Pixel Scroll 2/1/19 You Scroll And Scroll The Daily Pixel, First None ‘ll Come, Then All The Ticks ‘ll

(1) AN EAR FOR OLD SFF. James Davis Nicoll’s young people weigh in on another classic: “Young People Listen to Old SFF: Foundation by Isaac Asimov”.

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy1 was in fact three fix-ups of shorter pieces assembled into three volumes. Strongly influenced by Edward Gibbon‘s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the series set out to depict the collapse of the Galactic Empire and the attempt by scientists to shorten the ensuing dark age. The series is highly regarded: two sections have won retrospective Hugos and the trilogy as a whole won the Hugo for Best All Time Series in 1966.

The BBC’s radio adaptations are also highly regarded. Surely, combining a respected classic with the BBC’s resources must result in something that will delight and entertain my young readers. Right?

What are my other choices besides “Right”?

(2) SFWA GRANTS. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has announced its Giver’s Fund Grants for 2019.

SFWA Giver’s Fund grants totaling $46,837 have been awarded to:

  • Alpha, the SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers
  • Art & Words Collaborative Show in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Can*Con Science Programming
  • Clarion San Diego Workshop
  • Clarion West Workshop
  • Confluence Writing Workshop
  • Deep Dish Reading Series
  • Denver Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Series
  • I Need Diverse Games
  • Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers
  • Little Blue Marble
  • Northern Illinois University, for their archives pertaining to science fiction and fantasy
  • OutWrite Literary Festival
  • Odyssey Writing Workshop
  • Parsec Ink Young Editors Workshop
  • Philanthropic Endeavors Futurist Conference in York PA
  • Reel Stories screenwriting workshops
  • SFF Workshop at the Center for Literary Arts, Frostburg State University
  • Sirens Conference
  • Turkey City Writing Workshops
  • Willamette Writers workshops Flash Fiction Masterclass
  • Wiscon Writing Workshops
  • Young Writers Project workshop

Giver’s Fund grants are awarded to support programs that further SFWA’s mission, which is to promote, advance, and support science fiction and fantasy writing in the United States and elsewhere, by educating and informing the general public and supporting and empowering science fiction and fantasy writers.

(3) GUESS WHO’S NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF SFWA. Lou Antonelli says he was going to run for President of SFWA (“Maybe some other day”) but there was one little problem – he isn’t eligible.  He says SFWA Executive Director Kate Baker notified him —

Thank you for being willing to run for office. Unfortunately, your membership lapsed in the last two years which makes you ineligible to run for the board. Additionally, you would need to have previously served on the board in some capacity to engage a run for President.

(4) 2021 WORLDCON BIDDERS NEED TO FILE. Johan Anglemark reminded bids to host the 2021 Worldcon must be submitted by February 15, 2019, either to siteselection@dublin2019.com or to Worldcon 2021 Site Selection, c/o Anglemark, Lingonv. 10, SE-74340 Storvreta, Sweden.

The required information includes:

• bid location
• bid facilities
• bid date
• committee chair(s)
• committee members.

Please also provide the bid website URL and a contact email address.

Refer to the WSFS Constitution – http://www.wsfs.org/…/WSFS-Constitution-as-of-August-21-201… – sections 4.6 – 4.7 for more details. The Dublin 2019 Site Selection team will send a confirmation email to the contact email address in your bid declaration when we receive your bid information.

NOTE: An online announcement, listing on the Worldcon.org bids page or web site is not sufficient to formally file your bid.

(5) AND STRAIGHT ON ‘TIL MORNING. For Tor.com readers, James Davis Nicoll analyzes the difficulty of “Mapping the Stars for Fun and Profit”.

When you read a novel, short story, etc., you may be given hints as to star locations and the distances from star to star. Most of us just take those vague gestures at maps as given and focus on the exciting space battles, palace intrigues, and so on. Only a few nerdy readers (ahem!) try to work out star positions and distances from the text. And only a few authors (like Benford and McCarthy) provide maps in their novels. There are reasons why maps are generally left out, and who notices an absence?

Roleplaying games (RPGs), on the other hand, have to give the players maps (unless all the action takes place in one stellar system). If you are plotting a course to Procyon A, you need to know just where it is and how long it will take to get there. Game companies have experimented with several approaches to the mapping problem; most are unsatisfactory.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 1, 1908 George Pal. Let’s see… Producer of Destination Moon, When Worlds CollideThe War of the WorldsConquest of Space (anyone heard of this one?), The Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentTom ThumbThe Time MachineAtlantis, the Lost ContinentThe Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm7 Faces of Dr. Lao and his last film being Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. Can we hold a George Pal film fest, pretty please? (Died 1980.)
  • Born February 1, 1942 Terry Jones, 77. Co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Gilliam, and was sole director on two further Python movies, Life of Brian and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. His later films include Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. It’s worth noting that he wrote the screenplay for the original Labyrinth screenplay but it’s thought that nothing of that made it to the shooting script.
  • Born February 1, 1946 Elizabeth Sladen. Certainly best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who. She was a regular cast member from 1973 to 1976, alongside the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker), and reprised her role down the years, both on the series and on its spin-offs, K-9 and Company (awfully done) and The Sarah Jane Adventures (not bad at all). It’s not her actual first SF appearance, that honor goes to her being a character called   Sarah Collins in an episode of the Doomwatch series called “Say Knife, Fat Man”. The creators behind this series had created the cybermen concept for Doctor Who. (Died 2011.)
  • Born February 1, 1954 Bill Mumy, 65. Well I’ll be damned. He’s had a much longer career in the genre than even I knew. His first genre were at age seven on Twilight Zone, two episodes in the same season (Billy Bayles In “Long Distance Call” and Anthony Fremont in “Its A Good Life”). He makes make it a trifecta appearing a few years later again as Young Pip Phillips in “In Praise of Pip”. Witches are next for him. First he plays an orphaned boy in an episode of Bewitched called “A Vision of Sugar Plums” and then it’s Custer In “Whatever Became of Baby Custer?” on I Dream of Jeannie, a show he shows he revisits a few years as Darrin the Boy  in “Junior Executive”. Ahhh his most famous role is up next as Will Robinson in Lost in Space. It’s got to be thirty years since I’ve seen it but I still remember and like it quite a bit. He manages to show up next on The Munsters as Googie Miller in “Come Back Little Googie” and in Twilight Zone: The Movie In one of the bits as Tim. I saw the film but don’t remember him. He’s got a bunch of DC Comics roles as well — Young General Fleming in Captain America, Roger Braintree on The Flash series and Tommy Puck on Superboy. Ahhh Lennier. One of the most fascinating and annoying characters in all of the Babylon 5 Universe. Enough said. I hadn’t realized it but he showed up on Deep Space Nine as Kellin in the “The Siege of AR-558” episode. Lastly, and before our gracious Host starts grinding his teeth at the length of this Birthday entry, I see he’s got a cameo as Dr. Z. Smith in the new Lost in Space series. 
  • Born February 1, 1965  — Brandon Lee. Lee started his career with a supporting role in  Kung Fu: The Movie, but is obviously known for his breakthrough and fatal acting role as Eric Draven in The Crow, based on James O’Barr’s series. (Died 1993.)
  • Born February 1, 1965Sherilyn Fenn, 54. Best know for playing as Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. Her first genre work was in The Wraith as Keri Johnson followed by being Suzi in Zombie High (also known charmingly not as The School That Ate My Brain).  Her latest work is Wish Upon, a supernatural horror film. 
  • Born February 1, 1984 Lee Thompson Young. Victor Stone/ Cyborg on Smallville, Agent Stewart in the “Heavy Metal” episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Al Gough on FlashForward and Corporal Bell on The Event. (Died 2013.)

(7) THE MARTIAN PARTICLES. NPR is “Exploring The Mysterious Origins Of Mars’ 3-Mile-High Sand Pile”.

Scientists have evidence that a mountain 3 miles tall, in the middle of a crater on Mars, may be made largely from dust and sand.

To get the data for that surprising conclusion, the researchers MacGyvered a navigation instrument on the NASA rover Curiosity, and turned it into a scientific instrument.

The idea for repurposing the Rover Inertial Measurement Unit came from Kevin Lewis.

“It kind of frustrated me that we didn’t have a surface gravimeter on Mars,” says Lewis, a member of the Curiosity science team, and an assistant professor in earth and planetary sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

(8) WONDERFUL THINGS. “Tutankhamun’s tomb restored to prevent damage by visitors” – BBC has the story.

A nine-year project has been completed to restore the tomb of ancient Egypt’s boy king, Tutankhamun, and address issues that threatened its survival.

Experts from the Getty Conservation Institute repaired scratches and abrasions on the wall paintings caused by visitors to the burial chamber.

The paintings were also affected by humidity, dust and carbon dioxide introduced by every person who entered.

A new ventilation system should reduce the need for future cleaning.

New barriers will restrict physical access to the paintings, while a new viewing platform, lighting and interpretive signage will also allow visitors to better see the tomb and understand its historical and cultural significance.

(9) STARS LIKE… Is that a hidden galaxy in your pocket, or a grain of sand, or are you just happy to see me? Gizmodo tells how “Astronomers Accidentally Discover a Hidden Galaxy Right Next Door”.

One moment you’re investigating a globular cluster, and the next you’re unexpectedly writing a research paper about something else entirely, namely the discovery of previously unknown dwarf spheroidal galaxy. But that’s how it goes sometimes, and the authors of the new study, published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, couldn’t be happier.

(10) SIPS OF FIRE. Charles Payseur reviews the short fiction in the latest Fireside — “Quick Sips – Fireside Magazine #63”.

There’s some big goings-on at Fireside Magazine in 2018, and January kicks off with five original stories plus an original poem. The pieces can be rather short (the poem might be longer than a number of the stories), but that doesn’t mean they pack less of a punch. The pieces range from deeply dark to lighter and so so cute, from epic and unexpected to unsettling and tense. The relationships that the pieces introduce, though, are complex and interesting and enlightening. From a father desperate to give his son a better life to a spouse unsure how to talk about what’s happening to them without draining those they care about. The piece looks at impossible situations, or situations that seem impossible, and shows how people move forward regardless. To the reviews!

(11) YA PERSPECTIVES. Vulture writer Kat Rosenfeld has organized the social media links, identified the players, and provided some analysis about the controversy around Amélie Wen Zhao: “The Latest YA Twitter Pile On Forces a Rising Star to Self-Cancel”.

Whether Zhao was guilty of any of the above is still up for debate, particularly in the absence of a finished book. (Blood Heir was not slated to publish until June; some reviewers had advance copies.) But unless we want to eliminate the Death Song trope from fiction or ding Tolkien’s own use of paraphrased Bible passages, the plagiarism allegations are shaky at best — and the charge of racism, led by a series of caustic tweets from YA fantasy author L.L. McKinney, relies on both a subjective interpretation of the word “bronze” and an exclusively American reading of scenes involving slavery. Nevertheless, the latter allegations caught the attention of social-justice-minded readers, and the controversy began to balloon. A smattering of one-star reviews cropped up on Zhao’s Goodreads page. Book bloggers began announcing that they no longer intended to read Blood Heir. In a tweet thread that did not name or tag Zhao but was clearly about her, well-known author Ellen Oh wrote, “Dear POC writers, You are not immune to charges of racism just because you are POC.”

It’s worth noting here that the role of Asian women within YA’s writers of color contingent has been a flashpoint for conflict before — one that led Zhao to butt heads with YA queen bee Justina Ireland in May 2018. After Ireland wrote a (since deleted) tweet that some readers interpreted as exclusionary gatekeeping of the “POC” label, Zhao launched a long thread asserting that Asian women are, indeed, women of color, including some pointed language about those who would suggest otherwise.

“You can delete your tweets, and we’re not going to come into your mentions, but ask yourselves why you wrote those/agreed with those in the first place, and why there is such an outcry. While we’re on the valid issue of anti-POC within POC groups, examine your own beliefs, too.” (She did not tag Ireland, but needless to say, everyone knew whom she was talking about.)

(12) SOUND FX. An old behind-the-scenes clip has surfaced of the foley work behind the sound of the malfunctioning for the Millennium Falcon (“Vintage Star Wars Video Explains the Sounds Behind the Millennium Falcon”).

The Star Wars franchise is full of some of the most recognizable sound effects to ever grace the big screen. Now, thanks to an unearthed video from 1980, the sounds that make up the Millennium Falcon failing to make it to hyperspace have been revealed. As is the case with nearly all other sound effects, the iconic ship’s sounds are made up of from more than one source and then mixed together to create something brand-new and unique. Hardcore Star Wars fans can probably already hear the iconic sound in their heads and don’t even need to pop in The Empire Strikes Back for reference.

A New Hope sound engineer Ben Burtt demystifies the Millennium Falcon failed hyperspace sound in a quick two-minute video. To make the noise, Burtt relied on five different sounds to achieve what he was hearing in his head. The inertia starter of an old 1928 biplane, an air jet recorded in a dentist’s office, the sound of an Arclight motor starting and stopping, the sound of a motor located in the turret of an armored tank, and the pipes underneath a broken sink in the bathroom at the recording studio were all used to make the sound in The Empire Strikes Back.

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

Pixel Scroll 1/30/19 The Rolling Infinity Stones

(1) MORE ALA HONORS. We linked the 2019 youth awards from the American Library Association the other day. Here are two more sets of awards and recommended reading lists from the ALA:

LITA: The LITA Excellence in Children’s and Young Adult Science Fiction Notable Lists. The link is to the 2019 iteration, which is the successor to the Golden Duck awards formerly given out at Worldcon. (LITA, the Library and Information Technology Association, is a division of ALA). The list has three categories:

  • Golden Duck List (Picture Books)
  • Eleanor Cameron List (Middle Grade Books)
  • Hal Clement List (Young Adult Books)

The 2019 list has lots of authors you’ve heard of including Greg Van Eekhout, Fonda Lee, Brandon Sanderson, and Will McIntosh.

And here’s the link to the 2018 list.

READING LIST: The Reading List is an annual list of recommended genre books put out by the Reference & User Services Association, another division of ALA. “Readers’ Advisory Experts Announce 2019 Reading List: Year’s Best in Genre Fiction for Adult Readers”. Here are the winners in the sff/h genre categories:

Fantasy

  • Foundryside: A Novel by Robert Jackson Bennett. Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Horror

  • The Silent Companions: A Novel by Laura Purcell. Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Science Fiction

  • The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates.

(2) PICARD. Ethan Alter, in the Yahoo! Entertainment “Patrick Stewart teases return of Jean-Luc Picard, says new ‘Star Trek’ series ‘is a 10-hour movie'”, has an interview with Sir Patrick where he says he is playing Picard, that he thinks of his new Trek series “as a ten-hour movie” and that he will look younger (and not have a beard) than the Picard portrayed in the last episode of Star Trek:  The Next generation.”

