Pixel Scroll 8/16/19 Scrolls From Topographic Pixels

(1) CSF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS. David L. Ulin goes “Inside the archives — and mind — of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick” for the LA Times. CSF’s sff collection originated with the work of Professor Willis McNelly.

…“The Man in the High Castle,” perhaps his most accomplished novel, is one of many works at Cal State Fullerton. The collection includes a “production manuscript” (a typescript with notes on fonts and chapter headings), as well as two sets of uncorrected galley proofs in long, loose sheets. “He was thirty-eight years old,” Dick writes of a character early on, “and he could remember the prewar days, the other times. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the World’s Fair; the former better world.”

To read those lines is like coming upon a precognition, a message to the present from the past. One of the clichés of science fiction is that it’s predictive, and yet, isn’t that the point of an archive such as this?

“We’re always collecting in the present for the future,” says Patricia Prestinary, Cal State Fullerton’s special collections librarian and archivist. “We look for connections. Philip K. Dick was a California writer, and late in his life, an Orange County writer. We’re preserving history in the making here.”

… In an essay written during the early 1990s, McNelly remembers receiving the manuscript of “Fahrenheit 451” from Ray Bradbury, as well as the Frank Herbert papers, which remain among the library’s most significant holdings.

(2) DUBLIN 2019 BUSINESS MEETING. “Dublin 2019 — WSFS Business Meeting Day 1” has a synopsis of the day’s machinations.

(3) AS IT HAPPENS. The Hugo Awards site has a post showing where to find August 18’s live text-based coverage of the 2019 Hugo Awards.

(4) THE NAME OF THE GAME. Did you wonder? “Why Are They Called the Hugo Awards?” At the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog Andrew Liptak explains it all to you:

The Hugo is the oldest and, by some measures, most prestigious award in the genre, and more often than not, the book that walks away with Best Novel honors will go on to withstand the test of time. (This year’s slate is certainly a promising one in that regard.)

(5) AO3. NPR’s All Things Considered ran a 4+-minute story: “‘Archive Of Our Own’ Fanfiction Website Is Up For A Hugo Award”.

The fanfiction website Archive of Our Own — where people post stories about their favorite movies, books and TV shows — is up for a Hugo Award, one of the highest awards in sci-fi and fantasy.

(6) IRISH FANDOM BACK IN THE DAY. David Langford has posted Hyphen 37 edited by Walt Willis as a free download at his Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund website (but feel free to contribute to TAFF while you’re there!)

The 1987 revival issue of the long-dormant classic fanzine Hyphen. With new and reprinted material by John Berry, Chuck Harris, Eric Mayer, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Bob Shaw (twice), Bill Temple, Arthur Thomson, James White (with the famous “The Exorcists of IF”) and Walt Willis himself, plus further fannish luminaries including Robert Bloch, Chris Priest and Bob Tucker in a catch-up letter column whose contents date back to the 1960s.

Hyphen 37 is also available as a web page at eFanzines.com and page scans at Fanac.org.

(7) MY LITTLE FANDOM. 11,000 people come to bid farewell to the BronyCon series: “The Friends We Made Along The Way: After 9 Years, BronyCon Calls It Quits” at NPR.

On a sweltering Saturday in Baltimore, 11,000 bronies have claimed downtown. These are the fans of the TV show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, their name a mashup of “bro” and “pony” because many of the show’s earliest — and unanticipated — adherents were young men.

For nine years they’ve evangelized the show, and for nine years they’ve been targets of scorn. But they’ve come here for BronyCon — the biggest My Little Pony convention in the world — heedless of what that world may think of them.

That’s what brought me here, too. I’ve dodged the brony label for years, but I can’t deny my love for the show. It’s helped me out in dark times, and I wasn’t about to pass up my last chance to join fans at BronyCon. Friendship may be magic, but the magic is fading; the show has entered its ninth and final season, and after several years of dwindling attendance, the convention’s organizers decided it was time for a last hurrah.

The promise of a final party drew record crowds much as it attracted me. “Honestly, I’m shocked that we got to this point. We were not expecting to have such a banner year,” says current convention chair Shir Goldberg. “We were expecting the fandom to be excited and maybe we would double our attendance from last year, clocking at the seven- or eight-thousand range, but we did not expect 11,000 people to show up.”

(8) REASONS TO READ. James Davis Nicoll supplies “A Brief Introduction to Sarah Tolmie’s Speculative Fiction” at Tor.com.

I was a bit surprised when in a comment someone mentioned not having heard of Sarah Tolmie. In the spirit of XKCD’s Ten Thousand, let me explain at least a little about who Sarah Tolmie is, and why you should be reading her fiction.

An Associate Professor of English at the University of Waterloo, Tolmie won a 2019 Rhysling Award for “Ursula Le Guin in the Underworld”; the poem was also nominated for an Aurora. Her The Art of Dying was shortlisted for the 2019 Griffin Poetry Award. Unfortunately, poetry isn’t my thing, so let’s move on to prose…

(9) FONDA OBIT. Peter Fonda (1940-2019), US actor/producer/director, died August 16, aged 79. Genre appearances include Spirits of the Dead (1968), Future World (1976), Spasms (1983), Escape from L.A. (1996), Supernova (2005), Ghost Rider (2007), The Gathering (both episodes, 2007), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008).

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 16, 1884 Hugo Gernsback. Publisher of the first SF magazine, Amazing Stories in 1926. Also helped create fandom through the Science Fiction League. Writer of the Ralph 124C 41+ novel which most critics think is utterly dreadful but Westfahl considers “essential text for all studies of science fiction.” (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 16, 1901 Earle K. Bergey. Illustrator whose work graced Strange StoriesThrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories, Captain Future, and  Fantastic Story Magazine. It is said that his art inspired the look of illustrations of scantily-clad women served as an inspiration for Princess Leia’s slave-girl outfit in Return of the Jedi. And it is Madonna was inspired by his brass bras for stage outfit of the same look. (Died 1952.)

Startling Stories, Fall 1945 

  • Born August 16, 1930 Robert Culp. He’d make the Birthday Honors solely for being the lead in Outer Limits’ “Demon with a Glass Hand” which Ellison wrote specifically with him in mind. He would do two more appearances on the show, “Corpus Earthling” and “The Architects of Fear”. Around this time, he makes one-offs on Get Smart! and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before being Special FBI Agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. Did you know there was a Conan the Adventurer series in the Nineties? Well he was King Vog in one episode. (Died 2010.)
  • Born August 16, 1933 Julie Newmar, 86. Catwoman in Batman. Her recent voice work includes the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders and Batman vs. Two-Face, both done in the style of the Sixties show. They feature the last voice work by Adam West. Shatner btw plays Harvey Dent aka Two Face.  She was on the original Trek in the “Friday’s Child” episode as Eleen. She also has one-offs on Get Smart!, Twilight Zone, Fantasy IslandBionic WomanBuck Rogers in the 25th Century, Bewitched and Monster Squad
  • Born August 16, 1934 Diana Wynne Jones. If there’s essential reading for her, it’d be The Tough Guide to Fantasyland with a playful look at the genre. Then I’d toss in Deep Secret for its setting, and Fire and Hemlock for her artful merging of the Scottish ballads Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer. (Died 2011.)
  • Born August 16, 1934 Andrew J. Offutt. I know him through his stories in the Thieves’ World anthologies though I also enjoyed the Swords Against Darkness anthologies that he edited. I don’t think I’ve read any of his novels. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 16, 1946 Lesley Ann Warren, 73. Miss Scarlett, a stock femme fatal, in Clue. She’s Dana Lambert in the fifth season of Mission Impossible. And she’s got one-offs on Twilight Zone, The Muppet Show, DaredevilFaerie Tale Theatre and Community.
  • Born August 16, 1952 Edie Stern, 67. Fancyclopedia 3 says about her that she is  “a well-known SF club, con, filker, collector and fanzine fan.” Well it actually goes on at impressive length about her. So I’m going to just link to their bio for her: Edie Stern.
  • Born August 16, 1954 James Cameron, 65. Let’s see… TerminatorAliensTerminator 2True LiesStrange Days… And The Abyss as well. Did you know he was interested in doing a Spider-man film? It never happened but the Dark Angel series with Jessica Alba did. And then there’s his Avatar  franchise… 
  • Born August 16, 1958 Angela Bassett, 61. Queen Ramonda in Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame. On the DC side of things, she played Amanda Waller in the dreadful Green Lantern film. 
  • Born August 16, 1971 Alan Tudyk, 48. Hoban “Wash” Washburne  in the Firefly universe whose death I’m still pissed about. Wat in A Knight’s Tale. (Chortle. Is it genre? Who cares, it’s a great film.)  He’s K-2SO in Rogue One and yes, he does both the voice and motion capture. Impressive. He also had a recurring role on Dollhose as Alpha, and he’s currently voicing a number of characters in the Young Justice series streaming on DC Universe.

(11) LIBRARY EBOOKS. At Publishers Weekly, Joseph Janes ponders, “Do Publishers Suddenly Hate Libraries?”

… In the wake of Toni Morrison’s passing, her story about why she was fired from a library job as a teenager has been making the rounds. To summarize: instead of reshelving all the returned books, she read them. “That experience opened my eyes and shaped my future,” Morrison said. “That’s what libraries do.”

Yes. That’s what libraries do. So why is it now seen as a good strategy for publishers to choke off digital access to reading in libraries? Especially at a moment when so many diverse, fresh new voices are emerging in popular literature, and when so many other digital (often free) mediums are competing for the attention of readers and would-be authors, à la the teenage Toni Morrison?

Part of the problem, of course, is that the library e-book market is still fairly new. It’s been just over eight years since HarperCollins announced its 26-loan limit on library e-books, a halting attempt at thinking through the library e-book market that initially raised hackles among many librarians before cooler heads largely prevailed. And it took until the end of 2014 for the other major publishers, using a variety of models, to jump into the library e-book market. But whatever market equilibrium libraries and publishers had reached a few years ago now looks more like a fragile armistice than peace. And whatever it was, it appears to be ending, leaving us all to wonder, What happens now? How do we move forward?

