Pixel Scroll 4/9/19 In The Comments The Filers Come And Go Scrolling Pixelangelo

(1) MISSING SUPERHEROES FORMATION. The Wrap tells how “‘Avengers: Endgame’ Press Conference Leaves Seats Empty for Thanos’ Victims”.

In a cheeky nod to the end of “Infinity War,” Sunday’s press conference for the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” left several seats empty for the actors who played characters snapped into oblivion by Thanos.

“Post-Snap, there’s a few empty seats, so I’d like to welcome back the people that you see here onstage,” said “Iron Man” director and star Jon Favreau, who hosted the event.

Those who did make it included Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, “Endgame” directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Danai Gurira, Chris Hemsworth, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillan, Jeremy Renner, and “Captain Marvel” newcomer Brie Larson.

(2) CAPTAINS UMBRAGEOUS. Yahoo! Lifestyle brings us a sneak peek released yesterday on Good Morning America: “Marvel Released a New Clip from ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and Someone Isn’t Happy About Captain Marvel Joining the Team”.

(3) CELLAR DOOR (NOT INTO SUMMER). Empire posted an exclusive clip from the Tolkien biopic.

Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the “fellowship” apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels.

(4) INSPIRING CHART. The Book Smugglers host “Fran Wilde: A Map of Inspirations and Influences for RIVERLAND”. Wilde’s post begins —  

The last time I did an inspirations and influences post here, I drew you a literary family tree for Updraft. It got a little out of hand. (Carmina Burana and a taxidermied weasel qualify as out of hand.)

This time, for Riverland, which is my first middle grade novel, I drew you a map. …

(5) APOLOGIA FOR AO3. Slate’s Casey Fiesler tries to explain “Why Archive of Our Own’s Surprise Hugo Nomination Is Such a Big Deal”.

…But fan works, and the community that surrounds them, often don’t get the respect they deserve. So AO3’s nomination for the prestigious award—both for the platform itself and for the platform as a proxy for the very concept of fan fiction—is a big deal. Many, both inside and outside the sci-fi and fantasy community, deride fan fiction as mostly clumsy amateur works of sexual fantasy—critiques that, as those who have looked at them closely have pointed out, have a glaringly gendered component. Erotic fan fiction is part of the landscape—and, frankly, can be a wonderful part of it—but it’s about more than that. It’s about spending more time in the worlds you love and exploring characters beyond the page. It’s about speculating over how things could be different, just as good science fiction and fantasy does. And it’s also about critiquing source texts, pushing back against harmful narratives, and adding and correcting certain types of representation (including the ways women and LGBTQ people are portrayed in these genres).

(6) SHOOTING THE MOON. Christian Davenport in the Washington Post questions whether the administration’s goal of landing on the Moon in 2024 can be met, since the plan is based on a lunar orbital station that has not been built, much less contracted.  Davenport notes that Vice-President Pence “has dedicated more time to space than any other White House official since the Kennedy administration.” — “Trump’s moonshot: The next giant leap or another empty promise?”.

…NASA officials also face a major test of their agency’s effectiveness: Is this another empty promise by an administration nostalgic for the triumph of Apollo and looking to make a splash while in office, or can NASA somehow pull off what would be an audacious step just in time for the presidential election?

Already, there are signs that the White House’s plan is running into fierce head winds.

At a hearing Tuesday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), the chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, blasted Pence’s speech for lacking any details of how NASA would achieve what she called a “crash program” or what it would cost.

“We need specifics, not rhetoric,” she said. “Because rhetoric that is not backed up by a concrete plan and believable cost estimates is just hot air. And hot air may be helpful in ballooning, but it won’t get us to the moon or Mars.”

(7) EARLY LESSONS. Tobias Buckell tells about the famed magazine’s significance to him, and empathizes with those affected by its parent company’s recent bankruptcy filing, in “100 Years of Writer’s Digest (#WritersDigest100): Some Thoughts”.

…I did a keynote for Writer Digest conference in Cincinnati not too long ago. I really tried to kick my keynoting abilities up to a new level, and I think I was able to deliver. But while there, I met quite a few staff from Writers Digest. I really hope this ends well for them, as they were all excited about helping writers and celebrating books.

(8) SAY (SWISS) CHEESE! Science says we may know tomorrow: “Here’s what scientists think a black hole looks like” .

More than half a dozen scientific press conferences are set for 10 April, raising hopes that astronomers have for the first time imaged a black hole, objects with gravitational fields so strong that even light cannot escape. Although their existence is now almost universally accepted, mostly from the effect of their gravity on nearby objects, no one has actually seen one.

Black holes themselves are entirely dark and featureless. The giant ones at the centers of galaxies are also surprisingly small, despite containing millions or billions of times the mass of our sun. To make observing them yet more difficult, those giants are shrouded in clouds of dust and gas. But streams of superhot gas swirl around the holes, emanating radio waves about a millimeter in wavelength that can penetrate those clouds.

Two years ago, an international collaboration known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) corralled time on eight different radio telescopes around the world to try to image the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, known as Sagittarius A*, and another at the center of nearby galaxy M87. They used a technique known as interferometry to combine the output of the globally scattered instruments to produce images as if from a single dish as wide as Earth. A dish that large is needed to see the details of something that would fit easily within the orbit of Mercury and is 26,000 light-years away.

(9) MORE MCINTYRE MEMORIES. A lovely tribute to Vonda McIntyre by Arwen Curry, director of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin:

