland won the honor, and so the convention representing the three cities of Cleveland, Cincinatti, and Detroit was appropriately called “Tricon.”  More than 800 fen (plural of fan, natch) descended upon the Sheraton-Cleveland (the historic “Renaissance”) hotel for a long weekend of fun and fannery.  Even the best rooms at this ancient hotel were tiny, and several complained of dusty closets.  Luckily, we spent little time in our rooms!…

(12) IN A HOLE IN ITALY THERE LIVED A HOBBIT. Dream comes true: “‘What is this if not magic?’ The Italian man living as a hobbit” reports The Guardian.

Nicolas Gentile, a 37-year-old Italian pastry chef, did not just want to pretend to be a hobbit – he wanted to live like one. First, he bought a piece of land in the countryside of Bucchianico, near the town of Chieti in Abruzzo, where he and his wife started building their personal Shire from JRR Tolkien’s fictional Middle-earth.

Then, on 27 August, alongside a group of friends and Lord of the Rings fans dressed as an elf, a dwarf, a hobbit, a sorcerer and humans, he walked more than 120 miles (200km) from Chieti to Naples, crossing mountains and rivers, to throw the “One Ring”, a central plot element of The Lord of the Rings saga, into the volcano crater of Mount Vesuvius….

… In Bucchianico, the festival of the Banderesi is organised every year. It is one of the oldest festivals in Europe – celebrated for almost 500 years and in which people wear medieval clothes, sing songs, dance and prepare typical local dishes.

“Those are hobbit clothes,” says Gentile. ‘‘I realised that I have always lived in the Shire. The only thing missing was to become aware of it and build a village….”

(13) URBAN VISION. CNN covers somebody else’s idea of living the dream: “Plans for $400-billion new city in the American desert unveiled”.

The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it.

Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding.

The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system. A so-called “15-minute city design” will allow residents to access their workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes.

Although planners are still scouting for locations, possible targets include Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas and the Appalachian region, according to the project’s official website….

(14) ON THE GRIPPING HAND. Captain Toy has posted Michael Crawford’s “Review and photos of Captain Picard First Contact Star Trek sixth scale action figure”.

…We don’t get a ton of extras this time, but we get a couple key features.

He comes wearing a set of relaxed hands, and there’s a set of fists and two sets of specific gripping hands you can swap in. These are designed to work with the other accessories, and their sculpts are just about perfect for the purpose.

He also has the phaser and tricorder, specific in design to the film. I mentioned the fantastic details earlier, but it’s worth talking about again. If you have good enough eyes, you’ll be able to read the screen on the tricorder.

The tricorder has the same two piece design as the earlier releases, with a strong magnet that holds the top and bottom together. This is a fantastic design, allowing the tricorder to be open or closed without any hinge that would be obvious or easy to break.

They also use magnets to hold the tricorder and phaser holsters to the uniform. This is a design carried over from QMX, but they do it better, with stronger magnets that are pretty much invisible to the eye….

(15) STUNNING. NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day – description below. And here’s a key to everything that appears in the photo.

Firefly Milky Way over Russia
Image Credit & Copyright: Anton Komlev

Explanation: It started with a pine tree. The idea was to photograph a statuesque pine in front of the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. And the plan, carried out two months ago, was successful — they both appear prominently. But the resulting 3-frame panorama captured much more. Colorful stars, for example, dot the distant background, with bright Altair visible on the upper left. The planet Saturn, a bit closer, was captured just over the horizon on the far left. Just beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, seen in the upper right, an Earth-orbiting satellite was caught leaving a streak during the 25-second exposure. The Earth’s atmosphere itself was surprisingly visible — as green airglow across the image top. Finally, just by chance, there was a firefly. Do you see it? Near the image bottom, the firefly blinked in yellow several times as it fluttered before the rolling hills above Milogradovka River in Primorsky KraiRussia.

(16) SEND IN YOUR MEDIA TO RODDENBERRY TRIBUTE. “’Star Trek’ Creator Gene Roddenberry To Be Honored With ‘Boldly Go’ Campaign”Deadline has the story.

The family foundation for Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is launching a month-long campaign on Wednesday to inspire hope for the next 100 years.

In partnership with Paramount+ satellite company Planet and Academy Award-winning technology company OTOY, the campaign (“Boldly Go”) is part of the celebration of the legacy of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in what would have been his centennial year.

The campaign will launch at Paramount+’s red carpet event on September 8, featuring Star Trek actors LeVar Burton, George Takei, Patrick Stewart, and others. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry, founder of the Roddenberry Foundation and president of Roddenberry Entertainment, will appear on a panel about Star Trek’s legacy. The celebration will be live streamed for free at StarTrek.com/Day starting at 8:30 PM ET.

The “Boldly Go” campaign will call on Star Trek fans and citizens around the world to submit photos and videos describing their hopes for the next 100 years….

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Youtuber LadyKnightTheBrave’sThrough The Gate: A Stargate SG-1 Retrospective.

