Pixel Scroll 11/23/18 Have Fun Scrolling The Pixel!

(1) REAL LIFE RULES. Aliette de Bodard has come forward with her own rules for writing. Thread starts here.

(2) TOM BAKER WRITES DOCTOR WHO NOVEL. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] RadioTimes.com tells us that “Tom Baker has written a brand-new Doctor Who novel” based on a script idea he and Ian Marter had during the Fourth Doctor era. The book will be published by BBC Books (in the Penguin Random House family) with a publication date of January 24, 2019. It is already available for pre-order.

Just over a year after he made an unexpected comeback as the Fourth Doctor in a Doctor Who DVD project, iconic star Tom Baker has made another surprise return to the world of the BBC sci-fi series by penning a new novel starring the Time Lord.

Called Scratchman, the book began life in the 1970s during Baker’s tenure as the beloved Fourth Doctor, when between scenes he kicked around ideas for a new story for the series alongside Ian Marter (who played Harry Sullivan in Doctor Who), later writing them up into a script.

Gizmodo/io9 also chimes in on the book (“Tom Baker Is Turning His Wild Idea For a Doctor Who Movie Into a Novel”):

Back in the ‘70s, Tom Baker and Ian Marter—who played the Fourth Doctor’s companion Harry Sullivan—had a truly bonkers idea for a Doctor Who movie. They even wrote a script for it, but it never got made. Now, Baker himself is taking what could’ve been and turning it into a new novel.

The official synopsis of the novel has been made available:

What are you afraid of?

The Doctor, Harry and Sarah Jane Smith arrive at a remote Scottish island, when their holiday is cut short by the appearance of strange creatures – hideous scarecrows, preying on the local population. The islanders are living in fear, and the Doctor vows to save them all. But it doesn’t go to plan – the time travellers have fallen into a trap, and Scratchman is coming for them.

With the fate of the universe hanging in the balance, the Doctor must battle an ancient force from another dimension, one who claims to be the Devil.

Scratchman wants to know what the Doctor is most afraid of. And the Doctor’s worst nightmares are coming out to play…

(3) GOT TO READ. It’s time for “6 Books with Sarah Chorn” at Nerds of a Feather.

  1. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?I’ve had a bit of a hankering to re-read K.J. Parker’s Engineer Trilogy recently. Parker is one of my all-time favorite authors. I love his prose, how he plays with words, and how smart his books are. The Engineer Trilogy were my first Parker books I came across, and I fell in love with them. I haven’t read them for some time, but I’ve got an itch for some smart, morally gray characters and he seems to fit the bill.

(4) STRAIGHT FROM WALTER CRONKITE. Yesterday Galactic Journey, which follows the history of the field day-by-day 55 years in the past, reached November 22, 1963 and the assassination of President Kennedy. Its contributors did a series of reaction posts, beginning with “[November 22, 1963] President Kennedy has been assassinated]”.

(5) THE GAME OF SOCIAL LIFE. “The Black Mirror Episode ‘Nosedive’ Has Become A Board Game” and ScienceFiction.com explains how it works.

Fans of ‘Black Mirror‘ now have a new way to enjoy the show with their friends in the form of a board game! The social media nightmare is known as “Nosedive” is now something you can experience first hand with your friends! If you don’t remember the episode off the top of your head it was a satire of social media which had Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie in the third season premiere episode. The goal of the board game is just like that of the episode, to “get the highest Social Score possible” but here you’ll be competing with 3-6 players.

In the game, you’ll be collecting Lifestyle cards to try and create a perfect life. It isn’t all going to be luck though as your competitors will be rating their experiences in a way that can have an impact on your social score. You’ll also all need to have your smartphones handy in a gameplay element that requires you to download the app to play.

(6) A HUNK OF BURNING. Mad Genius Club’s Peter Grant, after reading about fire-devastated Paradise, California, outlines “A lesson re-learned from disaster”.

I’ve been taking the time to read reports of how computer and document backups were, or were not, adequate to safeguard important records during and after the fire.  Most of the reports are dismal, to say the least.  From online conversations and other sources, here are just some of the incidents that have been discussed:

  • Computer data backed up on thumb drives, stored in a “fireproof” box, were indeed protected from the flames;  but the heat inside the box rose so high that the drives simply melted, becoming unusable.
  • Documents in a similarly “fireproof” file container were charred into unrecognizable black ash, even though the container remained nominally intact.
  • In many cases, fireproof safes and filing cabinets were badly warped by the heat, rendering them incapable of opening.  Many people have not yet been able to return home to see what survived the flames, but some who have claim that they had to use angle grinders with cutting wheels, the “jaws of life“, or other heavy-duty equipment to open them….

(7) THIS LAND IS HERLAND. Adri Joy’s commentary is a very good survey of the topic, though members of the patriarchy should be sure to fasten their seatbelts — “Feminist Futures: Feminist Separatism in Science Fiction” at Nerds of a Feather

Content Warning: This essay tackles multiple texts which conflate sex and gender, and erase trans and intersex people.

Men, eh. What a mess they make. What a bother it is, to have this whole category of people on the planet who march around like they own the place yet mess it up at every opportunity, can’t change a baby, can’t do their own laundry, can’t even get in touch with their own emotions unless it involves some form of anger or violence. What trouble they cause for the rest of us – especially if you fit into that other big category of “women”. Why, wouldn’t it just be better if they weren’t around us any more? Wouldn’t it make our lives, those of us in that other big category of “women”, just so much easier and safer and nicer if we could put that category of “men” to one side, to do whatever it is they are compelled to do without getting in our way. Wouldn’t that be lovely. If only it were possible.

Fear not, beleaguered sufferer of the patriarchy: feminist speculative fiction has got your back. As long as you are from the category of “women”. And were recognised as such when you were born….