(12) LET JUSTICE BE DONE. Ohio Needs A Train registers some last-minute opinions about who The Rightful Winners of “The 2019 Hugo Awards” should be. And the Campbell Award, too –

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Everyone here has done pretty good work and, it seems, is destined to do even more. Jeannette Ng is perhaps the least to my taste 2 of these folks, but she’s still not undeserving. Katherine Arden certainly earns full marks for showing up fully-formed and remarkably prolific. While I haven’t read all of the Winternight books, I liked The Bear and the Nightingale just fine. She also writes young people books, which I have not read but am told are excellent. R.F. Kuang is previously covered in this space 3, and I maintain the opinion that The Poppy War is a tremendous display of talent that I absolutely did not like, although I do look forward to what she writes in the future, given that she’s as good as she is already. Rivers Solomon wrote An Unkindness of Ghosts which is a terrific generation ship novel, and I’m super-excited about what happens next from her. It must be noted, however, that I thought Vina Jie-Min Prasad was the rightful choice last year, and her work this year has only gotten better, so I still think it should be Vina Jie-Min Prasad.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Vina Jie-Min Prasad

(13) RETRO FIRE. Cora Buhlert delivers a trenchant appraisal of the winners in “Some Comments about the 1944 Retro Hugo Awards Winners” – though this paragraph seems a bit paradoxical:

…“R is for Rocket” by Ray Bradbury takes home a highly deserved Retro Hugo, because it is a great story that still holds up in spite of dated tech, though I’m a bit sad that “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” by Robert Bloch, which is not just a great story, but also the start of the modern fascination of serial killers in general and Jack the Ripper in particular, only finished in fourth place behind two lesser works by big names. I also wonder why “Death Sentence” by Isaac Asimov finished in second place, because – and I’m saying this as an Asimov fan – it is a weak story, which hasn’t even been reprinted in ages. Did anybody except for me actually read the Retro Hugo finalists or do they just vote by name recognition?

(14) FIRST DRAFT. “Leonardo da Vinci’s abandoned and hidden artwork reveals its secrets” (with overlays showing the original design).

New research into one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous works has revealed fresh information about an abandoned composition hidden under the painting.

Experts have found initial designs for the angel and infant Christ beneath the surface of the Virgin of the Rocks.

The designs are significantly different to how they look in the final painting, which hangs in the National Gallery.

The hidden designs were revealed using macro X-ray fluorescence maps and infrared and hyperspectral imaging.

(15) SUBTEXT. Can you imagine? (Of course you can.) Let BBC tell you about “The subversive messages hidden in The Wizard of Oz”.

It’s easy to mistake the 1939 classic as traditional family entertainment – but 80 years on from its release, the musical is more radical and surreal than ever.

In December 1937, Walt Disney Productions released its first feature-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It went on to be cinema’s biggest hit of 1938, a success that not only encouraged Disney to make other fairy-tale cartoons for decades to come, but also encouraged another studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, to try its own fantasy musical about an orphaned girl and a wicked witch: The Wizard of Oz.

But for all of its similarities to the Disney film, MGM’s version was more of an anti-fairy tale than a fairy tale. Just look at the trio of frightened and feeble misfits that accompanies its heroine along the yellow brick road. None of them is what you’d call a handsome prince. In the clanking of the Tin Man’s rusty limbs, you can hear echoes of Don Quixote’s home-made armour. In the trio’s moaning and blubbing as they prepare to sneak into the witch’s castle, you can see a foreshadowing of Westley, Inigo and Fezzik invading Humperdinck’s castle in The Princess Bride. The pig-tailed Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) is so wholesome, the Harburg and Arlen songs are so delightful, and the Technicolor adventures are so exciting that it’s still easy to mistake The Wizard of Oz for traditional family entertainment, 80 years on from its release in August 1939. But it upends the conventions of good-v-evil storytelling in ways that would have had Walt Disney fuming….

In the sepia opening scenes, we are warned that the magic we’re about to see might not be wholly magical. Having run away from her home in Kansas to stop her pet dog Toto being put down, Dorothy meets a travelling clairvoyant named Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan) – a character who isn’t in L Frank Baum’s source novel, but was created by screenwriters Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. As kindly as he is, the professor is a con artist who pretends to be psychic by peeking at a photo Dorothy is carrying. Another film might have contrasted this earthbound huckster with the genuine marvels performed by the wonderful Wizard of Oz, but in this one the wizard is played by the same actor as Professor Marvel, and he turns out to be much the same character: a fast-talking fairground showman who hides behind a curtain, waggling levers, and using mechanical trickery to keep his subjects loyal and afraid.

(16) RISING TIDE. Naragansett Beer is the creepiest!

“That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.” -HP Lovecraft

After years of sleeping beneath the surface, Lovecraft Honey Ale has risen from the depths of R’lyeh to bring chaos and madness to Rhode Island – just in time for NecronomiCon Providence.

 [Thanks to Lis Riba, Steve Green, Daniel Dern, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Smith.]

Pixel Scroll 7/1/19 We Shall File On The Pixels, We Shall File On The Scrolling Grounds

(1) GOT THAT RIGHT. Fast Company’s Jeff Beer points out “Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ is dangerously close to becoming ‘Sponsored Things’”.

We’re mere days away from the Stranger Things season three debut, and it feels like we’ve already hit Peak Brand Tie-In for the show, culminating in this senseless Cubs business. It’s actually a pleasant surprise the team didn’t go full Nostalgia Things and reissue 1985 caps and shirts, since just about every other brand has been using the 1985-ness of it all as the foundation of the entire marketing exercise. Throwback Mongoose BMX bike? Check. Nike Hawkins High School sweats? Check. New Coke? Big time check.

(2) STERLING AND PLATT AND MERCER, OH MY! David Langford has added three more free ebooks to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund site. Download, and feel free to donate something to the fund!

Bruce Sterling donned his unsecret identity of Vincent Omniaveritas to publish the 1980s “samizdat” fanzine Cheap Truth, whose 18 issues engaged in much shit-kicking denunciation of fuddy-duddy old SF/fantasy and praise of radical new stuff (or sometimes vice-versa) in those days when the genre’s Cyberpunk and Humanist cliques were supposed to be deadly rivals. Subversive and fun, Cheap Truth was explicitly not copyrighted and so has been assembled into an Ansible Editions ebook without any tiresome formality about asking permission.

The Patchin Review ran for seven issues from 1981 to 1985 and generated much controversy in the SF community with its no-holds-barred criticism, satire, examination of dubious publishing practices, exuberant “Gabby Snitch” gossip column and numerous polemics – both signed and pseudonymous. As its title indicates, this ebook contains the complete run – plus two bonus articles by Charles Platt that appeared elsewhere.

The Meadows of Fantasy was first published in traditional duplicated fanzine format in 1965. …Archie Mercer (1925-1998) was a prolific fanzine publisher in the 1950s and 1960s, and the second winner of the UK Doc Weir Award for general contributions to the fan scene. Publications and other achievements are listed in his Fancyclopedia 3 entry.

The Meadows of Fantasy is not a fan allegory like The Enchanted Duplicator but a light humorous novel set against the general background of 1960s British science fiction fandom. One character echoes the author’s fondness for variously excruciating puns. Although Dungeons and Dragons had yet to be launched, role-playing games – in storytelling rather than dice-throwing mode – had considerable popularity in 1960s fandom:

(3) DAY OF RAGE. Sarah Gailey wrote some tweets that caught the eyes of those on the other end of the political spectrum.   

(Read “JynErso’s” email to the Hugo Awards here.)

Bounding Into Comics is working hard to make this a kerfuffle: “Tor Books Blogger Sarah Gailey Calls For Violence and Murder After Reporter Andy Ngo Attacked by Antifa”.

Tor Books blogger and the author of Magic for Liars and the American Hippo Sarah Gailey called for violence and murder following the attack on reporter Andy Ngo by members of Antifa.

Gailey in a number of now-deleted tweets called for not only violence against those opposing Antifa, but also called for murder….

(4) HALF OF THE BEST. [Item by Dann.] This is Petrik Leo’s “best of the year so far” lists.  I found it interesting as I have read from three of the series listed.  I’ve heard of several more.  And it includes three self-published works.

I had not had a chance to read any of the books in Mark Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestor series.  But I’ve heard consistently good things about it.  So I plowed through all three books in the last couple of weeks.  It’s a shame that this series isn’t getting more discussion on the awards circuit.  The first two books were Goodreads nominees, but that’s about it.

So there you have it. It’s quite crazy that my best book of the year so far was actually the third book that I finished this year. Honestly speaking though, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that The Sword of Kaigen [by M.L. Wang] is my book of the year so far, I don’t even know if I’ll find a book better than it for the remaining of this year. I’ve been praising and shouting about this book non-stop across all my social media platform for the past six months and I will continue to do so.

(5) HAWKING MEDAL. Brian Eno was among those who received the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication  in June. Ansible adds, “And asteroid 81948 has been given his full name, Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno, but mercifully will be called Eno for short.” (“Brian Eno gets asteroid named after him, receives Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication” at Consequence of Sound.)

Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication

On Monday, Eno attended the prestigious science festival Starmus V, where he was presented with the Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication. The Here Come the Warm Jets mastermind received the award celebrating popular science at an international level alongside this year’s other recipients: Elon Musk and Todd Douglas Miller’s new documentary film, Apollo 11.

(6) MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRIC. Sarah Lazarus, in “Obituaries for the Recently Canceled” at McSweeney’s, has advice for people who have been cancelled by the Internet. For example —