Stewart elaborated on why he’s ready to boldly go back to Star Trek in our interview. “I agreed to a meeting with the people who were going to produce this new version of Star Trek only because I wanted to seriously and respectfully explain to them why I was turning the project down. I heard just enough to realize this was something very unusual, and I was intrigued. What I was afraid of was … this was going to be jokey, and I didn’t want to do that.’ I asked a lot of questions and the answers were all very satisfying.”

Naturally, Stewart declined to share any of those answers with us. But he did reveal a few tantalizing details. For starters, this new series will tell one long tale instead of Next Generation‘s episodic structure. “They are writing a 10-hour movie,” the actor says…

(3) 4 CAPTAINS, 4 CREWS. An IDW Star Trek miniseries will bring together characters from a quartet of Trek shows in the same comic pages (SYFY Wire: “Exclusive preview: Starfleet’s finest captains unite in IDW’s new Star Trek: The Q Conflict”). The story includes art for the cover of Issue 1 and five interior pages.

In a grand event that can only occur in the creative dimensions of the comic book realm, the brave Star Trek crews and gallant captains of The Next GenerationThe Original SeriesVoyager, and Deep Space 9 will converge in a new IDW mini-series to pool their resources and hold the galaxy together against insurmountable odds.

Written by the scribes of Star Trek: TNG: Mirror Broken, Scott Tipton & David Tipton, this bold six-part adventure premiering today is matched with soaring art by David Messina (The Bounce, Wonder Woman) and corrals this historic collection of charismatic Starfleet commanders for the first time.

(4) MIGNOGNA. Anime News Network’s post “‘Far From Perfect’: Fans Recount Unwanted Affection from Voice Actor Vic Mignogna” extensively documents examples of these charges, as well as additional criticisms of Mignogna’s alleged anti-Semitic statements.

…Where is the line for appropriate guest and attendee behavior and what should be done when it’s crossed?

These questions came to the forefront of social media these last weeks as rumors about convention guests and staff interactions with minors stopped being whispered and instead were shouted. A Twitter thread posted on January 16 accused dub voice actor Vic Mignogna of homophobia, rude behavior, and most concerning, making unwanted physical advances on female con-goers. The thread quickly spread with over 4,000 retweets at the time of this writing and over 400 comments, many relaying their own negative experiences, including unwanted and unsolicited physical affection from the Fullmetal Alchemist voice actor. As with any claims involving a person with a moderate fan following, Mignogna’s supporters were quick to attempt to discredit individuals’ claims or at the very least dispute the voice actor’s intentions behind kissing or hugging attendees unannounced.

…Mignogna also assured his fans that the statements being made wouldn’t be seriously considered by others in the business. His claim of course, wasn’t entirely baseless. Rumors about Mignogna’s alleged behavior toward con-goers and supposed outbursts at fellow voice actors and con staff have been shared within insider circles for over a decade. While researching this article, I kept learning of more conventions that supposedly “blacklisted” Mignogna from ever returning. Yet, any attempts to reach out to long-time staff for each event were met with silence. If the rumors were true, no one with any kind of power in the industry was willing to talk about it.

(5) CLARKESWORLD BOOKS. Neil Clarke is launching a translation-focused publishing imprint with Kickstarter funding, and its first book will be “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight and Other Stories by Xia Jia”

 In 2014, we launched a Kickstarter campaign with the hope of expanding our content to include translated Chinese science fiction in every issue. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and not only did we successfully raise the funds to do so, but (over the next year) we also increased our subscriber base to continue the project indefinitely. With help from Storycom, we now have over forty translated stories under our belt. Recently, we began to wonder if there was more we could do to expand on this important work and create additional opportunities for authors seeking to have their work translated and published in English. 

…The focus of this campaign is to help us secure the funding to produce our debut book: A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight and Other Stories, the first English language collection by Xia Jia, an extremely talented author that I’ve had the pleasure of publishing seven times in Clarkesworld and various anthologies, including one of my earlier Kickstarter projects, Upgraded. I couldn’t be more pleased to have her collection serve as the introduction to our new imprint. 

(6) YA CONTROVERSY. Was Amélie Wen Zhao harassed into pulling her YA fantasy Blood Heir before publication, or did she make a wise decision?

Criticism of how race was treated, levied by readers of the book’s ARC, set off another YA tweetstorm. Caro Herrera’s review on Goodreads said:

…Speaking of this, let’s get to a really problematic scene in the story. I’m talking about the whole Katniss/Rue scene at the slave auction. Oh, sorry, I meant to say Ana/May. Yeah, that entire scene was lifted from Hunger Games, let’s be real. Small black child dies in the arms of the white MC, while the MC sings a song that she taught the child? Come on. We’ve seen this before, both in a book and on the big screen. I cringed the entire time I read this. And did I mention the SLAVE AUCTION? Where a BLACK CHILD is killed?

Let’s talk about diversity for a minute. I know the book is written by a WOC. As a WOC myself, I was excited to read this, and I love to support POC authors, especially women. But that doesn’t mean all POC get a pass when their books are problematic. And this book was problematic. As another reviewer has mentioned, all diverse characters were used as props or were evil, so…? How is this truly introducing diversity and accurate and/or positive representation into the story, as the author claimed in her foreword to want to do?

The tweetstorm phenomenon was counterattacked by Jesse Singal in a thread that starts here.

And The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher (“Amelie Zhao Learns To Love Big Brother”) thought it was a golden opportunity to lambast Social Justice Warriors once again:

Donald Trump didn’t destroy Amelie Wen Zhao’s dreams. People wearing #MAGA hats didn’t shame her into withdrawing her debut novel. Progressives on social media did. These people are the enemy. They colonized her mind, and caused her — a Chinese immigrant! — to hate herself. I hope that they haven’t broken her spirit. Orwell, in these final lines from 1984, understands what they’ve done to her…

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 30, 1924 Lloyd Alexander. His most well-crafted work is The Chronicles of Prydain. Though drawn off Welsh mythology, they deviate from it in significant ways stripping it of much of its negativity.  To my belief, it is his only genre writing as I don’t hold the Westmark trilogy to actually be fantasy, just an an alternative telling of European history. Splitting cats hairs? Maybe. He was also one of the founders of Cricket, an illustrated literary journal for children. The late illustrator Trina Schart Hyman whose art I lust after, errrr, adore was another founder. (Died 2007.)
  • Born January 30, 1926 Peter Brachacki. Set designer for the very first episode of Doctor Who. Everything I’ve been able to read on him and that work says that he was not at all interested in working on the series and did so reluctantly under orders. Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert would  later recount that she was impressed with Brachacki’s work on the TARDIS interior even though she personally did not like him at all. His design elements persist throughout the fifty years the series has been produced. His only other genre work that I’ve been able to find was Blake’s 7  and a short series called the The Witch’s Daughter done in the late Seventies. The BBC wasn’t always great at documenting who worked on what series.  (Died 1980.)
  • Born January 30, 1930 Gene Hackman, 89.  Let’s see… Lex Luthor in SupermanSuperman II and Superman IV: The Quest for PeaceYoung Frankenstein‘s Harold, The Blind Man and voiced General Mandible in the animated Antz film. 
  • Born January 30, 1937 Vanessa Redgrave, 82. I think her role of Guinevere in Camelot is her first genre role. Yes that’s a fantasy. From there I see she’s Lola Deveraux in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Max in Mission: Impossible, Robin Lerner in Deep Impact, Countess Wilhelmina whose The Narrator of Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story in which Jim Henson reworked the story to give it “a more ethical, humanist view”.  Really. Truly. She next shows in the adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s The Thief Lord as Sister Antonia. I’ve only got two series appearance for her, one on Faerie Tale Theatre as The Evil Queen in, surprise not, the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” episode; the other on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles as Mrs. Prentiss in the “London, May 1916” episode.
  • Born January 30, 1941 Gregory Benford, 78. His longest running series is Galactic Center Saga, a series I find a little akin to Saberhagen’s Beserker series. I’ve not read enough of it to form a firm opinion. Other novels I’ve read by him include Timescape (superb) and A Darker Geometry: A Man-Kzin Novel (Yes I do read Baen Books). 
  • Born January 30, 1955 Judith Tarr, 64. I’m fond of her Richard the Lionheart novels which hew closely to the historical record while introducing just enough magic to make them fantasy. The novels also make good use of her keen knowledge of horsemanship as well. Her Queen of the Amazons pairs the historical Alexander the Great, with a meeting with the beautiful Hippolyta, who is queen of the Amazons. Highly recommended.
  • Born January 30, 1963Daphne Ashbrook, 56. She played Grace Holloway in the Doctor Who film– a portrayal that upset some Whovians because she was the first companion to romantically kiss the Doctor, the Eighth Doctor in this case. She played the title character in “Melora”, an episode of Deep Space Nine.
  • Born January 30, 1974 Christian Bale, 45. First enters our corner of the mediaverse in a Swedish film called Mio in the Land of Faraway where he plays a character named  Yum Yum. Note though that he doesn’t speak in this role as his Swedish voice in done by Max Winerdah. So his playing Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is his speaking role. Next up is American Psycho in which he was Patrick Bateman, that was followed by a role in Reign of Fire asQuinn Abercromby (shitty film, great cgi dragons). He was John Preston in Equilibrium, and hevoiced Howl in Howl’s Moving Castle, a film well worth seeing.  Need I say who he plays in Batman Begins? I thought not. He’d repeat that in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Amidst being Batman, he was also John Connor in Terminator Salvation. His last genre role to date was voicing Bagheera in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle asked off Kipling’s All the Mowgli Stories. He’s got a television genre credit, to wit Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island off the Robert Louis Stevenson of that name.

(8) LORD OF THE RINGOS? Peter Jackson is not going to just Let It Be says the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The Beatles’ farewell documentary “Let It Be” is getting an encore, and a reinvention.

“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson announced Wednesday that he is making a new film out of some 55 hours of footage — shot in January 1969 — that have never been seen by the public. The original movie, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, came out in 1970, soon after the Beatles broke up and has long been viewed as a chronicle of the band members growing apart. In a Rolling Stone interview given months after the film’s release, John Lennon recalled the making of “Let It Be” as a miserable experience.

But Jackson says the additional footage tells a very different story. “It’s simply an amazing historical treasure-trove,” he said. “Sure, there’s moments of drama — but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.”

(9) BATTLE BREW. Passport to Iron City transports visitors directly into the retro-futuristic world of Alita: Battle Angel, the upcoming 20th Century Fox film by Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron and Jon Landau, in advance of its February 14 opening. Guests can explore the movie’s Iron City, which has been recreated down to the last detail by the film’s production designers.

Live like a local in Iron City: join your team for exclusive drinks at the Kansas, the famous hunter-warrior watering hole, and explore the vibrant streets of Iron City, where you’ll interact with the City’s gritty residents and visit familiar landmarks, from the infamous cyborg scrapyards to the high-energy Motorball Stadium. Earn credits by completing puzzles and challenges, experiment with innovative technology, and uncover hidden clues to determine your fate.

This 12,000 square foot futuristic interactive playground will transport you to another world, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced!

Thematic beers have been created to accompany the event.

Three Weavers crafted a big, double dry-hopped wheat IPA called Berserker for the New York City event. For Austin, Three Weavers collaborated with Oskar Blues Brewery to create an eclectic pomegranate lime gosé named Badlands. And for their home city of Los Angeles, brewmaster Alexandra Nowell developed a fashionable lemon basil brut ale dubbed Panzer Kunst. Additional beers are available, including Three Weavers’ Expatriate IPA and Seafarer kölsch-style ale in Los Angeles and New York; and Three Weavers’ Seafarer kölsch-style ale and Oskar Blues’ Can-O-Bliss IPA in Austin.

(10) TWILIGHT ZONING OUT. Did John nap through the part where the alien creature tried to break off the edge of this wing?

(11) THE OUT LAWS OF ROBOTICS. NPR has the story: “A Robot Named ‘Tappy’: Huawei Conspired To Steal T-Mobile’s Trade Secrets, Says DOJ”.

The Justice Department unsealed two separate indictments of Chinese telecom device maker Huawei on Monday. But only one of them reads like the script of a slapstick caper movie.

That would be the one that describes the U.S. government’s case alleging that Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile, the wireless service company.

In the indictment, the government says that between June 2012 and September 2014, Huawei repeatedly made efforts to steal information about the design of a T-Mobile robot. The robot’s name, adorably, is “Tappy.”

We would like to include a photo here of Tappy, but photographing the robot is expressly prohibited by T-Mobile, and Tappy is kept under very tight security in a lab at T-Mobile headquarters in Bellevue, Wash.

Tappy’s job is to test devices before they go to market. With a rubber-tipped robotic arm, it touches the device screen, imitating a human using the phone — while at the same time tracking problems, measuring how long tasks take to complete, and monitoring how much battery is drained by each task.

(12) THE NEW NUMBER TWO. Penguin Middle School will soon be publishing the second book in the Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat series:

Klawde is not your average cat. He’s an emperor from another planet, exiled to Earth. He’s cruel. He’s cunning. He’s brilliant… and he’s about to become Raj Banerjee’s best friend. Whether he likes it or not.

(13) ARCOLOGIES FOR REAL? Business Insider says that, “These billion-dollar cities are straight out of science fiction, and they will soon become a reality.” These arcologies seem to be straight out of Oath of Fealty, though maybe without MILLIE.

Cities may be a long way from hovercrafts and Hyperloops, but they’re slowly catching up to the visions of science fiction. 

Technologies that once seemed impossible, like driverless cars and drone taxis, are now popping up mega-developments around the world. 

By designing cities from scratch, nations like India, Saudi Arabia, and the US can accommodate new innovations in infrastructure and deliver services more efficiently to residents. 

(14) S.H.I.E.L.D. TEASER. How will the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. move on without Coulson? Here’s your first look at Season 6. The premiere episode, ‘Missing Pieces‘, is directed by Clark Gregg and written by Whedon and Tancharoen, and will air in July 2019 on ABC.

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

Pixel Scroll 11/11/18 I’m Scrolling On The Bad Side And I Got My Pixels To The Wall

(1) YA FOR YA. Vicky Who Reads has a lot of interesting observations about “The Many Ways YA Books & The Community Isolates Teens”. Following up her first point, that teens lack money and often do their reading in ways that don’t register with the market (e.g., borrowing books), she says that leads to —

Character Problems

Adults’ money speaks, and adults oftentimes support YA novels with older characters.

Actually–scratch that. Characters who are in their teen years, but basically act like adults.

I find this is both because adult publishing doesn’t want YA-style stories–character relationships and lots of entertainment value. But adults do want to read these types of books, and they show it by influencing the YA category.

So, we end up with lots of upper YA books featuring young adult characters that are acting older and older, but they’re still the same age.

And this doesn’t mean YA readers can’t enjoy adult characters or adult novels or novels with characters that act like adults. But it does mean that these books are taking up the space of books that should be representing teens and the teenage experiences–not a YA style story representing an adult experience.

(2) BREAKING THROUGH. From Odyssey Workshop: “Interview: Guest Lecturer Fran Wilde”.

Why do you think your work began to sell?

