Pixel Scroll 6/20/18 Poltergoose

(1) SPFBO LONGLIST. Mark Lawrence rounded up 300 entries for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off in a very short time, and now has assigned 30 titles to each of his 10 participating review bloggers. See the longlist at “SPFBO 2018, Phase 1”.

(2) AMAZING STORIES REJECTS. Steve Davidson has denied a news story reported by Jason Sanford and linked in yesterday’s Scroll: “Amazing Stories and Rejections”. Here are excerpts from his explanation.

….It is entirely untrue that we are not notifying authors of rejections.

However, we understand why there may be some confusion on this matter.

The vast majority of our rejections take the form of an automated “status update” email to the submitter.  A story goes from draft to being read, to being rejected or accepted.  Submitters are notified both in an email and on their submissions account of any status changes that affect their submissions.

…Some people had issues on initial sign up, and some people are (now) complaining of  not receiving rejection notices.  Both the initial sign up issue and no receipt of rejections are a result of the user’s email server.  We’ve checked, double-checked and re-checked;  all status notices, all sign-up verifications, are being properly generated by the system and are being sent out.  Non-receipt has, in every case, turned out to be the result of an email server rejection.  Permissions are too picky, the user has not white listed the email address, etc.

Unfortunately, other than informing you of this situation, there is nothing that we can do on our end to correct this.

Our system is WordPress based.  That software platform hosts more than a third of all internet sites (and a large number of genre-related sites);  our system is therefore no more and no less “complicated” than any other WordPress based site you may be familiar with….

(3) SANFORD ANSWERS. Jason Sanford responded in a Twitter thread that begins here and includes these comments:

(4) FANS RALLY ROUND. ComicsBeat is calling attention to a “Crowdfunding campaign set up after writer Leah Moore suffers a brain injury”.

Leah Moore and her partner John Reppion have written some top notch comics for DC, Dynamite and many other publishers.

But now they are facing a huge challenge.

Moore suffered severe head trauma and brain injury while attending a music festival.

Andrew O’Neill set up a JustGiving appeal for “Leah and John”.

Leah and John are comic book writers, who usually scrape by on caffeine and stress while creating wonderful art. Recently, they have been beset by brutal circumstances – John recently lost his sister Dawn and Leah has sustained a severe and degenerative brain injury at Download (metal!) and has had an operation to remove a blood clot.

Needless to say, their already fragile and insecure method of putting food on the table for themselves and their three kids (two feral) is going to be impossible while Leah recovers and John looks after her.

As an artistic community and bunch of pals, let’s raise some money to help them through, (and then we can use our generosity later on as leverage for favours and cake).

The goal was to raise 2,500 UKP – they’ve already raised 11,142 UKP.

(5) MISSING THE MIND MELD. I’ve fallen behind in linking to one of my favorite features on the sff web: this installment of Mind Meld appeared in March — “Mind Meld: Books That Expand the Definition of Genre”, curated by Shana DuBois at the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog. The participants are Tristan Palmgren, Jeannette Ng, Patrice Sarath, Rebecca Kuang, Aliya Whiteley, Gareth L. Powell, Jasmine Gower.

The evolution of storytelling has followed us through the ages from fairy and folk tales to the vast variety of mediums now available to us.

As storytelling expands in unusual and innovative ways to keep pace with global conversations, what are some books you’re most excited about?

(6) HOLD ROBOTIC CONVERSATIONS ABOUT WESTWORLD. Adweek tells readers “You Can Now Explore the Depths of Westworld by Talking to Alexa”, “But only ‘true fans’ will make it all the way through.”

You can now explore the depths of Westworld from your living room, kitchen, bathroom, wherever—as long as you have your Amazon Echo nearby and within earshot. All you have to say is, “Alexa, open Westworld.”

Today, HBO announced the debut of its new Alexa skill, called Westworld: The Maze. It’s designed specifically for fans of the show to play on their various Amazon voice devices, just in time for the show’s upcoming Season 2 finale this Sunday. HBO partnered with agency 360i and Westworld production team Kilter Films on the project.

The Maze is a choose-your-own-adventure game with over 60 storylines, 400 possible choices for players to make and roughly two hours of game time in which Westworld fans can immerse themselves. Fans will recognize the voices of characters from the show, including Jeffrey Wright as Bernard and Angela Sarafyan as Clementine, as they dive into this mystical world.

 

(7) FRANKENBOOK. Arizona State University’s  Joey Eschrich, Editor and Program Manager, Center for Science and the Imagination, and Assistant Director, Future Tense, sends word about a new project involving the Center, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab that marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein.

Frankenbook is a collective reading experience of the original 1818 text of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. The project is hosted by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, The MIT Press, and MIT Media Lab. It features annotations from over 80 experts in disciplines ranging from philosophy and literature to astrobiology and neuroscience; essays by scientists, ethicists, and science fiction authors Cory Doctorow and Elizabeth Bear; audio journalism; and original animations and interactives.

Readers can contribute their own text and rich-media annotations to the book and customize their reading experience by turning on and off a variety of themes that filter annotations by topic; themes range from literary history and political theory to health, technology, and equity and inclusion. Frankenbook is free to use, open to everyone, and built using the open-source PubPub platform for collaborative community publishing.

The project has already garnered attention from Boing Boing and Brain Pickings, and they’d love to have more participation in the project from the SF community.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 20, 1975 – Steven Spielberg’s Jaws premieres.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Kendall sends along a two-parter from Library Comic about Mount TBR – #412
    and #413.
  • Lise Andreasen found that Deflocked is not the comic you’re looking for. (And yet I’m linking to it anyway….)

(10) WAS THE EMPIRE DESTINED TO FAIL? In her Vox post “Solo reveals the weakness of the Star Wars Galactic Empire”, Amy Erica Smith lays out a detailed argument why Solo: A Star Wars Story shows up the Galactic Empire as a fatally weak state. WARNING: The whole story is basically one big spoiler.

Pop quiz: What’s missing in Solo?

Okay, there’s a long list: the opening crawl. R2-D2.

More importantly: the Emperor. Darth Vader. And 90 percent of the Stormtrooper presence of other movies.

That last item is the most telling indicator of the Galactic Empire’s glaring open secret — its extreme weakness. From a political science perspective, the movie Solo fills in a lot of holes in how we understand the Galactic Empire — the approximately 22-year regime between the dictator Sheev Palpatine’s consolidation of power as Emperor at the end of Episode III and his death at the hands of his second-in-command at the end of Episode VI.

What we learn from Solo is that the Galactic Empire is a very, very weak state. It’s so weak that it’s not much of a state at all. Don’t believe the Empire’s propagandists.

The detailed analysis —and a bunch of spoilers — follows from there.

(11) JOHN SCALZI ENDORSES FREEDOM. Well, of course. But it’s also the brand name of a technology Scalzi finds helpful for keeping him from frittering away his writing time.

…I end up checking news and social media sites more often than is useful, when what I really need to be doing is working on a book.

…It got to a point in the last couple of months that I had to accept the problem was me, and that I wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, so I had to take other steps. So I looked into “distraction free” software, i.e., those programs that block your access to Web sites and apps for a period of time so you have no choice but actually do the work you’re supposed to do. After comparison shopping, I went ahead and picked Freedom. Freedom works on a subscription model and can block sites and apps on your desktop and phone; it has pre-selected block lists you can choose from (including for news, social media, shopping and adult sites among others), and you can also create your own lists. Once you do that, you can set a time for how long you want to have the blocking run, up to 24 hours. You can also schedule blocks, to have them show up at the same time every day and etc.

…And it worked well — I’d check out Twitter almost by muscle memory and get confronted by a green screen that said things like “You are free from this site” and “Do things that matter,” which seemed a little snarky and pushy, but on the other hand, I was in fact trying to do something that mattered (finish my book), so. …It did what it was supposed to do, which was keep me on track and writing on the book.

(12) SFF FROM MADRID. Rachel Cordasco recommends a “New Collection by Cristina Jurado” at Speculative Fiction in Translation.

Nevsky Books will publish a new collection of stories by Spanish SF author and editor Cristina Jurado in July entitled Alphaland.

“From upgraded humans to individuals living among daydreams, from monsters to fantastic beings, these creatures populate a highly imaginative and evocative world, impregnated by an inspired sense of wonder. Draw near with care and enter Alphaland!”

Cristina Jurado (Madrid, 1972) is a bilingual writer and the editor of SuperSonic Magazine, a Spanish and English venue which has re-energized the Spanish speculative fiction scene….

(13) LONDON CALLING, MILWAUKEE ANSWERING. “Orange Mike” Lowrey is back on the BBC – this time on the BBC World Service programme Trending (June 17): “The Mysterious Wikipedia Editor”.

Who is “Philip Cross”? That’s the name on an account that has made more than 130,000 Wikipedia edits since 2004. But it’s not so much the volume of his work but his subject matter that has irritated anti-war politicians and journalists around the world. His detractors claim that he’s biased against them and that his influence has made some entries unreliable. It’s a charge that’s rejected by the foundation behind Wikipedia, but the person behind Philip Cross remains elusive. So what happened when we tried to track him down?

(14) OPEN THE POP3 PORTS PLEASE, HAL. This Gizmodo headline starts with the bad news and follows with the good news: “This Light-Up HAL 9000 USB Flash Drive Can’t Sing, But Probably Won’t Kill You Either”.

