(1) PUBLISHER STRUGGLES TO GET AMAZON TO LIST “JEWISH FUTURES” ANTHOLOGY. [Item by Michael A. Burstein.] Fantastic Books and I are having trouble getting Amazon to list the Jewish Futures: Science Fiction from the World’s Oldest Diaspora edited by Michael A. Burstein ebook on Amazon.
Fantastic Books publisher Ian Randal Strock told Facebook readers:
Amazon.com has decided to “block [the ebook version of Jewish Futures] from being sold on Amazon.” Apparently, the fact that Fantastic Books published the print version means that Fantastic Books submitting the ebook version to publish through them violates… something. I have no idea. So, if you use a Kindle ebook reader, and you’d like to read an electronic version of Jewish Futures, we recommend you buy it directly from Fantastic Books. Doing so will get you both the epub and the mobi versions of the book.
Amazon provides a number of ways to load your eBooks on to your Kindle. For instance, you can email it to your Kindle address. Click the link in the first comment for their email instructions, however the “Other Ways to Send” column on the right side of the Amazon page also shows you the other options available to you.
Also, they seem to have finally realized that the trade paperback version of the book is available.
Lezli Robyn amplified:
Amazon has decided to block the ebook edition of Jewish Futures from being published after multiple emails where the publisher, Ian Randal Strock, tried to find out why and how he can get the ebook listed on their website (the paper and hardback editions are up there!), and they said they will “uphold” their decision to block it from publication.
Ian will try to find out tomorrow why they made this decision and attempt get it reversed, but if there is ever a time to buy a book directly off of the publisher’s website to support them and their authors, this is it. So much blood, sweat, and tears go into publishing a new title and everyone in the book world knows how important sales numbers are in the first week!
I’ve even emailed Amazon’s CEO but haven’t heard anything. We’ve had to remind people they can buy the ebook from the publisher directly or from Barnes & Noble.
We’ve also heard that Amazon has delayed getting the print books shipped out, even though the week before it was #1 in a few pre-order categories.
Here is the anthology’s Table of Contents:
- Introduction by Jack Dann
- Shema by Samantha Katz
- Mission Divergence by E.M. Ben Shaul
- Rachel Nussbaum Saves the World by Esther Friesner
- One Must Imagine by Harry Turtledove
- Into Thin Heirs by Susan Shwartz
- Proof of Alina by Riv Begun
- Baby Golem by Barbara Krasnoff
- Frummer House by Leah Cypess
- Moon Melody by SM Rosenberg
- Initial Engagement by Steven H Silver
- Matzah Ball Soup for the Vershluggin Soul by Randee Dawn
- The Ascent by S.I. Rosenbaum and Abraham Josephine Reisman
- The Aliens of Chelm by Valerie Estelle Frankel
- The Kuiper Gemara by Shane Tourtellotte
- Legend Born by Robert Greenberger
- The Last Chosen by Jordan King-Lacroix
If anyone is in Boston on August 23, we are having a book event at Brookline Booksmith with the editor, publisher, cover artist Eli Portman and three writers, E.M. Ben Shaul, S.I. Rosenbaum, Abraham Josephine Riesman.
(2) SHERIDAN AND DELENN. “Warner Bros. Releases New ‘Babylon 5: The Road Home’ Clip” – Animation World Network has the story.
…In anticipation of the all-new original animated movie, a never-before-seen clip from the film, “Standing In The Shadows” has just been released! In the clip, John Sheridan (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner) expresses his second thoughts about leaving Babylon 5 to his wife, Delenn (voiced by Rebecca Reidy)….
(3) PROPOSAL SUBMITTED TO COURT IN SUIT AGAINST INTERNET ARCHIVE. “Copyright: Publishers, Internet Archive File Court Proposal” at Publishing Perspectives. “A proposed judgment bars Internet Archive from of offering ‘unauthorized copies’ of book publishers’ copyrighted content inside and outside the United States.” There’s also an unspecified payment involved.
This afternoon (August 11), the Association of American Publishers is confirming to Publishing Perspectives that the publisher-plaintiffs in the June 2020 lawsuit of the Internet Archive have submitted to the US District Court in the Southern District of New York a joint, negotiated proposal for Judge Koeltl’s consideration.
As our readers will remember, the plaintiffs—Hachette Book Group; HarperCollins Publishers; John Wiley & Sons; and Penguin Random House—received on March 24 an adamant ruling against the Internet Archive for its “Open Library” lending activities. In that ruling, the court deemed Internet Archive as liable for copyright infringement.