That’s a tough question because predicting what works for markets, when markets are always changing, is like trying to read tea leaves when you don’t know how. But early in my writing career, I read slush at a magazine, and that gave me some clues.

For me, tightening everything and making every image and scene as vivid as possible was part of it. And making sure first scenes are crystal clear in intent, voice, setting, and theme—essentially answering the question of why the reader should give this story their time—was part of what helped the work find its audience.

(3) SETTING BOUNDARIES. Con or Bust, which helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions, has adopted a minimal set of anti-harassment policies for cons that wish to donate memberships, “because when Con or Bust accepts donated memberships, it necessarily promotes the conventions in question…” The guideline has been announced now, and will take effect in a year — “Con or Bust will require anti-harassment policies before accepting donated con memberships”.

Here are our requirements for a meaningful anti-harassment policy.

  • The policy’s definition of harassment must:

o   include offensive verbal statements, physical contact, and actions other than physical contact (e.g., stalking, non-consensual photography or recording); and

o   state that the convention prohibits harassment in relation to—at minimum—race, gender, sexuality, impairment, physical appearance, and religion.

  • The policy must state where and when it applies. (Does it extend to off-site events associated with the con, or to con-related online spaces? Does it apply before the con, or after?)
  • The policy must state what happens if someone violates it, including:

o   Who can report the harassment;

o   How to report the harassment. This must include a method of reporting that is not in-person and must include a method of reporting after the convention; and

o   The potential consequences for both the violator and the reporter, including what privacy the reporter will be provided and to what extent the con will take the reporter’s wishes into account when determining what action to take.

(4) NO KSM AWARD. The 20Booksto50K Vegas conference came and went without a word about the “Keystroke Medium Reader’s Choice Awards” expected to debut there following last February’s announcement. I sent a query and KSM’s Josh Hayes answered:

The KSM Awards project was put on hold indefinitely. We didn’t get enough responses to produce a fair and accurate accounting of winners. It’s something we’re looking into for the future!

(5) SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME. The Book Smugglers have announced retrenchment plans:

We have some important news to share with regards to Book Smugglers Publishing. As of December 31st 2018, we will be shifting our business away from for sale short stories, novellas, and novels….

After much thought, discussion, and agonizing–we came to the only decision that we felt was fair for our readers and our creators: to focus on our key Book Smuggler strengths as a website, and as a publisher of short fiction. Moving forward, we will continue to focus on The Book Smugglers as a website with our regular coverage of books–just as we’ve always done since the beginning. We would like to still acquire short stories in the future, but they will only be available for free on our website and without the for sale distribution into e-retail markets.

(6) RAPPING FOR SCIENCE. Rivkah Brown, in “When Rap Gets Physical” in the Financial Times, discusses rapper Consensus, who works with CERN to produce rap videos that explain particle physics. (I could access the article from Bing, but the URL copied here ends up at a paywall. So no link.) His latest video can be found is you look for “Consensus Dark Matter” on YouTube,’

Realising how rapidly CERN’s research moved, Consensus decided to avoid the theoretical and stick to facts. “I didn’t want to write a song, only for the science to change.”

The result of his research was ConCERNed. Released last year, the album condenses an astronomical amount of physics into nine tracks. The most densely packed is, unsurprisingly, “Higgs”. The other eight tracks, Consensus tells me, respect the fact that “there’s only so much people can absorb in four minutes”. But to do justice to the Higgs boson, a particle to which many devote their entire careers, he would have to surpass that saturation point.

Indeed, the lyrics to “Higgs” are pretty cryptic to those who don’t have a deep understanding of the science (“I’m looking to vacuum whatever you’ve got / And the value of what I’m expecting is not / To be zero”). They are, however, menacing. Borrowing from battle rap, Consensus delivers a guttural rhyme that moves between boasts (“People call me Higgs ’cos I’m massive”), insults (“You’re weak, and your life isn’t long”) and threats (“Treat ’em like the LHC / Smash ’em up collide”) to personify a particle that — given that it is known as the “God” particle — probably should intimidate. As he says on the track, “I’m practically the reason you exist.”

 

(7) DORRIS OBIT. Marcia Illingworth writes, “It pains me to have to tell you that Maurine [Dorris] passed away last night [November 11], shortly after 01:00 AM. She passed peacefully with her son Jimmy and friend JoAnn Parsons by her side.”

Maurine is old time SF Fandom. She and Joann Parsons started World Horror Convention. She was active in WorldCon Fandom and World Fantasy. She in known for running ASFA Suites and SWFA Suites at quite a few Worldcons.

(8) RAIN OBIT. Canadian actor Douglas Rain, who was the voice of HAL 9000 in 2001 and 2010, died November 11. (He also voiced Bio Central Computer 2100, Series G, the computer aiding in Our Leader’s cloning in Woody Allen’s comedy Sleeper.)

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA.

The SAL9000 was voiced by Candice Bergen.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • November 11, 1951Flight to Mars premiered in theatres.
  • November 11, 1994 Interview with the Vampire was released.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 11, 1916Donald Franson. Author of A Key to the Terminology of Science-Fiction Fandom. Also wrote A History of the Hugo, Nebula, and International Fantasy Awards, Listing Nominees & Winners, 1951-1970 and An Author Index to Astounding/Analog: Part II—Vol. 36, #1, September, 1945 to Vol. 73 #3, May, 1964, the first with Howard DeVore. When I first stumble across an author and their works I’m reminded how deep the genre is. (Died 2002.)
  • Born November 11, 1917Mack Reynolds. Author of a couple hundred published short stories and several novels, he sold more work to John W. Campbell Jr.’s Analog than just about anyone — but not the oft-anthologized “Compound Interest” which appeared in F&SF. His 1962 story “Status Quo” was a Hugo nominee, and he had two stories up for the Nebula in 1966, the clever Sherlock Holmes pastiche, “Adventure of the Extraterrestrial,” and “A Leader for Yesteryear.” OGH met him at the 1972 Worldcon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born November 11, 1922Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The Sirens of Titan was his first SF novel followed by Cat’s Cradle which after turning down his original thesis in 1947, the University of Chicago awarded him his master’s degree in anthropology in 1971 for this novel. Next was Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death which is one weird book and an even stranger film. It was nominated for best novel Nebula and Hugo Awards but lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I’m fairly sure Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday is his last genre novel there’s a lot of short fiction where something of a genre nature might have occurred. (Died 2007.)
  • Born November 11, 1925Jonathan Winters. Yes he did do quite a few genre performances including an early one as James Howard “Fats” Brown in “A Game of Pool”,  a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. He next shows up as Albert Paradine II in the TV movie More Wild, Wild West. He had a recurring role in Mork & Mindy as a character named Mearth. You’ll find him in The ShadowThe Adventures of Rocky and BullwinkleThe Flintstones, both of The Smurfs films and quite a bit more. He even of course was a guest on The Muppets Show. (Died 2013.)
  • Born November 11, 1945Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods. Artist and Illustrator whose grandfather taught her to read using science fiction pulp magazines. After discovering genre fandom at Windycon in 1978, she became one of the leading fan artists in fanzines of the time, including providing numerous covers for File 770. In addition to convention art shows, her art also appeared professionally, illustrating books by R.A. Lafferty, Joan D. Vinge, and Theodore Sturgeon, and in magazines including Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal. She won two FAAn Awards for Best Serious Artist and was nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, winning in 1986. She was Fan Guest of Honor at several conventions, including back at a Windycon, where her fandom started. (Died 2013.)
  • November 11, 1948Kathy Sanders, 70, Costumer and Fan from the Los Angeles area who has chaired/co-chaired Costume-Cons, and has worked on or organized masquerades at a number of Westercons, Loscons, and a Worldcon. She received Costume-Con’s Life Achievement Award in 2015. She is a member of LASFS and of SCIFI, and ran for DUFF in 1987. Her essay “A Masquerade by Any Other Name” appeared in the L.A.con III Worldcon Program Book.
  • Born November 11, 1960Stanley Tucci, 58. Actor, Director, and Producer with a lengthy resume of character roles in genre films including The Core (Yay! The Core!), Prelude to a Kiss, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Muppets Most Wanted, Beauty and the Beast, The Lovely Bones, Captain America: The First Avenger, Jack the Giant Slayer, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and The Hunger Games films, as well as numerous voice roles including Leonardo da Vinci in Mr. Peabody & Sherman.

(12) WHAT A PICTURE IS WORTH. Jeanette Ng visits The Fantasy Inn to tell about “5 Things That Medieval Bestiary Writers Almost Got Right”. Here’s one of them —

The Gold-Digging Ants

The story of the giant gold-digging ants date back to Herodotus, the father of lies and history. The story goes that these giant dog-sized, furry ants dig grains of gold from the ground. They guard this gold with military precision and diligent action.

It’s a ridiculous tall tale story, but where did it come from?

And is an ant really an ant when it is quite that big and furry?

Herodotus was also very keen on there being winged serpents in Egypt. I’ve long thought of him as travel writer keen to tell you all the stories random people tell him at the pub.

And with the ants, it is possible that it’s just a misunderstanding born out of a translation error. The Persian word for marmot and mountain ant are similar, and there is indeed a species of fox-sized marmot who regularly uncover gold dust in a province of Pakistan due to how rich that ground is in gold.

(13) DOCTOR WHO DOSSIER. Find out what police officer Yasmin Khan has on file about the Pting.

(14) ANIMATION CONFLAGRATION. The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik has an overview of the animation industry, “In epic rumpus, Hollywood’s animation sector looks to sort its royalty from its minions”, including whether Disney-Pixar will be in trouble after longtime CEO John Lasseter ended his employment because of sexual harassment allegations and whether Illumination will use its success in the Minions franchise to move into the top tier.

The sector known as one of the film world’s most stable — “Incredibles 2” and “Hotel Transylvania 3” were both hugely lucrative this past summer — is slowly playing out its own mythic dramas, if with less-catchy music.

Companies are beset by mergers, or #MeToo scandals. Studios are wedded to big ambitions, or shackled to past successes.

And internal questions are only the start. Leaders such as Disney and Pixar are trying to maintain dominance over the field, while close competitors like Illumination are closing in. Once-great studios such as DreamWorks are struggling to find their way back. And well-funded upstarts from Sony to Netflix are seeking to knock them all off.

…In interviews with The Washington Post, 16 animation executives and experts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly competitive nature of the field, described a world of intense battles, complex strategies and, maybe most telling, modern motivations. In an era in which entertainment has become fragmented and niche, with kids and parents rarely agreeing on what to watch, animation’s reliable power to attract whole families is the reason studios can’t let it go.

At stake is not just which Hollywood conglomerate will reap financial bounties — major franchises like Toy Story can take in $2 billion or more globally — but which will define the tone and style of animation moviegoers see for years to come. Will the category continued to be dominated by the computer-generated soulfulness of Disney and Pixar? Or will the off-kilter, European flavor of Illumination and its lovably goofy “Minions” make more inroads?

(15) FEMINIST FUTURES. Joe Sherry adds a file on Sheri S. Tepper’s book to Nerds of a Feather’s series: “Feminist Futures: The Gate to Women’s Country”.

The Gate to Women’s Country has a reputation for being among the great works of feminist science fiction, and it may have been at the time, but now thirty years after it was first published, The Gate to Women’s Country does not quite hold up to that legacy. Its importance to the canon of science fiction is not in question. The Gate to Women’s Country has earned that importance. Its reputation as a novel that remains great today is, however, very much in question.

(16) WHERE TO FIND REVIEWS. This week’s collected links to book reviews at Pattinase: “Friday’s Forgotten Books, November 9, 2018”.

  • Mark Baker, DEATH ON THE NILE, Agatha Christie
  • Les Blatt, THE CONQUEROR, E.R. Punshon
  • Elgin Bleecker, GUNS OF BRIXTON, Paul D Brazill
  • Brian Busby: “Grant Allen”
  • Kate Jackson/CrossExaminingCrime, ROCKET TO THE MORGUE, Anthony Boucher
  • Curtis Evans, THE ELECTION BOOTH MURDER, Milton M. Propper
  • Elisabeth Grace Foley, REST AND BE THANKFUL, Helen MacInnes
  • Rich Horton, SKIN HUNGER and SACRED SCARS, Kathleen Duey
  • Jerry House, STAR OVER BETHLEHEM AND OTHER STORIES, Agatha Christie Mallowan
  • George Kelley, END OF THE LINE, Burt and Dolores Hitchens
  • Margot Kinberg, DESERT HEAT, J.A. Jance
  • Rob Kitchin, SIRENS, Joseph Knox
  • B.V. Lawson, VOICE OUT OF DARKNESS, Ursula Curtiss
  • Evan Lewis, THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION, Nicholas Meyer
  • Steve Lewis, SHADY LADY, Cleve Adams
  • Todd Mason, THE AMERICAN FOLK SCENE ed. David DeTurk & A. Poulin, Jr.; BOB
    DYLAN: DON’T LOOK BACK transcribed & edited by DJ Pennebaker et al.;
    DANGEROUSLY FUNNY by David Bianculli
  • Kent Morgan, IN A TRUE LIGHT, John Harvey
  • J. F. Norris, MAYNARDS’S HOUSE, Herman Raucher
  • James Reasoner, THE COMPLETE MIKE SHAYNE, PRIVATE EYE, Ken Fitch and Ed Ashe (1960s comics adaptation)
  • Richard Robinson, THE WAY THE FUTURE WAS, Frederik Pohl
  • Mike Sind/Only Detect, DARKNESS TAKE MY HAND, Dennis Lehane
  • Kevin Tipple, CORKSCREW, Ted Wood
  • TomCat, THE HOUSE OF STRANGE GUESTS, Nicholas Brady
  • TracyK, THE BIRTHDAY MURDER, Lange Lewis

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Why Does The Grim Reaper Exist?” on YouTube, The New Yorker looks at the 132 Grim Reaper cartoons published in their magazine (including ones by Charles Addams and Gahan Wilson) to see why the Grim Reaper exists and why we think he can be mocked.

[Thanks to JJ, Marcia Illingworth, Karl-Johan Norén, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day cmm.]

Pixel Scroll 8/30/18 I, For One, Welcome My New Cybernetic Pixel Scroll Wrangler

(1) THE (AMERICAN) GODS THEMSELVES. Neil Gaiman pointed to Leslie S. Klinger’s announcement of a planned reference work about “American Gods”.

I’m thrilled to announce that next Fall, William Morrow will publish Annotated American Gods, with my notes based in significant part on Neil’s manuscripts, journals, and research material as well as many other sources, including conversations with Neil and answers to the questions of “Who are all these unidentified gods anyway?”. I believe that this will be a large-trim edition, with the notes on each page in the margins, based on the 10th Anniversary edition text. Among other things, the notes will highlight all of the significant textual changes that were made for that edition. There will be black-and-white images of various people, places, and maybe even gods!