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 23, 1963 Doctor Who first aired on this day.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • November 23, 1887 – Boris Karloff, Actor famous for horror movies, whose real name was William Henry Pratt. His first genre role was when he portrayed Frankenstein’s monster in the 1931 Frankenstein, a part which he played twice more, in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). Without listing all of his genre roles, I will single out his superb work as Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu, which benefited from being pre-Hayes-code, and as Baron Victor von Frankenstein in the 1970 Frankenstein, which is terribly campy. His greatest role is no doubt as The Narrator in How the Grinch Stole Christmas – indeed, he received a Grammy Award in the Spoken Word category for the album, which Is the only major performing award of his career! (Died 1969.)
  • November 23, 1908 – Nelson S. Bond, Writer, Editor, Critic, and Member of First Fandom who also wrote for radio, television, and the stage, but whose published fiction work was mainly in the pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. He’s remembered today mainly for his Lancelot Biggs series and for his Meg the Priestess tales, which introduced one of the first strong female characters in SF back in 1939. As a fan, he attended the very first Worldcon, and he famously advised Isaac Asimov, who kept arguing with fans about his works in the letter columns of magazines, “You’re a writer now, Isaac. Let the readers have their opinions.” He was named a Nebula Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1998. (Died 2006.)
  • November 23, 1914 – Wilson “Bob” Tucker, Movie Projectionist and Theater Technician, Writer, and Member of First Fandom. He became involved in fandom in 1932, publishing two fanzines: The Planetoid, and, from 1938 to 2001, Le Zombie, which lasted for more than 60 issues over the course of 60+ years, and was later revived as a webzine, and won a Retro Hugo in 2018. (The title came from the fact that, on several occasions, false reports of his death were made). He also won a Hugo and a Retro Hugo as Best Fan Writer. In 1941, Tucker’s first professional short story, “Interstellar Way Station”, was published by Frederik Pohl in the May issue of Super Science Stories. His most productive period for fiction was in the early 1940s and early 1950s, when he published around 20 short works; during the latter part of that period, he also produced several novels. His most well-known novel is considered to be be The Year of the Quiet Sun; it was a finalist for the Hugo and the Nebula Awards, and later received a special retrospective Campbell Memorial Award. From 1955 to 1996, he was responsible for eight separate editions of The Neo-Fan’s Guide To Science Fiction Fandom, which covered the first five decades of fandom and the evolution of fan slang; the eighth and final edition remains in print under the auspices of the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society. He was honored with the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, two Phoenix Awards, and a special Nebula Author Emeritus Award. He is credited with creating the term “space opera”, and his custom of using the names of friends for minor characters in his fiction led to the term ”Tuckerization”. (And yes, I’ve been been tuckerized: you’ll find a Cat Eldridge, an ethnomusicologist, in Jane Yolen’s The One-Armed Queen, which is the conclusion to her Great Alta Trilogy. I found her a folklore book she wanted, and that was my reward.) (Died 2006.)
  • November 23, 1916 – Michael Gough, Actor from England who is best known for his roles in Hammer Horror Films from the late 1950s, and for his recurring role as Alfred Pennyworth in all four films of the Tim Burton / Joel Schumacher Batman series from 1989 to 1997. Hammer usually cast him as the evil villain, and I mean EVIL! Not to mention SLIMY, in such films as Horrors of the Black Museum, The Phantom of the Opera, The Corpse, Horror Hospital, and Satan’s Slave. Gough appeared on Doctor Who as the villain in “The Celestial Toymaker” in 1966, and again as Councillor Hedin in “Arc of Infinity” in 1983. In the mid 1960s, he also played Dr. Armstrong in “The Cybernauts” in The Avengers, returning the very next season as the Russian spymaster Nutski in “The Correct Way to Kill”. A favorite of Burton’s, his last roles were in Sleepy Hollow and as character voices in Corpse Bride and Alice in Wonderland. (Died 2011.)
  • November 23, 1955 – Steven Brust, 63, Writer of Hungarian descent, something that figures into his fiction, which he says is neither fantasy nor SF. He is perhaps best known for his series of novels about the assassin Vlad Taltos, one of a scorned group of humans living on a world called Dragaera. All are great reads. His recent novels also include The Incrementalists and its sequel The Skill of Our Hands, with co-author Skyler White. Both are superb. His finest novel? The Dragearan prequel Brokedown Palace. Oh, just go read it. It’s amazing. And no, I don’t love everything he’s done. I wrote a scathing – scathing! – review of Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille; he told us at Green Man Review that he might be the only person who liked the novel. Freedom & Necessity, with Emma Bull, is decidedly different but good nonetheless, and his unofficial Firefly novel, My Own Kind of Freedom, stays true to the characters in that series. He’s quite the musician too, with two albums with Cats Laughing, a band that includes Emma Bull, Jane Yolen (lyrics), and others. The band, in turn, shows up in Marvel comics. A Rose For Iconoclastes is his solo album, and he says “The title, for those who don’t know, is a play off the brilliant story by Roger Zelazny, “A Rose For Ecclesiastes,” which you should read if you haven’t yet.” Quoting him again, “Songs From The Gypsy is the recording of a cycle of songs I wrote with ex-Boiled-in-Lead guitarist Adam Stemple, which cycle turned into a novel I wrote with Megan Lindholm, one of my favorite writers.” The album and book are quite amazing!
  • November 23, 1951 – David Rappaport, Actor from England. I remember him best as Randall, the leader of the gang of comically-inept dwarves in Time Bandits who steal the map to Universe. I’m reasonably sure that it’s the only thing of a genre nature for which he’ll be remembered, having looked up his other works and found them to be decidedly minor in nature. Most of them, such as The Bride, a low-budget horror film, were artistic and commercial disasters. It is said that his death by suicide in 1990 is one of the reasons cited by Gilliam for there not being a sequel to Time Bandits.
  • November 23, 1966 – Michelle Gomez, 52, Actor from Scotland who is best known to genre fans as Missy, a female version of The Master, on Doctor Who from 2014 to 2017, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. I admit, having grown up with Roger Delgado as The Master, that later performers playing this role took a bit of getting used to, but she made a fine one. Other guest roles were in episodes of Gotham and the short-lived spinoff Highlander: The Raven. She is currently playing a main role as Mary Wardwell in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
  • November 23, 1967 – Salli Richardson-Whitfield, 51, Actor, Director, and Producer whose best-known genre role is as Dr. Allison Blake on Eureka (which is apparently in syndication now as A Town Called Eureka… H’h?). Her first genre roles were in the fantasy film Prelude to a Kiss and in the “Second Sight” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but she also charmingly voiced the main human character on the animated Gargoyles series! Other appearances included parts in episodes of Stargate SG-1, The Pretender, and the short-lived Secret Agent Man. She had a main role as Maggie Baptiste in Stitchers, a series that, against all odds, lasted through three seasons. Her most recent work has included directing episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Luke Cage, and Black Lightning.
  • November 23, 1970 – Oded Fehr, 48, Actor from Israel whose most well-known genre roles are as the mysterious warrior Ardeth Bay in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and as Carlos Oliveira (or his clone) in three of the Resident Evil films: Apocalypse, Extinction, and Retribution. (His Mummy roles no doubt led to his casting in voice roles in Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? and as The Living Mummy in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.) On Charmed, he played the demon Zankou, the main villain of the show’s seventh season. He’s had an impressively long list of appearances on TV series, including recurring roles on Once Upon A Time, Stitchers, V, and The First, a series about the first mission to Mars, which just premiered in September. He has also voiced characters on numerous other animated features and series.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) LAST NIGHT ON JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter had his eye on the tube:

  • Answer: Roger Ebert: This film “works as science fiction, it’s sometimes as scary as a monster movie & at the end…not a dry eye in the house.”
  • Wrong questions: “What is “2001”? What is “Alien”?
  • Correct response: What is “E.T.”?

(13) #NOTME. New research says “Humans ‘off the hook’ for African mammal extinction”, contradicting theories that we ate them…

Today, only elephants, hippos, giraffes and white and black rhinos fall into this category.

But the three-million-year-old human relative “Lucy” (Australopithecus afarensis) shared her East African habitat with three species of giraffe, two species of rhino, a hippo and four elephant-like species.

The results of the analysis showed that over the last seven million years, some 28 lineages of large mammal went extinct in Africa.

Furthermore, the onset of the herbivore decline began roughly 4.6 million years ago, and the rate of decline did not change following the appearance of Homo erectus, one of the earliest human ancestors that could have contributed to the extinctions.

(14) THE MARS SHOW. Here’s your reminder that the next Mars lander is scheduled to touch down Monday and you can watch it “live” (Vox: “NASA is landing InSight, a robot geologist, on Mars”). The current time delay for radio communications from Mars to Earth is about 8 minutes, so “live” will be delayed by at least that long.

A major feat of interplanetary space travel is about to take place on Monday, November 26. That’s when NASA’s InSight lander is expected to land on Mars and begin its two-year study of our neighboring planet’s core. It will be the first NASA Mars landing since the Curiosity rover touched down in 2012.

The lander is expected to touch Mars around 3 pm Eastern time, and you can watch the live stream in the NASA link below. But because it’s so far away, NASA’s mission scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California won’t get to pilot it. Their radio transitions to the lander are delayed by several minutes. Like the Curiosity rover, InSight will have to land itself in only 6.5 minutes.

The live programming from NASA TV will begin at 2 pm Eastern Monday.

(15) VESS AND GAIMAN. Titan Comics has issued Charles Vess’ Book of Ballads and Sagas

Beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess and featuring adaptations by Neil Gaiman – Vess’ collaborator on the hugely successful Stardust – and a host of famous fantasy writers, this new edition also boasts never-before-seen art and an amazing gallery of sketches!