Following a long battle in defense of a controversial Facebook post, Meredith Van Dorn, 20, finally succumbed to cancellation at her home on Thursday night. Ms. Van Dorn was surrounded by friends and loved ones who, upon her cancellation, insisted they always had kind of a weird feeling about her, actually. Ms. Van Dorn’s parents, Peter and Linda, would like their daughter to be remembered for her sweet smile and love of dancing, rather than her provocative feelings about Japanese toilets.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 1, 1891 Otis Adelbert Kline. Early pulp writer and literary agent whose great claim to fame was a possibly apocryphal feud with fellow author Edgar Rice Burroughs, in which he supposedly raised the latter’s anger by producing close imitations of Burroughs’s Mars novels. Wollheim and Moskowitz would believe in it, Lupoff did not. (Died 1945.)
  • Born July 1, 1934 Jean Marsh, 85. She was married to Jon Pertwee but it was before either were involved in Dr. Who. She first appeared alongside The First Doctor in “The Crusade” as Lady Joanna, the sister of Richard I (The Lionheart). She returned later that year as companion Sara Kingdom in “The Daleks’ Master Plan”. And she’d return yet again during the time of the Seventh Doctor in “Battlefield” as Morgana Le Fay. She’s also in Unearthly Stranger Dark PlacesReturn to Oz, Willow as Queen Bavmorda and The Changeling
  • Born July 1, 1935 David Prowse, 84. The physical embodiment of Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy. Ok, it’s been a very long time since I saw Casino Royale but what was Frankenstein’s Creation doing there, the character he played in his first ever role? That he played that role in The Horror of Frankenstein and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Hammer Films a few later surprises me not. He shows up in Gilliam’s Jabberwocky according to IMDB as Red Herring and Black Knights (and no I’ve no idea what that means). Finally he’s the executioner in The People That Time Forgot, a film that’s very loosely based off of several Burroughs novels. 
  • Born July 1, 1939 Karen Black. Her first foray into genre was playing three characters in Trilogy of Terror based on short stories by Richard Matheson. Later films were Killer FishThe Last Horror Film (an uncredited role since credited), Invaders from Mars (really stinker of a film), It’s Alive III: Island of the AliveThe Invisible KidZapped Again!Evil SpiritsChildren of the Night (errr, no), Dark BloodChildren of the Corn IV: The Gathering (no, no, no), Dinosaur Valley Girls (it’s a soft core porn film), TeknolustLight Speed and a lot more.  (Died 2013.)
  • Born July 1, 1952 Dan Aykroyd, 67. Though best known as Dr. Raymond Stantz in the original Ghostbusters films (which he wrote with Harold Raimis), he actually shows up a year earlier in his first genre role in Twilight Zone: The Movie as Passenger / Ambulance Driver. He’s reprising his role in Ghostbusters 2020
  • Born July 1, 1955 Robby the Robot, age, well, sixty four years.Yes this is this official birthday of the robot in Forbidden Planet which debuted a year later. He would later be seen is such films and series as The Invisible Boy,Invasion of the Neptune Men, The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Addams Family, Wonder Woman and Gremlins.  He was also featured in a 2006 commercial for AT&T.
  • Born July 1, 1962 Andre Braugher, 57. He’s got the voice of Darkseid in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse which is why he makes the Birthday list. If there’s ever proof that a great voice actor can make an animated role, this is it. It’s also a superb film. His other major genre role is as General George W. Mancheck in The Andromeda Strain series that originally aired on A&E. 
  • Born July 1, 1964 Charles Coleman Finlay, 55. Editor for past five years of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The Traitor to the Crown series is best known work.  
  • Born July 1, 1965 Kevin J. Maroney, 54. He’s a long-time fan who’s the managing editor of The New York Review of Science Fiction. In the latter capacity, he has received fourteen nominations for the Best Semiprozine Hugo: 1997-2009, 2012. 
  • Born July 1, 1967 Pamela Anderson, 52. Yes, she makes the Birthday list for being the character named Barb Wire in the Barb Wire film which in turn was based on a Dark Horse series that never should’ve been filmed. And yes I’ve seen it — she really  deserved the Worst New Star Award she got from The Golden Raspberry Awards. Other than appearing on Futurama, that’s it for her genre credits. 
  • Born July 1, 1981 Genevieve Valentine, 38. Author of the superb Persona series and also she scripted a Catwoman series, working with artists Garry Brown and David Messina. Her first novel, Mechanique: A tale of the Circus Tresaulti, won the Crawford Award for a first fantasy novel. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Today’s Non Sequitur takes up the issue of anti-science-fiction snobbery.

(9) WAKANDA. “The Goal Is To Feel Strong, Says ‘Black Panther’ Jewelry Designer” – read the NPR interview.

Douriean Fletcher is Marvel Comics’ first licensed jewelry maker. She’s behind the powerful adornments worn by the women of Wakanda in Black Panther, which helped pull audiences into an imagined world where power and societal roles are based on expertise and ability. On Sunday, she’s giving a talk at the National Museum of Women in the Arts about the aesthetics of gender equity in Wakandan society.

On one of her favorite pieces from Black Panther:

It is the piece at the scene at the very end of the film, Black Panther, and then it also makes another appearance at the very end of Avengers which was exciting for me because I didn’t know that it was going to be filmed. When I saw it in the theater, I screamed because I was so excited.

Black Panther costume designer Ruth Carter “really wanted something that was very, very strong,” Fletcher says of the necklace she designed for Angela Bassett’s character, Ramonda.

(10) MYTHCON 50. Book ‘em, Danno.

The second Progress Report for Mythcon 50 is now live on the website; it includes essential updates and reminders, especially the July 15 deadline for purchasing Room & Board packages for those staying on campus, the Commuter Dinner Package for those staying elsewhere but who would like to join us for Friday & Saturday night dinner and the Sunday evening banquet, and stand-alone banquet tickets for those not resident on campus who don’t want the Friday & Saturday cafeteria dinners.

(11) ONE LAST LANDING. The July/August 2019 issue of MIT Technology Review magazine is all about space — missions, methods and more, including tether and catapult launchers. One of the articles is provocatively titled “What Neil Armstrong got wrong”.

Fifty years after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, it’s hard not to conclude that he got things backwards. The moon landing was a giant leap for a man—Armstrong’s life was forever changed—but, in hindsight, only a small step for mankind….

(12) WRITER AT WORK. Who’s in charge of the book, you or the kaiju? Show the monster whenever you want! Max Florschutz says that and much more in “’Being a Better Writer: Summer of Cliche Writing Advice!’ Announcement” at Unusual Things.

Simply put, have you ever heard any cliche writing advice? Something that’s short and pithy and sort of correct but not entirely? Like “always show the monster last” or “show, don’t tell?”

You know, the kind of thing that comes out of the woodwork the moment anyone says they’re thinking of writing a book or working on a short story. The kind of stuff people who are not writers can repeat in quick sound bites to sound knowledgeable.

There’s a plethora of this stuff out there. In fact, that’s what gave me the idea of doing a themed BaBW series for the summer. A writing chat I hang out on was discussing how a lot of this advice is fairly pithy and usually weak … but contained a grain of truth.

“Show the monster last” for example. There are actually some circumstances where this statement makes sense. There’s a line of logic to it. But the problem is that, like many sayings, the actual context around it has been lost over time, and what we’re left with is a single, short line that doesn’t have any of that context and suddenly can be just as unhelpful as it is helpful. After all, there are plenty of instances where you won’t want to show the monster last.

(13) BREAK’S OVER. Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer is back from hiatus, and he’s not wearing those spurs for no reason – listen to him tell you about the books he wants to write: “Back in the saddle”.

Another was a somewhat satirical take on SJW and the inevitable collision with real life that happens when those of genuine conviction go and try actually help the people they believe need it (and these people exist, and always have – my grandmother was a missionary’s daughter, and I read a few of the letters her father wrote.  I’ve also had a fair bit to do with the volunteers clearing a particularly nasty invasive thorn from the outer island.  It’s physical, often painful and involves lots of ‘evil’ modern machinery and poisons.  They may be batty… but they’re each worth fifty of the typical upper-middle class urban white woman who rants about the cause de jour on twitter.  They are a very different beast to the current virtue-signaling herd-follower who never ACTUALLY physically did anything to help the designated victims). The ‘victims’ of course are also nothing like the straw-man poor little usually brown people patronized to your standard issue SJW.

(14) SJWCS VS AI. Meanwhile, if you don’t really want your cat bringing you little gifts of dead things — “Cat flap uses AI to punish pet’s killer instincts”.

A cat flap that automatically bars entry to a pet if it tries to enter with prey in its jaws has been built as a DIY project by an Amazon employee.

Ben Hamm used machine-learning software to train a system to recognise when his cat Metric was approaching with a rodent or bird in its mouth.

When it detected such an attack, he said, a computer attached to the flap’s lock triggered a 15-minute shut-out.

…The process took advantage of a technique called supervised learning, in which a computer is trained to recognise patterns in images or other supplied data via labels given to the examples. The idea is that once the system has enough examples to work off, it can apply the same labels itself to new cases.

One of the limitations of the technique is that hundreds of thousands or even millions of examples are sometimes needed to make such systems trustworthy.

Mr Hamm acknowledged that in this case the results were not 100% accurate.

Over a five-week period, he recalled, Metric was unfairly locked out once. In addition, the cat was also able to gain entry once out of the seven times it had caught a victim.

(15) FANDOM CIRCA 1940. Someone’s doing her research:

(16) WARM UP THE POPCORN. ScreenRant invites you to step inside  the “Avengers: Endgame Re-Release Pitch Meeting.”

Avengers Endgame had one of the best theatrical runs in the history of cinema. But not quite… THE best. In a pretty transparent attempt to dethrone James Cameron’s Avatar as the highest grossing movie of all time, Marvel decided to re-release Endgame in theatres with a little bonus content to try and entice people to see it again. But is an intro from the director enough to get people to come out? What about a deleted Hulk scene? Did they include a Stan Lee tribute just to try and tug us by the heartstrings all the way to the movies? Do they really think people will pay for a movie ticket just to see a few minutes from Spider-Man: Far From Home which is set for release a week after the Endgame re-release? To answer all these questions and more, step inside the pitch meeting that led to the Avengers Endgame Re-release! It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience!

[Thanks to Dann, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Rich Horton, Andrew Porter, Own Whiteoak, John King Tarpinian, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter. Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/19 Nie Mój Scroll, Nie Moje Pixels.

(1) SECOND CARR COLLECTION IS A FREE READ. David Langford has released the Terry Carr collection Fandom Harvest II at the TAFF website. Download it free – and please consider making a donation to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund as thanks.  

Complementing the 1986 Fandom Harvest and even longer, this further selection of Terry Carr’s fine fanwriting was assembled by David Langford with much help from others and released as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 June 2019. Cover art by Steve Stiles from The Incompleat Terry Carr (1988 edition). Over 118,000 words.

With thanks to Carol Carr for her permission and encouragement to produce this new ebook. (For the many further credits, see within.)

Langford spotlights his selections in the Introduction:

Of the above, Fandom Harvest was the first choice for a TAFF ebook since it’s not only the largest by far of these collections but was published as a printed hardback that was relatively easy to convert to digital text. The next logical step seemed initially to be an ebook of The Incompleat Terry Carr, but unfortunately there’s considerable overlap between this collection and Fandom Harvest. After removing duplications (“Trufan’s Blood”, the “Fandom Harvest” column selections, “The Fastest Ham in the West” and “Confessions of a Literary Midwife”), what remained of The Incompleat Terry Carr was an unsatisfactorily slim volume. This has been augmented with the fannish items reprinted in Between Two Worlds, the four best pieces from The Portable Carl Brandon, and many more notable articles, columns, editorials and stories not previously included in any Terry Carr collection. Ranging from 1955 to 1987, it’s a great read throughout.

And I appreciate Dave sending me the scoop in advance of the Monday edition of Ansible!

(2) UK GAMES EXPO ENFORCES CODE OF CONDUCT. Sexual violence in an RPG scenario hosted by a volunteer violated UK Games Expo’s code of conduct. The committee took action, explained in “An official statement”.

It was brought to our attention that in an RPG game on Friday afternoon a GM volunteer included content that was completely unacceptable and breached both the letter and spirit of the UK Games Expo.  The scenario included descriptions of sexual violence involving the players.  The players were understandably distressed and shocked by this content.

This content was not set out in the game description.  If it had been included in the submission it would have been rejected as unacceptable even for a game with an 18 rating. All games must still comply with the policies and the spirit of UKGE.

We have spoken personally to the player who first raised the issue and have unreservedly apologized for the distress caused. We are currently contacting the other players so we can offer them our apologies and any assistance they might need. We have made it clear that this kind of behavior and content has no place at UKGE and will not be accepted.

We immediately halted the game the GM was currently running and cancelled all of the games he was due to run.

The GM has been ejected from the show and will not be allowed access to any of the NEC halls or Hilton function rooms that are under the control of UK Games Expo.