(2) ATTRACTIVE IDEA. You might say the Worldcon’s YA award gets some love from the Word of the Day:

(3) TREK FEATURES IN PRE-EMMY ANNOUNCEMENT. Deadline hails fans with some award news: “‘Star Trek’ Beams Up TV Academy’s 2018 Governors Award”

“Bridge to engineering — what’s that, Scotty?” “Ach, it’s the Governors Award, Captain — comin’ right at us!” “Mister Spock?!” “It seems that Star Trek has been selected to receive that honor from the TV Academy next month, Captain.”

The award to Star Trek recognizes “the visionary science-fiction television franchise and its legacy of boldly propelling science, society and culture where no one has gone before,” as the Academy put it. The honor will be beamed up September 8 during Night 1 of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

(4) POETRY CONTEST DEADLINE. 40th Anniversary Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Speculative Poetry Contest deadline is August 31. Acclaimed Irish poet John W. Sexton is this year’s judge and esteemed Texas poet Holly Lyn Walrath is Chair. You do not have to be a SFPA member to enter poems. Rules at the link.

(5) MORE TO CTHULHU THAN MEETS THE EYE. With HPL’s 128th birthday this month, Bryan Thao Worra takes on the question “How Can Writers of Color Reconcile H. P. Lovecraft’s Influence with His Racist Legacy?” at Twin Cities Geeks.

…When I would read a story like The Shadow over Innsmouth, it felt more relevant to our journey than most of the refugee narratives on the market. Someone arrives in town to discover peculiar folks are nice at first, then turn into monstrous horrors who have bizarre traditions they want the protagonist to partake in? That’s an oversimplification, certainly, but the seeds are there to be sown. It can be sensitive to have a conversation on the real politics that ignited the Laotian Secret War, but a conversation on an alien war between Great Old Ones and Elder Things, with poor humanity caught between mindless horrors duking it out? There’s a tale that could be told, although not without its complications. Are the Great Old Ones NATO or the Warsaw Pact to Lovecraft’s Elder Things and Elder Gods? Lovecraft’s Fungi from Yuggoth appear in The Whisperer in Darkness; there, the reader learns these creatures take the brains of their victims to their distant planet in shiny metal cylinders. Simple science-fiction horror or an interesting metaphor for the cultural brain drain of a country as refugees board the metal cylinders of American planes to escape to safety?

…If I encouraged my community to read only safe, respectable literature touching on Laos, we’d find our people depicted typically as the faceless, coolies, or the enemy. In the works of writers like H. P. Lovecraft, and others, I felt we could at least start to flip the script and assert our true authentic voice from an unexpected direction. When I began writing in earnest, I had a desire to avoid many of the colonial, imperialist, and feudal trappings that disempower us. I saw science fiction, fantasy, and horror as a way to discuss our journeys and to empower ourselves, even as there can be no doubt these genres are filled with any number of paranoid and small-minded figures who may know how to put a sentence together but not necessarily an inclusive core. But like any zone of literature, one works at it.

(6) MORE ON JOHN WARD. Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) board member Jeff Tidball addresses the question “It Is Wise for GAMA to Seek a New Executive Director”. As Mark Hepworth noted in comments, Tidball very carefully avoids saying why Ward was not kept on. He does say that Ward was appointed ten years ago in very different circumstances:

The GAMA board of directors announced on Friday that it is not renewing the employment agreement of its Executive Director, John Ward. (Read a copy of the press release hosted on this site.) A fair number of members want to know why, and that’s great, because it indicates that GAMA’s members are interested in the governance and management of their trade organization.

The board’s decision arose in a closed meeting of the board, so the details and voting record of individual board members are confidential. The board’s consensus in recent discussion has been that the decisions made by the body are the decisions of the entire body, and so it would be inappropriate to publish a list reciting the votes of each member.

(Side note: This is based on very recent dialogue, the ultimate resolution of which is still pending. The question arose in the first place when a previous board decision led to a board member’s business being threatened. So, if you’ve seen or been part of board meetings in the past where detailed notes and vote-tallies were circulated, that’s why what I’m reporting here may be different from your experience.)

I wasn’t on the GAMA board ten years ago when John Ward was hired as its Executive Director. Many people, some of whom were intimately involved in the hiring process, some of whom were on the board at the time, many of whom were acquainted with the state of GAMA at that time, have assured me that John Ward was the best candidate for the position of ED when GAMA faced existential crises of finances and responsible organization. I believe them.

It’s been suggested that because John was the right person for that job, ten years ago, he must therefore still be the right person for the current job. There’s a logical disconnect there. The right person to turn a company around is not necessarily the right person to envision its future. The right person to fight a war is not necessarily the right person to rebuild the landscape. And so on. The skill sets are different.

Circumstances change, and GAMA’s have changed. The change is largely thanks to John Ward. The board gives him credit for what he’s done and applauds what he’s accomplished. So make no mistake: I thank John Ward for the hard work he’s done for GAMA. At the same time, I believe that a new voice and skill set would be better to lead GAMA for the next ten years.

(7) ALTERNATE NATURAL HISTORY. Ursula Vernon did a bunch of these today. Not in a single thread, so you’ll need to seek them out. Here is the premise and two lovely examples:

(8) BOUNCED OFF THESE BOOKS. Liz Lutgendorff finds most of the books that topped NPR’s poll “shockingly offensive” — “I read the 100 “best” fantasy and sci-fi novels – and they were shockingly offensive”. (The poll was a product of 5,000 nominators and 60,000 voters.) Lutgendorff used this test to help evaluate the list:

The test had three simple questions:

1: Does it have at least two female characters?

2: Is one of them a main character?

3: Do they have an interesting profession/level of skill like male characters?

It was staggering how many didn’t pass. Some failed on point 1….

Many failed on my second criteria, like Out of the Silent Planet or Rendezvous with Rama.

C S Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet was one of the oldest books on the list, aside from Jules Verne. It’s an early attempt at explaining space flight and encountering an alien race. Most of the plot revolves around the main character, Ransom, trying to understand the aliens before managing to escape back to earth.The most entertaining aspect of the book is the ludicrous physics. There is one woman in the story, who Ransom exchanges about three sentences with before she wanders off. Perhaps you can forgive that on age, the book being from 1938.

The same can’t be said for Rendezvous with Rama, which was written in 1973. It was critically acclaimed and won many of the main science fiction prizes such as the Nebula Award, the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Hugo Award and Locus Award. The story centres around a group of space explorers who have to investigate a mysterious spacecraft that enters the solar system.

While there are more women, almost all are subordinate to the main male lead. There is one female authority figure who is on the Council of Rama (the organisation directing the efforts of investigation), but she doesn’t play a significant role. I also got distracted by the fact that, inexplicably, the male lead sleeps with almost all the women mentioned in the book.

Finally, most would fail on the third part of the test because the women characters were all mothers, nurses or love interests. They were passive characters with little agency or character development, like the women in A Canticle for Leibowitz and Magician. They were scenery, adding a tiny bit of texture to mainly male dominated world….

(9) NELSON OBIT. An opportunity here to take note of her fascinating career — “Miriam Nelson, 98, Golden Age Dancer and Choreographer, Dies” in the New York Times – even if Jerry Lewis provides the unlikely genre connection:

Miriam Nelson, whose seven-decade career as a choreographer and dancer spanned the golden ages of Broadway, Hollywood and television, died on Aug. 12 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 98.

Much of Ms. Nelson’s movie work was for nonmusicals. She choreographed the madcap party scene at Holly Golightly’s apartment in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), and also appeared in it as the glamorous party guest in gold brocade and pearls who argues with the man wearing a fake eye patch.

Behind the camera, Ms. Nelson taught … Jerry Lewis to hoof it like a space alien in “A Visit to a Small Planet” (1960) and the whole cast of “Cat Ballou” (1965) — led by Jane Fonda, who she said was a balletically trained natural — to execute Old West dances for the hoedown scene.

(10) THE ROADS MUST SCROLL. Today’s trivia –

Moving sidewalks may have been synonymous with airports since the mid-20th century but the technology was known even earlier. A “moving pavement” transported people between exhibits during the Paris Expo in 1900 and science fiction novelist H.G. Wells even mentioned them in his 1899 tale “A Story of the Days to Come.”

Sources: USA TodayA short history of airport moving walkways “ (2016) and QIMoving Walkways”)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 31, 1797 — Mary Shelley. Author of Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) considered by many to be very first genre novel. Though not appreciated for it until rather recently, she was a rather excellent writer of biographies of notable European men and women.
  • Born August 30 — R. Crumb, 76. Ok, this is a weird associational connection. Back in 1966, The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick was illustrated by R. Crumb in Weirdo #17. Crumb days text is by Dick. It’s really, really weird. You can find it here.
  • Born August 30, 1955 – Judith Tarr, 63. Perhaps best known for her Avaryan Chronicles series, and myriad other fantasy works. She breeds Lipizzan horses at Dancing Horse Farm, her home in Vail, Arizona. Need I note horses figure prominently in her stories?

(12) WORKING FOR LEX. Here’s one of the DC Crossovers that have been discussed in Scrolls — Lex Luthor Porky Pig Special #1 variant,. Became available August 29, according to Graham Crackers Comic Books.

Facing financial and personal ruin, a desperate Porky Pig applies for and gets and entry-level position with LexCorp. Grateful to his new benefactor, Porky becomes Luthor’s most loyal employee and defender. But when a major scandal breaks in the news and Lex is called before a Congressional Committee, guess who is about to be offered up as the sacrificial pig?

(13) ESA ASTRONAUT INTERVIEW. Newsweek interviews European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti about her time after her stay on the ISS and her current role on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project (“Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti: NASA Lunar Gateway Is ‘Natural Next Step in Exploration’”).

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is [… the] first Italian woman in space […] the former fighter pilot spent almost 200 days on the International Space Station (ISS) from 2014 to 2015—a record spaceflight for an ESA astronaut.

As well as investigating how fruit flies, flatworms and even human cells behave in space, Cristoforetti gained fame for brewing the first espresso on the ISS….

Q:           What is your role with the Gateway?

A:           I’m a crew representative for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway project. It’s a space station that will be built around the moon in the early 2020s. For human spaceflight, you always want astronauts involved so that they can give a little bit of perspective to the future crew members, users and operators. I’m just starting that, I’m just getting myself into the topic.

(14) INNERSPACE. The Psychedelic Film and Music Festival debuts October 1-7 in New York, and will explore “the medicinal and therapeutic use of psychedelics and investigate the existence of inner worlds through trance music and science fiction, horror, surrealism, fantasy and virtual reality film.”

Simon Boswell will be there —

Renowned film composer and noted psychedelic Simon Boswell will headline a night of music on October 3 at Mercury Lounge on the Lower East Side for a special concert at The Inaugural Psychedelic Film and Music Festival. Performing with his musical group The AND, Boswell will play pieces from his illustrious film composition career in rock, electronica, gothic horror and futuristic styles.

Mr. Boswell is notable for integrating electronic elements with orchestral instruments to create vibrant and atmospheric soundtracks for widely praised cyberpunk, horror and science fiction films including Santa Sangre (1989), Hardware (1990), Dust Devil (1992), Shallow Grave (1994), Hackers (1995) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999). He was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Original Television Music for the BBC series The Lakes (1997) and in recent years has composed for several film projects and toured worldwide with The AND, performing live music against video backdrops of remixed content from his impressive film resume.

Tickets available on Ticketfly: https://ticketf.ly/2nyeb1o

(15) IN VINE VERITAS. Someone reading today needs this book – just not sure who it is. Altus Press announces plans for “Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars”. (No indication there is any connection with the series of similarly-themed action figures from days gone by.)

In 2014, Altus launched The Wild Adventures of Tarzan, with Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don. Two years later came the monumental King Kong versus Tarzan, a dream project long thought unachievable.

Now, in association with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and Altus Books, the Wild Adventures announces its most breathtaking project to date.

Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars!

Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his amazing creations have long dreamed of reading a novel in which the Lord of the Jungle visits the Red Planet and encounters John Carter.

In Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars, this finally happens!

When a witch doctor’s sorcery hurls the ape-man’s soul out of his magnificent body, Tarzan discovers himself on a weird, treeless landscape, a dying planet inhabited by creatures unknown to him. Marooned on Mars, Tarzan must learn to survive in an unfamiliar environment. With no hope of rescue, the ape-man begins the arduous journey that takes him from being a friendless stranger on an alien world to his rise as a force to be reckoned with. For on Barsoom—as Martians style their home planet—there exists apes. Great apes of a type not found upon Earth. Hairless giants resembling gorillas, but possessing two sets of arms. Not to mention ferocious lion-like monsters known as banths as well as the elephantine zitidars.  Tarzan will go up against these fearsome creatures, and so begins the perilous march that elevates him from naked and unarmed castaway to the undisputed Ape-lord of Barsoom!

Written by genre giant Will Murray, TarzanConqueror of Mars ultimately brings the famed Lord of the Jungle into open conflict with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ other great hero, John Carter, Warlord of Mars. In the end, which one will be victorious?

(16) DRIZZT IS BACK. R.A. Salvatore’s Timeless, on-sale September 4, marks the return of Drizzt Do’Urden, the legendary dark elf fighter that’s been a mainstay of fantasy books and the successful Forgotten Realms RPG games for over 30 years.

Not only will readers get more of the swashbuckling, sword-and-sorcery action Salvatore is known for; they’ll also get to know more of the characters who dwell in the Forgotten Realms.

Salvatore is unique, because he was one of the originators of modern Epic Fantasy—but he has continued to evolve, and to take on new fans. With TIMELESS, a master of Epic Fantasy is poised to make a huge splash in a beloved genre.

(17) SEND FOR THE MUPPET CORONER. According to Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers, “‘The Happytime Murders’ Review: Puppet Raunchfest Is Dead on Arrival”.

A few critics are calling it the worst movie of the year. Unfair! The Happytime Murders, the R-rated look at a serial killer running wild in a puppet-populated L.A., has what it takes to be a contender for worst of the decade. Directed by Brian Henson (son of the late, great Sesame Street and Muppets icon Jim Henson) and starring a painfully stranded Melissa McCarthy, this toxic botch job deserves an early death by box office….

(18) EIGHTIES UNERASED. James Davis Nicoll continues his Tor.com series with “Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1980s, Part II”.

Let us journey onward, this time to women who first published speculative fiction in the 1980s whose surnames begin with B….

For example:

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff cannot be the sole Bahá’í author/musician active in speculative fiction, but she is the only one I know. Her body of work is small enough—eight books or so—that one could read the entire thing in a week or two. Those who might want just a taste could try The Meri, in which a young woman with great magical potential struggles against a society profoundly suspicious of magic. Alternatively, you could explore her shorter work in the collection Bimbo on the Cover.

(19) EPIC NERD CAMP. Karen Heller’s Washington Post article “‘Growing up, we were the weird ones’: The wizarding, mermaiding, cosplaying haven of Epic Nerd Camp” profiles Epic Nerd Camp,  a summer camp in Starrucca, Pennsylvania where “men in kilts and women withhair stained with all the colors of Disney” can eat bad summer camp food, fight off bugs, and spend their days engaging in LARPing, cosplay, “wandmaking, sword fighting, boffer games, Quidditch, waizarding, chainmaille, escape rooms and FX makeup.”

