Elaine K. Murray, Minneapolis: It was my mother’s bookstore. All the years she worked at Sears across the street she could go there and get her beloved vintage mysteries at a price she could afford. After she retired I would drive her there and buy her books for a Christmas or birthday present.
She has been gone more than five years, but I could still go there, find books from some of her favorite authors, and feel like she was still near me.
Now that’s gone forever and I can’t seem to stop crying.
(2) WRITER INDEPENDENCE DAY. Cat Rambo is teaching two online courses on the Fourth of July. Registration and cost information at the links.
The next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.
The question isn’t how to tell a good idea from a bad one; it’s how to learn to turn any idea into a story. Come with a story idea, no matter how vague. We’ll discuss multiple ways of plotting a story based on its unique inspiration, as well as engaging in class exercises designed to hone your plotting skills. Learn how to build a roadmap for your story that will help you complete it in a class that combines discussion, lecture, and in-class writing exercises.
Next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.
Learn how to create interesting, rounded characters that your readers can identify with, whether hero or villain. We’ll cover how to write convincing interesting dialogue as well as how to flesh out a character so they come alive and help you move the story along. A combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises will help you apply new technique immediately to your own stories.
The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is offering plenty more classes in the weeks to come. Here are two examples.
Values are not universal across all cultures, and thus what a satisfying story looks like is not limited to one model either. This course examines East Asian storytelling forms and themes, including the four-act kish?tenketsu structure, which is not based on conflict, tension, and resolution. The course will use case studies from books, films, and other mediums, and in-class exercises and games to demonstrate that elements that we consider staples of European/Western storytelling, such as the Hero’s Journey story structure, the empowerment arc, and individual heroism, are not universal across all cultures. Students will complete the course with tools to analyze the European/Western forms and themes in the stories they have written as well as templates from East Asian storytelling to explore and apply to their work.
Are you a novelist with a fascinating world? Have you thought about turning your novel into an RPG? In this class, gaming industry veteran will walk you through the ins and outs of adapting your novel to fit a gaming world. This class is customized for authors who have published at least one original novel or novella. It is not designed for adaptations of someone else’s work.
(3) MURDOCH MYSTERIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] We are on the home stretch of, via Acorn.tv, watching the Murdoch Mysteries , and, sans spoilers, I thought I’d drop a brief note on one of the episodes we saw earlier this week, Season 13 Episode 11, “Staring Blindly into the Future”
In addition to the use of (then) new scientific techniques to solve crimes — fingerprinting, blood typing, ultraviolet to reveal bloodstains, surveillance cameras — and various legitimized/finessed tech, like a prototype hyperloop, a (larger) roomba, and more — another of the sf/fan-adjacent aspects of the show is the use of historical figures (e.g., Mark Twain, played by William Shatner).
This episode features a dozen — most of whom (all but 3, IIRC) have appeared on previous episodes throughout the season:
Svetlana Tsiolkofsky (a fictional daughter of rocketry’s Konstantin T.)
Alexander Graham Bell
Albert Einstein (previous name-dropped but not shown)
 From the CBC URL: “Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.”
… I have some friends who have fucked up in how they’ve been treating women.
… I’m angry at my friends right now. I’m sad for my friends right now. I’m even more angry about and sad for the women who they have made feel unsafe, and who they have harassed, or groomed, or otherwise harmed, because it is unacceptable. I want to be a friend to my friends and I also want to chuck them off the side of the fucking boat and be done with them. I want to think there’s a way back for some of them, for the same reason there was a way back for me when I’ve fucked up before. That’s on them, and right now I don’t know how much, if any, of my personal time and credibility I want to put into helping them. I’m frustrated and I’m tired that we keep having to do this, and I’m ashamed that some of the reason we keep having to do this rests on me. I understand and accept why I need to write this piece and I also fucking resent having to, and that resentment rests solely on my friends, and me….
(6) GAMING FIGURES ACCUSED. The New York Times covered last weekend’s outpouring: “Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment”. Tagline: “After more than 70 allegations surfaced on Twitter this weekend, gaming companies and streamers responded with action. Some say it’s the beginning of real change in the industry.”
More than 70 people in the gaming industry, most of them women, have come forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault since Friday. They have shared their stories in statements posted to Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and the blogging platform TwitLonger.
The outpouring of stories from competitive gamers and streamers, who broadcast their gameplay on platforms like Twitch for money, led to the resignation of the C.E.O. of a prominent talent management company for streamers and a moment of reflection for an industry that has often contended with sexism, bullying and allegations of abuse.
Already, the response has been a far cry from Gamergate in 2014, when women faced threats of death and sexual assault for critiquing the industry’s male-dominated, sexist culture. Now, some are optimistic that real change could come.
Gamers began sharing their stories after a Twitter user who posts as Hollowtide tweeted about an unnamed “top” player of the online game Destiny on Friday night, referring to the person as a “scum lord.” Three female streamers, JewelsVerne, SheSnaps and SchviftyFive, saw the post and decided to come forward about their experiences with the gamer in question, who is known online both as Lono and SayNoToRage. The women posted their allegations, including nonconsensual touching, propositioning for sex and harassment, on Twitter using their streamer handles. (The streamers did not provide their legal names to The New York Times. In years past, women gamers who have spoken out against the industry using their legal names have been subjected to further harassment, hacking and doxxing.)
In interviews with The Times, when asked to describe their experiences with Lono, the streamers asked a reporter to refer to their public statements on Twitter, TwitLonger and Twitch.
Lono responded to their Twitter accusations in a YouTube video posted on Saturday. “There is no excuse for my behavior. There is no way to gloss over it. The things I did were unacceptable,” he said in the video. “Being inappropriate with these people robbed them of their sense of safety and security and it broke trust, and I am deeply sorry.” (He declined to speak to a reporter from The Times on Monday, and would not share his last name.)
…Based on the highly-conditioned, controlled, and warped population in Huxley’s 1932 novel, this society is a tragic one in need of resistance. So why not John? And, as the new posters for the series declare, “everybody happy now.” The grammar might be a little strange but the sentiment is clear: this dystopia thinks emotional problems have been solved thanks to some handy pharmaceuticals.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born June 25, 1903 – George Orwell. His other work is admirable but he compels our attention with Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Naturally people on both the Left and the Right have claimed them and attacked them. Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Thai. (Died 1950) [JH]
Born June 25, 1935 – Charles Sheffield. Physicist and SF author. “Georgia on My Mind” won both the Hugo and the Nebula. Thirty novels, a hundred shorter stories, some with co-authors. Translated into Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish. Toastmaster at BucConeer the 56th Worldcon. Pro Guest of Honor at Lunacon 44 the year I was Fan Guest of Honor. (Died 2002) [JH]
Born June 25, 1944 – Rick Gellman, age 76. Art Shows and Dealers’ Rooms at various conventions. Helped start a Gordy Dickson Memorial Scholarship Fund for sending writers to Clarion. Founded the Minnesota Munchie Movement. [JH]
Born June 25, 1958 – Pat Sayre McCoy, age 62. She chaired WindyCon 33 and 34; ran the Green Room at Chicon 2000, the 58th Worldcon; contributed an essay to the wrestling with “SF conventions and Gender Equity” in Journey Planet 13, as did Our Gracious Host. [JH]
Born June 25, 1963 – Yann Martel, age 57. Famous for The Life of Pi, second of three SF novels (besides writing Beatrice and Virgil, which is not about those two historical persons, nor a book-length treatment of The Divine Comedy, but – well, read it for yourself). A theatrical adaptation of Pi with puppets (no, not hand puppets) was a great success and was scheduled to open in London this month, naturally postponed. [JH]
Born June 25, 1980 – Amanda Arista, age 40. Third novel about Merci Lenard, who always gets her story but doesn’t always get the truth she wants, just released in January. Three novels about an urban panther. AA herself likes bowling, croquet, and the SMU (Southern Methodist University) Creative Writing Program in which she once studied and now teaches. [JH]
(9) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “A Cyber-Cuscuta Manifesto,” a story about big data, emerging life forms, and a plea for coexistence by Regina Kanyu Wang.
It was a public hearing held online. Billions of people crowded into the meeting room, in suits, in pajamas, on treadmills, on sofas, in groups in front of large screens suspended above busy streets, alone at home with VR headsets on. The host called for silence and their words were translated into myriad languages, in both sound and text. The audience held its collective breath and waited for the special guest to show. A face appeared, vague in detail, like billions of faces merged into one. The face began to talk, in an equally vague voice, in thousands of languages at the same time, alien but also familiar to everyone…
On Monday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Regina in conversation with Athena Aktipis, a psychology researcher who studies cooperation across systems, from human sharing to cancer. Registration required.
(10) TONI WEISSKOPF Q&A. Author Robert E. Hampson interviewed Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf for his Wake Forest University class.
One of the most sought after Star Wars collectibles has sold for $93,750 at auction.
Bidding on the Rocket-Firing Boba Fett started at $30,000 but had already exceeded the $60,000 lower estimate before the auction began thanks to several absentee bids. The final sale price includes the buyer’s premium.
The unpainted promotional item, made of blue plastic, is a prototype that utilized an L-Slot design named after the shape of the backpack mechanism to allow the rocket to fire. It was created by toymaker Kenner to promote the second film in the franchise, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It is one of the few prototypes known to exist. The launcher design was amended to a J-Slot mechanism and eventually replaced by a non-firing version. None of the firing toys were ever made available to the general public.
This item is the latest to be available on the market. A similar item sold at auction through Hakes in July 2019 for $112,926. Another, one that had been painted and had a J-Slot design in the backpack, sold for $185,850 in November 2019. Both prices include the buyer’s premium.
HeroX, the social network for innovation and the world’s leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition “Lunar Loo” on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) Program. NASA is preparing to return to the Moon by 2024 and needs to develop a new way for astronauts to urinate and defecate in microgravity and lunar gravity. The crowdsourcing challenge calls on the global community of innovators to provide innovative design concepts for fully capable, low mass toilets that can be used both in space and on the moon.