He has also been banned from submitting any games for the foreseeable future…

(3) TRIMBLE NEWS. Bjo and John Trimble have closed their Ancient Earth Pigments business: “Saying Goodbye – Shop Closing May 30”.

After a year of illness and other personal hassles, we’ve decided to retire from the pigment business.

This was a painful but necessary decision.

What we’ll do next is still up in the air while John recovers from a seizure and hospital stay.

We may try to sell the whole business. Or sell it off piecemeal.

(4) HE BLINDED ME WITHOUT SCIENCE. James Davis Nicoll’s headline “Better Science Fiction Through Actual Science” at Tor.com seems to promise something — can he deliver? Well, no, so it’s fortunate he has another goal in mind anyway…

Science fiction purports to be based on science. I hate to tell you this, but a lot of SF is as close to science and math as Taco Bell is to authentic Mexican cuisine.

I revelled and still revel in mass ratios and scale heights, albedos and exhaust velocities, evolutionary biology and world history. (I’m not the only one. Big wave to my homies out there.) So…as much as I love SF, I’m constantly running head-on into settings that could just not work the way the author imagines. My SOD (suspension of disbelief) is motoring along merrily and suddenly, bang! Dead in its tracks. Perhaps you can understand now why so many of my reviews grumble about worldbuilding….

(5) CINEMA CRUDITE. At Fast Company, Patrick J. Sauer documents how “Luxury cinemas are fighting Netflix with steak tartare, expensive booze, and gourmet popcorn”.

Nothing pairs better with a cold rainy Sunday and a warm baby Loxodonta quite like a Rockaway Nitro Black Gold Stout. About one-third of the way through Tim Burton’s Dumbo, I ordered a second, and as it was delivered to me in the dark, I was struck by the scene where V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton)–evil, conniving moneybags and Dreamland amusement park owner–explains to the scrappy, DIY road circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) that of course he should bring his entire operation, airborne pachyderm included, into his opulent fold. Why? Because the future of entertainment is bringing the people to you, not the other way around.

Sipping Dumbo suds at Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, I couldn’t have agreed more, and as attested by the typical full house, I was not alone….

(6) WOMEN IN ANIMATION. In “A Storyteller’s Animated Journey”, Beloit College Magazine’s Kiernyn Orne-Adams profiles Lynne Southerland, whose career in animation includes directing Cinderella and the Secret Prince and producing several episodes of Monster High and Happily Ever After.

…After Disney, Southerland moved on to Mattel to help develop shows for two of their toy lines: Enchantimals and Monster High. As a showrunner, Southerland was able to expand on those worlds while placing female characters—and their close friendships—at the center. She particularly enjoyed working on Monster High because of the opportunity to create more complex teenage characters, and she eventually developed the idea for Adventures of the Ghoul Squad, a miniseries in which the main friends—all children of famous monsters—travel the world to help others and solve mysteries….

(7) CASTING COWL. Rachel Bloom, of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and “F*ck Me Ray Bradbury” fame, voices Batgirl in the recently released animated video Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Batman, Batgirl and Robin forge an alliance with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to fight against the Turtles’ sworn enemy, The Shredder, who has teamed up with Ra’s Al Ghul and The League Of Assassins.

(8) ETCHISON TRIBUTE. Horror Writers of America President Lisa Morton, in “A Few Words About Dennis Etchison”, tells about her decades of friendship with the renowned author.

…I attended my first World Fantasy Con in 1993, in Minneapolis. Dennis met me almost as soon as I arrived, and started introducing me to everyone. One of the editors I met there – Stephen Jones – would buy my first short story a year later, and go on to become the editor I’ve worked with the most.

That convention was an amazing experience. I rented a car and became Dennis’s driver for a few days. At the time Dennis was embroiled in a feud with Harlan Ellison, and I still laugh when I think of him telling me that he’d put any five of his stories up against any five of Harlan’s stories (Dennis was also a wrestling fanatic, which made this even more amusing). I drove Dennis to a signing at the massive Mall of America; no one came to the signing, so Dennis, Poppy Z. Brite, and Melanie Tem read their stories to each other while I listened in….

(9) KINSTLER OBIT. Artist Everett Raymond Kinstler died May 28 – the New York Times obituary covers his beginnings as well as his years of celebrity:“Everett Raymond Kinstler, Prolific Portraitist, Dies at 92”.

…After serving at Fort Dix in New Jersey from 1944 to 1946, he returned to the comic-book business. He did a lot of work for Avon Comics, he said, because unlike some other imprints it allowed artists to sign their work. (Early in his career he used the name “Everett Raymond” for brevity’s sake, though he eventually switched to his full name.)…

As part of its Distinguished Illustrators Series, Norman Rockwell Museum exhibited “Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits,” in 2012.

Highly-regarded as a prominent American portraitist, Everett Raymond Kinstler began his career as a comic book artist and illustrator working for the popular publications of his day. The artist’s original illustrations and portraits of noted celebrities—from Katharine Hepburn, Tony Bennett, and Tom Wolfe to artists James Montgomery Flagg, Alexander Calder, and Will Barnet [was] on view in a lively installation that explores the process of capturing likenesses of his subjects for posterity.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • June 1, 1955This Island Earth premiered.
  • June 1, 1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock could be found in theaters.
  • June 1, 1990 Total Recall made its memorable debut.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 1, 1874 Pierre Souvestre. He was a journalist, writer and avid promoter of motor races. He’s remembered today for his co-creation with Marcel Allain of the master criminal Fantômas. The character was also the basis of various film, television, and comic book adaptations. Some of these could be considered genre. (Died 1914.)
  • Born June 1, 1937 Morgan Freeman, 82. Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy and less notably Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (and yes I saw it). He’s God in Bruce Almighty as he is in the sequel, Evan Almighty.  And he played the President in Deep Impact.
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois, 79. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder Woman, The Outer Limits, Night GalleryThe Bionic Woman, Batman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterprise, Stargate SG-1 andWarehouse 13. He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series.
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 72. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. 
  • Born June 1, 1950 Michael McDowell. Screenwriter and novelist whose most well-known work is the screenplay for Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He also did work on Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas though he’s not listed as the scriptwriter. He wrote eleven scripts for Tales from the Darkside, more than anyone else. And he wrote a lot of horror which Stephen King likes quite a bit. (Died 1999.)
  • Born June 1, 1966 David Dean Oberhelman. Mike has an an appreciation of him hereThe Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 1, 1973 C. E. Murphy, 46. Her Urban Shaman series was one of the best such series I’ve read in recent years. She had The Walker Papers – Alternative Views which used other characters as viewpoint narrators but none appealed to me alas as much as Joanne Walker, her primary character. 
  • Born June 1, 1996 Tom Holland, 23. He’s known for playing Spider-Man in five films: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and the forthcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home

(12) PUNCHLINE CREATOR. At Kalimac’s Corner, DB digs up more info about award-winning comics writer E. Nelson Bridwell, ending with perhaps his most widely-known contribution to pop culture: “this is the joke”.

…Evanier’s announcement credits Bridwell with co-creating a comic called The Inferior Five, which I’d never heard of either. A quick visit to its Wikipedia page proves that it’s exactly what it sounds like, a sort of precursor to Mystery Men, a rare case of a superhero movie I rather liked. So I might enjoy The Inferior Five as well, especially as Evanier says that Bridwell’s “writing was marked by a wicked sense of humor.”…

(13) THE LAST TIME THE WORLD ENDED. Steven Heller goes retro in “Outer Space and Inner Peace” at Print.

In 1951, astronomer Kenneth Heuer, author in 1953 of The End of the World, wrote Men of Other Planets (Pellegrini & Cudahy, NYC) where he speculates on the kinds of humanoid life that was possible on the other planets, moons and asteroids of outer space. In those days thousands of people were actually trying to book passage on space ships. With jet propulsion and atomic fuel bringing space travel into realms of possibility, the mysteries of flying saucers, possible invasions of the earth from another worlds were closer to reality and yesterday’s science fiction was moving into tomorrow’s news.

The full-page scratch board illustration by R.T. Crane adds both a science fact and fictional aura to the quirky propositions in this book…

(14) D&D MENTORING. James Alan Gardner shares some “Idle Thoughts on Role-Playing”.

(Spoiler alert: even though it’s called Dungeons & Dragons, beginning level characters should not try to slay a dragon. They will fail. However, I have a policy with brand new players: I promise that their characters won’t die in the first three sessions. If they really do try to slay a dragon, the dragon may just beat them up, take all their stuff, and leave them naked outside the nearest town. Or more likely, the dragon will singe them a bit, then say, “Okay, if you don’t want to die, you have to agree to run an errand for me…”)

(15) KIRK IN THE BEGINNING. Rich Horton revisits the dominant fan artist of the early Seventies: “The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The 1973 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist: Tim Kirk” at Black Gate.

It would be fair to say that for me, coming into contact with fandom in this period, my image of “fan art” was formed by Tim Kirk’s work, along with two more artists who won for their 1970s work, William Rotsler and Alexis A. Gilliland.

(16) WALK THIS WAY. The New York Post’s 2013 profile of the band contains a previously unsuspected (by me) bit of sff trivia: “First KISS”.

…Simmons then modeled his demon walk after a serpentine, loping-gaited martian named Ymir that stop-motion effects master Ray Harryhausen designed for the 1957 science fiction film “20 Million Miles to Earth.”

“I realized I couldn’t copy the movements of Mick Jagger or the Beatles because I didn’t have a little boy’s body,” Simmons says. “But I could be a monster.”

(17) THERE IS ANOTHER. Besides the lunar-landing prize – BBC tells how “GEBCO-NF Alumni robots win ocean-mapping XPRIZE”.

A robotic boat and submersible have won the XPRIZE to find the best new technologies to map the seafloor.

The surface and underwater combo demonstrated their capabilities in a timed test in the Mediterranean, surveying depths down to 4km.

Put together by the international GEBCO-NF Alumni team, the autonomous duo are likely now to play a role in meeting the “Seabed 2030” challenge.

This aims to have Earth’s ocean floor fully mapped to a high standard.

Currently, only 20% of the world’s sub-surface topography has been resolved to an acceptable level of accuracy.

(18) OCTOBER SKY REDUX. “Students attempt to launch self-built rocket”.

Look up into the sky and it’s hard to imagine where the Earth’s atmosphere ends and outer space begins.

Commonly referred to as the Karman line, that imaginary border is 62 miles (100km) away and on Friday a group of students from across the US and Canada are hoping to send an unmanned rocket through it.

It’s the brainchild of 19-year-old rocket-obsessed North Carolina University student Joshua Farahzad, who said he came up with the idea during his “boring” summer vacation last year.

“I was always fascinated with space, I built a small rocket in high school after watching a movie called October Sky, and thought to myself how one day I’d like to build a bigger one,” he said.

