Pixel Scroll 12/15/16 Pixels? We Don’t Scroll No Stinking Pixels!

(1) ROBERT J. SAWYER SWEARS. In his year-end newsletter, Robert J. Sawyer reveals one of the perks of being added to the Order of Canada.

On Canada Day, July 1, 2016, I was named a Member of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour bestowed by the Canadian government; I was honoured for “accomplishments as a science-fiction writer and mentor and for contributions as a futurist.” This makes me the first person ever to be admitted into the Order for work in the science-fiction field.

I will be presented with a medal by the Governor General of Canada early in the new year, and now am entitled to append the post-nominal initials C.M. to my name.

As a bonus, I’m now also empowered to officiate at Canadian citizenship ceremonies. I’ve been having the time of my life swearing in new citizens at the Mississauga office of the Canadian Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; I’ve sworn in about 500 new Canadians so far, from over 40 countries.

(2) LESSONS FROM URSULA. Nancy Jane Moore reports on The Tiptree Symposium at Book View Café.

“This is another lesson I take from Ursula: Sometimes if you don’t fit in the world, the world has to change.” — Karen Joy Fowler

Those words from Karen’s keynote speech at the ‘2016 Tiptree Symposium’ summed up my experience. The two-day event at the University of Oregon celebrating the work of Ursula K. Le Guin was a powerful antidote to the bombardment of horribles that continue to assault us after the election debacle. I came away feeling transformed.

For me, the most powerful item on the program was “Le Guin’s Fiction as an Inspiration for Activism,” a panel featuring adrienne maree brown (co-editor of Octavia’s Brood) and Grace Dillon (professor at Portland State University in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program), and moderated by Joan Haran (of the University of Oregon and Cardiff University in Wales).

(3) THE CALIFORNIA SPACE PROGRAM. Motherboard’s Jason Koebler concludes “California’s Hypothetical Plan to Start a Space Agency Is Legal and Feasible”.

In a scathing speech Wednesday in front of some of the most important climate scientists in the world, California Gov. Jerry Brown vowed to fight Donald Trump’s anti-environmental policies every step of the way. One audacious promise particularly stood out: Brown said that if Trump turns off NASA’s climate-monitoring satellites, the state “is going to launch its own damn satellites.”

Trump’s advisors have indeed said he will crack down on “politicized science,” and Trump campaign advisor Bob Walker noted that this would include NASA’s Earth Sciences Division, which operate several Earth-monitoring satellites. No one knows yet if Trump will actually have NASA turn off satellites that are much more expensive to make and launch than they are to operate, but for the sake of preparedness, I decided to look into whether or not California could actually keep Brown’s promise. I spoke to several space lawyers in an attempt to suss out how, logistically and legally, a California Space Agency would work.

(4) THE BUZZ. At The Hollywood Reporter “Rogue One: What the Critics Are Saying”.

Critics are divided, but mostly positive, about the appeals of Gareth Edwards’ ‘Star Wars’ spinoff.

If, as trailers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story put it, rebellions are based on hope, then it’s possibly true that the same can be said for anticipation for the next movie in the beloved science-fiction franchise. Now, however, the first reviews for Rogue One have hit the internet, giving fans their first chance to see whether or not that hope has been misplaced.

(5) YOUTH AGAINST AGE, At Young People Read Old SF, curator James Davis Nicoll turned his crew loose on Kate Wilhelm’s “Baby, You Were Great”.

Young People Read Old SFF has reached the 1960s. That means the fraction of stories by women is about to increase sharply [1], to reflect the increasing number of women in science fiction. And what better woman to herald that rising tide than the award winning Kate Wilhelm?

First published in the 1950s, Kate Wilhelm is a science fiction, fantasy, and mystery writer. With her husband, Damon Knight, she established both the Clarion and the Milford Writer’s Workshop. Her award nominations and wins include the Nebula, the Hugo, the Apollo, and the Locus. In 2016, the Solstice Award, given to individuals who have had a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, was renamed in her honour.