On camera in Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda keenly describes the moment when women began to make a space for themselves in science fiction and fantasy, and the controversy it stirred up. I recorded her during a vacation with Ursula and Charles Le Guin in the southeast Oregon desert on a blistering day — a day so hot that the camera overheated and we had to pause filming and cool off. I still feel a little guilty about the heat of that afternoon, and grateful that she endured it.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • April 9, 1960 – The Mercury Seven astronauts were introduced to the public.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 9, 1911 George O. Smith. He was an active contributor to Astounding Science Fiction during the Forties. His collaboration with the magazine’s editor, John W. Campbell, Jr. ended when Campbell’s first wife, Doña, left him in 1949 and married Smith. Ouch.  He was a prolific writer with eight novels and some seventy short stories to his name.  He was a member of the all-male dining and drinking club the Trap Door Spiders, which was the inspiration for Asimov’s the Black Widowers. (Died 1981.)
  • Born April 9, 1926 Hugh Hefner. According to SFE, he  had been an avid reader of Weird Tales when he was younger.  Perhaps as a result, Playboy came to feature stories from the likes of Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov,  Algis Budrys, Ray Bradbury,  Richard Matheson, James Blish,  Robert A Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Rod Serling.  Arthur C. Clarke’s “A Meeting with Medusa” which would first run here won a Nebula. (Died 2017.)
  • Born April 9, 1926 Avery Schreiber. Principal genre claim is being in Galaxina which parodied Trek, Star Wars and Alien. Other genre appearances included being a rider on a coach in Dracula: Dead and Loving It, the Russian Ambassador in More Wild Wild West and the voice ofBeanie the Brain-Dead Bison on the Animaniacs. (Died 2002.)
  • Born April 9, 1954 Dennis Quaid, 65. I’m reasonably sure that his first genre role was in Dreamscape as Alex Gardner followed immediately by the superb role of Willis Davidge in Enemy Mine, followed by completing a trifecta with Innerspace and the character of Lt. Tuck Pendleton. And then there’s the sweet film of Dragonheart and him as Bowen. Anyone hear of The Day After Tomorrow in which he was Jack Hall? I hadn’t a clue about it.
  • Born April 9, 1972 Neve McIntosh, 47. During time of the Eleventh Doctor, She plays Alaya and Restac, two  Silurian reptilian sisters who have been disturbed under the earth, one captured by humans and the other demanding vengeance. Her second appearance on Doctor Who is Madame Vastra, in “A Good Man Goes to War”.  Also a Silurian, she’s a Victorian crime fighter. She’s back in the 2012 Christmas special, and in the episodes “The Crimson Horror” and “The Name of the Doctor”. She reprises her role as Madame Vastra, who along with her wife, Jenny Flint, and Strax, a former Sontaran warrior, form an private investigator team. 
  • Born April 9, 1982 Brandon Stacy, 37. He worked on both of the new Trek films as a stand-in for Quinto with obviously the acting jones as he become involved in two of the Trek video fanfics, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier and Star Trek: Phase II, the latter in which he portrays Spock of course. 
  • Born April 9, 1990 Kristen Stewart, 29. She first shows up in our area of interest in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas as a Ring Toss Girl (ok, it wasn’t that bad a film). Zathura: A Space Adventure based off the Chris Van Allsburg book has her playing Lisa Budwing. Jumper based off the Stephen Gould novel of the same name had her in a minor role as Sophie. If you’ve not seen it, I recommend Snow White and the Huntsman which has her in the title role of Snow White. It’s a really great popcorn film. Finally she’s got a gig  in The Twilight Saga franchise as Bella Cullen. 
  • Born April 9, 1998 Elle Fanning, 21. Yes, she’s from that acting family. And she’s certainly been busy, with roles in over forty films! Her first genre film is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button followed by Astro Boy, Super 8MaleficentThe BoxtrollsThe Neon Demon, the upcoming Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and a recurring role on The Lost Room, a Cursed Objects miniseries that aired on Syfy. 

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Grimmy tries a familiar origin story on for size – and it doesn’t fit!

(13) BIGGEST BANG. The makers of the Top Sci-Fi Weapons infographic say —

Sci-fi movies aren’t complete if they don’t show highly advanced and destructive weapons. From lightsabers to photon torpedoes, they’ve been iconic on their own.

As these weapons caught our interest, we’ve put together the ultimate arsenal of reality-warping weapons in order to compare which is the most powerful sci-fi weapon in the universe.

This is not just random ranking. Would you believe we worked with physicists and engineers on this infographic.

(14) WAKANDA SOUND. Hear “Wakanda Funk Lounge” by SassyBlack at Bandcamp.

“Wakanda Funk Lounge” by SassyBlack, is a svelte slab of hologram funk delivered directly from the Black Panther nation of Wakanda. This four-song EP contains the chart-topping hits from that nation’s funk lounges, and rising star, SassyBlack.

SassyBlack is a queer “blaxploitation, sci-fi warrior queen” and is also a multi-talented, space-aged songwriter, beatmaker, composer and singer. Her music has been described as “electronic psychedelic soul,” with roots in experimental hip-hop, R&B, and jazz. Her voice has been compared to that of Ella Fitzgerald, Erykah Badu, and Georgia Anne Muldrow and her beats owe a debt to Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. Like Queen Latifah, she sings, raps, is an actor (who recently appeared on Broad City) and produces all her own music. Before going solo, she recorded and performed as half of the Afrofuturist hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction. Her music has received attention from Okayplayer, Afropunk, The Fader, Pitchfork, Bitch magazine and more.

Her brand new “Wakanda Funk Lounge” EP has been recently released as a 500-copy special-edition 7” single on Seattle hip-hop record label Crane City Music. The cover was designed by visual artist Wutang McDougal and each copy is pressed on colored vinyl and is individually numbered. The music is also available online on all major streaming services and can be purchased digitally through Bandcamp. It’s funky music that reminds us that Wakanda’s main export is “VIBE-ranium.” 

In describing the project, SassyBlack says that “Wakanda Funk Lounge is about black freedom. When I think of “Black Panther,” it is talking about black freedom, so much that we have our own secret space. What would be freer than a Wakanda funk lounge?”

This is not her first sci-fi or superhero-themed project. SassyBlack performed at 2018’s Emerald City Comic Con, and her 2016 full-length album, “No More Weak Dates” contains numerous references to Star Trek. In an interview with Hearst publication Shondaland, she explains her sci-fi fascination: “Star Trek and Star Wars have always had bars and concerts. There’s no culture without music… And so Black Panther’s M’Baku invites me to come and perform in one of Wakanda’s funk lounges. This EP is the music I perform there. And where it gets crazy is that I’m like, ‘Listen, I have to leave Wakanda now because I’m going to go join Starfleet.’ [laughs] It could technically work.”

(15) SEE SPACEX MISSION. NBC News: “SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket set for first commercial launch. Here’s how to watch it live online.”

Thirteen months after its maiden flight, SpaceX’s huge Falcon Heavy rocket is being readied for its first commercial launch on Wednesday.

The 230-foot-tall rocket is scheduled to lift off at 6:35 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This will be only the second flight for the world’s most powerful rocket now in operation.

(16) SPFBO ENTRY. Jessica Juby reviews Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #4 finalist Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon” at Fantasy-Faction.

…You’d be wrong if you thought this was going to be a light-hearted jaunt on airships. We’re quickly introduced to our rag-tag crew aboard the Liberty Wind, with plucky protagonist Serena and the chip on her shoulder, discovering their unique personalities. It’s not long into the story before things start going wrong, the pace immediately picks up and gives us a taste of what’s yet to fully unfold.

It’s commendable that the author strikes while the iron is hot and gets down and dirty within the first chapter…

(17) IN MEMORY NOT GREEN. Out of This World SFF Reviews’ Nick T. Borrelli delves into After the Green Withered  by Kristin Ward.

AFTER THE GREEN WITHERED is definitely a book with a relevant political and social message.  Author Kristin Ward does not pull any punches in this regard and the reader absolutely gets a taste of what the world could possibly be like if we continue down our current path with regard to how we are addressing environmental issues.  I’m a fan of dystopian SF like this one, and I thought that by and large the author did a solid job of creating an atmosphere that delved into the hopelessness that living under these conditions would obviously engender. 

