Pixel Scroll 10/17 The Fish Have Discovered Fire

(1) A Tokyo department store is offering a $91,000 solid gold figure of the alien Baltan, a villainous monster from Japan’s superhero Ultraman TV series. The perfect accessory to go with the 2007 Hugo base, except none of the winners I know can write the check!

(2) Stephen Fabian, among the most gifted illustrators ever, and whose professional career was capped by multiple Hugo nominations and a World Fantasy Life Achievement Award (2006), has put his gallery online. StephenFabian.com contains 500 drawings and paintings that he did for fan and professional publications beginning in 1965. Fabian includes autobiographical comments about each drawing or painting. For example, appended to his notes on the drawing “Born to Exile”:

And the greater wonder of it is, for me, that every once in a while I receive a surprise gift from a fan in appreciation of my artwork. In this case a fan sent me a beautiful copper etching that he made of my drawing that you see here, and that etching hangs on the wall in my drawing room. Other surprise tokens of appreciation that I’ve received from fans are; a miniature spun glass ship, a knitted sweater with an artist’s palette worked into the chest area, a neatly carved wooden figure of a “Running Bear,” that came from a missionary preacher in New Zealand, a fantasy belt buckle, and a miniature paper-mache sculptured “gnome” that keeps watch over me. I cherish them all, they give form and reality to that wonderful feeling of appreciation that comes from the heart.

Stephen E Fabian Collection

(3) Enter a selfie by tomorrow for a chance to win a box of “Marshmallow Only Lucky Charms”.

General Mills announced the “unicorn of the cereal world,” Marshmallow Only Lucky Charms, is finally a reality — but there are only 10 boxes.

The cereal maker said the 10 boxes of Marshmallow Only Lucky Charms will be given out as prizes in the “Lucky Charms Lucky Selfie” contest, which calls on participants to post pictures of themselves holding “imaginary boxes of Lucky Charms” on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag, “#Lucky10Sweepstakes.”

Entries must be posted by Oct. 18, the company said.

(4) The Gollancz Festival ‘s “One Star Reviews” features Anna Caltabiano, Simon Morden, Sarah Pinborough, Joanne Harris, Brandon Sanderson, Aliette de Bodard, Richard Morgan, Bradley Beaulieu, and Catriona Ward on camera reading their most savage reviews.

(5) Then, Game of Scones is a Gollancz Cake Off with Jammy Lannister and fantasy authors AK Benedict, Edward Cox and Sarah Pinborough competing for the Iron Scone.

(6) Oneiros wrote:

I dream of the day that I’m libelled quoted by Mike on File770. Of course first I guess I’ll have to start a blog of some description.

I notice there is a lot of competition in the comments for the honor of being Santa Claus, but how many others can fix this up for you? While saving the internet from another blog? Merry Christmas!

(7) Mark Kelly journals about his Jonny Quest rewatch – a show that was a big favorite of mine as a kid.

So: the show is about Jonny Quest, his father Dr. Benton Quest, a world-renowned scientist, Quest’s pilot and bodyguard “Race” Bannon, and their ‘adopted son’ Hadji, an Indian boy who saved Dr. Quest’s life while visiting Calcutta. The episodes involve various investigations by Dr. Quest, who seems to have a new scientific specialty each week (sonic waves one week, lasers another, sea fish another, a rare mineral to support the space program on another) or who is challenged by alerts from old friends (a colleague who is captured by jungle natives) or threats from comic-book character Dr. Zin (via a robot spy, etc.)

(8) Accepting submissions – No Shit, There I Was

Who We Are: Alliteration Ink is run by Steven Saus (member SFWA/HWA), focusing on anthologies and single-author collections, with over a dozen titles across two imprints.

Rachael Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. In addition to her steampunk novella series, she’s had short stories in Strange Horizons, Waylines, Daily Science Fiction, Penumbra, and more. She’s an active member of SFWA, the Northern Colorado Writer’s Workshop, and Codex.

Who: This will be an open call. All who read and follow the submission guidelines are welcome in the slush pile.

When: Rachael wants stories no later than 6 Jan 2016. No exceptions will be made. The Kickstarter will occur after the table of contents has been set.