They hated it. And they give solid reasons. But when you consider background facts like the story originally was published in the second of Damon Knight’s avant-garde Orbit anthologies, a book that featured not one but two stories by Joanna Russ, that may only mean the author’s intended message reached them.

(6) THE HORROR. The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy blog posted a Best Horror Books of 2016 piece. And if I was a better person I would remember who to credit for mentioning that in comments.

This year was an interesting one for horror. Not only did genre fans see new books from established heavy hitters, they welcomed a grandmaster’s novel back into print after 52 years, encountered incredible debuts, rafts of new and disturbing short stories, and at least one satire that frightens just as easily as its source material. If there were room to list every horror book released this year, we could easily just do that. The competition was tough, and many late nights were spent pondering the list and debating where the line lays between horror and dark fantasy. Finally, final selection of contenders emerged from the chaos. Submitted for your approval, here are the 15 best horror books of 2016.

(7) MEYER OBIT.  Steven H Silver of SF Site News reports former Worldcon chair Kathleen Meyer died December 13.

Chicago area fan Kathleen Meyer (b.1948) died on December 13. Meyer was a long-time member of the ISFiC Board of Directors, serving as the organization’s Treasurer. She chaired Windycon XI and XII in 1984-5 and Windycon XV in 1988. In 1991, Meyer chaired Chicon V, that year’s Worldcon. She also worked on Capricon programming operations for several years

(8) THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKIN’. Gizmodo has a photo of the boots that left the last human footprints on the moon.

Today marks the end of Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan’s three days exploring Taurus-Littrow for Apollo 17. These extravehicular activity boots were specifically designed for Cernan. They fit over the boots integrated into the base spacesuit, adding an extra layer of protection against thermal extremes and sharp moon rocks. Manufactured by International Latex Corporation, the boots have a silicone sole with woven stainless steel uppers, and are equipped with additional layers of beta cloth and beta felt. They seal with velcro.

The boots have been a part of the human spaceflight collection at the National Air and Space Museum since 1974.

(9) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

In 1954, Davy Crockett, a show that may be considered TV’s first miniseries, aired in five segments on the Disneyland program.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 15, 1974 Young Frankenstein debuted.
  • December 15, 1978: Superman, starring Christopher Reeve, premiered.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born December 15, 1945 – Steve Vertlieb

(12) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #17. The seventeenth of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for an autographed copy of The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles.

Today’s auction is for an autographed paperback copy of the book THE LOST PLANET, by Rachel Searles.

About the Book:

This is what the boy is told:

  • He woke up on planet Trucon, inside of a fence line he shouldn’t have been able to cross.
  • He has an annirad blaster would to the back of his head.
  • He has no memory.
  • He is now under the protection of a mysterious benefactor.
  • His name is Chase Garrety.

This is what Chase Garrety knows:

  • He has a message: “Guide the star.”
  • Time is running out.

(13) EXPAND YOUR TOOLSET. Cat Rambo has posted her schedule of live writing classes for the first quarter of 2017. There’s also a couple of opportunities still available in 2016.

There is still room in the two live classes left this year, both happening next weekend. The first on Saturday is Linguistics for Genre Writers with Juliette Wade, at the usual 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. This class differs from pretty much every other one I’ve seen in that Wade doesn’t just cover linguistics and worldbuilding, but how to use the principles of linguistics to strengthen, deepen, and otherwise improve your prose. I heartily endorse it.

The second, which is also a really fun and informative class, is To Space Opera and Beyond with Ann Leckie. Technical difficulties hindered the first sessions but everything is smooth and running well now! In this class, Ann talks about space opera, its characteristics, how to handle them, and the process of writing not just a single novel but a series, while we provide writing exercises to take away and use to apply what Ann has told you. Ann is a lively and congenial teacher, funny without being snarky, and above all encouraging and inspiring. I’m really looking forward to the next class, which happens on Sunday, December 18, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time. There is still room in that and the Saturday, January 7 class at the same time.