[Thanks to JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, N., Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/19/21 Oilcan — Did You Say Something? – Oilcan — He Said, “Pixel Scroll!”

(1) JUNETEENTH PSA FROM HWA. Today’s holiday is explained by members of the Horror Writers Association in this video. (See transcript below.) — “Juneteenth: An Emancipation Celebration”.

Linda Addison, the Horror Writers Association Diversity Grant Chair, and authors Michelle Renee Lanei, Steven Van Patten, L Marie Wood, Marc Abbott, and Sumiko Saulson, on the Social Media Team for the Horror Writers Association.

(Linda Addison) On behalf of the Horror Writers Association we’d like to congratulate all African Americans on the progress recently made towards making Juneteenth a federally recognized Black Liberation Holiday.

(Nikki Woolfolk) On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution establishing June 19 as Juneteenth, a National Black Independence Day, a US holiday. The House voted 415-14 to make Juneteenth a national holiday commemorating the emancipation of African Americans from slavery in the United States.

(Sumiko Saulson) After this it was sent before President Joe Biden, who approved it on June 17, 2021 making it the first new National Holiday in the United States of America since Martin Luther King Day was established as a Federal Holiday in 1983.

(Steven Van Patten) Juneteenth, an abbreviation of the words June and Nineteenth, commemorates the anniversary of June 19, 1865. That day, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and informed African Americans there that the Civil War had ended and they were free at last.

(Ace Antonio Hall) Because the United States was still in the middle of the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, many of those it intended to free remained enslaved for another two and a half years.

(L Marie Wood) For this reason, Juneteenth has long been recognized as Black Independence Day across the nation. It was first celebrated the following year as Jubilee Day in the State of Texas, where it has been a state holiday since 1979.

(Nicole Givens Kurtz) From Toni Morrison’s Beloved to Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation, the phantoms of our shared history under slavery and its legacy haunt many African American ghost stories and tales of terror.

(Michelle Renee Lane) Slavery has left its mark on our psyche as a people. We write scary stories about it because vampires, ghosts, werewolves and skeletons are never quite as horrifying as the lived experiences of African Americans under slavery.

(Marc Abbott) Commemorating Juneteenth as a national holiday is a step towards ensuring that we never forget those dark days, never repeat them, and that we as a people, and as a nation can truly heal.

Written/Edited by Sumiko Saulson (6/18/2021) for the Horror Writers Association

(2) AFRICAN SCI-FI. “Animated Anthology ‘Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire’ Brings African Sci-Fi to Disney+”/Film has the story.

Filmmakers from Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt bring unique animation to Disney+ with Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, a 10-part collection of original films that will premiere on the streaming service next year. Peter Ramsey, co-director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, serves as executive producer for the anthology, which is comprised of sci-fi and fantasy stories set in a futuristic Africa.

Disney has announced full details for Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire, a 10-part series of animated films that hope to take viewers “on a wildly entertaining ride into Africa’s future.” The films are inspired by Africa’s histories and cultures, and promise “action-packed sci-fi and fantasy stories present bold visions of advanced technology, aliens, spirits and monsters imagined from uniquely African perspectives.” 

(3) PASSING ALONG WISDOM. The autobiography of Hidden Figures’ Katherine Johnson – My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir – was released May 25, and is reviewed by Ainissa Ramirez in Nature: “Katherine Johnson’s Bold Trajectory”.

When Star Trek first aired in the 1960s, communications officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) seemed to be the only Black woman affiliated with space travel. Little did society know that, as mathematicians, Black women such as Katherine Johnson actually made space flight possible. Johnson, who was highlighted in the 2016 Hugo Award winning movie Hidden Figures, died last year, aged 101. She left readers a gift – her autobiography…  

She entitles her chapters with life lessons — ‘Education Matters’, ‘Ask Brave Questions’, ‘Shoot for the Moon’. Johnson recognizes that she is a role model, and that few women and people of colour see their reflections in the sciences. I felt like I was sitting at the knee of a griot — a historian and storyteller — gaining years of insight into how to use idle times to prepare, to keep moving forwards when life hurts…

(4) FUN VS. CREATING INVENTORY. Dean Wesley Smith says avoid these “Deadly Problems For Writers…”

…Sitting alone in a room and making stuff up should be fun. What else would it be? No one is going to come and hurt you if you write something that doesn’t work for every reader on the planet (a silly goal on its face.) No one is going to die at your hands (besides characters) if you mess something up.

And best of all, no one cares. You are free to sit in that room and make up whatever you want. No one cares.

When you should start thinking about the product is after your write the last line of the story or book AND NOT ONE MOMENT BEFORE.

But if you start caring too much about the product WHILE WRITING, or even thinking about the product, your process becomes no fun and just stops.

SO HOW DOES A WRITER SLIP INTO PRODUCT FOCUSED WHILE WRITING?

Let me list a bunch of ways, and I know I will miss a bunch of major ways. Add them in the comments if you want.

