Pixel Scroll 8/30/19 The Past Is Long And Full Of Writers

(1) BACK IN THE SHED. The tower for Artemis is being hauled under cover: “Kennedy Space Center bracing for Hurricane Dorian”.

NASA civil servants and contractors at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida are bracing for high winds and rain from Hurricane Dorian. Ahead of the storm, they are securing rocket stages, spacecraft assembly areas and even hauling a 6.7-million-pound mobile launch tower, designed for the huge rocket being built for the Artemis moon program, back to the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building for safekeeping.

The 355-foot-tall gantry structure, carried atop a squat Apollo-era crawler-transporter, is scheduled to begin the 4.2-mile trip from launch complex 39B back to the protection of the VAB at dawn Friday — a journey that’s expected to take more than eight hours to complete.

(2) DUBLIN UP. Two more Worldcon write-ups.

Noelle Ameijenda, in “The Fantastic comes Home”, tells how she juggled attending and working the con:

Thursday (15th August) was the first full day – I spent a while in the morning doing some running for the Chair’s office  – up and down the elevator with bits and pieces – highly important bits and pieces, of course! Then I got to attend two brilliant panels –  ‘Invasions and the Irish Imagination’ and ‘When scientists write science fiction’ – before a quick bite for lunch with my friend Karina, and then a 3-hour Writers’ Workshop with the amazing Diane Duane. What was great about this workshop was the amazing DD, and the other fantastic participants – I made 2 lovely new friends  – Eliana all the way from Paraguay, and Caoilfhionn from Kilkenny – we hung out at the bar lots together. There was an ‘interesting’ bit in the middle of the workshop when I was terribly rude and had to answer a phone call from my Featured Artist, Jim, who was having technical difficulties at his presentation – SO SO sorry to interrupt the flow of the workshop, but we got it sorted.  The opening ceremony then was great, including the Retro Hugos. And seeing 3 members of my (real-life, work) company onstage with the rousing choir at the close : ‘where the strawberry fields…’.

Sara at Not Another Book Blogger penned one of the sweetest conreports I ever saw: “Dublin 2019 My First WorldCon”. Lots of photos of her and her kids.

GRRM The Irish Connection with Colm Lundberg (Moderator) William Simpson, Peadar O’Guilin and Parris McBride Martin. It was a really enjoyable panel on their Irish Connections and great to have it confirmed that Westeros is indeed a map of Ireland upside down!

Afterwards he walked right by me and I said hello which is probably the closest I’ll ever get to him! We got chatting with William Simpson who is absolutely lovely, very passionate about climate change as is Abigail. William drew all of the storyboards for Game of Thrones and while we were chatting he drew a dragon for Abigail in her notebook! So very cool.

(3) NEXT YEAR’S WORLDCON. CoNZealand invites everyone to view their promotional video from the Dublin 2019 closing ceremony, featuring their Author Guests of Honour, Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon, NZ Artist Guest of Honour, Greg Broadmore, and special guests, Tania Taylor, Sir Richard Taylor, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern.

(4) KEEP COOL WITH THE CREW. Don’t we all need one of these for Christmas? — “Star Stre V Auto Sun Shades”.

(5) THANK YOU. Mike Resnick posted another update to his GoFundMe “Help Mike Resnick pay off a near-death experience”.

“I just want to thank all the people who have contributed to my GoFundMe appeal. I’m still weak, but I can walk about 50 feet without a cane or a walker. Carol and I have been overwhelmed by your numbers, and by the absolute love we read in your messages. I’m back to work — not as fast as I’d wish — but I did sell 3 short stories in the last two weeks, so at least you know your good wishes and outporing of affection aren’t going into a black hole. I have been moved beyond belief.”

The donations passed $19,000 today.

(6) ROBOTS AND KNIGHTS. Jewish in Seattle recently published two items of interest to Filers. The first is a short story entitled “Next Year In” by Merridawn Duckler. It won the magazine’s short story competition.

…The day of Team meeting for the spring robot fashion launch, it was raining hard. Other protectorates have man-made precipitation but here in New Cascadia we still have the real thing, from little eyelash dusters, to the full, sideways sliding downpour. I like real rain. I’ve experienced the human-made stuff and it’s just not the same; too uniform, each drop perfect, dries too fast. Plus, it stops. Still, I complain about the rain like everyone else. The last thing we need is for more people to emigrate here…. 

The second is “How Yiddish Writers Influenced Arthurian Legend” by Emily Boynton, a non-fiction article.

…And Yiddish? One Arthurian figure, Wigalois, has piqued the interest of Annegret Oehme, a University of Washington assistant professor of Germanics who specializes in pre-modern literatures and languages. She argues that the story of Wigalois (pronounced vee-gah-loy) is an intercultural production between medieval German and Jewish societies. Not only does Wigalois appear in Yiddish, but Oehme argues that it interacted with and influenced Germanic versions of the story.

“It’s really important to see that the Jewish community was familiar with courtly literature, they participated with transmission, and didn’t just read and produce religious texts,” Oehme says.

The son of prominent Arthurian knight Gawain, Wigalois grows up in a fairylike land with his mother before setting off to find his father in Camelot. While at court, he accepts the quest of a maiden seeking aid for her kingdom, which is under siege. Battling dragons and giants along the way, Wigalois successfully defeats the usurper and frees the kingdom, becomes a knight, and marries a princess.

The tale packs enough action for an HBO series, yet Oehme argues the real stakes of the story lie in what it tells us about early modern Yiddish culture….

(7) HINES’ SAD ANNOUNCEMENT. Jim C. Hines told Facebook readers that his wife, Amy, died yesterday after a nine-month fight with cancer. Read more on Facebook.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 30, 1797 Mary Shelley. Author of the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus which I’ll admit that I’ve not read. Who here has read it? It certainly has spawned a multiverse of novels and films since it came, some quite good, some quite bad. (Died 1851.)
  • Born August 30, 1896 Raymond Massey. In 1936, he starred in Things to Come, a film adaptation by H.G. Wells of his own novel The Shape of Things to Come. Other than several appearances on Night Gallery forty years later, that’s it for genre appearances. (Died 1983.)
  • Born August 30, 1942 Judith Moffett, 77. She won the first Theodore Sturgeon Award  with her story “Surviving” and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer at the Nolacon II for her Pennterra novel. Asimov wrote an introduction for the book and published it under his Isaac Asimov Presents series. 
  • Born August 30, 1943 Robert Crumb, 76. He’s here because ISFDB lists him as the illustrator of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick which is likely they say an interview that Dick did with Gregg Rickman and published in Rickman’s The Last Testament. They’re also listing the cover art for Edward Abby’s The Monkey Wrench Gang as genre but that’s a very generous definition of genre.
  • Born August 30, 1955 Jeannette Holloman. She was one of the founding members of the Greater Columbia Costumers Guild and she was a participant at masquerades at Worldcon, CostumeCon, and other conventions. Her costumes were featured in The Costume Makers Art and Thread magazine. (Died 2019.)
  • Born August 30, 1963 Michael Chiklis, 56. He was The Thing in two first Fantastic Four films, and Jim Powell on the the No Ordinary Family series which I’ve never heard of.  He was on American Horror Story for its fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show as Dell Toledo. The following year he was cast as Nathaniel Barnes, in the second season of Gotham, in a recurring role. And he voiced Lt. Jan Agusta in Heavy Gear: The Animated Series
  • Born August 30, 1965 Laeta Kalogridis, 54. She was an executive producer of the short-lived excellent Birds of Prey series and she co-wrote the screenplays for Terminator Genisys and Alita: Battle Angel. She recently was the creator and executive producer of Altered Carbon. She also has a screenwriting credit for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a film the fanboys hate but which I really like.
  • Born August 30, 1967 Frederique van der Wal, 52. She appeared in exactly one genre film — Wild Wild West as Amazonia. Oh well. 
  • Born August 30, 1972 Cameron Diaz, 47. She first shows as Tina Carlyle in The Mask, an amazing film. She voices Princess Fiona in the Shrek franchise. While dating Tom Cruise, she’s an uncredited Bus passengers in Minority Report. Oh and she’s Lenore Case in the cringingly awful Green Hornet.
  • Born August 30, 1980 Angel Coulby, 39. She is best known as Gwen (Guinevere) in the BBC’s Merlin. She also shows up in Doctor Who as Katherine in the “The Girl in the Fireplace”, a Tenth Doctor story. She also voices Tanusha ‘Kayo’ Kyrano in the revived Thunderbirds Are Go.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics by Grant Snider – “Reader’s Block”

(10) TIPTREE AWARD NAME CHALLENGED. According to the award’s Motherboard, they’ve taken under advisement a request to drop the name because in her last acts the author shot her invalid husband before killing herself.

(11) SUPERREALISM. In “Review: The Boys (Amazon)”, Camestros Felapton indicates the show suffers from certain inconsistencies in storytelling.

…Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) is a young man whose girlfriend is brutally killed accidentally by the superhero A-Train — a Flash like superhero whose superspeed essentially explodes Campbell’s girlfriend in front of him. This early scene sets the confused tone of the series: gory, comical and shocking, with events often set up like jokes but then played out for emotional impact.

A distraught Hughie is recruited by Billy Butcher — Karl Urban sporting the accent he used as Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok. Butcher is a foul-mouthed cockney rogue CIA agent on his own personal mission of revenge against the seven….

(12) WAVING HELLO. NPR reports “After Months In A Dish, Lab-Grown Minibrains Start Making ‘Brain Waves'”

By the time a fetus is 6 months old, it is producing electrical signals recognizable as brain waves.

And clusters of lab-grown human brain cells known as organoids seem to follow a similar schedule, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

“After these organoids are in that six-to-nine-months range, that’s when [the electrical patterns] start to look a lot like what you’d see with a preterm infant,” says Alysson Muotri, director of the stem cell program at the University of California, San Diego.

The finding suggests that organoids can help scientists study the earliest phase of human brain development and perhaps reveal the earliest biological beginnings of conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

But the presence of humanlike brain waves in a dish is also likely to focus attention on the ethical questions surrounding this sort of research.

(13) SAUCE FOR THE GANDER. “Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey has account hacked” – BBC has the story.

The co-founder and chief executive of Twitter had his own account on the service briefly taken over by hackers.

A group referring to itself as the Chuckling Squad said it was behind the breach of Jack Dorsey’s account.