Master Replicas, makers of some of the finest lightsaber replicas in any galaxy, sadly closed its doors back in 2008. Last year, however, part of its original team opened Master Replicas Group, a new company that’s relaunching with a series of 2001: A Space Odyssey collectibles to start, including a flash drive based on one of Hollywood’s most terrifying villains.

You don’t have to be worried about this miniature HAL 9000 replica refusing to open an air lock for you, or listening in on private conversations by covertly reading your lips. This one-sixth scale replica of HAL 9000 has no smarts and no ill intentions, but it does recreate the computer’s glowing red eye whenever it’s plugged into your computer.

The Master Replicas Group product page shows a limited edition 32 gigabyte USB flash drive modeled on the “eye” from 2001’s HAL 9000 at $64.95, and a 16 gigabyte  version available for $24.95 where the product page makes no mention of this version being a limited edition.

(15) SPACE IN THE SIXTIES. The Russians and Americans are pushing the envelope at Galactic Journey: “[June 20, 1963] Crossing stars (the flights of Vostoks 5 and 6)”.

Gordo Cooper’s 22-orbit flight in Faith 7 afforded America a rare monopoly on space news during the month of May.  Now, a new Soviet spectacular has put the West in the shade and ushered in a new era of spaceflight.

(16) PICK UP THIS MESS. From now on, no more Pigs in Space, so to speak: “Astronauts eject UK-led space junk demo mission”.

A UK-led project to showcase methods to tackle space junk has just been pushed out of the International Space Station.

The RemoveDebris satellite was ejected a short while ago with the help of a robotic arm.

The 100kg craft, built in Guildford, has a net and a harpoon.

These are just two of the multiple ideas currently being considered to snare rogue hardware, some 7,500 tonnes of which is now said to be circling the planet.

This material – old rocket parts and broken fragments of spacecraft – poses a collision hazard to operational satellites that deliver important services, such as telecommunications.

(17) PREVIEW. BBC reports that “Stranger Things comic will explore the Upside Down”.

The first series, due for release in September, will focus on Will Byers and his time in an alternate dimension.

The character spends nearly all the first season in a mysterious place which his friends name the Upside Down – but his experience is barely seen.

 

(18) HULK DEPARTURE. Nick Schager, in the Yahoo! Entertainment story Hulk At 15:  How Ang Lee’s Distinctive Blockbuster Paved the Way for the Modern Marvel Cinematic Universe,” says that “Hulk taught Marvel to temper their movies’ thematic ambitions” by making all the MCU movies part of a large tapestry rather than highly individual films like Lee’s.

…In most respects, Marvel, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, shunned the risks taken by Hulk, and thus Lee’s film now functions as ground zero for the creative decisions that have guided the past decade of MCU endeavors. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Lee’s storytelling approach, which seeks to duplicate the look and feel of a comic-book page. That’s felt in the fonts used for his opening credit sequence, and in his use of square and rectangular split-screens and transitions, all of which aim to duplicate the structure of a comic’s paneled layout. Segueing from shot to shot, and scene to scene, with digitized wipes and rotations, and employing extreme close-ups, iris devices, and other superimposed imagery — most thrillingly, a late freeze-frame of Josh Lucas’s villain in front of a massive explosion — Lee diligently echoes, at every turn, the very medium that first gave birth to heroes like the Hulk.

That method was never to be seen again in the MCU, which has consequently adhered to a far more conventional cinematographic schema that allows its various franchises to feel as if they’re complementary parts of a larger tapestry. Simply put — a movie universe doesn’t work if any individual entry is too eccentric to match its brethren….

(19) COMING SHORT FICTION. Mythic Delirium has acquired two new collections, Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss and The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff.  Mike Allen says both are scheduled for release in 2019.

Theodora Goss

In Snow White Learns Witchcraft, World Fantasy Award winner Theodora Goss retells and and recasts fairy tales by Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Oscar Wilde. In these stories and poems, sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious, always lyrical, Goss re-centers and empowers the women at the hearts of these timeless narratives, much as her acclaimed novel series, The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, does for the classics of Victorian supernatural literature.

With cover art by Ruth Sanderson and an introduction by Jane Yolen, Snow White Learns Witchcraft is currently scheduled for a February 2019 launch.

Barbara Krasnoff

In The History of Soul 2065, Nebula Award finalist Barbara Krasnoff has accomplished a stunning feat. This collection of interconnected short stories crosses many genres, spinning tales of sorcery, ghosts, time travel, virtual reality, alien contact, and epic, elemental confrontations between good and evil. The book also spans past and future generations, telling the heart-breaking and heart-warming histories of two Jewish immigrant families, one from Eastern Europe, one from Western Europe, whose lives are intricately, mysteriously intertwined.

The History of Soul 2065, with cover art commissioned from Paula Arwen Owen, is scheduled for a July 2019 release.

(20) STUCK TO THE SHELVES. Toys’R Us is trying to empty out its stores with a massive going out of business sale. WorldClassBullshitters found some things just aren’t going — “The Star Wars Toy Landfill Has Been Found!”

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

Pixel Scroll 6/5/18 Scroll Is A Pixel, And I Want My Money Back

Brian Keene. Photo by Scott Edelman.

(1) BRIAN KEENE BURN INJURY. Horror author and podcaster Brian Keene is hospitalized, reports Stephen Kozeniewski, who has started a “Brian Keene Burn Fund” at GoFundMe:

On June 5, 2018, author, podcaster, philanthropist, and father Brian Keene was badly burned in an accident.  At this time he is conscious and in good spirits but has first degree burns on his face and second degree burns on his body.

As a freelance author, Brian does not have health insurance.  We’re not sure at this time how long he’ll be in treatment, or how much the bill will be, but any visit to the hospital is expensive, and will only be compounded by lost wages from not being able to work.

We’re asking the community of writers, horror fans, and just decent human beings in general to chip in a few dollars to help get Brian back on his feet and spending time with his loving girlfriend and sons.  We’d be very grateful for anything you can afford to contribute.

The appeal has raised $14,415 of its $15,000 goal in the first four hours online.

Keene co-hosts of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. Last May, they held that 24-hour telethon and raised roughly $21,000 in support of Scares That Care.

Kozeniewski added in an update, “What we know right now is that the wind shifted while Brian was burning brush.”

(2) ALL YOUR COMIC CONVENTION ARE BELONG TO US. Those lovable knuckleheads who run San Diego Comic-Con International would like a federal judge to award them several million dollars in attorney fees after winning their lawsuit against the Salt Lake Comic Con. Courthouse News has the story: “San Diego Comic-Con: ‘Comic Convention’ Is Ours”.

…U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia heard a host of posttrial motions Thursday, including San Diego Comic-Con’s request for over $4.5 million in attorney fees which have already been paid in full.

San Diego Comic-Con attorney Callie Bjurstrom with Pillsbury Law told Battaglia Thursday he should find the case is “exceptional” so that attorney fees and costs can be awarded.

“This was a very expensive case; the reason this case was so expensive was because of defendants and their counsel and the way they litigated this case,” Bjurstrom said.

She pointed out Brandenburg testified at trial he knew about San Diego Comic-Con’s trademarks but still used “Comic Con” to name his Utah convention. Bjurstrom said the Salt Lake owners engaged in a “public intimidation campaign” once San Diego Comic-Con sent them a cease-and-desist letter to stop infringing the trademark and that Salt Lake’s attorneys filed meritless motions, “flip-flopped” on legal theories and violated court orders throughout the three-year litigation.

“If this case isn’t exceptional, I don’t know what is,” Bjurstrom said.

San Diego Comic-Con also asked Battaglia to permanently bar the Salt Lake convention from using its trademarks, arguing its reputation has been irreparably harmed by the confusion to consumers.

During the trial, San Diego Comic-Con presented evidence its attendees had contacted its employees about the Salt Lake convention, believing the two events were associated.

But San Diego Comic-Con’s request went a step further than simply asking Battaglia to enjoin the Salt Lake convention operators from infringing its trademarks: it asked the judge to bar the Salt Lake convention from using the words “comic convention” or phonetic equivalents to “Comic Con” or “comic convention.”

Bjurstrom said the injunction should include any spelling variation on “Comic Con” which is pronounced the same as the San Diego trademark, including spelling it with a “K” or “Kahn.”

“Whether you spell Comic Con with a ‘C’ or a ‘K’, it’s pronounced the same. It is exactly the same when you say it,” Bjurstrom said.

San Diego Comic-Con also asked the judge to order the Salt Lake operators to destroy marketing and advertising materials which make reference to “Comic Con” and to cease operating websites and social media accounts which reference the trademark.

Battaglia took the motions under submission and will issue a written order.

(3) WIKIPEDIA. Juliet McKenna asks “What can SFF fandom do about the inherent bias of Wikipedia?”. The author looked into the question because the Wikipedia entry about her was flagged for deletion, on grounds that she is not sufficiently notable:

It seems Wikipedia is aware of its systemic bias, as detailed in this article. Read this, and related pieces, and I imagine many of you will note, with the weary contempt of familiarity, the repeated insistence that it’s up to women themselves, and other under-represented groups to do all the hard work here. Though I haven’t found anything addressing the issue I raise above, explaining what we’re expected to do when sufficient acceptable citations simply do not exist, and those references that do exist are not deemed acceptable. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

On the plus side, I have learned that there are dedicated groups of female and other special-interest Wikipedians spending considerable time and effort updating and expanding pages, intent on correcting this bias. Mind you, I also learned their work is frequently challenged and even undone by other Wikipedians applying the all too prevalent and far too often white western male logic of ‘not of interest to me personally = not of interest to anyone’. And of course, such challenges can very easily be a thinly veiled cover for actively discriminatory behaviour. Having read the Wikipedia page on handling tendentious editing, I am not in the least reassured that this is in any way satisfactorily addressed.

