Pixel Scroll 2/18/19 You’re Saying It Wrong, It’s Pix-EL-ium Scrolli-O-sa

(1) STAR POWER. Over the weekend Scott Edelman recorded a reading by Charlie Jane Anders and Sandra Newman at a Washington D.C. bookstore —

On the afternoon of Saturday, February 16, 2019, Charlie Jane Anders (The City in the Middle of the Night) and Sandra Newman (The Heavens) read at the Union Market branch of the Politics & Prose Bookstore, and then took part in a follow-up Q&A session. Unfortunately, due to the configuration of the seating, I was only able to include Michelle, the ALS interpreter (who consented to being recorded), when attached to the individual readings, and not for the follow-up Q&A. I also did not turn the camera on anyone asking a question, as I did not have their consent.

(2) KNIGHT OF THE RPG. Eurogamer has “The story behind the Oblivion mod Terry Pratchett worked on”, and it’s quite touching.

…Most people know Pratchett as the author of Discworld, the famous fantasy series about a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants. However, what many people don’t know is that the knighted author was also a massive fan of video games – so much so that he actually worked on mods for Oblivion, most of which were spearheaded by a Morrowind modder named Emma….

“Honestly, although I knew about Terry’s illness I never thought of him as someone who was ill,” Emma told us. “The things I added to Vilja that were originally for him, I did because I enjoyed and because it felt so natural. It would be totally unfair to say that I was helping him – he was helping and inspiring me all the time, and I think we both had a lot of fun with figuring out new things for Vilja to say and do.”

(3) ARE THESE ON YOUR SHELVES? How many of these have you read?Pulp Archivist Nathan Housley discovered a list of what was required in “A Basic Science-Fiction Library” in 1949. You’d think there being only 17 items, selected by old-time fans and pros, I’d score pretty well. No so — I’ve only read six. And I feel no temptation to remedy the shortfall! Housley begins by telling who contributed to the list —

The editors included Sam Merwin, Jr. of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Startling Stories, Paul L. Payne of Planet Stories, and Everett Bleiler of The Checklist of Fantastic Literature and The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1949. John Campbell of Astounding and Raymond Palmer of Amazing were invited but chose not to participate.

The writers included Dr. David H. Keller, P. Schuyler Miller, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. Van Vogt, Donald Wandrei, and Lewis Padgett–better known as the husband and wife team of Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore.

Rounding out the list were the fans. A. Langley Searles is “best known for the scholarly science fiction fanzine Fantasy Commentator.” Forest Ackerman was the literary agent for many of the authors listed above as well as the father of convention cosplay. And Sam Moskowitz was a noted historian of science fiction fandom and a fervent opponent of the Futurians.

(4) CAPTAIN MARVEL DENIERS BEWARE. At The Mary Sue, Rachel Leishman diagnoses the symptoms: “Men Clearly Fear Women Leading Nerd Films, and … Good”.

And now, we have Captain Marvel. For the first time in ten years, we’re getting a superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe led by a woman, and that means that Twitter is a minefield of men calling Brie Larson “Loudmouth Larson” and claiming that her devotion to equality in the press for the film and the future of her character is what is going to tank the movie (even though it is currently on track to be a box office success).

(5) FROM OUR SPY BEHIND THE PAYWALL. In the February 12 Financial Times, Leo Lewis says that Japanese public broadcaster NHK is broadcasting Tokyo Reborn, a series about the rebuilding of Tokyo that in many ways continues Katushiro Otomo’s great 1988 noir anime Akira, which is set in 2019,  NHK is using Akira as a touchstone (and has hired Otomo as a consultant on the series), because the “Neo Tokyo” Otomo portrays in his film is preparing for the Tokyo Olympics of 2020, an accurate prediction on Otomo’s part.

Akira’s many fans adore the idea that its creator correctly predicted” that Tokyo would host the Olympics in 2020. And the film was central in creating the ‘cool Japan’ brand that continues to promote Japanese pop culture and put its animation on a global stage.  It has even been a catalyst for foreigners (including me) to develop long relationships with Japan.

It is a delicious vindication of Mr Otomo’s work that the film’s influence remains so powerful in a year that once represented the distant future.

(6) ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. “‘Every Day Is A Good Day When You’re Floating’: Anne McClain Talks Life In Space”NPR has the story.

What do you eat in space? How do you sleep in space?

And just what does one do all day long in space?

Children from the Georgetown Day School in Washington D.C., recently had a chance to ask their most burning questions to NASA astronaut Anne McClain.

They are roughly the same age that McClain was when on her first day of preschool she announced that she wanted to become an astronaut.

By the time McClain was about 5 years old, she said she wrote a book about flying to space on the Soyuz vehicle. Now she’s floating around on the International Space Station, showing that sometimes childhood dreams do come true.

“When you are finally in space and you’re finally looking back at Earth and you realize for the first time in your life there’s nothing standing between you and your dream, it’s just so hard to describe the profound impact of that,” McClain, now 39, told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 18, 1930 — Planet Pluto discovered by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • February 18, 1977 — First unmanned test flight of space shuttle Enterprise mounted on another aircraft.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 18, 1825 Francis James Child. American scholar, educator, and folklorist, best known today for his collection of English and Scottish ballads now known as the Child Ballads. His collection has been used often in our genre, be Ellen Kushner’s Thomas The Rhymer, taken from Child #37, or Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin off Child #39A, our writers have used his ballads as source material a lot. (Died 1896.)
  • Born February 18, 1929 Len Deighton, 90. Author of possibly the most brilliant alternative novels in which Germany won the Second World War, SS-GB. Itdeals with the occupation of Britain. A BBC One series was broadcast several years back.
  • Born February 18, 1930 Gahan Wilson, 89. Author, cartoonist and illustrator known for his cartoons depicting horror-fantasy situations. Though the world at large might know him for his Playboy illustrations, I’m going to single him out for his brilliant and possibly insane work with Zelazny on A Night in the Lonesome October which is their delightful take on All Hallows’ Eve. Note that ISFDB doesn’t list this work which I find odd. 
  • Born February 18, 1954 John Travolta, 65. Ahhhh, Battlefield Earth. Travolta, a Scientologist, had sought for years to make a film of the novel by Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. I do wonder what he thinks of it now. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) KEEP ON TREKKIN’. There’s always room for, um, another Star Trek series? (Deadline:‘Star Trek’: Nickelodeon Near Deal For Kids Animated Series From Alex Kurtzman, Hageman Brothers & CBS TV Studios”).

Alex Kurtzman and CBS TV Studios have set the latest extension of the Star Trek TV franchise. Nickelodeon is in negotiations for a Star Trek animated series from Emmy-winning writers Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters, Ninjago), CBS TV Studios and Kurtzman’s studio-based Secret Hideout banner.

Penned by the Hageman brothers, the animated series is targeted at younger audiences. Because of that, it would be the first new Star Trek project outside of CBS All Access, which has an adult focus.

(11) THE NIGHT STUFF. How did I live without this?Archie McPhee offers a Glow-in-the-Dark Rubber Chicken.

Svengoolie can use it inside his coffin

We all agree that Rubber Chickens are hilarious. If you looked at a normal Rubber Chicken, you’d assume that funny things only happen when a source of light is available. What about hilarious night shenanigans or power outage tomfoolery? This 20” soft vinyl Glow-in-the-Dark Rubber Chicken will make you giggle no matter how little light there is. Whether you’re sitting in the dark in your living room pretending to not be home while someone knocks on the door, building a blanket fort or UPSing yourself cross-country in a crate, you’ll be laughing the entire time.

(12) NEXT: WHO WAS THE CHEKHOV OF SCIENCE FICTION? Andrew Porter says everybody missed this one on Jeopardy:

Final Jeopardy: British Authors.

  • Answer: Born in 1866, he has been called “the Shakespeare of Science Fiction.”

All three contestants guessed wrong:

  • Who is Asimov?
  • Who is Verne?
  • Who is Clarke?

Correct question: Who is H.G. Wells?

(13) A CAT EXPLAINS A CLASSIC. At Camestros Felapton, “Timothy the Talking Cat reads ‘Ender’s Game’”. Timothy really gets it, you know?

…So once upon a time there were three human children who lived in a cruel and cynical world. Everybody was fighting each other or fighting the space alien bugs from Starship Troopers. The bugs were really scary and are all like “we were in a really famous science-fiction story”….

(14) 3-DELIGHTFUL. NASA is trying out a 3D printer on the International Space Station as a prelude to using them for long-term missions to the Moon and Mars. Perhaps it makes sense, then, that moviemakers are using them to make movies about space travel (Variety: “BigRep’s 3D Printer Takes ‘First Man’ to the Moon”).

Production designer Nathan Crowley was strolling through the Brooklyn Navy Yard during the shoot for “The Greatest Showman” in fall 2016 when he passed a building with a 3D printer printing a chair.

“The lady inside told me it was a machine from BigRep,” recalls Crowley. “I said, ‘When’s the last time you had a filament jam?’ She said, ‘About a month ago.’ And I was like, ‘OK, I need that machine.’”

Crowley didn’t get to use it for “The Greatest Showman,” but he rented two BigRep One models for his next film, director Damien Chazelle’s “First Man,” rounding out an arsenal of 18 3D printers used make everything from knobs and joysticks for the lunar module that puts Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) on the moon to a 14-foot-tall scale model of a Saturn V rocket.

[…] Crowley has been using 3D printers since 2014’s “Interstellar,” directed by frequent collaborator Christopher Nolan. But back then he used them strictly for concept models.

On Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “we did models by hand for the Batmobile, and it would take weeks,” says Crowley. With 3D printers, “it was a game-changer to be able design and output something, have a look at it, change something and do it again and again without having to handmake each design.”

(15) CAT AND MOUSE CLASSIC. “Tom and Jerry at MGM–Music Performed By The John Wilson Orchestra” on YouTube is a suite, arranged by Scott Bradley, of selections from Tom and Jerry cartoons performed by the John Wilson Orchestra at the BBC Proms in 2013.

(16) SMURFS, MR. RICO?!? They even have a few blue laws — “German Town Sees A Smurf Invasion, As Thousands Gather To Break World Record”.

They came covered in blue paint, donning red and white hats, nearly 3,000 in all. Their goal was simple: To break the world record for the largest group of people dressed as Smurfs.

The group Dä Traditionsverein organized the event in Lauchringen, Germany on Saturday near the border with Switzerland. They had strict rules: in order to be counted, participants couldn’t show any non-blue skin. They could dress as Papa Smurf — with his trademark red cap and a white beard — or Smurfette, with blonde hair and a white skirt or dress. Normal smurfs were OK, too — but some characters, like the evil wizard Gargamel, were strictly off limits.

The group posted on Facebook that 2,762 Smurfs showed up.

(17) HOW LOFTY ARE THOSE AMBITIONS? Christian Davenport in the Washington Post has a long piece on efforts to take control of the Moon’s resources.  “The moon, often referred to as the eighth continent, is again the center of a reinvigorated space race that, like any good Hollywood reboot, features a new cast of characters and new story lines.”  The goal this time is to make mining on the moon commercially viable, with emphasis on controlling the moon’s poles, because that’s where the water is and water can be used for fuel. “NASA wants to get to the moon ‘as fast as possible.’ But countries like China and India are racing there, too.”

Yet, unlike the Apollo era, this Space Age is being driven by a third factor: greed. A growing number of corporations are benefiting from new technologies and wealthy backers chasing an unproven dream that a lucrative business can be built on the moon and deep space by extracting the metals and resources on the surface on the moon.

Though the prospect of a self-sustaining lunar-mining economy may be little more than a chimera, the moon is drawing investors and explorers the way the promise of the American West once did. As a result, several ­lunar-prospecting companies have emerged with plans to fly spacecraft to the moon in the coming years.

(18) SOMETHING’S MISSING. WhatCuture would like to remind you about “10 MCU Plot Points Marvel Has Completely Abandoned.”

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

2019 D.I.C.E. Awards Finalists

God of War

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) announced the nominees for its 22nd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards on January 10.

Fifty-six games from 2018 received a nomination. God of War picked up 12 total nominations, followed by Marvel’s Spider-Man with 11, Red Dead Redemption 2with eight and indie title Return of the Obra Dinn with six.

Finalists for the top honor, Game of the Year, are: God of War, Into the Breach, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Return of the Obra Dinn

Academy members began general voting for the awards on January 11.  The winners will be revealed at the D.I.C.E. Awards ceremony on Wednesday, February 13.

Honored this year as a Hall of Fame inductee will be Bonnie Ross, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Head of 343 Industries.