What We Want From You:

Stories 2,000-7,500 words long. Query for anything shorter or longer.

All stories must begin with the line, No shit, there I was. It can be dialog or part of the regular prose.

(9) Childhood’s End starts December 14 on SyFy with a three-night event. Stars Charles Dance, recently of Game of Thrones.

John King Tarpinian says, “Hope they do not screw this up.”

I’m not completely reassured, because when I checked the SyFy Youtube channel today, this was the first video they were hyping —

(10) Today in History:

October 17, 1933: Physicist Albert Einstein arrived in the U.S. as a refugee from Nazi Germany.

(11) Congratulations to frequent commenter Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on her award-winning photo in the Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

DSN reporter Laura Gjovaag came away with the Sunnyside newspaper’s only first-place award. She won the top award in the black and white sports photo action, or feature, category. The photo of Lady Knight softball player Jenna den Hoed appeared in the May 20, 2014 issue, and beat out all entries in the category submitted by all four circulation groups.

(12) Ultimately, Sarah A. Hoyt’s “Magical Thought” is about a particular anti-gun protest in Texas involving dildos, but on the way to that topic she writes —

The problem is that more and more — and unexpectedly — I run up against this type of thought in places I don’t expect.

We ran into it a lot over the puppy stuff.  No matter how many times we told them we were in it for the stories, and because our story taste was different from theirs, they kept thinking magically.  It went something like this “We’re good people, and we’re for minorities.  So if these people don’t like the same stories we do, they must be racist and sexist.”

This was part of the nonsense that started Gallo’s flareup.  She had some idea we’d get all upset at TOR publishing Kameron Hurley’s book.  Because you know, we have different tastes than those primarily on the left who controlled the Hugos so long, so we don’t want them to … get published?

This only makes sense if the person saying it is inhabiting a magical world, where objects/people of certain valences are played against each other like some kind of card game.

This is not real.  I mean sad puppy supporters might not — or might, I won’t because it’s not to my taste, but — read Hurley’s book, but we won’t recoil from it like a vampire from a cross.  A Hurley book doesn’t magically cancel out a Torgersen book.  Or vice versa.

On the good side, at least on that level, our side doesn’t act like that.  We don’t say “ooh” at a new Ringo book because “Oooh, that will upset those liberals”  we say “oooh,” because we’ll get to read it.  Books are books and people are people, not points in some bizarre game.

(13) Umair Haque says he can explain “Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)”.

Here’s my tiny theory, in a word. Abuse. And further, I’m going to suggest in this short essay that abuse?—?not making money?—?is the great problem tech and media have. The problem of abuse is the greatest challenge the web faces today. It is greater than censorship, regulation, or (ugh) monetization. It is a problem of staggering magnitude and epic scale, and worse still, it is expensive: it is a problem that can’t be fixed with the cheap, simple fixes beloved by tech: patching up code, pushing out updates.

To explain, let me be clear what I mean by abuse. I don’t just mean the obvious: violent threats. I also mean the endless bickering, the predictable snark, the general atmosphere of little violences that permeate the social web…and the fact that the average person can’t do anything about it.

We once glorified Twitter as a great global town square, a shining agora where everyone could come together to converse. But I’ve never been to a town square where people can shove, push, taunt, bully, shout, harass, threaten, stalk, creep, and mob you…for eavesdropping on a conversation that they weren’t a part of…to alleviate their own existential rage…at their shattered dreams…and you can’t even call a cop. What does that particular social phenomenon sound like to you? Twitter could have been a town square. But now it’s more like a drunken, heaving mosh pit. And while there are people who love to dive into mosh pits, they’re probably not the audience you want to try to build a billion dollar publicly listed company that changes the world upon.

(14) “3+1” — A funny claymation short by Soline Fauconnier, Marie de Lapparent, and Alexandre Cluchet.

(15) “(Give Me That) Old-Time Socialist Utopia: How the Strugatsky brothers’ science fiction went from utopian to dystopian” by Ezra Glinter at The Paris Review.