(16) VIEW FROM THE ISS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The European Space Agency has posted a time-lapse video—taken from the ISS—showing a Russian Progress capsule loaded with supplies for the ISS rising above the limb of the Earth as background stars arc behind it. You can even see what appears to be the blazing reentry of one of the rocket stages. (Motherboard: “Watch a Spaceship Leave Earth in Stunning ISS Video”)

This is an especially significant launch since it uses essential the same rocket stack as the crewed Soyuz launch that aborted earlier this year and the Progress launch took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, also the same as the Soyuz. This, then, would appear to represent concrete progress toward getting a new Soyuz launch off in time to relieve the current ISS crew.

We’re so used to seeing perfectly-rendered CGI depictions of outer space in movies and video games that seeing the real thing can sometimes feel underwhelming. This is not one of those times.

On Thursday, the European Space Agency (ESA) published a video taken from the International Space Station (ISS) by astronaut Alexander Gerst. The video shows time-lapse footage of the Russian Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft that launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 16. The footage is almost unbelievable as it shows the spacecraft, on a resupply mission to the ISS, arcing into orbit. The camera pans slowly and follows the unmanned Russian craft, revealing Earth’s curvature in epic scale.

 

(17) SATANIC SETTLEMENT. The New York Times reports the infringement suit is over: “Satanic Temple Settles Lawsuit Over Goat-Headed Statue in ‘Sabrina’”.

The Satanic Temple said on Wednesday that it had settled its lawsuit accusing Warner Bros. and Netflix of copying the temple’s goat-headed statue in their new “Sabrina” series.

The lawsuit was “amicably settled,” Lucien Greaves, a co-founder of the temple, wrote in a blog post on the Patheos religion-themed website.

The temple will be acknowledged in the credits for episodes of “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” that have already been filmed, Mr. Greaves wrote. The rest of the settlement, including details on what will happen in future episodes of the show, is confidential, according to Bruce Lederman, the temple’s lawyer.

(18) TIME MARCHES BACKWARDS. As a trufannish site we try not to discuss science fiction here but sometimes it creeps in. Like when Camestros Felapton explains that “I thought of a different form of time travel”. It started when he was reading Gregory Benford’s Timescape.

… That message from the future got me thinking. Practically there’s obviously no way to send an electrical signal down a wire into the past (i.e. this I’m engaging with fiction here not an actual proposal). I suppose that information arriving at a destination before it left its starting point violates the speed of light but looked at just in terms of distance traveled over elapsed time it doesn’t….

(19) USE CASE. Nothing could possibly go wrong with an AI being developed to run planetary outposts and assist astronauts, right? (Space.com: “This HAL 9000-Inspired AI Simulation Kept Its Virtual Astronauts Alive”; paywalled source material at Science Robotics: “CASE: A HAL 9000 for 2021“) CASE (“cognitive architecture for space agents”)—developed by Pete Bonasso, et al., at TRACLabs Inc.—has already run a simulated planetary base and is moving along to testing on analogs.

“Our colleagues and NASA counterparts are not concerned that our HAL might get out of control,” Bonasso told Space.com. “That’s because it can’t do anything it’s not programmed to do.”

In experiments, CASE managed a simulated planetary base for about 4 hours. However, the researchers stressed more work is needed before it can run an actual base.

Moreover, “though CASE is impressive, it’s not the fully realized HAL from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ nor is it Lt. Commander Data from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,'” Bonasso said. “Its capability is very narrow, focused on events occurring on a planetary base. While it can keep the life support systems running, it has no idea who won the last presidential election.”

The scientists are now working with what NASA calls analogs — places where volunteers pretend they are living on a distant world. In the long term, the aim is to incorporate CASE into the analogs to see how the software can help improve future space expeditions.

(20) TWO GUYS IN THE CAST. Patrick Stewart makes a great anecdote from the gaffes he committed the first time he met Sting.

Patrick Stewart explains how he really had no idea who Sting was when meeting him on set on David Lynch’s Dune.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/31/17 Here’s Harry Mudd In Your AI

(1) HALLOWEEN VIGIL. John King Tarpinian commemorated his annual Halloween visit to Ray Bradbury’s gravesite with this photo.

(2) THE MOST GHOSTS. Halloween is a good day to be publicizing books newly available for sale from Richard Dalby’s Library.

One of the largest collections of rare and antiquarian supernatural and ghost books. If you’re looking for something special, unique and rare we might just have the book for you.

Richard Dalby was an editor and literary researcher noted for his anthologies of ghost stories. He was also an avid book collector and scholar. He sadly died in April 2017.

Read more about Richard Dalby in this article written by Brian Showers of Swan River Press, “Remembering Richard Dalby”:

 I first met Richard in Brighton at the World Horror Convention on 27 March 2010. Thinking back now, we certainly must have corresponded before 2010 as conversation was immediately familiar and friendly. I don’t think I’d ever seen a photograph of Richard prior to meeting him in Brighton, so was struck by his boyish appearance. It conflicted with the fact that his publication history goes right the way back. Jesus, how old was this guy? Not that old at all as it turned out.

But Richard wasn’t just boyish in appearance; he had something of that youthful manner about him too. Maybe curiosity is a better word for it. He was inquisitive. After brief salutations and nice-to-finally-meet-yous, Richard immediately launched into questions. I’d been working on Stoker a lot in those days, and he wanted to know what I knew about “X” edition, or if I had ever been able to track down the exact publication date of “Y”. Of course I hadn’t. Sure, I know more than the average person does about Stoker, but Richard’s knowledge far exceeded mine and by no small amount. And yet he asked me questions anyway because that’s how Richard seemed to work. He probed, asked questions, compiled, collected, and collated. I think that’s one of the key qualities Richard possessed that made him such a good researcher, bibliographer, and anthologist.

(3) MIND MELD. The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has assembled a “Mind Meld” for the holiday: “Mind Meld: Monster Mayhem—Vampires and Everything Else”. The question is:

What are your favorite books or stories featuring vampires or anything uncategorizable?

And the panelists are: Gareth L. Powell, Stina Leicht, Zachary Jernigan, Jason Sizemore, Mary Robinette Kowal, Jennifer Brozek, Christopher Golden, T. Frohock, Rachel Swirsky, Jason Arnopp, Dr Gillian Polack, Jeffrey Ford, Paul Cornell, Paul Jessup, Lara Elena Donnelly, Kristine Smith, Carrie Cuinn, Beth Cato, Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara, Jaym Gates, Gail Z. Martin, Tracy Fahey, Jaime Lee Moyer, and Tracy Townsend.

(4) LOUD OUT THERE.  Who says they can’t hear screaming in space? Mike Chua of MikeShouts says “NASA’s Playlist Of Sounds From Space Is Apt For Sci-Fi-themed Halloween Party”.

Are you going to have a sci-fi-themed Halloween party? Well, if so, you will want these spooky sounds recorded in space by NASA as your soundtrack. Like, seriously. Be warned though, these sounds are really, really spooky. The level of spookiness cannot be overstated. I have listened to all the tracks in the playlist and all I can say that they sound more paranormal than space-ish. Aptly entitled Spooky Sounds from Across the Space, the playlist on Soundcloud includes 22 tracks pulled from NASA’s archive of sounds recorded in outer space by the various probes and orbiters, and therefore do not expect sweet, varying mood, orchestrated music from Contact.

(5) COSTUME OF THE DAY. Never thought of that wordplay before —

(6) THE FIRST ONE IS FREE. YouTube Red is airing Lifeline, produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Seven Bucks Digital Studios and Studio 71.

The series stars Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights) and Sydney Park (The Walking Dead), and tells the story of a life insurance company that sends its agents into the future to prevent the accidental deaths of its clients.

 

(7) A VISIT TO THE REAL WORLD. Maggie Stiefvater: “I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy”. Piracy not only costs sales, it kills series.

…There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.

BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.

Strange, I thought. Particularly as it seemed on the internet and at my booming real-life book tours that interest in the Raven Cycle in general was growing, not shrinking. Meanwhile, floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.

I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.

Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies. The series was in decline, they were so proud of me, it had 19 starred reviews from pro journals and was the most starred YA series ever written, but that just didn’t equal sales. They still loved me.