I am offering the six session Writing F&SF Stories Workshop again, in three different sections:

Section 1: Tuesday afternoons 1-3 PM, January 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, and February 7 Section 2: Wednesday evenings 7-9 PM January 4, 18, 25, and February 1, 8, 15 Section 3: Sunday evenings 5-7 PM January 8, 15, 22, 29 and February 5, 12

I am offering the Advanced Story Writing Workshop on Tuesday evenings 5-7 PM starting January 3rd and going for six weeks. The Advanced Workshop focuses on workshopping stories each week along with lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises designed to help you continue to refine your skills and expand your toolset.

There’s also another dozen stand-alone classes listed at the post.

(14) CAN YOU DIG IT? Scientists are hot on the undersea trail: “Nickel clue to ‘dinosaur killer’ asteroid”.

Scientists say they have a clue that may enable them to find traces of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs in the very crater it made on impact.

This pointer takes the form of a nickel signature in the rocks of the crater that is now buried under ocean sediments in the Gulf of Mexico.

An international team has just drilled into the 200km-wide depression.

It hopes the investigation can help explain why the event 66 million years ago was so catastrophic.

Seventy-five percent of all life, not just the dinosaurs, went extinct.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Chi Hitchcock, Steven H Silver, JJ, and Kendall for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

108 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/15/16 Pixels? We Don’t Scroll No Stinking Pixels!

  1. 14) A Nickel signature. Hunh. I’ve heard of the Iridium layer all around the world, of course, but this is really news to me.

  2. I have wished for years that some publisher would reprint the entire series of Orbit anthologies, like Ballantine did with Star SF back in the ’70s.

  3. Hi everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t been around here much lately — I’ve kind of been in disarray. Hope to participate more soon.

    Anyway, the reason I’m dropping in is because the Feminist Fantasy page on TV Tropes could use some contributions. I have contributed to the Literature section (recently added Alpennia and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms) but more, and better-written, entries would be very welcome.

    Feminist Fantasy is a misnomer (but discussions couldn’t settle on anything better); it includes SF as well as fantasy, and more importantly, what it means rather than feminism in general is stories that have a woman as main character who is the active center of the story, whose deeds and choices carry the story. She doesn’t have to be an Action Girl. Many strongly feminist books don’t fit the bill because the main character has little control.

    The Literature section is in chronological order so you can see that such stories were thin on the ground until the 1980s (God Stalk was one of the first of the rising wave). Happily, we’ve been spoiled for choices in the last decade or two, at least relatively speaking– so I’m looking for suggestions to make the latest updates selective! In the new millennium, who are your very favorite complex, human women in SFF, main characters the author gives plenty of agency to?

    It doesn’t have to be a work that already has its own page on TV Tropes (needless to say, creating such a page would be excellent). Please add an entry to the Feminist Fantasy page (with a description of the main character and how she’s active in the story) or just a suggestion here. Thanks much!

  4. (12) “would” should be “wound”

    A Poem for My Birthday

    When I was ten
    I could barely ken.

    When I was twenty
    I thought I knew plenty.

    When I was thirty
    I was comfy & wordy.

    When I was forty
    I was loose and sporty.

    When I was fifty
    I was getting thrifty.

    Now I am sixty
    And I pray that my nerve
    Can withstand the bumps
    As I slide down the curve.

  5. A certain Filer’s comic book is one of Barnes & Noble’s books we loved in November. Congrats, @Kurt Busiek! (There’s other good stuff at the link, BTW.)

    (1) ROBERT J. SAWYER SWEARS. Cool! I’m amused at how he’s putting this to use, swearing in new citizens. What an odd feature of this honor.

    (6) THE HORROR. I’d say I’m horror-fied, but it looks like you credited me after all. 😉 Not that I do it for the credit, but it’s always fun to see my name in Pixel Scrolls.

    (8) THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKIN’. I keep getting bummed about all this “last X re. the Moon” stuff, then I tell myself “last for now doesn’t mean last forever, dammitall.” So I wanted to say that officially, here. Last for now doesn’t mean last forever.

    @Vasha: Welcome back, whether for good or for now and then. 🙂

    @Kip W: Hippo birdy two ewes, to quote one of my favorite Boynton (sp?) birthday cards.