The profile, which has more than four million followers, tweeted out a flurry of highly offensive and racist remarks for about 15 minutes.

Twitter said its own systems were not compromised, instead blaming an unnamed mobile operator.

(14) SHERLOCKIAN FALLACY. BBC details “The two illusions that tricked Arthur Conan Doyle”.

Two real-life hoaxes managed to fool the creator of Sherlock Holmes – and they help to reveal our own ‘metacognitive illusions’ that influence our memory and perception.

On 21 March 1919, a committee including a paranormal investigator, a viscountess, a mind reader, a Scotland Yard detective, and a coroner were all assembled in a small flat in Bloomsbury, London. “I have spent years performing with fake mediums all over the world in order to disprove spiritualism,” declared their host. “Now at last, I have come across a genuine medium.”

The woman who entered the room was wearing a veil that concealed the lower half of her face. She began with a séance which involved a demonstration of “clairvoyance”. Each member of the committee had been instructed to bring with them a small personal item or written letter. Before the medium arrived all the objects were placed into a bag, which was then locked inside a box.

The medium held the locked box in her lap, and while the committee watched carefully, she proceeded to not only name the objects within, but to describe them in vivid detail. She divined that one of the objects was a ring belonging to the deceased son of the paranormal investigator, and even read the faded inscription.

…The creator of Sherlock Holmes declared that he was highly impressed with the clairvoyant demonstration, although he said he would need to see the ghost again before he would attest to its paranormality.

Today, Conan Doyle is best known for his detective stories, but the good doctor was also an illustrious paranormal investigator who often failed to see the frauds in front of his eyes. He famously fell for the photographs of the Cottingley Fairies, for instance, faked by two children – Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright. He attended séances, too. As a spiritualist, Conan Doyle also asserted that he witnessed mediums make direct contact with the spirits of the dead.

…Conan Doyle’s reactions to these hoaxes are clearly problematic, but they are also an illustration of psychological phenomena known as “metacognitive illusions”.

“Metacognition” is the idea of thinking about thinking. By extension, metacognitive illusions occur when people hold mistaken beliefs about their own cognitive systems. We all tend to feel like we are experts about the nature of our own perceptions and memories. After all, we generally perceive things and remember things successfully throughout most of our day-to-day lives. However, in many cases our intuitions about our own cognitive systems can be surprisingly unreliable – we are not always nearly as observant as we think we are and our memories can be surprisingly malleable.

(15) TERMINATOR, BUT NEVER THE END. Yahoo! Entertainment: “Linda Hamilton delivers a classic ‘Terminator’ line in new ‘Dark Fate’ trailer”.

In case there were any lingering doubts, Sarah Connor is most definitely back. Reprising her signature role for the first time in nearly 30 years, Linda Hamilton asserts her authority in the latest trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate by delivering the franchise’s most famous line … you know the one. (Watch the trailer.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Michael Tolan, Jerry Kaufman, and Chip Hitchcock, for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nigel.]

Pixel Scroll 7/25/19 It All Happened At Earthport, Greatest Of Buildings

(1) DRESSING UP. An 11-minute video of cosplay at San Diego Comic-Con.

San Diego Comic Con 2019, at the San Diego Convention Center. In its 50th year it was an hectic and news worthy convention with some really great costumes and creativity, thanks everyone for participating  

(2) DUBLIN 2019 REMINDERS. The Hugo voting deadline is upon us —

Voting will end on 31 July 2019 at 11:59pm Pacific Daylight Time (2:59am Eastern Daylight Time, 07:59 Irish and British time, all on 1 August)

Also, Dublin 2019 invites members to take the survey — “Consider participating in a research study that is collecting data on Worldcon attendees.”

Want to Help Out Science?

Professor Jennifer Zwahr-Castro is researching Worldcon, and investigating why we attend and what we get out of the experience. She would like to invite all Dublin 2019 attendees to take part in her research by filling out a survey.

(3) THE CHERRY ON THE TOP OF MT. TBR. An email from NESFA Press tells me they are pleased to announce two new ebooks available immediately–

  • Moskowitz, Sam, The Immortal Storm (978-1-61037-334-0)
  • Nielsen Hayden, Teresa, Making Book (978-1-61037-333-3)

(4) CLOSE READING. [Item by rcade.] Catherynne Valente tweeted that in 15 years writing professionally, she doesn’t think she’s ever described the size of a woman’s breasts.

After some internal debate over whether I should, I broke the news to her that she had.

The overall thread has a lot of hilarious stuff in it. It starts here.   

(5) BOOKER PRIZE LONGLIST. Margaret Atwood’s inclusion on the 2019 Book Prize Longlist was reported in yesterday’s Scroll – but here’s the complete list, or ‘Booker Dozen’, as the cognoscenti say.  

This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: founder and director of Hay Festival Peter Florence (Chair); former fiction publisher and editor Liz Calder; novelist, essayist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo; writer, broadcaster and former barrister Afua Hirsch; and concert pianist, conductor and composer Joanna MacGregor.  

The 2019 longlist, or ‘Booker Dozen’, of 13 novels, is:

  • Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
  • Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
  • Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
  • Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
  • John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
  • Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
  • Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
  • Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
  • Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
  • Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)

The list was chosen from 151 novels published in the UK or Ireland between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.

(6) BIG BRAINS. Kicking off today in Dublin, a “Theorizing Zombiism Conference”:

The rising academic interest in the zombie as an allegory for cultural and social analysis is spanning disciplines including, humanities, anthropology, economics, and political science. The zombie has been used as a metaphor for economic policy, political administrations, and cultural critique through various theoretical frameworks. The zombie has been examined as a metaphor for capitalism, geopolitics, globalism, neo-liberal markets, and even equating Zombiism to restrictive aspects of academia.

Apparently it is not a joke:  

(7) DO YOU WANT TO PLAY A GAME? NPR asks “Can This Group Of Teen Girls Save The World From Nuclear War?”

On a recent morning, 15 teenage girls and young women reported for duty at an office overlooking the Pentagon. Their mission: Save the world from nuclear war.

“This is where I want you to stop being you,” said Stacie Pettyjohn, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a defense think tank. “You’re going to have to start to role-play.”

Pettyjohn was leading a war-game exercise on North Korea. Typically, military commanders and policymakers use war gaming to test strategies and their likely consequences. But nothing about this game was typical. It was designed by women — RAND’s “Dames of War Games” — for teenagers from Girl Security, a nonprofit that introduces girls to defense issues. The partnership was a first for both groups; it’s among a series of recent efforts to boost women’s participation in national security.

“You have to fight,” Pettyjohn told the teens. “You are the military commanders.”

The scenario Pettyjohn laid out was bleak. U.S. talks with North Korea had collapsed, and deadly tit-for-tat attacks had spiraled into open conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Half the teens would join the blue team, assuming the roles of U.S. and allied South Korean generals. The others went to the red team, playing North Korean leaders determined to stay in power.

 (8) SOMEDAY MY BLUEPRINTS WILL COME. Curbed’s Angela Serratore shares credit with architects of the Eighties and Nineties for corporate Disney’s current world domination: “The magical (postmodern) world of Disney”.

It was 1991 and Michael Eisner was on the brink of changing everything.

After becoming the CEO of the Walt Disney Company in 1984, Eisner, a native New Yorker, set out to turn the old-fashioned Disney brand into one that would speak not just to the present moment but also, crucially, to the future. During his tenure, the company would eventually acquire the television network ABC and the sports behemoth ESPN and produce films that would come to define the Disney Renaissance—The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin, among others.

An amateur architecture and design buff, Eisner also understood that a company like Disney ought to have a real presence—theme parks, of course, but also office buildings, studios, and hotels. What if, his design philosophy seemed to suggest, people could look up at Disney headquarters in Burbank or Orlando and feel the same awe and delight they must’ve felt on Disneyland’s opening day?

(9) DRAWN THAT WAY. A tour of the exhibit led by Lucas Adams: “Worlds Apart: Sci-Fi Visions of Altered Reality” at New York Review of Books.

We all wish we could change the past, at least some of the time. Relationships, elections, conversations: there are countless moments in our lives we’d love the chance to rework, or simply reimagine. Living in an era when we can easily tweak the small (delete a sentence, crop an image) but feel helpless when facing the large (political turmoil, climate change), it’s hard not to fantasize about reworking our histories. 

But this inclination is not new. Attempting to rework the past, at least on paper, has been the outlet of artists and authors for as long as people have been wishing for different endings. “As If: Alternative Histories From Then to Now,” an exhibition at the Drawing Center, presents eighty-four works from 1888 to the present that “offer examples of how we might reimagine historical narratives in order to contend with the traumas of contemporary life.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 25, 1907 Cyril Luckham. He played the White Guardian on Doctor Who. He appeared in The Ribos Operation episode, The Key to Time season during the Era of the Fourth Doctor, and the Enlightenment story during the Era of the Fifth Doctor. He was also Dr. Meinard in the early Fifties Stranger from Venus (a.k.a. Immediate Disaster and The Venusian). (Died 1989.)
  • Born July 25, 1921 Kevin Stoney. He appeared in three serials of the science fiction series Doctor Who over a period of ten years, playing Mavic Chen in The Daleks’ Master Plan during the time of the First Doctor, Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion during the time of the Second Doctor and Tyrum in Revenge of the Cybermen during the time of the Fourth Doctor. Other genre credits include: The Adventures of Robin Hood, Danger Man, The Avengers, The Prisoner, Doomwatch,  The Tomorrow People, Space: 1999, The New Avengers, Quatermass, and Hammer House of Horror. (Died 2008.)
  • Born July 25, 1922 Evelyn E. Smith. She has the delightful bio being of a writer of sf and mysteries, as well as a compiler of crossword puzzles. During the 1950s, she published both short stories and novelettes in Galaxy Science Fiction, Fantastic Universe and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her SF novels include The Perfect Planet and The Copy Shop. A look at iBooks and Kindle shows a twelve story Wildside Press collection but none of her novels. (Died 2000.)
  • Born July 25, 1937 Todd Armstrong. He’s best known for playing Jason in Jason and the Argonauts. A film of course that made excellent by special effects from Ray Harryhausen. His only other genre appearance was on the Greatest American Hero as Ted McSherry In “ A Chicken in Every Plot”. (Died 1992.)
  • Born July 25, 1948 Brian Stableford, 71. I am reasonably sure that I’ve read and enjoyed all of the Hooded Swan series a long time ago which I see has been since been collected as Swan Songs: The Complete Hooded Swan Collection. And I’ve certainly read a fair amount of his short fiction down the years. 
  • Born July 25, 1973 Mur Lafferty, 46. Podcaster and writer. Co-editor of the Escape Pod podcast with Divya Breed, her second time around. She is also the host and creator of the podcast I Should Be Writing which won aParsec Award for Best Writing Podcast. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Escape Artists short fiction magazine Mothership Zeta. And then there’s the Ditch Diggers podcast she started with Matt Wallace which is supposed to show the brutal, honest side of writing. For that, it won the Hugo Award for Best Fancast in 2018, having been a finalist the year before.  Fiction-wise, I loved both The Shambling Guide to New York City and A Ghost Train to New Orleans with I think the second being a better novel. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Incidental Comics by Grant Snider –

(12) FAILURE TO IMAGINATE. “Twitter’s retweet inventor says idea was ‘loaded weapon'” – BBC has the story.