Competitive toilet designs will align with NASA’s overall goals of reduced mass and volume, lower power consumption, and easy maintenance. Selected designs may be modified for integration into Artemis lunar landers. This effort is all part of NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.
HeroX says this is the payoff:
This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category. The top three participants in the Junior category will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise.
Nasa is to name its headquarters in Washington DC after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said Jackson had helped to break down barriers for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.
The story of Mary Jackson was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, she died in 2005.
Last year, Nasa renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.
“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognise the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made Nasa’s successful history of exploration possible,” Mr Bridenstine said in a statement.
“Mary W Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped Nasa succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” Mr Bridenstine added.
“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”
Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery… until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.
As the U.S. begins to open back up, coronavirus clusters — where multiple people contract COVID-19 at the same event or location — are popping up all over the country. And despite drawing massive crowds, protests against police violence and racial injustice in Washington state weren’t among those clusters.
“We did have a rally in Bellingham, which is our county seat, and there was also a protest, and we have not been able to connect a single case to that rally or to the protest, and what we’re finding is in large part that’s due to the use of masks,” Erika Lautenbach, the director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington State, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it’s really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”
For the clusters that have popped up, Lautenbach says the state has been using contact tracing to learn more about how they’re contributing to the spread of the virus. For instance, it found that 14 cases were associated with a party of 100 to 150 people in early June. Subsequently, 15 more cases were associated with the original 14.
“So that one event spread to 29 people and 31 related employers,” Lautenbach says. “Our challenge is to continue to trace as it moves through families, as it moves through workplaces and as it moves through social events as well.”
But protests just aren’t spreading the disease in the same way, Lautenbach says.
“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Lautenbach says. “And then the secondary source of infection is workplace settings. There were 31 related employers just associated with that one party because of the number of people that brought that to their workplace. So for us, for a community our size, that’s a pretty massive spread.”
And much of that spread, Lautenbach says, is affecting young people.
“We have seen almost a near flip in the cases that we’re experiencing,” Lautenbach says. “So in April of this year, we were really struggling with long-term-care outbreaks. And so about 3 out of 4 people were over the age of 30 and really pretty heavily skewed to 60-plus. And by contrast, in June, we’re seeing that now 2 out of 3 people that have contracted this disease are under 29.”
Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.
But Gray is not like any other American. She’s the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.
And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.
Wow, after months of having to eat at home every night, we here in Koontzland were excited when our favorite restaurants began to do business again this past week. We went with Ms. Elsa on opening day. The patio tables were ten or twelve feet apart, the waiters wore masks and gloves, the busboys wore full-face plastic shields, and the mood-music guitarist kept alternating between “Eve of Destruction” and “Saint James Infirmary.” It was sooooo romantic!
[Thanks to Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, Joey Eschrich, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bill.]
Washington D.C.’s unopposed bid to host the 2021 Worldcon was officially voted in this weekend at Dublin 2019. The name of the convention will be DisCon III. Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard are the co-chairs.
The committee announced their current guests are: Nancy Kress, Author GoH; Malka Older, Special Guest; Sheree Renée Thomas, Special Guest; Toni Weisskopf, Editor GoH; and Ben Yalow, Fan GoH.
Total valid votes: 878
DC in 2021
None of the Above
The complete details (with all write-ins) are here [PDF file.]
Most of Musk's projects seem a bit half-baked at times, but his plan to get us a new Culture novel by making Iain so furious that he'll come back from the dead to write it seems to have a good chance of success.
When not committing his considerable energies to such intense Bildungsromans as The Wasp Factory or bleak-humored narratives like The Crow Road, Banks inserts an M into “Iain Banks” and writes science fiction novels. Most of these speculative volumes concern the Culture, a utopian-anarchist society that extends across a sizable cluster of the universe. These Culture vultures gambol across the galaxy in ships with such eccentric names as Don’t Try This at Home and Serious Callers Only. Culture citizens live for centuries, and can even change their appearances if they grow discontent with their corpora. These conditions encourage these civilized sybarites to have more fun than a flighty Dalmatian discovering a chiaroscuro sea of spotty companions. Never mind that there’s always an intergalactic war going on.
The Disney and Pixar film premiered to an estimated $180 million at the domestic box office this weekend. The sequel to the popular 2004 computer animated film soared past the record for biggest animated film opening in box office history by $45 million.
That record belonged to another Pixar film, “Finding Dory,” which opened to roughly $135 million two summers ago.
So far the film brought in $231.5 million around the world.
(3) BIG CAT. Should an owner discourage the ambitions of an SJW credential?
Warner Bros. is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it’s necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they wll transfigure the events into generic celebrations of magic.
“It’s almost as if Warner Bros. has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town,” said Sarah Jo Tucker, a 21-year-old junior at Chestnut Hill College, which hosts a Quidditch tournament that has coincided with an annual Harry Potter festival in suburban Philadelphia.
Philip Dawson, Chestnut Hill’s business district director, said Warner Bros. reached out to his group in May, letting them know new guidelines prohibit festivals’ use of any names, places or objects from the film series. That ruled out everything from meet-and-greet with Dumbledore and Harry to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes.
My father gave me my first job, reading audiobooks on cassette tape. He had caught on to the medium early, but, as he explained later, “There were lots of choices as long as you only wanted to hear ‘The Thorn Birds.’ ” So, one day, in 1987, he presented me with a handheld cassette recorder, a block of blank tapes, and a hardcover copy of “Watchers,” by Dean Koontz, offering nine dollars per finished sixty-minute tape of narration.
This was an optimistic plan on my father’s part. Not only was I just ten years old, but when it came to reading aloud I had an infamous track record. My parents and I still read books together each night, and I had recently begun demanding an equal turn as narrator. Along our tour through Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped,” I had tested their love with reckless attempts at a Scottish accent for the revolutionary Alan Breck Stewart, whom the novel’s protagonist, David Balfour, befriends. Even as they pleaded for me to stop, I made knee-deep haggis of passages like the following:
“Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins, the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.”
Despite this, my father enlisted me to narrate “Watchers.”
(6) WHAT A RUSH. It’s not going to take long for Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2018 to fill up –
250 books entered for #SPFBO 4 in the first 29 hours!
Ace of Wands is an ITV fantasy show broadcast in 1971 to 1972. It’s technically a children’s/ family show, but it’s fairly sophisticated and one that held my interest. Ace of Wands ran for three series, however, only the third series remains. At the time, ITV wiped old series due to the high cost of production materials and storage.
(8) CATCHY TITLE. Anna-Marie Abell gave her novel an irresistible name — Holy Crap! The World is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth. For the next couple of days it’s a 99-cent special on Amazon. If somebody reads it they can tell the rest of us whether it lives up to the promise of the cover.
Anna-Marie Abell grew up in a trailer park. Well, several actually. Her trailer was on wheels so she got to experience the Pacific Northwest’s vast array of mobile home parks as her parents moved her from one to the other. Somewhere along the way, she got totally into UFOs. Probably because she was hoping extraterrestrials would come and abduct her. But they never did. Luckily for her she was smart, because her only hope of escaping trailer life was college and a full scholarship. Moving to sunny California on her almost full ride to Chapman University, she was well on her way to her new life. Two bachelor degrees later (Film and Television Production and Media Performance), and several honors and awards for her accomplishments, she managed to start working in an almost completely unrelated industry from her majors: infomercials.
It was in college that she got bit by the “ancient alien” bug after listening to Zecharia Sitchin on Coast to Coast AM. In her pursuit to uncover the truth, she has spent the last twenty years researching the ancient Sumerian culture—in particular their “gods” called the Anunnaki—and their connection to the creation of the human race. What she found changed her life, her beliefs, and her understanding of the universe and everything beyond. Her humorous science fiction trilogy, The Anunnaki Chronicles, is a culmination of all her research, her borderline obsession for all things paranormal, and approximately 2,300 bottles of wine.
(9) FRONT, PLEASE. Dorothy Grant’s “Cover caveats” at Mad Genius Club is a great introduction to the process.
So where do you find your cover art and cover designer? Well, you can search the premade options put together by artists and designers, so you know exactly what it’ll look like when you get the “Your Title” swapped out for your actual title, and “Author Name” swapped for your pen name or real name.
Or you can get one designed for you. If you have no idea what you want or need, this can involve writing up a short description of the book or sending the book to the designer. Be aware that a busy professional designer probably will not read your entire book, but is skimming for worldfeel, character descriptions, possibly an iconic scene.
Or, if you’re a little more artistically inclined, you’ll send the designer / artist basically three sets of URLs.
First, links to bestselling books in the same subgenre that have covers similar to what you want. (send 3, so they can get a feel for what’s standard to that subgenre vs. particular to that single cover.)
Second, Send them URLs from stock photo sites that say “models like this”
Third, URLs from stock photo sites saying “backgrounds like this”
Artists think in pictures, not words, so communicate in visuals as much as possible.
(10) IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. I watched the first part of Live Slush Session 2 and was intrigued to hear Baen’s publisher and a contributing editor give candid reactions to authors’ manuscripts.
Baen Books’ Publisher Toni Weisskopf and “Slushmaster General” Gray Rinehart read the openings of volunteer submissions to give writers some insight into the evaluation process.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
John King Tarpinian saw how Deadpool celebrates Father’s Day at Brevity.
New at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, Emily Howard’s chamber opera To See The Invisible has been freely adapted by playwright Selma Dimitrijevic from a taut and distinctly Kafkaesque short story by the American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg.
The central character has been found guilty of the crime of coldness and is sentenced to a year’s invisibility, during which he is completely ignored by (almost) everyone he meets.
In Dimitrijevic’s libretto the character’s isolation remains severe, though he now has a family consisting of a mother, father and sister. His encounters with them and other individuals – in court, in a public gardens and a brothel – ameliorate his plight while also allowing some of Silverberg’s focused purity to dissipate.
In the opera he also has a kind of shadow in the shape of what the libretto describes as The Other Invisible – Anna Dennis’ female soprano regularly in synch with Nicholas Morris’ baritonal male. The character’s dual vocality is undoubtedly one of the more successful features of Howard’s score….