This, my friends, is a real world consequence.

… The Ronan trilogy nearly didn’t exist because of piracy. And already I can see in the tags how Tumblr users are talking about how they intend to pirate book one of the new trilogy for any number of reasons, because I am terrible or because they would ‘rather die than pay for a book’. As an author, I can’t stop that. But pirating book one means that publishing cancels book two. This ain’t 2004 anymore. A pirated copy isn’t ‘good advertising’ or ‘great word of mouth’ or ‘not really a lost sale.’

It was preceded by this twitter thread:

And this post about why not every author can give away stuff for free:

Today on Twitter and Tumblr, I posted about piracy and the effect it had had on the publishing side of the Raven Cycle. Several readers lashed out at me and asked why I did not merely release an 11,000 word story for free if the publisher had decided not to release it — further, they noted, other “big name authors” released “loads” of free content and since I didn’t release “loads” of things for free, surely this meant I just was in it for the money.

…And I’m not going to speak to the giving away art for free business. The internet has discussed this a lot already, and the fact is that if you take away a paying-for-art model, you end up only getting art from people who can afford to work in their spare time or art that is supported by patrons — both models that we have seen before, both models that end up giving you art produced by and for a homogenous and upper class group. So moving on.

What I will speak to is the “loads” of free content business, because I haven’t addressed this before. I know there are authors who do release loads of free content. Stories of all lengths. Still other authors release loads of extra content available for a low cost, stories and novellas, etc. I can very much see how this is thrilling to readers. However, this will never be me, for four reasons:…

(8) NO OASIS IN 2018. The Orlando Area Science Fiction Society has announced they need more help to continue putting on the annual OASIS convention, and until they find it they’re skipping a year.

OASIS 29 revealed a need for restructuring our future conventions. As a result, we must regretfully announce that there will not be an OASIS convention in 2018.

We hope to present the next OASIS convention in 2019. We’ll provide the latest updates of our progress through Twitter, Facebook and the OASFiS web page.

However, that progress depends on you. Yes, you.

Each convention, we’ve asked people who love fandom to join OASFiS and help us build future conventions and events. In this critical time, we need you more than ever. It might be fun to watch fan activities from an audience seat, but it’s more fulfilling to make them happen and bring your own ideas to the world.

We want to bring greater events beyond the convention, involving all of Central Florida’s fan communities, but that requires the involvement of your minds, bodies and souls. Come to our monthly meetings – which we’re planning to move to a comfortable location in downtown Orlando, to be announced soon – and talk to us. As we’ve discovered, it’s good to have some friends. But it’s better to have more friends.

(9) JULIAN MAY. Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times’ obituary, published today: “Julian May, who weaved worlds in sci-fi, fantasy novels, dead at 86”

Julian May’s Christmas tree was bedecked with a flying-dinosaur ornament handcrafted by someone better known for writing “I, Robot” and other sci-fi classics — Isaac Asimov. Author Ray Bradbury used to bounce her son on his knee.

Before becoming a popular science-fiction writer herself, Ms. May grew up in a Cape Cod home in Elmwood Park, attended Trinity High School in River Forest and landed her first job at Burny Brothers bakery at 2445 N. Harlem.

Her books included two sprawling sci-fi sagas: the four “Saga of Pliocene Exile” novels and the six-book “Galactic Milieu” series. They incorporate aliens, barbarians, time travel, swordplay and paleontology, with elements of Carl Jung and Celtic and Norse mythology.

Ms. May, who wrote 19 science-fiction and fantasy novels and more than 250 young-adult nonfiction books, died of a heart attack Oct. 17 at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Wash. She was 86….

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • October 31, 1926 – Harry Houdini died.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian encountered a question about Dracula’s sartorial splendor in today’s Shoe.

(12) MANUFACTURER’S RECALL. If you rushed to buy the new Penric novella on the first day, Lois McMaster Bujold says you need to check whether you received a corrupted edition.

I would advise Kindle customers to give up waiting on the “manage your content and devices” page and go straight to the chat solution, as explained.

… The problem should only apply to customers who bought on the first days, Friday Oct. 27 and most of Saturday Oct. 28.  (The corrected file went up Saturday afternoon/evening.)  Files sold from Sunday Oct. 30 onward should be updated and complete.  Do please pass the word, as I doubt all the first-day purchasers read my blog (although, happily, it seems many do.)

To see if you have a good copy (or not), do the “Limnos corrections cross-check”:

As discussed (at length) in the prior post, the file uploaded on Friday of “The Prisoner of Limnos” was corrupted due to a formatting glitch — 14 out of its 18 chapters were missing their final paragraphs. We caught up with the problem on Saturday afternoon, and a fresh and supposedly corrected file was uploaded at the three vendors.

Bujold concludes, “For all the aggravation, I do have to admit this beats binning a multi-thousand-copy bad paper print run.”

(13) WITCHES UNFAMILIAR. Jamie at Pornokitsch turns the pages of several recent comic books in “Hubble, bubble, toil and feminism: Witches in comics”.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also takes the form of a coming-of-age horror. While Harrow County has a positive message about female friendship, Chilling Adventures tells a much muddier story.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack, Chilling Adventures is part of the Archie Comics horror line and sends Sabrina back to a 1960s setting. Using this historical time period –  a decade of changing attitudes – helps polarise Sabrina’s position not only as a girl halfway between the worlds of the witches and regular humans, between girlhood and womanhood, but also between the old and new ways of thinking. The old hidebound rules of the witches represent the old way, the coven standing in for the stratified social systems of family and motherhood that constrained women for so long.

Sabrina’s time in the human world – a normal teenage girl in high school – shows all the new attitudes of the 1960s. There, Sabrina is dating a football player, studying In Cold Blood and trying to get the big role in the school adaptation of Bye Bye Birdie. She looks up to the new drama teacher, Ms. Porter who, unfortunately, turns out to be a long-thought-dead witch with a grudge against the Spellman family.  Ms. Porter (a.k.a. Madam Satan) is herself something of a dichotomy. In her mortal guise she is a sympathetic confidante, a no-nonsense woman with the tell-tale ‘Ms.’.  When we see her in her witchy moments, however, she’s driven by jealousy, lust and vanity, a trio of sins classically assigned to ‘witchy’ women. In Chilling Adventures, Sabrina’s attempts to move away from this outdated view of femininity that provides so much of the comic’s thematic tension and makes its witches so compelling.

(14) GOBLIN UP THE SHORT FICTION. Jason has devoured October’s short fiction and has recommendations on the tastiest treats in the “Summation of Online Fiction: October 2017” at Featured Futures.

September was the scary month with few great or even particularly good stories but October rebounded resoundingly with several remarkable tales (out of only thirty-four read of 157K words), and from relatively unusual venues. Flash Fiction Online produced an excellent Valloween issue combining Valentine relationships with Halloween darkness. Uncanny and Apex also had stories above the usual fare. While Nature produced no recs this month, it produced a double-honorable-mention and got into the Halloween spirit with both, one of which would have fit into the FFO issue and one of which was outright horror. Plus there was a trio of quite remarkable near-misses of fantasy from a trio of other sources, at least a couple of which also fit the season and one of which was a rare webzine novella. For those not in the Halloween mood, there were still a few good tales that weren’t so dark. Speaking of scary, though, Tor.com published only one story in September and posted only two original ones in October. Here’s hoping they get back on track.

(15) STRANGER CONOISSEUR. Camestros Felapton is on duty beside the TV, giving us “Review: Stranger Things 2 (spoilers avoided)”:

The hyper genre-aware Netlfix show is back with another nine hour marathon wearing the early 1980’s as a halloween costume. If you didn’t like the first series, fair enough – tastes very and I’ll discuss one of the biggest issues I have with the show below. If you did like the first series then you’ll like this one also. Essentially while the characters have grown and the plot advances, the core features of the show are the same. Personally, I was absolutely riveted.