  6. (2) Ursula Le Guin is a treasure. She is the only author I have ever written to – a fannish letter, and she replied with a thank you card! I hope that her health and willpower carry her through the next four years. It would be a karmic insult if she passed during a Trump presidency.
    (14) “Scientists say they have a clue that may enable them to find traces of the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs in the very crater it made on impact.”
    – if I had a nickel for every time a scientist said that.

  7. A certain Filer’s comic book is one of Barnes & Noble’s books we loved in November. Congrats, @Kurt Busiek!

    Woot! Thanks for the heads-up!

  8. @vasha

    The name is a bit misleading, though that’s not unusual on TVtropes. Props to whoever wrote the introduction though. I’ll have to have a read through later when not at work and see if there’s anything I want to add to mount tsuduku. And anything I can add for that matter.

  9. @Vasha

    Good to see you back around. We had the return on Rev Bob only yesterday, so I’m holding out for Meredith tomorrow…

  10. Manufactured by International Latex Corporation, the boots have a silicone sole with woven stainless steel uppers, and are equipped with additional layers of beta cloth and beta felt. They seal with velcro.

    If the astronauts were real mean, they would have used alpha cloth and alpha felt.

    The presumed 14km-wide space object would have been vaporised in the impact. But some portion of it would have condensed into small spherules in the sky to then rain back down on the bowl.

    These are known as “Nininger spheroids“, named after pioneering meteoriticist, H. Harvey Spheroid.

  11. I hesitate to bring this up because I get the uncomfortable feeling somebody screwed up, but at the moment an unholy number of Open Road Media books are free at Amazon.

  12. CRL on December 16, 2016 at 4:38 am said:
    I hesitate to bring this up because I get the uncomfortable feeling somebody screwed up, but at the moment an unholy number of Open Road Media books are free at Amazon.

    Including, but not limited to, a couple of Delany’s Neveryon books, some Andre Norton titles and a whole swathe of Harlan Ellison.

  13. It seems an odd assortment, but yeah, possibly a mistake; they’re not similarly discounted at iTunes or Kobo, for example. (Well, I checked one random title at all three.)

  14. The following John Brunner novels are free on Amazon (at least they were 5-10 minutes ago).
    From This Day Forward by John Brunner
    The Space-Time Juggler: Empire Book 2 by John Brunner
    Double, Double by John Brunner
    Children of the Thunder by John Brunner
    The Atlantic Abomination by John Brunner
    The Squares of the City by John Brunner
    The Ladder in the Sky by John Brunner
    The Wrong End of Time by John Brunner
    The Productions of Time by John Brunner
    The Stone That Never Came Down by John Brunner
    Out of My Mind by John Brunner
    A Maze of Stars by John Brunner
    The Whole Man by John Brunner
    To Conquer Chaos by John Brunner
    The World Swappers by John Brunner

    Mostly his minor works, but still, Brunner is a pretty good read.

  15. Colleen Lindsay ?@ColleenLindsay 35m35 minutes ago

    A Christmas present to you readers: We’ve made 5,000 of our @OpenRoadMedia backlist titles FREE on Amazon until 12/21. YOU ARE WELCOME. =)

  16. Ellison, from past experience, does not like to be hard for free.

    What, he expects be be paid for being hard? “Hello, little fuck” indeed!

  17. @CRL: Thanks good to know it’s not a mistake. Now if only they did this on other platforms, too. Oh well, I imagine that was a PITA to do even on one platform! (I know zero about how good the various platforms’ interfaces are for bulk changes of pricing.)

    @Robert Whitaker Sirignano: !!! ::scrubbing brain::

  18. On amazon.ca, some of the free Andre Norton books have two prices: $0 and .99 or even $0 and $5.99. I think it must have been a glitch. I’m sure I’d be paying the higher price.

  19. Try this link, at least in the US. Limited to SFF, sorted by price. There are 100 pages of results all told, but I’m not sure where the freebies cut off.

    There’s a bunch of Harlan Ellison on there, most of John DeChancie’s “Castle Perilous” books (but not the newer #9), all but the first two of James A. Gardner’s “League of Peoples” series, and a ton of other stuff.