(4) LUCRATIVE SFF AUCTION. Fine Books & Collections was standing by the cash register: “Sci-fi from the Stanley Simon Estate Breaks Records in Swann Literature Auction”.

Science fiction ruled on May 15 at Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature. Selections from the Estate of Stanley Simon, featuring 84 rare and first editions of cornerstones of the genre, boasted a 98% sell-through rate. All of the offered titles by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Stephen King sold, with many achieving auction records.

Leading the pack was a signed first edition of Dick’s dystopian novel The Man in the High Castle, 1962, which was purchased by a collector for $10,400, above a high estimate of $6,000, a record for the work. Another record was achieved by a signed first edition of Ubik, 1969, at $5,500, while the auction debut of the rare galley proofs for Valis, 1981, reached $5,000.

Simon had acquired several uncorrected proofs of important works, none of which had previously appeared at auction. While not strictly science-fiction, material by Stephen King outperformed in this category. The highlight was the presentation copy of an uncorrected proof of The Stand, 1978, which sold to a collector for $9,100. Also available were one of apparently 28 copies of proofs of King’s The Shining, 1977, inscribed, which sold for five times its high estimate for $6,250, and the complete six-volume set of uncorrected proofs of King’s The Green Mile, 1996, exceeded its $1,200 high estimate to sell for $5,200.

Another highlight from the Simon estate was the complete Foundation trilogy, 1951-53, by Isaac Asimov. Together, the three signed first editions achieved an auction record of $9,750. Also by Asimov, a signed first edition of I, Robot, 1950, reached $6,250, above a high estimate of $3,500. Important editions of Ray Bradbury’s magnum opus Fahrenheit 451, 1953, were led by the limited author’s edition personally inscribed to Simon ($7,500). The popular asbestos-bound edition reached $5,200. All six editions offered were purchased….

(5) LE GUIN’S LAST EARTHSEA STORY. The Paris Review has a story by Ursula K. Le Guin. And not just any story, but a final Earthsea tale, written a year before her death. (So I’m guessing it’s the last one.)

He was thinking of Lookfar, abandoned long ago, beached on the sands of Selidor. Little of her would be left by now, a plank or two down in the sand maybe, a bit of driftwood on the western sea. As he drifted near sleep he began to remember sailing that little boat with Vetch, not on the western sea but eastward, past Far Toly, right out of the Archipelago. It was not a clear memory, because his mind had not been clear when he made that voyage, possessed by fear and blind determination, seeing nothing ahead of him but the shadow that had hunted him and that he pursued, the empty sea over which it had fled.

(6) BUMBLEE TRAILER. This movie will be in theaters at Christmas.

Every adventure has a beginning. Watch the official teaser trailer for Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena.

 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY PRODUCER

  • Born June 5, 1953 – Kathleen Kennedy

(8) IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Of possible interest to Sarah Gailey fans (because of a hippo reference) is this segment from the June 3 episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, on the subject of guardianship for the elderly. The relevant portion starts at about the 13:20 mark. That’s where John Oliver introduces a new PSA on the subject, starring several celebrities – including William Shatner.

(9) DOG DAYS. This perfect poem inspired a thread of deep appreciation for the artist…

(10) DINO APPRECIATION SUMMIT. Chuck Tingle and Jeff Goldblum had an internet encounter —

(11) WALL POLITICS. And they’ll make the schwein pay for it. (Oh, wait, that’s something else….) “Denmark backs fence on German border to keep out wild boar”.

Denmark’s parliament has voted to build a 68-km (42-mile) fence along the border with Germany in a bid to protect the pork industry from the spread of African swine fever.

The vote aimed at keeping out wild boar is controversial for several reasons.

Environmental campaigners doubt it will stop the animals entering Denmark, while others say Germany has no trace of the virus.

Some in Germany have condemned the move as gesture politics.

Work on constructing the fence is unlikely to start until autumn, after an assessment by Denmark’s environmental protection agency.

(12) MORE WALL POLITICS. Security décor from another era: “The 12 best posters from the very odd NSA archive”.

Long before it was at the centre of a huge spying scandal, the US National Security Agency had the communist threat to deal with – and wanted to make sure its staff did not spill secrets.

A vast archive of posters, apparently for display at the spy agency’s offices, has been posted online thanks to a freedom of information request from governmentattic.org.

The website asked for “a digital/electronic copy of the NSA old security posters from the 1950s and 1960s”, although confusingly it also got one featuring John Travolta.

Here are some of our favourites. The full, 139-page document, can be found here.

(13) CASTLE COCKY. More trademark hoo-hah: “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your trademark restrictions”.

Rapunzel, the long-haired maiden locked in a tower by an evil witch, has been immortalized in countless bedtime stories and adaptations, from the Brothers Grimm to Disney. There is even a teenage rapper who goes by the name RapUnzel.

Now, a private company wants to lock the princess’s name in a castle fortified by United States trademark law.

But this attempt to register the trademark for the name Rapunzel has unleashed fervent opposition, not from Hasbro or Mattel, but from an impassioned group of Suffolk University Law School professors and students.

(14) DINO DUBIOSITY. The BBC asks “Does Jurassic Park make scientific sense?” Can you guess the answer? I knew you could…

In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s film Jurassic Park defined dinosaurs for an entire generation.

It has been credited with inspiring a new era of palaeontology research.

But how much science was built into Jurassic Park, and do we now know more about its dinosaurs?

As its 25th anniversary approaches, visual effects specialist Phil Tippett and palaeontologist Steve Brusatte look back at the making of the film, and what we’ve learned since.

So, first of all, what did Jurassic Park get wrong? It started off by inheriting some complications from Michael Crichton’s novel, on which the film was based.

“I guess Cretaceous Park never had that same ring to it,” laughs Brusatte.

“Most of the dinosaurs are Cretaceous in age, that’s true.”

(15) SWEET WRITING. Cat Rambo tasted these chocolate bars for Green Man Review: “Chuao Chocolatier’s Chocolate Bars with All the Add-ins”.

Here in America we like our add-ins, ice cream and candy full of other candy, nuts, random sweets, and sometimes savories. Chuao (pronounced Chew-WOW) has a shelf-load of such, chocolate bars with all the goodies, created by Venezuelan chef Michael Antonorsi.

Most of the bars I tried were terrific but some are more successful than others. Idiosyncrasies of taste may make a difference; when I tweeted about the one I really disliked, someone mentioned that was their favorite, and bemoaned not being able to find it. And it’s not entirely fair to stack dark chocolate up against milk, particularly given that my sweet tooth resembles that of a six-year-old’s. Still, I present them in order of how much I liked them, from most to least.

First up, the “Baconluxious”. Described as “delicate maple sweetness, a sprinkle of bonfire smoked sea salt and crispy, uncured bacon in milk chocolate.” This had a nice aroma and when tasted, an immediate smoothness to its mouth feel, followed by a wash of saltiness and not-unpleasant grittiness before the final bacon note, leaving just a few salt crystals to be crunched between the tooth and savored. This was delicious to the point where I thought I would and then did readily pick one of these up again. And probably will again and again….

(16) A BOY AND HIS ROBO DOG. The AXL Official Trailer came out recently.

In the vein of classic ‘80s family movies SHORT CIRCUIT and FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, A.X.L. is a new adventure about a down-on-his luck teenage bike rider, Miles (Alex Neustaedter), who stumbles upon an advanced, robotic, military dog named A.X.L. Endowed with next-generation artificial intelligence but with the heart of a dog, A.X.L. forms an emotional bond with Miles, much to the chagrin of the rogue military scientists who created A.X.L. and would do anything to retrieve him. Knowing what is at stake if A.X.L. gets captured, Miles teams up with his smart, resourceful crush, Sara (Becky G), to protect his new best friend on a timeless, epic adventure for the whole family.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Jonathan Cowie, Martin More Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, K.M.  Alexander, Rev. Bob, Dann, Mike Kennedy, Michael D. Toman, Carl Slaughter, Steve Johnson, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

Pixel Scroll 3/10/18 Great Scroll Title

(1) WIKIPEDIA. What an amazing coincidence (or not)! Amazing Stories is Wikipedia’s Featured Article today. I hope it gives Steve Davidson’s Kickstarter a boost.

(2) WISCON. The WisCon Member Assistance Fund is rising money through sales of t-shirts etc. with this design:

You’ve always been able to support the WMAF via our Donate page, during the Registration process, or by using our direct Paypal link.

But now you can take care of your own need for clothing and benefit the WMAF at the same time! Sam Haney Press has designed artwork based on an idea from Nicasio Andres Reed (inspired by Woodie Guthrie) and we’re making it available on t-shirts! (And on a tote bag, which you will probably need to…carry the multiple t-shirts you are going to want to buy.)

Buy shirts at this link.

(3) UNRECOGNIZED. Scott Bradfield explains why pop culture fame eludes Clark Ashton Smith in “The Bard of Auburn: Getting Weird in the Long Valley” for LA Review of Books.