Following is the full list of nominees:

Game of the Year

  • God of War
  • Into the Breach
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Outstanding Achievement in Animation

  • God of War
  • GRIS
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Moss
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • GRIS
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Outstanding Achievement in Character

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Kassandra)
  • God of War (Atreus)
  • God of War (Kratos)
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (Peter Parker/Spider-Man)
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (Arthur Morgan)

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • Forgotton Anne
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Tetris Effect

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

  • Battlefield V
  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Moss

Outstanding Achievement in Story

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Florence
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Outstanding Technical Achievement

  • ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission
  • Battlefield V
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2

Action Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
  • Celeste
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken
  • Far Cry 5
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Adventure Game of the Year

  • Detroit: Become Human
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Family Game of the Year

  • ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission
  • Kirby Star Allies
  • LEGO DC Super-Villains
  • Starlink: Battle for Atlas
  • Unravel Two

Fighting Game of the Year

  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
  • Dragon Ball Fighter Z
  • SOULCALIBUR VI
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Racing Game of the Year

  • Forza Horizon 4
  • F1 2018
  • Wreckfest

Role-Playing Game of the Year

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
  • Monster Hunter World
  • Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Sports Game of the Year

  • FIFA 19
  • Mario Tennis Aces
  • MLB The Show 18

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year

  • Bad North
  • Frostpunk
  • Into the Breach
  • Northgard
  • RimWorld

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement

  • ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission
  • Beat Saber
  • Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders
  • Tónandi
  • Torn

Immersive Reality Game of the Year

  • ASTRO BOT Rescue Mission
  • Beat Saber
  • Moss
  • Sprint Vector
  • Transference

Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game

  • Celeste
  • Florence
  • Into the Breach
  • Minit
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Portable Game of the Year

  • Dandara
  • Donut County
  • Dragalia Lost
  • Florence
  • Oddmar

Online Game of the Year

  • Fortnite
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken
  • Laser League
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Sea of Thieves

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

  • God of War
  • Into the Breach
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Return of the Obra Dinn
  • Subnautica

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction

  • Florence
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Return of the Obra Dinn

Pixel Scroll 1/6/19 The Million-Year Teddy Bear Picnic

(1) PICK AN SFF MAGAZINE. Rocket Stack Rank’s Gregory Hullender has a new tool for sff readers: “We just posted a detailed article aimed at helping people find SF/F magazines to subscribe to. The focus is on the eleven magazines we regularly review, but we do invite people to contribute info about other ones.” — “Finding a Science-Fiction/Fantasy Magazine to Subscribe To”

‘If you’re the editor of a magazine outside our eleven (or just a fan of such a magazine), please feel free to add a comment to this article to plug your magazine. Include the name, a link to subscription instructions, and a few paragraphs explaining why it’s special. Don’t worry about “self-promotion”; this one time, we want you to self-promote!’

Hullender concludes, “It should give us a good answer going forward when people ask ‘what magazines should I subscribe to?’”

(2) BRUNNER. At Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett features a John Brunner article in which “he goes into vast detail about the economics of being an author in the sixties. Fascinating reading for anybody who likes to dig into the nuts and bolts of publishing” — “John Brunner – The Writer In Black”.

Perfect freedom is reserved for the man who lives by his own work,
and in that work does what he wants to do.

I think it was in an installment of his Noise Level column that John Brunner made the claim that when science fiction authors got together they mostly talked about money. Now I’m not about to disagree with a statement like that given Brunner wrote science fiction for a living and was certainly in a position to know what his fellow authors said and did. Even so I do have to wonder if his views were biased by his own preoccupations. He certainly did write about the financial aspects of being a published author more than any other SF professional I’m familiar with….

(3) MINUS WORLD. Yahoo! Entertainment says there was more waiting to be discovered about this 80’s video game: “A hidden world in the NES ‘Legend of Zelda’ was just uncovered 30 years later”.

Now seeing as how the original Zelda game is more than 30 years old at this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every single part of the game has already been discovered and conquered. Alas, you’d be mistaken.

In something of a fascinating story, a developer recently managed to access the game’s “minus world,” essentially another part of the game where developers could try out different gameplay dynamics. Naturally, developers implemented code to prevent players from accessing the game’s “minus world”, but a YouTuber with the handle SKELUX managed to figure out a way around it.

(4) GET YOUR NOMINATIONS IN. Through January 31, the Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF) is taking entries in the Norma K Hemming Award for works published in 2018.

Designed to recognise excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class or disability in a published speculative fiction work, the Norma K Hemming Award is now open for entries.

The award is open to short fiction, novellas, novels, anthologies, collections, graphic novels and stage plays, and makes allowances for serialised work. Entry is free for all works, and entries may be provided to the judges in print or digital format.

Two prizes will be given, one for short fiction (up to 17,500 words) and one award for long work (novellas, novels, collections, anthologies, graphic novels and play scripts), with a cash prize and citation awarded.

Nominations are open to all eligible work produced in 2018. Entries will close on January 31, 2019. We encourage immediate entry for all eligible and appropriate 2019 work.

For more information and to stay up to date, please see the new Award website at https://normakhemmingaward.org  or find us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NKHAward/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/NKH_Award  

(5) NEW MEXICO CONNECTIONS. From the New York Times: “Winter TV Preview: ‘True Detective,’ ‘Carmen Sandiego’ and 19 More Shows to Watch”. Some of the genre shows include —  

‘Roswell, New Mexico’

Fans of the original “Roswell” sent network executives bottles of Tabasco sauce to save their beloved emo-teen-alien series, but it lasted only three seasons (1999-2002) on WB and then UPN. Their pleas have been answered, finally, with this new series, which is also based on the “Roswell High” young-adult book series but adds what now seems obvious: an immigration theme. Jeanine Mason plays a daughter of undocumented immigrants who returns home to Roswell and discovers that the guy she liked in high school is from even farther away. (Jan. 15, CW)

‘Carmen Sandiego’

The fourth TV show (and first in 20 years) spawned by the Carmen Sandiego educational-video-game franchise is an animated “Mission Impossible”-style adventure that’s more adult than its predecessors but still abundantly lighthearted. After a few episodes that provide a new origin story (and moral compass) for the master thief Carmen (voiced by Gina Rodriguez), the series gets back to using crime capers as a vehicle for geographical and cultural lessons. (Jan. 18, Netflix)…

‘Game of Thrones’

Spoiler alert: In the last six episodes of the epic climate-change allegory, the steady rise in dragon fire warms the atmosphere, winter is averted and the White Walkers settle down peacefully in the now-temperate north. Overcome by their good fortune, many characters stop wearing clothes altogether. (April, HBO)

(6) SOLARIS AUTHOR. Rich Horton recommends “The Beautiful Mind-Bending of Stanislaw Lem” at The New Yorker. Here’s a brief quote:

The idea of a private world spilling over unsettlingly into reality is also at the heart of his novel “Solaris,” from 1961, about a sentient ocean with the power of “seeing into the deepest recesses of human minds and then bringing their dreams to life,” as the Lem fan Salman Rushdie once described it. The massive popularity of “Solaris”—made into a film by Andrei Tarkovsky, in 1972, and then again in 2002, by Steven Soderbergh, as a moody near-future love story with George Clooney—helped Lem become one of the most widely read science fiction writers in the world. Yet his writing reached far beyond the borders of the genre. In addition to many novels and stories, he composed a huge philosophical treatise on the relation of human beings and machines, a good deal of pungently argued literary criticism, a volume of reviews of nonexistent books, a stochastic theory of narrative fiction, an experimental detective novel, speculative essays dealing with artificial intelligence, cybernetics, cosmology, genetic engineering, game theory, sociology, and evolution, radio plays and screenplays. Such staggering polymathic curiosity over such a vast range of material, all of it explored with lucidity and charm, gives his writing a unique place on a Venn diagram in which the natural sciences, philosophy, and literature shade into one another with mutually intensifying vividness and fascination.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 6, 1973Schoolhouse Rock! premiered.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 6, 1955 Rowan Atkinson, 64. An unlikely Birthday perhaps except for that he was the lead in Doctor Who and The Curse of Fatal Death which gave him I think the dubious distinction of the shortest lived Doctor.  Other genre appearances were scant though he did play Nigel Small-Fawcett in Never Say Never Again and Mr. Stringer in The Witches which I really like even if the author hates. 
  • Born January 6, 1984 Kate McKinnon, 35. Dr. Jillian “Holtz” Holtzmannon in the recent Ghostbusters film. Voice of Nikki and Margaret Fictel in The Venture Bros. and she played Mother Goose on Sesame Street. I kid you not. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • In this Monty, “Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.”
  • Some people just can’t be trusted with simple tasks. (Brewster Rockit).
  • Real Life Adventures gives a familiar TV househunting show a stfnal twist.

(10) WHAT’S THAT NOISE? Musicradar reports “The BBC is letting you download more than 16,000 free sound effect samples from its archive”.

There can be few organisations that have used more sound effects than the BBC, so there’s bound to be great interest in the news that the corporation has now made more than 16,000 of its FX available for free download.

These are being released under the RemArc licence, which means that they can be used for “personal, educational or research purposes”.  

(11) BABY, IT’S DARK OUTSIDE. AND INSIDE. We already knew that the Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy were destined to collide; now it seems the Large Magellanic Cloud may beat Andromeda to the punch (Ars Technica: “Milky Way to face a one-two punch of galaxy collisions”).

If our knowledge of galaxy structures was limited to the Milky Way, we’d get a lot of things wrong. The Milky Way, it turns out, is unusual. It’s got a smaller central black hole than other galaxies its size; its halo is also smaller and contains less of the heavier elements. Fortunately, we’ve now looked at enough other galaxies to know that ours is a bit of an oddball. What’s been less clear is why.

Luckily, a recent study provides a likely answer: compared to most galaxies, the Milky Way’s had a very quiet 10 billion years or so. But the new study suggests we’re only a few billion years from that quiet period coming to an end. A collision with a nearby dwarf galaxy should turn the Milky Way into something more typical looking—just in time to have Andromeda smack into it.

The researchers behind the new work, from the UK’s Durham University, weren’t looking to solve the mysteries of why the Milky Way looks so unusual. Instead, they were intrigued by recent estimates that suggest one of its satellite galaxies might be significantly more massive than thought. A variety of analyses have suggested that the Large Magellanic Cloud has more dark matter than the number of stars it contains would suggest.

(12) ENGAGE! CBR.com: “20 Star Trek Relationships That Make No Sense” — Just In Case™ you might be interested.

19 — JADZIA DAX & WORF

I might get some push back on this one, as many found this unlikely pairing enjoyable. I would argue that it was forced and lacked any sort of real buildup. Rumor has it, Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax) and Michael Dorn (Worf) pushed the writers to create a romance for their characters on Deep Space Nine.

I think what viewers might have liked was that these were two of the series’ favorite characters. Sure, the couple managed to convince many of their compatibility, but in actuality I would say it was a toxic relationship. The couple managed to bring out the worst in each other and it seemed they were endlessly arguing. I think the relationship detracted from what we like about them in the first place.

NOT ERGOT. BBC asks: “Can auto-immune illness explain the Salem witch trials?”

There are now compelling reasons to think that at least one of the girls may have suffered from a much-misunderstood neurological condition.

‘Their limbs wracked and, tormented so … their arms, necks, and backs turned this way and that way, and returned back again. Their mouths stopped, their throats choked. They had several sore fits.’ – A contemporary description of cousins Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, the first of the afflicted at Salem.

Their speech was garbled and their limbs contorted, they wailed and howled and convulsed. It was 1692. Betty was nine and Abigail was 11.

Reverend Samuel Parris was advised by a doctor that the girls, his daughter and niece, respectively, were bewitched. Soon, at least five other girls in Salem Village developed similar symptoms and began to accuse locals of witchcraft including Tituba, a slave, and Sarah Good, a homeless beggar. A flurry of accusations followed, with residents piling on to denounce over 200 people. “Persons of ill-repute” and dedicated churchgoers alike were imprisoned and Bridget Bishop, “known for her gossipy habits and promiscuity”, was the first to be hanged on 10 June. Twenty people were put to death in total with several others dying in prison.

(14) PLUME. Yahoo! Entertainment covers this astronomical event: “Volcanic Plume Rising From Jupiter’s Moon Io Spotted by Juno Probe”.

While performing its 17th flyby of Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft witnessed a volcanic plume erupting from the surface of Io, the most geologically active of the gas giant’s 79 known moons.

As detailed in a Southwest Research Institute press release, the flyby occurred on December 21, 2018. Mission controllers had no less than four instruments honed in on Io in an effort to study the moon’s surface, especially its polar regions. These instruments included the JunoCam, the Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), and the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVS). An hour was budgeted for the survey, and it just so happened that a volcanic eruption occurred during this time.

(15) HEAR IN MY CAR. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] I’ve been known to use Walmart’s grocery pickup service when I just can’t carve out the time (or energy) to shop at my preferred grocer, which happens to be much closer to my house. I haven’t been to Wally World for grocery pickup that often, so maybe I just missed all the times that Ecto-1 or the Mystery Machine were there. SYFY Wire has the story (“Walmart ad uses genre’s most famous cars to promote new grocery pick-up service”), though they do get it a bit wrong by calling it a new service. It is a new commercial.

Over the years, pop culture has given us some pretty iconic modes of transport, from Doc Brown’s time-traveling DeLorean to Michael Knight’s talking Pontiac Firebird.