Since they started writing in the mid-1950s, the brothers published at least twenty-six novels, in addition to stories, plays and a few works written individually. According to a 1967 poll, four of the top ten works of science fiction in the Soviet Union were by the Strugatskys, including Hard to Be a God in first place and Monday Begins on Saturday (1965) in second. For at least three decades they were the most popular science-fiction writers in Russia, and the most influential Russian science-fiction writers in the world.

Their popularity wasn’t without political implications, however. Later in their lives, the Strugatskys were characterized as dissidents—sly underminers of the Soviet regime. In its obituary for Boris, who died in 2012 (Arkady died in 1991), the New York Times called him a “prolific writer who used the genre of science fiction to voice criticisms of Soviet life that would have been unthinkable in other literary forms.” This is mostly true­—their work did become critical and subversive over time. But at the beginning of their career, the Strugatsky brothers were the best socialist utopians in the game.

(16) Todd Mason at Sweet Freedom discovered the 1963 LASFS Lovecraft panel:

Briefly, and in October it’s almost mandatory, particularly for a lifelong horrorist such as myself, to deal with something eldritch, but I’ve finally read the August Derleth-annotated transcript of a symposium recorded on 24 October 1963 at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, a discussion of Lovecraft and his influence featuring a panel including Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, writer Arthur Jean Cox, Sam Russell, and Riverside Quarterly editor Leland Sapiro, along with some comments and questions from the audience. Given that Bloch and Leiber were both helped and influenced by Lovecraft early in their careers and were the two most important exemplars of how to take his model for approaching the matter of horror fiction and improving upon it, it’s useful, if not as comprehensive here as one could hope, to see how they thought about that influence and their respective takes on Lovecraft’s work and legacy. Bloch unsurprisingly seems most taken by the interior aspects of what Lovecraft was getting at in his best work, the questions of identity and madness and usurpation from within; Leiber, also not too surprisingly, is at least as engaged by the larger implications, philosophically and otherwise, of humanity’s not terribly secure foothold in Lovecraft’s universe. The notion that such non-fans of Lovecraft as Avram Davidson and Edmund Wilson had more in common with him than their experience of his work led them to believe is briefly if amusingly explored. Not as significant as some of Leiber and Bloch’s other considerations of Lovecraft, but useful to read, and one’s suspicions of what August Derleth made of what he was transcribing and annotating, particularly when it touches on his own involvement with Lovecraft’s body of work, are mildly telling.

Click the link for a copy of the symposium transcript [PDF, 24 MB file]

(17) Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur is due in theaters November 25.

(18) If you click through the newly released archive of Apollo photos quickly enough you get something like stop motion animation.

[Thanks to Will R., Andrew Porter, Harry Bell, Karl Lembke, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peace Is My Middle Name.]

Pixel Scroll 8/13 Mission: Insufferable

Check your tickets. The winning numbers today are 4 and 770.

(1) Our Fantastic Four correspondent James H. Burns has discovered a website for an imaginary 1963-1964 FF television series with many clever faux production photos.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Cast of the faux Four series.

Elizabeth Montgomery and Russell Johnson were producer William Frye’s first choices to play Sue Storm and Reed Richards.  Although neither Johnson or Montgomery were yet huge stars, Frye had worked with both on separate episodes of Thriller.  He had also enjoyed Johnson’s work in This Island Earth, and Montgomery had initially attracted his attention with her Emmy-nominated performance as doomed nightclub performer Rusty Heller in The Untouchables.

Episode #5 was written by Harlan Ellison, and others were scripted by sf stalwarts Jerome Bixby, Theodore Sturgeon and Charles Beaumont.

Why is it impossible to watch this classic today?

The tapes of the actual episodes and most of the production notes were destroyed in a warehouse fire in southern California in 1974.

Because — “Flame on!”

(2) MiceAge has the scoop on plans to add “Star Wars Land” and “Marvel Land” to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure respectively:

The majority of Star Wars Land in the northernmost park acreage will be inside a massive series of show buildings, meaning the land won’t have to close for fireworks fallout. The rides and shows in the land itself are being developed in a top secret Imagineering lab in Glendale with Imagineers signing extra confidentiality agreements because the plotlines and characters are pulled from the next three episodes in the Star Wars saga and the Lucasfilm folks understandably guard that information with their lives. But what we can tell you is that Star Wars Land will include multiple attractions, anchored by a mega E Ticket using a trackless vehicle that will break the mold when it comes to how theme park visitors interact with a ride environment.