(18) SERIES REVIVED. Joe Sherry heralds an author’s return to an iconic setting in “Mircoreview [book]: Alliance Rising, by C.J. Cherryh and Jane Fancher” at Nerds of a Feather.

Alliance Rising marks the return of C.J. Cherryh to her Alliance-Union Universe. It’s been ten years since the publication of Regenesis, and since then she’s published nine more Foreigner novels, but it’s been a long wait for Alliance-Union fans. Alliance Rising is the earliest novel set in the timeline. Set on the cusp of the Company Wars, there are plenty of references for long time Cherryh readers: Pell Station, Cyteen, the azi and the Emorys, the ship Finity’s End and its captain JR Neihart. Put together, the novel is grounded in a particular time and the edges of a setting that many readers are well familiar with even though no prior knowledge is required.

(19) KARMA CHAMELEON. To beat computer hackers, do cybercrime professionals need to change their Patronus? — “Should cyber-security be more chameleon, less rhino?”

Billions are being lost to cyber-crime each year, and the problem seems to be getting worse. So could we ever create unhackable computers beyond the reach of criminals and spies? Israeli researchers are coming up with some interesting solutions.

The key to stopping the hackers, explains Neatsun Ziv, vice president of cyber-security products at Tel Aviv-based Check Point Security Technologies, is to make hacking unprofitable.

“We’re currently tracking 150 hacking groups a week, and they’re making $100,000 a week each,” he tells the BBC.

“If we raise the bar, they lose money. They don’t want to lose money.”

This means making it difficult enough for hackers to break in that they choose easier targets.

And this has been the main principle governing the cyber-security industry ever since it was invented – surrounding businesses with enough armour plating to make it too time-consuming for hackers to drill through. The rhinoceros approach, you might call it.

But some think the industry needs to be less rhinoceros and more chameleon, camouflaging itself against attack.

(20) END OF AN ERA? BBC asks “Is ‘Game of Thrones’ the last great blockbuster TV show?” And I obligingly click…

As the fantasy saga returns for its final series, Chris Mandle asks whether the small screen will ever produce such a worldwide obsession again.

…In the US, season seven had an astonishing average viewership of 32.8 million people per episode – to put that in context, the finale of Mad Men, another critically acclaimed, much talked about prestige drama, pulled in 4.6 million US viewers in 2015 – while in recent years, interest in the show has surged in Asian markets, among others.

But while Thrones changed television, it’s also true that television itself changed during the show’s run. As the wars between the factions of Westeros’s Seven Kingdoms have raged, traditional television has been usurped by streaming services, non-linear viewing and ‘binge’ culture, where consumers, rather than wait patiently for an episode airing each week, are more used to having an entire season dropped in their lap to watch at their leisure.

What seems likely is that Game of Thrones’ swansong might also mark the end of TV’s monoculture era – the age of shows that everyone watches and talks about together. Certainly, nothing else that appears on traditional broadcasters seems primed to roll out on its scale….

(21) UNEXPECTED TRAIT. And he’s not the only one at the studio who has it — “Aphantasia: Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says ‘my mind’s eye is blind'”.

The former president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios says he has a “blind mind’s eye”.

Most people can close their eyes and conjure up images inside their head such as counting sheep or imagining the face of a loved one.

But Ed Catmull, 74, has the condition aphantasia, in which people cannot visualise mental images at all.

And in a surprising survey of his former employees, so do some of the world’s best animators.

Ed revolutionised 3D graphics, and the method he developed for animating curved surfaces became the industry standard.

He first realised his brain was different when trying to perform Tibetan meditation with a colleague.

(22) TIME FOR SILVERBERG. Rob Latham discusses “Temporal Turmoil: The Time Travel Stories of Robert Silverberg” at LA Review of Books.

… But throughout his career, Silverberg returned obsessively to one of the genre’s key motifs — time travel — upon which he spun elaborate and strikingly original variations. During his New Wave heyday, when he was one of the preeminent American SF writers, he produced six novels dealing centrally with themes of temporal transit or displacement — The Time Hoppers (1967), Hawksbill Station (1968), The Masks of Time (1968), Up the Line (1969), Son of Man (1971), and The Stochastic Man (1975) — his treatment of the topic ranging from straightforward adventure stories to heady philosophical disquisitions. The new collection Time and Time Again: Sixteen Trips in Time (Three Rooms Press, 2018), which gathers 16 stories published between 1956 and 2007, provides a robust — and very welcome — conspectus of Silverberg’s short fiction on the subject….

(23) NO SPARKLES. BBC wants to explain “What unicorns mean to Scottish identity”.

From Edinburgh to St Andrews and Glasgow to Dundee, the one-horned mythological horse is real in Scotland.

In a corner of Edinburgh, outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse with its witches’ hat towers and crenellated turrets, 74-year-old tour guide Kenny Hanley can often be found pointing to a little piece of magic atop an ornamental gateway at the residence’s southern approach.

The focus of his attention is an almost-forgotten stone emblem of the city and country in which he lives, and yet few realise it’s one that teems with meaning, telling an almost unbelievable story about Scotland’s national identity.

Take a step back, and the fuller picture emerges. There’s a second cast-stone figure opposite – a rampant lion, crowned, and holding a ceremonial flag as it stands guard. But Hanley’s gaze remains drawn to the slender, mythical creature wrapped in chains to our right.

The stone is just stone and the lion is just a lion, but this horse-like figure – adorned with a singularly fancy horn on its forehead – is extraordinary. It is a unicorn. And, believe the hype or not, it is Scotland’s national animal.

…“It’s long been a symbol of purity and power, but also of virginity and subtlety,” said Hanley, who works as a Blue Badge guide for the Scottish Tourist Guides Association. “And those values still stand up when thinking about Scotland today. These are characteristics embedded in the Scottish psyche.”

…According to the National Museum of Scotland, medieval legend further suggests only a king could hold a unicorn captive because of the supposed danger it posed, something that may have given rise to its widespread adoption. What is known is James II wholeheartedly embraced the legend, and the unicorn became the symbol of purity and power that Scottish kings and nobility identified with in the 15th Century. Over time, this led to the unicorn becoming officially recognised as Scotland’s national animal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint, who wears his scrolls rolled.]

Pixel Scroll 11/18/18 Concentrate And Scroll Again

(1) PETER BEAGLE’S UNICORN. The Atlantic celebrates 50 years in print for The Last Unicorn, “One of the Best Fantasy Novels Ever Is Nothing Like The Lord of the Rings.