Heller credits Dr. Seuss with originating the word “nerd” —

Nerds have been with us forever, but the term seems to have been coined by Dr. Seuss, circa 1950. (From “If I Ran the Zoo”: And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo/And Bring Back an It-Kutch, a Preep, and a Proo,/A Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too.) The word gained further popularity on TV’s “Happy Days,” where the Fonz applied it to almost any young person who was not the Fonz. Around the same time, geek — once the name for carnival performers who bit the heads off live chickens — came into its modern interpretation, referring to intense enthusiasts.

(20) THE WALK NESS MONSTER. A sauropod stepped in something, once upon a time: “170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint found in Scotland”.

An extremely rare 170-million-year-old dinosaur footprint has been found in Scotland. Paleontologists, however, are keeping its precise location secret until they can complete their research.

The footprint was discovered earlier this year by Neil Clark, curator of paleontology at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum. Clark told Fox News that he had just given a talk in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and decided to “visit the Jurassic rocks” in the area.

“After about a half hour looking, I spotted the footprint and was able to immediately recognize it as the footprint of a sauropod dinosaur,” he told Fox News. “I had to do a double take on the footprint as I couldn’t believe that such an obvious footprint had not been seen previously, considering the number of researchers who visit the coast each year.”

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

Withdrawal of the Re-Naming Addendum from the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting

By Chris M. Barkley: Today, as of Noon today, EST, I formally ask that the proposal to add Ursula K. Le Guin’s name to the Lodestar Award be withdrawn from consideration at the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting.

After consulting with the late author’s agent, Ginger Clark, and Theo Downes-Le Guin, her son and literary executor and myself, we came to the conclusion that pursuing this action would not be in the best interests of the award or the late Ms. Le Guin.

As the maker of the proposal, I want to state that I am appalled at the negative reactions towards my motives in putting forth this idea and the intensely personal attacks directed towards myself and the co-sponsors of the proposal which led us to this unfortunate decision.

I want to apologize to my co-sponsors, Robert J. Sawyer, David Gerrold, Steven Silver and Juli Marr, for any inconvenience or discomfort they may have suffered at the hands of the discontented fans during the past week after the official announcement of the proposal.

Although I take full responsibility for the failure of this effort, I am neither ashamed by my advocacy of this particular proposal nor am I unbowed by the end of this effort.

Despite this setback, I remain a staunch supporter of the Young Adult Book Award, the Hugo Awards and the World Science Fiction Society.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #33

The Ursula K. Le Guin Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

By Chris M. Barkley:

Ursula K. Le Guin in 2013. Photo by R. Durburow.

On the evening of March 6, 2018, I wrote the following, a boldly ambiguous press release for File770.com about re-naming the Young Adult Book Award:

Press Release for immediate distribution

6 March 2018

Subject: A Proposal to Re-Name the Young Adult Book Award at Worldcon 76

By Chris M. Barkley

“When the mind is free, magic happens.”

? Young Adult author C.G. Rousing

“Harry Potter” blew the roof off of children’s literature. But that doesn’t mean the work is done — for YA authors, it just means more scope for the imagination.”
– Huffington Post reporter Claire Fallon, June 2017

Reading is one of the great pleasures in life. For a time in our modern age, it is seems as though young grade and high school kids had abandoned reading books.

Then, in 1997, along came J.K. Rowling and her creation, the world of Harry Potter. And now, after twenty-one years, it’s hard to imagine what might have happened to entire generation of young readers if Bloomsbury and Scholastic Books hadn’t taken a chance on the saga of a young wizard and his friends and deadly enemies.

The Harry Potter novels, which continue to sell, provided a mighty tide that raised the fortunes of a great many writers; new authors such as Suzanne Collins, Garth Nix, Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan and Tamora Pierce, led story hungry children to the older works of seasoned professionals like Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Madeline L’Engle, Ursula K. Le Guin and Robert A. Heinlein.

In 2006, The Science Fiction and Fantasy writers of America created the Andre Norton Award, which is given to the author of the best young adult or middle grade science fiction or fantasy work published in the United States in the preceding year.

Five years later, a serious effort was started to establish a Hugo Award for young adult books. The World Science Fiction Convention Business Meeting, which governs the WSFS Constitution that administers the Hugo Awards, several committees over several years, determined that the proposed award would better be served as a separate category, to be on par with the other non-Hugo category, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

The amendment to add the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book to the WSFS Constitution was first ratified last summer at the 75th World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, Finland by the members of the Business Meeting and must be ratified a second time at this year’s Worldcon in San Jose, California to begin its official trial run as a category.

This year’s Worldcon Convention Committee (headed by Kevin Roche) has graciously accepted to administer the Young Adult Book award in addition to the new Best Series and Campbell Awards.

The nomination period for the Hugos, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer opened this past February 5th.

We, the undersigned, wish to congratulate the various YA Committee Members for reaching a consensus with their diligent work in crafting the parameters of the YA Award for the World Science Fiction Convention. However, we also think that the name of this new award should have a name which not only should be universally recognizable, but have an equivalent weight to the name of John W. Campbell, Jr.

We, the undersigned, will respectfully submit a new name for the Young Adult Book Award at the Preliminary Session of the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting on August 17th, 2018 as a strike though substitution for the name ‘Lodestar’, under the rules governing the WSFS Business Meeting.

We will also embargo the name until the start of the Preliminary Session.

There is very good reason why the name will not be revealed at this time and that explanation will also be given at that time.

While we also understand that while this motion may cause a great deal of consternation, we also feel that this would be an excellent opportunity to generate a great deal of interest about the Worldcon and bring MORE attention to this new award to potential nominators, readers of all ages, booksellers and the public at large.

The proposed name will forever be known and honored in perpetuity with the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award, and the World Science Fiction Convention.

This proposal was signed by myself, my partner Juli Marr and several other prominent authors,  editors and members of fandom.

All of this was done with good will and the best intentions. But by the end of the evening, there were a great many people who, if they had the time, inclination and opportunity, would have my head on a nice, long pike like poor Ned Stark. They chose instead to take a torch to my reputation in fandom, challenge my integrity and the very nature of the proposal.

How did this happen? And more importantly, why is this being announced now, less than two weeks before the 76th Worldcon in San Jose?

To understand what happened and explain my actions in any sort of sensible context, I must go back to the origins of the Best Young Adult Book Award.

After the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal,  I began looking into the possibility of gathering support for a Young Adult novel award.  On January 2, 2011, I created a Facebook page to promote this idea: (https://www.facebook.com/YA-Hugo-Proposal-187492394596256/)

I would not call the page an overwhelming success because the number of members topped out at around 250 people. But what we lacked in numbers we made up in our enthusiasm about establishing a Young Adult Hugo award category.

I made recommendations to the committees of Reno Convention in 2011, Chicon 7 in 2012 and San Antonio in 2013 to no avail. But our persistence finally caught the eye of the Loncon Business Meeting in 2014, which set up a series of committees to study the concept and make recommendations.

While I was in the mix for the first committee, I dropped out due to personal concerns, mainly to deal with the failing health of my mother and father.  The members doing a majority of the heavy lifting were Katie Rask, Dave McCarty and Kate Secor. Without their diligence and hard work, the YA Award would have been dead on arrival.

One of the many choices that were eventually agreed upon by the committee was to establish the new category as a companion award to the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and not as a Hugo Award.  Their reasoning was that making a new category for novel length should be done separately to avoid any confusion or conflict with the Best Novel category.

While I disagreed with their decision, when it came time to debate and vote on their recommendation at MidAmeriCon Business Meeting in 2016, I wholeheartedly endorsed their proposal, which was passed by a majority of the members present.

But there were some unusual elements of that first passage of the amendment in the Finland Business Meeting (which requires votes by consecutive Business Meetings to become part of the Constitution) was made with the wording incomplete, including a name for the new award.

At this year’s Business Meeting in San Jose there will be the final ratification vote for what is being called the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

This had to be a hard choice because if you examine at the all the literary awards being given out today, you’ll see that all of the niftier names are already taken; Starburst, Aurora, Skylark, Bradbury, Heinlein, Norton, Asimov, Saturn, etc…

By definition, a lodestar is described as “a star that is used to guide the course of a ship, especially Polaris.”

I must admit that I was never really that enamored of the name “Lodestar” as the name for this award. Mind you, other names were bandied about, including the names of living and dead authors before they chose Lodestar. Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein were already taken.  Many were reluctant to consider an obvious choice like Madeline L’Engle because of her reputation as a overtly “Christian” fantasy writer. Octavia Butler was another great choice but she was passed over. Other notable writers of young adult fiction like Jane Yolen, Tamora Pierce and Ursula K. Le Guin were still among us and rejected for consideration. The decision seemed final and I was quite content to let it go at that.

But on January 22, 2018, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin passed away at the age of eighty-eight. Her death was a shock to the entire community because nearly all of her fiction and non-fiction were being issued in new editions and she had just published a new book of essays, No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, in December of last year (and nominated in the Best Related Work category this year).

It was while I was attending Capricon 38 and participating in a panel obliquely called “Obligatory Discussion of New Hugo Award Categories,” that I first thought trying about changing the Young Adult Book category. And thought was not born out of malice towards the name Lodestar, seeking the spotlight for myself or upstaging the work of the committee that helped create it.

My thoughts were mainly on the family of Ms. Le Guin and the legacy of John W. Campbell, Jr.

Although I was grieving along with her family and readers around the world, I also saw this as the perfect opportunity to honor her lifetime of works, especially her young adult Earthsea series and the Annals of the Western Shore.

Then there is the matter of her illustrious career and awards; Ursula Le Guin was the Professional Guest of Honor at the 33rd World Science Fiction Convention in 1975 (AussieCon),  was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention in 1995, a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (2001), named a Grand Master by her peers of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (2003) was the first woman to win a Hugo and a Nebula for Best Novel (The Left hand of Darkness, 1970) and the first to do it twice ( for The Dispossessed, 1975).

In addition, she was nominated for a total of 42 Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards and won six of each, won 19 Locus Awards, a 1973 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (The Farthest Shore), was named as a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress for “her significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage” and two awards in 2004 from the American Library Association for her lasting contributions to young adult literature.

I could go on (because there is SO MUCH more) but I’ll leave you with this one last singular honor; in 2014, Ursula K. Le Guin was honored with the Medal for Distinguished American Letters by the National Book Foundation.  Here’s her acceptance speech:

As you may have noted, her defense of and praise for her fellow writers of fantasy and sf and her veiled damnation Amazon and her own publisher were not well received. And it did not matter a bit to her; she wore her convictions and informed opinions proudly on her sleeve for all to see.

John W. Campbell, Jr. is still revered in this day and age as one most influential writers and monolithic editors of the 20th century science fiction and fantasy literature. I think we can safely surmise that that without him, the development of modern science fiction and fantasy literature may have been slowed or stunted. And while we all owe him a measure of gratitude for what followed in his wake, we also cannot overlook his insensitivity towards writers of color and the public displays and editorial statements of racism.

If we are to continue to honor Campbell’s name in this fashion, then I have no doubt whatsoever that the name Ursula K. Le Guin name should adorn this award we are establishing to honor the best young adult book of the year.

After concluding that this was the course of action to take, I sought out a number of fans at Capricon, including a member of the committee that helped write the YA amendment. To a person they all concurred that this was an excellent idea.

Returning home, I immediately wrote out a constitution amendment to facilitate the name change.  When I sent a copy to the eminent parliamentarian and esteemed Business Meeting Chair emeritus Kevin Standlee for an appraisal, he pointed out that a name change as an amendment would be a known as a “greater change”, which, if it were passed by the assembly, would be the start of another two year cycle of voting for it to be ratified.

Mr. Standlee then pointed out that if the name change was presented as a substitution of language (by presenting by striking out the old language and substituting a revised version) it may be considered in tandem with the amendment under review.

Having found the proper way to submit the addendum to the San Jose Business Meeting, I was ready to email the substitution for submission to the agenda.

But I hesitated because I was lacking two things; sponsorship from others and more vitally, expressed permission from the Le Guin family.

I decided that contacting the family had priority so one month to the day after the death of Ursula Le Guin, I reached out to another prominent fan, who in turn led me to the author’s agent, Ms. Ginger Clark of the Curtis Brown Agency, Ltd.

Good Evening Ms. Clark,

I realize that I am writing to you on the one month anniversary of our loss of Ms. Le Guin but I have an urgent matter that I must bring to your attention.

As a member of the World Science Fiction, I have been at the forefront of making the Hugo Awards fair, competitive, engaging and most importantly, relevant in the 21st century.

I’ve been working since 2010 to establish a Young Adult Book category. After some considerable struggle, a YA category was finally created at the Worldcon past August. As you might imagine, there was some considerable discussion about who, or what, to name the award after.

Of course, Ms. Le Guin’s name came up but there were objections from a majority on the standing committee exploring the issue (but not from me, mind you) about naming the award after a living person. In the end, they decided on the name, Lodestar.

The late Ms. Le Guin was one of the brightest stars in modern literature. I, and a few other friends, would like to honor her by naming our new YA award after her; the Ursula K. Le Guin Earthsea Award for Best Young Adult Book.

At the moment, I have no way of contacting the family and I would like to seek their permission before submitting her name to the San Jose Worldcon Business Meeting for a ratification vote in August, which I think will have no trouble at all passing.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could pass this request along to Ms. Le Guin’s family for their approval. I can be reached via this email address:

On February 26, I received a reply from Ms. Clark, who thanked me for the email which she passed along to the family.

On the afternoon of March 2nd, I received an email from Ms. Clark stating that the family approved the use of her name and the name Earthsea (although she pointed out that the name Earthsea was trademarked and may be a factor on my decision to use in the title of the award.

As a matter of fact, it did; I had some very serious doubts that the members of the Business Meeting would want to bother with a trademarked name so I dropped it from the proposal. And, I reasoned, it would be in incredibly bad form to jettison the name Lodestar, a name the committee worked very hard to come up with in the first place.

But a short time after the confirmation email, Ginger Clark threw me a curveball; she was under the impression that I was putting her name out publicly closer to the convention in early August, and definitely not in March, which was NOT what the family wanted. And I can see the reasoning behind this request; the family was still in mourning and waiting until August would give the family enough space to grieve. Out of respect for the family, I emailed Ms. Clark with a solemn promise not to reveal officially Ursula K. Le Guin’s name under any circumstances until August and the addendum was submitted.

So I was faced with a paradoxical dilemma; how could publicize a name change without naming the person we were going to honor?

I contacted Kevin Standlee to see if the addendum proposal could be embargoed for a few months but he immediately replied with a firm no, the items up for discussion were open for scrutiny at all times.

After consulting with my partner Juli for several days, we came up with a (somewhat ingenious) plan; we will recruit a all-star lineup of co-sponsors, explain that we were going to honor Ursula Le Guin by inserting her name into the new award, swear everyone involved to secrecy and issue a press release teasing of reveal of the name in August, right before the convention.