WHEN IT COMES to being underrated, Clark Ashton Smith has long been a quadruple-threat. For more than a century, Smith has been unfairly disregarded as a poet, a short story writer, a painter, and even a sculptor; had he perhaps enjoyed just a little professional good fortune during his lifetime, he might have gone on to spend his twilight years being unfairly disregarded in numerous additional endeavors: prose poetry, novel writing, drama, screenwriting, you name it. Instead, he spent those last decades as a gardener and handy-man, never achieving the recognition of his friends and fellow Weird Tales contributors, H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. Almost unforgivably, no proper biography has yet been published about Smith — only a scattering of bibliographies and essays from small (but resolute) specialty presses.

In many ways, this ponderous, multi-generational neglect of Smith isn’t hard to understand. Unlike Howard (the stylish creator of Conan and Solomon Kane), Smith never wrote filmable series characters that could be played by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vin Diesel….

(4) BOFFO B.O. Looper tells “Why Black Panther Blew Everyone Away At The Box Office.”

(5) AS SANDS THROUGH AN HOURGLASS. “Dune reboot will span two movies, take at least two years, says Denis Villeneuve” reports SyFy Wire.

We’ve known for a while that Denis Villeneuve is working on a reboot for Dune, Frank Herbert’s landmark sci-fi novel famously adapted for the big screen by David Lynch all the way back in 1984. But now we’re learning that Villeneuve has no plans to try to cram everything from the sprawling source material into just one movie.

Via The Playlist, Villeneuve recently told a crowd gathered for a Montreal film event that his adaptation of the 1965 novel “will probably take two years to make,” with a goal of making “two films; maybe more.” That bomb drop reaffirms Villeneuve’s long-haul commitment to what’s long been a passion project.

(6) WIKIMYSTERY. A scholarly paper posits the automatic generation of adventure games from open data such as Wikipedia articles, OpenStreetMap, and images from Wikimedia Commons: “Who Killed Albert Einstein? From Open Data to Murder Mystery Games”.

Every WikiMystery game revolves around the murder of a person with a Wikipedia article and populates the game with suspects who must be arrested by the player if guilty of the murder or absolved if innocent. Starting from only one person as the victim, an extensive generative pipeline finds suspects, their alibis, and paths connecting them from open data, transforms open data into cities, buildings, non-player characters, locks and keys and dialog options. The paper describes in detail each generative step, provides a specific playthrough of one WikiMystery where Albert Einstein is murdered, and evaluates the outcomes of games generated for the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

(7) CARTOON NETWORK. The Hollywood Reporter tells readers: “Cartoon Network Unveils Largest-Ever Slate of Content for 2018-19”.

Among the new shows is Diego Molano’s Victor and Valentino, a supernatural comedy about a pair of half-brothers who spend the summer with their grandmother in a mysterious town where Latin American folklore comes to life, and Owen Dennis’ Infinity Train, which has already developed a passionate following through the network’s Artist Program, about a girl who tries to find her way home from a train full of infinite worlds. Victor and Valentino is slated to release this year, while Infinity Train will reach viewers in 2019.

Other new Cartoon Network shows include buddy-comedy Apple & Onion, set in a world of anthropomorphic food; the surrealist animal adventure Summer Camp Island; and adventure comedy Craig of the Creek, which follows the expeditions of a group of best friends across a neighborhood creek.

And that’s not all!

(8) THE DORKEST HOUR. There’s something you don’t see every day — “Winston Churchill dancing like James Brown, played by Gary Oldman.”

(9) SHARKE WATCH. Shadow Clarke jury convenor Dr. Helen Marshall provides “A Means of Escape: A Round-Up of Our Posts So Far”.

As we eagerly await the end of the snows and the release of the submissions list, which will launch the first major phase of the Arthur C. Clarke jury’s deliberations, I thought it would be useful to pause for a moment and reflect upon the major threads introduced by our jury members so far. In assembling the jury, Maureen and I wanted to draw together reviewers from different backgrounds and with different ideas of what criticism might mean and what it ought to do. I’ve been delighted to see the range of approaches offered so far as well as the questions they open up. What follows then are my own impressions of some of the major threads that connect these approaches.

(10) SF ENCYCLOPEDIA CREATOR. Here’s the text of Peter Douglas Nicholls’ death notice that appeared in The Age of Melbourne on March 9.

Science fiction critic, encyclopedist, bon vivant, and pontificator. Died on 6th March 2018, aged 78, surrounded by family. Inspired adoration and exasperation in equal measure. Remembered with enormous love by his sister, Meg; children, Sophie, Saul, Tom, Jack, and Luke; grandchildren, Pia, Cassia and Uma; and his wife, Clare Coney.

My brain tells stories to itself
While I’m asleep. Last night
I smoked and talked, the dead replied
A party in my dreams.
What fun!

– Peter Nicholls

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 10, 1972 Silent Running premiered
  • March 10, 1997 — The Warner Brothers (WB) television network airs the inaugural episode of Joss Whedon’s, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(12) ELLISON. Damien Walters posted his 2013 interview with Harlan Ellison last October, and linked to it on Facebook today.

DW: You famously described sci-fi fandom as an “extended family of wimps, twinks, flakes and oddballs.” But don’t the geeks kind of run the world now?

HE: I am a steadfastly 20th-century guy. I’ve always been pathologically au courant. Even today I can tell you the length of Justin Bieber’s hair. But it has now reduced society to such a trivial, crippled form, that it is beyond my notice. I look at things like Twitter and Facebook, and “reality TV”?—?which is one of the great frauds of our time, an oxymoron like “giant shrimp”?—?and I look at it all, and I say, these people do not really know what the good life is. I look at the parched lives that so many people live, the desperation that underlies their every action, and I say, this has all been brought about by the electronic media. And I do not envy them. I do not wish to partake of it, and I am steadfastly in the 20th century. I do not own a handheld device. Mine is an old dial-up laptop computer, which I barely can use?—?barely. I still write on a manual typewriter. Not even an electronic typewriter, but a manual. My books keep coming out. I have over 100 books published now, and I’ve reached as close to posterity as a poor broken vessel such as I am entitled to reach.

(13) PETS WHO SLEEP NEAR WRITERS. Mark-kitteh made sure we didn’t miss “13 Of The Most Adorable Pets Owned By Famous Writers” at Buzzfeed.

  1. J.K. Rowling’s endearing West Highland terrier named Bronte:

(14) DO THE LOCOMOTION. A BBC video shows a “Rollerskating robot to the rescue” (video)

Researchers in Zurich are teaching a robot how to balance on wheels attached to its four legs.

The goal is to help it complete search and rescue missions and other tasks in less time.

(15) BOOM, JAMES BOOM. The volcano used in You Only Live Twice is throwing off ash, lava and rocks – but no rocket launch parts: “Mount Shinmoedake: Warning over Japan’s James Bond volcano”.

(16) PURPLE HAZE? When they’re done, they have an educated guess: “Alien atmospheres recreated on Earth”.

“Clouds and hazes determine the temperature and the chemistry of the atmosphere, and also how deep we can look into a planet’s atmosphere,” explained Dr Helling.

“Exoplanet clouds can be made of sparkling minerals, in addition to the photochemical hazes just produced in the lab.”

While clouds form from the continuous cycling of material, much like the hydrological cycle on Earth, the process of producing hazes is “more of a one way trip” according to Dr Hörst.

The solid particles then remain in the planet’s atmosphere, where they can scatter light and affect the surface temperature, or travel to the surface via precipitation.

(17) ROBOTS BEHAVING BADLY. CNN Money gives a video demonstration: “Watch this robot get attacked by ransomware”.

Ransomware is not only a threat on phones or computers. It’s coming for robots, too. Researchers at security firm IOActive successfully conducted a ransomware attack on a SoftBank Robotics robot

(18) MOVIE THEOLOGY. The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein finds Coco opens the way for a decreasingly religious America to discuss the idea of an afterlife for loved ones: “How the Oscar-winning ‘Coco’ and its fantastical afterlife forced us to talk about death”.

There is little solid data on the wide range of beliefs Americans have about post-death existence and how those views are changing. Much of what there is has to do with the words “heaven” and “hell” — amorphous for many. Seventy-two percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, and 58 percent in hell — numbers very slightly down since about a decade ago, according to the Pew Research Center.

People who work with the dying say these beliefs are fluid.

“Death opens you up,” said Aram Haroutunian, a longtime hospital and hospice chaplain in Denver. “And death is the great unknown. People are more open. And especially at the very end, they are very open.”

Haroutunian said he doesn’t think hammering out theology around the afterlife is a particularly common priority for the dying. However, he said, a common experience among hospice workers is hearing people who are dying start to speak of the deceased — long-dead family or friends — in the present tense, “like they’ve been talking with them.” Metaphors about travel are extremely common, he said: I’m getting on a train, taking a bus ride, packing my bags. “It’s uncanny,” he added.

(19) PRODIGY. Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal’s Prodigy, to be released March 13, is available for pre-order at iTunes.