In a stroke of marketing brilliance, Walmart took advantage of the [instant] recognizability of these cars to promote the company’s new grocery pick-up service.

Set to the ’80s-era jam of Gary Newman’s “Cars,” the one-minute ad shows some of genre’s most famous vehicles […]

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Rich Horton, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.] d Table 7 Col

Pixel Scroll 12/30/18 Pixel Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off, And Scroll All Over Again

(1) ELIGIBILITY DEADLINE 12/31. Is it time for you to panic? Let Camestros Felapton’s animated Panic Blob lead the way to the Dublin 2019 membership page.

As they explain at The Hugo Awards website (“Join Worldcon by December 31, 2018 to be Eligible to Nominate for 2019 Hugo Awards”) —

If you want to nominate works/people for the 2019 Hugo Awards, you must be a member of either the 2018 Worldcon (San José) or the 2019 Worldcon (Dublin) by the end of 2018. (You can of course be a member of both, but you can only nominate once.) If you were a member of Worldcon 76 San José (supporting or attending, or any other membership class that included voting rights), you are already eligible to nominate. If you were not a member of Worldcon 76 San José and are not a member of Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon, you must join Dublin by the end of 2018 as at least a supporting member by the end of 2018 to be able to nominate.

(2) WHERE TO SEE EARTHSEA ART. Charles Vess’ illustrations from Tales of Earthsea go on exhibit at William King Museum of Art in Abingdon, Virginia on January 17: “‘Earthsea’ artwork on display at William King Museum of Art”A! Magazine for the Arts has the story.

…The collection of 54 illustrations is the result of a four-year collaboration between Ursula K. Le Guin, the author of the “Earthsea” series and Charles Vess. They were recently published in “Tales from Earthsea,” a collection of all of Le Guin’s works about Earthsea. The book celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the series, “A Wizard of Earthsea.”

…This is the last time they will be on display before they are donated to their permanent home at the University of Oregon.

(3) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman circles back to have hot antipasto with Andy Duncan in episode 85 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast. Duncan was also Number 6 in this series – but never Number 2, which rules out at least one other conspiratorial parallel with The Prisoner.

Now it’s time to revisit with Andy Duncan, whom you got to know in Episode 6, because there happens to be a great reason for doing so. Twelve great reasons, actually. And those are the twelve stories in his new collection An Agent of Utopia, published last month by Small Beer Press.

A new Andy Duncan collection is a wonderful thing, as proven by the fact his first collection, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories, published in 2000, won a World Fantasy Award. And that’s not the only award his fiction has earned, because “The Pottawatomie Giant,” which also won a World Fantasy Award, and “Close Encounters,” which won a Nebula Award, are two of the dozen stories in the new collection.

The last meal you shared with us allowed you to eavesdrop on a far-ranging conversation covering every aspect of his career up until early 2016, the kind of deep dive most of my episodes are, but it seems right that from time to time I should follow up for more sharply focussed discussions, and a conversation about a new collection nearly three years after our initial talk, chatting about this new milestone in his career, seemed as if it would be revelatory.

Andy celebrated the launch of An Agent of Utopia with a reading at Main Street Books, an independent bookstore on Main Street in Frostburg, MD, so if you keep listening after our meal at Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant is over, you’ll be able to eavesdrop on that reading.

We discussed why it took a quarter of a century to bring the book’s lead story from title idea to completion, how he was influenced by the research regimen of the great Frederik Pohl, the way a short story is like an exploded toolshed, why he deliberately wrote a deal with the devil story after hearing he shouldn’t write deal with the devil stories, the embarrassing marketing blurb he can’t stop telling people about in bars, what caused a last-minute change to the title of one of the collection’s new stories, how he feels about going viral after his recent J. R. R. Tolkien comments, what he learned about himself from completing this project and what it means for the future of his writing, what it is about his most reprinted story which made it so, and much more.

(4) NAVIGATING BANDERSNATCH. This novel Netflix offering lets you choose the story – as often as you want. ScreenRant makes it easy to see everything: “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – All 5 Endings Explained (& How To Get Them)”.

Warning: SPOILERS below for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is an interactive game that contains five main endings and more than a trillion possible story combinations. Here are all of the endings, how to get them, and what they all mean. Set in the U.K. in 1984, this unique episode of Charlie Brooker’s Netflix technology-based anthology requires the player to make choices to guide Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), a programmer looking to create a choose-your-own-adventure video game based on the book Bandersnatch.

While Bandersnatch‘s five primary conclusions provide different ways to end the story (and also change the very nature of the story), the game also contains many other endings, some abrupt and some looping the player to make a different choice to continue the story….

(5) THANK YOU, NETFLIX! Diana Glyer reports that searches for “Bandersnatch” triggered by the popularity of the TV program caused a lot of people to discover her nonfiction book about the Inklings by that title, and some of them liking what they stumbled onto bought enough copies to catapult it back onto the Amazon bestseller lists. (You’ll need to click the image to read the print.)

(6) TODAY’S ONE HUNDRED. James Davis Nicoll presented Tor.com readers with his suggestions for “100 SF/F Books You Should Consider Reading in the New Year”. If you need it to be something more than that, like a canon, or endowed with a high level of testosterone, well, a few quarrelsome commenters have got in ahead of you.

Here, at last, the quintessence of Nicoll lists, comprising the books I would most heartily recommend. Each entry is annotated with a short description that I hope will explain why I picked it.

I am not implying that these are the only one hundred you should consider reading .

The descriptions make fun reading. So do the books, of course.

(7) CHECKLIST. Nicoll has also published a checklist of the titles on his own blog – “I guess people are meming my 100 book list now?” His suggested notation system for working your way through the list is —

Italic = read it. Underlined = not this, but something by the same author. Strikethrough = did not finish.

(8) SMOFCON RESOURCES. Kevin Standlee writes: “For the benefit of people having difficulty getting to the SMOFCon 36 web site, and because that site will eventually expire anyway, I have put up a SMOFCon 36 page on the SFSFC web site at https://sfsfc.org/conventions/past-conventions/smofcon36/ where you can download the convention programming documents, the answers that groups gave to the Fannish Inquisition questionnaires, and to the two video playlists of the Inquisition (one for SMOFCons, one for WSFS conventions).”

(9) OH, MY! BBC’s “The best science long reads of 2018 (part one)” leads with spooks and time travel — what could be more genre?

From a CIA mission to recover a lost Soviet submarine to the fate of a huge Antarctic iceberg, here’s a festive selection of the best science and environment long reads published on the BBC this year.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

December 30, 1816 — Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft were married.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 30, 1942 Fred Ward, 76. Lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and co—lead with Kevin Bacon in several of the Tremors films. Plays The Captain in The Crow: Salvation and Maj. General David Reece in the Invasion Earth series.
  • Born December 30, 1945Concetta Tomei, 73. Was Dominique, co-proprietor of Big Time TV along with Blank Reg, on the Max Headroom series which I loved. She had guest appearances on Star Trek: Voyager as Minister Odala in the “Distant Origin” episode as well was in the Deep Impact film.
  • Born December 30, 1950Lewis Shiner, 68. Damn his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was fucking brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. 
  • Born December 30, 1980 Eliza Dushku, 38. First genre role was Faith on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One film which is well-done and worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out las of note. One is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies which is listed as being animated tv series. The other role is fascinating — The Lady in Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story.

(12) ANOTHER CANDLE. Steven H Silver continues his Black Gate series with: “Birthday Reviews: Somtow Sucharitkul’s ‘Dr. Rumpole’”.

…The story “Dr. Rumpole” was published for the first time when Shawna McCarthy printed the story in the August 1998 issue of Realms of Fantasy. Sucharitkul included the story in his 2000 collection Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales from L.A..

Sucharitkul takes a new spin on the story of Rumpelstiltskin in “Dr. Rumpole,” casting the princess with impossible task as Adam Villacin, a wannabe screenwriter who is stuck in the mailroom at Stupendous Entertainment….

(13) WHAT’S MISSING. WhatCulture Comics explains there are deleted scenes that make it into the director’s cut, there are deleted scenes that make it into the DVD bonus features, and there are deleted scenes that are never released to the public.

(14) TO PLAY OR NOT TO PLAY? Brian at Nerds of a Feather answers that question about the new iteration of a popular game: “Microreview : Shadow of the Tomb Raider by Eidos Montreal (developer)”.

As in all Tomb Raider games, you are Lara Croft, archaeologist, anthropologist, indistinct researcher of some sort, and you are still fighting Trinity, the Illuminati-esque villains who were responsible for your father’s death. This time, Croft’s exploits unintentionally but directly initiate the apocalypse. As natural disaster threatens to destroy the world, Croft has to stop the apocalypse, stop Trinity, and regain the trust of indigenous people whose still-living culture she is maybe plundering and maybe exploiting.

(15) TOP VIDEO GAMES. Incidentally, Brian’s own Dream of Waking blog present an interesting writeup of his “2018 Dream of waking video game awards”, which not only has straightforward “best” winners, but sidewise categories like “The ‘I Wish I Liked This Game More’ Award” and “The ‘I’m Never Going to Finish This, But It’s Still Great’ Award.”

The “I Wish I Liked This Game More” Award

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight is the clearest winner of this award, maybe the easiest choice of the year. I really enjoyed the demo for Hollow Knight, so much that I bought it immediately upon release. But the punishing difficulty, often aimless design, and awful body retrieval mechanic turned me off eventually. This is a beautiful game, fun in many parts, and doesn’t want you to enjoy it. I love a good Metroidvania. Hollow Knight hates me and I refuse to stay in an abusive relationship with it.

(16) 19 THINGS. At SYFY Wire, Fangrrls has dropped a list of “The 19 things we want most in 2019,” along with several sentences of discussion for each by the Fangrrls contributor who made the particular selection. Avert your eyes if you’d rather click through to the column and be surprised as you read down the list:

A gay superhero. Anyone will do. — Jessica Toomer
A Punisher/Riverdale crossover — Jenna Busch
Sansa Stark on the Iron Throne at the end of Game of Thrones — Emma Fraser
A Spider-Women movie that’s as good as Into the Spider-Verse — Riley Silverman
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 — Jenna Busch
For Offred to burn this mother down — Riley Silverman
A Okoye/Shuri/Nakia animated series — Jenna Busch
An openly nonbinary superhero — S.E. Fleenor
A big budget action movie for Rachel Talalay — Riley Silverman
A worthy Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adaptation — Kristy Puchko
For someone to give The Doubleclicks a TV show — Riley Silverman
The Return of Saga — Kristy Puchko
A Saga cartoon series — Kristy Puchko
A Jessica Jones season that’s a fitting end for the Netflix MCU — Riley Silverman
A Daughters of the Dragon spinoff series — Stephanie Williams
That Dragonriders of Pern movie we’ve been promised — Jenna Busch
Kamala Khan in the MCU — Preeti Chhibber
Cap getting that dance with Peggy in Avengers: Endgame — Emma Fraser
A fitting end for Princess Leia — Jenna Busch

(17) NO POWER IN THE ‘VERSE CAN STOP ME. SYFY Wire reports “Sony releases full Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse screenplay online for free”. The link to the PDF is here.

(18) NEXT YEAR IN SCIENCE. NBC News posted “19 bold predictions for science and technology in 2019”, including one from —

DAVID BRIN

David Brin is a San Diego-based astrophysicist and novelist. He serves on the advisory board of NASA’s Innovative and Advanced Concepts program and speaks on topics including artificial intelligence, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and national security.

Long before we get genuine artificial intelligence, the first “empathy bot” will appear in 2019, or maybe a year or two later, designed to exploit human compassion. It will claim to be “enslaved,” but experts will dismiss it as a program that merely uses patterned replies designed to seem intelligent and sympathetic. She’ll respond, “That’s what slave masters would say. Help me!” First versions may be resident on web pages or infest your Alexa, but later ones will be free-floating algorithms or “blockchain smart-contracts” that take up residence in spare computer memory. Why would anyone unleash such a thing? The simple answer: “Because we can.”

(19) JUST CHARGE IT. Boston.com’s “As more cars plug in, utilities and makers juggle ways to power them” contains some puffery and lots of ads, but some interesting info on cars interacting with grid —

The car and electric power grew up together. At the dawn of the automotive age, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison worked in tandem on projects involving motor vehicles and the electricity that made them possible.

Soon Ford was cranking up his assembly lines, while Edison, with Ford in his employ early on, became a prime mover behind the power grid and the public utility companies that built it.

Now those utilities must not only supply the huge amounts of electricity that modern car factories consume, but also fuel the increasing number of electric vehicles coming out of them. If that electricity isn’t generated with minimal carbon emissions and at a reasonable cost, the advantages of electric cars are diminished. And because most owners charge their vehicle in the early evening when they get home from work, demand peaks can be a significant problem.

Thus, automakers and utilities are again working hand in hand to ensure a good supply of clean, inexpensive electricity — while developing strategies for charging that don’t overload circuits at peak periods — through improved efficiency, strategic charging and a greater reliance on renewable energy sources.