And:

The plans to expand DCA again with a Marvel Land behind Tower of Terror continue to move ahead, and the E Ticket thrill ride that is planned to anchor that expansion is going to be very unique. The ride will feature a newly Imagineered hybrid ride system that might be best described as a combination of Rock N’ Roller Coaster and Universal’s Transformers ride using every trick and gimmick WDI can throw at it, including on-board audio and effects and elaborate sets and animatronics.

(3) The Star Wars franchise is expanding in every direction. Even cosmetics. Nerdist has loads of pictures of the CoverGirl Star Wars: The Force Awakens makeup collection.

The line includes six new lipstick colors, three shades of nail polish, and ten tubes of mascara featuring quotes from the Star Wars films–including the first six films and The Force Awakens. CoverGirl Global Creative Design Director Pat McGrath has come up with six different and dramatic looks using products from the collection, and those are being unveiled at CoverGirl’s Star Wars Tumblr.

There isn’t much at the Tumblr today, maybe later on. Plenty to look at in the Nerdist post, though.

(4) Syfy channel has plans to develop Frederik Pohl’s Hugo-winning Gateway into a series. Battlestar Galactica’s David Eick is involved.

(5) The New York Times reports on a variety of computers with personality – “Siri, Tell Me a Joke. No, a Funny One”

Fred Brown, founder and chief executive of Next IT, which creates virtual chatbots, said his company learned firsthand the importance of creating a computer with a sense of humor when he asked his 13-year-old daughter, Molly, to test Sgt. Star, the Army’s official chatbot, which allows potential recruits to ask questions about the Army, just as you would in a recruiting station. Molly was chatting with Sgt. Star when she looked up and said, “Dad, Sergeant Star is dumb.” When he asked why, she said, “He has to have a favorite color, and it can’t be Army green.” Turns out, more than a quarter of the questions people ask Sgt. Star have nothing to do with the Army after Next IT programmed it with more human answers.

(6) The last few lines of Brad R. Torgersen’s long comment on Sarah A. Hoyt’s blog are sufficient to give you the flavor of the full 7-course meal. (Scroll down. The direct link doesn’t work for me.)

So, the field is essentially returning to its Marxist roots. But the starry-eyedness is mostly gone. Now we’re down to the raw hate of the thing: the vengeance-minded outliers and weirdos, determined to punish wrongdoing and wrongthinking and wrongfeeling. Which means, of course, smoking out all the wrongfans having all the wrongfun with their wrongstuff.

If they could clap us in shackles, put us into the boxcars, and send us to the icy wastes to die, they would do it in a heartbeat.

Because — by golly! — somebody has to make things be safe!

(7) Some writers can’t fathom how File 770 gets credit for being a radical hangout.

(8) Today’s birthday boy: Alfred Hitchcock, born in 1899.

[Thanks to James H. Burns, Petréa Mitchell, Mark, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]

Pixel Scroll 7/28 Pixels in My Pocket Like Scrolls of Sand

War, Famine, Conquest, Death, and a Puppy make up today’s Scroll.

(1) The headline reads “Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking Want to Save the World From Killer Robots” – more euphemistically called autonomous weapons.

Along with 1,000 other signatories, Musk and Hawking signed their names to an open letter that will be presented this week at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group,” the letter says. “We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.”

(2) Margaret Atwood, in her article about climate change on Medium, senses perception of change is accelerating.

It’s interesting to look back on what I wrote about oil in 2009, and to reflect on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years. Much of what most people took for granted back then is no longer universally accepted, including the idea that we could just go on and on the way we were living then, with no consequences. There was already some alarm back then, but those voicing it were seen as extreme. Now their concerns have moved to the center of the conversation. Here are some of the main worries.