The man who came up with Twitter’s retweet button has likened it to “handing a four-year-old a loaded weapon”, in an interview with BuzzFeed.

Developer Chris Wetherell said no-one at Twitter had anticipated how it would alter the way people used the platform.

…He told BuzzFeed that he thought the retweet button “would elevate voices from under-represented communities”.

Previously people had to manually retweet each other by copying text and typing RT and the name of the tweeter but once the process was automated, retweeting meant popular posts quickly went viral.

While some went viral for good reasons, such as providing information about natural disasters, many others were not so benign.

Gamergate – a harassment campaign against women in the games industry – was one example of how people used the retweet to co-ordinate their attacks, Wetherell told BuzzFeed, describing it as a “creeping horror story”.

“It dawned on me that this was not some small subset of people acting aberrantly. This might be how people behave. And that scared me to death.”

(13) CRASH TEST DUMMIES? BBC wonders “Why is India sending humanoid robots into space?” Me too.

Before humans headed up there, animals were the first living creatures that were sent into space. But India will now become the first nation to fly a spacecraft with only humanoid robots. Science writer Pallava Bagla reports.

The Indian government has sanctioned $1.4bn (£1.1bn) to the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) for its first manned space flight by 2022.

…To date – using indigenously made rockets – Russia, the US and China have sent astronauts into space. If India can achieve this, it will become the fourth country to launch humans into space from its own soil.

But, unlike other nations that have carried out human space flights, India will not fly animals into space. Instead, it will fly humanoid robots for a better understanding of what weightlessness and radiation do to the human body during long durations in space.

(14) FLYING TO FEAR. A BBC video details “The Nasa astronauts on a mythical mission to Mars moon”.

Nasa is finding out how people cope with the demands of long space missions at its Human Exploration Research Analog (Hera).

For 45 days a crew of four people live in a habitat which simulates a mission to Phobos, a moon that orbits the planet Mars.

The crew carry out daily maintenance tasks on board, enjoy views of space from the capsule window and keep in contact with mission control via a five minute delay, meaning that a response to a communication takes 10 minutes.

(15) REASONS TO VOTE. Joe Sherry ranks the YA award contenders in “Reading the Hugos: Lodestar” at Nerds of a Feather.

…Generally, it takes a novel that breaks out of the YA spaces and gains visibility in some of the more SFF communities that I engage with (see, Children of Blood and Bone) or has some aspect that catches the attention of those communities (see, Dread Nation) or are beloved by commentators I deeply admire and respect (see, Tess of the Road). Also, I almost said the “wider SFF communities”, but that would not have been correct because YA publishing and readership is absolutely huge and has a significant overlap in science fiction and fantasy that should not be understated.

This is all to say that I was familiar with three of the novels on the ballot, and I was excited to read everything here to see which novels would break out into my list of new favorites. At least one, and let’s find out which….

(16) THIS IDEA COULD CRATER. Looking at both sides of the question:“Hawaii TMT: Desecrating sacred land or finding new frontiers?”

Rifts over a dormant volcano in Hawaii have resurfaced in recent days, pitting the state’s culture and history against its ambitions.

Plans for a powerful new telescope near the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano could bring in hundreds of jobs and boost science and the economy. But some native Hawaiians insist the site is sacred and that the long-planned construction should not go ahead.

Last week, protesters blocked access to the building site on Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world when measured from its underwater base. At least 33 people were arrested, given citations and released.

Hawaii’s governor has issued an “emergency proclamation” that increases powers to break up the blockade but said he wanted to find a “peaceful and satisfactory” solution for both sides.

Here, some of the people at the centre of the debate explain what Mauna Kea and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project mean to them.

(17) AUTO-BUY. Adri Joy’s faith in an author is repaid: “Microreview [Book]: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia” at Nerds of a Feather.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an author I’d follow into almost any genre, and that’s a good thing given how varied her career has been so far. From the 80’s nostalgia-heavy Signal to Noise to the romance fantasy of manners The Beautiful Ones, to the criminally underrated sci-fi novella Prime Meridian and even the editorial work she does on The Dark Magazine (a recent addition to my short fiction rounds), Garcia brings talent, nuance and a particular eye for female characters challenging overwhelming imbalances in power over the forces against them. Now, in Gods of Jade and Shadow, Moreno-Garcia brings her talents to a historic fantasy where 1920’s Jazz Age Mexico meets the gods and monsters of Mayan mythology, taking protagonist Casiopea Tun on an unexpected but long-dreamed-of adventure with a deposed Lord of the Underworld….

(18) SPLASH. The flyer from a recent Pixel tried something a lot harder — “Franky Zapata: Flyboard inventor fails in cross-Channel bid”.

A French inventor has failed in his attempt to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered flyboard.

Franky Zapata, a former jet-ski champion, had been hoping to cross from northern France to southern England in just 20 minutes.

But the 40-year-old fell into the water halfway across as he tried to land on a boat to refuel.

He took off from near Calais on Thursday morning and was heading for St Margaret’s Bay in Dover.

Mr Zapata was not injured when he fell and later announced he was planning a second bid to fly across the Channel next week.

(19) FIRE ONE. James Gleick traces the long, fictional effort to infect Earthlings with “Moon Fever” at New York Review of Books.

…The first moon landing was at once a historical inevitability and an improbable fluke. Inevitable because we had already done it so many times in our storytelling and our dreams. Astonishing, even in hindsight, because it required such an unlikely combination of factors and circumstances. “The moon, by her comparative proximity, and the constantly varying appearances produced by her several phases, has always occupied a considerable share of the attention of the inhabitants of the earth,” remarks Jules Verne in his fantastic tale From the Earth to the Moon (1865). The French fabulist imagined that the pioneers of space would be none other than Les Yankees: “They had no other ambition than to take possession of this new continent of the sky, and to plant upon the summit of its highest elevation the star-spangled banner of the United States of America.”

To get there, Verne proposed a projectile fired from a giant gun. He had probably read Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall” (1835), in which a Dutchman journeys to the moon by lighter-than-air balloon and meets the inhabitants, “ugly little people, who none of them uttered a single syllable, or gave themselves the least trouble to render me assistance, but stood, like a parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous manner.” Like Poe, Verne embellished his story with a great deal of plausible science involving computations of the moon’s elliptical orbit, the distances to be traveled at apogee or perigee, the diminishing force of gravitation, and the power of exploding gunpowder….

(20) FACTS AND FIGURES. BBC updates readers on “Climate change: Current warming ‘unparalleled’ in 2,000 years”.

The speed and extent of current global warming exceeds any similar event in the past 2,000 years, researchers say.

They show that famous historic events like the “Little Ice Age” don’t compare with the scale of warming seen over the last century.

The research suggests that the current warming rate is higher than any observed previously.

The scientists say it shows many of the arguments used by climate sceptics are no longer valid.

When scientists have surveyed the climatic history of our world over the past centuries a number of key eras have stood out.

These ranged from the “Roman Warm Period”, which ran from AD 250 to AD 400, and saw unusually warm weather across Europe, to the famed Little Ice Age, which saw temperatures drop for centuries from the 1300s.

The events were seen by some as evidence that the world has warmed and cooled many times over the centuries and that the warming seen in the world since the industrial revolution was part of that pattern and therefore nothing to be alarmed about.

Three new research papers show that argument is on shaky ground.

The science teams reconstructed the climate conditions that existed over the past 2,000 years using 700 proxy records of temperature changes, including tree rings, corals and lake sediments. They determined that none of these climate events occurred on a global scale.

(21) TRAILER PARK. From the novel The Future of Another Timeline, by Annalee Newitz, comes a riot grrl band called Grape Ape. They are lost to our timeline, but you can see them here in all their glory. The Future of Another Timeline comes out from Tor Books on Sept. 24, 2019.

[Thanks to rcade, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Michael Toman, mlex, Anthony Lewis, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/4/18 A Pixel Came Down To File770, It Was Lookin’ For A Scroll To Steal

(1) FOLLOWING IN GODZILLA’S FOOTSTEPS. The Harvard Map Collection presents “Where Disaster Strikes: Modern Space and the Visualization of Destruction”.

Floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, bombings, droughts, and even alien invasions: disaster can take many forms. And, although disasters are always felt dramatically, a disaster’s form and location impacts who records its effects and what forms those records take. “Where Disaster Strikes” investigates the intertwined categories of modern space and disaster through the Harvard Map Collection’s maps of large destructive events from the London Fire to the present.

The map collection includes a Godzilla feature. Stacy Lambe figured out how many times stomped all the cities. Then Danielle Brown mapped them. (I can’t get the link to function here, but go to the Harvard Map Collection link and click “30” on the left sidebar, that worked for me.)

(2) FUTURE TENSE. Safe Surrender” by Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, is this month’s entry in the Future Tense series that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. The series is offered through a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.

The laws are so old that they were written with fully human children in mind. Before first contact, two humans might make a fully Terran baby and still abandon it, because they didn’t have enough money or because one of their ancient tribal honor codes forbid them from breeding. It still happens, but nobody talks about it. Humans like to forget what they used to be. Now, safe surrender sites are known as places where hemis get dumped. Hemis like me.

It was published along with a response essay “Oppression of the Future in ‘Safe Surrender’ by tech policy lawyer Laura Moy.