Prodigy follows Dr. Fonda, a psychologist with a mysterious new patient. After being searched and issued warnings, he is taken to a cell where he finds Ellie, a young girl strapped in a straitjacket. Ellie immediately begins dissecting Fonda, revealing her genius-level intellect. Fonda holds fast, only faltering when Ellie claims to have killed her own mother. The team observing this interaction suggest Ellie is more dangerous than Fonda knows. She possesses “gifts” they wish to analyze — a process which will result in Ellie’s death. With the execution scheduled for the next day, Fonda must alter his strategy. He engages Ellie in a battle of wits, which results in Ellie’s telekinetic “gifts” revealing themselves. Objects hover, furniture topples, the foundation of the building quakes, but Fonda continues chipping away at Ellie’s tough facade. His methods begin to win over the experts, but he will need drastic results to prove the monster they see is actually a child worth saving.

 

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

The Big Three and a Lesson About Fixing Things Wrong

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944. Heinlein and Asimov were two of The Big Three. Who was the third?

Robert Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, and Isaac Asimov, Philadelphia Navy Yard, 1944. Heinlein and Asimov were two of The Big Three. Who was the third?

Last weekend, Vox Day set out to score a point for Infogalactic over the Wikipedia. Infogalactic is the rival online encyclopedia Day launched in October.

…And finally, another example of how Infogalactic is fundamentally more accurate than Wikipedia due to the latter’s insistence on unreliable Reliable Sources.

Robert Heinlein on Wikipedia

Heinlein became one of the first science-fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science-fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered the “Big Three” of science fiction authors.[5][6]

Robert Heinlein on Infogalactic

He was one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often erroneously considered to be the “Big Three” of science fiction authors.[5][6]. The original “Big Three” were actually Heinlein, Asimov, and A.E. van Vogt.[7]

This is what winning the cultural war looks like. Getting the facts straight one at a time.

Since Vox Day’s post, an Infogalactic editor has revised the Heinlein entry to phrase the correction even more emphatically:

He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke are often considered to be the “Big Three” of science fiction authors[5][6], however the inclusion of Clarke is erroneous. The original “Big Three” were actually Heinlein, Asimov, and A.E. van Vogt.[7]

Proving that you’re never too old to learn, while I knew Heinlein, Asimov and van Vogt were Campbell’s top writers in the 1940s, I couldn’t recall ever hearing them referred to as the Big Three, whereas I had often heard that term applied to the trio named by the Wikipedia.  (Michael Moorcock wrote that Clarke was one of the Big Three in an article published just this month.) Was the Heinlein/Asimov/Clarke identification really “erroneous”? I have to admit that seeing Infogalactic’s cited source was a John C. Wright essay from 2014 made me want to check further before accepting the information.

Google led me to the Fancyclopedia (1944). Originally, “the Big Three” was a label 1930s fans applied to the three dominant prozines. Obviously at some later point they also endowed it on three sf writers. When did that happen, and who were the writers?

Isaac Asimov supplies the answer in I. Asimov: A Memoir (1994):

There was no question that by 1949 I was widely recognized as a major science fiction writer. Some felt I had joined Robert Heinlein and A.E.  van Vogt as the three-legged stool on which science fiction now rested.

As it happened, A.E. van Vogt virtually ceased writing in 1950, perhaps because he grew increasingly interested in Hubbard’s dianetics. In 1946, however, a British writer, Arthur C. Clarke, began to write for ASF, and he, like Heinlein and van Vogt (but unlike me), was an instant hit.

By 1949, the first whisper of Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov as “the Big Three” began to be heard, This kept up for some forty years, for we all stayed alive for decades and all remained in the science fiction field.

Therefore, John C. Wright (in “The Big Three of Science Fiction” from Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth) correctly stated that Heinlein, Asimov and van Vogt were “the three major writers of Campbell’s Golden Age.” (The Science Fiction Encyclopedia also calls them “the big three”.)

But Infogalactic, unfortunately motivated by a need to get in a jab at the Wikipedia, has oversold Wright’s argument and missed a chance to be really accurate. The truth is that both trios were “the Big Three,” each in their own era.

Vox Day Launches Infogalactic, Rival to Wikipedia

Infogalactic, Vox Day’s new online encyclopedia, begins life today as a copy of the Wikipedia that, with the aid of volunteer editors, will be developed into multiple versions of the material which will let users select their preferred perspective and automatically see the version of the subject page that is closest to it based on a series of algorithms utilizing three variables, Relativity, Reliability, and Notability.

Day explains, “This means a supporter of Hillary Clinton will see a different version of the current Donald Trump page than a Donald Trump supporter will, as both users will see the version of the page that was most recently edited by editors with perspective ratings similar to his own.”

Day gave these reasons for doing the project:

Conceived as a next-generation replacement for Wikipedia, the troubled online encyclopedia, Infogalactic is a dynamic fork of Wikipedia that is designed to supplant its predecessor by addressing the problems of bias, vandalism, harassment, abuse, and inaccuracy that have plagued the Wikimedia Foundation’s flagship project for years.

“Every notable public figure who has a page devoted to them knows very well what an inaccurate nightmare Wikipedia is,” said Vox Day, Lead Designer of Infogalactic, a computer game designer and bestselling philosopher. “The page about me there has had everything from my place of birth to the number of times I’ve been married wrong. And that’s not even counting the outright abuse, such as when Wikipedians replaced the entire page with a definition of a sexually-transmitted disease or with a string of obscenities.”…

He asserts, “This isn’t Conservapedia 2.0 and we aren’t replacing Wikipedia’s admins with their conservative equivalent, we are making the function of thought police irrelevant through technology. Our design philosophy is based on the idea that only the user has the right to define what his reality is.”

When the project was announced at Vox Popoli, readers demanded immediate changes to distinguish Infogalactic’s article about the Gamergate controversy from the version in the Wikipedia, which Day provided.

Compare the two approaches. Wikipedia’s article about the Gamergate controversy begins:

The Gamergate controversy concerns issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate. Gamergate is used as a blanket term for the controversy, the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it, and the loosely organized movement that emerged from the hashtag.

Beginning in August 2014, Gamergate targeted several women in the video game industry, including game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, as well as feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. After a former boyfriend of Quinn wrote a lengthy disparaging blog post about her, other people falsely accused her of entering a relationship with a journalist in exchange for positive coverage and threatened her with assault and murder. Those endorsing the blog post and spreading such accusations against Quinn organized themselves under the Twitter hashtag #Gamergate, as well as on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels and websites such as Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan. Harassment campaigns against Quinn and others were coordinated through these forums and included doxing, threats of rape, and death threats. Many of those organizing under the Gamergate hashtag argue that they are campaigning against political correctness and poor journalistic ethics in the video game industry. Many commentators dismissed Gamergate’s purported concerns with ethics and condemned its misogynistic behavior.

Infogalactic’s revision now says this about the Gamergate controversy:

GamerGate is the name given to an ongoing consumer movement in the video game industry that began in August 2014 with concerns about the corruption of video game journalism after a series of coordinated attacks on the gaming community by game journalists. In a period of two weeks,4chan purged the majority of its 45 moderators for being sympathetic to gamers, a dozen simultaneous “Gamers are Dead” articles were published on the same day by Ars Technica, Gamasutra, The Guardian, The Financial Post, Jezebel, and other sites. The #gamergate hash tag was popularized by actor Adam Baldwin and was adopted as a title for the loosely affiliated group by adherents as well as opponents.

Beginning in August 2014, Gamergate targeted several women in the video game industry, including game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, and cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian. After a former boyfriend of Quinn wrote a lengthy blog post describing their relationship and her involvement with other men, she was accused of entering a sexual relationship with a journalist in exchange for positive coverage.. Those endorsing the blog post and spreading such accusations against Quinn organized themselves under the Twitter hashtag #Gamergate, as well as on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels and websites such as Reddit, 4chan, and 8chan. Many of those organizing under the Gamergate hashtag argue that they are campaigning against political correctness and poor journalistic ethics in the video game industry. Most commentators dismissed Gamergate’s purported concerns with ethics and condemned what they claimed to be its misogynistic behavior.

Also of interest, Infogalactic has replaced the well-known Five Pillars of Wikipedia with its own Seven Canons™:

  1. Infogalactic does not define reality.
  2. Infogalactic is written from an objective point of view.
  3. Infogalactic is free content.
  4. No griefing.
  5. Play nice and play fair.
  6. Rules are guidelines for users, not chew toys for lawyers.
  7. Facts are facts.

 

 

Four and Twenty Puppies Smoked in a Pie 4/20

It was a prolific day, with new posts from Sad Puppies’ Torgersen and Correia, and Rabid Puppies’ Vox Day, puppy supporters Dave Freer and Amanda S. Green, and detractors John Scalzi and David Gerrold. A host of new voices joined the exchange. And Adam-Troy Castro has penned something that is either a satire, or a candidate for the Sad Puppies 4 slate — decide for yourself.

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“Battlers” – April 20

It’s been interesting to see how this has spun in the little circus that has been the Hugo Awards this year. The big guys, Nielsen Hayden, Stross, GRRM, Scalzi – you know wealthy, powerful white men who have won huge numbers of Hugo Nominations and indeed awards, are up in arms because some rag-tag bunch of uppity little battlers who’d never been there before, from across the social, political, racial and sexual spectrum got nominated, instead of a narrower group they approve of – including… just by chance, themselves and friends, many of whom who have multiple prior noms and awards. It’s taken away diversity and these nominees want women and ‘PoC’ (‘People of Color’ which bizarrely is not offensive, but ‘Colored People’ is just vile. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?) Of course these rich, powerful white men are feminists and oppose racism. Are they leading the charge because they think white men are just naturally better at it?