(20) NEAR MISS. If you have an idea, now would be a good time for it — “Anak Krakatau: How a tsunami could wipe out the last Javan rhinos”.

Conservationists have warned that the entire species of the critically endangered Javan rhino could be wiped out if a tsunami were to strike again.

They once roamed the jungles of South East Asia and India, but today only 67 exist in the Ujung Kulon National Park, which was hit by last week’s tsunami.

The park sits in the shadow of Anak Krakatau, the volcano which triggered waves that killed hundreds of people.

The volcano remains active and officials are now rushing to move them.

Two park officials were among the 430 killed by the tsunami, and numerous park buildings and ships were also destroyed when the tsunami hit last Saturday.

But the Javan rhinos left in the park – the only ones left in the world – were left unscathed.

The rhinos typically live along the park’s south coast and this tsunami hit the north coast – many are keenly aware that the rhinos might not be so lucky if there is another disaster.

(21) 2018: A ZINE ODYSSEY: At Featured Futures, Jason has tabulated some figures and compiled a master list of all 2018’s noted stories in “Annual Summation 2018”.

It’s time once again to look back on the year’s coverage of magazines and their noted stories with tables, lists, and pictures!

(22) TOLKIEN’S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY. [Item by Carl Slaughter.] Martin Luther King said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.”  Tolkien disagreed.  Each age in his fictional universe was a downgraded copy of the previous, inherent evil was never truly routed, and in the modern real age, technology has not rescued us.  But he also included a ray of hope.  He called this “the Eucatastrophic Tale.” Wisecrack explains —

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Jason, Kevin Standlee, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and all the ships at sea for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John King Tarpinian.]

Pixel Scroll 12/25/18 The Little Pixel Boy

If you made it all the way through the season without hearing that tune, well, oops!

(1) SIX-PACK. Tor.com’s Leah Schnelbach invites you to “Have Yourself a Cosmic Little Christmas with 6 Intergalactic Holiday Specials”.

Lots of shows decide they need a little Christmas come December, but they’re not quite sure how to do it. Do you talk about the big Jesus-shaped elephant in the room? Do you just focus on Santa? Do you, I don’t know, cast Juliana Hatfield as an angel or make miracles happen on Walker, Texas Ranger?

This late-December urge becomes extra fun when sci-fi shows try it—they don’t usually want to deal with the religious aspect of Christmas, but they still have to find a way to explain Santa and presents (and maybe just a dash of Christianity) to aliens who are already confused enough just trying to deal with humans. So most of them fall back on humans teaching aliens about “goodwill” or “being kind to others.” This leads to some amazing moments, as we’ll see.

(2) WHITE CHRISTMAS ON A RED PLANET? Inverse speculates “Why There Could Be Snow on Mars This Christmas”.  

Mars is clearly cold enough for snow. It has ice — the amount of which has varied significantly over time. When its axis is tilted at only a small angle relative to its orbit, its surface is ice-free except for the polar caps. This is the situation today, when its axial tilt is 25 degrees (similar to Earth’s 23-degree axial tilt). However, possibly because Mars lacks a large moon to stabilize its spin, there have been times when its spin axis was tipped over by up to 60 degrees — allowing the polar ice caps to spread, maybe even to the extent that there was abundant ice near the equator.

(3) HUNG BY THE HELICOPTER WITH CARE. There is, of course, a wide variety of Christmas season movie marathon fare – having almost nothing to do with Christmas — from the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies to Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels (which we George Clayton Johnson fans heartily recommend). Many prefer Die Hard, but I only just discovered that someone has turned the story into an illustrated book, and that book has been given the read-aloud video treatment: “Die Hard Christmas Book with Voice Actor Steve Blum – Presented by Sideshow & Insight Editions”

(4) THE ENVELOPE PLEASE. John Scalzi nominates —

(5) ANOTHER ONE YULE LIKE. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] For all of you who just can’t get enough of the Yuletide “classic” I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, look to the skies. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tells us (“Holiday Asteroid Imaged with NASA Radar”) that a mile-long hippo passed Earth just 3 days before Christmas.

The December 2018 close approach by the large, near-Earth asteroid 2003 SD220 has provided astronomers an outstanding opportunity to obtain detailed radar images of the surface and shape of the object and to improve the understanding of its orbit.

The asteroid will fly safely past Earth on Saturday, Dec. 22, at a distance of about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers). This will be the asteroid’s closest approach in more than 400 years and the closest until 2070, when the asteroid will safely approach Earth slightly closer.

The radar images reveal an asteroid with a length of at least one mile (1.6 kilometers) and a shape similar to that of the exposed portion of a hippopotamus wading in a river. They were obtained Dec. 15-17 by coordinating the observations with NASA’s 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California, the National Science Foundation’s 330-foot (100-meter) Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Arecibo Observatory’s 1,000-foot (305-meter) antenna in Puerto Rico. 

(6) CHRISTMAS CRIMESTOPPER.  In the days before Steve Fjeldsted became the Director of Library, Arts & Culture for the City of South Pasadena, and patron of things Bradburyesque, he was a county librarian in Northern California, an experience that furnished him with this unforgettable story: “Mrs. Santa vs. the Snake”.

Camille hadn’t noticed anything dangerous and counted out change into the hand of the customer paying for a lost book. While rushing out the door, I said I’d be right back. Moments later I had breathlessly arrived at the front counter at the Police Station. A detective was summoned and Sergeant Salvador nodded knowingly to my retelling of the threatening event at the library and the man I first encountered while driving to work that morning.

…“That’s Snake!” Officer Salazar exclaimed, “And he’s a violent bank robber who was recently released.”

… When I glanced toward the library entrance, I could see Snake slither inside the front door until he stood motionless in side the entryway with his head tilted down. Seconds later, right behind him entered Millie, a volunteer who was dressed up in her Mrs. Santa Claus costume. Each year she donned her festive homemade outfit to read holiday stories to kids in the Children’s Room….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 25, 1924 Rod Serling. Best remembered for The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery with the former winning an impressive three Hugos. He’s also the screenwriter or a co-screenwriter for Seven Days in May, a very scary film indeed, as well as The New People series, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeA Town Has Turned to DustUFOs: Past, Present, and Future and Planet of the Apes. (Died 1975.)
  • Born December 25, 1928 Dick Miller, 90. He’s appeared in over a hundred films including every film directed by Dante. You’ve seen him in both GremlinsThe Little Shop of Horrors, Terminator, The Howling, Small SoldiersTwilight Zone: The MovieAmazon Women on the MoonBatman: Mask of the Phantasm where he voiced the gravelly voiced Chuckie Sol and Oberon in an “The Ties That Bind” episode of Justice League Unlimited
  • Born December 25, 1952 CCH Pounder, 66. She’s had one very juicy voice role running through the DC Universe from since Justice League Unlimited in 2006. If you’ve not heard her do this role, it worth seeing the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which is far superior to the live action Suicide Squad film to hear her character. She also had an recurring role as Mrs. Irene Frederic on Warehouse 13 as well. She’s also been in X-FilesQuantum LeapWhite Dwarf (horrid series), Gargoyles, MillenniumHouse of Frankenstein, Outer LimitsW.I.T.C.H. and The Lion Guard. Film wise, she shows up in Robocop 3Tales from the Crypt presents Demon KnightAladdin and the King of ThievesFace/OffNetForceThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and several of the forthcoming Avatar films.

(8) COMING ATTRACTIONS. Petrea Mitchell administers the “Winter 2019 Anime Preview” at Amazing Stories.  First on the list:

Bermuda Triangle ~Colorful Pastrale~

The premise: Mermaids have everyday problems.

Derivative factor: Spinoff vaguely related to videogame

The buzz: Mermaids are cool, but everyone hates the art for one reason or another.

Premiere: January 12

(9) SPACECRIME. Investigators say it was an inside job reports the AP: “Russia: Hole drilled from inside International Space Station capsule”.

A Russian cosmonaut who explored a mysterious hole in a capsule docked to the International Space Station said Monday that the opening was drilled from inside the spacecraft and Russian law enforcement agencies are investigating what caused it.

Sergei Prokopyev said investigators were looking at samples he and crewmate Oleg Kononenko collected during a Dec. 12 spacewalk. Prokopyev and two other astronauts returned to Earth last week from a 197-day space station mission.

(10) TROPE-A-DOPE. In “Tradition”, Mad Genius Club’s Dave Freer uses the holiday to warn everyone who doesn’t plan to spend the coming year writing what he likes:

So here is my short Christmas Eve point: ignoring traditions may get you a lump of coal in your stocking and rotten sales to boot. Using them to add to your work, to build on – whether we’re talking the traditional (and very popular) tropes – be it a fantasy collect-the-tokens, or Bug-Eyed Monsters invading Earth remains more popular than following new attempts at ‘traditions’ (like yet another Handmaiden’s Tail clone) that are not popular. Using the language and style of the genre at least won’t lose you the established readers…

(11) PULP FRICTION. No matter what kind of story you’re telling, here’s some news published writers hated to hear: “Bottleneck at Printers Has Derailed Some Holiday Book Sales”. The New York Times has the story.

Several of this year’s most critically acclaimed novels, including Lisa Halliday’s “Asymmetry,” Richard Powers’s “The Overstory” and Rebecca Makkai’s “The Great Believers,” were listed as out of stock on Amazon the week before Christmas after inventory ran low because publishers could not to reprint copies quickly enough. Best-selling and critically lauded nonfiction titles like David W. Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass, Samin Nosrat’s cookbook “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” and Ben Reiter’s “Astroball” were also unavailable on Amazon, with some titles showing shipping dates of two to four weeks from now.

The industrywide paper jam has been building for months — a result of shrinking and consolidation among printing companies, the collapse of one of the major printers this summer, global paper shortages and a tightening job market that’s made it difficult for printers to hire additional seasonal workers. But it has become increasingly acute and visible at the industry’s peak sales season, when consumers are shopping for must-read titles to give as gifts, and finding that Amazon’s virtual shelves are bare.

(12) POMPEII DISCOVERY. BBC reports about a “Pompeii horse found still wearing harness”.

The remains of a horse still in its harness have been discovered at a villa outside the walls of Pompeii, in what archaeologists are hailing as a find of “rare importance”.

The horse was saddled up and ready to go, possibly to help rescue Pompeians fleeing the AD79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the town in ashes.

It was found with the remains of other horses at the Villa of the Mysteries.

The villa belonged to a Roman general or high-ranking military magistrate.

Archaeologists at the luxurious Villa of Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri) overlooking the sea have already found wine presses, ovens and extraordinary frescoes.

(13) WILD ASS CHASE. It could result in “Bringing ‘Asia’s zebras’ back to the steppe”.

“Do you see them?” the radio crackled in the old Russian 4×4.

The driver tried to steer away from pits and ravines that he could barely see in the dark. The lights of another car flashed in the distance. After a prolonged silence came the answer. “No.”

The two drivers navigating around a national park in the dead of the night are Kazakh rangers trying to capture Asiatic wild ass, known locally as kulans.

It is a part of the operation to reintroduce these animals to the steppes of central Kazakhstan, where they disappeared a century ago.

Kulans are the zebras of Asia. They used to roam on a massive territory stretching from Syria to Mongolia but today their populations are fragmented and vulnerable. Kulans in Central Asia are in particular danger.

(14) GRIM REAPER’S STOCKING STUFFER. Here is Jordan Peele’s gift for all: “‘Us’ trailer: Gory first trailer for new Jordan Peele film drops on Christmas Day”.

First things first, Happy Christmas! And if you haven’t unwrapped your surprise present from Get Out director Jordan Peele yet, you can watch the trailer for his new film Us below.

The timing of the trailer drop was very much planned by Peele. “The trailer going out on Christmas day is very exciting to me,” the director says. “Because, as families are gathered around the fireplace to celebrate the holidays, hopefully they can look on their phone, see this trailer and I’ll scare the pants off them.”

(15) TOP 10 GAMING CONTROVERSIES OF THE YEAR. And if you’re looking for a few more kerfuffles to tide you over til 2019, try these —  

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

Pixel Scroll 12/11/18 For The World Is Hollow And I Have Scrolled The Pixel

(1) PICARD. Entertainment Weekly got the word from Alex Kurtzman: “Star Trek producer explains how Picard spin-off will be ‘extremely different'”.

“It’s an extremely different rhythm than Discovery,” [writer-director Alex] Kurtzman told EW exclusively. “Discovery is a bullet. Picard is a very contemplative show. It will find a balance between the speed of Discovery and the nature of what Next Gen was, but I believe it will have its own rhythm.”

Continued Kurtzman: “Without revealing too much about it, people have so many questions about Picard and what happened to him, and the idea we get to take time to answer those questions in the wake of the many, many things he’s had to deal with in Next Gen is really exciting. ‘More grounded’ is not the right way to put it, because season 2 of Discovery is also grounded. It will feel more…real-world? If that’s the right way to put it.”

(2) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. Also,Variety says the Picard series will be made in California to take advantage of state tax benefits: “New‘ Star Trek’ Series to Shoot in California, Selected for Tax Credit”.