Planet Earth—the Goldilocks planet we’ve taken for granted, neither too hot or too cold, neither too wet or too dry, with fertile soils that accumulated for millennia before we started to farm them –- that planet is altering. The shift towards the warmer end of the thermometer that was once predicted to happen much later, when the generations now alive had had lots of fun and made lots of money and gobbled up lots of resources and burned lots of fossil fuels and then died, are happening much sooner than anticipated back then. In fact, they’re happening now.

One of the many topics she covers is the use of didactic fiction to awaken students to environmental problems.

Could cli-fi be a way of educating young people about the dangers that face them, and helping them to think through the problems and divine solutions? Or will it become just another part of the “entertainment business”? Time will tell. But if Barry Lord is right, the outbreak of such fictions is in part a response to the transition now taking place—from the consumer values of oil to the stewardship values of renewables. The material world should no longer be treated as a bottomless cornucopia of use-and-toss endlessly replaceable mounds of “stuff”: supplies are limited, and must be conserved and treasured.

(3) Of course, what people usually learn from entertainment is how to have a good time. Consider how that cautionary tale, The Blob,has inspired this party

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania — one of the filming locations for “The Blob” — hosts an annual Blobfest. One of the highlights for participants is reenacting the famous scene when moviegoers run screaming from the town’s Colonial Theatre.

(4) However, there are some fans who do conserve and treasure their stuff, like Allen Lewis, who recently donated his large sf collection:

The University of Iowa has struck gold. Not the kind that lies in the federal reserve, but one of paper in a Sioux Falls man’s basement. After 20 years of collecting, he is donating his one-of-a-kind collection of 17,500 books worth an estimated three quarters of a million dollars.

(5) And the University of Iowa makes good use of the material, for example, its project to digitize the Hevelin fanzine collection:

Hevelin-fanzines-e1437769140485Now, the pulps and passion projects alike will be getting properly preserved and digitized so they can be made accessible to readers and researchers the world over. The library’s digitization efforts are led by Digital Project Librarian Laura Hampton. She’s just a few weeks into the first leg of the project, digitizing some 10,000 titles from the collection of Rusty Hevelin, a collector and genre aficionado whose collection came to the library in 2012. You can follow along with Hampton’s work on the Hevelin Collection tumblr.

“These fanzines paint an almost outrageously clear picture of early fandom,” said Hampton. “If you read through every single fanzine in our collection, you would have a pretty solid idea of all the goings-on that shaped early fandom—the major players, the dramas, the developments and changes, and who instigated and opposed them. There is an incredible cultural history here that cannot be replicated.”

(6) The DC17 Worldcon bid has Storified a series of tweets highlighting reasons for vote for their bid.

https://twitter.com/DCin17/status/626081453638483968

It absolutely is an All-Star committee.

(7) JT in Germany has posted his picks in the Best Related Works category, and Antonelli’s Letters from Gardner ranked at the top of his personal scorecard.

Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli — 3 of 5 This is the one I was most interested in, as it’s about the actual mechanics of writing. It’s a series of short stories, starting as he’s trying to break into publishing short science fiction, and follows his career. Each of the stories is paired with an intro and follow-up about the changes the stories went through, including his interactions with famed editor Gardner Dozois. Unfortunately, the included sample was only just getting into the interesting part of his correspondence. It was good enough that I’ll be buying it soon enough.

(8) Another successful crowdfunding effort is bringing out Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue, a new comic that portrays H.P. Lovecraft as “a modern-day, kick-ass action hero & alchemist.”

Writer Craig Engler is thrilled to report the copies have arrived from the printers and will be going out to donors. Lovecraft 48 pg COMP

(9) Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria is due out August 4. The biography of Helen “Joy” Davidman. Katie Noah’s review appears in Shelf Awareness (scroll down).

Joy cover

While she clearly admires her subject, Santamaria acknowledges Joy’s failings: her tendency to exaggeration and even lying; the spending sprees she could rarely afford; her troubled relationship with her parents and brother. Joy’s marriage to Bill also receives an even-handed treatment. Bill was undoubtedly an alcoholic who struggled to maintain a stable family life, but Santamaria clearly outlines the part Joy played in the failure of their marriage.