…Without the help of a large financial backer, engineering professionals, or teachers, Operation Space began collaborating on the project remotely from their various locations across the US and Canada, using a Slack message channel, video chats and phone calls.

Operation Space is not the only group of students to build and launch spacecraft. Last month, students from the University of Southern California (USC) successfully sent their Traveler IV rocket across the Karman line.

While he’s full of praise for them, Joshua said his team is unique. “USC is cool but we are different because we are doing this all remotely with no university help,” he explained.

(19) COMING TO AMERICA. Pieces in our time: “This Lego-Themed Pop-Up Bar Is Made From 1,000,000 Building Blocks”.

A Lego-themed pop-up is coming to six U.S. cities this summer. The Brick Bar, which is not technically affiliated with the brand btw, is built with over 1 million blocks and will debut in NYC June 19.

The bar opened its first temporary location in London back in January 2018, and the “nostalgia trip” was an instant hit. Now the concept is expanding to a number of North American cities including New York, L.A., Miami, Houston, Cincinnati, and Denver. It will also hit Toronto and Vancouver in July.

“The bar will feature sculptures made completely from building blocks as well as an abundance of blocks for people to shape into their own creations. There will also be local DJ’s spinning tunes all day,” the website says. “We will have an Instagram worthy menu as well including a Brick Burger and Cocktails!

(20) A FORK IN THE ROAD. Compelling Science Fiction Issue #13 is available for purchase. Beginning with this issue, says publisher Joe STech, the magazine no longer posts its contents free online.

We start with LA Staley’s “Steps in the Other Room”. An elderly woman reports that her husband has been kidnapped. This seems difficult, since he has been dead for many years (2040 words). Our second story is “Sasha Red” by Tyler A. Young. In it, a woman fights to rescue refugees from Mars (6100 words). The third story this issue, Mark Parlette-Cariño’s “Bodybit,” is a story about the social effects of a fitness device that tracks sexual performance (4630 words). Next we have “What We Remember” by Mark Salzwedel. This one is first-contact story about a telepathic fungus (2800 words). Our fifth story is “Love and Brooding” by M. J. Pettit. Inspired by mouth-brooding tilapia, this story explores a very alien life cycle (5000 words). Our final story is “Steadies” by returning author Robert Dawson. A doctor is conflicted when she decides to prescribe her husband an anti-cholesterol drug that has also recently been found to strengthen relationships (3400 words).

(21) SYKES ADMIRATION SOCIETY. Nerds of a Feather’s Brian calls this books “the best kind of big mess.” “Microreview [book]: Seven Blades in Black by Sam Sykes”.

…This novel is an exercise in trusting an author. When it starts like another novel I didn’t like, it proved me wrong to misjudge it. When it doesn’t explain its setting or history from the start, it respected my patience by giving me enough to keep going and eventually answering my questions…

(22) OPENING THE WAY. Paul Weimer considers where this tale leads: “Microreview [book]: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The novel is a rather slippery fantasy to try and get a hold of. Is it a Portal fantasy, as the back matter and the title suggests? Yes, and no, the Portal aspects of the fantasy are not the central theme. Is it a coming of age story, of a young woman coming into herself? Yes, but there is much more going on with theme, history, theory and thought on it. The book is, however, a fantasy about the power of stories, and where stories come from, and how stories, for good, and bad, accurately and inaccurately, shape us and mold us, and make us what we are–and sometimes, if we find the right story, what we want and need to be…

(23) RETRO REVIEWS. Steve J. Wright has completed his Retro-Hugo novella finalist reviews:

Novella

(24) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In Albatross Soup on Vimeo, Winnie Cheung solves the riddle of why a guy killed himself after having a bowl of albatross soup in a restaurant.

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

Pixel Scroll 5/1/19 The Pixel That Can Be Scrolled Is Not The True Pixel

(1) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in the Future Tense Fiction series is “The Song Between Worlds” by Indra Das, author of the award-winning novel The Devourers.

Each month, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and science will change our lives—publishes a story on a theme. The theme for April–June 2019: space settlement.

It was published along with a response essay “What Would Sound Be Like on Mars?” by the astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz of the Adler Planetarium.)

… Sound is a relatively simple physical phenomenon, but the way our minds shape it can be complex. It’s a wave, but not the same kind of wave one might see in the ocean, where the medium (water, in the case of the ocean) travels toward or away from us. If sound waves were like ocean waves, we would not be able to speak to one another without blowing a constant breeze toward the listener, which is (generally speaking) not what happens. Rather, sound waves travel by creating collisions between the molecules of air between us and the origin of the sound….

(2) SURVEILLANCE STATE. In The Atlantic, Lily Meyer reviews “Two ambitious new novels build techno-futures in which surveillance offers disturbing new threats” — “Science Fiction’s Preoccupation With Privacy”.

…The only character in Dark Constellations not interested in controlling others is Piera, a disaffected Stromatoliton biologist whose alienation from her male co-workers and from the overreach of her company leads her to cut herself off—from people, and from broader systems. She privately refers to her employer as “the animal of the state unleashed,” but remains at Stromatoliton, satisfying her voyeuristic curiosity even as the future of Argentine privacy is in question. With Piera, Oloixarac seems to underscore the impossibility of stepping away from power in a world in which science overrides ethics. Piera may consider herself an observer rather than a participant, but she remains complicit in the global expansion of surveillance….

(3) BRIANNA WU. Media people covering last weekend’s synagogue shooting in San Diego tapped Brianna Wu for comment about the shooter’s 8chan connection.

…Whether the Internet is creating hate groups or just serving as a gathering place, one thing has become clear: What happens online doesn’t stay there.

Brianna Wu is a software engineer who lives in Massachusetts. In 2014, she was targeted in something called Gamergate, in which men threatened female video game players and developers. The harassment started mainly on 8chan.

“They threw bricks through my windows. They sent me hundreds upon hundreds of death threats, rape threats,” Wu says. “I’ve had people from 8chan follow me around just to let me know, ‘I’m near you and could hurt you if I wanted to.’ “

Wu, who is running for Congress, says the solution is simple. “We need dedicated FBI agents that understand online culture to look at these kinds of extreme crimes and prosecute them,” she says.

…The message is trickling to the campaign trail. Brianna Wu, a software engineer who is running as a Democrat for a House seat in Massachusetts, told me she is “angry” that law enforcement has not done more to rein in 8chan, which has also been connected to the circulation of child pornography and is a place where people are frequently doxxed. 

After Wu herself was targeted on the website in 2014 with death threats during the Internet culture war known as Gamergate, she says she says she documented “tons of illegal activity” on 8chan and shared her findings with the FBI. She believes it’s possible the recent shootings could have been avoided if law enforcement took greater action, she said, and wants to increase funding for the FBI to investigate online crime if elected to Congress. 

“We need to fund a specific task force within the FBI that is very tech literate and tasked to prosecute these types of online crimes,” she said. More from Wu:

(4) CAMERAS ROLL ON PICARD. They’ve begun to “Make it so” — “Star Trek: Patrick Stewart’s Picard TV Show Starts Filming” at ScreenRant.

With a mix of old and newcomer talent on both sides of the camera, the Picard series looks to follow in Discovery‘s footsteps and blend old-fashioned Star Trek tropes with fresh sci-fi ideas and a more modern tone. Of course, this show has an advantage over CBS All Access’ first Star Trek series in that it’s not a prequel and has more freedom to play around with its storytelling, as opposed to having to work around classic lore and mythology. Something like the Star Wars sequel trilogy has certainly gotten a passionate fan response by bringing back old characters for new adventures, so it’ll be very interesting to see how Trekkies take to Picard’s story continuing by comparison.

(5) CARL BRANDON ORIGIN STORY. The Jeanne Gomoll-edited Carl Brandon, by and about the hoax fan Terry Carr co-created long ago, is available for order from Lulu ($16.00).

Terry Carr recounts the invention of an imaginary black science fiction fan named Carl Brandon, one of the field’s most (in)famous hoaxes. In addition to Carl Brandon’s complete history, this volume includes his J.D. Salinger parody, “The Cacher of the Rye;” a more current parody by Carl Brandon 2.0, “The Kvetcher on the Racists;” and an essay by Samuel R. Delany, “Racism and Science Fiction.” To quote Carr: “In the late fifties, several of the fans of the Bay Area…presented fandom with a new fanwriter who was quickly acclaimed as one of the best writers around and who was, not incidentally, the first prominent fan who was black.” Read the book for more of this fascinating tale. All proceeds go to the Carl Brandon Society, which promotes discussions on race at conventions and conferences, and through its support of the Parallax and Kindred literary awards, and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.

(6) JOHN SLADEK. The paperback edition of New Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek was informally launched at the UK Eastercon and the promised ebook is now available reports David Langford. Both can be ordered from Ansible Editions. Trade paperback 9″ x 6″, 255pp, ISBN 978-0-244-15877-4. $20 plus local postage from Lulu.com: click button below. Ebook in the usual formats at £5.50: again, click button below.

(7) FREE DOWNLOAD. Of more fannish interest, a free ebook reissue of Terry Carr’s 1986 collection Fandom Harvest has been posted on David Langford’s TAFF page as an incitement to give generously to the fund. He adds, “Many thanks to Bob Silverberg for allowing his 1986 introduction to be included and to the original publisher John-Henri Holmberg for his afterword and general approval. Carol Carr has given her blessing to this reissue.”

Langford further notes – “For anyone interested in acquiring the Sladek or the Brandon paperback: both are published via Lulu.com, which currently has a 15%-off discount code ONEFIVE that’s good until 2 May.”

(8) HARLEQUIN ART. The Bristol Board features nine pieces of Steranko art done for an edition of a Harlan Ellison story.