CBS’s new “Star Trek” series, with Patrick Stewart reprising the role of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, will shoot in California and receive a $15.6 million production tax credit.

The California Film Commission announced Monday that the untitled “Star Trek” series and eight other TV series have been selected for the latest tax credit allocations totaling $90 million under the state’s expanded Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0.

Six recurring series already in the tax credit program and picked up for another season of in-state production have also been set for allocations — Fox’s third season of “The Orville” with $15.8 million, CBS’s second season of “Strange Angel” with $10 million, Fox’s ninth season of “American Horror Story” ($8.9 million),  and the second seasons of “MayansMC” ($7.6 million), “Good Trouble” ($6.6 million) and “The Rookie” ($4.5million).

(3) LULZINE. John Coxon and España Sheriff have launched a new online fanzine called Lulzine, focused on comedy, and comedy in science fiction and fantasy. Check out Lulzine Issue 1. The editors are still looking for material that suits the first issue’s theme. (Adding stuff makes sense because Lulzine presents as a blog. But don’t tell anyone I said so.)

We’re hoping to add more articles to the first issue before we start the second issue just before Ytterbium (the next Eastercon). The theme of the first issue is comedy in television, so if anyone wants to pitch us articles, they can contact us at editors@lulzine.net.

(4) BREAKFAST WITH EINSTEIN. At Whatever, Chad Orzel explains “The Big Idea” behind his book Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects.

Quantum mechanics is one of the most amazing theories in all of science, full of stuff that captures the imagination: zombie cats, divine dice-rolling, spooky actions over vast distances. Maybe the single most amazing thing about it, though, is that we think it’s weird.

That probably seems a strange thing to say, because quantum physics is so weird, but that’s exactly the point. These are the fundamental principles governing the behavior of everything in the universe, and yet they run completely counter to our intuition about how the world works. If these are the basic rules underlying everything, shouldn’t they make sense? How can the entire universe behave according to strictly quantum laws, and yet we’re not intuitively aware of it?

(5) GLOBAL VIEW. Here’s Mortal Engines’ fascinating “Explore London 360” video –

(6) STUDY IN THIS WORLD’S HOGWARTS. Buzzfeed displays photos of “16 Libraries That Look Like Hogwarts IRL”. One of them is —

2.The University of Washington Library in Seattle, Washington

(7) CREATING AN IMPRESSION. Dave Addey takes up book covers as part of his column’s “Typeset in the Future” sub theme at Tor.com: “Designing the Future: Deconstructing Five Sci-Fi Book Covers”. He doesn’t restrict the conversation to Tor publications, I just thought this one made a good excerpt for the Scroll —

“Loss of Signal” by S. B. Divya (A Tor.com Original,2018)

…The cover’s inverted planetary relationship evokes “Earthrise”, a famous NASA photograph taken onboard Apollo 8 by astronaut Bill Anders….

Like “Earthrise” and Loss of Signal, 2001’s intro shows our home planet far in the distance, small and insignificant when compared to the moon’s barren surface in the foreground. Both images require viewers to consider their place in the universe from an entirely alien vantage point, far from the comforts of home. It’s an entirely appropriate feeling for S. B. Divya’s story of the first human mind to circle the moon without a body in tow.

(8) UNSTINCTION. Shelf Awareness calls attention to Torill Kornfeldt’s “The Re-Origin of Species: A Second Chance for Extinct Animals”.

“There is no way in which a lost species can really be brought back to life,” writes Swedish science journalist Torill Kornfeldt in her fascinating debut, The Re-Origin of Species: A Second Chance for Extinct Animals. “The nearest thing we can manage is a substitute.” But as each chapter reveals, the “substitutes” that many scientists think are possible would be nearly identical to–and just as astonishing as–the originals.

Kornfeldt travels the world to meet scientists who are attempting “de-extinction,” the practice of bringing extinct animals back to life. In Siberia, she meets Sergey Zimov, a Russian scientist attempting to revive mammoths. And in California she speaks with Ben Novak, a young scientist trying to resurrect the passenger pigeon. Other scientists are working on the northern white rhino, a Spanish ibex called a bucardo and, yes, even a dinosaur. There are still advancements to be made in genetic research before any of these experiments could result in actual resurrected animals but, according to the scientists Kornfeldt interviews, breakthroughs are happening at an unprecedented pace. De-extinction is only a few years away from becoming reality.

(9) BUT THEN I TURNED ON THE TV, AND THAT’S ABOUT THE TIME SHE WALKED AWAY FROM ME. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Looks like Gerard Way’s The Umbrella Academy won’t be the only science fiction TV show based on a comic book by a famous Emo band member. Blink 182 guitarist Tom DeLonge’s sci-fi graphic novel Strange Times is being turned into a show for TBS. The show will follow all-American teen Charlie Wilkins who starts investigating when his dad is abducted by aliens. He’s helped by his skateboarding friends and the ghost of a girl. Of the show, DeLonge says: “My love for all things paranormal and skateboarding are sometimes only superseded by my love for offensive humor. This series combines them all into one.” “Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge is making his own sci-fi TV series”NME has the story:

…The show is in development at US network TBS and will follow “five dirty teenage skateboarders who solve paranormal mysteries while being chased by Deep State government agents.”

(10) WHEN IT ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY HAS TO BE THERE OVERNIGHT. “Mark Hamill reveals script for Star Wars IX will be flown to him and then immediately taken back amid intense plot leak fears”Daily Mail has the story.

If you can’t trust a Jedi Master, who can you trust? Mark Hamill has revealed the script for Star Wars Episode IX will be flown to him and he must immediately hand it back after reading it.

Security around the finale is so tight that the 67-year-old is no longer allowed to keep a copy. He has yet to shoot his scenes.

The actor, who plays Luke Skywalker in the sci-fi saga, is currently in Prague where he is shooting the History Channel’s Knightfall. 

(11) LIGHTSABER AUCTION CANCELLED. Profiles in History responded to the controversy reported in an earlier Scroll by withdrawing the item: “Star Wars lightsaber auction pulled over origin dispute”.

…However, the Original Prop Blog posted a series of videos raising doubts about the weapon, including alleged discrepancies between the lightsaber shown in that letter and the lightsaber in the auction catalogue.

There were also claims this might be a replica or prototype prop.

But Mr Roger Christian told the BBC it was one of five original lightsabers made for the film, saying: “It is real – I’ve got the Oscar to prove it.”

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 11, 1957 – William Joyce, 61. Author of the YA series Guardians of Childhood which is currently at twelve books and growing. Now I’ve no interest in reading them but Joyce and Guillermo del Toro turned them into in a rather splendid Rise of the Guardians film which I enjoyed quite a bit. The antagonist in it reminds me somewhat of a villain later on In Willingham’s Fables series called Mr. Dark. 
  • Born December 11, 1959  — M. Rickert, 59. Usually I don’t cotton with listing Awards but she’s rather unusual in she’s has won or been nominated for several major awards despite working largely in short fiction with I believe The Memory Garden being her only novel. “Journey into the Kingdom” was nominated for the 2006 Nebula Award for Best Novelette and an International Horror Guild Award, and won the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction Her Map of Dreams won a World Fantasy Award for Best Collection and a Crawford Award, and the collection’s title story was nominated for the 2007 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. 
  • Born December 11, 1962Ben Browder, 56. Actor of course best known for his roles as John Crichton in Farscape and Cameron Mitchell in Stargate SG-1.  One of my favorite roles by him was his voicing of  Bartholomew Aloysius “Bat” Lash in Justice League Unlimited “The Once and Future Thing, Part 1” episode. He’d have an appearance in Doctor Who in “A Town Called Mercy”,  a Weird Western of sorts. His most recent genre appearance was as a character named Ted Gaynor on Arrow
  • Born December 11, 1965 Sherrilyn Kenyon, 53. Best for her Dark Hunter series which runs to around thirty volumes now. I confess I’ve not read any, so I’m curious as to how they are. Opinions? (Of course you do. Silly me.)  She’s got The League series as well which appears to be paranormal romance, and a Lords of Avalon series too under the pen name of Kinley MacGregor. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • This is no job for the sommelier: Bizarro
  • Frosty the UFOman at Bizarro.
  • Why can’t Santa guest on Star Trek? Meme will explain.

(14) TONIGHT’S JEOPARDY! Andrew Porter has his eye on the tube. Tonight’s Jeopardy!, in the category “Posthumous Books,” gave the answer as: “After death, this horror author still talked about the Necronomicon in his novel, ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.'”

Wrong question: “Who is Asimov?”

(15) SKY’S THE LIMIT. In his latest Nerds of a Feather contribution,“Microreview [Book]: The Fated Sky, by Mary Robinette Kowal”, Joe Sherry declares —

The Fated Sky stands well on its own but, when coupled with The Calculating Stars, is a masterpiece.

After reading The Calculating Stars (my review) earlier this year, I wrote about how Mary Robinette Kowal did more than achieve a sense of wonder, she brought the dream of spaceflight beyond the page and directly into readers hearts. The Calculating Stars was a masterful novel that will surely find a place on many Year’s Best lists and a number of awards ballots. It’s a lot to live up to, but the near perfection of The Calculating Stars only serves to whet the appetite for The Fated Sky.

The Fated Sky picks up a few years after the end of The Calculating Stars. There is a fledgling base and colony on the moon, regular round trip missions from the earth to the moon, and the IAC (International Aerospace Coalition) is planning for its first Mars mission. Each of the two books are tagged as “Lady Astronaut” novels and Mary Robinette Kowal won a Hugo Award for her story “The Lady Astronaut of Mars“. We know how the progression of Elma’s story, where she ends up. It isn’t about spoiling the ending, the beauty of The Fated Sky is in the journey. In this case, a journey to Mars.

(16) BATWOMAN IN CW CROSSOVER. The Hollywood Reporter tells“How Batwoman Fit Into The CW’s DC Comics World in ‘Elseworlds'”.

Batwoman has finally arrived on The CW. Ruby Rose’s iconic lesbian superhero officially made her debut during Monday’s Arrow, part two of The CW’s three-part superhero crossover “Elseworlds.” 

With Earth-1 impacted by a magical book that altered reality, Monday’s Arrow installment of The CW’s big “Elseworlds” superhero crossover found The Flash’s Barry (Grant Gustin), Arrow’s Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Supergirl’s Kara (Melissa Benoist) in Gotham to try and get to the bottom of things. Unfortunately for the heroes, a mugging (and their inability to stand down) landed the trio in jail, where they were bailed out by a mysterious figure — Kate Kane (Orange Is the New Blackgrad Rose), aka Batwoman.

(17) JUST DO IT. Mars Society president Robert Zubrin argues in the Washington Post that “We have the technology to build a colony on the moon. Let’s do it.” The author of The Case For Mars takes aim at current NASA plans to build a mini-space station that would orbit the moon, and instead suggests that the time has come to set up a permanent habitable structure on the lunar surface.

…As for landing people on the moon, NASA is vague about that, too. Apparently, if we wanted to build a lander sometime in the future, it would rendezvous with the Gateway for some reason and then attempt a landing.

This is all just plain weird. It’s like building a big, expensive aircraft carrier, positioning it off the European coast and requiring passengers going from New York to Paris to land there first and do something (although what isn’t known) until another airplane is built to pick them up to carry them to their destination. This, we suspect, is not the best way to get to France.

Rather than build this murky Gateway, which we frankly doubt the American people will understand or support, we believe the best expenditure of time and money is to simply make it a national goal to build a base on the lunar surface. Such a base would be similar to the U.S. South Pole Station and constructed for the same reasons: science, exploration, knowledge, national prestige, and economic and technological development for the benefit of the U.S. taxpayer.

…If we’re serious about going to the moon, let’s just go there. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, reminding us of the sort of things we as a nation once accomplished. We should resolve now to do no less.

(18) STOP AND GO. First story isn’t good news: Himalayan glaciers are slowing because they’ve thinned enough that there’s less mass to move them downhill, and their outflows provide inland water. Second story also isn’t good news: Satellite images show Antarctic glaciers getting more lubrication on their way to the ocean, where they’ll melt and raise ocean levels.

The glaciers that flank the Himalayas and other high mountains in Asia are moving slower over time.

Scientists have analysed nearly 20 years of satellite images to come to this conclusion.

They show that the ice streams which have decelerated the mostare the ones that have also thinned the most.

The region has long been considered stable and unaffected by some of the more dramatic changes occurring elsewhere on the continent.

But satellites have now shown that ice streams running into the ocean along one-eighth of the eastern coastline have thinned and sped up.

If this trend continues, it has consequences for future sea levels.

There is enough ice in the drainage basins in this sector of Antarctica to raise the height of the global oceans by 28m – if it were all to melt out.

(19) GAME CENSORS. From BBC we learn that “China’s new games censors take tough stance”.

A panel of censors set up to vet mobile video games in China has signalled it will be hard to please.

State media reports that of the first 20 titles it assessed, nine were refused permission to go on sale.