1… Need to make money quickly. It is the “quickly” that is the killer. Your writing, over time, will make you more money than you can imagine if you keep it fun and keep learning. But if you focus on the writing needing to make a lot of money quickly, it will not. If you need extra money, get a part-time day job and take the pressure off the writing.

2… Writing for other people. Setting deadlines for others puts all the focus on the end product. Deadlines for some can be a motivating thing. They often are for me, but I never attach people to that deadline, or do I ever care what any reader, fan, or critic will think. (Anyone who has watched this blog over time knows how often I have failed on deadlines. If the motivation works for a project, great, if not, great….

And Smith supplements the list with a long story about taking his own advice in “Following Up on Yesterday’s Post…”

THANK HEAVENS I never paid attention or cared about how a book or a series was selling. I never cared that the books weren’t selling for years. My measuring stick was the fun in the writing. And if WMG had done that promotion on book three instead of book #9, it would have failed. The fact that I had nine books in the series done gave readers who liked the book something to buy next.  (You know, magic bakery thinking.)

So that is a personal story of me practicing what I preached in last night’s blog.

(5) VORKOSIGAN COVER POSTER. Lois McMaster Bujold told her Goodreads followers about a “Vorkosigan e-covers poster still for sale”.

A tidy display of all of artist Ron Miller’s Vorkosigan e-covers, as seen in the background of my new PR photo. Because it’s not like you can place ebooks face-out on your bookshelves…

May still be purchased here:

https://society6.com/product/the-vork…

Sizes available in x-small to x-large, and I see they are even on sale today (6/18).

(6) SPACE: THE FINAL FRONTIER. Best Fan Writer Hugo nominee Alasdair Stuart opines:

But what prompted him to say so today? It was Adri Joy’s tweet objecting to DisCon III’s efforts to manage space limitations at the Hugo finalist reception and of near-the-stage seating for the ceremony, as documented in this excerpt from the committee’s message:   

(7) PANDEMIC HELPS NESFA PRESS SALES. Tim Szczesuil told the May 9 meeting of the New England Science Fiction Association that their book firm’s sales “have been up substantially over the last year; from the beginning of the pandemic. This is probably due to people having more time to read.” Not including ebooks, here are NESFA Press’ total books sold for recent years:

  • 2017 — 2948
  • 2018 — 3282
  • 2019 — 2595
  • 2020 — 3599
  • 2021 — 1486

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 19, 2013 — On this date in 2013, Dark Horse Comics published the hardcover of Star Wars: Legacy, John Ostrander’s look into the future of the Skywalker family about 100 years after the time of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. I’m not sure it’s considered canon, but it’s awesome none-the-less. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 19, 1911 — Jesse Francis McComas. He was the co-founding editor, with Anthony Boucher, of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. With Boucher, he edited a series of Best from F&SF anthologies.  He wrote several stories on his own in the Fifties using both his own name and the pen name Webb Marlowe. He was nominated for Retro Hugo for Best Editor. (Died 1978.)
  • Born June 19, 1915 — Julius Schwartz. He’s best known as a longtime editor at DC Comics, where at various times he was primary editor for the Superman and Batman lines. Just as interestingly, he founded the Solar Sales Service literary agency (1934–1944) where Schwartz represented such writers as  Bradbury, Bester,  Bloch, Weinbaum, and Lovecraft which including some of Bradbury’s very first published work and Lovecraft’s last such work. He also published Time Traveller, one of the first fanzines along with Mort Weisinger and Forrest J Ackerman. (Died 2004.)
  • Born June 19, 1921 — Louis Jourdan. Fear No Evil and Ritual of Evil, two tv horror films in the late Sixties, appear to be his first venture into our realm. He’d play Count Dracula in, errr, Count Dracula a few years later. And then comes the role you most likely remember him for, Dr. Anton Arcane in Swamp Thing which he reprised in The Return of Swamp Thing. Definitely popcorn films at their very best. Oh, and let’s not forget he was Kamal Khan, the villain in Octopussy! (Died 2015.)
  • Born June 19, 1926 — Josef Nesvadba. A Czech writer, best known in his SF short stories, many of which have appeared in English translation. ISFDB lists a number of stories as appearing in English and two collections of his translated stories were published, In The Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman: Stories of Science and Fantasy and Vampires Ltd.: Stories of Science and Fantasy. Neither’s available from the usual suspects though Cora can read him in German. (Died 2005.)
  • Born June 19, 1947 — Salman Rushdie, 74. Everything he does has some elements of magic realism in it. (Let the arguments begin on that statement.) So which of his novels are really genre? I’d say The Ground Beneath Her FeetGrimus (his first and largely forgotten sf novel), Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Haroun and the Sea of Stories. If you’ve not read anything by him, I’d start with The Ground Beneath Her Feet which is by far both one of his best works and one of his most understandable ones as well.
  • Born June 19, 1953 — Virginia Hey, 68. Best remembered for her role as Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan in the fantastic Farscape series and playing the Warrior Woman in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. She’s also Rubavitch, the mistress of the KGB Head, General Pushkin, in The Living Daylights. She also had a brief appearance as a beautician in The Return of Captain Invincible, an Australian musical comedy superhero film. No, I’ve not seen it.
  • Born June 19, 1957 — Jean Rabe, 64. She’s a genre author and editor who has worked on the DragonlanceForgotten RealmsRogue Angel and BattleTech series, as well as many others. Ok I admit to a degree of fascination with such writers as I’m a devotee of the Rogue Angel audiobooks that GraphicAudio does and she’s written according to ISFDB five of the source novels under the house name of Alex Archer. 
  • Born June 19, 1978 — Zoe Saldana, born with the lovely birth name of Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario, age 43. First genre role was Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. She’s Nyota Uhura in the new Trek series, and she’s also Neytiri in the Avatar franchise. She portrays Gamora in the MCU, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy, a truly great film though I’m far less impressed with the second film by far.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to share sushi with Philip K. Dick Award-winning writer Meg Elison on episode 147 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Meg Elison