Repent Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man!, a portfolio of illustrations by Jim Steranko, done as an adaptation of a short story that was written by Harlan Ellison. the last plate is a 3-D pinup.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born May 1, 1905 Edna Mayne Hull. Wife of A.E. van Vogt. And yes, she too wrote genre fiction. Her initial sale, “The Flight That Failed”, appeared in the November 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction under chosen author credit of “E.M. Hull” though eventually she used her own name. She has but one novel of her own, Planets for Sale, and one with her husband, The Winged Man, and only a dozen stories, one with A.E. Van Vogt & James H. Schmitz. (Died 1975.)
  • Born May 1, 1924 Terry Southern. Screenwriter and author of greatest interest for the screenplay from Peter George’s original novel, Two Hours to Doom (as by Peter Bryant) of Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb directed (and in part written) by Stanley Kubrick. He was also involved in scripting Barbarella. (Died 1995.)
  • Born May 1, 1946 Joanna Lumley, 73. No, she was no Emma Peel, but she was definitely more than a bit appealing in the New Avengers as Purdey. All twenty-six episode are out on DVD. Her next genre out was Sapphire & Steel whichstarred David McCallum as Steel and her as Sapphire. Skip forward nearly near twenty years and find her playing The Thirteenth Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death in Comic Relief special. 
  • Born May 1, 1948 Terry Goodkind, 71. You obviously know he is. I’ve read some of the Sword of Truth series. It’s ok, but not really my cup of Earl Grey Tea Hot. Epic fantasy isn’t something that I really read a lot of to be honest preferring epic sf instead. 
  • Born May 1, 1952 Andrew Sawyer, 67. Librarian by profession, critic and editor as well who an active part of fandom. He is the Reviews Editor for Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction. I’ve also got him doing Upon the Rack in Print, a book review column in Interzone and elsewhere and contributing likewise the Rust Never Sleeps column to Paperback Inferno as well. He hasn’t written much fiction, but there is some such as “The Mechanical Art” in the Digital Dreams anthology.
  • Born May 1, 1955 J. R. Pournelle, 64. That’s as in Jennifer, the daughter of the Jerry we know. She’s here because she wrote Outies (Mote Series Book 3) which I confess she sent me a digital galley of years ago but I still need to take a look at. The first novel in the series is great. 
  • Born May 1, 1956 Phil Foglio, 63. He won the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1977 and 1978. He later did work for DC, First and Marvel Comics including the backup stories in Grimjack. He and his wife are responsible for the exemplary Girl Genius, a three-time Best Graphic Story Hugo winner.
  • Born May 1, 1957 Steve Meretzky, 62. He co-designed the early Eighties version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy video game with the full participation of Douglas Adams. SF Encyclopedia notes that he did also a space opera themed game, Planetfall and its sequel A Mind Forever Voyaging in the Eighties as well. He also did the definitely more erotic Leather Goddesses of Phobos as well. 

(10) DC WOULDN’T HAVE NEEDED A SEQUEL. On CBR.com, Vivian Achieng thinks MCU characters are relatively wimpy and there are at least “25 DC Characters That Are More Powerful Than Thanos.”

When we talk about the MCU blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War, we cannot fail but mention the wrecking ball that was Thanos, and his infinity gauntlet of course. For the very first time, earth’s mightiest heroes, The Avengers, look to have met their match. All their powers, tech and a snarky Star-Lord were not powerful enough to stop Thanos’ crusade to save the universe. Fingers crossed for Captain Marvel. The superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can appear to be underpowered compared to other superheroes. This isn’t a knock on Captain America or Iron Man or the rest, but they don’t compare characters from other franchises. If characters from other universes happened to show up in Infinity War, we think the fight against Thanos would have ended a tad differently. In fact, some wouldn’t even need the support of the Avengers and could take the Mad Titan out all on their own.

Granted, Thanos is not an easy walk over. Without the Infinity Gauntlet, he is as strong or stronger than Thor with fair speed to match, he is pretty much indestructible, and has scientific knowledge greater than anyone on Earth, which in turn makes him a master strategist. He also has access to cosmic power which he can use to release blasts from his hands and eyes. With the Infinity Gauntlet, however, he can manipulate all of reality, time, space and the minds and souls of others. He looks pretty unbeatable, right? Wrong! Here is a list of 25 characters from Marvel’s arch enemies, DC, which can very well handle the threat that is Thanos….

(11) RIPLEY! BELIEVE IT OR NOT. “Sigourney Weaver surprises high school cast of Alien: The Play”CNET has the story.

… “I’m so excited to be here,” Weaver told them. “I’m representing all the Alien fans from all over the universe … I think what you’re doing is so cool and so important.”

Another video shows one high school student yelling, “I love you, you’re my childhood hero! I can’t believe you’re here right now!” before hugging Weaver.

The whole play is online –

(12) SFF IN TRANSLATION. Rachel Cordasco’s “Love in the New Millennium [Why This Book Should Win]” is one in a series of thirty-five posts about every title longlisted for the 2019 Best Translated Book Awards

Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Yale University Press)

Love in the New Millennium is a work of operatic magical realism; a book with many layers, many shifting romantic relationships, and no clear plot. Like Frontier, one of Can Xue’s previous novels, Love invites us into the hazy, sometimes frustratingly-elusive worlds of a handful of characters, many of whom are desperately trying to find a “home.”…

(13) CHALLENGE FOR THE WIKIPEDIA. UnDark discusses “What a Deleted Profile Tells Us About Wikipedia’s Diversity Problem”

You’ve probably never heard of Clarice Phelps. If you were curious, you might enter her name into Google. And, if you had done so anytime between September of last year and February of this year, you would likely have found her Wikipedia entry. The nuclear scientist is thought to be the first African-American woman to help discover a chemical element; she was part of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory team that purified the radioactive sample of berkelium-249 from which the new element, tennessine, was created. But on February 11, 2019, in the middle of Black History Month and on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Phelps’s page was deleted. The optics, as they say, weren’t good.

The deletion came after a brief but intense dispute between Wikipedia contributors over whether Phelps met the site’s criteria for notability. Ordinarily, such editorial spats are considered a feature of the crowdsourced encyclopedia, not a bug. If one of the site’s hundreds of thousands of active contributors mistakenly or purposely adds incorrect information, the wisdom of the crowd will ensure that truth prevails.

But in the case of Phelps, the crowd made the wrong call, and the site’s rules facilitated that. The entire spectacle revealed just how much work remains to be done to address the systemic biases that disproportionately keep women and people of color out of Wikipedia’s pages.

(14) UNLIKELY STEPS. Scoffers can’t believe the discovery, or that military authorities tweeted about it — “‘Yeti footprints’: Indian army mocked over claim”.

The Indian army has claimed to have found footprints of the yeti, sparking jokes and disbelief on social media.

The army tweeted to its nearly six million followers on Monday that it had discovered “mysterious footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ at the Makalu Base Camp [in the Himalayas]”.

(15) IT BITES. CNN’s AJ Willingham says “The ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ trailer is out and people are having visceral reactions to it”.

People are weird about teeth, and always have been. According to dental researcher Rosemary Wells, ancient cultures had a variety of ways of dealing with baby teeth, as described in her essay “The Making of an Icon: The Tooth Fairy in North American Folklore and Popular Culture:”

(1) the tooth was thrown into the sun; (2) thrown into the fire; (3) thrown between the legs; (4) thrown onto or over the roof of the house, often with an invocation to some animal or individual; (5) placed in a mouse hole near the stove or hearth or offered to some other animal; (6) buried; (7) hidden where animals could not get it; (8) placed in a tree or on a wall; and (9) swallowed by the mother, child or animal.

That’s right, people have historically been so freaked out by teeth they used to THROW THEM INTO THE SUN. Dental anxiety is real! You can’t just stick a full set of veneers in any old cartoon character and expect people to not be traumatized!

(16) PTERRY WEEPS. Chip Hitchcock advises a trigger warning should accompany BBC’s video: “Leuser rainforest: Baby orangutans rescued from Indonesia’s pet trade”.

Baby orangutans on the island of Sumatra are being captured and sold as pets, but charities are working to rescue the animals and confront the owners.

(17) HIGH-PRICED COLLECTIBLE. “Star Wars Bib Fortuna toy prototype sells for £36k” – BBC has the story.

A prototype of a Star Wars toy has sold for £36,000 at auction.

The 1980s master model of Bib Fortuna, a male Twi’lek who lived on Tatooine, had an estimate of £12,000.

It sold at Thornaby-based Vectis Auctions along with prototypes of an ewok called Logray which fetched £12,000, and an Emperor’s royal guard which reached £28,800.

Auctioneer Kathy Taylor said the three “relatively unknown” characters had “beaten all expectations”.

They had been made in America by Kenner for the production of the toys in Europe by Palitoy, which was based in Coalville, Leicestershire.

…Ms Taylor said the master models are larger and more detailed than the final figures sold in toy shops.

(18) RESISTANCE. Season 3 of The Handmaid’s Tale arrives June 5 on Hulu.

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

2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund Vote Count Released

Geri Sullivan

Geri Sullivan won the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund on the first round of voting. The administrators today provided a breakdown of the voting results by first preference. (“RoW” stands for “rest of the world.”)

RESULTS

Candidate  N. Am. Europe RoW Total
Teresa Cochran   13      2      15
Sarah Gulde   18    10        2    30
Michael Lowrey   13    12      25
Geri Sullivan   87    44        5  136
Hold Over Funds        
No Preference     4      1      5
         Total votes 135    69    211

Following her return home from Dublin 2019, Geri will become the next North American administrator of TAFF, and will conduct the 2020 TAFF campaign and election in association with Johan Anglemark.

Fans throughout Europe who may be interested in standing for TAFF in 2020 should make a point of talking with Geri and Johan at the Dublin Worldcon, or elsewhere on Geri’s trip, if at all possible.

Because Worldcon will not take place in North America in 2020, it has not yet been decided whether the 2020 TAFF race will be westbound, as is traditional, or eastbound for a second year in a row, which has occasionally happened in the past for similar reasons.

For more information about the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund – past, present, and future – visit David Langford’s excellent TAFF website at www.taff.org.uk.

TAFF News Redux #2 Features Candidate Interviews

Need help deciding who to vote for in the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race? Help is on the way! TAFF News Redux #2 [PDF file] is available on the TAFF Website with the candidates’ answers to a questionnaire.

Find out what Teresa Cochran, Sarah Gulde , Michael Lowrey, Geri Sullivan had to say when they were asked these probative fannish questions —

1) Tell us something about yourself and fandom: where did it begin for you and when.

2) Are there any specific subgenres of Science Fiction & Fantasy you prefer? e.g., hard science, alternative history, steampunk, etc.

3) Describe your fannish activity: clubs you’ve been in, official roles (club president, or whatever), cons you’ve attended/worked on, and fanzines you’ve produced, and so forth.

4) What was the craziest or most fun thing you have ever done or experienced in fandom?

5) If you win, what will your TAFF trip look like? Just Ireland and the UK or other parts of Europe (which?) too? How many weeks do you think you will be able to set aside for it? 

TAFF voting to pick a North American delegate to send to the Dublin 2019 Worldcon is open until midnight EST of April 22, 2019. Get the ballot and voting information on the TAFF website.

Pixel Scroll 12/18/18 Just One Pixel Of Scrolls Is Better Than A Lifetime Alone

(1) NOT THE DOCTOR WHO CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. A nice placeholder, though. Io9 sets the frame: “Doctor Who Saves Christmas (Again) in This Adorable Holiday Short”:

Doctor Who’s Twitter account has shared a cute animated holiday short telling the story of how the Doctor (voiced by Whittaker) helped save Christmas once again this year. Narrated by Bradley Walsh (Graham), the Twas The Night Before Christmas-style tale is all about Santa getting stuck in a jam after his sleigh breaks down. Who can he possibly call to save the day? The Doctor, of course!

(2) HARD SF. James Davis Nicoll dares to tell us about “Five Works of Hard Science Fiction That Bypass the Gatekeepers” at Tor.com.