…The strength of the show remains with a great cast with strong characters. Wynona Ryder as Joyce Byers gets to be less frantic for more of the show but still conveys an electric mix of nervous energy and fierce determination to protect her family against absolutely ANYTHING. Above all she is a wonderful antidote to the cliche of the disbelieving adult – as with the first series, she follows the internal logic of the crazy situation with a compassionate ruthlessness.

The younger cast remain brilliant and charming and plausible. The addition of Max, a skateboarding new kid from out of town, broadens the gender mix of the core gang. While among the adults, Sean Astin plays Wynona Ryder’s romantic interest as an adult nerd – which is a handy trait in a show where being a nerd is often a handy superpower….

(16) ANOTHER ENTRY IN THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK. Doctor Who News predicts there will be a close encounter of the fourth kind — specifically, “River Song to Meet Fourth Doctor”.

River Song as played by Alex Kingston, is to meet the Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, in a new set of audio adventures released by Big Finish. Series Four of The Diary of River Song, to be released in August 2018, will see the archaeologist encounter Doctor Number Four, in a set of new adventures alongside the longest serving Doctor. Meanwhile Series Three of the Diary of River Song will released in January 2018, and will feature the Fifth Doctor, as played by Peter Davison, battling against the most evil midwife in Doctor Who history, Madame Kovarian, played by Frances Barber.

(17) TAKE THREE AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING. BigThink takes the piss out of Pythagoras: “Scientists Discover the Purpose of a Mysterious 3700-Year-Old Babylonian Tablet” .

The tablet has 15 rows of numbers written in cuneiform over four columns. It uses a base 60 numeral system (called “sexagesimal”), which originated with ancient Sumerians. What was the tablet used for? The scientists think it might have been an invaluable aid in the construction of palaces, temples and canals. Before pocket calculators, trigonometric tables were used widely in a variety of fields. They let you use one known ratio of the sides of a right-angle triangle to figure out the other two unknown ratios.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Daniel Mansfield from the UNSW School of Mathematics and Statistics, explained why the tablet held such mystery –

“Plimpton 322 has puzzled mathematicians for more than 70 years, since it was realised it contains a special pattern of numbers called Pythagorean triples. The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose – why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet,” said Mansfield. “Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles.”

He also called the tablet “a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius.” Mansfield said the mathematics on the tablet are advanced even for our modern trigonometry. Plimpton 322 also shows the Babylonians proved the famous Pythagorean theorem a thousand years before Greek mathematician Pythagoras was born.

Interestingly, not only is this the world’s oldest trigonometric table, it’s also “the only completely accurate” one because of its reliance on the potentially more precise base 60.

(18) JAUNTY ALOUETTE. The Traveler at Galactic Journey keeps watching the skies: “[October 31, 1962] Trick and Treat! (A Halloween candy wrap-up of the Space Race)”.

Typically, a Thor Agena B launch from Southern California means yet another Air Force “Discoverer” spy sat has gone up; such flights are now weekly occurrences.  But the flight that went up September 29 actually carried a civilian payload into polar orbit: Alouette 1, the first Canadian satellite.

Alouette is designed to study the ionosphere, that charged layer of the atmosphere hundreds of miles up.  But unlike the sounding rockets routinely sent into the zone, Alouette will survey (or “sound”) the ionosphere from above.  Canada is particularly interested in understanding how and when the sun disrupts the region, interrupting radio communications.  Our neighbor to the north is a big country, after all, and it is the Northern Hemisphere’s first line of defense against Soviet missiles and bombers.  Radio is, therefore, vital to both defense and civilian interests.

According to early data, it looks like the highest “F2” layer of the ionosphere is as reflective to radio waves from the top as the bottom.  Alouette has also, by beaming multiple frequencies down to Earth, helped scientists determine what radio wavelengths aren’t blocked by the ionosphere.

(19) A MUCH DIFFERENT BOY AND HIS DOG. From Deadline: “Amblin Entertainment Acquires Tom Hanks Sci-Fi Package ‘Bios’”.

Writers are Craig Luck and Ivor Powell. The story is about a robot on an a post-apocalyptic Earth who was programmed to protect his creator’s dog. Through that, the robot learns about love, friendship and the meaning of life. Producing will be ImageMovers Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine along with writer Powell. Bob Zemeckis, Luck and Sapochnik will be executive producer.

(20) NOW ON THE SHELVES. The Archie McPhee catalog acknowledges our debt to these unsung professionals with their new LIBRARIAN ACTION FIGURE!

What’s that in the sky? It’s our new super-powered Librarian Action Figure! We need heroes right now who can help us navigate information, point us to reliable sources and recommend books that help us grow in our understanding of our fellow humans. In other words, move over Captain America, it’s time for the librarians. Based on Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl, this action figure has a removable cape and a deep knowledge of how knowledge is organized. Celebrate an everyday hero!

[Thanks to Meredith, ULTRAGOTHA, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Andrew Porter, Juan Sanmiguel, and Wendy Gale for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 9/20/17 Won’t You Jaunt Home, Lije Bailey?

(1) IT’S ABOUT TIME. The Sun tells about the actor’s latest project — “Tom Baker is back playing Doctor Who nearly 40 years after originally playing the Time Lord”.

He recorded final scenes for Shada, written by Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy creator Douglas Adams.

It was meant to be a six-episode tale for Tom’s fourth incarnation of the Doctor in 1979-80.

But production was wrecked by a BBC technicians’ strike and only half was filmed before it was shelved.

Tom and other members of the original cast — including Lalla Ward, 66, as companion Romana — returned for the recording in Uxbridge, West London.

They are voicing animated sequences that will replace the unfilmed material.

(2) NEXT LARA CROFT. Rick Marshall on Digital Trends has “First ‘Tomb Raider’ trailer introduces Alicia Vikander as the new Lara Croft”.

Two films based on Lara Croft’s adventures preceded the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot film: 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Both films cast Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft and collectively earned $432 million at the worldwide box office, making the series one of the highest-grossing film franchises based on a video game property.

Tomb Raider hits theaters March 16, 2018.

 

(3) THE SPIRIT OF SFF. Although I’ve become inured to this phrase being code for “more nutty nuggets, please,” author Joseph Brassey has only the original meaning in mind when he talks about “Keeping the Fun in Science Fiction” at Fantasy-Faction.

I firmly believe, however, that a story should be able to confront real problems without losing its soul, its sense of fun, and this is found in the conviction that things can always be better. It is in an explicit rejection of a tone of cynicism, because work that grapples with darkness doesn’t need to assume it is in the nature of our most misanthropic, derisive qualities to prevail. Hope is not a method, but it is the precursor of methods. The spark that ignites action and turns talk of change into moving feet and hands grasping for actions of worth. Hope is not the fire. It is the lighter of fires.

The human element is everything. Where the fantastical meets the machine. Where the magic meets the skycraft. Where the sword turns aside the crackling bolt of gunfire and the pilot spins the wheel to take her ship from the roaring path of the dragon’s breath. Where conflict assails the human spirit and we find our noblest qualities in the face of ravening hate, violent authoritarianism, and bone-chilling fear.

It is in the wonder that reaches for stars, responds to fury with mercy, hatred with love, having the courage to peer beyond a terrible present to embrace a future awash with a thousand hues of color.

(4) GENRE WALK WITH ME. Abigail Nussbaum delves into her psychology as a viewer, the history of a particular show, and generational changes in the television medium in “That Gum You Like: Scattered Thoughts on Twin Peaks: The Return” at Asking the Wrong Question.