Even though we’re on opposite coasts of the United States, we ordered takeout sushi to nibble as we pretended we lived in a timeline of our own choosing.

Meg Elison is the author of The Road to Nowhere trilogy, which consists of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (which won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award), The Book of Etta (nominated for both the Philip K. Dick and James Tiptree awards ), and The Book of Flora. Her novelette “The Pill” made the final ballots this year of both the Nebula and Hugo Awards. She’s been published in McSweeney’sShimmerFantasy and Science FictionCatapultTerraform, and many other venues. PM Press recently published the book Big Girl — where “The Pill” first appeared — as a volume in its famed Outspoken Authors series.

We discussed her pre-pandemic prediction for the kind of year 2020 was then shaping up to be, how reading Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” changed her life, using tabletop RPGs to deal with the powerlessness felt during recent times, the way rereading taught her to be a writer, our dual fascination with diaries, when she realized her first novel was actually the start of a trilogy (and the songs which helped her better understand each installment), why she followed that post-apocalyptic trilogy with a contemporary YA novel, and much more.

(12) HORROR WEBINAR SERIES. Skeleton Hour is a new monthly horror literature webinar series presented as a Horror Writers Association event in collaboration with The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. Each panel is an hour long and brings together 3-5 authors to discuss a specific topic in horror with a moderator guiding the discussion. Panels will take place on Zoom, with the audience able to ask questions in the chat window. 

The last Skeleton Hour “Writing Horror in a Post Covid World” — featured Richard Thomas (moderator), Sarah Langan, Usman T. Malik, Josh Malerman, A.C. Wise, and Lucy A. Snyder.  

(13) COZY SFF? “A Book Like A Warm Hug: T.J. Klune – The House In The Cerulean Sea – a review by Dina at SFF Book Review.

…Starting with the writing style which I immediately fell into and just soaked up because it was everything I wanted, over the characters who not only show Linus that they are deserving of love, no matter how monstrous they may look, but who also totally carved out a spot in my heart, over the world building which reveals itself more and more over the course of the book, to the absolute delight of the found family and the real connections between them. I honestly can’t think of any comparison that would do this book justice. A warm blanket, a much-needed hug, someone holding your hand when you thought you were all alone – it’s kind of like all of those but none of them tell you all that the book is….

(14) EXCESSIVE TWINKLING? [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] Betelgeuse’s recent behavior has puzzled astronomers. But, as reported in this week’s Nature, they now think there is an explanation.

The red supergiant star is very noticeable in our night sky. For starters, it’s a BIG star 900 times the size of the Sun and if it were our Sun its surface would almost touch Jupiter and it would certainly encompass all the inner Solar system planets. It is also only 724 light years away. As such it is one of the few stars discernible through a telescope as a disc.

The puzzling mystery was that back early in 2020 it began dimming and by mid-February it had become just 35% of its normal brightness. Its southern half was especially dim.

Two theories abounded as to why this happened. First, red giants do see some variation in temperature. Could it be that convection cell change in its southern half could the star to cool?

Secondly, could there have been a cloud of dust temporarily obscuring our view of the star?

Now an international collaboration, led by European astronomers think they have the answer and that this involves both theories in a connected way.

They think the change in convection not only resulted in cooling but also allowed the star to eject a small amount of mass. As this drifted away – towards us in the line of sight – it cooled and condensed out as dust obscuring the star. Mystery solved.

  • Review article at Nature.
  • Primary research paper here.

[Note: We looked at this topic a few days ago, but Jonathan’s write-up is so much better!]

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Drum spotlights a video in which “Orlando Bloom & Katy Perry caution against voter suppression in transmission from future”.