As technology advances, will we use it to promote equity, or to serve and preserve systems of oppression? This question is central to Meg Elison’s “Safe Surrender,” which explores a future in which humans are in regular contact with extraterrestrials called Pinners, who exchange diplomats, trade goods, and even interbreed with Earthlings. In “Safe Surrender,” a grown-up human-Pinner hybrid (a “hemi”) struggles to find their identity and make sense of their origin—surrendered at birth by a mother who did not want or perhaps felt she could not care for or protect a hybrid infant.

In Elison’s not–totally foreign, not-so-distant future, the racial prejudices, inequities, and oppression that plague humankind today map easily onto extraterrestrials….

(3) POOHOGRAPHY. Who needs $200,000 when you can have this map? Atlas Obscura knows where you can find it: “For Sale: A Winsome Map Showing the Way to Pooh Corner”.

But all the adventures of a boy and his bear started here, alongside illustrations by the English artist E. H. Shepard. In its opening pages, a map shows the way around the Hundred Acre Wood, sometimes stylized as “100 Aker Wood.” There’s “Where the Woozle Wasnt” and the route to the North Pole. Now, for the first time in nearly 50 years, the original map is on sale at the British auctioneer Sotheby’s, along with four other illustrations. They are expected to fetch as much as $580,000 together when they go on sale at the auction house in July, the BBC reported.

It’s a lot of money for a map—but then, this isn’t any old map.

(4) MEXICANX. John Picacio introduces the next set of MexicanX Initiative guests who’ll be coming to Worldcon 76.

(5) MERRY MONTH OF MAY. Eric Wong sent along Rocket Stack Rank’s May ratings highlights.

  1. New Prolific Reviewer Added

Gary Tognetti @ 1000 Year Plan

  1. Most-Recommended Stories

Here are 15 stories (out of 72) recommended by at least 2 out of 4 prolific reviewers who post at the end of each month (GTognetti, JMcGregor, RSR, SFRevu). That’s 21% of 72 stories, while 56% (40 stories) got no recs from any of the 4 prolific reviewers.

Novellas (click for story & review links)

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells 1h:48m Tor Novella 05/08/18

Bubble and Squeak by David Gerrold & Ctein 1h:50m Asimov’s 05?06|18

Novelettes (click for story & review links)

The Thought That Counts by K.J. Parker 28m BCS 250
Crash Site by Brian Trent 29m F&SF 05?06|18
Inquisitive by Pip Coen2 25m F&SF 05?06|18
Fleeing Oslyge by Sally Gwylan 30m Clarkesworld 140
Angry Kings by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam 25m BCS 250
Argent and Sable by Matthew Hughes 47m F&SF 05?06|18
Hubpoint Of No Return by Christopher L. Bennett 41m Analog 05?06|18

Short Stories (click for story & review links)

A Green Moon Problem by Jane Lindskold 20m Lightspeed 96
Unstoppable by Gardner Dozois 19m F&SF 05?06|18
Blessings by Naomi Novik 07m Uncanny 22
Cold Blue Sky by JE Bates2 13m Apex 108
Godmeat by Martin Cahill 23m Lightspeed 96
While You Sleep, Computer Mice™ Earn Their Keep by Buzz Dixon 07m Analog 05?06|18

(Sometimes RHorton’s recs are included if Locus Magazine releases his latest column online by the end of the month. The recommendations from the 5 major awards and 4 major SF/F anthologies are typically available within 5 months after the calendar year and are shown in the 2018 YTD.)

  1. Most-Recommended Magazines

Every BCS and Lightspeed story got a recommendation from at least 1 out of 4 prolific reviewers. Every magazine got at least 1 story rec except Strange Horizons.

(All 11 magazines included in RSR Monthly & YTD ratings are covered by at least 3 of the 4 prolific monthly reviewers, except for Tor Novellas.)

  1. Stories by New Writers

Stories by 2019 Campbell Award-eligible writers, grouped by year of eligibility.

Year 1 Eligible: 5 stories, none recommended.

Year 2 Eligible: 6 stories, 3 recommended.

Coen, Pip Inquisitive 25m F&SF 05?06|18
Bates, JE Cold Blue Sky 13m Apex 108
Falowo, Dare Segun Ku’gbo 19m F&SF 05?06|18

The remaining 61 stories were written by authors whose first pro SF/F story was before 2017.

(6) BEING INVENTIVE. Doctor Strangemind’s Kim Huett says “Let’s consider how to add a little local colour to steampunk fiction with some interesting but failed nineteenth century inventions. Necessity might be the mother of invention but that doesn’t mean all her children are born equal.” — “With A Strange Device”.

Putting some steampunk junk in the trunk.

I’ve long been a fan of Jack Vance’s fiction for a number of reasons. One of these is the way he liked to throw quirky details into his stories. There were often no reason for these details as they weren’t designed to advance the plot (well okay, very occasionally yes they did but usually no they didn’t). Mostly Vance just liked to add a little local colour to the fictional landscapes his narrative was passing through. A little local colour, as actually exists in the real world, is something far too rare in science fiction of any era.

(7) SAURON’S DIGS. Olga Polomoshnova pieces together a description of “The tower of adamant” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

Barad-dûr was built in the Second Age when Sauron chose Mordor as his abode. He began the construction of the Dark Tower in c. 1000 SA and finished it in c. 1600 SA — the same year when the One Ring was forged in the fires of Orodruin. The foundations of Barad-dûr were thus strengthened with the power of the One Ring, so the tower was virtually indestructible by any force and could stand as long as the Ring lasted. After the War of the Last Alliance and the seven-year siege of Barad-dûr its foundations remained, though the tower itself was destroyed, and thus the Dark Tower rose again in the Third Age.

The appearance of Barad-dûr is left rather vague by Tolkien. Readers can catch only glimpses of the Dark Tower by means of visions or looks from afar, without many details provided. Those glimpses offer a very uncertain picture, as if just allowing a peek at the mighty tower: we look at it quickly and then withdraw our glance so that the never-sleeping watch of Sauron does not catch us at looking at his citadel longer than it is necessary.

The main impression that can be gathered from those fragmentary glimpses is that of hopelessness and terror: the Dark Tower is huge and impregnable. In this case less is more, and the lack of detailed descriptions does the trick, but one thing is certain: we are dealing with a very serious stronghold here.

(8) THE QUIET MAN. Jon Del Arroz hasn’t been tweeting for the last few days. Part of it is because he was officiating a wedding for a friend, but the main reason is that his Twitter account was frozen. JDA says I have to get the details from the response piece he has written for The Federalist….

(9) VON TIESENHAUSEN OBIT. WAFF-TV has the story: “‘Father of the Lunar Rover’ dies at 104”

Georg von Tiesenhausen, who is dubbed the “Father of the Lunar Rover,” has died at age 104.

Tiesenhausen was the last living rocket scientist who came to the U.S. under Operation Paperclip with Wernher von Braun at jump-start the U.S. space program.

(10) PHIPPS OBIT. Actor William Phipps, who had a huge number of genre TV and movie roles on his resume, died June 1—The Hollywood Reporter has the story.

…He starred as a young poet, one of the five people on Earth to survive a nuclear explosion, in Five (1951), then fought martians in The War of the Worlds (1953) and Invaders From Mars (1953), a giant spider in Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) and the Abominable Snowman in The Snow Creature (1954).

Walt Disney himself heard Phipps’ audition tape and hired him to play Prince Charming opposite Ilene Woods in Cinderella (1950). The actor said he was paid about $100 for two hours’ work on an afternoon in January 1949….

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 4, 1982 Poltergeist premiered.
  • June 4, 1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan debuted in theaters.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 4 — Angelina Jolie, actress in the Tombraider films and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock says Rhymes With Orange believes they could never remake Wizard of Oz quite the same way today.

(14) JIM HENSON. “The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited” is on display at LA’s Skirball Cultural Center from June 1-September 2.

Immerse yourself in the imaginative world of Jim Henson (1936–1990) and discover his groundbreaking approach to puppetry and transformative impact on contemporary culture.

Featuring more than 100 objects and twenty-five historic puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Ernie and Bert, Grover, and other popular favorites—The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited illuminates Henson’s unique contributions to the moving image. Along with a talented team of designers, performers, and writers, Henson created an unparalleled body of work that continues to delight and inspire people of all ages to create a kinder and gentler world.

Explore Henson’s enduringly popular productions—from The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, and Sesame Street to Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth—through character sketches, storyboards, scripts, photographs, costumes, film and television clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. Then design your own puppet and try your hand at puppeteering in this highly interactive exhibition.

Highlights include:

  • Kermit the Frog puppet from 1978
  • Handwritten scripts from Henson’s first television series, Sam and Friends (1955–1961)
  • A clip from Henson’s Academy Award–nominated experimental short film Time Piece (1965)
  • Puppets from Sesame Street (1969– ), including Grover, Ernie and Bert, and Count von Count
  • Section on The Muppet Show (1976–1981), including puppets of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, and Scooter, as well as material from the Muppets’ transition to the big screen, such as set models and storyboards
  • Jen and Kira puppets from The Dark Crystal (1982)
  • Red Fraggle from Fraggle Rock (1983–1987), which celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary this year
  • Jareth’s and Sarah’s ballroom costumes from Labyrinth (1986)

(15) BEGONE, I HAVE NO POWER HERE. NPR reports “‘Sherlock’ Star Benedict Cumberbatch Saves Cyclist From Muggers” — no mystic powers needed.

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays detective Sherlock Holmes in the television series Sherlock, foiled an attempted robbery by fighting off a gang of muggers in London. The attack occurred near his fictional character’s home on Baker Street.

(16) CONCAROLINAS. Yesterday’s Scroll reported the terms under which David Weber agreed to be a ConCarolinas special guest next year, his characterization of those who had issues with Ringo’s selection as a special guest, and the statement delivered by the ConCarolinas chair at closing ceremonies of this year’s con (wording negotiated with Weber).

There has been mixed reaction to the ConCarolinas statement.

So, apparently, ConCarolinas committee gave a closing statement where they doubled-down on being open to having special guests who are bigots, racists, sexists, etc claiming the onus is on the people these hate-mongers target to be willing to sit in a room with them as a sign of tolerance and mutual respect.

Listen, it’s not on me to be willing to tolerate someone who thinks I shouldn’t even be in the room or any group who supports bigotry, racism, misogyny, or hate speech.