(13) IT’S NOT EASY BEING MEAN. Olga Polomoshnova analyzes the villain who gave evil a bad name — “On Sauron’s motives” at Middle-Earth Reflections.
Being the chief villain of the Second and Third Ages, Sauron sparks numerous questions concerning his motives. How did he become the evil figure we know him to be? Why did he run the risk of transferring a great amount of his inherent power into the One Ring knowing that it could lead to his destruction? Let us look at his downfall and motives through Tolkien’s own stories and letters.
Having risen like the shadow of Morgoth, Sauron was nevertheless different from his former lord. His downfall arose out of good motives, nor was he the beginner of discord. Sauron belonged to the Maiar — spirits created from Ilúvatar’s thought. He came into existence before the physical world took shape. Originally Sauron, who was known as Mairon (the Admirable) at that time, was associated with the people of Aulë, so he was a very skillful smith….
(14) EATON PHOTOS ONLINE. Andrew Porter labors on, identifying people in Jay Kay Klein’s photos. At the 1967 Worldcon, NYCon 3, this shot of a panel audience showed Walt Liebscher, Ray Fisher, Arnie Katz, Lee Hoffman, and Bob Tucker:
Ii-wey! Natural or intentional is usually what comes to mind when discussing the process of mummification. Certain environments, deserts, high altitudes or arid cold for example, will naturally dry the deceased, arresting the process of decay as a result. Intentional mummification requires human intervention after a person has died and most often, the Egyptian mummies come to mind. However, there is a third process that is not as well known.
Sokushinbutsu is a Japanese term that refers to a Buddhist mummy that remained incorrupt, or without decay after death….
…NASA’s Space Launch System, which is slated to debut in the 2020s, will power its engines with a combination of liquid hydrogen and solid chemical fuels. Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, is also looking to use liquid hydrogen. SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, is staking its future on burning liquid methane, which the company believes it can generate on the Martian surface.
“We could send people to Mars, and decades ago. I mean, the technology that took us to the moon back when I was just a kid, that technology can take us to Mars — but it would be at significant risk,” he said. “The majority of the astronauts that we send on those missions wouldn’t make it. They’d die. Because the technology is still quite primitive.”
The original “Star Trek” series ran from 1966-1969 and didn’t win any Emmys, but it was nominated 13 times, including twice for Best Drama Series (1967-1968). “Star Trek: The Next Generation” followed two decades later and aired for seven seasons from 1987 to 1994, during which time it won a whopping 19 Emmys, all in Creative Arts categories. “TNG” struggled in top races, however, and wasn’t nominated for Best Drama Series until 1994 for its final season.
Well, this is a strange new chapter in one of the strangest stories in modern film. For decades, famed genre director (and former Monty Python, uh, snake) Terry Gilliam struggled to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his own surreal take on the classic Spanish novel. He succeeded, finally, with a rendition starring Adam Driver, and the film premiered this year at Cannes Film Festival.
Except, uh, apparently Terry Gilliam just lost the rights to it. Yes, that’s correct: as reported by Screen Rant, the Paris Court of Appeal just ruled in favor of the film’s former producer, Paulo Brancho, who sued for rights to the project on the grounds that Gilliam made the film illegally.
(21) OH NOOO…. When will they make an end? Comicbook.com is spreading the alarm, er, the — “Rumor: ‘Star Wars’ Actor Claims 9 Movies in Development, Including More ‘Story’ Stand-Alones”. Voice actor Tom Kane is said to have claimed there are nine Star Wars movies in some stage of development. Kane has provided voices for Star Wars video games (starting with Shadows of the Empire in 1996), TV shows (Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels), and several of the more recent movies (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
Only six of the projects are known:
Disney-owned Lucasfilm also has plans for fan-favorite Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and famed bounty hunter Boba Fett, who will reportedly receive his own stand-alone from 3:10 to Yuma and Logan director James Mangold.
Lucasfilm is also said to be developing an all-new trilogy under The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson, which will be unconnected to the Skywalker saga depicted in the episodic installments and set in an unexplored corner of the galaxy.
Johnson’s producer, Ram Bergman, recently gave an update on the “completely new trilogy,” saying, “It’s all new characters. Everything is new.” The project, he added, is “just in the early stages.”
Abrams’ Episode IX, Johnson’s planned three-movie series, and two new anthologies in Obi-Wan and Boba Fett make six, leaving three supposed projects on the docket.
[Thanks to Dann, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rob Thornton, Soon Lee, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]
The man said he began by scratching out an extraneous apostrophe on a sign but had since become more sophisticated and has built an “apostrophiser” – a long-handled piece of kit that allows him to reach up to shop signs to add in, or cover up, offending punctuation marks. “This is a device that enables you to plant an apostrophe quite high up and get over any obstacles,” he said.
(2) PACK YOUR BOOKS. For years there have been stories that TOR will move out of the Flatiron Building and a new report from a real estate blog makes it sound like it could happen. Really. Maybe.
Another one of the book business’s “Big 5” publishers is seeking a new chapter in Lower Manhattan. Macmillan Publishers, the sole office tenant at the landmarked Flatiron Building, is weighing a move to Silverstein Properties’Equitable Life Building at 120 Broadway, sources tell The Real Deal.
…If the deal goes through, it would be the first time the Flatiron Building, owned by Sorgente Group of America, would be completely empty since it was built more than 100 years ago. Part of the reason Macmillan is relocating is the fact that the Flatiron District, the area named for the 22-story building, has become the epicenter of the city’s technology industry, driving up rents.
Sorgente could either lease the building to higher-paying tenants, or follow through on a plan it previously considered to convert it into a hotel.
(3) BOOK RECS WANTED. James Davis Nicoll will soon be writing two milestone reviews and is looking for book recommendations.
I have two notable reviews coming up for my Because My Tears Are Delicious To You reviews: the 150th one and the third anniversary one. Tears reviews are of books I read and liked as a teenager (between 1974 and 1981). I welcome suggestions for candidate books.
The 41st Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship, with events April 7, 2017, welcomes author and friend of the Lectureship, Melinda M. Snodgrass, with special guest author Michael Cassutt, and writers, friends and fans from across the region for this annual celebration of Jack Williamson and the genre to which he contributed so significantly.
This year’s theme is Wild Cards! – the shared universe anthologies by some of the best writers in science fiction, edited by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. First released in 1987, the series published its 23rd volume in 2016. Adapted to role-playing games and comics, the Wild Cards series is now slated for television by Universal Cable Production (UCP), executive producer Melinda Snodgrass, with SyFy Films’ Gregory Noveck….
(5) PREHISTORIC COMIC CON. At Galactic Journey, The Traveler ingeniously makes his visit to last weekend’s Wondercon look like it happened in 1962.
This enabled a distance to the burst to be measured: about 12 billion light years. The universe has expanded to four times the size it was then, 12 billion years ago, the time it took the light to reach Earth.
GRB170202 was so far away, even its host galaxy was not visible, just darkness. Because the GRB was a transient, never to be seen again, it is like turning on a light in a dark room (the host galaxy) and trying to record the detail in the room before the light goes out.
Mystery of gamma ray burst
The flash of gamma radiation and subsequent optical transient is the telltale signature of a black hole birth from the cataclysmic collapse of a star. Such events are rare and require some special circumstances, including a very massive star up to tens of solar masses (the mass of our Sun) rotating rapidly with a strong magnetic field….
The syringe slides in between the thumb and index finger. Then, with a click, a microchip is injected in the employee’s hand. Another “cyborg” is created.
What could pass for a dystopian vision of the workplace is almost routine at the Swedish startup hub Epicenter. The company offers to implant its workers and startup members with microchips the size of grains of rice that function as swipe cards: to open doors, operate printers, or buy smoothies with a wave of the hand.
The injections have become so popular that workers at Epicenter hold parties for those willing to get implanted.
My seat-of-the-pants analysis (I could be wrong) is that the Hugos are in the process of recovering from the 2015 assault, precisely because the Worldcon attendees and supporters see themselves as a community.
There’s a thought buried in that above paragraph — that communities unite to protect themselves when they perceive they are under attack. This works well when the attack is real, such as Pearl Harbor. But it can also have negative effects when hate-mongers such as Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson (both of whom were in fine form this week) invent a scapegoat (LGBT people) for unwarranted attacks in an attempt to unite the community around their own agendas.
So while those who have a long history of participation in Worldcons will see this unity as a good thing — those who identify themselves as the aggrieved outsiders will see it as more evidence that the establishment is shutting them out.
Myself, I see it as a collision of two narratives — one that is based on 75 years of mostly healthy traditions, and one that is based on a fascist perception of how the world works.
Most important, however, is that most of this year’s ballot suggests that we are seeing a return to the previous traditions of nominations based on excellence. Most of the nominations are well-deserved, and my congratulations to the finalists.
Now, the best thing about this year’s Hugos? Is that it feels GREAT to be a part of it again – it’s super easy to get excited and happy about the ballot with so many great people and works on it and with what seems to be like an almost canine-free ballot. We can’t wait to spend the next few months squeeing and discussing and agonising over who to vote for. Seriously, check out that Best Novel list – some of our favourites of 2016 are there!!
Of course, in recent years, they’ve been telling anyone who’s a conservative or Christian that they’re not real fans, and not welcome at their conventions, certainly never allowed to speak. And so the Sad Puppies were born, and had a good run for a few years before once again, just like their projecting meme, the establishment behind the Hugos said “these are not real fans” and changed the rules to make it impossible for anyone but their chosen to get noticed.
The Puppies pulled out. I promised you numbers, and here’s what we have.
Best Novel: 2,078 ballots in 2017 vs. 3,695 ballots in 2016, a 44% drop.
Best Novella: 1,410 ballots in 2017 vs. 2,416 ballots in 2016, a 42% drop.
Best Novelette: 1,097 ballots in 2017 vs. 1,975 ballots in 2016, a 45% drop.
Best Short Story: 1,275 ballots in 2017 vs. 2,451 ballots in 2016, a 52% drop.