…In the new spot, ‘Transmission from the future’, Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are reimagined as elderly folks in a post-apocalyptic setting where they are in hiding from a surveillance state. From the belly of a bunker in the year 2055, they transmit a PSA into the past – Americans’ screens in 2021 are interrupted by the bedraggled couple, who urge viewers to take action to protect democracy. “You are our only hope,” the elderly Bloom rasps. “The America you know doesn’t exist in our future. Democracy is dead.” Perry interjects, saying, “It started when voter suppression ran wild all over America. The voting rights bills died in the Senate. Polling places closed. We lost our right to vote.” The stars implore Americans to call their senators and voice their support for the For the People Act….

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Michael Toman, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

2020 Horror Writers Association Awards Diversity Grants

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the recipients of the 2020 HWA Diversity Grants.

The grants were created because “The Horror Writers Association believes barriers—often unseen but very real—exist which limit the amount of horror fiction being published by diverse voices. The goal of these Grants is to help remove some of the barriers and let those voices be heard.” They are open to “underrepresented, diverse people who have an interest in the horror writing genre, including, but not limited to writers, editors, reviewers, and library workers. Like the Diverse Works Inclusion Committee, the Diversity Grants have adopted the broadest definition of the word diversity to include, but not limited to, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabled, and neurodiverse.”

Supported by NoveListLibraryReadsARRT, and RA for All, each 2020 Grant is worth $500 and may be spent on approved expenses for a period of two years following the awarding of the Grant.

The 2020 grant recipients are —

Jacqueline Dyre (they/them) is the editor and publisher of Novel Noctule. You can find them in the sunshine state, drinking poorly-made coffee and consuming psychological horror in lieu of meals.

Jacqueline Dyre 

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (he/him) is a Nigerian speculative fiction writer, slush reader and editor. He has been awarded an honourable mention in the L Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, twice and won the Nommo award for best short story by an African with his short story The Witching Hour. He has been published in the Selene QuarterlyStrange HorizonsTorOmenana Magazine and other venues, and has works forthcoming in several anthologies and magazines. He has co-edited several publications, including the Dominion Anthology (2020), the Best of African Speculative Fiction Anthology and the Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology, forthcoming in 2021. He is a first reader in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and a member of the African Speculative Fiction Society, Horror Writers Association, Codex, BSFA, BFA, and the SFWA.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Sumiko Saulson (they/them) is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Ze is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic WomenScry of LustBlack Celebration, and Wickedly Abled. Ze is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”

Ze has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView. Ze is the host of the SOMA Leather and LGBT Cultural District’s “Erotic Storytelling Hour.”

Sumiko Saulson

Nicole Givens Kurtz (she/her) is an author, editor, and educator. She’s a member of Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s the editor of the groundbreaking Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. She’s written for White Wolf, Bram Stoker Finalist in Horror Anthology: Sycorax’s Daughters, and Serial Box’s The Vela: Salvation series. Nicole has over 40 short stories published as well as 11 novels and three active speculative mystery series. You can support her work via Patreon and find more about her at http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.net.

Nicole Givens Kurtz (

Tejaswi Priyadarshi (he/him) is a dreamer in the horror/thriller genre. He derives inspiration from Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Takashi Miike, Alexandre Aja, Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino, and the Ramsay Brothers.

His first book The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover was India’s first splatterpunk novel. It was released in July 2020, and has since remained on multiple bestselling charts, scaling its way up to be Amazon India’s highest rated Horror Thriller with 175+ ratings.

He is currently working on his second novel, trying to amalgamate Horror, Crime, Thriller, and Social Satire. You can often find him writing fiction at a bar counter, appreciating Independent Pop music gigs, and holding screenings of all sub-genres of horror/thrillers. However, nobody knows why he adamantly screens Purani Haveli so often. Email him at tejaswi.priyadarshi@gmail.com if you want to discuss anything under the sun; “How to Prep for a Zombie Apocalypse” is his favorite topic, because, what if!

Tejaswi Priyadarshi 

Gabino Iglesias (he/him) is a writer, editor, professor, and book critic living in Austin, TX. He is the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs and the editor of Both Sides. His work has been nominated to the Bram Stoker and Locus awards and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. His fiction has been published in five languages and optioned for film. His reviews appear in places like NPRPublishers Weekly, the San Francisco ChronicleCriminal Element, Mystery Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other venues. He’s been a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards twice and has judged the PANK Big Book Contest, the Splatterpunk Awards, the horror category of the British Fantasy Awards, and the Newfound Prose Prize. He teaches creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University’s online MFA program and runs a series of low-cost online writing workshops. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

Gabino Iglesias

Pixel Scroll 5/28/19 Pix-El, Last Scroller Of Krypton

(1) BAYCON. The Mercury News shared its very positive impression of last weekend’s BayCon: “Bay Area science fiction fans beam up to San Mateo to talk Star Trek, transgender fans and activism”.

…Speakers over the weekend included Brianna Wu, a congressional candidate from Massachusetts who was one of the most high-profile victims of an online harassment campaign aimed at women in the video game industry in recent years.

In conversations with the attendees on Sunday — an intimacy organizer Chris Castro said is a selling point of BayCon over larger conventions — Wu and moderator Gregg Castro discussed activist burnout and creating spaces for people who want to help but may not be comfortable canvassing or making phone calls. Wu also encouraged more women to run for office, calling it “the best job in the world.”