Now, for those of you who gave ConCarolinas a pass this year and went anyway they’ve made where they stand abundantly clear. You either support that or you don’t – there’s no middle ground. Don’t think you can continue to support it and be my “friend”. Pick a side. You’re either with the people who support giving a platform to hate or you’re an ally of the marginalized people those bigots/racists/misogynists would like to see excluded from SFF and fandom. Don’t expect me to be ok with it.

My thanks to those allies who made a principled stand and withdrew from ConCarolinas, both guests and attendees. I appreciate your willingness to take a stand for what’s right and not try to parse your participation down to some justification for continuing to support people who CLEARLY want to be in a position to give a platform to people who would like nothing better than to target women and people of color.

  • Bryan Thomas Schmidt

  • Rabid Sparkle Badger

  • Stabby Carpenter

  • Nick Mamatas

  • Stephanie Souders

  • Keffy

So, the director of Con Carolinas has made a choice of who is welcome, and who is not. This is now a convention openly antagonistic to the health, comfort, and safety of anyone who is not straight, cis, male, white, and conservative.

Two important wins vs. the antisocial injustice crusaders in SFF.

  1. ConCarolinas, with prompting from DavidWeber, has declared themselves politically neutral.
  2. DragonCon fired the head of its fantasy lit track, who was apparently trying to impose a political litmus test.
  • Shaun Duke

  • Ari Marmell

  • Declan Finn

ConCarolinas is beginning to see the first groundswell of criticism for the position Jada took at final ceremonies yesterday. I expect it to get pretty ugly, because she and the concom are now officially recidivists. I would request that anyone who supports the con’s efforts — and fandom in general’s effort — to . . . diminish the scope for the ex post facto dis-invitation of guests to speak up in support of the con’s position, but lets not take this any farther into Mutually Assured Destruction territory than we have to. I know the temptation will be to lob H bombs back in response to the fission warheads coming in in condemnation of the con’s position. I understand that, because I’ve got a temper, too. But if we want to minimize the bigots and the fanatics on both sides of the divide, then we can’t be fanatics ourselves. Determined, unyielding, and unwilling to put up with or yield to cyber bullying — all of those things, damned straight. But if we’re going to be the grown-ups in the room, then let’s BE grown-ups. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t approve of banning anyone for anything short of criminal acts or DEMONSTRATED personal harassment of an innocent bystander who didn’t lob the first grenade in any exchange between them. Don’t care whether they are on the right, and they’ve been screaming about John’s withdrawal from ConCarolinas and Larry’s banning from Origins, or if they are on the left, and they are now screaming about ConCarolinas’ response to the arguments voiced by people on the right. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinion and to attend or not to attend any convention because of guest lists or for any other reason(s) that seem(s) good to them. They also have a right to voice and explain those opinions. I’d just really prefer for us to do it as civilly as possible. It is at least remotely possible we could shame the hate merchants (of whatever political persuasion), but I’m not looking for any miracles here. What I would like to accomplish, however, is to APPEAR as the reasonable parties by BEING the reasonable parties so that those who have not already drawn their own lines in the sand can form their own opinions and reach their own conclusions about who is truly in favor of diversity and inclusiveness and who isn’t.

(17) IN THE FRAME. Gary Tognetti reviews “The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts” at The 1000 Year Plan.

Watts falls within the lineage of classic hard SF writers who can make far-future science magic seem tangible, but his true gift lies in how personable he makes it feel. Heavy themes like alienation, the value of existence, and the nature of consciousness are woven into the brisk narrative with humor and pathos. Watts may be too smart to let a big idea pass by without picking it to pieces, but above all, “The Freeze-Frame Revolution” is fun to read.

(18) WHEN THE WORLD WAS YOUNG. Frederik Pohl’s IF magazine floats The Traveler’s boat at Galactic Journey: “[June 4, 1963] Booked passage (July 1963 IF)”

Down to the Worlds of Men, by Alexei Panshin

14-year old Mia Havero is part of a society of human space-dwellers, resident of one of the eight galaxy-trotting Ships that represent the remains of Earth’s high technology. She and 29 other young teens are dropped on a primitive colony as part of a rite of passage. There is always an element of danger to this month-long ordeal, but this episode has a new wrinkle: the planet’s people are fully aware (and resentful) of the Ships, and they plan to fight back. Can Mia survive her coming of age and stop an insurrection?

Panshin hits it right out of the park with his first story, capturing the voice of a young almost-woman and laying out a rich world and an exciting adventure. Finally, I’ve got something I can recommend to the Young Traveler. Four stars, verging on five.

(19) THEME SONG. Wil Wheaton declares “This Is Brilliant”.

When we worked on Next Generation, Brent Spiner and I would sit at our consoles on the bridge, and make up lyrics to our show’s theme song. I vaguely recall coming up with some pretty funny and clever stuff, but nothing that held together as perfectly as this, from the weirdos over at meh.com:

 

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

Pixel Scroll 10/27/16 Take a Pixel, Maria, Scroll It Up My Screen

(1) HARASSMENT CLAIMS ANOTHER CREATOR. Comics Beat’s Heidi MacDonald reports another woman comics creator abandoned Twitter because of abuse — “Bestselling author Chelsea Cain driven off Twitter by harassment from comcs ‘fans’”.

Mockingbird writer Chelsea Cain, the bestselling author of Heartsick and other thrillers, deleted her Twitter account today after receiving abusive tweets yesterday….

In a now vanished series of tweets (one screencapped above)  Cain noted that she was getting harassing tweets, presumably over the above Mockingbird cover and her work there in general. It’s possible that she was targeted from 4chan or Reddit as well. After saying she was considering pulling the plug…she did just that.

This ignited a firestorm of support on Twitter as well….

And a #standwithchelseacain hashtag was trending for quite a while and is still gaining steam. I doubt this is going to calm down any time soon.

I guess everyone feels a little burnt on social media at the mo, but the harassment problem isn’t a woman’s problem, it’s a MAN’S problem. The good men of comics and everywhere need to make it clear they do not support or tolerate hate, abuse and misogyny. This isn’t a borderline case. It’s clear, indisputable harassment. And that should not be part of the “comics conversation.”

The abuse against women in comics is equally clear and indisputable, and the abuse against women of color is even worse. And so on down the line. It’s toxic and inexcusable.

(2) TAKE THE LONGER WAY. Scifinow has an interview with Becky Chambers.

[CHAMBERS] So when they asked me, “What would you like to do next?” I was like, “Well, I don’t have anything for this crew, but Pepper and Lovelace, those two are, they’ve got stuff that I’d like to explore.” So that was just the thread I picked up and went with.

They’re such a great pairing! So they were the starting point?

Yeah, it really did happen by accident. That was one of the last things that I figured out in The Long Way. A lot of the stuff that happened in the book I’d scribbled down and imagined well before I actually sat down and wrote the thing, but I was a long way through the first draft before I knew where Lovelace was going to go after the first book. Somehow Pepper just sort of naturally took that spot.

It was one of those wonderful moments where something happens when you’re writing that you didn’t intend and it’s just like, “Oh, that actually works really well!” I started thinking about how these two women have vastly different backgrounds and life experiences but they actually have quite a bit in common, and it was fun playing with that. It was fun finding the similarities between two characters who, at first blush, don’t look like they could have anything similar at all and yet are walking such similar paths.

(3) THE SCIENCE IN SCIENCE FICTION. Joshua Sky interviewed Larry Niven for Omni.

JS: One of your goals as a writer is to continuously publish science fiction that is at the cutting edge of science. Is that still the case?

NIVEN: Yes, Fred (editor of If and Galaxy magazines at the time) gave me that goal, because I was already doing it, without quite making it a goal. He in fact suggested me writing stories and he finding scientists to write articles alongside the stories on the same subject, and we never got that far. I think he must’ve found that to be too much work.

JS: Is your process that you check the news, read the latest discoveries in science, and then write a story based on your findings?

NIVEN: That was my goal. In fact, I never really managed it.

JS: Is it difficult to keep track of the latest developments in science?

NIVEN: That’s easy. That’s a hobby. Doing your research for fun, and hoping it generates stories. Sometimes it does.

(4) WHAT I REALLY MEANT TO SAY. Here’s a Los Angeles Times article that will refresh your memory about the new California law requiring autographed memorabilia come with a certificate of authenticity —  “The high cost of an autograph”.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, faced with a firestorm of protest from booksellers, issued this letter that argues her legal language should not be interpreted in the draconian way people assume.

assemblywoman-letter-p-1

assemblywoman-letter-p-2

(5) VANISHING CULT. The LA Times’ Josh Rottenberg asks, “In an age of comic-book blockbusters and viral sensations, whatever happened to the cult movie?”

Those old video stores have virtually all disappeared now, of course, along with many of the independent movie theaters that, in decades past, drew steady crowds to such “midnight movies” – all of it swept away in the transition to a fully digital, on-demand world. And the cult movies themselves? It seems they’re in danger of going extinct as well.

In today’s fragmented, ever-churning pop culture ecosystem, the long tail of home video that once gave oddball movies a shot at a glorious cult afterlife has shortened to the point of vanishing. With even big-budget commercial films often struggling to break through the endless clutter of content, the challenge for smaller, quirkier fare is that much harder.

Even when a particular offbeat film – say, “The Babadook” or “It Follows” – manages to catch a viral wave, it is almost instantly overcome by the next fresh piece of “must-watch” entertainment that demands your already overtaxed attention. Instead of a long tail, we now have a collective case of incurable cultural ADHD.

(6) WRITER’S NOTEBOOK. In his latest post at This Way To Texas, Lou Antonelli shares an idea for a story – “The Revenge of the Internet” — inspired by this premise:

OK, the big problem with social media – which I think everyone recognizes – is that it allows you to attack or insult people with impunity. it unleashes our worst nature. We can get away with saying things to people we would never say to their face, or even on the phone, and we can do it across great distances….

(7) GENDER COUNTING. Juliet McKenna says this is what the numbers say about “Gender in Genre and the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off 2016”.

When the only thing that counts is what readers make of the writing, the story really is all that matters.

The second thing I’m seeing here? Out of three hundred SPFBO [Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off] submissions this year, the field was 49% male, 33% female and 18 unknown as they were using initials. Can we assume those initials all belong to women? I’d say that’s a risky assumption – and even if that were the case, that still means only a third of the books were written by women prepared to raise a hand to be identified as such. What does that tell us?