Frustrated by professional and personal setbacks, Joy uprooted her life–and that of her two young sons–to travel to England in 1952. She had struck up a flourishing correspondence with Lewis, and she set out to woo her literary lion. Santamaria chronicles the difficulties of Joy’s life in England and Lewis’s reaction to her arrival, but admits that, in the end, they did fall deeply in love. As Joy’s health began to fail, her relationship with Lewis flourished, and their last few years together were blissful.

(10) When Syfy isn’t busy feeding celebrities to sharks, they produce episodic sci-fi shows like the new Wynonna Earp project.

This classic by Beau Smith which was brought to us by IDW Publishing is being given a 13 episode first season run and stars Melanie Scrofano (‘RoboCop‘,’Saw VI’) in the lead role! She’ll be playing the great granddaughter of Wyatt Earp and works for The Monster Squad. Following in his infamous footsteps, she works with the US Marshals, only in a secret department that tracks down fiends that are just a bit more sinister than your regular criminal.

(11) They’re also readying an adaptation of Clarke’s Childhood’s End — here’s the supertrailer shown at Comic-Con

[Thanks to Mark, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Linda Lewis, John King Tarpinian and David K.M. Klaus. Title credit to Brian Z.]

 

Nimoy Tribute on Syfy Sunday Morning

Syfy has announced it will honor the passing of Leonard Nimoy with a special five-hour block of programming on Sunday morning, March 1 beginning 9 a.m./8c.

9:00 a.m.

The Twilight Zone

S3.E15  “Quality of Mercy” – A lieutenant (Dean Stockwell) preparing to lead his platoon suddenly sees the attack as if he were the enemy. Causarano: Albert Salmi. Watkins: Rayford Barnes. Hansen: Leonard Nimoy. Hanacheck: Ralph Votrian. Japanese Soldier: Dale Ishimoto. Japanese Captain: Jerry Fujikawa.

9:30 a.m.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Two-part episode “Unification”

S5.E8  “Unification” — Conclusion. After locating Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and discovering his plans for unifying the Romulans and the Vulcans, Picard and Data uncover a covert Romulan plot that does not call for unification—but for invasion. Sela: Denise Crosby. Pardek: Malachi Throne.

11:30 a.m.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The Enterprise crew members are assigned to escort a Klingon leader to peace talks, but negotiations cease when a Klingon vessel is attacked and Capt. Kirk and Dr. McCoy are accused of the crime and forced to stand trial for murder

Sharknado 2 On the Way

Syfy announced today there will be a Sharknado sequel. By the time the next movie premieres the shark-filled storm front will have passed from Los Angeles to New York.

With only 1.4 million viewers, Syfy’s first Sharknado movie ranked well below most other “highly social shows” for the evening says Variety, but the social media publicity made a sequel irresistible.

Syfy will invite fans to create Sharknado 2′s subtitle by submitting their ideas at @SyfyMovies using the hashtag #Sharknado. Sharknado’s subtitle was “Enough said.”

Syfy Looks at Ellison Project

The day after the premiere, you may be asking yourself what act would dare follow Sharknado?

Who else?

Harlan Ellison told readers of his Forum this week:

On Monday we were visited by Karen O’Hara from the SyFy Channel in NYC, who wanted to discuss a possible linkage of Ellison to a still-in-talking-stage Ellison Creating A Story In A Window Then Turned into SyFy Movie Spectacular.

If you think there’s no connection with Sharknado, think again! O’Hara spent part of her visit watching Dreams With Sharp Teeth, the Ellison documentary.

Defiance Renewed

Syfy’s Defiance is go for a second season, extending a collaboration between the show and its online game which to date has garnered 1 million registered accounts.  

Defiance has been a massive investment for Syfy and Universal Cable Productions. Billed as a “transmedia experience,” the series is tied to a massively multiplayer online video game. The combined price tag of the freshman season and the video game is a cool $100 million.