Today’s proposed consent judgment provides for a “stipulated permanent injunction,” according to the AAP’s media messaging, “preventing Internet Archive from offering unauthorized copies of the plaintiffs’ books to the global public under the manufactured theory of ‘controlled digital lending,’ and indicates that the parties have reached a confidential agreement on a monetary payment, all subject to Internet Archive’s right to appeal the case.”…
(4) ZOOM CHANGES ITS MIND. According to Gizmodo, “Zoom Backtracks on Training Its AI on Your Calls”.
After massive backlash over its wishy-washy communication regarding training artificial intelligence with customer data, Zoom wants to set the record straight. Today, Zoom issued an update to its previous announcement on its plans for AI to formally claim that the company will not use audio, video, chat, or similar data to train its AI models.
Zoom issued the update today to its original blog post, published earlier this week by Chief Product Officer Smita Hashim. Zoom’s terms of service stated that the company could use Customer Content—which is what Zoom calls audio, video, chat, attachments, screen-sharing, etc.—to train its own in-house or third-party AI models. On Monday, however, the blog post from Hashim promised that Zoom wouldn’t use Customer Content to train AI (except in some cases). Today, the company has updated Section 10 of its terms of service to no longer retain the legal right to use Customer Content to train any AI models. Zoom did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on what data sources these AI features will, in fact, be trained with…..
Here’s the opening paragraph of the Zoom Blog’s post “How Zoom’s terms of service and practices apply to AI features”.
It’s important to us at Zoom to empower our customers with innovative and secure communication solutions. We’ve updated our terms of service (in section 10) to further confirm that Zoom does not use any of your audio, video, chat, screen-sharing, attachments, or other communications like customer content (such as poll results, whiteboard, and reactions) to train Zoom’s or third-party artificial intelligence models. In addition, we have updated our in-product notices to reflect this.*
Zoom is still offering users access to a pair of AI features:
…two powerful generative AI features — Zoom IQ Meeting Summary and Zoom IQ Team Chat Compose — on a free trial basis to enhance your Zoom experience. These features offer automated meeting summaries and AI-powered chat composition. Zoom account owners and administrators control whether to enable these AI features for their accounts.
… We inform you and your meeting participants when Zoom’s generative AI services are in use….
(5) I AM I SAID. Writer Beware’s Victoria Strauss looks into a service capitalizing on a topical concern in “Dear Author, Are You Human? Certifying Authenticity”.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that where there is an issue of concern for writers, someone will find a way to monetize it….
In this fraught environment, it was probably inevitable that someone would come up with the idea of a service to certify or authenticate human authorship, and invite creators buy into it. This post takes a look at two such services.
The Authenticity Initiative
The originator of The Authenticity Initiative is Eliza Rae, who also offers social media, brand management, and PR services for authors. The Authenticity Initiative provides a seal to authors who pledge not to use AI-generated content in their work, along with a number of additional perks, including a newsletter and promotional opportunities. The cost: $50 per year.
Of course, as illustrated by the Bob the Wizard kerfluffle (in which a cover artist who swore their art was not AI-assisted turned out to be fibbing) as well as a general knowledge of human nature, the question is the degree to which a voluntary promise is actually equivalent to certification. I reached out to Eliza for comment, and you can see her response to that question in the Q&A below.
WRITER BEWARE: The Authenticity Initiative seems to rely on authors to self-certify that their work contains no AI-generated content. Do you have any concern that some authors may not be honest?
ELIZA RAE: Yes, that’s exactly correct. While technology and laws that govern AI are limited, we decided that a trust based platform for authors and readers to come together was the best way to service this aspect of the community until more legislation and/or publishing platforms have caught up to technology issues and the pitfalls of what is and is not considered legal to scrape or use to train generative AI software….
(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. StarShipSofa’s Tony C. Smith made an announcement to the District of Wonders email list.
…Some of you might know, some maybe not but I thought it only best to let you all know.
I have cancer (that feels so horrid to write). Bladder cancer.
As you can imagine this came as one f–king huge shock. Then it was discovered there might have been something on my lung… thank god… that was not the case… so just bladder cancer.
I go into hospital on the 15th August to have my bladder removed and from then on I’m on a bag. Total lifestyle chance but hopefully one I can put behind me and move on when it’s done.
One neat SF thing, the operation will be done by robot – the future is here!
(7) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites listeners to feast on Fettuccine Alfredo with Howard Bender on Episode 204 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.