Well, I dipped into my list of Facebook contacts and I did recruit a stellar group of writers, editors and fans to co-sponsor the addendum and explaining clearly (or, so I thought at the time) that the process will play itself out at the convention and that their sponsorship would be a key element in ensuring its passage.

On Tuesday evening, March 6th, I sent the press release above to Mike Glyer for immediate release on the File 770 website.

We then proceeded to go out to dinner and play several round of Buzztime Triva with some close friends.

What, Juli and I thought at the time, could possibly go WRONG?

As it turned out, almost EVERYTHING went wrong.

Almost immediately, one prominent author was inundated with curious and/or angry emails, text and Facebook messages demanding why she would be involved with such fannish chicanery? She immediately spilled the beans about what and who of the whole affair on her Facebook page. From her page the word spread like wildfire over social media. She messaged me an hour after the press release was published and asked to have her name removed as a co-sponsor.

Over the next several hours, the “controversy” spread accordingly to several other co-sponsors, who subsequently asked to have their names removed as well.  (Please note that I have avoided naming names to spare any of the people involved from any further inquires or harassment.)

For several days, I was pilloried and flamed on every social network platform. Or, that’s what friends reported back to me because I did neither read nor reacted to any way of the negative commentary thrown my way. If I had, I’d still be fighting and responding to EVERY SINGLE REPLY.

I also did not respond because I made a promise to the Le Guin family not to officially reveal her name as the subject of this project on the record, TO ANYONE, until the addendum was submitted to the Business Meeting.

But, as badly as the news was received in some fannish circles, the proposal actually did elicit some support with some people, which gave me some hope that the storm over this may pass in time. And, looking on the bright side, everyone was debating this open secret drawing their own opinions and conclusions.

(My partner Juli Marr, did read and keep track of the comments and did come across one amusing anecdote; someone on a Facebook page had hypothesis that my press release was actually a classic “false flag” operation designed to malign the name and reputation of Ursula Le Guin in order for the supporters of Madeline L’Engle to mount a counter insurgency campaign at the Business Meeting to have her name submitted as true name of choice. Yeah, uh-huh, sure, THAT scenario may actually happen. NOT!)

On July 28th, I emailed Ginger Clark:

Ginger,

I am checking in with you one last time since the deadline for proposing a name change at the Worldcon is next Thursday.

The text of the name change has been written and a follow up column for File 770 officially explaining why the Young Adult Book Award should be called the Ursula K. Le Guin Award will be presented.

If the family has any second thoughts or concerns at this point, PLEASE contact me (or have a family representative do so) as soon as possible.

Thank You,

Chris Barkley

On July 30th, Ms Clarke replied that the family had no second thoughts, wanted me to proceed with the submission of the addendum and wished us Good Luck!

So, on Tueday August 1st, a day before the deadline for the New Business deadline, the following was submitted to the Worldcon 76 Business Meeting for discussion with copies sent to all of the co-sponsors.

And with that, my promise was kept…

22 February – 2 March 18

Re-Naming the Lodestar Award – A Proposal for a Strikethrough Addendum

A.4 Short Title: Re-Name That Award

Moved: to name the award for best young adult book the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book by inserting words as follows. The revised Young Adult Book award would then read as follows:

3.7.3: Nominations shall be solicited only for the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

3.10.2: Final Award ballots shall list only the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

3.3.18: Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book. The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book is given for a book published for young adult readers in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year, with such exceptions as are listed in Section 3.4.

Proposed by: Members of the YA Award Committee

Replaced by:

A.4 Short Title: (Re)Name That Award: The “Ursula K. Le Guin Lodestar Award for Young Adult Book” Award

Moved: to name the award for best young adult book from the Lodestar Award to the Ursula K. Le Guin Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book by inserting words as follows. The revised Young Adult Book Award would then read as follows:

3.7.3: Nominations shall be solicited only for the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Ursula K. Le Guin Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

3.10.2: Final Award ballots shall list only the Hugo Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lodestar Ursula K. Le Guin Award Lodestar for Best Young Adult Book.

3.3.18: The Lodestar Ursula K. Le Guin Award Lodestar for Best Young Adult Book. The Lodestar Ursula K. Le Guin Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book is given for a book published for young adult readers in the field of science fiction or fantasy appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year, with such exceptions as are listed in Section 3.4.

The YA Committee is to be congratulated for their diligent work in crafting the parameters of the YA Award for the World Science Fiction Convention. However, we the undersigned see an opportunity to honor the work, legacy and memory of Ursula Kroeber Le Guin by re-naming this new award after her.

Thusly, she will be known and connected in perpetuity with the Hugo Awards Ceremony and the World Science Fiction Convention. We are also of the opinion that such a award must have a name of important stature, just as the other non- Hugo Award category, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

The proposers of this change wish to thank the Le Guin family for their consent with a special acknowledgement to Ginger Clark, the literary agent of the Le Guin estate for her help in facilitating this historic agreement.

Proposed by Juli Marr (Attending Member), Chris M. Barkley (Attending Member), Robert J. Sawyer (Attending Member), David Gerrold (Attending Member) and Steven H. Silver (Attending Member).

In closing, I would like to thank my co- sponsors, Robert J. Sawyer, David Gerrold, Steven H. Silver and my One True Love, Juli Marr.

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.

Ursula K. LeGuin

Make It So: Adding A New Hugo Award Category


By Jo Van Ekeren: I have written this post in response to the recent voicing of support on Twitter and elsewhere for the establishment of a Best Translated Work category for the Hugo Awards, but much of what follows is applicable to any potential new Hugo Award category.

I am a member of the current Hugo Awards Study Committee, which was created at last year’s WSFS Business Meeting to review how the existing Hugo Award categories are performing and recommend improvements. I did share the contents of this post with the committee chair Vince Docherty; however, it is coming from me personally, and has not been endorsed by him, that committee, WSFS, Worldcon 76, or any other person or entity which may have some sort of authority.

Anyone wishing to help get a new Hugo Award category established will need to understand that a large group of people coming to the WSFS Business Meeting and saying “We want a Translated Work Hugo!” is not enough to get a new category created. Getting a new Hugo category established is usually a 2-to-5 year undertaking of research, analysis, and discussion. It is not something which is quickly accomplished.

One reason for this is that the rules for the Hugo Awards and its categories are specified in the Constitution of The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), and modification of that constitution requires approval by a majority of the members in attendance at two sequential WSFS Business Meetings (one multi-day meeting is held each year, at Worldcon). This may sound like a cumbersome and slow process, and it is – but it prevents hasty, poorly planned changes from being implemented. The second-year ratification requirement is an important sanity check (for dubious values of “sanity” which may apply to Worldcon members), especially given that Worldcon is a travelling convention which takes place in a different location each year. A two-year process prevents wildly radical changes from being implemented by a Business Meeting swamped with members from only one geographical area.

Another reason that establishing a new Hugo Award category is such a lengthy process is that WSFS members are generally very mindful of the damage that hasty, poorly planned changes can do, and they are very protective of the Hugo Awards. At various times in the past, after extensive research and discussion, new categories have been established – or trialled, since each Worldcon has the option to give out a special one-time Hugo in a category they specify – only to have nominations be almost nonexistent, resulting in the category being cancelled. Such an outcome is always a disappointment, in addition to using up time and effort which could have constructively been allocated to other areas of importance for the convention.

In 1993, a trial of a Best Translator Hugo received nominations on 40 out of 397 total nominating ballots (10%). Those 40 people made 53 total nominations – in other words, a majority of them nominated only one translator – resulting in nominations for a total of 25 different translators. The first-place nominee had 14 nominations, and the fifth-place nominee(s) had 2 nominations, which was probably a multi-way tie among several people. The remaining nominees had 1 nomination each. As a result, with the category not having 5 strong finalists, the Hugo Administrators used their discretion as permitted by the WSFS Constitution to omit that category from the rest of the year’s award process.

Because of past experiences like this with various attempted new categories, WSFS members are fairly rigourous about evaluating the viability of proposed new categories. In order to be willing to approve such an initiative, the majority of the WSFS members will want to see that a considerable amount of thought has been put into:

(1) The Category Definition

One of the important characteristics of the Hugo category definitions is that they be defined in such a way that works would not be able to appear on the ballot in more than one category. This is why the WSFS Award for Best Young Adult Book is not a Hugo: because there was no way to draw a distinct line between YA and Not YA. The likelihood for a Translated Work Award would be much better if it were to be a separate award which would not overlap with the Hugos, and which would not disqualify a work from being on the ballot for a fiction Hugo as well as for Translated Work.

If the award is to be a Hugo, the proposal would also have to address the changes which would be needed for the other category definitions to prevent overlap. At the very least, the fiction category definitions would have to be changed to include wording such as “and was not first published in a language other than English”. And this brings up the issue of whether that would be “ghetto-ising” translated works, whether it’s saying that such works are not good enough to compete in the regular fiction categories. While I was putting this piece together, Cheryl Morgan has made an excellent post on this subject on her blog: Translating the Hugos.

(2) Possible Ramifications of the Category and its Definition

Details which must be considered when defining a category include:

  • will there be a word count limit, and only novels be eligible, or would the category be open to works of any length?
  • would graphic novels and anime be eligible? (several people have pointed out that if the definition does not somehow exclude anime, it is likely the only type of work which would ever make the ballot)
  • would only fiction works be eligible, or would translated Related Work non-fiction be eligible as well?
  • how would exclusions in the other fiction category definitions be worded to account for the possibility of the translated English version being published before the native language version?

(3) Substantial Evidence that there would be a Non-Trivial Amount of Participation by Hugo Nominators

This is the hardest part of building a case to justify a new Hugo category. The report by the WSFS Young Adult Award Committee provides an example of the sort of work which went into getting it established, a process which took several years.

The general rule-of-thumb for a Hugo category to be considered potentially viable is:

  • to be able to name 15 qualifying works published in the previous year which are not only qualifying but also Hugo-worthy, and
  • to be able to show that a sufficient number of Hugo nominators have read those works and would likely have nominated them.

While “Hugo-worthy” has a different meaning for every individual, the intent of that phrase here is to indicate that just listing a sufficient number of works is not really enough; that list must also be made with an eye to the quality of the works on it. Showing that a significant number of people would have been willing to nominate a work is a good measure of that quality.

With that in mind, I have done some basic groundwork for anyone who wishes to take on the project of getting a new Hugo Award for Best Translated Work established. This is what I have found in going through the Hugo Award longlists for the last 10 years (I tried to be meticulous, but can not guarantee that I did not miss something); the number of nominations is in round brackets:

2018
no works on shortlist, longlist unknown

2017
Novel:
5th – Death’s End by Cixin Liu tr. Ken Liu (156)
11th – The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo tr. Lola Rogers (95)

Novella:
16th – Chimera by Gu Shi tr. S. Qiouyi Lu, and Ken Liu (39)

2016
Novelette:
1st – Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang tr. Ken Liu (576) (slated work, estimate w/o slate, 136)

2015
Novel:
7th – The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin tr. Ken Liu (210)

Novella:
14th – Where the Trains Turn by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen tr. Liisa Rantalaiho (69)

Novelette:
6th – The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt tr. Lia Belt (72)
13th – Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy by Xia Jia tr. Ken Liu (42)

2014
Short Story:
2nd – The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt tr. Lia Belt (73)

2013
Novelette:
2nd – The Boy Who Cast No Shadow by Thomas Olde Heuvelt tr. Laura Vroomen (62)

Related Work:
15th – World SF in Translation by Jari Koponen (17)

2012
no works

2011
no works

2010
no works

2009
no works

2008

Novelette:
12th (6-way tie) – Where Do the Birds Fly Now by Yamano Koichi tr. Dana Lewis (10)

I have listed three 2016 works which made the Hugo longlist in 2017. For a campaign which is working to add a Best Translated Work category, my suggestion would be that they come up with a list of 12 more translated works from that year, with some sort of evidence which indicates that a non-trivial number of Hugo nominators would possibly have nominated them. Such evidence could include reviews, Facebook or blog posts, and Tweets about the 12 additional translated works – not by just anyone, but by people who are known to be Worldcon members and Hugo voters. There are a couple of ways to identify Worldcon members. While people have the ability to opt out of having their names published, and a certain number of them do, Worldcons usually have on their website a Membership Directory. And bloggers who are reading and recommending works will often mention if they are nominating for the Hugo Awards.

This would certainly be a significant amount of work, and might be best split up by allocating one work to research, to each of a dozen volunteers.

Other possible means of gaining support and supporting evidence are:

  • identify 3 good panelists with expertise on translated speculative fiction who will be at Worldcon, and suggest a panel on “SF in Translation” to the Worldcon program committee.
  • have an information table at Worldcon, staffed by volunteers who can provide information on sources for recommendations of translated works, and discuss the campaign.
  • provide an informational sheet to Worldcon to put in the Registration packets and/or in the free handout distribution area at Worldcon.
  • figure out how to take a survey of Worldcon attendees which gets some sense of how many people have read how many translated works from the previous year, and what those works are.

This last one could be difficult, because depending on how it is set up, a survey can be susceptible to manipulation (for example, 10 people completing an online survey 20 times each, by using VPNs, anonymisers, and computers in different locations, or by obtaining multiple copies of the paper survey form at Worldcon and filling out many submissions). People want to maintain their privacy, but having individual names attached to a survey (but not attached to specific results) would give it more credibility.

The WSFS YA Award committee did an online survey for the name of the award. Fans of one author promoted it heavily on social media, which resulted in a large number of votes for naming the award after her – most of them from multiple-voters and people who are not, and will never be, Worldcon members. Obviously, this was not helpful to the committee’s efforts to select a name. To be credible, surveys used in building a case for establishment of a Hugo Award category should avoid being susceptible to this sort of manipulation.

Any two or more Attending or Supporting Members can submit proposals to the WSFS Business Meeting; while it is not required that proposed business have a representative there to present it, having someone who can present the case persuasively, and is well-informed enough to answer questions, definitely increases the likelihood of a proposal’s success.

Timewise, a proposed change for this year’s Business Meeting would be rushed. Worldcon is only 2 months away, which does not leave much time for preparation of a convincing case. My suggestion is that it would be better to spend the next 2 months figuring out how to do an effective survey which is resistant to manipulation, use this Worldcon as an educational and information-gathering opportunity, and take the proposal to the Business Meeting next year. But if a fairly solid case for creating the category can be assembled, then a request needs to be made at least 2 weeks ahead of time to be put on the WSFS Business Meeting agenda (this year’s deadline is  August 3, 2018). The Business Meeting team will need an electronic copy of the report in advance, so that it can made available online to members ahead of the meeting, or at least 200 paper copies must be provided at the meeting.

If the WSFS membership, in the year in which a proposal is presented, is not willing to immediately approve a new category based on that information, but feels that the category has good potential, they may move to establish a study committee and ask for volunteers to serve on it and present a report at the Business Meeting in the following year. This is a very common result for significant changes when they are first proposed.