My third try with Twin Peaks was just a few months ago, when, in preparation for the upcoming revival series, I mainlined the entire 30 episodes of the show, plus Fire Walk With Me, over a long weekend.  It was strange experiencing the show this way, simultaneously a newcomer and someone who knew quite a bit about it, including the major turns of plot.  What was even stranger was how much the existence of The Return changed the meaning and significance of the original Twin Peaks, even before a single frame of it had aired.  From a failed experiment, it became merely a chapter in a story, whose later installments might yet redeem it.  Watching Twin Peaks was suddenly no longer an exercise in nostalgia and self-flagellation, but that venerable Peak TV practice of binge-watching the previous seasons before the new episodes start.  I ended up enjoying this rewatch much more than I was expecting (Fire Walk With Me, in particular, turns out to be a great deal more rewarding than I’d been led to believe), but I wonder if I would have felt the same if I didn’t know that another chapter in the saga was just around the corner.

(5) YOUR HOST, BORIS KARLOFF. It’s 1962 in England and a wonderful sf anthology series has just completed its run: “[Sep. 20, 1962] Out of this World (the British Summer SF hit!)”. Galactic Journey’s Ashley R. Pollard delivers mini-reviews of all the episodes.

As I mentioned before, this series was launched with Dumb Martian shown as part of the Armchair Theatre series.  The new series has a very spooky theme tune called The Concerto to the Stars, composed by Eric Siday, which plays against a background of moving microscopic tentacles that sets the tone for the show.  For those who are interested, Tony Hatch has expanded the theme tune into very catchy 45 record, available from all good record stores.

The format of the show has each episode introduced by Boris Karloff, who is disarmingly charming with his bon mots about the story to come.  There are two breaks for adverts, which is annoying, but this is commercial TV, so it is to be expected.  Then Mr. Karloff signs off the story with an announcement of the cast.

(6) LAWYER LETTERS GO GENRE. Adweek has the story: “Netflix Sent the Best Cease-and-Desist Letter to This Unauthorized Stranger Things Bar”.

Evidence for this comes from Chicago, where an unauthorized Stranger Things bar recently opened and has since become quite popular. Naturally, Netflix wasn’t OK with this. But instead of firing off a nasty, sharply worded missive, it sent a quite adorable letter to the owners in the style of the Stranger Things universe.

“Danny and Doug,” the letter started out…

My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

We’re not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you, but we ask that you please (1) not extend the pop-up beyond its 6 week run ending in September, and (2) reach out to us for permission if you plan to do something like this again. Let me know as soon as possible that you agree to these requests.

We love our fans more than anything, but you should know the Demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.

(7) THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE. Early in Honest Trailers’ take on Wonder Woman comes this line:

Now, Patty Jenkins bravely asks the question, “What if a female-led superhero movie wasn’t absolute garbage from beginning to end, and had a powerful message for girls: Save the world, look flawless doing it, be a literal god, then men might begrudgingly half-tolerate your presence?”

 

“I pretty much howled,” says Rick Moen, who sent the link, “Fair cop.”

(8) VOICE OF OUR FRIENDS. Last night a thousand people paid tribute to the late June Foray. From The Hollywood Reporter, “Veteran Voice Actress June Foray Remembered by Lily Tomlin, More at Packed Event”.

Billed as “Hokey Smokes! A June Foray Celebration,” the grand gala was produced by animation veterans Mark Evanier, Jerry Beck, Bob Bergen, Howard Green and Tom Sito and ably hosted by Evanier, who was June’s longtime friend and sometime employer.

Among the many eager to pay personal and professional tribute were Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), Bill Mumy (who spoke of June’s guest appearance on an episode of Lost in Space), animation historian Charles Solomon, Teresa Ganzel (The Duck Factory) and a surprise guest — Lily Tomlin — who won a voiceover Emmy in 2013 the same night June received the Governors Award. Tomlin said of Foray, “The characters she played were so much more than cartoons; they were our friends.” …

Foray was also saluted for her tireless efforts to engender more respect for the world of animation as a founding member of the American branch of ASIFA (Association International du Film d’Animation), which produces the annual Annie Awards, and she is credited with helping to establish the Academy Award category for best animated feature film.

As a grand finale, Evanier invited a number of animation actresses who had been inspired by Foray’s pioneering work to come up onstage and pose for a sort of “class photo” (below) flanking a large portrait of Foray in her natural habitat — seated at a microphone….

Evanier remarked that Foray’s career began in the Golden Age of Radio in the 1930s and continued up to and including video games.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 20, 1979 – The theatrical release was edited down as the pilot episode for TV’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • September 20, 1985 Morons From Outer Space premiered theatrically on this day.
  • September 20, 1987  — Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future premiered its first and only season.
  • September 20, 2002 Firefly premiered.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born September 20, 1948 – George R.R. Martin

(11) MALTIN ON ELLISON BIO. Leonard Maltin approves “A LIT FUSE: THE PROVOCATIVE LIFE OF HARLAN ELLISON: AN EXPLORATION WITH EXTENSIVE INTERVIEWS by Nat Segaloff (Nesfa Press)” which is more than I can say ‘til I read it. And maybe then.

Harlan Ellison is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met. An author, activist, and professional provocateur, he is incapable of being dull, which makes this book a page-turner almost by definition. His fame in the field of science-fiction obscures other facets of his career, including writing for television and movies. It’s all chronicled in this highly readable profile by a longtime friend and follower. No single book could cover the entirety of Ellison’s life, or reproduce every one of his memorable rants, but Segaloff makes a healthy start in that direction.

(12) QUARTER CENTURY MARK. SyFy Wire continues to celebrate the channel’s 25th anniversary with lists – today “25 people we really miss”.

In the last 25 years, we’ve had some amazing new creators of science fiction, fantasy, and horror emerge – but we’ve lost many true legends in the field along the way, as well. These writers, artists, actors, and visionaries helped to make our world a richer place with the power of their imaginations and continue to inspire us long after they’re gone.

How often are you going to see David Bowie on a list sandwiched between Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury?

(13) LOTS TO TALK ABOUT. Amal El-Mohtar sees strengths and weaknesses in Annalee Newitz’ Autonomous: “In A Future Ruled By Big Pharma, A Robot Tentatively Explores Freedom — And Sex: ‘Autonomous'”.

I rarely dog-ear the books I read for review, trusting myself to remember their most notable aspects. I dog-eared enough of Autonomous‘ pages to almost double its thickness, such was the granularity of things I wanted to highlight, praise, and discuss. From startling insights to delicately turned prose to whole passages of unbearably tender musings on the intimate desires of artificial intelligence, there’s much more than I can feasibly talk about here. But here’s some highlights.

Autonomous‘ main interest is the danger our late capitalist modernity poses to personhood, and the intricacies of what it means to be free – from ownership, from programming, from the circumstances of one’s birth. But the parts that enthralled and moved me most – to laughter, to tears – were the musings on sexuality, and the contrast between Jack and Paladin’s respective experiences. Throughout most of the novel, Jack’s relationship to sexuality is written in clinical, chemical terms, a physical means to a physical end; Paladin’s, meanwhile, is explored in intimate, puzzled probings, often starkly contrasted with the extreme violence for which Paladin was built. I loved the contrast between seeing a woman treat sex as casually as an itch to scratch, and a genderless robot building romance and sexuality from first principles, through internet searches, conversations with other AIs, and awkward, fumbling experiments.

(14) BUGS M ‘LADY: Sophia Spencer and Morgan Jackson co-wrote a scientific paper on Twitter, entomology and women in science, after a tweet about Sophia’s love for bugs went viral: “Once Teased For Her Love Of Bugs, 8-Year-Old Co-Authors Scientific Paper”

We were hoping that we could find an entomologist or two, perhaps, that would be willing to talk to Sophie and share a little bit about their backstory,” he said. “We were blown away with the number of people who came charging to help Sophia.” The organization received more than a thousand replies and more than 130 direct messages.

(15) WOMEN IN POP CULTURE. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas takes a victory lap in “Hard Corps: Women in power and the politics of taking action”.