Once again, it confirms something I’ve seen time and again since I started writing about inequalities in visibility in SF&F. Something I’ve had confirmed as an endemic problem in fields such as medicine, science, computing, literary criticism, history and the law. Women are still culturally conditioned to put themselves forward much less and to hold their own work to a far higher standard before offering it for publication. It’s a problem that frustrates and infuriates editors, from those working on academic journals, through fiction anthologies in all genres, to the commissioning editors in publishing houses. With the best will in the world, the best initiatives to improve diversity and representation can only work if those who’ve been historically excluded now step forward.

(8) BEFORE THERE WAS DYSTOPIA. In his article “We should remember HG Wells for his social predictions, not just his scientific ones” at The Conversation, Victorian fiction professor Simon John James notes that it’s H.G. Wells’s sesquicentennial, and gives back ground on Wells’s political achievements, including how Wells’s ideas inspired the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights.

Today, given the role that national identity continues to play in human beings’ efforts for greater self-determination, the prospect of Wells’s world state seems even less likely. One surprising legacy remains, however, from Wells’s forecasts of a better future for humankind. Letters from Wells to The Times led to the Sankey Committee for Human Rights and Wells’s 1940 Penguin Special The Rights of Man; Or What Are We Fighting For? (recently reissued with a preface by novelist Ali Smith). Wells argued that the only meaningful outcome for the war would be the declaration of an agreed set of universal human rights and an international court to enforce them.

Wells’s aspiration was the guaranteeing of the right to life, education, work, trade and property for every man and woman on Earth. (Surprisingly, given his earlier flirtation with positive eugenics, Wells also insisted on “freedom from any sort of mutilation or sterilisation” and from torture.) The influence of Wells’s work is clear in the United Nations 1948 Declaration of Universal Human Rights. These rights now have legal force if not universal existence: so are perhaps Wells’s most significant prophetic aim.

(9) JABBA’S JAZZ BAND ON THE TITANIC. I was amused by a sportswriter’s use of a Star Wars metaphor here. (There’s no reason to go read the whole article unless you want to know why a pro basketball team – the Philadelpha 76ers – has been tanking for years.)

Maduabum is not at the center of this story, but as a part of The Process he is known to the community of people who believe in it, roughly in the same way that the name of the lead singer in the band playing on Jabba the Hutt’s barge is known to your harder core Star Wars weirdos. Maduabum is a component part of a bigger story, in other words, and a peripheral cast member in that story’s expanded universe.

It’s a story that, as so often happens with things like this, is now being told by people with significantly more emotional investment in it than the original credited author. The person who came up with all this was, however idiosyncratically, trying to tell a compelling story successfully through to its conclusion, which is a complicated but prosaic thing. That story didn’t really come to life, and so cannot really have been said to work in any meaningful way, until it changed hands, as generally happens to stories that work the best. The story becomes the shared property of people who really care about it, who have more invested in it, for one, but also pursue it with both a more robust and a more authentic imagination than the story’s creator brought to it. The Process is no longer in Hinkie’s hands. It belongs, now, to the community of believers that keep it alive, and who care about it for reasons that go well beyond the stated goal of building a winning basketball team or attending some cramped and beery victory parade down Broad Street. ChuChu Maduabum is a peripheral part of that story, but he’s part of it. He’s Sy Snootles, yes, but he’s also a real guy. The Philadelphia 76ers owned his rights for six months, and then they traded them.

(10) DON’T SKIP OVER THIS. Steven Lovely picked “The 30 Best Science Fiction Books in the Universe” for Early Bird Books. You may think it’s only been ten minutes since you saw a list of sf/f greats, but this one includes a bunch of present day greats, too, like Ancillary Justice and Three-Body Problem.

(11) ORIGINAL TOURIST TERROR TOWER. In the October 27 Washington Post, John Kelly interviews Itsi Atkins, who probably invented the haunted house attraction in St. Mary’s County in 1971.  Atkins talks about how he came up with the idea and how much he enjoyed scaring people at “Blood Manor” in the 1970s: “He dreamed of screams: Meet the man behind the modern haunted house”.

With Halloween bearing down on us like an ax-wielding maniac, now’s a good time to remember Edwin “Itsi” Atkins, pioneer of fright.

“In all my research, I can’t find anybody who has a live-action haunted house before 1971,” Itsi told me when I rang him up in Georgia, where he lives now. Yes, people had “yard haunts” — elaborate decorations in their front yards — and Disneyland had its Haunted Mansion. But that was an amusement-park ride, which took safely seat-belted riders through a gently scary attraction.

What Itsi claims to have invented is the interactive experience of walking through a haunted house while being assaulted by scary actors amid frightful tableaux.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some off these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

Pixel Scroll 3/7/16 Burning Down the Scroll

(1) MILLION WORDS (IN) MARCH. Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors, curated by SL Huang and Kurt Hunt, is available as a free download at Bad Menagerie until March 31.

This anthology includes 120 authors—who contributed 230 works totaling approximately 1.1 MILLION words of fiction. These pieces all originally appeared in 2014, 2015, or 2016 from writers who are new professionals to the science fiction and fantasy field, and they represent a breathtaking range of work from the next generation of speculative storytelling.

All of these authors are eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016. We hope you’ll use this anthology as a guide in nominating for that award as well as a way of exploring many vibrant new voices in the genre.

(2) MANLY SF. And then, if you run out of things to read, the North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation has announced the preliminary eligibility list of 116 titles for the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Or you could just look at all the pretty cover art in the “2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award cover gallery” at Bull Spec.

(3) ALPINE PARABLES. An overview of “The Swiss Science Fiction” at Europa SF.

„Swiss science fiction? Never heard of it !

Yet for a long time, the Swiss SF has engaged in speculative fiction game.”

(4) TOO SOON TO REGENERATE? Radio Times has the scoop — “Peter Capaldi: ‘I’ve been asked to stay on in Doctor Who after Steven Moffat leaves’”.

Now, RadioTimes.com can reveal that the BBC has asked Capaldi to stay on as the Doctor after Moffat’s departure — but the actor himself isn’t sure whether he’ll take up their offer.

“I’ve been asked to stay on,” Capaldi told RadioTimes.com, “but it’s such a long time before I have to make that decision.

“Steven’s been absolutely wonderful, so I love working with him. Chris is fantastic, and I think he’s a hugely talented guy.

“I don’t know where the show’s gonna go then. I don’t know. I have to make up my mind, and I haven’t yet.”

(5) ASTRONAUT SHRINKS. Scott Kelly had reportedly grown taller while at the International Space Station, but he’s back to normal now.

US astronaut Scott Kelly said Friday he is battling fatigue and super-sensitive skin, but is back to his normal height after nearly a year in space.

Kelly’s 340-day mission — spent testing the effects of long-term spaceflight ahead of a future mission to Mars, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko — wrapped up early Wednesday when they landed in frigid Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

One of the effects of spending such a long time in the absence of gravity was that Kelly’s spine expanded temporarily, making him grow 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters), only to shrink as he returned to Earth.

His twin brother, Mark Kelly, said they were the same height again by the time they hugged in Houston early Thursday.

According to John Charles, human research program associate manager for international science at NASA, any height gain “probably went away very quickly because it is a function of fluid accumulation in the discs between the bones in the spinal column.”

(6) AUTHOR’S PERSPECTIVE. Rose Lemberg provides “Notes on trans themes in ‘Cloth…’”

Grandmother-na-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” is a Nebula nominee. As such, it is getting a lot of attention.

I usually let my stories stand on their own. When this story came out, I had written brief story notes focusing on Kimi’s autism in the context of the Khana culture. Even that felt too much for me. I want readers to get what they need from my work, without my external authorial influence.

But as this story is getting more attention, I’d like to write some notes about the trans aspects of this story…..

Many of us are pressured by families. Especially trans people. Especially trans people (and queer people) who are from non-white and/or non-Anglo-Western cultural backgrounds, and/or who are immigrants. Many trans people I know have strained relationships with their families, and many had to cut ties with their families or were disowned.

This story came from that place, a place of deep hurt in me, and in many of my trans friends. It came from a place of wanting to imagine healing.

It also came from a place of wanting to center a trans character who comes out later in life. For many trans and queer people, coming out later in life is very fraught. Coming out is always fraught. Coming out later in life, when one’s identity is supposed to be firmly established, is terrifyingly difficult. This is my perspective. I am in my late thirties. There’s not enough trans representation in SFF; there’s never enough representation of queer and trans elders specifically. I write queer and trans elders and older people a lot.

(7) DEVIL IN THE DETAILS. The historianship of Camestros Felapton is on display in “Unpicking a Pupspiracy: Part 1”.

I’m currently near to finishing an update to the Puppy Kerfuffle timeline. The update includes Sp4 stuff as well as some extra bits around the 2013 SFWA controversies.

One issue I thought I hadn’t looked at what was a key piece of Puppy mythology: basically that their enemies are being tipped off by Hugo administrators to enable shenanigans of a vague and never entirely explained nature. A key proponent of this Pupspiracy theory is Mad Genius Dave Freer. In particular this piece from mid April 2015 http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/04/13/nostradumbass-and-madame-bugblatterfatski/

Freer’s piece has two pupspiracies in it; one from Sad Puppies 2 and one from Sad Puppies 3. I’m going to look at the first here and the second in Part 2. However, both use a particular odd kind of fallacious reasoning that we’ve seen Dave use before. It is a sort of a fallacy of significance testing mixed with a false dichotomy and not understanding how probability works.

(8) CLASS IN SESSION. “’You can teach craft but you can’t teach talent.’ The most useless creative writing cliché?” asks Juliet McKenna.

So let’s not get snobbish about the value of craft. Without a good carpenter’s skills, you’d be using splintery planks to board up that hole in your house instead of coming and going through a well-made and secure front door. Let’s definitely not accept any implication that writing craft is merely a toolkit of basic skills which a writer only needs to get to grips with once. I learn new twists and subtleties about different aspects of writing with every piece I write and frequently from what I read. Every writer I know says the same.

Now, about this notion that you cannot teach hopeful writers to have ideas, to have an imagination. The thing is, I’ve never, ever met an aspiring author who didn’t have an imagination. Surely that’s a prerequisite for being a keen reader, never mind for taking up a pen or keyboard to create original fiction? Would-be writers are never short on inspiration.

(9) DONE TWEETING. Joe Vasicek comes to bury, not praise, a social media platform in “#RIPTwitter”.