If a substantial case is built showing that significant participation by Hugo nominators would be likely, a Worldcon, if asked, might be willing to consider using their option to present a one-time Hugo Award as a way to trial the category. However, this would add work for them, so the case would need to be very persuasive. And if a Worldcon is presenting Retro Hugos as well as contemporary Hugos – which amounts to nearly double the work for the Hugo process – they may not be willing to make their job even more complicated by adding a trial category.

Assistance on presenting proposals to the WSFS Business Meeting is available for those who wish to take advantage of it. Kevin Standlee, WSFS Division Head for this Worldcon, has spent decades of time, effort and money on improving both Worldcon and the Hugo Awards. I have found him to be scrupulously fair, and extremely willing to help anyone who is willing to do the work toward getting changes made, even when he does not personally endorse the proposed changes. Dr. Katie Rask and Anna Blumstein were instrumental in the establishment of the YA Award, and they would probably be good people for advice on how to approach such a campaign.

Right now it looks as though the awareness of translated works among Hugo nominators is growing. I am just not sure that it has reached critical mass to justify a separate category at this point. But I am open to being convinced (as are many committee members and other WSFS members, who have voiced support in principle) by someone who has the willingness to put the work into building a case for it.

++ Jo Van Ekeren

WSFS Member and Hugo Category Committee Member
(I am just someone with opinions, and am not in charge of anything)

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018

Jacqueline Woodson

Brooklyn author Jacqueline Woodson is the winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018, the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature. The award amounts to 5 million Swedish krona (approx. $613,000 or EUR 500 000) and is given annually to a single laureate or to several. The award will be presented by H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on May 28.

Woodson is the author of more than thirty books, including novels, poetry and picture books. She writes primarily for young teens, but also for children and adults. One of her most lauded books is the award winning autobiographical Brown Girl Dreaming (2014).

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award citation reads:

Jacqueline Woodson introduces us to resilient young people fighting to find a place where their lives can take root. In language as light as air, she tells stories of resounding richness and depth. Jacqueline Woodson captures a unique poetic note in a daily reality divided between sorrow and hope.

Jacqueline Woodson frequently writes about teens making the transition from childhood to adult life. Masterful characterization and a deep understanding of the adolescent psyche are hallmarks of her work. Her books are written in the first person, usually from a female point of view. Racism, segregation, economic injustice, social exclusion, prejudice and sexual identity are all recurring themes. In January she was named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in the United States.

“It’s important to hold up mirrors for kids to see their experience is legitimate. Too often those mirrors aren’t there for them,” says Woodson.

Woodson made her authorial debut in 1990 with Last Summer With Maizon, the first book in a trilogy about a friendship between two girls. The Dear One, a story about teen pregnancy, came out the same year. After Tupac and D Foster (2008) is a story about the meaning of everything, about freedom and realizing that all is not what it seems. Passionate, lightning-bolt love is portrayed in If You Come Softly (1998). In Beneath A Meth Moon (2012), the fifteen-year-old protagonist must face uncomfortable memories to leave her past behind and break free of a drug addiction.

In Brown Girl Dreaming, a free-verse memoir for which she received the prestigious National Book Award, Woodson not only describes her own childhood in South Carolina and later New York, but also shines a light on African-American history. The young Jacqueline grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, decades marked in the US by civil rights marches, police brutality and violence. The book’s detailed descriptions of characters and settings reveal fault lines in society, pointing out the differences between different groups. Woodson’s most recent novel, Another Brooklyn, published in 2016 and a National Book Award nominee, portrays the fascination and challenges of growing up as a young girl in the Brooklyn of the 1970s.

Her books have been translated into more than ten languages.Woodson’s many honours include the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Newbery Honor Awards.

A complete list of Jacqueline Woodson’s works is at www.alma.se/en under the heading Laureates.

A quote from the author’s website, www.jacquelinewoodson.com

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories.

I also told a lot of stories as a child. Not “Once upon a time” stories but basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it! There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying but I didn’t stop until fifth grade.

That year, I wrote a story and my teacher said “This is really good.” Before that I had written a poem about Martin Luther King that was, I guess, so good no one believed I wrote it. After lots of brouhaha, it was believed finally that I had indeed penned the poem which went on to win me a Scrabble game and local acclaim. So by the time the story rolled around and the words “This is really good” came out of the otherwise down-turned lips of my fifth grade teacher, I was well on my way to understanding that a lie on the page was a whole different animal — one that won you prizes and got surly teachers to smile. A lie on the page meant lots of independent time to create your stories and the freedom to sit hunched over the pages of your notebook without people thinking you were strange.

 [Based on a press release.]

Pixel Scroll 3/11/18 Scroll Forward, Pixel Back (And Check The Batteries On Your Snoke Detectors!)

(1) SAY IT AIN’T SO. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum exclaims “Science Fiction Writers No Longer Write What I Want to Read”.

I don’t keep up with sf as much as I used to, but last night I decided I was in the mood for some. So I browsed through new releases for the past three months. I immediately crossed off (a) fantasy novels and (b) anything that was book x of y. In other words, all I wanted was a single-volume sf novel that wasn’t part of an ongoing series.

After doing that, there were maybe four or five books left to choose from. Some just didn’t look like my cup of tea, as some books don’t. In the end, there were two books left on my list. I bought one of them. So far it’s not very good.

(2) INDIE ANGST. Ruth Anne Reid tells “Why I Left Smashwords”.

If you’ve been following me a while, you may recall when I made the choice to use Smashwords. At the time, it seemed wisest; most authors were telling me that wide distribution was the key to sales. So what if Smashwords took a cut of my already eaten-into book sales? (No bookstore gives 100% of the sale to the author, after all.) Surely it was worth it, saving me the time and effort of getting into those stores myself.

Well, the experiment has lasted for a little more than a year (since November 2014), and after all kinds of publicity, including a very successful Bookbub promotion (which made me a BEST-SELLER YAY), I can tell you this: for me, Smashwords is not worth it.

(I emphasize “for me” because for some folks, it works great. For me, however, it didn’t.)

Let me break down precisely why….

(3) STAN FLEECED. In “‘Picked Apart by Vultures’:  The Last Days of Stan Lee”  on The Daily Beast, Mark Ebner says that the aging comics tycoon is surrounded by people who want his money and there are fears that he won’t leave enough money to his only child, daughter JC, to let her live in comfort.

You might expect Stan Lee, at age 95, to be enjoying the fruits of his many labors: Marvel Comics, the company he served as the former president and chairman of, dominates popular culture. Characters he co-created — among them Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, and the Avengers — are household names. He’s a comics legend, with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When Marvel sold to Disney in 2010 for $4 billion, he personally pocketed a cool $10 million, and tours the world as its ambassador emeritus. And midway through his tenth decade, Black Panther, based on a character he and Jack Kirby first envisioned in 1966, currently sits atop the global box office charts, and carries a Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%.

Instead, seven months after the death of Joan, his wife of almost 70 years, beset with pneumonia, the apparent victim of gross financial malfeasance and surrounded by a panoply of Hollywood charlatans and mountebanks, he may be facing his greatest challenge, every bit the equal of any of the psychologically flawed superheroes he helped shepherd into being

(4) REASONS TO VOTE. Abigail Nussbaum reveals “My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories”:

Best Related Work:

  • “Freshly Remember’d: Kirk Drift” by Erin Horáková (Strange Horizons) – It’s been nearly a year since Erin’s masterful essay–about James Kirk, how pop culture processes masculinity, and how the forces that have changed how we view our male heroes are also reflected in politics.  Aside from being a brilliant–and brilliantly written–bit of textual analysis, which repeatedly demonstrates that Kirk is a much more thoughtful, respectful, and even feminist character than the conventional wisdom about him would have it, “Kirk Drift” speaks to vital currents in our culture.  Why do we prioritize bluster and machoism over competence and cooperation, so much that we reinvent characters who embody the latter traits so that they instead espouse the former?  I doubt there’s another piece of criticism published last year that was as relevant or as necessary as this essay, and it deserves to be recognized by the Hugos.
  • Iain M. Banks by Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press) – The Modern Masters of Science Fiction series (edited by Gary K. Wolfe) has been publishing tantalizing volumes about mid- and late-twentieth century SF authors for several years, but none were as designed to appeal to my interests as one of my favorite critics writing about one of my favorite authors.  In this short but illuminating volume, Kincaid walks us through Banks’s career–with the aid of copious references to interviews, contemporary reviews, and reminiscences of Banks’s friends in the UK SF community.  Most gratifyingly, he ties together Banks’s SF and mainstream output, arguing that the gap between the two is nowhere near as wide as many critics have argued, and that there are common themes that recur throughout his work.  He also delivers a close, strongly political analysis of the Culture novels, and while I don’t entirely agree with his conclusions, his argument is cogent and engaging.  This is a major work of criticism on a major author, and any fan of Banks owes it to themselves to read it.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 11, 1971 THX 1138 debuted.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY HITCHHIKER

  • Born March 11, 1952 – Douglas Adams

(7) BUSBY BIRTHDAY. Steven H Silver salutes a birthday boy at Black Gate: “Birthday Reviews: F.M. Busby’s ‘Tundra Moss’”.

Busby served as the Vice President of SFWA from 1974-6. His novels include the Demu trilogy, the Rebel Dynasty books, and the Rissa Kerguelen series.

“Tundra Moss appeared in the third volume of Gregory Benford’s What Might Have Been series of alternate history anthologies with the theme Alternate Wars.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian learned the highly scientific reason behind daylight savings time from Wiley.

(9) WAITING FOR PLAYER ONE. While the “Ready Player One” movie hasn’t quite opened yet, the band “Gunship” have released a music video for a song, “Art3mis & Parzival”.

Stream & Download ‘Art3mis & Parzival’ here – http://smarturl.it/HITH004DL Find the hidden clues in this video to win GUNSHIP’s Holy Arcade Machine Of Antioch! You must use your cunning to pass the trials that GUNSHIP themselves have laid down. Head to http://www.gunshipmusic.com to play.

(10) TIME TRAVELING TWIN. No doubt about it!

(11) EXPECT ALIENS TO BE…ALIEN! Engadet explains: “NASA wants to change the way we think about the habitable zone”.

One of the most exciting discoveries in recent years was the TRAPPIST-1 system — a group of seven Earth-sized planets circling a red dwarf star 40 light years away. Hopes of finding life on these planets were dashed in July 2017 after two studies from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics concluded the red dwarf was likely too dim and cool to support Earth-like ecosystems. The habitable zone, in this case, was much closer to the star than Earth is to the Sun, increasing the amount of UV radiation on these planets to an unlivable level.

At least, unlivable by Earth standards. In December, a study published on arXiV.org proposed the idea that the “habitable zone” was too narrow a search criteria when looking for alien life. Researchers were as likely, if not more, to find life on frozen planets with subsurface oceans, according to the study’s authors. That life, of course, may not look much like the organisms on Earth.

(12) LOCKE. Locke’s tweets were quoted here among many examples of people who gave pushback to Chris Barkley’s proposal to rename the Worldcon’s new YA Award. Nothing critical was said against them. Besides, did anybody like Chris’s approach?

Since I gave Barkley a platform to make his announcement, some may mistake that as an endorsement. I’m against it myself. And publishing people’s negative statements about it is not an agenda against the critics.

(13) WALKING TALL. StarWars.com’s “Fully Operational Fandom” feature agrees “This 17-Foot-Tall AT-AT Would Even Impress the Emperor”. [Via io9.]

Like the Rebellion scrapping together equipment and people, Gilbert worked with what he had and assembled a team of volunteers. They moved fast due to a tight schedule and made the AT-AT in four weeks. Gilbert explains how they accomplished the feat: “We worked quite a few evenings, but we had an incredible team of volunteers working on the project. Overall, I’d say about 25 people helped at one point or another. Other than three to four of us, many had never used power tools before, so it wasn’t like we were dealing with a team of prop makers or anything. We’d show someone how to use the tool, watch them do it, and then I’d be their biggest fan when they did it right. The volunteers are what made this project special.”

Lacking Imperial materials, they made do with foam insulation boards, foamboard adhesive, and plywood (you can read details on Instructables). The project cost around $1,000. And like the Rebellion figuring things out as they went, they faced challenges.

(14) FANTASY OUT OF AFRICA. NPR’s Caitlin Paxson says Tomi Adeyemi’s Children Of Blood And Bone, a fantasy based on West African myths, is a feast for hungry readers.

Eventually, all the children of Orïsha are faced with a choice: will the restoration of magic heal their broken homeland, or will its quest only drive them further apart and cause more suffering?

Like the similarly eagerly anticipated Black Panther movie (to which this will undoubtedly draw comparisons, given the proximity of their releases), Children of Blood and Bone is a fast-paced, excellently crafted hero’s journey through a fantasy world that is informed by African mythology (specifically West African, in the case of the book) and populated with compelling and nuanced black characters. The world is hungry for this, and Tomi Adeyemi delivers a worthy feast.

(15) HOW IT SHOULD HAVE STARTED. The BBC’s Caryn James looks at A Wrinkle in Time.

Ava DuVernay’s charming, spirited, Oprah-fied version of A Wrinkle in Time arrives as the victim of its own hype. From its sublime casting to its big-hearted message, there is much that is appealing in this fantasy about Meg Murry, a girl who travels through space and time to rescue her missing father, and finds her own confidence along the way. Yet the stumbles in creating the alternate worlds Meg visits make the film less spectacular than viewers might have hoped, and at times a bit flat. Without the weight of high expectations, Wrinkle would look like a perfectly good Disney movie bound to appeal to its target audience of 10-year-old girls, and not so much to anyone hoping for dazzling film-making.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Christian Brunschen, Carl Eldridge, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew, with a typo assist from OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 3/8/18 Stay Tuned For Pixels As They Break

(1) ELVES FOREVER. Olga Polomoshnova explores Elves’ immortality in “Who wants to live forever?” at Middle-Earth Reflections.

By their nature the Elves are bound to Arda, with their bodies being made of  “the stuff of Earth”. They live as long as the world endures….

What Men crave for and desire with all their hearts is, in fact, a burden. More accurately, this serial longevity becomes a burden with time. The Elves age very slowly, but during the course of their long lives they know death of wounds or grief, though not, like Men, of old age, and they fear death, too. Elvish ageing shows in their ever-growing weariness of the world. One of the best descriptions of this state was provided by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who experienced such longevity due to his possession of the One Ring. He compared his unnaturally long life with being “all thin, sort of stretched, […] like butter that has been scraped over too much bread” (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 42). So probably that is exactly how the Elves could feel many thousand years into their lives.

(2) HAMILL’S WALK OF FAME STAR DEDICATED. Star Wars icon Mark Hamill is now a star in the Hollywood firmament: “Mark Hamill Gets ‘Overwhelming’ Support From Harrison Ford & George Lucas at Walk of Fame Ceremony”.

On Thursday, some of the actor’s closest friends and colleagues came out to honor him as he was immortalized in Hollywood with the recognition befitting a cultural icon like himself.