Eating the Fantastic moves on to Pittsburgh for the first of three episodes harvested due to this year’s StokerCon taking place in that city. My conversation this time around didn’t take place because of that main event, though, but only because I remembered my guest happens to live in Pittsburgh, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reminisce with him about the old days.
I met Howard Bender 49 years ago, the year we both began working in the Marvel Comics Bullpen. He worked as a letterer and artist in the Marvel Comics production department from 1974–1980, and then moved on to DC Comics in the same role, where he worked from 1981–1985. He’s drawn Superman stories in Action Comics, Dial H for Hero stories published in The New Adventures of Superboy, Ghostbusters for First Comics, and a variety of series for Archie Comics. He also collaborated with Jack C. Harris on a Sherlock Holmes comic strip in the ‘90s. These days, he can be found at markets and fairs all across Pittsburgh working as a caricature artist.
We discussed how desperate Marvel Comics must have been to have hired young kids like us, his role in founding the Pittsburgh Comics Club (and the way he paid homage to that club down the road in Dial H for Hero), the day he showed Stan Lee his art portfolio over dessert, how he started his career at Marvel using Jack Kirby’s taboret, the fact neither of us would have become who we turned out to be without Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, how terrified we both were of production manager John Verpoorten, our first meetings with the late, great Johnny Romita, the important life lesson he learned from inker Mike Esposito, what he was glad he remembered you shouldn’t talk about with Steve Ditko, how Marie Severin inspired him in his current career as a caricaturist, and so much more.
(8) NYT SFF CRITIC. Amal El-Mohtar reviews “Witches, Robots and Martial Artists, Ready for Battle” — new books by Juno Dawson, Emma Mieko Candon and Alexander Darwin — in the New York Times.
(9) BSFS BEAUTIFUL. Congratulations to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society on their revived clubhouse space. (By gosh, there’s a Dalek on the balcony!) See the photos at Facebook.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 11, 1902 — Jack Binder. Thrilling Wonder Stories in their October 1938 issue published his article, “If Science Reached the Earth’s Core”, where the first known use of the phrase “zero gravity” is known to happen. In the early Forties, he was an artist for Fawcett, Lev Gleason, and Timely Comics. During these years, he created the Golden Age character Daredevil which is not the Marvel Daredevil though he did work with Stan Lee where they co-created The Destroyer at Timely Comics. (Died 1986.)
- Born August 11, 1923 — Ben P. Indick. A member of First Fandom and prolific fanzine publisher. He wrote a handful of short genre fiction and two serious non-fiction works, The Drama of Ray Bradbury and George Alec Effinger: From Entropy to Budayeen. (Died 2009.)
- Born August 11, 1928 — Alan E. Nourse, 1928 – 1992. His connections to other SF writers are fascinating. Heinlein dedicated Farnham’s Freehold to Nourse, and in part dedicated Friday to Nourse’s wife Ann. His novel The Bladerunner lent its name to the movie but nothing else from it was used in that story. However Blade Runner (a movie) written by, and I kid you not, William S. Burroughs, is based on his novel. Here the term “blade runner” refers to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (Died 1992.)
- Born August 11, 1932 — Chester Anderson. His The Butterfly Kid is the first part of what is called the Greenwich Village Trilogy, with Michael Kurland writing the middle book, The Unicorn Girl, and the third volume, The Probability Pad, written by T.A. Waters. I can practically taste the acid from here… The Butterfly Kid, like all of these novels. is available from all the usual suspects. (Died 1991.)
- Born August 11, 1949 — Nate Bucklin, 74. Musician who has co-written songs with Stephen Brust and others. He wrote two Liavek anthology stories, “Dry Well” and “Strings Attached” He’s a founding member of the Scribblies, the Minneapolis writer’s group, and is also one of the founding members of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society, better known as Minn-stf. He spent four years as a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation or N3F, and his correspondents included Greg Shaw, Walter Breen, and Piers Anthony. He’s been a filk guest of honor at five cons.
- Born August 11, 1959 — Alan Rodgers. Author of Bone Music, a truly great take off the Robert Johnson myth. His “The Boy Who Came Back From the Dead” novelette won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction, and he was editor of Night Cry in the mid-Eighties. (Died 2014.)
- Born August 11, 1961 — Susan M. Garrett. She was a well-known and much liked writer, editor and publisher in many fandoms, but especially the Forever Knight community. (She also was active in Doctor Who and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne fandoms. And no, I had no idea that the latter had a fandom.) She is perhaps best known for being invited to write a Forever Knight tie-in novel, Intimations of Mortality. (Died 2010.)