Also presenting at that panel was Sarah Williams, who grew up in Fremont and now lives in Davis. She said discussing social issues and activism is “almost necessary” in science fiction because it’s so forward-looking. The panels are also useful in fans’ personal lives, she said. As a queer woman, Williams said she knew she had to be supportive when her daughter told her she was a transgender girl.

Still, she said, she needed guidance on what support her daughter would need. She could access that through panels such as “Transfans,” a presentation held on Sunday morning about transgender science fiction fans. Williams said she also knew she could look up the speakers and reach out to them for advice.

However, Sumiko Saulson was present at another panel which didn’t reflect that kind of acceptance, and wrote about the experience on Facebook:

I’m reluctant to get into what happened when I was on a panel yesterday because it was fairly traumatic, but the short of it is that a well-known author guest (David Brin) started the panel by saying he wouldn’t trust regular Americans with this but we’re alpha sci fi writers, then went into a very ableist spiel about how we all know some beings – including, specifically certain humans, and he referenced the developmentally disabled – are inferior, people are just too politically correct to say so. Then he asked a moral dilemma question about if it would be more ethical to uplift animals and have them as servants than to genetically alter humans as servants and make them low IQ

Then he got into an argument with a young enby [non-binary] person in the audience who was sitting near Darcy (Chris Hughes) and the rest of the extremely poorly moderated panel included lots of yelling between the audience and panel, as he’d set the tone. He seemed to be intentionally asking baited or loaded questions….

(The report goes on for several more paragraphs in which some panelists’ conduct grew even more disturbing.)

(2) ANIMENEXT UPDATE. As a result of harassment allegations against AnimeNEXT chair Eric Torgersen (see Pixel Scroll for May 22, item #4), he has been suspended while the con’s board of directors investigate. They made the following announcement on Facebook over the weekend:

…as of April 14th, 2019, Eric Torgersen has been suspended from AnimeNEXT staff, pending this investigation, and will not be present at the 2019 event. AnimeNEXT and Universal Animation, Inc. have hired a neutral third party to conduct the investigation.

Additionally, Mr. Torgersen has not been a member of the board since 2018 and has not been Convention Chairman since 2017.

AnimeNEXT and Universal Animation, Inc. want our convention to be a safe and positive experience. As such, we do not condone harassment of any kind. We appreciate your patience and understanding until this investigation is completed.

Sincerely,

The Universal Animation Inc. Board of Directors

(3) ENTERPRISING FANS. Ernest Lilley tells Amazing Stories readers all about the Museum of Science Fiction’s weekend event: “MOSF Escape Velocity 2019 — Dominique Tipper GoH “.

While Amazing Stories editor Steve Davidson was holding down a booth at Balticon, the Capital Region’s largest sci-fi convention, I was an hour away at the Museum of Science Fiction’s annual convention: Escape Velocity 2019.

Escape Velocity is a different sort of con than anything else in sci-fi. Visually it looks like a media con, with lots of large-scale movie props and cosplayers, but behind the closed panel doors, there’s a serious attempt to create a fusion of pop-sci-fi culture, accessible science, resources for educators, and even a few policy wonks talking about the future of space conflict….

(4) PROOF NEGATIVE. Fabrice Mathieu unblushingly presents MOON SHINING » or: How Stanley Kubrick shot the Apollo 11 Mission?  — “an imaginative behind the scenes of the Moon Landing of Apollo 11 directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1969!”

(5) MOON COLLECTIBLES AUCTION. And yet people bid millions on Heritage Auction’s Spring Space Exploration Auction #6206

This was the second installment of The Armstrong Family Collection™ (TAFC) and, when the floor sessions were over, the top seven and fifteen of the top twenty sale prices were TAFC lots. A section of Lunar Module Flown Wright Flyer Wing Cloth and a Lunar Module Flown Wright Flyer Propeller Piece tied for top price at $175,000 each. Currently, the total sales are $4.579 million with Post-Auction Buys continuing.

(6) WHO’S TOXIC? Marvel’s Captain Marvel is coming out on Blu-Ray, heralded by the release of an extended version of a scene from the film. It’s caused an uproar.

Stylist takes this side: “Why Captain Marvel’s deleted scene on toxic masculinity has angered trolls”.

… Captain Marvel counters with a handshake and introduces herself. The man tells her: “People call me… The Don.”

Releasing an unimpressed “wow”, Captain Marvel then unleashes her superhero powers on the man, sending electrical pulses through her hand, forcing the man to his knees in pain.

“Here’s a proposition for you,” she says. “You’re going to give me your jacket, your helmet and your motorcycle, and in return, I’m going to let you keep your hand.”

He quickly hands over his keys, and Captain Marvel lets go, adding: “What, no smile?”

In just a minute-long scene, Captain Marvel sums up what’s wrong with men telling women to smile, and unsurprisingly, that’s made some men angry.