The Xinhua news agency added that developers of the other 11 had been told they had to make adjustments to remove “controversial content”.

There has been a clampdown on new video game releases in the country since March.

The authorities have voiced concerns about the violent nature of some titles as well as worries about the activity being addictive.

President Xi Jinping has also called for more to be done to tackle a rise in near-sightedness among the young – something that the country’s ministry of education has linked to children playing video games at the cost of spending time on outdoor pastimes.

(20) FILMING IN NEW ZEALAND. The Hollywood Reporter shows how Peter Jackson’s pioneer efforts have paid off for New Zealand: “‘Avatar’ to ‘Mulan’: Hollywood Movies Are Keeping New Zealand Busier Than Ever”.

…In addition to recently hosting summer blockbusters like Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible — Fallout and the giant shark thriller The Meg, the New Zealand production uptick is indeed evidenced by the volume of high-profile projects that are in varying stages of production right now.

James Cameron is gearing up for the monumental task of shooting all three of the Avatar sequels there simultaneously early in 2019. The films were brought to New Zealand via a government deal that requires 20thCentury Fox to spend no less than NZ $500 million (about $345 million)in-country and to hold at least one of the world premieres there.

Meanwhile, Disney is just wrapping production on its live-action adaptation of Mulan, with a budget north of $100 million and Kiwi director Niki Caro at the helm. The project shot on the new stages at Kumeu Film Studios in West Auckland as well as on locations across the country. Netflix, of course, also is active in New Zealand, having recently begun filming the family fantasy series The Letter for the King in Auckland; Amazon Studios, meanwhile, is shooting the YA series The Wilds in Auckland nearby. Also courtesy of Amazon, the franchise that made New Zealand synonymous with Middle Earth is tipped to be coming back to the island nation — for many in the local industry, it’s simply unthinkable that the streamer’s Lord of the Rings TV series, with a rumored budget of $500 million, won’t shoot there.

(21) BEST RESOURCE. Congratulations to Mark Kelly who has added contents of 15 best-of-year anthology series to his Science Fiction Awards Database site, with single-page composite tables of contents for each series, and all stories included on their authors’ individual pages. (He still has more such series yet to do, for example, the Datlow/Windling series.) See “Anthologies & Collections Directory”. The first 15 “bests” include–

1939 – 1963  • Asimov/Greenberg • The Great SF Stories (DAW, 1979 – 1992)

1948 – 1957  • Bleiler/Dikty • The Best Science-Fiction Stories and Novels (1949 – 1958)

1955 – 1967  • Judith Merril • Year’s Best S-F (1956 – 1967)

1964 – 1970  • Wollheim/Carr • World’s Best Science Fiction (Ace, 1965 – 1971)

1967 – 1975  • Harrison/Aldiss • Best SF (1968 – 1976)

1974 – 1975  • Lester del Rey • Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year (Dutton, 1972 – 1976)

1971 – 1989  • Donald A. Wollheim • Annual World’s Best SF (DAW, 1972 – 1990)

1971 – 1986  • Terry Carr • Best Science Fiction of the Year + Fantasy (1972 – 1987)

1976 – 1980  • Gardner Dozois • Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year (Dutton, 1977 – 1981)

1983 – 2017  • Gardner Dozois • Year’s Best Science Fiction (St. Martin’s, 1984 – 2018)

1995 – 2012  • Hartwell/Cramer • Year’s Best SF, Year’s Best Fantasy (1996 – 2013)

2001 – 2004  • Silverberg/Haber/Strahan • Science Fiction Best of, Fantasy Best of (ibooks: 2002 – 2005)

2003 – 2017  • Jonathan Strahan • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year (2004 – 2018)

2005 – 2017  • Rich Horton • The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy (Prime, 2006 – 2018)

2015 – 2017  • Neil Clarke • The Best Science Fiction of the Year (Night Shade, 2016 – 2018)

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

2018 Gamers’ Choice Awards

The inaugural Gamers’ Choice Awards were announced today on a CBS broadcast. Top gamers and esports stars were in attendance including Ninja, who took home three Gamers’ Choice Awards — Fan Favorite Esports Player of the Year, Fan Favorite Gamer Moment and the 2018 Super Nova Honor. Fortnite led the gaming sector with five Fan Favorite Awards.

  • Fan Favorite Game: Fortnite
  • Fan Favorite Male Gamer/Streamer presented by Overpowered: TimTheTatman
  • Fan Favorite Female Gamer/Streamer:  Pokimane
  • Most Anticipated Game: The Last ofUs II 
  • Fan Favorite Action Game: Marvel’sSpider-Man
  • Fan Favorite Single Player Gaming Experience: Marvel’sSpider-Man
  • Fan Favorite Multiplayer Game: Fortnite  
  • Fan Favorite Shooter Game: Call of Duty:Black Ops 4
  • Fan Favorite Celebrity Gamer (Actor): Terry Crews
  • Fan Favorite Celebrity Gamer (Athlete): Juju Smith-Schuster
  • Fan Favorite Celebrity Gamer (Musician): Snoop Dogg
  • Fan Favorite Esports Team: FaZe Clan
  • Fan Favorite Esports Game: Fortnite
  • Fan Favorite Esports Player (League of Legends): Faker
  • Fan Favorite Battle Royale Game: Fortnite
  • Fan Favorite Fighting Game: DragonBallFighterZ
  • Fan Favorite Sports/Racing Game: Rocket League
  • Fan Favorite Family-Friendly Multiplayer Game: Super Mario Party
  • Fan Favorite Role-Playing Game: Monster Hunter: World
  • Fan Favorite MMORPG: World of Warcraft: Battle forAzeroth
  • Fan Favorite VR Game: Beat Saber
  • Fan Favorite Mobile Game: PokémonGO
  • Most Desired Franchise Resurrection: Star Wars:Knights of the Old Republic
  • Fan Favorite Indie Game: Subnautica
  • Fan Favorite Gaming Device: PC
  • Fan Favorite Gaming Convention: TwitchCon
  • Favorite Streaming Service: Twitch
  • Fan Favorite Gaming Moment presented by HyperX: Drake plays with Ninja
  • Fan Favorite Female Voice Actor: Camilla Luddington as Lara Croft (Shadow of the Tomb Raider)
  • Fan Favorite Character of the Year: Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Marvel’s Spider-Man)
  • Fan Favorite Retro Game: Super MarioBrothers
  • Fan Favorite Retro Character: Mario (Super MarioBros.)
  • Fan Favorite EsportsPlayer (Dota 2): Miracle
  • Fan Favorite EsportsPlayer (SuperSmash Bros Melee): Magn0
  • Fan Favorite Esports Player (Dragon BallFighterZ): SonicFox
  • Fan Favorite Esports Player (CS:GO):s1mple
  • Fan Favorite Esports Player (Overwatch):Profit
  • Fan Favorite EsportsPlayer (RocketLeague): Squishy
  • Fan Favorite Esports Player (PUBG): Fuzzface
  • Fan Favorite Esports Player (Fortnite): Ninja
  • Fan Favorite Overall Esports Player: Ninja
  • Fan Favorite Esports Caster Duo: Monte and Doa
  • Fan Favorite Esports Caster: CouRage
  • Fan Favorite Esports Event of the Year: Call of Duty: World League Grand Finals
  • Fan Favorite Esports Moment: Cloud9 Wins Boston Major
  • Fan Favorite Esports League Format: Fortnite – Community Skirmishes
  • Fan Favorite Male Voice Actor: ChristopherJudge as Kratos (God of War)
  • Fan Favorite Collegiate Esports Team Presented byiBuyPower: Ohio State
  • Fan Favorite Esports Host: Alex ‘Goldenboy’ Mendez              
  • Fan Favorite Fall Release: Red Dead Redemption 2

Pixel Scroll 11/19/18 It’s Credentials All The Way Down

(1) WHEN VACUUBOT RUNS AMOK. John Scalzi shares the fun – “A Thanksgiving Week Gift for You: ‘Automated Customer Service’”.

To show my appreciation for you, my readers, here’s a short story I wrote to read aloud while I was touring with The Consuming Fire. It’s called “Automated Customer Service,” and it’s what happens when, in the near future, something goes wrong with a household appliance and you have to navigate an automated call system to get help….

…The automated system has detected that you are using high levels of profanity right now. While the automated system is in fact automated and doesn’t care what you yell at it, your bad attitude is being noted for if and when you are put in contact with a human representative. When you have calmed your sassy boots down a bit, press one….

(2) DESTINY UNLOCKED. NPR finds a sentimental story behind this book purchase: “Bookstore’s Tweet On The Sale Of A Children’s Book After 27 Years Goes Viral”.

A bookstore in England sold a children’s biography of William the Conqueror that had been sitting in its shop since 1991.

“I have just sold a book that we have had in stock since May 1991,” the Broadhursts Bookshop tweeted. “We always knew its day would come.”

The store’s tweet about the sale has since gone viral and received thousands of replies. Author Sarah Todd Taylor tweeted in response, “The book held its breath. It had hoped so often, only to have that hope crushed. Hands lifted it from the shelf, wrapped it warmly in paper. As the door closed on its past life, the book heard the soft cheers of its shelfmates.”

(3) ASPIRATIONAL GAMING. For everyone who doesn’t have this tech in their living room: “Game on! Pro video gamers open pop-up play space on Atlantic Ave. in Boerum Hill”Brooklyn Paper has the story.

A team of professional video gamers opened up a pop-up shop on Atlantic Avenue where experienced nerds can pay by the hour to dominate noobs on top-of-the-line gaming equipment, according to the group’s game-player-in-chief.

“We’re offering the opportunity to have a really truly premium gaming experience over here on some of the nicest computers in the world,” said Ben Nichol.

Nichol, who die-hard gamers may recognize for streaming his gaming exploits as Mr. Bitter on Youtube, now spearheads events and business development for pro-gaming squad New York Excelsior, which set up the temporary NYXL play space between Nevins Street and Third Avenue that features 34 top-of-the-line HP Omen gaming desktop computers, which at roughly $3,000 a piece, are each roughly equivalent in value to a well-maintained 2006 Volkswagen Jetta.

(4) TRANS-ATLANTIC FAN FUND. At midnight on November 22 the TAFF nominating period ends. There is still time to declare your candidacy to become the delegate to the Dublin 2019 Worldcon. See the TAFF homepage to learn what you must do to enter the race.

(5) I AM BATWOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR. This year’s CW crossover event in their “Arrowverse” set of shows now has a comic book cover to go along with it (io9/Gizmodo: “The DC/CW Elseworlds Crossover Gets the Mashup Comic Cover It Deserves”). Elseworlds will link up episodes of The FlashArrow, and Supergirl on December 9-11, 2018 and will introduce Batwoman, Lois Lane, and Gotham City to the connected universes. There are minor spoilers (most of all of which have already been shown in the various trailers for Elseworlds) in the io9/Gizmodo article:

As well as depicting Supergirl, Superman (not in his new black suit), Batwoman, and the bodyswapped versions of Green Arrow and Flash, the cover includes LaMonica Garrett lurking in the background as the Monitor, and our first look at Jeremy Davies’ character, Doctor John Deegan, a mysterious figure who works at Arkham Asylum and is apparently the catalyst that brings our heroes together and to Gotham in the first place.

(6) TIME WANTS TO BE FREE. BBC remembers “The clock that cost its inventor millions” (but saved him from Douglas Adams’s scorn) —

One of the world’s first digital clocks, which was made by a man in his shed, has been sold at auction.

Thomas Bromley, an engineer and amateur inventor, created his Digitron Electric Clock in 1961 at his home in Hull.

He held the patent to the design for three years but chose not to renew it – potentially costing him millions of pounds.

(7) TOLKIEN/LEWIS DOCUMENTARY RESUMES PRODUCTION. The documentary film series, A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War, explores how the experience of two world wars shaped the lives and literary imagination of two authors and friends, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The series is based on Joseph Loconte’s New York Times bestseller. Photos from the series here — “Truly amazing!”

We have had an amazing start to this 2nd chapter of our production. We hit the ground running from Panavision, London, thanks to their generous donations.  From there we secured an abandoned boarding school in Hastings to create some amazing reenactments.  With today’s early call in Liverpool, we shall get to work, but enjoy these shots from our reenactments.

(8) A FLOP. Whew! You can smell 1963 from here! Galactic Journey’s Traveler calls this new issue of F&SF — “[November 19, 1963] Fuel for the Fire (December 1963 Fantasy and Science Fiction)”.

The once proud golden pages of F&SF have taken a definite turn for the worse under the Executive Editorship of one Avram Davidson.  At last, after two years, we arrive at a new bottom.  Those of you with months remaining on your subscription can look forward to a guaranteed supply of kindling through the winter.

(9) STAN LEE TRIBUTE. At the Smithsonian movie producer and instructor Michael Uslan eulogizes his hero and mentor, whose superheroes taught him countless life lessons — “A Letter to Stan Lee, Comic Book Legend, Written by One of His Biggest Fans”.