The show is set in a vastly changed American Midwest:

Set in the near future, Defiance features an exotically transformed planet Earth, its landscapes permanently altered following the sudden – and tumultuous – arrival of seven unique alien races. In this somewhat unknown and unpredictable landscape, the richly diverse, newly-formed civilization of humans and aliens must learn to co-exist peacefully. Each week, viewers follow an immersive character drama set in the boom-town of Defiance, which sits atop the ruins of St. Louis, Missouri, while in the game, players will experience the new frontier of the San Francisco Bay area.

David Klaus is intrigued by the show’s use of his hometown but wishes the culture had more depth:

Their “St. Louis” underground is a strange parallel to the real thing, and they’ve made local geography and cultural mistakes, but these are mixed in with a few things right. The sf elements are cliched, with each race being a cultural stereotype w/everyone from the race all being the same. Instead of Klingons=warriors, Ferengi=shady businessmen, it’s Irathians=mysteriously religious, Ibogenes=super-scientists, Liberata=cynical domestic servants, Castithians=schemers. Literal racism.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

Michael Mallory Signing in Glendale

Pop culture writer Michael Mallory will sign his latest book, The Science Fiction Universe…and Beyond: A SyFy Channel Book of Sci-Fi, at Mystery & Imagination on December 2 at 3:00 p.m.

Arranged chronologically, showing the progression of sci-fi over the decades, and delving into interesting back stories and trivia, this volume includes a variety of classic films and television shows, such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Twilight Zone (1959–1964), Doctor Who (1963–1989), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Star Wars, Episode IV—A New Hope (1977), Alien (1979), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Stargate SG-1 (1997–2007), Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009), and many others.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Syfy: Not Only the Name Has Changed

When Syfy changed its name from the Sci-Fi Channel it was not expected to take long for the company to begin offering more non-genre programming. Syfy President Dave Howe recently told Advertising Age:

“We don’t want to be in the niche space; we want to be in general entertainment…” Science fiction, fantasy and comic-book movies are, of course, already fairly general entertainment. They account for seven of the top 10 highest-grossing movies every year, Mr. Howe said. But Syfy now wants to offer more as well.

Syfy will premiere three new reality shows on July 15 with paranormal themes. If successful, Syfy will eventually have a broader appeal like cable enterprises A&E and Discovery.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]

SyFy, *sigh*

The change has happened: SyFy is the new name of the SciFi Channel. Or as io9 put it, they’ve changed the name to a typo.

Will there now be lots of Abbot-and-Costello style comedy routines about SciFi-no-I’m-talking-about-SyFy? Are you kidding? First, fans will have to wear out the even more obvious joke. Advertising Age reports:

“According to research done exclusively for BNET Media by TNS Cymfony, syphilis jokes account for about four percent of all commentary about Syfy.” Ouch.

Proud to be numbered in that four percent is the Crotchety Old Fan, but I can’t fault his constructive and helpful approach. Click on the link and you’ll get the complete “CDC communiqué” for dealing with this new outbreak:

What is the treatment for SyFy?

SyFy is easy to cure in its early stages. A single intramuscular injection of penicillin, an antibiotic, A single blow to the head with a ballpeen hammer will cure a person who has had SyFy for less than a year. Additional doses blows are needed to treat someone who has had SyFy for longer than a year…

I predict Crotchety will be forced to post more medical advice assisting his readers who fall out of their chairs laughing.

The SyFy announcement also reveals why an independently-owned sf media site changed its name to Airlock Alpha:

In the 24 hours since NBC Universal announced it had a new name for SciFi Channel, it seems they have found themselves in a tug of war with Airlock Alpha founder and site coordinator Michael Hinman on where exactly the “Syfy” name came from. Last month, Airlock Alpha came into existence following a sudden rebranding of the site that had carried the name “SyFy” in some form or another for more than a decade. The move shocked many readers, and was described at the time as nothing more than a marketing move by the site as it prepares to launch Inside Blip…

Hinman has declined to disclose what he was paid for to give up the SyFy brand, but has made it clear that it was significant.

“All I can tell you is that the amount was far more substantial than anyone who was simply looking to get into the science-fiction news business would pay, even me,” Hinman said. “So we knew it was someone extremely well capitalized.”

[Thanks to David Klaus, Andrew Porter, plus Michael J. Walsh and Stu Hellinger via Smofs, for links used in this story.]