  20. Ellison, from past experience, does not like to be hard for free.

    “Repent, Filer-Fen!” scrolled the Tickboxman

  21. There was a used book sale at the cafe I frequent — offering a free drink with every three books purchased! 🙂 Not a lot of SFF on offer (although I could have picked up Solaris and I Am Legend if I didn’t already own them), but I snagged copies of The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Postman Always Rings Twice, an omnibus containing Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable, and the first three TPB editions of All-New X-Men.

  22. @5: I admit to some bias as I edited the Noreascon book built on this story (and the Knight work that provoked it), but I’m really beginning to wonder about JDN’s readers. Do they also dislike modern not-supposed-to-be-pleasant stories (e.g., Hunger Games-style dystopias)? Wilhelm’s work is never as blatant as (e.g.) Ellison’s; a lot of it very quietly and effectively shows the evil ordinary people can do. (Mikayla particularly misses this.) I wonder how they’d react to “Windsong”. (And I’m amused at Mel’s misreading of the title — another catchphrase going down the historical drain…)

  23. (3) I think my favorite part of the linked article is when several people are described as “space [job].” Bold has been added to the below quotes by me for emphasis:

    “I see no impediment,” Rosanna Satler, a space lawyer with the Posternak Blankstein & Lund law firm in Boston, told me in an email.

    “The US is responsible and liable for any relevant categories of US-based space activities, which would include hypothetical ones of any administrative unit within the US,” Frans von der Dunk, a space law professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told me in an email.

    Twelve-year-old me is celebrating right now. Forty-year-old me is chuckling quietly to himself at twelve-year-old me’s exuberance, but he still understands.

  24. OGH, are you going to make a thread for Rogue One and its spoilers?

    (Sadly, I am not going to see it this weekend, but I imagine many fellow Filers will)

  25. @Eric: (space X)

    In the examples you cited, I read that in the same way I would “criminal lawyer” or “Constitutional law professor” or “pediatric doctor” – identifying an area of practice or expertise. It’s not just tacking “space” onto a job to make it all SFnal, like “space janitor” or “space CEO” would be.

  26. Curiously, I have the nugget of a story idea that revolves around a space janitor involving more than a bit of mild peril after he cleans up the right/wrong bit of space junk.

    Regards,
    Dann

  27. (4) Like a great many people (the theater we were at was crowded/sold out) I went to see Rogue One on the 15th.

    Thoughts? Rogue One is an expanded universe story that manages to look and feel like a real Star Wars movie. One that was drawn from the same vein that The Empire Strikes Back was (i.e. serious, but unafraid of also being unabashedly pulpy.)

    It’s painfully ironic that Rogue One feels better connected to the original trilogy than Lucas’s stilted prequels did. Only one, Revenge of the Sith, managed to look and feel like it was at least trying to forge a tactile connection with the original trilogy.

    Watching Rogue One and Star Wars (aka Episode IV: A New Hope) back to back might become a tradition in our household.

  28. Rev. Bob
    Reminds me of the “Science Fiction” episode of “News Radio,” which had an intro by Phil Hartmann explaining the whole groovy concept: “…only, instead of a radio station, they’re on a space station, and instead of spending dollars, they spend space dollars!”

    (“This part of the program is brought to you by Soylent Green. Made from the finest stuff on Earth: ‘It’s People!’ Available in regular flavor, and new cherry-nut flavor. ‘It’s people!'”)

  29. Eric Franklin on December 16, 2016 at 9:33 am said:

    I’m reading those as short for “professor of laws of space” and “lawyer specializing in laws of space”.

  30. @Robert and @Darren

    Thank you! [wipes eyes] You provided my laugh for the week. Maybe even the entire month.

    Re Open Road Media sale, thanks! I grabbed nine of them, all short story collections.

  31. @RWS

    **chuckle** Nope. Although the promo shot on Wikipedia does suggest one aspect of Earth orbit colonization that might (or might not) play a part in the story. I haven’t worked it all out yet.

    I missed the brief run of that show.

    Regards,
    Dann

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