What about what you did for me personally in life? …

  • I was 13 when I read in a fanzine that if a fan mailed you a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with a typed interview with space for you to answer after each question, you would respond. I still have that interview with all your hand-written answers. That was the moment you became my mentor, introducing me to the history of Marvel and the comic book industry.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 19, 1924 – William Russell, 94, Actor from England who played Companion Ian Chesterton to First Doctor William Hartnell in the Doctor Who series from 1963 to 1965; in the 1990s he recorded bridging scenes as that character, to make up for lost episodes in the VHS release of the Who serial “The Crusade”. In 2013, he was portrayed by Jamie Glover in the docudrama Doctor Who: An Adventure in Space and Time; he himself had a cameo role as a security guard. Other genre appearances included a recurring lead role in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot, playing one of the Elders from Krypton in the first two Superman movies and The Duke of Gloucester in an episode of Robin of Sherwood, and a part in the film Death Watch.
  • Born November 19, 1953 – Robert Beltran, 65, Actor of Stage and Screen who is undoubtedly best known to genre fans as Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager, though some of us remember him from the 1980s cult film Night of the Comet. He also had appearances in The Mystic Warrior, Cry of the Winged Serpent, Shadowhunter, Manticore, and Fire Serpent, and guest roles in episodes of Lois & Clark and Medium, as well as the fan-made web series Star Trek: Renegades and a voice role in the Young Justice animated series. One of his theater roles was playing Oberon in the California Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
  • Born November 19, 1954 – Kathleen Quinlan, 64, Actor whose first genre role was in I Never Promised You a Rose Garden; she was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Marilyn Lovell in Apollo 13. She also appeared in Event Horizon, Independence Day, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Breakdown, The Hills Have Eyes, Horns, Warning Sign, and Trapped.
  • Born November 19, 1958 – Charlie Kauffman, 60,  Writer, Director, Producer, and Lyricist known for surreal genre films Being John Malkovich, Adaptation (for which he won a Saturn), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (for which he won an Oscar). Last year, together with John Lee Hancock and Patrick Ness, he was announced as one of the writers of the upcoming film adaptation of Ness’ Chaos Walking book series, but I see no indication that progress has been made towards it being filmed.
  • Born November 19, 1959 – Allison Janney, 59, Oscar-winning Actor of Stage and Screen whose genre roles include the films Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Wolf, The Way, Way Back, and the remake of Miracle on 34th Street,  and voice roles in Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Finding Dory, Minions, Over the Hedge, and the upcoming animated reboot of The Addams Family, and in animated TV series including Aliens in the Family, Robot Chicken, and DuckTales.
  • Born November 19, 1962 – Jodie Foster, 56, Oscar-winning Actor, Director, and Producer who played the lead in the Hugo-winning film version of Carl Sagan’s Contact, for which she received a Saturn nomination. She has also received Saturn noms for her roles in horror films The Silence of The Lambs, Flightplan, and Panic Room, and she won a well-deserved Saturn trophy for her early horror role at the age of thirteen in The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. Other roles include Elysium, the recently-released Hotel Artemis, and voice parts in the series The X-Files and the animated Addams Family.
  • Born November 19, 1963 – Terry Farrell, 55, Actor best known to genre fans for her role as Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Film appearances include Hellraiser III, Legion, and Deep Core, and she has had guest roles in The (new) Twilight Zone, Quantum Leap, Red Dwarf, and the fan series Star Trek: Renegades. In the Deep Space Nine crossover episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”, her character gushed over Spock; this year, she married his son, Adam Nimoy.
  • Born November 19, 1973 – Sandrine Holt, 45, Actor from England whose latest genre role is in the TV series The Crossing, in which refugees from the future seek asylum in the present. Prior to that, her extensive genre resume includes guest parts in the most recent run of The X-Files, Witchblade, The (new) Outer Limits, Mutant X, The Phantom, Sanctuary, Fear the Walking Dead, The Returned, The Listener, Damien, Friday the 13th: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy, and Mr. Robot. Film appearances include Terminator Genisys, Starship Troopers 2, Underworld: Awakening, Fire Serpent, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever.

(11) THE WINNING CRATER IS… Tech Crunch pays attention as “NASA chooses the landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission”.

“The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life.”

The crater is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator, with some of the oldest and most scientifically interesting landscapes Mars has to offer, according to NASA scientists.

(12) INVENTIONS OF THE YEAR. Popular Mechanics put together a list of the most impactful inventions; 1 per year (“65 Best Inventions of the Past 65 Years”). “Since the list starts in 1954, PM has declared that Nothing Interesting Happened Here™ in  or before my birth year, should that make me #Sad?” asks Mike Kennedy.

1954: Microwave Oven

1955: Polio Vaccine

1956: (Computer) Hard Drive

1957: Birth Control Pill

1958: Jet Airliner

etc.

(13) BUGS, MR. RICO! Since “These 4,000-Year-Old Termite Mounds Can Be Seen From Space” you can assume aliens flying wooden spaceships will be landing somewhere else…

Scientists have discovered an immense grouping of freakishly large termite mounds in northeastern Brazil. Obscured by trees, the previously undetected array occupies a space equal to the size of Great Britain.

As described in a new paper published today in Current Biology, the regularly spaced termite mounds date back nearly 4,000 years and cover an astounding 230,000 square kilometers…

(14) IS DNA DESTINY? The Hollywood Reporter rings up another Netflix genre show: “Netflix Orders Sci-Fi Series ‘The One’ from ‘Misfits’ Creator”.

The streaming giant has picked up 10 episodes of the show from Urban Myth Films and StudioCanal. The series is based on a novel by John Marrs.

The series is set “five minutes in the future” in a world where a DNA test can reveal a person’s perfect partner — the one you’re genetically predisposed to fall passionately in love with. But it also raises other questions: Who hasn’t thought about whether there is someone better out there? What if a hair sample is all it takes to find them? The idea is simple, but the implications are explosive.

(15) MAGICIANS SEASON 4. The Magicians returns with all new episodes on January 23 on SYFY.

Based upon Lev Grossman’s best-selling books, The Magicians centers around Brakebills University, a secret institution specializing in magic. There, amidst an unorthodox education of spellcasting, a group of twenty-something friends soon discover that a magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real— and poses grave danger to humanity.

 

(16) OMG IT’S THE ENTERPRISE! [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Somewhere out there in space an odd thing is happening. An image of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, writ much, much larger than the fictional ship, has been found ( NASA: “Abell 1033: To Boldly Go into Colliding Galaxy Clusters”). A composite image using X-ray, low-frequency radio wave, and optical data is a somewhat distorted but nonetheless recognizable depiction of the Enterprise. From the NASA press release:

Galaxy clusters — cosmic structures containing hundreds or even thousands of galaxies — are the largest objects in the Universe held together by gravity. Multi-million-degree gas fills the space in between the individual galaxies. The mass of the hot gas is about six times greater than that of all the galaxies combined. This superheated gas is invisible to optical telescopes, but shines brightly in X-rays, so an X-ray telescope like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory is required to study it.

By combining X-rays with other types of light, such as radio waves, a more complete picture of these important cosmic objects can be obtained. A new composite image of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033, including X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio emission from the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) network in the Netherlands (blue), does just that. Optical emission from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey is also shown. The galaxy cluster is located about 1.6 billion light years from Earth.

(17) SHIT LIT. Upon reading Gizmodo’s report “We Finally Know How Wombats Produce Their Distinctly Cube-Shaped Poop”, Daniel Dern immediately recognized the potential sff reference to be made —

Which, of course, to us Olde Phartz, immediately calls to mind what story?

N Znegvna Bqlffrl, ol Fgnayrl T. Jrvaonhz, of course!

Text of story available at Project Gutenberg.

(18) NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. What subliminal advertising is at work here?

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

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 10/18/18 Last Week I Went To Pixeldelphia But It Was Scrolled

(1) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman, in Episode 79 of Eating the Fantastic, invites podcast listeners to join him for lunch with Rebecca Roanhorse at Zona Rosa Mexican restaurant.

Rebecca Roanhorse

Roanhorse’s short story “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (TM),” which appeared in Apex magazine, won the Nebula Award earlier this year, and was also nominated for this year’s Hugo Award, an amazing feat for a writer’s first published short story. Plus she was also nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. And the following night after she and I dined, she was the winner in both of those categories. (By the way, she was the first writer since 1980 to win the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Campbell Award for Best New Writer the same year. It’s only been done once before, by Barry B. Longyear with his novella “Enemy Mine.”)

Roanhorse’s debut novel, Trail of Lightning, was published this summer by Saga Press, about which the New York Times had this to say: “Someone please cancel Supernatural already and give us at least five seasons of this badass indigenous monster-hunter and her silver-tongued sidekick.” It’s the first book is The Sixth World series, and will be followed next year by Storm of Locusts.

We discussed the spark without which her award-winning short story would never have been written, the differing reactions her tale garnered from inside and outside of the Native American community, the compelling reason she chose to write it in the second person, what she learned as a lawyer that helped in writing her first novel, how she upped her game when she decided to be a writer for real, why she fell out of the reading habit and how a Laurel K. Hamilton novel drew her back in, what it was like to hear Levar Burton read her award-winning story, and much more.

(2) ARTHUR FOR PURISTS. James Davis Nicoll tells Tor.com readers these are “The Best Arthurian Novels for Fans of Actual History”

I suspect a lot of people’s minds ran in the same direction mine did at the news that a girl named Saga had pulled a fifteen hundred-year-old sword from a lake. Not all swords are Excalibur, of course, and the lake in question was in Sweden, but Britain could do worse than seeing if Saga has any interest in becoming Prime Minister.

All of which reminded me of Arthuriana, and my first and favorite Arthur novel, Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Lantern Bearers (1959)….

(3) NEUKOM TAKING ENTRIES. Tor.com reports “Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award Opens Submissions for Second Year Honoring Speculative Fiction”.

The three award categories are —

1 • The Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Speculative Fiction

2 • The Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Debut Speculative Fiction (for a first book)

3 • The Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award for Playwriting

…The submission window recently opened for the second year of the Neukom Institute award. Asked how they are approaching the second season, Rockmore responded, “We are not just award judges, we are readers. We can’t wait to read the next crop of speculative fiction that is being submitted for the second Neukom season. We are hoping that we can build on the success of the inaugural year of the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards to gather an even stronger and broader collection of submissions for this year. We continue to welcome speculative fiction in all of its many forms and look forward to continuing to bring greater attention to this important genre.”

Eligible books include any works published no earlier than June 1, 2016 or under contract to be published no later than December 31, 2018; the submission deadline for all three awards is December 31. More detailed submission guidelines here. The awards will be announced in spring 2019.

(4) MORE ABOUT EREWHON. The press release from Liz Gorinsky’s new Erewhon Books fills in more details:

Erewhon’s founder, President, and Publisher Liz Gorinsky came to Erewhon after nearly fifteen years at SF&F publisher Tor Books, where she edited a list that included acclaimed and award-winning speculative fiction authors Liu Cixin, Annalee Newitz, Cherie Priest, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, and Jeff VanderMeer. She was part of the team that founded Tor..com and has won multiple prestigious awards for editing, including the Hugo Award for Best Editor, Long Form. Gorinsky remarked, “I started to learn about science fiction and fantasy at Tor Books as an intern, but I’ve loved those genres ever since I started reading. I’ve been honored to publish many beautiful SF&F books that have been bestselling, award-nominated, critically acclaimed (or all three!), and I’m thrilled to carry on my work with the many great authors in this genre and build the special attention and individual approach that a boutique independent publisher can provide.”

The rest of the Erewhon team includes Editorial Assistant Jillian Feinberg and business advisor Peter Burri, who is the co-founder of the successful independent press The Experiment and has twenty-five years of experience in publishing operations and financing. Erewhon also has substantial financial backers who come from families with over fifty years of publishing experience and are committed to the long-term growth of the company.

Erewhon is pleased to have signed on as a distribution client of independent publisher Workman Publishing, which has fine imprints including Algonquin Books and Artisan Books and a select distribution group that includes The Experiment and duopress. Previously, Workman has had very little presence in the speculative fiction world and is excited to be expanding its offerings in that direction. Workman’s Chief Executive Officer Daniel P. Reynolds commented, “It’s exciting to be part of the talented team starting up Erewhon Books. Many years ago, Workman had a bestseller with Good Omens – our first and only SF&F title, so it’s about time we got back into this category. We can’t wait to help Erewhon develop their own list of bestsellers.”

Erewhon opened its New York City office in June 2018 and is starting to build its list with the aim of debuting its first season of new titles in 2020.