I can keep going on with the numbers here, but that kind of pull out of an audience is staggering. If this were a TV show or a comic, it would be instantly cancelled. The execs would be using this as a case study as to what went wrong and why so that they could never do it again. Kinda like is beginning to happen in comics right now (but they’re still in the denial stage of grief).
You’re seeing about a thousand less votes across the board per category. That means a thousand less people with memberships than last year. Wow. Note to “real science fiction fandom”: you told about half your audience you hate them and you want them to go away. They did. This spells big trouble for you in the future.
(12) FROM A RETIREE. The world is filled with people who are pleased to pass along any piece of news they know will annoy the recipient. Larry Correia has a friend like that, and the upshot was “Don’t Forget to Nominate for the Dragon Awards”.
The reason for this post was that a friend of mine sent me a PM this morning, that they had announced the Hugo nominations, and gave me a link. Being retired from trying to cure Puppy Related Sadness, I only gave the list a brief cursory glance, saw the names of many proper goodthinkers, and counted like a dozen(+) nominations for Tor, so it appears that balance has been restored to their sainted halls of Trufans enjoying themselves in the proper approved manner. I’m sure many wooden buttholes will be sacrificed upon the altar of Social Justice.
After actor Harrison Ford landed his small plane on a taxiway, rather than a runway, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., in February, the Federal Aviation Administration began looking into the incident….
The Federal Aviation Administration determined at the conclusion of its inquiry that “no administrative or enforcement action was warranted,” Ford’s lawyer, Stephen Hofer said in a statement. “Mr. Ford retains his pilot’s certificate without restriction.”
The actor, who played swashbuckling space smuggler and Millennium Falcon pilot Han Solo in the “Star Wars” film franchise, also was cited by the agency for his “long history of compliance” with FAA regulations and “his cooperative attitude during the investigation,” Hofer said.
Although Ford incurred no penalty, he agreed to undergo voluntary “airman counseling” before the FAA closed the matter, his lawyer said.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee was speaking to the BBC following the news that he has been given the Turing Award.
It is sometimes known as the Nobel Prize of computing.
Sir Tim said moves to undermine encryption would be a “bad idea” and represent a massive security breach.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said there should be no safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online. But Sir Tim said giving the authorities a key to unlock coded messages would have serious consequences.
“Now I know that if you’re trying to catch terrorists it’s really tempting to demand to be able to break all that encryption but if you break that encryption then guess what – so could other people and guess what – they may end up getting better at it than you are,” he said.
“The Bossland hacks destroy the integrity of the Blizzard games, thereby alienating and frustrating legitimate players and diverting revenue from Blizzard to defendants,” the US games developer had argued.
The tools included the ability to see other players’ positions, health scores and other information from a distance within games.
The Zwickau-based firm’s managing director said it did not accept the US court had jurisdiction over it, and that the judgement did not take into account that many of the licences it had sold had been “trials” at a fraction of the normal cost.
“We are discussing with our lawyers how to continue – if an appeal to the declined motion to dismiss is worth trying,” Zwetan Letschew told the BBC.
Bossland’s website remains active and continues to advertise cheats for several Blizzard games, insisting “botting is not against any law”.
Anyway, McKellen is in good spirits about the whole thing. When host Stephen Sackur asked, “You mean you could have been Dumbledore?” McKellen responded, “Well sometimes, sometimes when I see the posters of [Harris’ eventual replacement] Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me.”
(19) INVENTORY READY TO GO. I foolishly wasted my time writing news posts when I could have been preparing to monetize my nomination!
[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have named Toni Weisskopf as the recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award to honor her activities in support of science fiction and fantasy.
The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award is given by SFWA for distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community. Weisskopf joins Peggy Rae Sapienza, who was previously announced, as a recipient of one of this year’s awards. (Sapienza’s award will be presented posthumously.) Both award winners will be recognized at the 52nd Annual Nebula Conference and Awards in Pittsburgh, PA May 18-21.
Toni Weisskopf has been the publisher of Baen Books since 2006 when she took over following the death of Jim Baen. During that time, Weisskopf has creative an innovative e-publishing program, worked with established authors, discovered a galaxy of new authors, and created the Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Award, the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, and the Baen Best Military SF & Adventure SF Reader’s Choice Award.
In addition to her current role as Baen Books editor and publisher, Weisskopf compiled Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts, along with Josepha Sherman, a collected of subversive children’s folklore. She has edited several anthologies of science fiction, including Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Far Futures and Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Sol System.
Ms. Weisskopf has also been active in the fannish side of science fiction, co-chairing DeepSouthCon 50 in 2012, publishing the fanzine Yngvi is a Louse! And Other Graffitos, and serving as the official Editor of SFPA, the Southern Fannish Press Alliance, and editing a history of Southern Fandom for the Southern Fandom Confederation.
The Nebula Awards will be presented during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference. On May 19, a mass autograph session will take place at Pittsburgh Marriott City Center and is open to the public.
In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.
Yes, in case you can’t tell, the level of cancer in my body continues to decline. I did a little math and the current level is 3% of what it was when I started chemotherapy in January 2015. I saw one of the doctors on my consultant’s team, a young Asian doctor that I’ve seen before. He was so genuinely happy for me, I kinda choked up.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I had the bad luck to have my cancer recur in the worst possible form but the good luck to have the drugs work better than anyone expected them to. I’d like to tell you attitude is half the battle. I mean, then I could really pat myself on the back (no pun intended, I swear) and say I kicked cancer’s arse. The truth is, I got lucky; the drugs work. My attitude lets me enjoy it.
I would like to be more profound but at the moment, I’m just kinda dazed. Six months ago, I was terminal, at least as far as anyone knew. Today I’m no longer dying of cancer, I’m living with my technicolor Doc Martens boot on its neck.
Gentleman Jole And The Red Queen is precisely to do with what happens when a woman refuses to be constrained by the assumptions of the people who think they know her. Cordelia is 76, in a future society where she can expect to live to 120.
“This, of course, has metaphorical import for our own times, with more people living longer. What should we do with ourselves? Is something genuinely new possible, that isn’t just a variant of things we were doing earlier in life?”
It will not spoil the book if I tell you the answer is that it depends on your perspective; which does indeed change with age.
Bujold, 66, remarks she was once part of a book club discussion of her fantasy novel, The Curse Of Chalion, with a group of junior high students, “where it gradually became apparent that the hero was far more alien to them by being an old man of 35 – practically like their parents! – than by being a demon-ridden medieval fantasy nobleman.”
By ‘Spanish SF’ we mean SF novels and short fiction written specifically in Spain, excluding other Spanish-language areas.
Science Fiction Studies is particularly interested in articles dealing with writers Gabriel Bermúdez Castillo, Rafael Marín, Rodolfo Martínez or Javier Negrete and with SF women writers (excluding Elia Barceló).
All submissions must be in English and conform to SFS submission policies, which includes a rigorous peer-reviewing process.
Abstracts (150-200 words) are due by March 30, complete papers by 1 September (maximum 7000 words).
Please, email your proposals to Sara Martín : Sara[dot]Martin[at]uab[dot]cat
(5) NEW GAME IN TOWN. The “Storium” play-by-post forum has just gone live. A number of fairly-well-known writers and game companies have kicked in worlds, including File 770 regular Ursula Vernon, Seanan McGuire, Chuck Wendig, etc. Chris Meadows has details in “Storium storytelling game launches for public view” at Teleread.
(6) YOUR TUMBLR DEEP THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Weird Deer, this quote by Erin Bow:
“No writing is wasted. Did you know that sourdough from San Francisco is leavened partly by a bacteria called lactobacillus sanfrancisensis? It is native to the soil there, and does not do well elsewhere. But any kitchen can become an ecosystem. If you bake a lot, your kitchen will become a happy home to wild yeasts, and all your bread will taste better. Even a failed loaf is not wasted. Likewise, cheese makers wash the dairy floor with whey. Tomato gardeners compost with rotten tomatoes. No writing is wasted: the words you can’t put in your book can wash the floor, live in the soil, lurk around in the air. They will make the next words better.”
So, where to start? How about with the number of views Unusual Things has landed in its first year of operation? A quick look at the site’s stats board and some simple addition says …
Hey, you know what? That’s not bad. Not bad at all. Ten thousand views, while nothing to those with heavy advertising budgets and ten thousand fans, is pretty good for a one-year blog on writing, a subject not a lot of people care about.
Actually, let’s dig into that one a bit more. What’s been the post with the highest number of views, the one that’s caught the most attention?
You might remember that post. That was the post where I reacted to a number of statements from the Insular crowd during last year’s Hugo insanity, statements that, well, in line with their given moniker of “Insulars,” was all about how certain “casual” fans needed to be kept out of the Hugos, suggesting that they weren’t “real” fans of Sci-Fi and Fantasy because they hadn’t passed some invisible, societal conscientious litmus test that made them a “real fan.”
(8) CHAINS OF LOVE. There’s everything else, so why wouldn’t there be books where “Science Fiction Romance Goes To Space Prison”? Victoria Scott tells you about several of them at Amazing Stories. Ann Aguirre’s Perdition, for example, gets this valedictory:
OK, I have to warn you that “bleak” is an understatement. This series has some of the darkest stuff I’ve ever read, much more to the horror side than I normally will go (I have nightmare issues, ok?) but I found the characters so fascinating, I was compelled to read on. I was rooting so hard for Dred and Jael to make it – as a couple, out of Perdition, on to a Happily Ever After – that I was willing to stay with them through all the travails. The grim world of Perdition is well drawn and comprehensively thought out, and learning the many details of the worldbuilding backstory was another good reason to continue reading.
A real, honest to goodness, grade Z modern Bad Movie is a movie where the creator, be it due to A) technical ineptitude (Manos: The Hands of Fate); B) budget limitations (pretty much anything cranked out by Roger Corman and/or AIP [American International Pictures]); or C) the creator’s overinflated sense of self (vanity projects like Battlefield Earth, Star Trek V, and Glitter), failed spectacularly and inadvertently, made a movie that has become endearing to the viewer. Simple, run-of-the-mill bad movies are, usually, movies that are just bad and not in a fun way; they’re sub-par or heavy handed with their message or, perhaps worst of all, purposely trying to be a true Bad Movie.