- Born August 11, 1962 — Brian Azzarello, 61. Comic book writer. First known crime series 100 Bullets, published by Vertigo. Writer of DC’s relaunched Wonder Woman series several years back. One of the writers in the Before Watchmen limited series. Co-writer with Frank Miller of the sequel to The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight III: The Master Race.
(11) COMICS SECTION.
- Non Sequitur knows what gets books banned.
(12) GENERALIZATION ALERT. BookRiot’s Alice Nuttall asks, “Science Fiction Is Inherently Rebellious — So Why Don’t Some of Its Fans Think So?”
My husband and I are currently watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, me for the first time, him for about the billionth. After watching one episode where religious fundamentalists insist that the space station’s school teach their holy stories instead of scientific fact, and bomb the school when the teacher doesn’t agree, my husband leaned over to me and commented “But you know, Star Trek was never political.”
“[Sci fi story] was never political” is a running joke of ours, usually said with an eye roll and a bitter laugh at the complaint du jour about sci-fi stories that dare to centre anyone who isn’t a white, cishet man. Sci-fi has been decried as “political” for telling stories about people of colour or women (and predictably, some of the worst backlashes have come when a central character happens to be a woman of colour). Stories have been panned or banned for including LGBTQ+ people and relationships.
Writers who share the marginalisations of their characters are at the greatest risk of being harassed and attacked for daring to publish in a space that reactionary gatekeepers see as “theirs”. The ‘Sad Puppies’ campaign was a coordinated attempt by right-wing, “anti-diversity” pundits to influence the results of the Hugo Awards and push works by authors of colour, women, and LGBTQ+ people to the sidelines. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful — and not only because it was a clumsy, transparent attempt at attacking diversity. The fact is that sci-fi has never been a white, cishet, male, or conservative domain. It has always been a space for subversion, radical thinking, and rebelliousness — and marginalised people have been there from the beginning….
(13) PUMP BROTHERS, PUMP WITH CARE. This idea sucks, but does that mean it’s actually no good? “U.S. to Fund a $1.2 Billion Effort to Vacuum Greenhouse Gases From the Sky” reports the New York Times.
The Biden administration will spend $1.2 billion to help build the nation’s first two commercial-scale plants to vacuum carbon dioxide pollution from the atmosphere, a nascent technology that some scientists say could be a breakthrough in the fight against global warming, but that others fear is an extravagant boondoggle.
Jennifer Granholm, the energy secretary, announced Friday that her agency would fund two pilot projects that would deploy the disputed technology, known as direct air capture.
Occidental Petroleum will build one of the plants in Kleberg County, Texas, and Battelle, a nonprofit research organization, will build the other in Calcasieu Parish on the Louisiana coast. The federal government and the companies will equally split the cost of building the facilities.
“These projects are going to help us prove out the potential of these next-generation technologies so that we can add them to our climate crisis fighting arsenal, and one of those technologies includes direct air capture, which is essentially giant vacuums that can suck decades of old carbon pollution straight out of the sky,” Ms. Granholm said on a telephone call with reporters on Thursday.
The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law included $3.5 billion to fund the construction of four commercial-scale direct air capture plants. Friday’s announcement covered the first two.
Oil and gas companies lobbied for the direct air capture money to be included in the law, arguing that the world could continue to burn fossil fuels if it had a way to clean up their planet-warming pollution….
(14) CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CLUCKY KIND. What does that mean? You’ll understand after you see the video of this unidentified flying coop on Tumblr.
(15) MAN OF A THOUSAND FLAVORS. Here’s another exotic collectible, the Chaney Entertainment Hot Sauce 5-Pack from Jade City Foods.
Here’s a close-up of one of the labels.
(16) DUNE WHAT COMES NATURALLY. “’Futurama’ meets ‘Dune’ in action-packed, exclusive clip” at Mashable.
The beloved sci-fi comedy Futurama is no stranger to Frank Herbert’s Dune, featuring nods to stillsuits and space worms. But with its newly launched 11th season, Futurama takes its Dune tributes to a whole new level.
In an exclusive clip from the upcoming episode “Parasites Regained” (a spiritual sequel to Season 3’s “Parasites Lost,” perhaps?), we see Fry, Leela, Zoidberg, and Bender struggling to brave a mysterious desert landscape. There, they encounter a fearsome sandworm that looks like an oranger, fuzzier version of the show-stealing sandworms of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. We also get Futurama‘s version of the powerful spice melange, a psychedelic drug that turns Leela’s eyes orange instead of Dune‘s classic blue-within-blue….
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Kathy Sullivan, Nickpheas, Michael A. Burstein, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]