Beagle frequently subverts fantasy tropes. Prince Lir tries to win the unicorn’s heart by deeds of derring-do, but she is unimpressed. In fact, Lir does not end up with the unicorn. And in the novel, mortality is preferable to immortality; Haggard, who quests after immortality, is defeated. Schmendrick’s greatest wish is to end the curse of immortality placed on him by his mentor. The unicorn, in a brief brush with mortality, gains the ability to regret, and she is better off for it. In The Last Unicorn, it’s the earthly things, the things that make one human, that are the things worth having.

(2) KOBE’S HOLLYWOOD. In “The Revisionist”, the Washington Post’s Kent Babb reports that Kobe Bryant is hiring a staff to develop his fantasy world, known as “Granity.”  A podcast about the fantasy world, “The Punies,” currently exists and YA novels and an animated series are in development.

In Bryant’s office, “affixed to panels are renderings of maps and terms from ‘Granity,’ Bryant’s imaginary world that’s not unlike the Marvel Universe or George R.R. Martin’s Westeros.  There are sketches and meticulously designed artifacts that seem to make sense only in Bryant’s mind:gods of emotions, stories that blend fantasy and sports, that eternal battle not between good and evil but between love and fear.”

Also, “inside the safe in the closet (in his house) are his three most prized possessions:  a first-edition Harry Potter signed by J.K. Rowling, a series of autographed books by George R.R. Martin, the ‘Dear Basketball’ score signed by John Williams.”

“If you look at all the potential stories — how the home is constructed, the family that lives there — there are infinite possibilities,” he says, and the notion struck him so profoundly, so personally, that in that moment he began imagining a fictional world in which his ideas could take shape. He would call that world “Granity,” and existing there would be characters who — like some of Bryant’s favorites: Darth Vader, Severus Snape, Jaime Lannister — are horrifying at times, charming at others.

As this flight begins its descent, he suggests no compelling character is entirely good or bad; that a storyteller’s duty is to draw out the full story and take every belief, emotion and motivation into account.

“You have things within you that are festering,” he says. “We all do.”

(3) MORE OLD PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll turns the geezer panel loose on “The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery by Catherynne M. Valente”. Can they dig it?

And so we reach the end of the first half of this project with The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery by Catherynne M. Valente. First published in issue #200 of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Master Peek was a finalist for the 2017 Eugie Foster Memorial Award. This, in fact, is why I selected it. But will my readers agree with the taste of the Foster jury?

The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery can be read here.

(4) THE FUTURE KING IN YELLOW. In “Some Achieve Greatness” at Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett revisits the youth of a well-known sff author. Can you guess who it is before he tells you?

Let me quote from a speech made at the 1983 Disclave by one of the authors attending that con (for the record the text of this speech was reprinted in Bill Bower’s fanzine, Outworlds #34). Our mystery author begins thus:

I have been to Disclave before. Once. That was why I was so pleased when Alan Huff asked me to come east. Because it so happens that I attended the 1971 Disclave, and it so happens that it was my very first SF convention.

Interesting… Go on mystery author:

Maybe a few of you were here in ’71 too. If so, maybe you remember me. I looked a little different back then. My hair was shoulder length, just like everyone else’s, but I was still clean-shaven, I didn’t stop shaving until 1974. Even then, I was a snappy dresser. In fact, I was a hell of a lot snappier. As I recall, I wore my Psychedelic Hippie Pimp outfit to the con: ankle boots with zippers, burgundy bell-bottoms, a bright solid green tapered body shirt, a black satin scarf, and — the piece de resistance — my famous double-breasted pin-striped mustard-yellow sports jacket. Perhaps now you veterans recall me. I was the one wandering around the con suite doing permanent retinal damage

(5) EXOPLANET HUNTER. Engadget keeps watch as “NASA bids Kepler ‘goodnight’ with last set of commands”:

(6) FLOGGING IT TO THE FINISH LINE. There’s a theory that “George R.R. Martin Is Now ‘In Hiding’ To Finish ‘Winds Of Winter’”.

The Winds of Winter has turned into a real pickle — an ambitious monster that he says is “not so much a novel as a dozen novels, each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players, antagonists, allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together against the march of time in an extremely complex fashion. So it’s very, very challenging.”

But he’s really hunkering down now, and that fact should chill his legions of impatient fans. After all, he’s said that he finished A Dance with Dragons by disappearing “in a bunker,” so this may simply be business as usual.

(7) JUST LIKE THE HUGOS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In something of a first, ranked choice voting (which should be familiar to Hugo voters) has made a difference in a US House election. (CNN: “Democrats flip another House seat after ranked-choice runoff in Maine”). Current Representative Bruce Poliquin received a small plurality over challenger Jared Golden in Maine’s 2nd District—46.2% to 45.6%, with the remaining 8.2% split between two other candidates.

However, since no candidate had achieved a majority, Maine’s new ranked choice voting system kicked in. After progressively eliminating the fourth and third place candidates and redistributing their votes to each voter’s second choices, Golden pulled ahead and ended up winning by about one percentage point (50.5% to 49.5%).