(10) WILL SHE PREORDER? My daughter has mentioned several times how excited she is that the eighth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Pts. I & II, is on the way. Will I ever get a clue that I’m supposed to buy it for her? 🙂
Directly following the play’s premiere in London, a play script will be released in both print and digital finally, finally, FINALLY giving readers the story of Harry’s life 19 years after he defeated the Dark Lord.
The book will be published by Little Brown Book Company on July 31, 2016, marking Harry’s 36th birthday.
(11) BAEN NEWS. Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf sent readers a message: they’re going to synchronize the release dates of ebooks and paper books.
From the publication month of April 2016 onward, the release dates will be the same (that is, the ebooks will not be available two weeks earlier than the paper books).
We will not be changing the time the Monthly Bundles are initially offered for sale, we will continue to offer eARCs as usual, and all other policies regarding ebook bundles will remain in place. We will not be making the period you can buy Monthly Bundles shorter, but longer.
The April 2016 bundle contains the ebooks that will be available in print on April 5th. The final versions of these ebooks would have been scheduled to go live as ebooks on all retail venues on March 16, 2015, and will now be available in their entirety April 5, 2016. At that point, the Monthly Bundle will become unavailable for sale.
We will continue to publish two newsletters per month to help you keep track of our offerings, one highlighting the print books which will come out two weeks in advance of the release date, the other highlighting ebook and website offerings on (or very close to) the release date itself.
Roddenberry Entertainment President Rod Roddenberry and Chief Operating Officer Trevor Roth are serving as executive producers on the new Star Trek television series.
Other executive producers include Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Bryan Fuller, who was previously announced as showrunner.
(14) AT LSE. Literary Festival 2016 at the London School of Economics featured a number of discussions about sf/f-related topics.
There’s a podcast of “To Boldly Go: what Star Trek tells us about the world”, with participants Michèle Barrett, Professor of Modern Literary and Cultural Theory at Queen Mary University, London and author, Duncan Barrett, a best-selling author, Barry Buzan, Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the LSE, Steven French, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, and Bryan Roberts, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE.
Astronaut Scott Kelly arrived in Houston early this morning where he was reunited with his family after a whirlwind year-long mission in space.
Waiting for Kelly, 52, in Houston were his two daughters and girlfriend, along with his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and his sister-in-law, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
From his perch 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the earth’s surface, Kelly snapped hundreds of beautifully abstract photographs of our planet’s landforms and waterways. He spotted hurricanes ominously swirling on sapphire-blue oceans. He gazed out at the aurora’s glittering fog. He consistently turned Earth’s lands and waters into an abstract artist’s dream, with shots of beaches, deserts, forests, and everything in between.
(17) THAT’S BAT-MA’AM, TO YOU. In 1974 Yvonne Craig gave an equal pay pitch to a captive audience…
Will Batgirl save Batman and Robin from the bomb? Or will she stand for her rights and get the same pay as a man? If they say no to equal pay…bombs away! 1974 Public Service Announcement by the U.S. Department of Labor–Wage & Hour Division.
[Thanks to Will R., John King Tarpinian, Steven French, JJ, Robotech_master, and robinareid for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]
To clarify, this book contains Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay; NOT the one eventually filmed. This is the episode which won the Writers’ Guild Award for best dramatic hour-long script. The filmed teleplay also won Harlan a Hugo Award. The book also contains Harlan’s Essay on the controversy backstory, and several tributes from his colleagues.
Roles will be voiced by LeVar Burton, John Rubinstein (a Tony Award winner, as Captain Kirk), Scott Brick, Jean Smart (Emmy Award winner as Edith Keeler), Harlan Ellison, Stefan Rudnicki, J. Paul Boehmer, Richard McGonagle, David Gerrold, D.C. Fontana, Richard Gilliland, Jim Meskimen, Orson Scott Card, and Robert Forster.
In addition, Harlan Ellison has narrated his essay describing the before, during, and after of the controversy surrounding the episode, which has been voted as the most beloved episode of the Star Trek® series. It also includes:
Harlan’s rewrite of the Prologue and Act One to eliminate the controversial “Jewels of Sound” drug-dealing elements that the censors and powers-that-were objected to at the time,
plus two screenplay treatments written by Harlan,
and tribute essays from authors and colleagues who-were-there.
Gabrielle de Cuir also has an article on the Kickstarter page detailing the many differences between Ellison’s original script and the aired episode which include —
The original opening sequences contain the “Jewels of Sound” subplot that was so controversial at the time, and eventually was eradicated from the teleplay altogether. We have several characters in this version that did not appear in the final: the villains Beckwith and LeBeque, the iconic Trooper (the Verdun veteran) and a delightfully surly Cook.
A panel discussion of scholars and science fiction authors including André Carrington, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Craig Laurance Gidney dissect racism, homophobia, and sexism in the world of sci-fi publishing and fandom in general, and the highly-publicized hate campaign at the 2015 Hugo Awards. A group calling itself the “Sad Puppies” gamed the voting system to assure that most award nominees were white, male, and straight, voicing public statements about gay, black, and women’s themes and authors ruining the genre. Many non-white, queer, and women authors have received rape threats and death threats in association with this campaign. This episode mirrors “gamer-gate,” where similar rape and death threats against women in the video game industry who have complained about sexism.
In contrast to GamerGate, which had all of the following things, during last year’s Hugo controversy I did not hear about: people fleeing their homes in response to threats, calling the police for protection (Crazy Uncle Lou, though, did try to get the police to screw Sasquan), filing for restraining orders, and being stalked at con panels by hostile bloggers. The things that happened were bad enough – and some Puppies assuredly tried to interest GamerGaters in getting involved. Hopefully the actual workshop will stick to valid parallels between the two controversies.
Kansas City booksellers Pete Cowdin and Deb Pettid, who have owned The Reading Reptile for more than 25 years, intend to close the bookstore Pettid founded in 1988 by the end of March so that they can develop “the world’s first explorastorium,” a project that they have been conceptualizing for the past year. The proposed museum, modeled upon San Francisco’s Exploratorium and St. Louis’s City Museum, and called The Rabbit Hole in homage to Alice in Wonderland, will allow visitors to physically immerse themselves in the narratives of beloved children’s books through interactive exhibits and galleries. There will also be regularly scheduled presentations and workshops led by touring authors and illustrators to complement the full-scale 3-D installations, which will change every three or four months.
The mission of The Rabbit Hole, which is being set up as a nonprofit, is to “create new readers on an unprecedented scale” in a world where “only around 50% of parents read aloud to their kids on a regular basis.”
A prototype of one component of The Rabbit Hole has been installed in a temporary leased space in Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood. The prototype is a full-scale, walk-through exhibit bringing to life The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau by Jon Agee, who has assisted the Rabbit Hole team in creating it. The grand opening of this Rabbit Hole prototype will be held on April 9.
Icecon 2016 is a science fiction and fantasy fan convention that will be held in the heart of Reykjavík, Iceland, this fall. On the 28th to the 30th of October, Iðnó theatre ( idno.is) will be filled with the fantastic.
There will be panels, readings, a Halloween masquerade and other events.
Information on registration, membership fee, guests of honour, program and accommodation coming soon. All information will be posted on this event-page and a forthcoming homepage. Any interested parties can also email us at icecon2016(at) gmail.com
(6) DREAM DESTINATIONS. I mentioned the NASA space travel posters before, however, this particular webpage displays the entire collection as large thumbnails, and also has a link to the JPL store if you want to order a literal printed poster.
No one could have known that when struggling illustrator R. Crumb self-published Zap Comix #1 in 1968 and began hawking copies in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district, history would be made. By the arrival of issue #4 (1969) and Crumb’s Zap collective (S. Clay Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffiin, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Williams, and Spain Rodriguez) fully formed, the artists had broken every Comics Code taboo imaginable — and then some. Zap spawned an entire underground comix industry, establishing an adult market for the comics medium that, in turn, set new standards for creators’ rights and ownership that one day would liberate mainstream comic books from the tyrannical grip of corporate publishers, paving the way for literary work by the likes of Art Spiegelman, Lynda Barry, Chris Ware, and Daniel Clowes, among others.
Rick Meyerowitz was a prolific contributor of both artwork and written pieces for National Lampoon from its first issue in 1970 until close to its last in 1991. He collaborated with many of the magazine’s writers on an astonishing variety of topics and themes. Among his most notable works were the “Mona Gorilla” (Mona Lisa as a gorilla); “DODOSAURS: The Dinosaurs That Didn’t Make It” (which he and Henry Beard turned into a 1983 book); the widely recognized poster for the movie Animal House; and most recently, “DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: The Writers and Artists Who Made The National Lampoon Insanely Great,” published by Abrams as a coffee table size visual history of the Lampoon. A documentary film of the same name was released last year.
(9) NURTURING TALENT. Gregory N. Hullender says Rocket Stack Rank “has a new article comparing the Campbell-eligible writers with the stories we reviewed in 2015 with an eye towards figuring out which editors were the most supporting of new writers in 2015” – “Nurturing New SF Short-Fiction Talent in 2015”.
(11) HARPER LEE OBIT. Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, died February 19 at the age of 89.
“This is a sad day for our family. America and the world knew Harper Lee as one of the last century’s most beloved authors,” Hank Conner, Lee’s nephew and a spokesman for the family, said in a statement Friday morning.
“We knew her as Nelle Harper Lee, a loving member of our family, a devoted friend to the many good people who touched her life, and a generous soul in our community and our state. We will miss her dearly.”
Conner’s statement indicated that “Ms. Lee passed away in her sleep early this morning. Her passing was unexpected. She remained in good basic health until her passing.”
Calvin & Muad’Dib picked up international attention after a shout-out from io9 in September of 2014, and this attention led to an immediate DMC takedown. But unlike most bloggers, Joe lawyered up.