All of this probably sounds like a tempest in a teapot if you aren’t on Twitter. And yeah, it kind of is. In the last two weeks, I’ve learned that life is generally better without Twitter than it is with it. No more getting sucked into vapid tit-for-tat arguments in 140-character chunks. No more passive-aggressive blocking by people who are allergic to rational, intelligent debate. No more having to worry about being an obvious target for perpetually-offended SJW types who, in their constant efforts to outdo each other with their SJW virtue signaling, can spark an internet lynch mob faster than a California wildfire.

The one big thing that I miss about Twitter is the rapid way that news disseminates through the network. I can’t tell you how many major news stories I heard about through Twitter first—often while they were still unfolding. But if the #RIPTwitter controversy demonstrates anything, it’s that Twitter now has both the means and the motive to suppress major news stories that contradict the established political narrative. That puts them somewhere around Pravda as a current events platform.

Am I going to delete my account the same way that I deleted my Facebook account? Probably not. I deleted my Facebook account because of privacy concerns and Facebook’s data mining. With Twitter, it’s more of an issue with the platform itself. I don’t need to delete my account to sign off and stop using it.

(10) OR YOU CAN ENGAGE. When Steven A. Saus’ call for submissions to an anthology was criticized, here’s how he responded — “Just Wait Until Twitter Comes For You: Addressing and Fixing Unintended Privilege and Bigotry”

TL;DR: When a social justice criticism was brought to us, we acknowledged the mistake, engaged with those criticizing, and fixed the problem instead of doubling down or protesting that wasn’t what we meant. It worked to resolve the problem and helped us clarify the message we meant to send….

So why have I written a thousand words or so about it?

Partially to acknowledge the mistake honestly, and to note how it was fixed.

Partially to demonstrate that there are people in publishing that will listen to your concerns, and that voicing them honestly may effect real change.

Mostly it’s for those people who warned me about Twitter coming for me. It’s for those people who get angry or scared because they’re afraid they’ll use the “wrong” term. It’s for those people who think the right thing to do is to double-down about what they intended and just saw things get worse.

Because they told me that listening to and engaging others would not be useful.

And they were wrong. You can act like a bigot and never mean to. Privelege can be invisible to you – but still lead you to cause real, unintended harm.

I’m here to tell you that if you’re willing to really listen, if you’re willing to put your ego to the side, to forget what you meant and focus on what was heard, if you’re willing to acknowledge the damage you did and willing to try to fix it…

…then you only have to fear making yourself a better person.

(11) ADVANCE NARRATIVE. io9’s Katherine Trendacosta gets a head start on disliking the next Potterverse offering in “JK Rowling Tackles the Magical History of America in New Harry Potter Stories”.

The idea that Salem cast a long shadow over American wizarding history is one that drives me crazy, by the way. First of all, there was a whole thing in the third Harry Potter book about witch burning being pointless because of the Flame-Freezing Charm. But thanks for showing people screaming in fire in the video anyway! Second of all, not to get all “America, fuck yeah!” on people, but please let’s not have the a whole story about the amazing British man saving America from its provincial extremists. Third of all, skin-walkers are a Native American myth, so let’s hope the white British lady approaches that with some delicacy.

 

(12) WORKING FOR A LIVING. Mindy Klasky adds to the alphabet for writers in “J is for Job” at Book View Café.

Other aspects of “job culture” bleed over into the life of a successful writer.

For example, writers maintain professional courtesy for other writers. They don’t savage other writers without good reason. (And even then, they make their attacks in the open, instead of lurking “backstage” in corners of the Internet where their victims can’t follow.) This doesn’t mean, of course, that all writers always must agree with all other writers at all times. Rather, disagreements should be handled with respect and professionalism.

Even more importantly, writers maintain professional courtesy for readers, especially reviewers. It’s impossible to publish a book and get 100% positive reviews. Some reviewers—brace yourself; this is shocking—get things wrong. They might not understand the fine points of the book an author wrote. They might mistake facts. They might have completely, 100% unreasonable opinions.

But the professional writer never engages reviewers. That interaction is never going to work in the author’s favor. The author might be considered a prima donna. He might attract much more negative attention than he ever would have received solely from the negative review. Even if the reviewer is completely absurd, engaging solely in ad hominem attacks, the writer is better off letting the absurdity speak for itself. The cost of interaction (especially including the time to engage) are just too high.

(13) RECURSIVE FILES. Camestros Felapton knows the thing fans are most interested in is…themselves.

I predict his graph of File 770 comment topics, “Trolling With Pie Charts”, will get about a zillion hits.

(14) THEY STUCK AROUND. The Washington Post’s “Speaking of Science” feature reports “Lizards trapped in amber for 100 million years may be some of the oldest of their kind”.

F2_large

Tree resin can be bad news for a tiny animal: The sticky tree sap can stop small creatures in their tracks, freezing them forever in time. But that’s good news for scientists. If you’ve ever seen “Jurassic Park,” you have some idea of how great tree resin is at preserving finicky soft tissues. The hardened amber can keep specimens remarkably intact for millions of years.

Now, scientists have examined a flight of lizards locked away in the stuff about 100 million years ago. Among the specimens is a tiny young lizard that could be the oldest chameleon ever found — a staggering 78 million years older than the previous record breaker. One of the geckos may be the most complete fossil of its kind and age. These and 10 other fossilized lizards are described in a paper published Friday in Science Advances.

(15) THE TATTOOINE BRASS. The Throne Room march from the original Star Wars movie as performed by a mariachi band!

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 2/24/16 Happy Jack Wasn’t Tall But He Was A Scroll

(1) PAID REVIEW WORTH IT? Jeb Kinnison evaluates Kirkus Reviews’ reception of sf.

So I was leery of spending my publisher’s money to get a Kirkus review done. The review was glowing, but without the coveted star that tends to get notice from other reviewers and purchasing agents. I was interested in how they had treated other genre books, so I did a quick survey.

It appears that in the past, Kirkus assigned reviewers who were less than sympathetic to the book’s genre and intended audience. This review [of GHOST by John Ringo] made me laugh: …

But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln? This is Ringo. His books aren’t likely to be accidentally purchased by people like the reviewer, so the review is useless for deciding which violent testosterone-infused male fantasy adventure book to buy for people who enjoy that sort of thing.

One of the best writers of science fiction and fantasy, Lois McMasters Bujold, never got a starred review from Kirkus. Here’s the summary of their review of middle Miles Vorkosigan in Mirror Dance: “A well-conceived series, solidly plotted and organized, though heavy going in places and, finally, lacking that spark of genuine originality that would blazon it as truly special.” Kind of missing the point, no?

(2) DOCTOR WHO PUN OPPORTUNITY. We ought to be able to do something with a character who is married to River, and whose series will be hstreamed on Amazon Prime beginning in March.

Welp, it wasn’t the longest of national nightmares, but now it appears it is over. Last week, I wrote about how and where you could watch Doctor Who following its abrupt pulling from streaming services on February 1 of this year. But it wasn’t to last, it seems; Amazon announced today via their Twitter that Series 1-8 of the show will be back on their Prime streaming service beginning in March.

(3) WHEN DID YOU FIRST SUSPECT? I got a kick out of Sarah A. Hoyt’s “Ten Signs That You Might Be A Novel’s Character” at Mad Genius Club. Number 10 and the Bonus sign are especially funny.

1- Nothing is ever easy, nor simple.  Say you are walking across the street to get a gallon of milk.  A rare make of car will almost run you down.  The store that sells the milk will be out of milk. You’ll have to walk across the most dangerous area of town to get to the next store.

This means someone is making you terminally interesting….

(4) FROM REJECTION TO ANGRY ROBOT. Peter Tieryas details “My Experience Publishing With Angry Robot” at Fantasy-Faction.

My journey to being a writer almost never happened. With my new book, United States of Japan, coming out, I wanted to reflect on how I got here and what it’s been like working with the fantastic Angry Robot Books.

Perfect Edge

Back in 2009, almost seven years before I joined the robot army, I’d gotten so many short story rejections, I wondered if I was even meant to be a writer. While I’d had a series of short stories published when I was younger, there’d been a gap of about five years where I’d only gotten one piece accepted. I was devastated when I received that issue and found all sorts of typos and formatting errors in my story. What I thought would be a brief moment of victory had been ruined…..

As the decision to publish was made by the whole of Angry Robot and Watkins Media staff, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It took USJ about four months to get to “acquisitions” which is the meeting where they make their choice to “acquire” or not. I got an email from Phil the week of the acquisition meeting telling me when it was going to happen. I could not sleep the night before and kept on hitting refresh on my emails, awaiting final word. The notification came from Phil on March 5, 2015 with a simple subject line: “You’re in.” Even though it was late, I got up and started dancing in what might be better described as an awkward fumbling of my hips.

(5) HOLLYWOOD READIES SF/F MOVIES. News of three different sf/f film projects appears in Deadline’s story “Ava DuVernay Set To Direct Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’; Script By ‘Frozen’s Jennifer Lee”.

EXCLUSIVE: Selma director Ava DuVernay has just been set by Disney to direct A Wrinkle In Time, an adaptation of the 1963 Newbery Medal-winning Madeleine L’Engle fantasy classic novel that has a script by Oscar-winning Frozen writer and co-director Jennifer Lee. Deadline revealed February 8 that DuVernay had been offered this film and was also in the mix at DreamWorks for Intelligent Life, a sci-fi thriller scripted by Colin Trevorrow and his Jurassic World collaborator Derek Connolly. DuVernay now has the offer on that film and is in negotiations on a pic that has 12 Years A Slave Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o attached to a fable about a UN worker in a department designed to represent mankind if there was ever contact with aliens, who falls for a mystery woman who turns out to be one. That film is produced by Frank Marshall, Trevorrow and Big Beach principals Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub.

(6) TRUST & SAFETY. Here’s Twitter’s announcement of the Trust & Safety Council in case you want more info, tweeted February 9. It lists all the members of the Council. (Somebody may have put that in a comment here already.)