…The men criticising the scene — and attacking Larson — are missing the point, and being purposefully obtuse as to its message.

Yes, it shows Captain Marvel using her powers to harm someone else, but plenty of superheroes before her have done exactly the same, and gone much further than she did. That Captain Marvel is called out for behaviour that male superheroes have got away with for decades is sexist.

And saying the scene will hurt “feminist causes” is a fundamental misunderstanding of what feminism is about — women want equality, and that partially means dismantling the idea that the only good women are nice women.

Max Florschutz takes the other side in “The Captain Marvel Kerfluffle”.

…. Both sides have, as you can predictably guessed, gone up in arms. Both make some good points, and both make some bad points.

However, the reason I chose to take some time out of my crunched day to post about this was because at its core, the argument Disney’s marketing team and the writers of Captain Marvel have claimed is … well, wrong.

Vers isn’t a hero in that scene. Not by any definition of the term. And to see people so aggressively defending Vers actions as “heroic,” even the writing team? Well … I think that’s in part why the Captain Marvel had the problems it had.

See, the problem isn’t that the scene exists, but that people, creators included, are insisting that it is “heroic.” And it isn’t. It’s far from it, in fact, unless you’re aiming to redefine “heroism” as something completely different. Which I don’t think the writers are trying to do … They just genuinely don’t seem to know what heroism is.

Already there are people defending the “heroism” of the scene online by saying that naysayers are only unhappy because it’s “a woman,” declaring that no one had issues with a male character doing similar in Terminator 2.

No. Because in Terminator 2 the T-800 is nota hero. He’s an anti-hero. If someone declares that heroic, than they’re wrong. Flat out. He threatens physical harm to innocents because he doesn’t care, and has no morals. Classic anti-hero trait.

Vers threatening a slimy guy past simply shutting him down isn’t heroism with the goal of stealing his possessions isn’t heroism. It’s the mark of an anti-hero, just as it was with the T-800….

(7) DOGGONE IT. This week New Zealand’s Stuff showed that a problem persists: “Game of Thrones fans buying huskies from unregistered breeders”.

…A New Zealand husky rescue charity that has dealt with hundreds of abandoned dogs after Game of Thrones ramped up the breed’s popularity is pushing for reform outlawing “backyard breeders.”

Michelle Attwood, who founded the Canterbury-based charity Husky Rescue NZ in 2009, said that hundreds of huskies had been abandoned to her charity every year since Game of Thrones launched – their TV connection clear through names like Ghost, Nymeria, Stark and Snow.

Huskies have become a real “status symbol,” she said, with Thrones fans driving a vicious cycle.

Peter Dinklage publicized the problem in 2017:

At the time he released a statement:

‘Game of Thrones’ star Peter Dinklage is asking fans to stop buying huskies as pets just because they resemble the fictional direwolves in the blockbuster HBO show. The actor warns fans the pups still need constant care after the novelty wears off. “Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these huskies are being abandoned,” Dinklage said Tuesday in a statement released by PETA.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 28, 1908 Ian Fleming. The James Bond novels of course which are no doubt genre but also Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang which originally was published in three volumes and became a much beloved film. Like Heinlein, he would do a travelogue, this one called Thrilling Cities. (Died 1964.)
  • Born May 28, 1951 Sherwood Smith, 68. YA writer best known for her Wren series. She’s also co-authored The Change Series with Rachel Manija Brown. She also co-authored two novels with Andre Norton, Derelict for Trade and A Mind for Trade.
  • Born May 28, 1954 Betsy Mitchell, 65. Editorial freelancer specializing in genre works. She was the editor-in-chief of Del Rey Books. Previously, she was the Associate Publisher of Bantam Spectra when they held the license to publish Star Wars novels in the Nineties.
  • Born May 28, 1977Ursula Vernon, 42. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning graphic novel Digger which was a webcomic from 2003 to 2011. Vernon is also the creator of The Biting Pear of Salamanca, a digital work of art which became an internet meme in the form of the LOL WUT pear. 
  • Born May 28, 1982 Alexa Davalos, 37. Her first genre role i think was Gwen Raiden on the fourth season of Angel. She‘s Juliana Crain currently on The Man in the High Castle. And she was Andromeda in the remake of Clash of the Titans

(9) HUGO AWARDS ON JEOPARDY! TOMORROW.For once you get the news before the show is aired. Kevin Standlee says, “The Hugo Awards will be featured in a category on Jeopardy! on Wednesday, May 29.”

(10) DARKNESS FALLS. Fantasy Book Critic weighs in on “Necromantica by Keith Blenman (reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)”.

…Necromantica is, essentially, a love story. You feel it in the way Lama speaks to Mornia. You see it in Mornia’s behavior. Remember, they’re not sharing a drink. They’re in the midst of the battle and they slaughter enemies. Call it a dark fantasy romance. I mean, you don’t write a story called Necromantica without it being dark, right?