“I did this because it was clear that I wasn’t profiting in any way from Calvin and Hobbes,” Joe says. “There were no advertisements on my blog, nor did I sell or intend to sell any merchandise or even ask for donations. I felt I had a solid ground to defend myself, and I also happen to believe that most DMCA takedowns are inherently unjust due to the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ nature of DMCA.”
Joe entered into talks with the lawyers of Calvin & Hobbes’ publisher. Though he never spoke directly to Watterson, he did succeed in his goal: Calvin & Muad’Dib went back up six months later, in February of 2014.
There exist people who have never earned a penny writing, yet have published thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of words. They belong to FANDOM. Fandom is something more than merely fans of Science Fiction in its various forms: books, magazines, movies, comic books, etc. Fandom is a mode of behaviour, of attitude, an approach to organized appreciation of Science Fiction which is universal among fans, so that fans as far apart as America and Soviet Russia have enough in common as to establish an immediate rapport should they meet.
People writing for no money! That’ll never catch on… And look who’s one of the people doing it –
FILE 770 is quite a renowned perzine. Mike Glyer has been producing it for a longtime. This is the 77th issue. It’s a kind of NEWSZINE really, reporting on conventions, writers, fan activities, fan feuds, and other fanzines. But it is a one-man operation, so I classify it as a perzine.
(14) ROAD WARRIOR. Someday soon Larry Correia will live at the end of Yard Moose Mountain Road. First he has to build the road. The mountain came built-in….
When we built our current house it was all open fields around us. There were houses near, but we had a little room to breathe. I’m a country boy at heart. I don’t like people all up in my business. We even had a moose come and live in our yard. That’s why we started calling it Yard Moose Mountain. He just kind of camped out under my son’s bedroom window, then he’d wander out and eat our neighbor’s trees, but he never messed with my trees. Good moose.
It was really nice.
Over the last five years our area slowly filled in, until one day I woke up, and realized that rather than living in the country anymore, we were living in a small neighborhood. Sure, it was a nice commuter neighborhood (I’ve got 12 doctors in my ward, no joke) and the people are about as nice as you could possibly ask for, but it was still a neighborhood. We landscaped and put in a fence for privacy, but it has lost its charm. Add to that, I’d retired from my finance manager job a few years ago to just be a full time author, so I no longer needed to be close enough to the city to commute.
Being a failed D List nobody hack pulp writer with an irreparably damaged career who will never be a *real* author and who can’t even manage to get measly five hundred people to a book signing, my income had still somehow gone up dramatically, but we’d not really changed our standard of living (well, except for more guns and minis, but those don’t count). Plus, because I have a pathological hatred of debt I had been making lots of extra house payments, to the point that I’d knocked 27 years worth of our 30 year mortgage payments out in 5. Because screw debt.
So last year we decided we wanted to move, and this time we were going to move someplace where we’d never have to move again….
(15) TODAY IN HISTORY
February 19, 1985 – The movie Brazil premieres in France, 10 months before opening in the USA.
“Black holes don’t suck,” van der Marel said. “That’s a common misconception. Material that happens to be moving in the direction of the black hole falls in because gas has friction that gets eaten [by the black hole]. Once the black hole has eaten all the gas there it can just move on and it will be dormant until it gets another dose of material that it can consume.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Addressee Unknown .]
When I ran for Library Trustee of the Public Library of Brookline back in 2004 for the first time, I never expected the day would come when I would be saying the following over the phone to the Library Director:
“As far as I know at the moment, this is an active shooter situation in the town of Brookline. You have my complete authority as chair of the Library Trustees to send staff home, shut down the libraries, or do whatever you think you need to do to keep patrons and stay safe. Just keep me posted and I’ll check in with the police again once we’re off the phone.”
He, Nomi and their children were safe but rattled. At the time, Brookline police were responding to reports of two local incidents in which people were shot and/or stabbed.
Police in Brookline said they have located the car from today’s shooting but are still looking for the driver and another suspect after three young men were shot and stabbed multiple times this morning in related incidents in Coolidge Corner and Brookline Village
The Gaming Committee has drafted solid credentials for admitting professional writers of SF/F games–tabletop or computer or console or app–to our numbers. The Board has reviewed them, made modifications, and chosen a final draft. Now it’s up to our members to vote to include our writing peers in the gaming industry into our numbers. The question will be going out on the election ballot at the end of Februrary.
Games, no less than books, tell compelling stories in our genre. I hope you’ll join me in opening our doors to our professional colleagues in SF/F game writing.
One of the big issues we’ve been dealing with the last 15 years or so as self-publishing has become more popular are the increasing rights grabs and non-compete clauses stuck into the boilerplate from big traditional publishers terrified to get cut out of the publishing equation. Worse, these clauses are becoming tougher and tougher to negotiate at all, let alone get them to go away. Worser (yes, worser) – many new writers don’t realize that these are shitty terms they should be arguing over instead of just rolling over and accepting like a Good Little Author. What I’ve seen a lot in my decade of publishing is new writers on the scene who don’t read their contracts and who rely on their agent’s judgement totally (and that’s when they even HAVE an agent! eeeee). They don’t have writer networks yet. They aren’t sure what’s normal and what’s not and they don’t want to rock the boat.
Even so, this literary failure is still a heroic one. The book not only displays the craft of a veteran adventure writer, it is also an object lesson in career strategy.
As an author I benefited from reading this book. Let me tell you why…
First, this book can teach us some craft. It confirms the idea that research can be layered (link). There’s a lot you don’t need to know when writing a Historical story and a lot you can put in on the final draft.
Identify the people who are a physical threat to your character and find the conflicts that link then.
However, what makes The Walking Drum truly illuminating is that it is like sitting Louis L’Amour down with beer and getting him to brainstorm historical adventure plots until we can see how he does it.
L’Amour clearly focuses on conflicts leading to physical threats. I’m a great enthusiast for exploring story worlds through conflict (link). However, L’Amour reveals a shortcut: Identify the people who are a physical threat to your character and find the conflicts that link them. I suppose L’Amour would say:…
You have a voice, as an artist and as a human being. That voice is part of who you are, and it’s comprised of your core beliefs, your internalizations, your hopes and dreams and influences and experiences. You can develop it. You can make it better. But until you find it–until you find that authentic voice, and accept it, and begin working on making it stronger and trusting it and letting it shine through–you will always sound artificial and affected. And there’s a reason we call it “finding your voice,” and not “creating your voice.” The voice is there. Whatever it is, you are stuck with it. So you might as well learn to like it, and work with it, and improve it.
Professor Minsky, in 1959, co-founded the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Project (later the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) with his colleague John McCarthy, who is credited with coining the term “artificial intelligence.”
Beyond its artificial intelligence charter, however, the lab would have a profound impact on the modern computing industry, helping to impassion a culture of computer and software design. It planted the seed for the idea that digital information should be shared freely, a notion that would shape the so-called open-source software movement, and it was a part of the original ARPAnet, the forerunner to the Internet.
The 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster this week has a deep meaning for college professor Mike Reynolds. At the time, he was a teacher at Fletcher High School and a finalist for the ill-fated Challenger mission.
Reynolds was picked out of thousands of educators nationwide, to fly in NASA’s teacher-in-space program, which was announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. It was teacher Christa McAullife who was ultimately chosen and perished during takeoff with the entire crew.
Reynolds witnessed the Challenger explosion from the Kennedy Space Center viewing area.
“It was so surreal. It took probably a minute, even for someone like myself who is familiar with launches, to really sink in what had happened,” Reynolds said….
Reynolds said the days and months that followed were the most painful in his life, but he made friends with families of the seven onboard, including Capt. Dick Scobee’s wife, June Rodgers Scobee, and Greg Jarvis’ parents. Reynolds said the horror the nation witnessed on that day deeply affected him.
“It’s really affected me, knowing that every day on this earth is a gift, so use that time wisely and stick to your mission and God’s given gifts, and that’s why I stayed in education,” he said.
Born in Beaconsfield and educated at John Hampden Grammar School in High Wycombe from 1959 to 1965, [Pratchett] went on to become a reporter at the Bucks Free Press in 1965 before making a name for himself as an author.
The town council hopes to install a plaque on the wall at Beaconsfield Library in Reynolds Road, where Sir Terry was a Saturday boy and returned to give talks.
Cllr Philip Bastiman, chair of the open spaces committee, said the council had been in touch with Sir Terry’s daughter Rhianna, who was “very supportive” of the idea of commemorating the author.
He said: “Because I believe he worked in the library and used the library a lot and he came back and actually gave talks at the library relatively recently, in their mind, it had a place in his affections.
“They feel it is wholly appropriate to have a commemorative plaque to Terry Pratchett at the library itself.”
Cllr Bastiman said they could have to wait “a number of years” for a blue plaque, which are commonly used to commemorate historical figures and places, so will remember him with their own plaque.
(12) WOMEN IN SF. Kristine Kathryn Rusch is working on an anthology, Women of Futures Past, that will be published by Baen. The project’s blog has a new entry by Toni Weisskopf.
[Kristine Kathryn Rusch] When it became clear to me that the sf field was losing its history, particularly the history of women in the field, I decided to do an anthology. And I immediately knew who would be the perfect publisher/editor: Toni Weisskopf of Baen. We’ve been the field for the same amount of time, and I knew, without checking, that all this talk about the fact that there are no women in sf had to bother her as much as it bothered me. We got together last February at a conference, and sure enough, I was right…
[Toni Weisskopf] …So I never experienced this mythical time of science fiction being an old boys club, with the Man oppressing women, keeping us down. What do these people imagine all the women in field before them did? I didn’t need Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg to remind me about the contributions of editor Bea Mahaffey at Other Worlds, or the obituaries to tell me about Alice Turner at Playboy; in my circles, they were both still remembered. Same with Kay Tarrant at Astounding/Analog and Cele Goldsmith at Amazing.