Look, all we’ve really got is making fun of the bastards. I feel kind of guilty sometimes because it is so easy, but hell’s teeth, they’ve brought enough weight to bear against us. I’m kind of losing count at the rent-a-hit journalism (a plainly very ethical field, full of honest honorable folk) informing us we’re all rich white men oppressing everyone and winding the clock back. Is it daylight savings over there already?

Still, I’m glad to be learning my place from David Gerrold. I’d never have guessed that I was one of the little people otherwise.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“Keeping Up With the Hugos” – April 20

At this point Correia and Torgersen have to decide whether they want to be known either as Day’s fellow travelers, or his useful idiots. Or both! It could be both. Neither of these options makes them look good; nor, obviously, fits with their own self-image of being Brave Men Fighting the Good Fight™. But in fact, they aren’t fighting a good fight, and in fact, they got played. So: Fellow travelers or useful idiots. These are the choices.

* Also, can we please now stop pretending that this whole Puppy nonsense began for any other reason than that once upon a time, Larry Correia thought he was going to win an award and was super pissed he didn’t, and decided that the reason he didn’t had to be a terrible, awful conspiracy against people just like him (a conservative! Writing “fun” fiction!), as opposed to, oh, the voters deciding they just plain liked something and someone else better?

…(And yes, I know, Correia declined his nomination for the Hugo this year. Let’s talk about that for a minute, shall we. It takes a very special sort of fellow to allow himself to be on a slate to get nominated, marshal people to nominate him for the award as part of a slate, and then decline — and write a big ol’ puffed-up piece about why he was declining, social justice warriors, blows against the empire, blah blah blah, yadda yadda. Yes, nice he declined the nomination and let someone else on the ballot. But it’s a little like wanting credit for rescuing a baby squirrel when you knocked the baby squirrel out of the tree to begin with.)

To be clear, the Puppy nonsense now isn’t just about Correia really really really wanting validation in the form of a rocketship; Day’s stealing the Puppy movement right out from under Correia and Torgerson has changed things up quite a bit, and it’s certainly true at this point that this little campaign is about a bunch of people trying to shit in the punchbowl so no one else can have any punch. But at the beginning, it was Correia hurt and angry that someone else got an award he thought was his, and deciding that it was stolen from him, rather than being something that was never his to begin with. And I’m sorry for him that it didn’t go his way. But actual grown human beings deal with disappointment in ways other than Correia has.

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment on Whatever

If the Hugos have really been dominated by leftist material that prized message over story since the mid-1990s (Brad’s timeline), it should be very simple for members of the Puppy Party to name

a. one work of fiction

b. that won a Hugo Award

c. while foregrounding a left message to the extent that the story was ruined or misshaped

d. per set of winners since 1995.

That’s all. Just a list of twenty books or stories—a single winner per year. Even though a single winner per year wouldn’t prove domination, I’m happy to make it easy for the Puppies.

Any Puppy Partisan want to start naming some names?

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Nuking the Hugos from orbit” – April 20

The chief sin of Sad Puppies 3 seems to be that we were transparent and we were successful beyond all expectation.

Many a red herring has been lobbed at us over the past three weeks. All of these are colossal distractions from the central question I’ve been asking my entire (short, so far) career: do the Hugos even matter anymore, and if they don’t, how to we get them to matter again?

My logic has been: get more people to vote, and bring those people in from diverse sectors of the consumer market, and the cachet of the award increases because more and more people from a broader spectrum of the totality of fandom (small f) will have a stake in the award, pay attention to what’s selected for the final ballot, and will view the award as a valid marker of enjoyability; or at least notoriety.

Especially since the Hugos have already been subjected to numerous manipulations (again, all behind the scenes) by authors, voters, and publishers, who all seem to want the Hugo to better reflect their tastes, their interests, their politics, and their pet points they want to make with the award.

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Ringing the bell” – April 20

Picking up where I left off with my post on tribalism. Because I wanted to talk specifically about a recurrent kind of “broken” I am seeing in arguments all over the place — beyond the tiny halls of the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction. This “broken” is most commonly manifested among well-meaning straight Caucasian folk, but is often fostered and preached about by non-straight and/or non-Caucasians of a particularly aggressive “progressive” persuasion.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook

The irrepressible ensign, whose blonde hair and pale complexion had put him on the fast track to command from the very first medical determination that he was not gay, reported, “It’s a SJW vessel, Captain. They’re demanding our surrender!”

Captain Christian White grimaced, heterosexually. He remembered the last time a Federation vessel had allowed an SJW cruiser its way, sashaying across the universe at multiple times the speed of light. The Federation’s resolve had weakened, the rockets had sagged a little on their pads, and one of the medals for valor that year had actually gone to somebody with a slightly ethnic last name. Only the keen perception of Captain White and his fellow cabal had recognized that this was the sign of a vile conspiracy, and allowed the institution of safeguards to make sure that this would never happen again.

 

Kevin Standlee

“Combatting Hugo Despair” – April 20

If you don’t clean up graffiti, it typically spreads.

  1. Cleaning up graffiti is hard work.
  2. It is easier, when you see graffiti defacing something nice, to say, “Oh, what a shame. I loved that once, but now it’s defaced, so I guess we’d better abandon it” than to break out the scrub brushes and solvent and to organize the community to help clean it up.
  3. Initially, when you clean up graffiti, it’s not unusual for the vandals to consider it a nice clean slate for their next attack.
  4. If you consistently clean up graffiti attacks, after a while the vandals discover that almost nobody ever sees their works of destruction, and eventually they will give up and go away because they stop getting any egoboo out of defacing things.

My position with the Hugo Awards, the World Science Fiction Convention, and the World Science Fiction Society? Well, I’m putting on my coveralls, buying some heavy duty scrub brushes, picking up the box of old rags, and rummaging around in the garage for that industrial-sized can of solvent I know we had in there somewhere.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 18

Some draconian measures have been suggested. Those cures would be worse than the disease and would pretty much hand a victory to the self-appointed super-villain. He would have succeeded in destroying the award.

I think there’s a simpler solution. I’m tossing it out here for discussion. What if we gave the Worldcon committee the discretion to create a committee of qualified individuals who would review the nominating ballots and set aside any that show strong evidence of ballot stuffing? So if a hundred ballots come in and they are all identical — and if they all contain nominations for works or individuals that are not represented or significantly under-represented on any other ballots, then that can be seen as evidence of a ballot-stuffing effort and those ballots can be set aside.

This would not disqualify recommended reading lists. Those would still be encouraged.

Notice the separate components. The Worldcon committee themselves will not have the responsibility for adjudicating — instead, they have the option of creating an independent committee of qualified individuals, preferably past Worldcon committee members. Second, they cannot set aside ballots willy-nilly, only those that show evidence of a slate. If the slate-mongering has been a public effort, it’s an easier job. But if a hundred ballots come in all voting for the same stories and there are no other ballots that also include any of those stories, then that’s evidence of a ballot-stuffing campaign and the ballots should be set aside.

Had such a rule been in place this year, the entire rabid slate could have been nullified, while still allowing the majority of voters their rightful opportunities to be heard.

 

Rogers Cadenhead on Workbench

“Brad Torgersen’s ‘Science Fiction Civil War’” – April 20

There’s a lot about this situation that gets me all het up, but I’m beginning to savor the insane grandiosity of Torgersen (pictured above), a previously obscure SF/F author who led the bloc-voting campaign this year and dubbed it “Sad Puppies 3.”

On April 8, Torgersen wrote a blog post on his personal site called “The Science Fiction Civil War” that he later deleted.

Here’s the text of that post, which offers a fantastic glimpse into the preening self-regard that inspired him to lead a culture war against a much-loved SF/F award that fans of all political beliefs have nurtured since 1953….

 

John C. Wright

NPR Upholds Morlock Journalistic Ethics – April 20

Well, well. The NPR weekend show ON THE MEDIA has joined the lynch mob, and done their level best to add hysteria and contumely and smother any trace of rational dialog in the little sortie of the Culture Wars known as Sad Puppies.

They were paid for by my tax money, my dear readers, and yours.

And before you ask, no, no journalist, no editor, no one contacted me or interviewed me or made any attempt known to me to hear from the counsel for the defense. At a real witch trial held by the real Inquisition, even the devil gets an advocate and someone speaks up for defendant being accused of witchcraft.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Puppies on NPR” – April 20

KW listened in and heard NPR doing their usual bang-up job on Sad Puppies. For me, the most intriguing aspect of the media coverage has been the near-complete lack of interest in actually talking to anyone involved in the actual news-making activity. I mean, I am about as cynical a media skeptic as it is possible to be, and yet somehow, these journalistic incompetents haven’t even managed to rise to my very, very low level of expectations.

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter International

“Catching up, then back to work” – April 20

Apparently there were a bunch more stupid articles and news reports this weekend, still running with the angry straight white men, anti-diversity slate angle. I don’t even bother reading them anymore. It is all the same script. I didn’t even know Popular Science was still around.

In the interest of full disclosure, none of the hit pieces tried to talk to us, but NPR’s On The Media did try to reach out. They sent me an email, they wanted to speak on the phone to gather info, but it was on a day when I was running around the wilds of Yard Moose Mountain and I missed their call. I sent them an apology the next morning.