This same toxicity has recently riddled science fiction and fantasy literature as well. In 2015 and 2016, alt-right trolls took aim at the prestigious Hugo Awards and what they perceived as a leftist bias. Women, of course, have long had a forceful presence in this literary domain, particularly those driven by strong ideological motivations: Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler to name but a few. And in film, directors including Kristina Buozyte, Kate Chaplin, Kathryn Bigelow, Jennifer Phang and Lizzie Borden have each used science fiction codes and conventions in profound and often diverse ways.

But it is in front of the camera that the genre’s history of strong, active women is the most visible and diverse. Heroine Maria and her evil gynoid doppelga?nger in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, aggressive sex bomb Jane Fonda as the title character in Roger Vadim’s Barbarella, turbo-mum Sarah Connor from the Terminator franchise, resourceful Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, and – of course – the iconic image of the no-shit-taking woman, Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley from the Alien movies. For starters.

But if we’re going to lift the lid off of this particular Pandora’s Box, it’s worth doing it properly. Representations of strong women in cinema bleed outwards across eras, production contexts and the often blurry lines of film genre itself. Any prehistory of women characters in the recent Star Wars movies – Rey (Daisy Ridley) from The Force Awakens and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) from Rogue One – must necessarily look far beyond the terrain of sci-fi itself.

(16) TERMINATOR WILL RETURN. Borys Kit’s Hollywood Reporter story “Linda Hamilton Set to Return to ‘Terminator’ Franchise”, says that James Cameron is producing a new Terminator film, to be directed by Deadpool director Tim Miller.

After waving hasta la vista, baby, more than 25 years ago, Linda Hamilton is returning to the world of Terminator, reuniting with James Cameron, the creator of the sci-fi franchise, for the new installment being made by Skydance and Paramount.

Cameron made the announcement at a private event celebrating the storied franchise, saying, “As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return.”

With Hamilton’s return, Cameron hopes to once again make a statement on gender roles in action movies.

“There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys,” he said, referring to aging male actors still anchoring movies, “but there isn’t an example of that for women.”

(17) G AS IN GEEZER. Meanwhile, an octagenarian male hero gets the glory in William Shatner’s Zero-G: Green Space, released September `9.

In the second installment of William Shatner’s Zero-G series, Director Samuel Lord must identify a mole sabotaging the top-secret NASA project aboard the US space station Empyrean, while also fighting a fast-replicating virus that threatens humanity. In the year 2050, the United States sends the FBI to govern its space station, The Empyrean. Under the command of suave, eighty-year-old director Samuel Lord, the “Zero-G” men are in charge of investigating terrorism, crime, corruption, and espionage, keeping an eye on the rival Chinese and Russian stations as well….

(18)  PUNISHER. Nextflix has a new trailer up for the Punisher.

[Thanks to JJ, Meredith, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 8/1/16 If You Like It, Put A Ringworld On It

(1) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOOK. George R.R. Martin looks back on “The Long Game… of Thrones”, which came out 20 years ago today.

…Reviews were generally good, sales were… well, okay. Solid. But nothing spectacular. No bestseller lists, certainly. I went on a book tour around that same time, signing copies in Houston, Austin, and Denton, Texas; in St. Louis, Missouri; in Chicago and Minneapolis; and up the west coast to San Diego, Los Angeles, Berkeley, Portland, and Seattle. Turnouts were modest in most places. The crowds didn’t reach one hundred anywhere, and at one stop (St. Louis, if you must know), not only was attendance zero but I actually drove four patrons out of the bookshop, allowing me to set my all time “bad signing” record at minus four (on the plus side, I had the time for long friendly talks with the readers who did show up).

But my oh my, things have changed a bit in these last twenty years….

(2) OBAMA ON BEING A NERD. “President Barack Obama on How To Win The Future” at Popular Science.

PS: Do you consider yourself a nerd and, if so, what’s your nerdiest pastime?

BO: Well, my administration did write a pretty detailed response to a petition, explaining why we wouldn’t build a real-life Death Star, so I’d like to think I have at least a little nerd credibility built up.

What’s remarkable is the way “nerd” is such a badge of honor now. Growing up, I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid who read Spider-Man comics and learned how to do the Vulcan salute, but it wasn’t like it is today. I get the sense that today’s young people are proud to be smart and curious, to design new things, and tackle big problems in unexpected ways. I think America’s a nerdier country than it was when I was a kid—and that’s a good thing!

(3) SWAP HIS SCARF FOR THE GARTER. John Harvey has started a petition at Change.org calling for Tom Baker to receive a knighthood.

After reading a recent edition of Doctor Who Magazine, the stark realisation set in that after a life time in entertainment and tireless charity work, visits to hospitals and hospices, the living legend that is Tom Baker has not been officially recognised in any way shape or form.

Tom Baker’s commitment to the role of the 4th doctor and his many charitable acts since and brightened the lives of children and adult’s everywhere.

In an age where the like’s of James Corden can receive honours so early in their career, I think it’s a travesty. I’d like to try to change that and right this wrong.

(4) LOCUS POLL. The July issue of Locus published the survey rankings – Black Gate posted the top 10 in the magazine category.

  1. Asimov’s SF
  2. Tor.com
  3. Fantasy & Science Fiction
  4. Clarkesworld
  5. File 770
  6. Lightspeed
  7. Analog
  8. Black Gate
  9. Uncanny
  10. Strange Horizons

(4) MORE ON JOYCE KATZ. As big a loss as it is to fanzine fandom, there are gaming journalists who felt Joyce Katz’ death just as keenly. Chris Kohler of WIRED paid tribute: “Joyce Worley Katz, Pioneering Videogame Critic, Has Passed Away”.

Joyce Katz, who along with her husband Arnie Katz and friend Bill Kunkel founded the first magazine devoted to videogames, has passed away at the age of 77.

Katz, who wrote professionally under her maiden name Joyce Worley, was senior editor of the magazine Electronic Games from its founding in 1981 until just prior to its shuttering in 1985. She went on to take senior editorial roles at gaming publications throughout the 1990s, including Video Games & Computer Entertainment and the relaunched Electronic Games…..

Joyce had continued to write about games regularly until the closing of the second run of Electronic Games in the mid-90s. In the August 1994 issue of that publication, Katz made note of the industry’s worrying shift away from “games for everyone” to a hyper-violent boys’ club: “Tetris and Shanghai charmed women, Mortal Kombat did not.”

It was a prescient column in more ways than one. Katz looked forward to a future in which online gaming would make women “feel less threatened by on-lookers who might tease or criticize their performance in a game.” Sadly, it did not turn out to be that simple. But she also predicted that easier-to-use hardware coupled with better software design would keep girls gaming their whole lives, a future she did live to see.

“Somewhere between age 9 and 12, we lose the ladies,” Worley wrote. “We may never get back the teenaged girls, but hopefully we can arrange gaming so that we won’t lose them in the first place.”

(5) JUST. ONE. BOOK. Margaret Elysia Garcia and friends are still processing the avalanche of donations that came in response to their appeal for people to send books to a rural California school library.

I am bone tired and weary. I have biceps I haven’t had since my kids were toddlers. I am happy to say we have only 20 more boxes to open at the library–and hopefully none will come tomorrow. We are few people and we need to catch up. The generosity is overwhelming.  Thank you. Thank you cards have begun and imagine they will take the better part of the fall semester to complete. I hope a thank you here is also enough as some boxes came in damaged in parts and addresses were not always readable. Please be patient. I’ve had a few emails from people thinking perhaps that we have 200 people and a sophisticated technology set up to respond. Alas we have a couple dozen people who donate time when they can. And we have one very exhausted me who has some reinforcements coming this week thank goodness.

(6) SPACEDOCK. See how the original model Enterprise was restored.

This is a short film showing the process of the detail paint work on the restoration of original U.S.S. Enterprise miniature. The work was done between the 11th and the 23rd of April 2016 at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy facility. The model is now on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

 

(7) IT’S TOO LATE, BABY, IT’S TOO LATE. Yesterday, when it wasn’t, Timothy the Talking Cat posted, “Timothy says: Hugos! Vote! Vote now! Before it is TOO LATE!”