So one wonders who is really devaluing the work of women. Perhaps it is those who imply that the women who are successful in SF today need some sort of special consideration. Or is it simply that these people have not bothered studying the history of the field they are talking about? I finally begin to understand the purpose of those lists of names in epic poetry and the Bible: these people existed, they were there. It is my hope that Kris’s anthology will do something towards balancing the scales and prove a resource for anyone who loves great SF and cares about historical accuracy.
(13) SHORTCHANGED. Remembering that the sf genre had ANY women addresses a different question than the fairness issues that arise now that there are MANY women genre writers. Consider the next post about the horror genre…
Somewhat conveniently for the purposes of this discussion, FantasyCon 2015 saw the launch of three “best of” horror anthologies: the latest (#26) in Stephen Jones’s redoubtable Best New Horror series, which has now been running for more than a quarter of a century, The 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories under the editorship of Mark Morris, and the twenty-fifth anniversary reissue of Best New Horror #3, from 1991. Looking down the table of contents of this last, I encountered many familiar, well-loved names—some sadly no longer with us, some very much still writing and contributing to the literature. I want to stress right from the off how important the Best New Horror series has been to me, both as a reader and as a writer. When I began developing a professional interest in horror fiction towards the end of the 1990s, BNH was where I first started to acquaint myself with the field: who was writing, what they were writing, how they related to one another. I would read each volume cover to cover when it first appeared, adding to my knowledge and developing my taste with each new outing.
When I look at the table of contents for BNH #3, I see the names of writers who first drew me into the genre (McGammon, Grant, Newman, Etchison), writers who deepened my understanding of what horror writing could do and cemented my allegiance (Campbell, Royle, Lane, Ligotti, Tem, Hand), as well as one more recent discovery, Käthe Koja, whose writing is everything that modern horror should aspire to be. A wonderful compendium indeed, and if I felt a little disappointed to see that of the twenty-nine stories listed, only four were by women, I reluctantly put it down to the times. While women have always written horror, the awareness of women writing horror was not then so advanced as it has become more recently. Any anthology that styled itself “Best New Horror” in 2015 would surely provide greater parity in representation.
How surprised was I then, when I turned to the table of contents for BNH #26 and discovered that of the nineteen stories listed, a mere three were by women writers.
Three must be somebody’s lucky number, and nineteen, come to that, because of the nineteen stories selected to appear in the 2nd Spectral Book of Horror Stories—and this from more than five hundred submissions received—only three of those were by women, also.
I honestly don’t see how this is a situation anyone can feel happy with. I’m not even going to get started on the representation of writers from minority ethnic backgrounds in these tables of contents, because it’s practically nil.
OK, those are the facts, the figures I’d brought with me for discussion on the panel. They speak for themselves, and what they say about the state of horror fiction in the UK in 2015 is that it’s very white, heavily male-dominated, and furthermore, that this situation hasn’t changed at all in the last quarter-century.
This September, Star Trek marks its 50th anniversary by returning from the final frontier and landing in New York City for Star Trek: Mission New York, a three-day event based around a celebration of the beloved TV and movie franchise.
Taking place Sept. 2-4 at the Javits Center, Mission New York comes from New York Comic-Con organizers ReedPOP. Lance Festerman, global svp for the company, said in a statement that the new convention “will be a completely unique fan event unlike anything seen before, giving [fans] the chance to go beyond panels and autograph signings, and immerse themselves in the Star Trek universe.”
This first issue of the MOSF Journal of Science Fiction features four articles that explore science fiction through analysis of various themes, including—but by no means limited to—globalization, mythology, social commentary, and assemblage theory. Derrick King’s discussion of Paolo Bacigalupi’s critical dystopias explores utopian political possibilities that biogenetics could create, while Sami Khan’s analysis of Hindu gods in three Indian novels reveals how closely mythology and social commentary entwine with science fiction. Karma Waltonen examines how female science fiction writers have used loving the “other” as a means of challenging societal taboos about sex, and Amanda Rudd argues that Paul’s empire in Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) is an entirely new assemblage composed of rearranged elements from the previous ruler’s empire and the indigenous Fremen culture.
So, a Twitter spat between astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and rapper B.o.B over the flat Earth theory has turned into a full-blown rap battle (and it’s way better than Drake vs. Meek Mill).
B.o.B, whom you might know from his hits “Airplanes,” “Nothin’ On You” and “Strange Clouds,” kicked things off Monday when he started tweeting about how he believes the Earth is flat. He also tweeted about why he believes NASA is hiding the truth about the edge of the world. And he shared several meaningless diagrams about the planet including one about flight routes….
In a short series of tweets, Tyson explained why the Earth was round. He tweeted:
“Earth’s curve indeed blocks 150 (not 170) ft of Manhattan. But most buildings in midtown are waaay taller than that.”
“Polaris is gone by 1.5 deg S. Latitude. You’ve never been south of Earth’s Equator, or if so, you’ve never looked up.”
“Flat Earth is a problem only when people in charge think that way. No law stops you from regressively basking in it.”…
Here’s another: “I see only good things on the horizon / That’s probably why the horizon is always rising / Indoctrinated in a cult called science / And graduated to a club full of liars.” You can read the full lyrics on Gawker.
That was Monday night.
Tuesday afternoon, Tyson dropped his own dis track, called “Flat To Fact,” written and rapped by his nephew, Stephen Tyson. He tweeted: “As an astrophysicist I don’t rap, but I know people who do. This one has my back.” Here’s a sample:
“Very important that I clear this up / You say that Neil’s vest is what he needs to loosen up? / The ignorance you’re spinning helps to keep people enslaved, I mean mentally.”
My absolute favorite Fleur moment isn’t in the movies, which is a travesty (and one of the 32843 reasons why everyone who enjoyed the movies even a little bit should go read the books, stat!). It’s at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, when Molly Weasley is tending to her son (and Fleur’s fiancé) Bill’s wounds. Molly starts lamenting over the fact that Bill will never be the same again, and that he was going to be married and everything, while Fleur is standing right there.
Fleur basically snaps and asks Molly if she thinks Bill won’t marry her now that he has been bitten by a werewolf. While Molly starts sputtering, Fleur is relentless, telling Molly that Bill’s scars are proof of his bravery and that she is good-looking enough for the both of them before snatching the ointment out of Molly’s hand and tending to his wounds herself. The scene ends with Molly offering Fleur her Aunt Muriel’s goblin-crafted tiara to wear on her and Bill’s wedding day, and the two cry and hug it out.
And though Fleur is not immune to using her beauty in the series to get ahead (but really, who hasn’t used a natural advantage to get ahead when they can?), there are two big lessons here: 1. Fleur is a certified badass who refuses to let looks define her or anyone around her, and 2. Read the books, y’all.
The next time we buy tickets for a Star Wars picture, we’ll be signing up for a movie that’s going to bring back the greatest villains in movie history. Darth Vader is returning to the Star Wars universe this December complete with original costume and voice and he’s going to have a bigger role than anticipated, a new report indicates.
Movie site JoBlo says it’s able to confirm that Darth Vader will indeed appear in the film, and his role will be bigger than just appearing in hologram messages. Even so, it’s not clear what Darth Vader’s role in the movie plot is. In fact, the actual plot of the picture is still secret.
What we know about the movie is that Rogue One tells the story of a group of daring rebels looking to steal the plans of the Death Star. The action in Rogue One takes place between Episode III and Episode IV.
Tomorrow a new Star Wars exhibition will start and open its doors until March the 6th, 2016. It should not be confused with the Star Wars Identities exhibition that takes place in the same city at almost the same period of time, no, it is different: It shows funny cartoons inspired by the Star Wars universe. Like Darth Vader experiencing the result of his paternity test!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and David Langford for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]
DeGeneres will produce with Jeff Kleeman, her partner at A Very Good Production banner.
The book tells of a 12-year old witch who shows up at a dark castle that needs a master or be decommissioned by the bureaucratic Board of Magic and its many minions, such as a hypochondriac fish and a letter ‘Q’ averse minotaur, dispersed into the world. She projects confidence as she tackles the series of tasks laid forth by the board but underneath lie several simmering secrets, including one of her being an imposter….
DeGeneres and Kleeman are busy in the television world but Hangnail is their second notable move on the movie side and keeps their feet firmly in the fantasy field. Earlier this year the duo set up Uprooted, the novel from Temeraire author Naomi Novik, for Warner Bros.
American critics and academics have been trying for forty years to bury one of the great works of twentieth-century fiction, The Lord of the Rings. They ignore it, they condescend to it, they stand in large groups with their backs to it, because they’re afraid of it. They’re afraid of dragons. They know if they acknowledge Tolkien they’ll have to admit that fantasy can be literature, and that therefore they’ll have to redefine what literature is.
What American critics and teachers call “literature” is still almost wholly restricted to realism. All other forms of fiction—westerns, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical, regional, you name it—are dismissed as “genre.” Sent to the ghetto. That the ghetto is about twelve times larger than the city, and currently a great deal livelier, doesn’t bother those who live in ivory towers. Magic realism, though—that does bother them; they hear Gabriel García Márquez gnawing quietly at the foundations of the ivory tower, they hear all these crazy Indians dancing up in the attic, and they think maybe they should do something about it. Perhaps they should give that fellow who teaches the science fiction course tenure? Oh, surely not.
To say that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to imply that imitation is superior to invention. I have wondered if this unstated but widely accepted (and, incidentally, very puritanical) proposition is related to the recent popularity of the memoir and the personal essay. This has been a genuine popularity, not a matter of academic canonizing. People really do want to read memoir and personal essay, and writers want to write it. I’ve felt rather out of step. I like history and biography fine, but when family and personal memoir seems to be the most popular—the dominant narrative form—well, I have searched my soul for prejudice and found it. I prefer invention to imitation. I love novels. I love made-up stuff.