Lama and Mornia share heart-wrenching stories. Mornia used to live a free, spiritual life and wanted to grow into a healer. By the time the story begins, her life has been robbed from her and ell her loved ones killed. She survived, but she’s broken. Whatever magic she possessed, she used for revenge. Instead of healing people, she focused on black arts and necromancy. …

(11) BY THE HAIR ON THEIR CHINNY-CHIN-CHIN. SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” column has published a “scientific” study entitled “A very serious cultural study on beards and which dudes look hotter with them.”

To beard or not to beard, that is the question.

Last year, when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer revealed that Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers had grown a beard, the internet went wild. How is it possible that Evans, this hunky cinnamon roll of a golden retriever boy scout bro, could get even hotter? It was almost unfair, yet there it was. We mourned the loss of Cap-beard for an extended period of time on SYFY FANGRRLS, but it also got us thinking as to what it was about some well-organized facial hair that had us all aflutter.

It turns out that there’s a scientific reason for that. It’s not just pure shallowness! According to a study in 2013 on the subject, facial hair acts as a major influence in shaping people’s ideas about what we expect from men in society. The study revealed that “women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive.” For men, it was the opposite case, with full beards as the most attractive. Those conducted for the study also revealed that full beards were judged as an excellent sign of parenting ability and healthiness, so all your daddy Steve Rogers jokes paid off in a big way.

They go on to judge the beard-appeal and stylings for Jason Momoa, Chris Evans, Henry Cavill, Chris Hemsworth, John Krasinski, Rahul Kohli, Keanu Reeves, and Jason Mantzoukas.

(12) LOVE THAT MECHA. Future War Stories tunes into Japanese TV in “Future War Stories From the East: Armored Troopers VOTOMS”.

…Many of the more famous anime and manga is often defined and remembered because of a certain iconic character, unique setting, or piece of machinery (which is often Mecha). Some imported Japanese animations or comics are lucky enough to be imported wholly to the West along with other associated products like models, video games, or toys. Others were not so lucky and came over to our shores in pieces and over a great length of time, forging fans along with way….

…What is “Armored Trooper VOTOMS”? VOTOMS is the brainchild of Fang of the Sun Dougram creator Ry?suke Takahashi and despite being developed in 1983, VOTOMS is still an on-going Japanese military science fiction franchise encompassing anime TV series, OVAs, video games, models, and toys. At about the time that Fang of the Sun Dougram was ending its run on Japanese television, Takahashi and Nippon Sunrise animation studio would continue the mecha-centered war stories with the VOTOMS 52 episode television show that aired on TV Tokyo from April 1st, 1983 through March 23rd, 1984….

(13) NOVELLA NOTIONS. Garik16’s Hugo finalist reviews continue with — “Reviewing the 2019 Hugo Nominees: Best Novella”.

Hugo Award voting just opened at the start of May and continues through the end of July.  For those of you new to the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre, the Hugo Award is one of the most prominent awards for works in the genre, with the Award being given based upon voting by those who have paid for at least a Supporting Membership in this year’s WorldCon.  As I did the last two years, I’m going to be posting reviews/my-picks for the award in the various categories I feel qualified in, but feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments….

(14) COLLECTIBLE HARDCOVERS. Gizmodo/io9: “Folio Society Is Doing Special Editions for All of A Song of Ice and Fire…If It’s Ever Finished”.

The Folio Society recently announced that it was releasing a special collector’s edition of A Game of Thrones, the first novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Now, on the cusp of the series finale for HBO’s Game of Thrones, it looks like we can expect even more—the entire A Song of Ice and Fire, including those famously still-unwritten books. Of course, that all depends on whether Martin ever finishes them. 

In a statement to io9, the Folio Society’s representative confirmed that it was following up its A Game of Thrones hardcover edition with other books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The publisher says the project is a collaborative with Martin, who’s been involved “every step of the way.” The first book is available for preorder, and is set to come out on July 16.

(15) [PROCESSOR] POWER TO THE PEOPLE. “The tablet computer pulled by donkey” – BBC has the story, and a photo:

Back in 2016, mobile technology the like of which had not been seen before rolled into the remote community of Funhalouro, in Mozambique.

Pulled by donkey, the container consisted of four LCD screens, powered by solar panels.

It was a mobile roadshow, starting with music to draw a crowd and then switching to a three-minute film on the biggest of the screens.

While the topic – digital literacy – was not the most entertaining, it was engaging for the audience, many of whom had never seen a screen or moving images before.

After the film, the audience was invited to use smaller touchscreen tablets to answer a series of questions about what they had seen.

There were prizes of T-shirts and caps for those with the highest scores.

For those who couldn’t read, the questions were posed in diagram form….

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “The Shocking Truth of Lightsabers vs. Lightning,” on YouTube, Martin Archer, a physicist at Britain’s Queen Mary’s University, says that if lightsabers are made of plasma, having two of them blast each other is a bad idea and having lightning bolts sent toward a lightsaber is a really bad idea.

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