So I say to you all: Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government! You have nothing to fear but the lurking horror in your basement! We shall fight them on the bleachers! Countrymen lend me your ears! But above all in the immortal words of Theodore Cruz: Vote yourself conscious!

(8) THE HORROR. Jason P. Hunt did a roundup of all the horror genre news that came out of San Diego Comic-Con at SciFi4Me.

“Want to see something really scary?”

Remember that line from The Twilight Zone? Well, we have a scary big pile of news on the horror side of things from Comic-Con International in San Diego.

(9) TITLES TO BE UNLOCKED. Thanks to Petréa Mitchell we know the list of achievement trophies in No Man’s Sky:

No spoilers, other than the names of the trophies themselves. They’re all named after sf works. There’s a mixture of old and new, classic and obscure, Puppy-approved and degenerate SJW… even one (out of 23) written by a woman.

For example,

Babel-17

Attain ‘Confused’ status in Words Collected

The Star Beast

Attain ‘Archivist’ status in Uploaded Discoveries

(10) WHALE OF A TAIL. This will unquestionably float somebody’s boat — “Channing Tatum to Play Mermaid in ‘Splash’ Remake for Disney”.

Disney is moving forward on a remake of the 1984 film Splash with an interesting twist: Channing Tatum will star as the mermaid character that was played by Daryl Hannah while Jillian Bell will play the character originally played by Tom Hanks.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • August 1, 1819 – Herman Melville. It took John Huston to get Ray Bradbury to read the book.

(12) SFWA GRANTS. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is taking applications for grants for worthy projects until October 1.

Last year the Givers Fund received enough donations to provide grants to projects such as the LaunchPad astronomy program, the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers, the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and the SFWA Star Project, among others, in the program’s first year.

The Grants Committee evaluated the multiple proposals on a number of criteria, the most important of which was how well they served the genre community and its writers. For example, the SFWA Star Project looks for a crowdfunded initiative each month to support by spreading the word as well as with a small donation. The innovative effort underscores SFWA’s leadership in new publishing models, including being the first writing organization to take crowdfunding as professional credentials.

This year we are continuing to provide grants to worthy projects. If you have a nonprofit project that you think would benefit the writing community, please submit it to cfo@sfwa.org.

Apply Here

Application forms must be submitted by October 1st. Decisions on recipients will be finalized in November of this year and applicants notified by year’s end.

(13) CHEER YOURSELF DOWN.

(14) TOR EBOOK. The Tor.com Free eBook Club Pick for August is The Just City by Jo Walton.

Sign up for the Book Club, or sign in if you’re already registered, to download the book (available only from August 1 through 7).

(15) WHAT IS PLANNING. Nigel Quinlan’s “Outline Planning Permission Part 2” went up on Writing.ie today.

…I challenged myself to PLAN. I wrestled with the big issues. What was planning? Was coffee planning fuel? What did it mean to plan? When was I getting another cup of coffee? Wasn’t planning just writing, only without the fun? (No, that’s making radical revisions because you wrote without a proper plan, Nigel.) I drank coffee. I read up on planning. Some was useful, some wasn’t. It became apparent that I was going to have to devise a method that worked for me.

This is where I’m at, by the way. I’m, er, making up my planning as I go along.

I got loads of notebooks and spread them around my desk in a very satisfactory manner.

Then I wasted time on the internet. Then I stopped because procrastination gets depressing after a while.

I wrote out the story so far.

I filled a big page with the names of all the characters so far and indicated roughly their relationships.

I made a tentative list of characters who have yet to appear and gave some indication of their roles and relationships.

I made a list of settings and gave rough ideas of how the story moves from place to place and what occurs there. I gave detail where I had them and left things vague where I didn’t, and decided not to worry about the vague bits – that’s rather the point of planning: find the vague bits and fill ‘em in.

I made a list of words I associated with the story as a whole. Random words, some reflecting theme, some mood, some character, some representing nothing yet.

I wrote out my ideas for the rest of the story, asking questions, posing alternatives, highlighting some of the stuff that needed work and trying to remain calm at the vast spaces that remained vague and undefined.

I sat and surveyed what I had done. And it was a start….

(16) DISCWORLD CON. The North American Discworld Convention 2017 announced yesterday –

Hotel Contract Signed!

We are delighted to announce that the North American Discworld® Convention 2017 will be held in New Orleans, LA, September 1–4 next year. Membership and hotel details will be announced in the next month, but for now, save the dates and start contemplating which costumes you’ll want to wear as you attend The Genuan Experience!!

(17) DID THE EARTH MOVE FOR YOU? Speaking of the earth moving (as we did in a recent Scroll), the BBC just did a report on continental drift accompanied by speculative animated maps tracing their movement back 750 million years and forward 250.

Science calls it “Pangaea Proxima”. You might prefer to call it the Next Big Thing. A supercontinent is on its way that incorporates all of Earth’s major landmasses, meaning you could walk from Australia to Alaska, or Patagonia to Scandinavia. But it will be about 250 million years in the making.

For Christopher Scotese at the University of Texas at Arlington, the fact that our continents are not stationary is tantalising. How were they arranged in the past – and how will they be positioned in the future?

“Fifty million years from now, Australia will be in collision with southeast Asia to a much larger degree,” he says. Africa will also be pushing right up against southern Europe, while the Atlantic will be a far wider ocean than it is today.

(18) GLAZE NOTE. In case anyone wondered if it was possible, the BBC explains “How to break glass with sound”. Step one: not with one’s voice.

You’re probably familiar with the urban legend: the opera singer ascends the stage and clears his throat. His audience cheer and wave their champagne flutes in anticipation. He opens his mouth – and a roomful of glasses smash to pieces. We have no record that this has ever actually happened, but there were rumours that the legendary tenor Enrico Caruso could quiver a glass into a million pieces.

(19) SHARKNADO 4, THE COMPLETE SPOILER REVIEW. Be honest, you weren’t going to watch it anyway, so why not read Jordan DesJardin’s “Movie Review: ‘Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens’” at ScienceFiction.com?

I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the words ‘Shark-ception” definitely comes to mind. ‘Sharknado: The 4th Awakens’ culminates is probably the most ridiculous ending of any of these films to date, and there is nothing to not love about it. If you’re a fan of the first three, you’ll love this one. And really if you’ve never seen a ‘Sharknado’ movie before (in which case, what is wrong with you, get on that!), it is really difficult not to have a good time while watching this movie. We highly recommend pairing this movie (and the previous three) with a large couch, several good friends, some snacks and drinks, and you are all set for one hell of a ride!

(20) HOLODECK. You’ve just been drafted into the crew of the Enterprise. Would you rather wear a redshirt or a gray coverall?

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Gary Farber, Petréa Mitchell, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Trailer

The latest news about Star Wars Rebels Season 3 coming out of Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 includes the announcement that Tom Baker, of Doctor Who fame, will voice Bendu —

And a villain from the Star Wars Expanded universe is being restored to canon.

ComicBookMovie.com backgrounds Timothy Zahn’s creation Grand Admiral Thrawn:

He’s baaaack! Star Wars fans were left with a lot of reasons to be angry after the Expanded Universe was scrapped for Disney to start from scratch (you can’t blame them for not wanting to have to adhere to decades worth of novels, video games, and comics), but chief among them was the disappearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a villain created by Timothy Zahn in the novel Heir to the Empire.

He took over the Empire following the events of the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, but this version will be making his presence felt in the years covered by Star Wars Rebels. His return is no doubt going to add some weight to theories that he may Supreme Leader Snoke, but regardless of whether or not that’s the case, his return is great news. It was also confirmed that Star Wars: Thrawn is being written by Timothy Zahn (which will reintroduce him to canon when it goes on sale in April).

The Season 3 preview trailer has been uploaded to YouTube.