As we develop products, policies, and programs, our Trust & Safety Council will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues more efficiently and quickly. In developing the Council, we are taking a global and inclusive approach so that we can hear a diversity of voices from organizations including:

  • Safety advocates, academics, and researchers focused on minors, media literacy, digital citizenship, and efforts around greater compassion and empathy on the Internet;
  • Grassroots advocacy organizations that rely on Twitter to build movements and momentum;
  • Community groups with an acute need to prevent abuse, harassment, and bullying, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

We have more than 40 organizations and experts from 13 regions joining as inaugural members of the Council. We are thrilled to work with these organizations to ensure that we are enabling everyone, everywhere to express themselves with confidence on Twitter.

(7) AXANAR SUIT DEVELOPMENT. Inverse discusses why “Paramount Must Explain ‘Star Trek’ in Court or Lose Ownership”.

Enter the lawyers. Obviously, they can claim to own Star Trek because they acquired the series from Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions in the late 1960s. Now they’ve been merged with CBS and that’s how we’re getting both a new TV series and a continuing film franchise. But the Axanar team has a card up its sleeve.

The Paramount lawsuit claims that this infringes upon “thousands of copyrights” and the Axanar team has asked the simple question: “Which ones?” Because Star Trek now exists over several different universes, time periods, and casts, it’s not so simple. The universe is so spread out, it is almost impossible to define what Star Trek actually is. To that end, the burden is on Paramount to explain what Star Trek is — in a legal sense.

(8) CLIFF AMOS OBIT. Louisville fan Cliff Amos passed away February 22 after a long battle with heart disease. Bob Roehm wrote a fine appreciation on Facebook:

Louisville fan Cliff Amos passed away February 22. Cliff was the founder of Louisville fandom, creating both the Falls of the Ohio Science Fiction Association (FoSFA) and RiverCon. I first met Cliff around 1970 while he was teaching a free university course in SF at the University of Louisville. We had both separately attended the St. Louis worldcon the year before, but had not met. Seeing an announcement of the Free U. meeting, I began attending the weekly gatherings. A year… or two later, the local fan club was organized and in 1975 Cliff chaired the first RiverCon (combined with DeepSouthCon that year). Cliff continued to head RiverCons for several years and was a regular at Midwestcon and Kubla Khan. He was given the Southern Fandon Confederation Rebel Award in 1979, and also chaired the second NASFiC, NorthAmeriCon, that year. His interests were certainly wide-ranging and eclectic (for example, he once appeared on Tom Snyder’s late night talk show as warlock Solomon Weir), and he will be missed by his many friends both within and without the science fiction community. There will no funeral service or visitation but a memorial wake is being arranged for the near future (probably this coming Sunday); details forthcoming.

(9) GAMBLE OBIT. Australian childrens’ book artist Kim Gamble passed away February 19 at the age of 63.

Tashi cover

The much-loved, award-winning artist is known for illustrating the best-selling Tashi books, written by mother and daughter authors Barbara and Anna Fienberg.

Gamble created the lively, elfin boy with the towering curl of hair and gypsy earrings, who looked nothing like the authors initially imagined, more than 20 years ago….

Anna Fienberg called Gamble’s imagination “a magic gift which he shared with the world”….

“Working with Kim was like learning a new way to see. It was perhaps the magical appearance of Tashi that inspired us to go deeper into the mythical land of dragons, witches, giants, ogres … the world lying beneath.”

…Gamble’s favourite book as a child was Moominsummer Madness, by Finnish writer Tove Jansson, and artists he admired included Marc Chagall and Odilon Redon.

When asked about the success of the Tashi series, Gamble said, “It’s very popular because he’s the smallest kid in the class and in every story he’s up against the odds … and he uses his head, he doesn’t fight to get out of the problem. I think kids really just enjoy how cleverness beats brawn.”

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born February 24, 1786 — Wilhelm Grimm, historian and, with his brother Jacob, compiler of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
  • Born February 24, 1947 — Edward James Olmos

(11) MORE MARK OSHIRO COMMENTARY. Mark Oshiro updated his Facebook readers about the response to his complaint about sexual harassment at ConQuesT.

3) MidAmeriCon II was the first to make a public statement, which you can find on their Twitter account. I wasn’t expecting a response from them, so I appreciated a very direct message about their commitment to safety for this year’s WorldCon. I *am* going to be at WorldCon, even if some of the people who were responsible at ConQuesT are on staff/the board. WorldCon has become a tradition for me because it was my first introduction to this community, so I will be there and be on programming. Say hello if you like!

4) Chris Gerrib was the first to apologize to me, and I appreciated and accepted the apology. I respect that he did so without being asked to.

5) Yesterday, Kristina Hiner sent me an apology. I am keeping it private because I see no reason to publish it. It is a *very* good apology, and I accepted it, too. I am very thankful for her response, and more so than anyone else, she was the only person I really *wanted* an apology from. I have also informed her that at this point, I actually don’t need each of the complaints followed up on at this point. It seems redundant to me. Everyone knows about the post now, and I don’t need an apology from anyone else. I just wanted someone to inform these people that their behavior was unwelcoming, rude, or hostile. I’ve now done that, so I think the board and ConQuesT can devote time and energy to future conventions instead of last year’s.

Mikki Kendall used the discussion about Oshiro to launch her post “On Bad Cons & How You Kill An Event in Advance”.

I get invited to a lot of cons that have a diversity problem. I also get a lot of requests from cons that claim to want to create anti harassment policies. Aside from my feelings on an expectation that I donate hours of work to strangers for events I have no interest in attending, there’s the sad reality that many small cons are so entrenched on reinventing the wheel they’ve missed the window to do better. Younger fans, fans of color, disabled fans…they don’t have to keep going to cons that aren’t welcoming to be able to connect with other fans. They can go to the big commercial cons, to the smaller cons that do get it & to social media for their community needs. So no, they won’t keep giving cons with bad reps chance after chance. They won’t be patient with serial offenders or the places that enable them. Why should they donate that time & energy to some place that doesn’t want them, that thinks they deserve to be hazed, deserve to be mistreated in order to prove something to bigots?

Bluntly? Most small cons will age out of existence because of bad behavior, because of a focus on the past that prioritizes the social mores of the dead over the actual experiences of the living.

(12) THE LIGHT’S BACK ON. The Wertzone says Pacific Rim 2 re-greenlit for 2018”.

It was on, off and now back on again. Universal and Legendary Pictures are moving ahead with Pacific Rim 2, probably for a 2018 release date….

This has unfortunately meant that Guillermo Del Toro will be unable to return to direct, having already moved on to other projects. However, Del Toro will still co-write (with Jon Spaihts) and produce the movie. The new director is Steven S. DeKnight, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer veteran who went on to create Spartacus and is currently working on Netflix’s Daredevil. The film will be DeKnight’s directorial debut.

(13) THIS COULD RUIN ANDY WEIR’S SEQUEL. This video argues we can reach relativistic speeds using new technologies.

Imagine getting to Mars in just 3 days… or putting points beyond our solar system within our reach. New propulsion technologies could one day take us to these cosmic destinations making space travel truly interstellar! NASA 360 joins Professor Philip Lubin, University of California Santa Barbara, as he discusses his NASA Innovative Advanced Concept (NIAC) for energy propulsion for interstellar exploration.

 

(14) ADMIT IT, YOU DO. Motherboard asks, “Why Do We Feel So Bad When Boston Dynamics’ New Robot Falls Down?”

Even though all the things the engineers do to mess with the robot are done to showcase its ability to correct itself, recover from falls, and persevere in performing tasks, the human tendency to anthropomorphize non-sentient objects is so strong as to override our common-sense knowledge that Atlas is an object incapable of feeling. Engineers commonly kick robots to demonstrate their ability to recover, and it always feels a tiny bit cruel. It’s a strange quirk of the brain—though the tendency is stronger in some people than in others.

(15) A LONG TIME AGO IN DOG YEARS. Some Sad Puppies writing on Facebook are grieved that I have not excerpted Stephanie S.’ “Opening a Moderate Conversation on Fandom with ‘Standback’” atThe Right Geek.

Let’s talk first about what I like to call the “pre-history” of the Sad Puppies. For the past fifteen years (at least), the character of fandom has shifted in a way that many Puppies find very troubling — and by the way, for the vast majority of our number, this has nothing to do with race, gender, or sexuality. A significant number of us are women who accept the precepts of first wave feminism at the very least. A number of us are “people of color.” And a number of us are gay or, at minimum, amenable to leaving gay people alone to live their lives as they see fit. No — what has disturbed the Puppies is the increasingly strident tone that many fans have adopted in support of their favored cultural and political causes. In our perception, the vague “codes of conduct,” the “shit lists,” the pilings on, the endless internet flame-wars, and the non-falsifiable accusations of racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. have all created an environment that is extraordinarily hostile to points of view that don’t hew to a particular left-wing party line. The result? We’ve felt unwelcome and stomped on for what, to our mind, should be recognized as sincere and well-meant differences of opinion.

Over the same time frame, the Puppies have also become concerned about the artistic direction of our field. The “Human Wave” movement, the “Superversive” movement, and the more generalized complaints about “message fic” and “grey goo” that started gaining steam before last year’s Sad Puppies campaign are all flailing attempts by the Puppies to describe the flatness we’ve perceived in many recent award winners — particularly in the shorter fiction categories, where the stylistic sophistication and emotional catharsis beloved by creative writing professors and MFA programs the world over appear to be crowding out more accessible stories with identifiable plots and recognizably science-fictional ideas.

(16) EDIT AND GET CREDIT. Michael J. Martinez singles out for praise and award consideration five editors who worked on his fiction in 2015.

Yes, these are editors I’ve worked with. Each one of them has contributed both to the quality of my work as well as my ever-ongoing education as a writer. They are also lovely humans, which goes a very long way with me.

(17) ANY SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY. Radio Times found a very funny site: “Someone is pretending to be the IT guy at Hogwarts and it’s hilarious”.

Let’s be honest: magic is great and everything, but if Hogwarts didn’t have WiFi, we probably wouldn’t be so interested.

A Tumblr account called The Setup Wizard took this premise and ran with it. The blog is the fictionalised account of an American muggle named Jonathan Dart working as Hogwarts’ first IT guy. The somewhat grumpy character is constantly solving problems and handling the struggles of being a Muggle in a magic world.

How is it that the first person in this school I’ve successfully been able to explain network bandwidth to is the 500 year old partially decapitated ghost?

Today I taught a centaur how to use a hands free Bluetooth headset. Apparently he really felt the need to make phone calls while wielding a bow and arrow.

[Thanks to Will R., Michael J. Walsh, Reed Andrus, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]