Poliquin had sought a temporary restraining order to prevent counting the ranked-choice votes, calling into question the constitutionality of this sort of voting system. The process was put in place in Maine when voters approved a referendum in 2016, and this appears to be its first big test. Poliquin has pledged to continue his legal challenge of the constitutionality of ranked choice voting.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 18, 1923 – Alan Shepard, Pilot and Astronaut who became the first American to travel into space in 1961, in the Project Mercury flight spacecraft Freedom 7. He commanded the Apollo 14 mission, and at age 47, was the oldest person to have walked on the Moon (where he teed up and hit two golf balls). He received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Together with the other surviving Mercury astronauts, and Betty Grissom, Gus Grissom’s widow, in 1984 he founded the Mercury Seven Foundation (now the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation), which raises money to provide college scholarships to science and engineering students. He and fellow astronaut Deke Slayton collaborated with two journalists on the book Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon, which was made into a TV miniseries. (Died 1998.)
  • Born November 18, 1936 – Suzette Haden Elgin, Linguist, Writer and Poet who, for creating the engineered language Láadan for her Native Tongue science fiction series, is considered an important early contributor to constructed languages in the field of science fiction. Her other notable series are the Ozark Trilogy and the Coyote Jones series; themes in her works include feminism and peaceful coexistence with nature. In 1978 she founded the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) to promote and recognize speculative poetry; the organization continues to this day, and gives out the annual Rhysling and Dwarf Stars Awards for long, short, and micro poems, as well as the Elgin Awards named for her, which recognize poetry collections. (Died 2015.)
  • Born November 18, 1939 – Margaret Atwood, 79, Writer, Teacher, Poet, and Critic from Canada whose most famous genre works are undoubtedly the dystopian Clarke Award-winning The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been made into a Saturn-nominated TV series, and the post-apocalyptic MaddAddam trilogy. Her works straddle numerous literary boundaries, include various themes such as feminism and environmentalism, and have received a multitude of awards, including the Booker Prize.
  • Born November 18, 1950 – Michael Swanwick, 68, Writer and Critic whose career started with such a bang in 1980 that he was a finalist for Campbell for Best New Writer. He has written a number of novels and hundreds of short fiction works, winning numerous Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, and Prix Imaginaire Awards. He has also produced several nonfiction critical works, including the Hugo nominees Being Gardner Dozois and Hope-in-the-Mist: The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees. He has been Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, including the 2016 Worldcon.
  • Born November 18, 1950 – Eric Pierpoint, 68, Actor who has the distinction of appearing in guest roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise (CBS, get on that!). Other genre appearances include a recurring role on Alien Nation, and guest parts on Babylon 5, Sliders, Time Trax, Seven Days, Medium, and Surface, and the films Invaders from Mars, Forever Young, Liar Liar, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
  • Born November 18, 1952 – Doug Fratz, Scientist, Writer, Editor, Critic, and Fan, who was a prolific reviewer, and editor of the fanzine Crifanac and the semiprozine Thrust (later renamed Quantum), which was a 5-time Hugo finalist. Mike Glyer’s tribute to him is here. (Died 2016.)
  • Born November 18, 1953 – Alan Moore, 65, Writer and Graphic Novelist who is famous for his comic book work, including the renowned series Watchmen (for which he won a Hugo in 1988), the Prometheus Award-winning V for Vendetta, the Stoker Award winners The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Neonomicon, the World Fantasy Award-winning A Hypothetical Lizard, and the International Horror Guild Award-winning From Hell. He has received innumerable Eisner Awards, was named to the Eisner Award Hall of Fame, and was given a Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • Born November 18, 1961 – Steven Moffat, 57, Writer, Director, and Producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. His first Doctor Who script was for The Curse of Fatal Death, a Comic Relief charity production that you can find on Youtube and which I suggest you go watch right now. He also co-wrote The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, a most excellent animated film. His Doctor Who episodes have deservedly won three Hugo Awards and another 12 nominations, and the Sherlock series won a British Fantasy Award.
  • Born November 18, 1967 – Lyda Morehouse, 51, Writer, Critic and Fan who has written the Archangel Protocol cyberpunk series (the fourth book of which received a Philip K. Dick Special Citation) under her own name, and several fantasy mystery series under the pen name Tate Hallaway. In 2002, Archangel Protocol was the first science fiction/fantasy novel ever to win a major mystery award – a Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America. She is a member of The Wyrdsmiths, a Minneapolis writer’s group, and was Guest of Honor at Minicon 53.
  • Born November 18, 1970 – Peta Wilson, 48, Actor from Australia who played Wilhelmina “Mina” Harker in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, and had roles in Superman Returns and an episode of the Highlander series. Though The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was not well-received, she received a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role.
  • Born November 18, 1981 – Maggie Stiefvater, 37, Writer of YA fiction, she currently has two series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls and The Raven Cycle. With her sister, Kate Hummel, she writes and records a piece of music for each novel she publishes, which are released in the form of animated book trailers. Her works have earned numerous Mythopoeic nominations, a Stoker nomination, and a Prix Imaginaire.

(9) WORDS MATTER. Never thought of it that way.

(10) UNDERSTANDING CAMPBELL. It’s the LA Times’ turn to review Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee. Scott Bradfield does the honors in “John W. Campbell, a chief architect of science fiction’s Golden Age, was as brilliant as he was problematic”.

These stories were written, or published and conceived into existence, by the undoubtedly great and incomprehensibly peculiar John W. Campbell Jr., who single-handedly designed many of the ways we saw the future then and continue to see it now. Born in Newark, N.J., in 1910, he was raised by combative parents who embodied the extremes of their son’s divided personality: his father, an engineer with Bell Telephone, stressed rationality, planning and control over emotions, while his mother was a wild, tantrum-prone woman who couldn’t be controlled so much as fought “to a draw.” After their divorce, Campbell grew up, like many writers, unhappy, lonely and distressed; he often felt like a disappointment to his father, and his mother’s unpredictable cruelties instilled in him a deep sense of panic about a world that couldn’t be adequately rationalized or controlled.

…Despite an aimless early life, Campbell eventually stumbled onto the job he was born to do — long before anybody realized it was a job worth doing. Until Campbell came along, the pulps were edited by company men who felt little if any personal affection for the stories they published. But in 1937, when Campbell accepted the editor’s chair at Astounding Stories (which he quickly renamed Astounding Science Fiction), he became the first SF fan to shape the genre he loved; and almost immediately he discovered that exploring futuristic ideas for his stories was not nearly so pleasurable as passing those ideas onto others. “When I was a writer,” he told his youthful discovery, Isaac Asimov, “I could only write one story at a time. Now I can write fifty stories at a time.”

(11) ORIGIN EPISODES AVAILABLE. YouTube’s Origin follows a group of passengers lost in space— each of them desperate to escape their past. In the first episode —

The passengers wake up on board the Origin, abandoned in space. They search for other survivors, but find something else entirely.

In the second episode —

A tense showdown prompts a difficult decision. Shun and Lana realise that the threat could be nearer than any of them thought.

(12) IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS. Some sff goodies available now on eBay –

(13) BIG-TICKET ITEM. Or you may need to save your spare change for this iconic outfit: “Skimpy Star Trek costume worn by Captain James T. Kirk for the first inter-racial kiss on TV is set to sell for £46k”.

A Star Trek costume worn by captain James T. Kirk for the first inter-racial kiss on TV goes under the hammer with an estimate of £46,000 in California next month.

The Grecian robe, right, was worn when actor William Shatner embraced Lieutenant Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, in the 1968 episode Plato’s Stepchildren.

(14) FROZEN GAME ON THE HORIZON. “Disney deepens its footprint in mobile gaming, teams up with game publisher Jam City”CNBC has the story.

Walt Disney entered a multi-year games development partnership with leading mobile gaming company Jam City, continuing the Mouse House’s foray into gaming and heightening expectations over the booming sector.

Under the terms of a deal announced last week, Jam City will be taking over the Glendale, California-based mobile game studio in charge of Disney’s “Emoji Blitz” – a hugely popular mobile game Disney released in July 2016.

The deal also means that Jam City now holds the rights to develop new games based on elements from Disney’s Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studio brands. The first planned collaboration between the two companies is expected to be a game based on Disney’s “Frozen” sequel.

(15) BORN UNDER LEO. Low Earth Orbit could be about to get a lot more crowded. SpaceX has an ambitious plan to put a very large constellation of LEO satellites to handle internet traffic. They’d already gotten approval to emplace thousands of them, and have recently gotten FCC approval for the remainder (The Verge: “FCC approves SpaceX’s plan to launch more than 7,000 internet-beaming satellites”). Several hurdles remain, of course.