….Still, I think there’s a gap between hard SF defined so narrowly only Hal Clement could be said to have written it (if we ignore his FTL drives) and hard SF defined so broadly anything qualifies provided the author belongs to the right social circles … that this gap is large enough that examples do exist. Here are five examples of SF works  that are, to borrow Marissa Lingen’s definition:

playing with science.

and doing so with a verisimilitude that’s not just plot-enabling handwaving….

(3) MYTHCON 50. Introducing artist Sue Dawe’s logo for Mythcon 50, with the theme “Looking Back, Moving Forward.” The convention will take place August 2-5 in San Diego – register here

(4) TAFF NEWS. Avail yourself of the official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund news – click to retrieve the PDF file: 

(5) CODE OF CONDUCT GUIDANCE. Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner have made available as a free download their book on Code of Conduct enforcement for those who put on conventions and conferences: “Free code of conduct enforcement book available now”.

You can now download a free book detailing how to enforce a code of conduct, “How to Respond to Code of Conduct Reports,” written by Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner and edited by Annalee Flower Horne. This comprehensive guide includes:

  • Basic code of conduct theory
  • How to prepare to enforce a code of conduct
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to respond to a report
  • In-depth discussion of relevant topics
  • Dozens of real-world examples of responding to reports

Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner were the lead authors of the Ada Initiative anti­-harassment policy, which is the basis of thousands of codes of conduct in use today. Valerie has more than 7 years of professional experience writing and implementing codes of conduct for software-related companies, venture capital firms, and non-profits.

(6) NOT GOING TO DUBLIN 2019? Then a clue as to what you’ll be missing from the Science GoH is contained in this 1/2 hour BBC interview with Jocelyn Bell Burnell. “Of course, if you are going to Dublin, then don’t listen to this,” warns SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, “as there are spoilers.”

Jim Al-Khalili talks to astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Jocelyn Bell Burnell forged her own path through the male-dominated world of science – in the days when it was unusual enough for women to work, let alone make a discovery in astrophysics that was worthy of a Nobel Prize. As a 24-year old PhD student, Jocelyn spotted an anomaly on a graph buried within 100 feet of printed data from a radio telescope. Her curiosity about such a tiny detail led to one of the most important discoveries in 20th century astronomy – the discovery of pulsars – those dense cores of collapsed stars. It’s a discovery which changed the way we see the universe, making the existence of black holes suddenly seem much more likely and providing further proof to Einstein’s theory of gravity.

(7) FILMS THAT BELONG ON YOUR LIST. Looper says these are “The Best Fantasy Movies Everyone Missed In 2018.”

With major blockbusters and huge franchises taking up most of our attention these days, it can be easy to lose track of all the great releases sneaking by under the radar but these 2018 fantasy movies are well worth seeking out…

(8) TV HISTORY. Echo Ishii revisits another sff TV classic, The Stone Tape:

The Stone Tape was a television play broadcast by the BBC in 1972.

The Stone Tape begins with a man named Peter who is head of a research team for an electronics company. Like many of the characters in Beasts, the protagonist is not a pleasant person. Peter Brock, though likely very skilled at his job, is arrogant, self-absorbed, sexist, and condescending. Whereas someof the sexism and the bigoted comments may be a representation of the realities of the the business world (and TV) at the time, you are clearly meant not to like Peter Brock as a person which only amps up the unease surrounding the main plot….

(9) HOW FAR IS IT? Far out. Like, literally Far Freekin’ Out. A newly announced minor planet is the most distant known object in the Solar System (Phys.org: “Outer solar system experts find ‘far out there’ dwarf planet”). The body’s official name is 2018 VG18, but it’s nicknamed “Farout” and it’s current orbital distance is about 120 AUs.

A team of astronomers has discovered the most-distant body ever observed in our Solar System. It is the first known Solar System object that has been detected at a distance that is more than 100 times farther than Earth is from the Sun.

The new object was announced on Monday, December 17, 2018, by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center and has been given the provisional designation 2018 VG18. The discovery was made by Carnegie’s Scott S. Sheppard, the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen, and Northern Arizona University’s Chad Trujillo.

2018 VG18, nicknamed “Farout” by the discovery team for its extremely distant location, is at about 120 astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is defined as the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The second-most-distant observed Solar System object is Eris, at about 96 AU. Pluto is currently at about 34 AU, making 2018 VG18 more than three-and-a-half times more distant than the Solar System’s most-famous dwarf planet.

(10) COMING YOUR WAY. The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie’s new fantasy novel, arrives February 26, 2019. “My library’s already let me reserve it,” says Daniel Dern.

(11) THE WISDOM OF P.L. TRAVERS. The Washington Post’s Jerry Griswold profiles Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, whom he interviewed for the Paris Review, saying that Travers “was the wisest woman I’ve ever met,” a deep student of Zen, and the author of novels about Mary Poppins that are much darker than the movies. “Disney tried to erase ‘Mary Poppins’ creator P.L. Travers. She’s still more fascinating than fiction.”.

…Travers was the wisest woman I’ve ever met. She was the second Western woman to study Zen in Kyoto, part of the inner circle of the famous mystic G.I. Gurdjieff and did yoga daily (an exotic practice in the 1970s). One afternoon in her Manhattan apartment, we had a conversation that would later appear in Paris Review. She spoke about the meanings of Humpty Dumpty, how her book “Friend Monkey” had been inspired by the Hindu myth of Hanuman, the Zen expression “summoned not created,” the sacredness of names in aboriginal cultures and a spiritual understanding of the parable of the Prodigal Son. And as for linking “this store of wisdom and our modern life,” she lead me step by step through parallels between the kidnapping of Patty Hearst and the myth of Persephone. It was one of the richest afternoons of my life.

As she often did, Travers emphasized that she “never wrote for children” but remained “immensely grateful that children have included my books in their treasure trove.” She thought her books appealed to the young because she had never forgotten her own childhood: “I can, as it were, turn aside and consult it.”

(11) NASA POSTERS. Bored Panda is a bit skeptical — “Turns Out NASA Creates Posters For Every Space Mission And They’re Hilariously Awkward” – but Michael J. Walsh says, “Contrary to the headline, I think many of them are really good.”

…However, when astronauts got bored of the standard group photos they decided to spice things up a bit. And what’s a better way to do that other than throwing in some pop culture references? Fair warning the results are quite cringy, making it hard to believe that these images are actually real.

First on the list:

(12) DINJOS OBIT. Nigerian sff writer Emeka Walter Dinjos has died. Future Science Fiction Digest editor Alex Shvartsman paid tribute in “RIP Emeka Walter Dinjos”:

It is with a heavy heart that I must share the news that Emeka Walter Dinjos, a Nigerian writer of science fiction and fantasy whose novelette “SisiMumu” is featured in our first issue, passed away at the age of thirty-four on Wednesday, December 12.

Walter was admitted to the hospital a little over aweek ago, on the eve of his birthday. In his last Facebook post he shared a photo of himself in a hospital bed, writing “I once swore I would never find myself in a place like this.” He was quick to point out, “It’s just fatigue.Will probably be out in a few days.” But unfortunately he succumbed to complications related to unmanaged diabetes. Walter is survived by his siblings and extended family, to whom I extend deepest condolences on behalf of everyone at Future SF and his many friends in the SF/F community….

(13) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 18, 1839 — John William Draper took the first photo of theMoon. (Say “Cheese!”)
  • December 18, 1957The Monolith Monsters hit theatres.
  • December 18, 1968 — Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flew into theaters.

(14) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 18, 1913 Alfred Bester. He is best remembered for perhaps for The Demolished Man, which won the very first Hugo Award. I remember experiencing it as an audiobook— a very spooky affair!  The Stars My Destination is equally impressive with Foyle both likeable and unlikable at the same time. Psychoshop which Zelazny finished is in my library but has escaped reading so far. I’ve run across references to Golem100 but I’ve never seen a copy anywhere. Has anyone read It? (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 18, 1939Michael Moorcock, 79. Summing up the career of Moorcock isn’t possible so I won’t. His Elric of Melniboné series is just plain awesome and I’m quite fond of the Dorian Hawkmoon series of novels as well. Particular books that I’d like to note as enjoyable for me include The Metatemporal Detective collection, Mother London and The English Assassin: A Romance of Entropy
  • Born December 18, 1946 Steven Spielberg, 72. Are we counting Jaws as genre? I believe we are per an earlier discussion here. If so, that’s his first such followed immediately by Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Between 1981 and 1984, he put out Raiders of the Lost ArkE.T. the Extra-TerrestrialTwilight Zone: The Movie and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Ok so the quality of the last film wasn’t great… He’d repeated that feat between ‘89 and ‘93 when he put out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Hook which I both love followed by Jurassic Park which I don’t. The Lost World: Jurassic Park followed along a string of so-so films,  A.I. Artificial IntelligenceMinority Report, War of the Worlds and one decided stinker, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe BFG is simply wonderful. Haven’t seen Ready Player One so I’ll leave that up to y’all to opine on. 
  • Born December 18, 1953 Jeff Kober,65. Actor who’s been in myriad genre series and films including V, The Twilight Zone, Alien Nation, the Poltergeist series,The X-Files series, Tank Girl as one of the kangaroos naturally, SupernaturalStar Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Kindred: The Embraced and The Walking Dead. 
  • Born December 18, 1968 Casper Van Dien, 49. Yes, Johnny Rico in that Starship Troopers movie. Not learning his lesson, he’d go on to film Starship Troopers 3: Marauder and the animated Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars. Do not go read the descriptions of these films! He’d also star as Tarzan in Tarzan and the Lost City, show up as Brom Van Brunt In Sleepy Hollow, be Captain Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula 3000, James K. Polkin, and — oh really Casper — the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Sequels short, Rumpelstiltskin in Avengers Grimm and Saber Raine In Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine. That’s a lot of really bad film. 

(15) GOOD PLACE/BAD PLACE. At Vice, D. Patrick Rodgers believes, “The Best Thing on TV This Year Was: ‘The Good Place’.”

The unseen presence of one character has haunted The Good Place from the beginning, lingering like one of Bad Janet’s legendary farts since the very first moments of the very first episode: Doug Forcett.

As we all know — at three seasons and 35 episodes in — the afterlife hinges on a cumulative point system, with good deeds adding to an individual’s point total and bad or selfish deeds subtracting. People with high enough point totals enter The Good Place, while those who don’t make the cut do the whole burn-for-eternity thing down in The Bad Place. Despite all the twists, developments, reveals, and red herrings of the uniquely sharp and wacky sitcom, one constant has remained: that only one mortal has figured out the system, and he did it while on a mushroom trip back in 1972.

“Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By” opens with the song of the same name by the Mamas and the Papas’ “Mama” Cass Elliott, itself a 70s artifact that portends something darker than its sunny melody suggests —that life is short, and if we’re not careful, we’ll screw it up. We watch as some as-yet-unnamed character tends to a series of mundane tasks, his face hidden from view. But there’s something familiar about that grizzled-blond shock of hair we see only from behind. It belongs to someone we know. Turns out that’s doubly true, as the head we’re looking at is that of legendary comedic actor Michael McKean in character as the aforementioned Forcett, now several decades older and committed to obtaining the requisite number of Good Place points.

(16) MEMORIAL FOR A BOT. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Mashable brings us word that, “A delivery robot caught on fire at UC Berkeley, students then set up a vigil.” The KiwiBot was one of a fleet of over 100.

A KiwiBot, an automated food delivery robot which is present on UC Berkeley’s campus, caught fire on Friday afternoon.

In a post, the company explained the incident was due to a faulty battery which had been mistakenly installed instead of a functioning one. 

The errant battery started smoldering while the robot was idling, leading to smoke, then fire outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.

“A member of the community acted swiftly toextinguish the flames using a nearby fire extinguisher. Within moments ofthe incident occurring, it had already been contained,” the post read.

“The Berkeley Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter to secure the scene, and doused the robot with foam ensuring there was no risk of re-ignition.”

Unsurprisingly, the fire was caught on both video and stills. Pics of the subsequent candlelight memorial also appeared online. Deliveries had been taking place by the bots since 2017 but were suspended following the fire. Since then, software has been updated to more closely monitor the battery state and the fleet is back in service.

(17) MOCKERY. This is the kind of promo I’d expect from JDA or Richard Paolinelli, except you’d have to take their books, too: “Popeyes is launching ‘Emotional Support Chicken’ for stressed travelers craving fried chicken”.

On Tuesday, the chicken chain announced that it is selling three-piece chicken-tenders meals packaged in “Emotional Support Chicken” carriers at Philadelphia International Airport. The special chicken will be available as supplies last starting Tuesday at the Popeyes location in Terminal C.

Emotional-support animals have been making headlines recently, as passengers have pushed for the ability to bring increasingly bizarre companions on flights.

The number of emotional-support animals traveling aboard commercial flights has jumped 74% from 481,000 in 2016 to 751,000 in 2017, according to trade group Airlines for America. In January, a woman tried to bring an emotional-support peacock on a United Airlines flight. And, in February, another woman said Spirit Airlines told her to flush her emotional-support hamster down the toilet.

(18) NICE TRY. Somehow the trash in the Pacific is moving faster than the catcher: “Creator Of Floating Garbage-Collector Struggling To Capture Plastic In Pacific”.

Slat’s system, a 10-foot skirt attached beneath an unmoored, 2000-foot-long plastic tube, takes advantage of the wind and waves to move through the Pacific Ocean. The system aims to collect plastic from the water’s surface, which would then be picked up every few months by a support vessel and transported back to land for recycling. The garbage trap uses solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas to communicate its position to Slat’s team and passerby vessels.

(19) MAYBE TOMORROW. “SpaceX And Blue Origin Scrub Rocket Launches, Dashing Hopes Of A 4-Launch Day” – NPR has the story.

Weather and other delays marred what had been anticipated as a banner day for space launches Tuesday, as both SpaceX and Blue Origin were forced to postpone launches that had been scheduled to take place within minutes of each other. Both companies say they will look at moving their launches to Wednesday morning.

(20) BANNED ARTWORK. The New York Times reports some work by international artists has been banned from a forthcoming exhibit at the Guangdong Museum of Art: “Their Art Raised Questions About Technology. Chinese Censors Had Their Own Answer.”

Artificial intelligence bots. 3-D printed human organs. Genomic sequencing.

These might seem to be natural topics of interest in a country determined to be the world’s leader in science and technology. But in China, where censors are known to take a heavy hand, several artworks that look closely at these breakthroughs have been deemed taboo by local cultural officials.

The works, which raise questions about the social and ethical implications of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, were abruptly pulled last weekend from the coming Guangzhou Triennial on the orders of cultural authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

The artists, from Europe, Australia and the United States, were not given an official reason why their works were rejected for the show, which opens on Dec. 21 at the Guangdong Museum of Art. The pieces did not touch on the Tiananmen democracy crackdown of 1989, independence for Taiwan or Tibet or the private wealth of Chinese Communist Party leaders —topics that are widely known to be off-limits for public discussion in China.

As a result, some of the show’s curators and the affected artists havebeen left guessing as to why the works were banned. Their conclusion? The works were perhaps too timely, too relevant and therefore too discomforting for Chinese officials.

…The other banned works include “The Modular Body,” an online science fiction story about using human cells and artificial organs to create a living organism. Created by a Dutch artist, Floris Kaayk, the work is intended to raise questions about the potential for 3-D printing of human organs, about extending life with the help of technology and about the desire to design life from scratch.

(21) OUT OF THE BOT BUSINESS. Engadget reports “Sphero is done making licensed Disney bots like BB-8 and R2-D2”:

Say goodbye to Sphero’s cute BB-8 robot. In fact, say goodbye to all the company’s licensed products, including R2-D2, BB-9E and Cars’ Lighting McQueen. According to The Verge, Sphero plans to sell its remaining inventory of licensed toys, but it will no longer manufacture more once it runs out. Indeed, the products’ listings on Sphero’s website says “This is a legacy product and no longer in production.” The company isn’t just discontinuing the models, though: It’s ending its licensing partnerships completely, because it’s no longer worth dedicating resources for their production.

Sphero chief Paul Berberian explained that while the toys sold well when their tie-in movies were released, fewer and fewer people purchased them as the years went by. “When you launch a toy, your first year’s your biggest. Your second year’s way smaller, and your third year gets really tiny,” he said….

(22) ALL YOU HAD TO DO IS ASK. Rocco the parrot apparently knows how to get what he wants (BGR Media: “An intelligent parrot used Alexa to play music and order food from Amazon”).

An African grey parrot has made headlines recently for inadvertently making orders via his owner’s Amazon Echo. Originally reported via The Times of London [paywall], the parrot — whose name is Rocco — would mindlessly activate Alexa and have the virtual assistant tell jokes and play music. Rocco even tried to order a few items from Amazon, but the owner wisely had set up controls to prevent unauthorized purchases.

What makes the somewhat lighthearted story even more amusing is that Rocco previously had a stint living at the UK’s National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) but was kicked out — yes, kicked out — because he was swearing too much. As the old adage says, truth is stranger than fiction. Rocco was subsequently placed under the care of a NAWT employee named Marion Wischnewski whereupon he quickly started activating Alexa.

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

2019 TAFF Voting Opens


The 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund Race to send a North American fan to the Dublin Worldcon next August is now on! Voting runs from today, December 1, to April 22, 2019.

The candidates are Teresa Cochran, Sarah Gulde, Michael Lowrey, and Geri Sullivan. The ballot includes their platform statements. TAFF co-administrator John Purcell said, “I am happy to say that I know all four of these splendid candidates, and wish them all the best of luck and that this campaign/election/selection will be a lot of fun. Bon chance, mes amis!”

The online voting form is active at https://taff.org.uk/. A printable PDF file of the ballot with voting instructions also appears at the end of this post. Purcell is sending out paper copies with the next issue of his fanzine Askew in another week.

North America: John Purcell ­– Checks in US$ payable to “John Purcell”. Mail the ballot to John Purcell, 3744 Marielene Circle, College Station, TX 77845 USA. Paypal payments to: 2017taff2019@gmail.com

Europe: Johan Anglemark – cheques in UK £ or € payable to “TAFF”. Mail the ballot to Johan Anglemark, Lingonv. 10, SE-74340 Storvreta, Sweden. Paypal payments to: EUTAFF@gmail.com

The 2019 TAFF Candidates:

Teresa Cochran

Reading has always been a solitary activity for me. I read SF for many years, and dreamed of meeting other fans. In the early 2000’s, I moved to Las Vegas and met many established fans. I began going to conventions. With the help of computer technology, it is much easier for me to write for fanzines. TAFF would give me an opportunity to meet fans and explore the social aspects of fandom. I could also publish a TAFF report in Braille! Don’t worry; it will be accessible to everyone.

Nominated by: (NA) Tracy Benton, Steve Stiles, Jacq Monahan; (Europe) Chris O’Shea, Martin Tudor

Sarah Gulde

‘Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’. Why the Star Trek slogan? First, I’m a hardcore Trekkie and co-editor of the December 2018 Star Trek issue of Journey Planet. Second, I’m passionate about diversity in fandom. I’ve been on diversity panels across the country, and even started my own diversity-focused mini-con.

I’m running for TAFF because I’ve pushed for change in my local con to help everyone feel welcome while celebrating their fandoms, and as the TAFF delegate I want to provide support for other fans who are doing the same. Interested? Let’s grab a beer in Dublin and chat! LLAP!

Nominated by: (NA) Chris Garcia, Curtis Chen, Nisi Shawl; (Europe) Fia Karlsson, James Shields

Michael Lowrey

My first convention (1975) was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have loved, married and parented within the tribe. I’ve been active: the N3F, Usenet, apas. I’ve pubbed my ish, and been officer of a local club.

I am a Fan, free citizen of the ImagiNation. Whatever else I may be – husband, daddy, union leader, Esperantist, wearer of orange garments, Quaker, feminist, Irishman, Mac user, Wobbly, Hordesman, Wikipedian – this is my Way of Life. My cunning plan? I want to come from a land beyond the wave, meet fans all over Over There, and quaff girder-based beverages.

Nominated by: (NA) Steven Silver, James Nicoll, Arthur D. Hlavaty; (Europe) John-Henri Holmberg, Steve Green

Geri Sullivan

Shortly after stumbling into fandom, I was found guilty of exhibiting enthusiastic energy and a propensity for getting things done. I’ve been hosting parties, publishing fanzines, running conventions, and organizing special projects ever since. Oobleck. Chocolate robots. Rocks, inflatable gargoyles, and remarkable bheer. You never know what I’ll bring, only that it all sparks connections….

If selected, I’ll share adventures from years knowing Walter & Madeleine Willis, James & Peggy White, and other legendary fans of yore while meeting new friends of all ages. Timebinding, you bet! Hope to see you on the Funway in Dublin and Belfast. She/her; fancyclopedia.org/geri-sullivan

Nominated by: (NA) Joe Siclari & Edie Stern, Pat Virzi, Dave O’Neill; (Europe) Claire Brialey, Gareth Kavanagh

2019 TAFF Ballot:

2019 TAFF Ballot US Letter

2019 TAFF Candidates Announced

Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators John Purcell and Johan Anglemark have announced the four candidates to become TAFF delegate to the 2019 Worldcon:

  • Teresa Cochran
  • Sarah Gulde
  • Mike Lowrey
  • Geri Sullivan

Voting on 2019 eastbound TAFF race begins December 1 and will continue until April 22, 2019. The winner will attend the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, Dublin 2019, on August 15-19.