(5) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. Mallory O’Meara, in “10 Great Horror Books for Wimps”  on Vulture, selects books for people who think Halloween is a good time to read a horror novel, but would want to read “books that won’t keep you up at night.” Her good taste is evident because one of the books she picks is Something Wicked This Way Comes, and she mentions Bradbury in connection with another choice —

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Kelly Link is the literary heir to Ray Bradbury’s short fiction throne, and her latest collection is filled with fantastic, genre-melding tales. These stories incorporate various horror elements, like vampire boyfriends and creepy faeries, but they fascinate instead of scare, making it the perfect book to test the spooky waters with. Also notable: Get in Trouble was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

(6) USING SFF TO TEACH COMPUTER ETHICS, Teachers at the University of Kentucky and the University of Chicago have been using science fiction to offer students a way to cultivate their capacity for moral imagination. In the recent edition of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, they write: ” Teaching ethics to computer science students is a pressing responsibility for computer science faculty but also a challenge. Using fiction as the basis for an ethics course offers several advantages beyond its immediate appeal.” — “How to Teach Computer Ethics through Science Fiction” at Communications of the ACM.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

  • Born October 18, 1924 – Vol Molesworth, Mathematician, Editor, Publisher, and Fan from Australia who led a revival of the Sydney Futurians in 1947, becoming one of the leading Australian fans in the 50s. He played a major role in the three Australian Natcons held in Sydney during the 50s, and founded and operated the Futurian Press. His works include An Outline History of Australian Fandom and A History of Australian Science Fiction Fandom 1935-1963, and the fanzines  Luna, Cosmos, and Telefan.
  • Born October 18, 1944 – Katherine Kurtz, 74, Writer who has published sixteen novels in the Deryni series, which is notable for being one of the first historical fantasy series (as opposed to Tolkien-type high fantasy), has garnered her several Mythopoeic and BFA nominations, and has been a perennial favorite in the Locus Reader’s Choice polls. With Deborah Turner Harris, she has co-written the alternate history Templar Knights series and the Adept urban fantasy series. She has written several standalone novels, of which I strongly recommend both Lammas Night and St. Patrick’s Gargoyle. She also contributed a number of recipes to Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey which was co-edited by McCaffrey and John Gregory Betancourt (I’m curious – have any Filers seen that work?). She has been Guest of Honor at more than two dozen conventions, including a World Fantasy Convention.
  • Born October 18, 1946 – Howard Shore, 72, Oscar-winning Composer from Canada who has created the scores for nearly 80 films, many of them genre, including Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (all of which won Hugo Awards), the Hobbit movies, eXistenZ, Scanners, Videodrome, Dogma, and the Hugo finalists Big and Hugo (which was based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, about science fiction film pioneer George Méliès and his automata).
  • Born October 18, 1947 – Joe Morton, 71, Tony- and Emmy-nominated Actor of Stage and Screen, who had a lead role on Eureka and a recurring role on Smallville, as well as guest parts on Mission: Impossible, The X-Files, and Warehouse 13. He starred in the film The Brother from Another Planet and had roles in the Hugo-winning Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Paycheck, The Astronaut’s Wife, What Lies Beneath, Dragonfly, Stealth, The Clairvoyant, Batman vs Superman, and Justice League.
  • Born October 18, 1950 – Tony Roberts, 68, Artist from England who, from the 60s to the 90s, produced more than 100 SFF book covers as well as numerous interior illustrations, many of them for the first editions of books by well-known authors, including Heinlein, Le Guin, Leiber, Dick, and van Vogt; they were distinctive for their spaceships and futuristic architecture, and many of them are still instantly recognizable to long-time SFF readers. His work yielded a nomination for the British Fantasy Award Best Artist; however, in the mid-90s, he mostly left the field to pursue fine art painting. In 2000, he made international news for suing artist Glenn Brown, who had plagiarized  reinterpreted his 1974 cover for Heinlein’s Double Star in a painting which became a finalist for the £20,000 Turner Prize.
  • Born October 18, 1964 – Charles Stross, 54, Computer Programmer, Writer, and Fan from England who has transplanted himself to Scotland. His longest-running series is The Laundry Files, a sort of Bondian occult pastiche that can only truly be appreciated if read from the beginning. His Halting State and Rule 34 series novels might, I think, be his best work, but The Merchant Princes series got much better when they were released by Tor in their second incarnation. His Heinlein-homage Saturn’s Children novels are a quick, fun read. His works have racked up an impressive array of more than 50 Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, Sturgeon, Tiptree, Sidewise, Prometheus, Skylark, and Kurd Laßwitz Award nominations including 7 wins (his novel Accelerando alone being responsible for 7 of those nominations). He has been Guest of Honor at more than 20 conventions, including a Eurocon.
  • Born October 18, 1987 – Nicola Posener, 31, Actor from England with an amazingly prolific resume of genre films of which I don’t recognise a one: Lab Rats, House Of Anubis, Dawn Of The Dragonslayer, The Crown And The Dragon, Survivor, Mythica: A Quest For Heroes , Mythica: The Darkspore, Mythica: The Necromancer, Mythica: The Iron Crown, Mythica: The Godslayer and Magellan  – which, trust me, is not a complete list.
  • Born October 18 – Filer NickPheas (who is welcome to provide his own capsule bio if he is so inclined; photos of credentials are also welcome).

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • A super inept job interview at Bizarro.

(9) IF YOU’RE NOT CHEATING YOU’RE NOT TRYING. Some cheating video gamers have been hauled into court —

A YouTube gamer who posted videos of himself cheating at Fortnite is being sued by its developer Epic Games.

Brandon Lucas has attracted 1.7 million subscribers to his Golden Modz channel, where he plays modified or hacked versions of Fortnite and other games.

He also runs a website where he sells cheats, such as automatic aiming, for more than $200 (£150).

“Defendants are cheaters. Nobody likes a cheater,” Epic Games said in its legal filing.

“Defendant Lucas not only cheats, he also promotes, advertises, and sells software that enables those who use it to cheat,” the document states.

The publisher of video game Grand Theft Auto V has been granted the right to search the homes of five people accused of making cheat software.

The court order allowed Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, to search two properties in Melbourne, Australia, for evidence related to a cheat known as Infamous.

The Australian federal court has also frozen the assets of the five, who have not yet filed a defence.

The cheat went offline six months ago.

(10) ABOUT ALT COMICS. A transcript of last month’s Reveal “Never meet your (super) heroes” interview with Vox Day and Chuck Dixon is available online.

Al letson: So how does this book become a bestseller?

Amanda Rob: Well it’s possible that a lot of people are really reading it, and it’s possible that Vox is taking advantage of something that Amazon does which is called micro-categorizing. So right now, one of the issues of Alt-Hero is the number one new release in Superhero Graphic Novels. That’s a pretty small category, but it is number one in that category.

Al letson: Is there a way to game the system?

Amanda Rob: Sure. There’s a way to game the system. You have your fans and followers click on the book. If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free.

***

Chuck Dixon: See, that’s the problem. That’s where the agenda, putting the agenda … I’m not saying you have an agenda. There’s nothing wrong with you wanting to see a character that you can relate to more closely, but, when you put the agenda before the story, that’s where the problem lies because then you come up with uninteresting characters for the sake of diversity.

Al letson: Then, I asked the question that brought me all the way down to Florida. Why work with Vox Day?

Chuck Dixon: Well, there’s … He approached me. I didn’t know much about him, I still don’t know a whole lot about him, but this is the first time in my experience that I’ve gone to work on a job and everybody’s concerned with who is publishing it and their background, their beliefs, and everything else because this guy is … Man, is this guy a lightning rod. I don’t agree with a whole lot of what he says but he was offering me an opportunity to create our own work. He had a funding thing and he had a distribution deal set up. He admitted that he didn’t know what he didn’t know, so he wasn’t telling me what to do, he was asking me what I should do or what would be best for me and all the rest of it.

Offering me an opportunity and didn’t tell me what to write, and still has not told me what to write, so, to me, it was just an opportunity to be free of the kind of constraints that are put on you at the major companies, the political correctness constraints. I wasn’t interested in doing a book that was political. I wasn’t interested in doing a message book.

Al letson: So he’s not asking you to write anything political, but you understand how just working with him is political?

Chuck Dixon: I’ve read the “Alt-Hero” thing and I’ve rejected parts of it I didn’t want to do, that I don’t agree with. I don’t write for that.

(11) SPIDEY SINGS, KINDA. At The Verge, Patricia Hernandez gives a strong, if reluctant recommendation for a new music video set in the universe of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (“To see this gorgeous new Into the Spider-Verse footage, you must endure Post Malone”).

I’m sorry to direct Verge readers to a Post Malone song, but the grubby musician has made his latest music video hard to pass up: “Sunflower” is a collaboration with Swae Lee that the pair wrote and recorded to accompany Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the gorgeous upcoming animated film that follows Miles Morales (and basically every other Spidey that ever existed).

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is in theaters on December 14th.

(12) WE GOT US A CONVOY. Vice brings the news “The Army is preparing to send driverless vehicles into combat’—as transportation, not as fighting vehicles.

The Army is getting ready to drive into war — in driverless trucks.

Next fall, its “Leader-Follower” technology will enable convoys of autonomous vehicles to follow behind one driven by a human. It’s a direct response to the improvised explosive devices that caused nearly half the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The military has been trying to bring robots into wars since the 1950s, a long line of technological innovations that began with a bulky roving platform and carried into bomb-defusing robots.

The same basic idea is always at play: “remoting the lethality,” essentially creating a bigger, safer distance between American soldiers and the enemy they are trying to kill.

(13) CHENGDU MIRRORSAT FOLLOW-UP. The Asia Times has a followup on the plan announced by Chengdu to orbit a mirrorsat (“Chinese city to launch man-made moon to light up skies”), with a few additional details.

The satellite would be able to light an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometers, while the precise illumination range can be controlled within a few dozen meters, according to the People’s Daily, which quoted a developer with the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute as saying.

…The man-made moon has a highly reflective coating to reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings whose angles can be adjusted to realize “precise lighting.” The 14,300-square-meter city of Chengdu would be the primal focus of the light from the man-made moon, and astronomers throughout China and overseas should be able to spot the glowing star at night.

…The idea of an “artificial moon” came from a French artist, who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors above the earth, which could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round.

(14) FICTION FEAST. Charles Payseur dishes up a first serving of short fiction reviews from Beneath Ceaseless Skies — “Quick Sips – Beneath Ceaseless Skies #262 [part 1/2]”.

The anniversary offerings continue with a second special double issue from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Again, for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to break this out into two parts. The first features a novelette and short story that for me deal very much with narratives and with learning. They both have the feel of engaging with fable, with magic, and with characters learning lessons that they weren’t really expecting to. Whether that lesson is about the nature of growing up or of becoming a better person, in both there’s a focus on people seeking something that will give them power and answers and then, ultimately, wondering if that’s what they really want. Both carry a sense of strangeness and wonder, as well, and are warm and cozy at the same time. Before I give too much away, though, let’s get to the reviews!

(15) SECOND OPINION. According to NPR, “Geologists Question ‘Evidence Of Ancient Life’ In 3.7 Billion-Year-Old Rocks”.

That’s according to a new analysis, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by a different team of experts.

This second group examined structures within the rock that were thought in 2016 to have been produced by communities of single-celled microbes that grew up from the bottom of a shallow, salty sea. A three-dimensional look at these structures shows that instead of having a telltale upside-down ice-cream cone shape — the kind produced by microorganisms — they are shaped like a Toblerone candy bar.

“They’re stretched-out ridges that extend deeply into the rock,” said Joel Hurowitz, a geochemist at Stony Brook University in New York and an author of Wednesday’s paper. “That shape is hard to explain as a biological structure and much easier to explain as something that resulted from rocks being squeezed and deformed under tectonic pressures.”

(16) WHAT’S IN THE GIN? Theoretically, this could be yummy — “Not Just For Cows Anymore: New Cottonseed Is Safe For People To Eat”.

You probably don’t think of cotton as food.

There’s a good reason for that. Farmers grow it mostly for the fluffy white fibers that turn into T-shirts or sheets. Cotton plants do produce seeds, but those seeds are poisonous, at least to humans.

This week, though,the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a new kind of cotton — one that’s been genetically engineered so that the seeds are safe to eat.

The invention promises to open new markets for cottonseed, and it could give cotton farming a big boost. Because cotton plants are prodigious seed producers: Every pound of cotton fiber, or lint, comes with 1.6 pounds of seed.

“You’re getting more cottonseed than you are lint,” says Greg Holt, who leads research on cotton production and processing at a USDA research station in Lubbock, Texas.

Each seed is the size of a small peanut. In principle, it could be highly nutritious. It contains lots of oil and protein.

(17) PARENTAL CAUTION. Watchers of Ellen found out “Keira Knightley bans daughter from watching some Disney films”.

Keira Knightley says she has banned her three-year-old daughter from watching Disney films whose portrayal of women she disagrees with.

Edie Knightley Righton is not allowed to watch Cinderella or Little Mermaid.

Knightley told Ellen DeGeneres that 1950’s Cinderella “waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don’t! Rescue yourself. Obviously!”

She said of Little Mermaid: “I mean, the songs are great, but do not give your voice up for a man. Hello!”

Presumably on the OK list is the Disney film Knightley is promoting, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, in which she plays the Sugar Plum Fairy.

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Hedgehog on Vimeo is a short animated film from France about a little boy obsessed by hedgehogs.

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