The Federal Communications Commission has approved SpaceX’s request to launch a constellation of 7,518 satellites into orbit, a major regulatory hurdle the company needed to clear in its plans to provide internet coverage from space. The approval is in addition to one that SpaceX received from the FCC in March for a constellation of 4,425 satellites. That means the company now has permission to launch its full satellite internet constellation called Starlink, which adds up to nearly 12,000 spacecraft.

[…] SpaceX’s approvals are conditional, though. In order to bring each mega-constellation into full use, the company needs to launch half of the satellites within the next six years. That means the clock is ticking to get nearly 6,000 satellites into orbit by 2024. SpaceX says it will launch its first batch of Starlink satellites in 2019.

So far, SpaceX has only launched two test satellites for the constellation — TinTin A and B. […]

Above all, it’s clear that the satellites in these large constellations will need to be taken out of orbit — reliably and on time — in order to keep the space environment a safe place for spacecraft to operate. In a recent study, NASA estimated that 99 percent of these satellites will need to be taken out of orbit within five years of launch. Otherwise the risk of in-space collisions will increase dramatically.

(16) THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Saturday Night Live proves you can hear laughter in space.

An unexpected chain of events occurs while Captain Ed McGovern (Steve Carell) live streams from the International Space Station to children’s classrooms across America.

 

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

Pixel Scroll 4/9/17 Ruler of the Pixelgram

(1) SUCCESSFUL CHARITY EVENT. Tom Edwards, one of the best cover designers in science fiction, teamed up with Parkinson’s UK and Keystroke Medium to raise money for Parkinson’s research. Three premade covers by Edwards, as well, as an editing package by Ellen Campbell, went to auction on April 8 and brought in almost 4000 pounds / $5000 US.

Sample cover

(2) FAKE NEWS PIONEER. His role was created to encourage U.S. support for Britain prior to America’s entry into WWII — “Louis deWohl: The Astrologer Who Helped Foil Hitler”.

Then, in June 1941, one of de Wohl’s more detailed predictions seemed to come true. “A strong collaborator of Hitler who is neither German nor a Nazi will go violently insane,” he foretold. “He will be in South or Central America, probably near the Caribbean Sea.” Three days later, U.S. newswires proclaimed that the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies, Admiral Georges Robert, had gone insane and had to be restrained by staff. The New York Post reported that newspaper editors across America “besieged de Wohl with requests for exclusive stories.” The astrologer possessed a mysterious ability to know the unknowable, and millions of Americans wanted to know more.

The way it worked behind the facade was masterful. The British spy agency first fed information to de Wohl, which he would write up in his column. In turn, MI5 would then feed the bogus information to the U.S. press. Unable to fact-check details with the Third Reich, the American press would report the news as real, which it was not. For example, the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies never went insane.

(3) TINGLE TIME AGAIN. Almost a year ago, UrsulaV wrote a series of tweets in the style of Dr. Seuss after Chuck Tingle played Vox Day, who had slated him onto the Hugo ballot. File 770’s unofficial motto is “It’s always news to somebody” – usually me – and besides, this news is practically fresh again, with Tingle renominated and pranking the porn author who replaced him on Vox’s slate.

(4) NESFA STORY CONTEST. The New England Science Fiction Association is looking for entries in its annual story contest.

Do you like to write science fiction or fantasy stories? Are you an aspiring writer, but not sure if you’re ready for the big time? Then you’re just the kind of writer we’re looking for! The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA for short) is running a writing contest. Prizes include free books, and a grand prize of a free membership to Boskone. More important though is that we offer free critiques of your work. Our goal is to help young & aspiring writers to improve their writing, so you can become our new favorite writer! Check out our website for details:

http://www.nesfa.org/awards/storycon.html

We welcome submissions from everyone, in every country in the world (as long as it’s written in English, please!). Women, people of color, LGBTQ writers, and members of other underrepresented groups are encouraged to enter the contest.

(5) AH ROMANCE. The shortlist for the Romance Writers of America’s 2017 RITA and Golden Heart Awards was announced March 21. Here are the finalists of genre interest.

The RITA Award – “the highest award of distinction in romance fiction” — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.

Paranormal Romance

  • Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert Harlequin, Nocturne Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor
  • The Beast by J R Ward New American Library Kara Welsh, editor
  • The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant Self-published Mary Moran, editor
  • Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood Harlequin, Nocturne Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor
  • Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella Montlake Publishing Alison Dasho, editor
  • The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre Self-published Sasha Knight, editor
  • The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy Kensington Publishing Corp. Peter Senftleben, editor
  • Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper Pocket Books Abby Zidle, editor

The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.

Paranormal Romance

  • “Beryl Blue, Time Cop” by Janet Halpin
  • “Bless Your Heart and Other Southern Curses” by Heather Leonard
  • “Constant Craving” by Kari W. Cole
  • “Fire’s Rising” by Grace Adams
  • “The Mer Chronicles: Love’s Diplomatic Act” by Kate Ramirez
  • “Soul Affinity” by A. Y. Chao

Award winners will be announced on July 27 at the 2017 RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida.

(6) MESSAGE FICTION. Bleeding Cool reports “Marvel Artist Ardian Syaf Hid Anti-Christian And Jewish Messages In This Week’s X-Men Comic”. The political background to the references is:

In Indonesia, 212 is the number used to denote a specific mass protest from 2nd December last year. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims marched against the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok,, over allegations of blasphemy regarding his use of the Qu’ran in campaigning against opponents. The march was organised, in part, with the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa. It was pretty hardline conservative and the protest demanded the government prosecute and jail Ahok based on the council’s fatwa, declaring him to be a blasphemer. This year, a 212 2.0 march with similar aims was held on the 21st of February.

(You can see the artwork at the link.)

The information comes from sources including this public Facebook post by an Indonesian comics reader:

Dear Marvel Comics My name is Haykal, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia And I would like to inform you something about your recent comics, X-Men Gold.

…I found out that on X-Men Gold comic, there’s a subliminal message of hatred towards minorities It was done by this person, a Muslim penciller from Indonesia https://www.facebook.com/ArdianSyafComicArt/

And he’s using your comics to spread hatred against non muslim minorities in Indonesia.

The “QS 5:51” on Colossus shirt refers to the Quran verse used by Muslim extremists to discriminate against the current governor which is also one of the governor candidates in the current election in Jakarta, Indonesia. https://quran.com/5/51

Bleeding Cool has since reported that Ardian Syaf was unwilling to discuss the issue with them.

Meanwhile, Marvel has made a statetment via Comicbook.com.

“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.”

Comicbook.com notes –

No further details were provided concerning how exactly Marvel will discipline Syaf. Preview art suggests that Syaf has already completed work on X-Men Gold #2, which releases on April 19. Syaf is also one of three announced rotating artists on X-Men Gold, along with RB Silva and Ken Lashley, so it may be some time before fans know for certain if he will returning to X-Men Gold.