I snorted. For the past week, Natalie Luhrs and I had been discussing the book in the context of the ongoing fight for the soul of the science fiction community, most recently played out in the failed attempt to take over the Hugo Awards. In HTSWW, Russ uses an alien species called the “whelk–finned Glotolog” to illustrate the methods by which human cultures control women’s writing without direct censorship (4). These days, the tactics the so–called “sad puppies” use to paint themselves as the true heirs of science fiction, bravely holding the line against the invading masses, are the very same tactics Joanna Russ ascribed to the whelk–finned Glotolog in 1983…
False Categorizing of the Work She wrote it, but she isn’t really an artist, and it isn’t really art. (HTSWW)
False Categorization is, essentially, bad faith. It allows the critic to shift the focus to something else—usually something trivial in the larger context, so as to dismiss the whole. So once again, we’ll look at the pronouns in Ancillary Justice. By focusing on the pronouns, the sad whelkfins are able to dismiss the entire work as nothing more than a political screed against men, as turgid message fiction that doesn’t even tell a good story.
That’s a massive tell to anyone who has actually read the book—because while the pronouns do take some adjustment, they’re a small part of the novel’s world–building and not a major source of plot or conflict. They just are, the way there is air to breathe and skel to eat.
Two primary factors led to this decision. First, one of Crossed Genres’ co-publishers, Kay Holt, has been dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for more than two years. It’s made it extremely difficult for her to help with the running of CG, leaving the lion’s share of responsibilities on the other co-publisher, Bart Leib, who’s also working a day job. Magazine co-editor Kelly Jennings, ebook coordinator Casey Seda, and our team of first readers have all been heroic in their volunteer efforts, but we’ve still been unable to keep from falling behind.
The second factor is simply that the magazine has run out of funds to continue. In April 2014 we ran a successful Kickstarter to keep CG Magazine going, but once another year had passed, roughly 90 percent of those who’d pledged to the Kickstarter chose not to renew their memberships….
(7) Today In History
November 3, 1956 — On this night in 1956, CBS presented the first broadcast of The Wizard of Oz. It was a major event for which the network paid MGM a quarter of a million dollars for the rights (over $2,000,000 in today’s dollars.)
November 3, 1976 — Brian De Palma’s Carrie is seen for the very first time
(8) Today’s Birthday Monster
November 3, 1954 — Godzilla was released in Japanese theaters.
(9) Today’s Belated Birthday
Lovecraft’s 125th birthday (in August) was celebrated in many ways in Providence. A new plaque was installed near his birthplace at 454 Angell Street, designed, created, and installed by Gage Prentiss.
Remember Star Trek: The Voyage Home, where Scotty talks into a computer mouse and then instantly figures out keyboards and gives away the formula for transparent Aluminum? And remember Galaxy Quest, where Commander Taggart tells the Justin Long character about the ship: “IT’S REAL!”
Mash those two scenes together and you have Spinel, described by US Naval Research Laboratory scientist Dr. Jas Sanghera as “actually a mineral, it’s magnesium aluminate. The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments—so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.” He likes it for the same reason Scotty did, according to an NRL press release
So, today I received this 3D-printed crashed rocket ship, titled “The Wreck of the Hugo” as created by artist Charles Oines and commissioned by Ken Burnside. Others went to Kary English, Mike Resnick, and Toni Weisskopf. According to Ken Burnside, the official 2015 Hugo voting tallies showed each of us recipients as runners-up to the 2500-vote NO AWARD bloc that wrecked the Hugos this year in many categories. I gratefully accept the gifted award in the spirit in which it was given, and sincerely hope that no future Hugo nominees are ever again voted off the island in such a fashion.
(That last part resonates strangely, at least in my memory, because “I accept this award in the spirit in which it is given” was Norman Spinrad’s answer when handed the Brown Hole Award for Outstanding Professionalism in 1973. And he was right to be suspicious.)
(13) Meanwhile, the curator of the Alfies, George R.R. Martin, is already making recommendations for the Dramatic Presentation categories in “Hugo Thoughts”.
In the past, I have usually made my own Hugo recommendations only after nominations have opened. But in light of what happened last year, it seems useful to begin much sooner. To get talking about the things we like, the things we don’t like. This is especially useful in the case of the lesser known and obscure work. Drawing attention to such earlier in the process is the best way to get more fans looking at them… and unless you are aware of a work, you’re not likely to nominate it, are you? (Well, unless you’re voting a slate, and just ticking off boxes).
Let me start with the Dramatic Presentation category. Long form….
Firstly, is Gus actually asking us to believe that Frankenstein : A Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the famed early feminist icon, daughter of philosopher and political activist Mary Wollstonecraft, wife of romantic poet and political radical Percy Byshe Shelley, close friend of paramilitary revolutionary Lord Byron, and author of seven novels (many science fictional) and innumerable other stories, essays and letters, all of them revealing a life of deep engagement with political and social issues of gender, class, sexuality and more, that this same Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote Frankenstein : A Modern Prometheus (a subtitle explicitly invoking the mythical act of stealing fire from the gods as an opening rhetorical reference to the risks of scientific endeavour) as, and I quote, “the sole purpose of…macabre entertainment”? Because I would suggest, on the basis of all available evidence, including every single thing ever written about Frankenstein, that Gus is in a minority on this one. In fact, I will go so far as to say that he is utterly, absurdly and idiotically wrong.
(15) John Thiel’s responses to Steve Davidson’s queries about “trufandom” appear in “The Voices of Fandom” at Amazing Stories.
Steve’s introduction notes –
I posed a series of interview questions to members of the Fan History group on Facebook. I thought it would be a good place to start because that group is made up entirely of Trufans.
Today, I present the first in a series of responses to those questions and I should point out that, in typical Fannish fashion, the answers are anything but monolithic. Apparently Fans have as many different ideas about what it means to be a Fan as there are Fans, which just serves to point out how difficult it is to get a handle on this question.
Five decades since she first appeared as Emma Peel in The Avengers (1961-1969), fans of the show still approach Dame Diana Rigg to express their gratitude. Rigg joins BFI curator Dick Fiddy to reflect on the influence of Peel on real-life women and acting with Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry.
Dr. Thomas Radecki, a founding member of the National Coalition on TV Violence, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that the game Dungeons & Dragons is causing young men to kill themselves and others.” In her book “Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society,” Tipper Gore connected the game to satanism and the occult. All of this prompted a “60 Minutes” segment in which Gygax rejected these myriad accusations, calling them “nothing but a witch hunt.”
What was largely unknown or omitted from this brouhaha is that Gygax was an intermittently observant Jehovah’s Witness. This startling fact crops up about halfway through Witwer’s biography, when he notes that Gygax’s “controversial” game, along with his smoking and drinking, had led to a parting of the ways with the local congregation. Up until that point, the matter of Gygax’s faith had gone unmentioned in the biography, and it is barely discussed thereafter. (The book’s index does not have an entry for “Jehovah’s Witness” or “Gygax, Gary—religious beliefs.”) Given the furor that D. & D. caused, the absence of a deeper analysis of Gygax’s faith is a glaring omission. In a recent interview with Tobias Carroll, Witwer acknowledged that Gygax “was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness. He would go door-to-door and he would give out pamphlets. He was pretty outspoken about it, as a matter of fact.” The reason for almost completely excluding it from the biography, Witwer says, is that “I couldn’t find it [as] a huge driving force in his life.…I didn’t want to be too heavy-handed with that, because I’m not clear that, especially with his gaming work and even his home life, how big a factor that was on a day-to-day basis. But I do know he was practicing.”
(18) Galactic Journey visits the year 1960 where young Mike Glyer’s favorite TV series, Men Into Space, is still on the air, and there’s even a tie-in novel by Murray Leinster.
“Men Into Space” consists of short stories following the career of Space Force officer Ed McCauley:
As a lieutenant, McCauley makes the first manned rocket flight.
As a captain, McCauley deals with an injured crewman while piloting the first space-plane.
As a major, McCauley deals with a potentially-fatal construction accident while in charge the building of the first space station.
As a colonel, McCauley deals with a murderous personnel problem while overseeing the establishment of a series of radio relays to the moon’s far side, then deals with a technical problem aboard a rocket to Venus, and another personnel problem on a Mars mission.
Lots of nuts and bolts details about ballistics, rocket fuels, radiation, the van Allen belts, and so forth. And with each story, McCauley deals with progressively more complex human problems as he moves up in rank.
Although 7-year-old me would have loved the tie-in novel, 35 cents would have been a king’s ransom in my personal economy….
Neil deGrasse Tyson (left) accepted The Planetary Society’s Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. Bill Nye (middle) was on stage as Tyson accepted the award from Nichelle Nichols (right), who is best known for playing Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek” (the original series) and who is an advocate for real-world space exploration.
Before the award was given to Tyson, Nye reminisced about meeting Tyson through the organization. Nye then showed a photo of what Tyson looked like in 1980, when he was a wrestler (Tyson wrestled in high school and college), and Tyson joked that he kicked some serious butt.
Tyson had come prepared, and showed a photo of Nye in 1980, in a “Coneheads” costume, with a silver ring around his head.
In 2014 I interviewed Richard Pinhas of Heldon, still one of the central punk/prog mutants to come out of the French underground. I asked him about the influence of the visionary science fiction writer Philip K. Dick on his sound and on his worldview. “Philip K. Dick was a prophet to us,” Pinhas explained. “He saw the future.”
It makes sense that a musical and cultural moment that was obsessed with the sound of tomorrow would name a sci-fi writer as its central avatar. Indeed, while the Sex Pistols spat on the British vision of the future dream as a shopping scheme, the French underground projected it off the planet altogether.
When Pinhas formed Heldon in 1974 he named the group in tribute to sci-fi writer Norman Spinrad’s 1972 novel The Iron Dream, conflating his own vision of a mutant amalgam of Hendrix-inspired psychedelic rock and cyborg-styled electronics with Spinrad’s re-writing of history.
That’s what happened when Londoner Rich McCor began adorning pictures of British landmarks with whimsical paper cutouts and posting the results online.
Originally, the 28-year-old creative agency worker intended the photos for the amusement of himself and friends.
Then he got a lesson on the impact of “viral” when Britain’s “Daily Mail” publicized some of his photos.
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Mark-kitteh, Will R., Michael J. Walsh, JJ, Janice Gelb, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]