Hamill got some sweet support from his former Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford, Star Wars creator George Lucas, recent Last Jedi co-star Kelly Marie Tran, as well as a pair of Storm Troopers and the iconic droid R2-D2. His wife of nearly 40 years, Marilou York, was also to celebrate the honor.

(3) CROWDFUNDING WILL REVIVE AMAZING. Steve Davidson has launched a Kickstarter to hasten “The Return of Amazing Stories Magazine!”

Amazing Stories is an institution. It is an icon of the field. Over the years it has represented both the best and the worst that this genre has to offer. It has inspired the careers of authors, artists, editors, academics, scientists and engineers. Its presence proved that there was a viable market for this kind of literature, a fact not lost on other publishers who quickly followed suit. By 1930 there were four magazines in the field, eventually many more. And the fans? They bought every single one of them.

Amazing Stories deserves to be an ongoing part of our community. It may be a bit worn around the edges, the spine may be cracked a little and it may shed bits of pulp here and there, but those are love scars. Amazing Stories is not just our progenitor, it is the embodiment of the heart and soul of the genre.

We love it. We love what it’s done for us, what it represents, what it created. How can we not, when we love Science Fiction?

We know you share that love. Please show that love. It’s time for Amazing Stories to live again.

On the first day Steve’s appeal brought in $5,079 of its $30,000 goal.

Here’s how the money will be used. (Experimenter Publishing is Steve’s company.)

Experimenter plans to publish its first new issue for a Fall 2018 release and will be distributing the magazine at Worldcon 76 in San Jose CA. Professional, SFWA qualifying rates of 6 cents per word will be paid and Experimenter intends to become a fully SFWA qualifying market within its first year of operation. Several stories by well known authors have already been contracted, as has cover art by a highly respected artist.

Following five years of growth and development as an online multi-author blog serving the interests of science fiction, fantasy and horror fans, the publication of well-regarded articles produced by over 175 contributors, read by over 40,000 registered members, and following the publication of three special editions, a comic book and a growing selection of anthologies, classic novels and facsimile reprints, Experimenter believes the time is right to launch the quarterly magazine.

(4) ABOUT THE BARKLEY PROPOSAL. What were signers of Chris Barkley’s YA Award name proposal told? One of them, Shawna McCarthy, wrote in a comment on Facebook:

I was a signatory and do not feel misrepresented to other than not knowing the name of the award had already been decided. It’s possible the sponsor thought I was more up on the state of WC business committee work than I was.

(5) COMIC-CON’S QUASI-MUSEUM. Kinsee Morlan, in “Don’t Call Comic-Con’s Balboa Park Digs A museum–At Least Not Yet” for Voice of San Diego, says that Comic-Con International is upholding its nonprofit status by building a museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park (which will replace the San Diego Hall of Champions) and is hiring British museum designer Adam Smith to create it.

Smith said specifics are still hazy, but a few things are starting to become clear. For starters, he’s not ready to dub the new space a museum just yet. He’s toying with calling it a center or something else that better communicates its mission of showcasing contemporary exhibits that focus on what’s happening now or in the future — think virtual reality demos or participatory immersive television experiences (yeah, that’s a thing).

Smith also obliterated the traditional curator-led exhibition model. Instead of experts organizing most of the shows, he said, super fans will be likely be generating exhibitions and events. That’s a move taken from Comic-Con’s convention playbook, where fan-generated panels have always been a big part of the offerings.

David Glanzer, Comic-Con’s director of communications who’s been with the nonprofit for decades, fielded some of my questions, too.

Civic leaders are perpetually terrified that Comic-Con will pack up its bag and head to Los Angeles or another city if San Diego doesn’t expand its Convention Center soon. Glanzer said folks should not assume that won’t happen now that Comic-Con’s new center is opening in Balboa Park. He said they’re two separate projects and the convention could still relocate in the future if its space problems start impacting the quality of the convention.

(6) LOVED THE BOOK, HATED THE FILM. LitHub list of “20 Literary Adaptations Disavowed by Their Original Authors” has plenty of sff:

  • Earthsea (2004) – Based on: Ursula K. Le Guin, Earthsea cycle (1968-2001)

Le Guin hated the Sci-Fi Channel’s adaptation of her books, and she had quite a lot to say on the subject, but the biggest problem was that the miniseries completely whitewashed the original text. Early on, she was consulted (somewhat) but when she raised objections, they told her that shooting had already begun. “I had been cut out of the process,” she wrote at Slate.

Also:

  • Mary Poppins (1964) – Based on: P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (1934)
  • Hellraiser: Revelations (2011) – Based on: Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart (1986)
  • A Wrinkle in Time (2003) – Based on: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  • Charlotte’s Web (1973) – Based on: E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952)
  • Solaris (1972, 2002) – Based on: Stanis?aw Lem’s Solaris (1961)
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Based on: Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (1954)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971) – Based on: Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  • The Shining (1980) – Based on: Stephen King’s The Shining (1977)
  • The NeverEnding Story (1984) – Based on: Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story (1979)
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – Based on: Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

(7) LOPATA OBIT. Steve Lopata’s daughter announced that he passed away March 5, peacefully, at the hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sammi Owens said:

…I deeply regret to inform you that his heart was failing and Worldcon 75 Helsinki was his last trip. He had heart surgery and despite valiant efforts he succumbed to his heart disease on March 5, 2018…. My mom Frances and I want the scifi community and all his friends to know how much he dearly loved you all. His all time favorite activities were working Ops for Worldcons and having an audience for his tales- umm, I mean true stories…. Peace be with you all and thank you for your friendship to our beloved man.

Patrick Maher was one of many fans who worked Ops with Steve with good words about him:

I didn’t know Steve very long, only since he walked into Shamrokon in 2014 and offered to help out. We didn’t know who he was but, as he said he had just come from Loncon III, we asked James Bacon who he was. James described him as Steve ‘Awesome Ops Guy’ Lopata. He sat in Ops all weekend and offered sage advice. When I took over Ops for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, he was the first person I went to for advice.

Lopata also did volunteer work with big cats, as he explained in an article for Mimosa in 2001.

One of the first questions I am asked when I tell people about working with lions and tigers is, “How did you get involved?” There are two answers. First the short, “I like kitties;” and the longer one, “I was at a convention and saw this guy walking a tiger on a leash. I asked if I could pet the tiger and about half an hour later, I was a volunteer at the breeding park.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Chip Hitchcock calls this too bad not to share: Arlo and Janis.
  • And here’s an International Women’s Day item from Bizarro.

(9) INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY. Headstuff’s Aoife Martin celebrated the day by analyzing “Author Pseudonyms” used by women. A couple of instances came from sff —

Closer to modern times we have the case of Alice Bradley Sheldon who wrote science fiction under the pen name of James Tiptree Jr. In an interview she said that she chose a male name because it “seemed like good camouflage. I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damn occupation.” It’s interesting that Sheldon should have felt the need to do this but she was a successful science fiction writer – so much so that she won several awards including a Hugo for her 1974 novella, The Girl Who Was Plugged In and several Nebula awards. Her secret wasn’t discovered until 1976 when she was 61. Throughout her career she was referred to as an unusually macho male and as an unusually feminist writer (for a male). Indeed, fellow writer Robert Silverberg once argued that Tiptree could not possibly be a woman while Harlan Ellison, when introducing Tiptree’s story for his anthology Again, Dangerous Visions wrote that “[Kate] Wilhelm is the woman to beat this year, but Tiptree is the man.” Suitably, the James Tiptree Jr. Award is given annually in her honour to works of science fiction and fantasy that expand or explore one’s understanding of gender.

(10) A NEW KIND OF BARBIE. The Huffington Post reports Mattel is honoring a few living legends this International Women’s Day: “Frida Kahlo And Other Historic Women Are Being Made Into Barbies”. Genre-related figures include Katherine Johnson and Patty Jenkins.

Kids around the world will soon be able to own a Barbie doll bearing the likeness of Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart or Katherine Johnson.

All three women made herstory in different industries: Earhart was the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; Mexican artist Kahlo was known for her unique painting style and feminist activism; and Johnson, who was highlighted in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” broke boundaries for black women in mathematics and calculated dozens of trajectories for NASA, including the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.

The dolls, which are part of Mattel’s new series called “Inspiring Women,” will be
mass produced and sold in stores….

(11) ANOTHER STAR WARS SERIES. A well-known name in superhero movies will be responsible for a Star Wars series to appear on Disney’s new streaming platform: “Jon Favreau hired for ‘Star Wars’ series: Why fans have mixed feelings”.

The director whose film launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe is coming to a galaxy far, far away. Jon Favreau, the filmmaker behind Iron Man, Elf, and Disney’s live-action Jungle Book and Lion King, will write and executive-produce a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s new streaming platform. Lucasfilm announced today that Favreau, who is also an actor with roles in the Clone Wars animated series and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story,  will helm the new show. While Favreau has a strong fanbase (going all the way back to his 1996 debut film Swingers), many on social media are wondering why Lucasfilm has hired yet another white man to steer the diverse Star Wars universe — and announced it on International Women’s Day, no less.

(12) STORYBUNDLE. Cat Rambo curated The Feminist Futures Bundle, which will be available for the next three weeks.

In time for Women’s History Month, here’s a celebration of some of the best science fiction being written by women today. This bundle gathers a wide range of outlooks and possibilities, including an anthology that gives you a smorgasbord of other authors you may enjoy.

I used to work in the tech industry, and there I saw how diversity could enhance a team and expand its skillset. Women understand that marketing to women is something other than coming up with a lady-version of a potato chip designed not to crunch or a pink pen sized for our dainty hands. Diversity means more perspectives, and this applies to science fiction as well. I am more pleased with this bundle than any I’ve curated so far.

In her feminist literary theory classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing, science fiction author Joanna Russ talked about the forces working against the works of women (and minority) writers. A counter to that is making a point of reading and celebrating such work, and for me this bundle is part of that personal effort, introducing you to some of my favorites. – Cat Rambo

The initial titles in the Feminist Futures Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling
  • Alanya to Alanya by L. Timmel Duchamp
  • Code of Conduct by Kristine Smith
  • The Birthday Problem by Caren Gussoff

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • Starfarers Quartet Omnibus – Books 1-4 by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
  • Spots the Space Marine by M.C.A. Hogarth
  • The Terrorists of Irustan by Louise Marley
  • Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard
  • To Shape the Dark by Athena Andreadis

(13) FAIL HYDRA. Cory Doctorow updated BoingBoing readers about a publisher accused of questionable practices: “Random House responds to SFWA on its Hydra ebook imprint”

Allison R. Dobson, Digital Publishing Director of Random House, has written an open letter to the Science Fiction Writers of America responding to the warning it published about Hydra, a new imprint with a no-advance, author-pays-expenses contract that SFWA (and I) characterize as being totally unacceptable. Dobson’s letter doesn’t do much to change my view on that:

(14) BEARING WITNESS. Lavie Tidhar has tweeted a noir Pooh adventure. Jump on the thread here:

(15) ANDROIDS AT 50. Here’s a clipping from Nature: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ananyo Bhattacharya toasts Philip K. Dick’s prescient science-fiction classic as it turns 50.” [PDF file.]

When science-fiction writer Peter Watts first opened Philip K. Dick’s 1968 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a word caught his eye. It was “friendlily”. How had Dick got that past an editor? As Watts told me: “I knew at that point that Dick had to be some kind of sick genius.”

(16) CURRENT EVENTS. This sounds like a job for Doctor Who: “A Political Dispute Puts A Wrinkle In Time, Slowing Millions Of European Clocks”.

For the past few weeks, something strange has been happening in Europe. Instead of time marching relentlessly forward, it has been slowing down imperceptibly, yet with cumulatively noticeable results, so that millions of clocks the Continent-over are now running behind.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity released a statement Tuesday saying that since mid-January, Europe’s standard electrical frequency of 50 hertz has fallen ever so slightly to 49.996 hertz.

For electric clocks that rely on the frequency of the power system — typically radio, oven and heating-panel clocks — the cumulative effect was “close to six minutes,” according to the agency.

(17) TAINT FUNNY MCGEE. The BBC says “Amazon promises fix for creepy Alexa laugh”.

Amazon’s Alexa has been letting out an unprompted, creepy cackle – startling users of the best-selling voice assistant.

The laugh, described by some as “witch like” was reported to sometimes happen without the device being “woken” up.

Others reported the laugh occurring when they asked Alexa to perform a different task, such as playing music.

“We’re aware of this and working to fix it,” Amazon said.

(18) CUBE ROUTER. Meanwhile, at MIT, they’re wasting their time saving time: “Rubik’s robot solves puzzle in 0.38 seconds”.

Ben Katz, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, collaborated with Jared Di Carlo to create the robot.

“We noticed that all of the fast Rubik’s Cube solvers were using stepper motors and thought that we could do better if we used better motors,” said Mr Di Carlo in a blog post.

Mr Katz said in his blog the 0.38 seconds included “image capture and computation time, as well as actually moving the cube”.

Their contraption used two PlayStation Eye cameras from the old PS3 console to identify the configuration of the cube.

However, mistakes often resulted in a cube being destroyed.

(19) DARK MATTER. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination released a video of a recent guest presentation: “Sir Roger Penrose: New Cosmological View of Dark Matter, which Strangely and Slowly Decays”.

Sir Roger Penrose joined the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination on January 19, 2018, to give a talk on his latest research and provide an insight into the thinking of a modern day theoretical physicist. Is the Universe destined to collapse, ending in a big crunch or to expand indefinitely until it homogenizes in a heat death? Roger explains a third alternative, the cosmological conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) scheme—where the Universe evolves through eons, each ending in the decay of mass and beginning again with new Big Bang. The equations governing the crossover from each aeon to the next demand the creation of a dominant new scalar material, postulated to be dark matter. In order that this material does not build up from aeon to aeon, it is taken to decay away completely over the history of each aeon. The dark matter particles (erebons) may be expected to behave almost as classical particles, though with bosonic properties; they would probably be of about a Planck mass, and interacting only gravitationally. Their decay would produce gravitational signals, and be responsible for the approximately scale invariant temperature fluctuations in the CMB of the succeeding aeon. In our own aeon, erebon decay might well show up in signals discernable by gravitational wave detectors.

 

(20) HANDY HINTS. And in case you ever have this problem: “Here’s How You Could Survive Being Sucked Into a Black Hole”. The article is honestly kind of useless, but I love the clickbait title.

OK, so maybe you aren’t going to get sucked into a black hole tomorrow. Or ever. Maybe even trying to imagine being in such a situation feels like writing yourself into a Doctor Who episode. But, for mathematicians, physicists, and other scientists attempting to understand cosmic strangeness in practical terms, these thought experiments are actually very useful. And they may be more practical in and of themselves than we’d realized.

At least, that’s what a team of researchers led by Peter Hintz at the University of California, Berkeley found through their study of black holes, recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters

[Thanks to Standback, Will R., John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, J. Cowie, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]