And if you want to take a deep dive into this, Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson has a post up — Here is What Quran 5:51 Actually Says.

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Unicorn Day

What mythological creature has been more beloved over the centuries than the unicorn? Symbols of purity and enchantment, unicorns are loved by both children and adults alike and are integral parts of many fairy tales and legends. For all the roles they’ve played in literature, cinematography, and art as a whole, unicorns more than deserve their own day!

Unicorns were mentioned as far back as antiquity—ancient Greek writers believed they lived in the faraway and exotic country of India, which was then largely unknown to Europeans. However, the unicorn was then thought to be a powerful, fierce animal that was not to be meddled with. In the Middle Ages, the unicorn’s image was based greatly on Bible passages that were thought to speak of these animals, and unicorns slowly came to be seen as a symbol of strength, the purest kind of love, and the pets of virgin women. In fact, there is even a sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding a unicorn on her lap and patting it in Warsaw’s National Museum. Thus, unicorns have been appearing in works of literature for thousands of years. The most prominent more modern examples include Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and The Last Battle by S.C. Lewis. The whole immensely popular My Little Pony franchise is also based on unicorns.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 9, 1959 — NASA introduced the first seven astronauts to the press.

(9) BIG FINISH. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan interviews director Nacho Vigilando, whose film Colossal is a fusion of kaihu eige and romantic comedy that will be released this Friday.

Q: In that film [7:35 in the Morning], you critique the cliches of the movie musical by staging a song-and-dance number in a diner with seemingly ordinary people. “Extraterrestrial” plays with the tropes of the alien invasion movie. In “Colossal,” you do something similar with the genre of the monster movie. What’s so fascinating about genre cinema?

A: The moment in “Colossal” that sums up what you’re talking about is when Gloria calls her ex-boyfriend, because she wants to talk about this monster that is invading South Korea. And he responds by asking, “Why are you calling so late? That happened early this morning.” He thinks that means she has spent the whole day just sleeping. I’m really attracted to the idea of playing inside these sandboxes, in which everybody in the audience knows the rules. Our expectations of these films become part of the show somehow. I admire Superman, but am I a kind person all the time, the way Superman is? How can I relate to a character who has an “S” on his chest, since there are moments in my life when I behave like an a—— to other people?

(10) COUNTING THE PUPPIES. Greg Hullender has written up his analysis of the 2017 Puppy vote at Rocket Stack Rank“Slating Analysis: 2017”. He says, “I get a slightly higher number than you did: 88-118. I make up for that with some cool graphs.”

Now that the 2017 Hugo Awards Finalists lists have come out, we can estimate how many slate voters there were. By our calculations, there were between 88 and 118 of them. This is just slightly higher than Mike Glyer’s estimate of  “80 to 90”. When the detailed statistics are available in August, we’ll make a more precise estimate, using the methods we used in our article Slate Voting Analysis Using EPH Data: 2014-2016

(11) A THREE BLACK HOLE RATING. The Guardian shares Jay Rayner’s brutal review of Le Cinq, Paris, a Michelin 3-star restaurant.

Other things are the stuff of therapy. The canapé we are instructed to eat first is a transparent ball on a spoon. It looks like a Barbie-sized silicone breast implant, and is a “spherification”, a gel globe using a technique perfected by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli about 20 years ago. This one pops in our mouth to release stale air with a tinge of ginger. My companion winces. “It’s like eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s,” she says. Spherifications of various kinds – bursting, popping, deflating, always ill-advised – turn up on many dishes. It’s their trick, their shtick, their big idea. It’s all they have. Another canapé, tuile enclosing scallop mush, introduces us to the kitchen’s love of acidity. Not bright, light aromatic acidity of the sort provided by, say, yuzu. This is blunt acidity of the sort that polishes up dulled brass coins.

Do you think we could get a Kickstarter funded if he turned his jaded eye in the direction of the Puppies Forbidden Thoughts anthology?

(12) CRETACEOUS TASTINESS. When you hear a bell, think of tacos — TriceraTACOs, that is.

(13) THE PLANE TRUTH. John Scalzi does not get enough credit for his restraint.

(14) IN MEDEA RACE. “The Ballad of Maui Hair” is practically a companion piece to “The Anthem Sprinters.” These tweets just begin to set the scene:

(15) SONG AND DANCE MAN. In 1993, Christopher Walken appeared on Saturday Zoo with Jonathan Ross (who later got uninvited as toastmaster of the 2014 Worldcon in historic record time.) Walken gave an inimitable reading of “The Three Little Pigs.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Rev. Bob for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Pixel Scroll 2/26/16 The Prisoner of Shadowban

(1) SHORTLIST TRUTHS. At The Hysterical Hamster Ian Mond asks “What Are Award Shortlists For? No… really… please tell me… I want to know….”

What are award shortlists for?

Obviously their main purpose is to recognize and celebrate the best works published in a specific timeframe and a given context.  That celebratory aspect, in particular, is reflected in my Facebook and Twitter feeds moments after a shortlist is announced as friends, rightly, congratulate the nominees.

But once people have provided virtual pats on the back to the finalists, once the glow of platitude and praise has dimmed, what purpose does an award shortlist serve?  Is it there to be read?  Is it there to spark conversation?  Is it there to further the debate – what there is of it – about the genre?

I ask because this week the Kitschies, one of my favorite awards, announced its list of nominees.  When I reported this on my blog earlier in the week I applauded the diversity on the list – both in terms of gender and race – and the fact that there was a distinct lack of multi-series books present (a particular peccadillo of mine).  I also made the throwaway remark that given the winners are announced on March 7 I wouldn’t have the time to read the nominees

(2) THE LATEST AND EARLIEST NEWS ABOUT ELLISON. Mary Reinholz’ interview in the Pasadena Weekly covers “‘Fire-bringing’ Harlan Ellison, one of America’s greatest short story writers, on protecting his work, L. Ron Hubbard, Octavia Butler, and why he will never stop writing.”

“Since the stroke, my right side is still paralyzed, but I can still type with two fingers,” he says during a recent call to his hillside home off Mulholland Drive. “I still get around. I get up and get into the wheelchair. I went to a [science fiction] convention in St. Louis and they all seemed to take it well. No one stoned me, even though I have this reputation of being a tough old bagel that’s hard to chew. A couple of times, I’ve done (spoken word) recordings. But mostly I lie in bed and watch the ceiling.”

…Ellison also remains deeply wedded to his work. December saw the hardcover publication of “Can & Can’tankerous,” which includes previously uncollected short stories and a tribute to Ray Bradbury, and in September the ninth edition of “Ellison Wonderland” was released; the collection was first published 52 years ago.

A third Ellison biography is expected to be published next year. It’s an authorized one written by Nat Segaloff, who has penned several books about Hollywood royalty, the latest on director John Huston. In “Dreams with Sharp Teeth,” a 2008 documentary directed by Erik Nelson, there are interviews with Ellison who admits he once sent a dead gopher to a publisher in the mail and others with his deceased crony Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014.