I haven’t listened, but I heard they brought in professional outrage monger Arthur Chu to explain everything. Ha! But to be fair, they at least tried.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Black Gate withdraws” – April 20

Or rather, they have asked to not be considered for the Hugo award for which they will be on the ballot. While I disagree with John’s decision, I respect his right to make it.  I find it ironic, however, that people are responding to a large group of people dictating the ballot by unilaterally dictating to people for whom they will not vote.

I also find it telling that a threat to support No Award next year is supposedly worse than a vow to do it this year. I am curious. Would they consider it better if I accepted what passes for their reasoning and announced that Rabid Puppies will join the No Award movement this year? Because that is certainly an option. (Settle down, you bloodthirsty bastards, I said no more than the obvious. It is an option.)

The goal is to improve the Awards, not destroy them. But if the SJWs would rather destroy them than relinquish their control, well, that will tell the world exactly what sort of totalitarians they are. That’s two birds for the price of one. We’ve already got them on the record stating that our views are invalid and should be suppressed by force; seeing them demolish the awards without our assistance will communicate that more effectively than we can do ourselves.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

Hugo News: Black Gate Edition – April 20

What I am most curious about here is that because the ballots are already at the printer, Sasquan is unable to remove Black Gate from the ballot (apparently some people still use paper ballots – because science fiction is a genre of the future…) – but will Black Gate’s request be honored?  Will votes for Black Gate just not be counted?  This might be the easiest solution.

 

Lou Antonelli on Facebook – April 20

Got my annual Mensa membership card in the mail today. I’m not showing this out of vanity, it’s just I’ve found it’s a good idea to keep it handy because the first slur the Anti-Puppy snobs usually toss out when disrespecting you is “stupid”.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“No winners?” – April 20

And that is the problem. They are making Vox the issue and are, in all too many instances, refusing to even consider a nominee he might have liked or recommended. That is, as I have said before, a disservice to all those authors and artists who have done good work, worthy work.

Look, here’s the truth of the matter. Vox is but one man. Yes, he might say things that make us uncomfortable. He might believe things that seem further out than left field. But, as writers and artists, we have no control over who reads/sees or likes our work. If you don’t like Vox and can’t bring yourself to read his work, that’s fine. But don’t condemn others who have no relationship to him except for the fact he nominated them. (Full disclosure here, I was one both SP3 and Rabid Puppies. I didn’t realize I was on Rabid Puppies until well after the nominees were announced.)

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Vox Day is exploiting the Sad Puppies for personal gain” – April 20

I don’t know the details of the rules, but I figure this is probably enough evidence for Sasquan’s Hugo Awards Committee to decide that Castalia House engaged in illegal ballot-stuffing under the current rules, and to remove all Castalia House-associated nominees from the Hugo Ballot. If it’s an option, I’d suggest that Vox Day and Castalia House be considered ineligible for nomination for at least a few years going forward, too.

 

Rjurik Davidson on Overland

“The Mad Puppies revenge” – April 21

How do we best understand this culture war? The immediate cause, it seems, is the fact that in recent years, the Hugo Awards have been transformed. In other words, there has been a slow, molecular, and very incomplete growth of progressive values within science fiction and fantasy, along with the concomitant breaking down of established racist, homophobic and patriarchal barriers. The number of women nominees, for example, reached rough parity between 2011-2013. In this way, again, it parallels the Gamergate controversy: games having been once the protected turf of white males.

 

 

 

Jon F. Zeigler on Sharrukin’s Palace

“My first (and last) word on the Hugos” – April 20

[Here  is the most novel approach to the voting process I have read (no pun intended.) (Well, maybe a little intended.) The decision to use a concrete example as a reference point sets Zeigler apart from most in the “I know quality when I see it” camp. And it is also a solution that is not obviously driven by an agenda. Very interesting idea:]

In each category, in so far as I am able and with only one general exception, I plan to examine all the works on the ballot and give them fair consideration. I will rank them in order of their quality, using my own tastes and criteria. So far I doubt I’m planning to do anything unusual.

Where my strategy may be distinctive is that I plan to examine six items for each category – the five on the ballot, and the item that I consider to have been the best eligible work that did not reach the ballot.

So for example, in the Best Novel category this year, on the final ballot we have:

  • Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  • The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  • Skin Game by Jim Butcher
  • The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

I know some of those works got onto the ballot because of slate voting and some did not. At least one novel, in fact, was added to the ballot only after an author whose novel was on one of the slates withdrew it from consideration. I’m not going to take any of that into account. As much as I disapprove of organized slates, it’s still possible that a slate might have selected the best available work.

On the other hand, it’s also possible – even likely – that a slate will actually push some of the best available works out of consideration. In fact, the people organizing this year’s slates allege that this has already been happening for a long time – that other parties have (informally) manipulated the nominations process to exclude otherwise deserving work.

All right, so let me correct for that possibility. That’s where the sixth work under consideration in each category comes in. I’ll read and evaluate that work too, but it will hold the slot for No Award in its category. Thus, if I find that a work on the ballot is markedly inferior to the one that did not get nominated, I will have to assume that something went wrong. Either my tastes are really unusual, or some form of manipulation of the nominations process pushed the more deserving work off the ballot. In either case, I’ve identified a work that will rank below No Award in my selection.

To return to my example, the sixth work I’ll include in my decision-making process will probably be Echopraxia, by Peter Watts. I read that novel a couple of months ago, and it quite impressed me at the time. So any novel that I find is at least comparable in quality to Echopraxia will get ranked above No Award on my ballot. Any novel that I find is clearly not comparable will get ranked below No Award.

 

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin weblog

“The Three-Body Problem” – April 19

However, since this year’s Hugo awards are so weirdly contentious, one of the Best Novel nominees dropped out of the race. I’m not sure if this is unprecedented or not, but it’s highly unlikely nonetheless (authors often refuse their nomination, but are given a chance to do so before the finalists are announced – this situation where an author sees the lay of the year’s Hugo land and simply opts out was surprising) and many were expecting this to mean that the Best Novel category would only include 4 nominees. After all, adding the next most popular nominee would tell everyone who got the least nominating votes (info that is only published after the awards are handed out) and honestly, given the current situation, this precedent seems ripe for abuse. Nevertheless, the Hugo administrators opted to fill the open slot with The Three-Body Problem (a non-Puppy nominee, though from what I’ve seen, the Puppies seem to really enjoy this book). From left off the ballot to potential winner, quite a turn of events. Of the two nominees I’ve read, this is clearly ahead and could possibly take my number 1 vote. It is a bit of an odd duck, but I quite enjoyed it.

 

John C. Wright

“Not so much Dino-hate, Please!” – April 20

At the risk of alienated my beloved fans who voted either for Sad Puppies or Rabid   and elevated my humble work to a world-record number of nominations, I would like to state something for the record.

A lot of us are ragging on Rachel Swirsky’s prose poem ‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love‘ which was Hugo nominated and won a Nebula for its category.

And, for the record, I for one do not think ‘If You Were a Dinosaur’ is bad. I do not think it is great, but tastes differ.

The author with admirable brevity of space establishes a gay and playful mood, using a stream of consciousness technique and adhere to a strict textual scheme (lifted from IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE) and then fishtailing into a surprise ending that is poignant and moving, all within less than 1000 words.

 

Stevie Carroll in Women & Words

“This Year’s Hugo Awards, Diversity in SF and Fantasy, and the Bechdel Test” – April 20

Diversity in SF and Fantasy has been a major discussion topic at both the conventions I’ve been to this year as well as on a lot of author blogs in the genre that I follow (most of which fall into a group of bloggers that the anti-feminist, anti-diversity complainers derisively refer to as Social Justice Warriors because they’re somehow offended by the idea that straight white men might actually support feminism and other forms of equality campaigning). I think two of my favourite comments came from a discussion panel on Dr Who – one from a white woman who described her feelings of alienation when she moved in the 1980s (IIRC) from a typical inner city in the UK to Cambridge where the population was far less diverse than she was used to, and the other from an audience member who asserted that these days if the Doctor is to be invisible (in the sense of generally ignored by those around him) in a lot of places then he could do worse than being either a young black man or a woman in her fifties or older.

 

William Reichard on Plaeroma

“RE: Update on sci-fi & the ‘Hugo Maneuver’” – April 20

Just a quick update to let everybody know our plan is working better than we could have anticipated. “Debate” on the subject of the Hugo Awards has become a self-perpetuating firestorm that shows no signs of lessening. Writers on all sides of the issue are fully engulfed, and the conflagration even shows promising signs of spreading to the larger culture.

Rest assured, any dangerous minds on all sides will be doing nothing else of significance for months if not years thanks to this coup, and thus we are safe to continue our diabolical work with impunity for now as the discussion descends into ever more atomic and arcane levels.

 

Wikipedia adds section to entry for “Theodore Beale” – April 20

2015 Hugo Awards

In 2015 Beale’s slate of candidates for the Hugo Awards, which placed most of its nominees on the ballot, led two authors to withdraw their own nominations, and for one presenter to withdraw from the event.

Orange Mike Makes Headlines in Britain

When Rachel Johnson, a British editor and journalist who contributes to the Daily Mail, discovered her Wikipedia bio had been edited to take out a reference to her degree, she assumed the simplest way to fix an error in the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit was to do it herself. She didn’t realize that ran afoul of a Wikipedia canon against editing material about yourself.