…Ellison, whom the Washington Post has called “one of America’s greatest living short story writers,” joined the bloody 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a friend and mentor of the late African-American novelist Octavia E. Butler, the first black woman to achieve international prominence within the largely white male bastion of science fiction writing. She grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood of Pasadena. Ellison was one of three people to whom Butler dedicated her 1994 book “Mind of My Mind.”

Butler, who died in 2006 at 58, was an unknown young writer when she first met Ellison at a workshop. “She was one of my students and came to me as part of a (program) the Writers Guild had decided to put together to bring in Latino and black female outsiders,” he recalls. “She came to me with a story. I took a look at it and knew how good it was. We talked about it and workshopped it and it went on from there. I was just one step on her way up. She did it all herself. She was a stalwart woman.”

(3) FREDRICKSON OBIT. Star Trek scenic and graphic artist Anthony Richard Fredrickson died February 15 of a heart attack. Doug Drexler paid tribute to him on Facebook.

So Anthony and I would go to school together, run science fiction stores together, edit sci fi magazines together, live through car crashes and earthquakes together, do makeup effects together, make movie monsters together, help redefine science fiction graphic design together, create spaceships for Star Trek together, and win an Academy Award together. We conquered Hollywood together. And we should never forget that it all began with baby mice dipped in honey.

(4) FIGHTING IN YEARS TO COME. Learn more about the “Narrative of the future developed at Science Fiction Futures workshop” hosted February 3 by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWF) and the Atlantic Council’s Art of Future Warfare Project and taught by Max Brooks, August Cole and Charles E. Gannon. The article is posted at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

The Marine Corps of 2035 will fight in megacities in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, deploying from an arid United States that has retreated to a defensive posture and directs little funding to the military.

The enemies of the future will be internal terrorists from both the extreme right and left, international mega-corporations that control the desalination of water, the Chinese mafia, and other established states with stable governments protecting their interests.

The weapons and equipment of the future will be autonomous robots, miniature electromagnetic pulse weapons, powered exosuits, and a proliferation of area denial weapons that limit access to trade routes.

But while the future Marines will be fighting in a different place, against a different enemy, and with different technology than they do now, they’ll still have a “boots on the ground” element and will still have to be flexible and think outside the box. And even in 2035, they’ll probably still be using masks from 2022.

(5) SFWA-SUPPORTED KICKSTARTER. “Star Project 3” at the SFWA Blog tells about the latest non-member Kickstarter project the organization is helping.

Projects are selected by the Self Publishing Committee, coordinated by volunteer Rob Balder. Selections are based on the project’s resonance with SFWA’s exempt purposes, and special preference will be given to book-publishing projects in the appropriate genres.

SFWA is delighted to announce support for our latest Star Project: The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror #6. We hope you will consider funding it as well.

From the project’s Kickstarter campaign:

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror is over 150,000 words of the best fantasy and horror fiction written by Australians (and New Zealanders) and published all over the world in 2015. We’ve already done this five times for the years 2010-2014, and we’d like to do it again.

In addition to the reprinted fiction, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror series features an extensive introductory essay on the annual state of the genre, obituaries, a recommended reading list, and a list of Australian and New Zealand award recipients.

It is the only volume of its kind being published in Australia at present.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 26, 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari premieres in Berlin.
  • February 26, 1963 — NASA announced that Venus is about 800 degrees F

(7) GUARDIANS ADDS FRAKES. Jonathan Frakes joins Guardians of the Galaxy animated seriesBleeding Cool has the story.

Marvel has tapped Star Trek’s own Will RikerJonathan Frakes… to voice J’Son, King of the Spartax in the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. USA Today is reporting bringing the veteran actor on board to play the father of Peter Quill (Will Friedle). Frakes has spent more time behind the camera than in front over the last few years becoming a highly respected television director.

J’Son is Star-Lord’s father in the comics as well as in the animated series, but the live-action movie is going a different direction according to director James Gunn and it is believed that Kurt Russell will be playing that version of Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father.

(8) RABID SLATE. Vox Day has announced his slate for – “Rabid Puppies: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”.

The preliminary list of recommendations for the Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form category:

  • Grimm, Season 4 Episode 21, “Headache”
  • Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5, “The Vault of the Traveller”
  • Life is Strange, Episode 1
  • My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic, Season 5, Episodes 1-2, “The Cutie Map”
  • A Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 8, “Hardhome”

(9) MYTHING HORSE REPORT. “Runaway Unicorn Leads Highway Patrol on Wild Chase” at Time.

A white pony dressed as a unicorn ran through the streets of Madera County, Calif., for over three hours on Wednesday night before she was caught by police. The costumed pony, named Juliet, first escaped from a child’s birthday party at about 2:30 p.m., but was soon recaptured. However, she got loose again around 5:30 p.m. and proceeded to lead California Highway Patrol on a long chase as she wove in and out of traffic. “We got a call of a unicorn running in the roadway on 12th avenue near Road 32,” Officer Justin Perry told KTUL. “I’ve been doing this for 14 years and this is my first call for a unicorn.”

(10) PIN POEM. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little broke out in verse when she received her Hugo voting PIN…

On the evergreen topic of MAC II, and in honor of the completely unprompted email I got from Hugo Administration yesterday morning (I’m not patient, I’m just lazy and never got around to emailing them), I give you…

Pup’s in the Manger (TtTO)

My PIN arrived just the other day
With a letter saying “Friend, come and have your say:
Did you read a thing that just blew you away?
Are your socks now orbiting the Milky Way?”

Well I said, hooray! time to nominate–
We don’t want to have no slates, friends,
My vote’s not about those slates

And the pup’s in the manger with a bad review
And little boy Larry wants a rocket to the moon
Are we all gonna go to K. C., then?
We’ll get together then, friends, You know we’ll have a good time then

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

Litigating a Legal Fiction

The National Pork Board sent a 12-page “cease and desist” letter in response to ThinkGeek’s April Fool’s ad for “canned unicorn meat” that used the NPB’s familiar slogan “The other white meat.”

Bloggers naturally seized on the obvious joke — to take at face value that the Pork Board was pig-headed enough to believe unicorn really was being offered for human consumption in competition with pork.

ThinkGeek ended its legal woes by issuing a public apology, though they couldn’t resist ending with a humorous stinger:

Luckily, the Sisters at Radiant Farms, where the unicorns are nursed through old age before being slaughtered, canned, and brought to market at ThinkGeek, have nothing to worry about–this kind of use is protected as a parody. (We’re hoping the NPB doesn’t tell the Sisters that unicorns don’t actually exist; it’d break their little sparkly hearts.)

[Thanks to David Klaus and Andrew Porter for the story.]