Johnson told the anecdote in her May 11 column with the headline ”Shown the red card… by Wikipedia’s ‘Orange Mike’”. Readers of File 770 will immediately recognize that nickname belongs to “Orange Mike” Lowrey, well-known fan and one of the Wikipedia’s most active editors.

Johnson wrote:

So, NEEKS who get Firsts are virtually unemployable, which is good news for all of us beta-brains.

I was feeling quite smug about my 2:1 till I was told that, according to Wikipedia, I don’t have a degree at all.

As I still have regular finals nightmares, not to mention a BA, I felt this was a bit rich. So I went on Wiki and deleted this outrageous slur from my biog (someone has written that I ‘failed to complete my course’).

The next day I was emailed a sharp rebuke by a moderator called ‘Orange Mike’ for editing my own page. So I stand corrected – but so far, my entry doesn’t.

Remarkably her complaint appeared as a London Evening Standard news story two days later, given the headline “Rachel Johnson in the grip of Wikipedia’s ‘Orange Mike’” – with the added interesting detail that Johnson’s brother is the Mayor of London.

Rachel had, in fact completed her Greats degree, the same course that brother Boris took, and emerged with a 2:1, the same result as him.

Her Wikipedia entry now stands corrected, with a link to the article as proof. But how will others, without a national newspaper column, correct theirs?

I suppose that’s a rhetorical question, however, on the occasions I’ve found myself crosswise of a Wikipedia editor “Orange Mike” mediated the solution. Obviously he’s willing to help those without national newspaper columns, too.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

The Book of Me

My goodness, I just discovered Mike Glyer by L’Egaire Humphrey – tragically missing the opportunity to buy it at full price. “Thought you might like to see that this book about *you* has been shamelessly marked down….,” says Robert Lichtman’s sympathetic e-mail.

The Ebay listing shows this magisterial work was first published in 2011. It runs 72 pages. The original price was $64.88. Now they’re asking $50.54.

This is “A new, unread, unused book in perfect condition with no missing or damaged pages.”

Unread? Surely that can’t be right.

I will say the manual typewriter on the cover captures me perfectly. I especially like the guarantee of “High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA Articles.”

(But — 72 pages of stuff about me in the Wikipedia? And I thought they didn’t care!)

Wikipedia, Fandom Waving Goodbye?

Readers quickly answered Fred Pohl’s plea for help fixing Wikipedia’s article about opera singer Toti dal Monte:

…I saw [her] performance in 1945, and I’m absolutely positive of the date because, although I was in Italy before that, it was 1945 before I could wander around Naples on my own. But I looked up Toti in the Wikipedia the other day, and it says flatly that she retired in 1943.

So what do I do about that gross error?

They answered so quickly, in fact, I imagined fans screaming “Wait, Fred, no-o-o-o-o!” at their computer screens as they hurried to save him before he innocently ran afoul of Wikipedia policies and suffered some rude remarks by Wikipedia’s vigilante editors.

For there’s disappointment in store for anyone who naïvely thinks he will be allowed to add facts to “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” simply because he personally witnessed them occur.  Wikipedia policy sharply curtails the use of primary sources, bluntly commanding: “Do not add unsourced material from your personal experience, because that would make Wikipedia a primary source of that material.”

Stop and think for a moment. Fans took it for granted that even the testimony of Fred Pohl, subject of his own Wikipedia article, and editor of the Hugo-winning prozine If, subject of another Wikipedia featured article, would be treated as having no credibility. I find it remarkable to see so many science fiction fans passively accepting – enabling – this silly state of affairs.

And no, Fred could not satisfy the policy by citing his blog as the source because that would violate a different policy.

I didn’t always know this. I found out when John King Tarpinian wrote an eyewitness account of Carla Laemmle’s 100th birthday event and I added the information to her Wikipedia article, citing my blog. Here’s what I added:

On October 20, 2009, she celebrated her 100th birthday with a guestlist which included Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Bela Lugosi, Jr., Sara Karloff and Ron Chaney.

Sometime later I revisited my addition and found it changed to “[citation needed].” An editor going by the handle “DreamGuy” had eliminated the cited link to File 770. When questioned, he pointed out that blogs do not meet the criteria of WP:RS policy for reliable sources, and added this shot:

It’s just some blog with no history of expertise or reliability. If that page can be used as a source, then any page on the Internet by anyone could be, and that’s not how an encyclopedia works.

Yes, the internet never stops proving how good manners suffer when people are allowed to work anonymously. Though even I had to laugh at DreamGuy’s final fling of Wiki hypocrisy — he left my line untouched, deleting only my citation. Yes, the source was too unreliable for Wikipedia to mention, but he kept the information the source provided!

How ironic is it that the Internet’s leading online encylopedia privileges the printed page above anything else? Why can’t Wikipedia’s corps of editors learn enough about their fields to recognize credible sources when they see them? Obviously, publishing house editorial staffs have had to learn those skills.

Wikipedia is also plagued with “editors” who get their rocks off deleting other people’s contributions. Within the past week a Wikipedia editor has been gunning down entries for America’s most famous and historic science fiction clubs.

Articles about the Northwest Science Fiction Society of Seattle and the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society have recently been deleted, the former by request of an editor whose handle is RadioFan, the latter by request of RHaworth.

A list at the WikiProject Science Fiction page shows RadioFan also wants to delete entries for the Bay Area Science Fiction Association, Orange County Science Fiction Club, Ottawa Science Fiction Society.

While I was at it I checked the entries for several other clubs and found RadioFan has also recommended deletion of the articles for LASFS and NESFA.

It’s not as though fandom needs acknowledgement by the Wikipedia. What offends me is how easily some jackass can vandalize all the work people have done on these entries over the years.

Don’t let the vast dimensions of the Wikipedia project blur your understanding of what it is – a social milieu that’s actually quite similar to science fiction fandom with both the good and bad parts, the bad including the familiar dominance games, passive-aggressive behavior, and people at odds with each other. The Wikipedia is just a very bad clubzine, where quality is sacrificed because it is a battleground for rival members, driving off potential contributors, and leading participants to problem-solve by enacting rules that blindly cause as many problems as they suppress.

A Quarter Century of Snapshots

Snapshots #25 presents fifteen developments of interest to fans.

(1) Paired heroes and villains selected from the American Film Institute’s 50 Top Heroes and Villains are matched in a fight to the death! Batman vs. Hans Gruber. Lassie vs. Cruella de Ville. Marge Gunderson vs. Count Dracula! Did good or evil win over all?

(2) Bill Warren of the Dawn Patrol has written a filk song about Wilson “Bob” Tucker. Bill’s tribute is posted at YouTube.

(3) Steve Silver’s Art of the Con theme issue of Argentus includes articles on con-running by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Lisa Hertel, Randy Kaempen, Mary Kay Kare, Deb Kosiba, Priscilla Olson, Baron DavE Romm, Bill Roper, Sabel Schechter, Susan Shwartz, Steven H Silver, Kevin Standlee, Ann Totusek, Patty Wells, and Ben Yalow.

(4) “When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news. His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.”

(5) Web Urbanist has a list of 173 Radical Retrofuturistic Directions in Design & Technology, ranging from vehicles to clothing to the apocalypse.

(6) HarperCollins’ earnings decreased 20% for the quarter ending March 31. The two disparate books doing the most to keep the company afloat during the quarter were  Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

(7) Drew Shiel at Quilldragon analyzed all five Best Novel nominees and determined… they all deserve a Hugo. Well, that’s better than the alternative. (No, the alternative is not that they would all deserve the Nebula.)

(8) An unknown Scottish actress has been cast as new Doctor Who Matt Smith’s companion.

(9) Every website wrestles with rowdy commenters. But I don’t know if an sf blogger would dare imitate the way Dave from BlazersEdge lays down the law to his fellow basketball fans: “If you call someone a moron or uninformed you will be banned. If you say a post is a waste of space or time you will be banned. If your post includes the words, ‘You must not watch much basketball’ you will be banned. If you say, ‘This should be a fanshot’ you will be banned. If you snidely correct someone’s grammar you will be banned.” My gosh, if sf blogs banned everyone who snidely corrected other fans’ grammar, there woule be no one left to read the posts.

(10) Learn more about the inner workings of the Wikipedia and the Church of Scientology in this Guardian article:

In an unprecedented effort to crack down on self-serving edits, the Wikipedia supreme court has banned contributions from all IP addresses owned or operated by the Church of Scientology and its associates. Closing out the longest-running court case in Wikiland history, the site’s Arbitration Committee voted 10 to 0 (with one abstention) in favor of the move, which takes effect immediately.

(11) A Tintin museum will open in Belgium.

(12) Angelique Trouvere’s ancient Star Trek convention photos made it into Newsweek.

(13) James D. Keeline compiled a spreadsheet listing of 3,200 time travel novels, stories, and children’s books, and in 2000 he built a searchable database of this material. He says, “Had I the time, I could probably add another 1,000 titles but perhaps it will be useful to someone…”

(14) Tom Swift Conventions in Hammondsport, NY (2009) and San Diego (2010)

(15) Following the death of Tom Deitz, a fan has set up a Deitz tribute website.

[Thanks go to Andrew Porter, David Klaus, Roger Tener, Francis Hamit James Hay and Michael J. Walsh for some of the links included in this post.]

Update 6/14/2009: Corrected country where Tintin museum is located. And it’s not even Tuesday.