(1) USE THESE EMAILS FOR SUBMISSIONS TO WSFS BUSINESS MEETING. Donald Eastlake III, Presiding Officer of the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, announced that if anyone is having trouble sending email to businessmeeting (at) chengduworldcon.com, there is an alternative email address available for the submission of new business: ChengduNewBusiness (at) pobox.com.
The general deadline for new business is September 19, Chengdu time.
(2) GET IA TO TAKE DOWN YOUR BOOKS. From the Authors Guild: “Update: How to Tell Internet Archive to Remove Your Books”. “The court’s decision in the Open Library lawsuit made it clear that making full-text copyrighted books available for free without permission is copyright infringement. Here’s how any author can demand the Internet Archive take down any titles that are still on its website.”
In March, four major publishers scored a resounding victory in their copyright lawsuit against Internet Archive and its so-called Open Library program. The court decisively ruled that Internet Archive’s practice of scanning books and making them freely available on its website is copyright infringement and does not constitute fair use. While the Authors Guild was not a party to the lawsuit, we supported the publishers throughout the litigation and welcomed the court’s clear rejection of Internet Archive’s “Controlled Digital Lending” theory.
Following the decision, the court directed the parties to propose specific steps that Internet Archive must take to remedy its infringement. The parties agreed, in a proposed consent judgment, that Internet Archive should be subject to a permanent court-ordered injunction barring it from making the publishers’ books available online. We have heard from some authors who are concerned that the injunction is limited to books in which the four publisher plaintiffs hold copyrights and does not cover books whose copyrights are owned by the author or a smaller publisher. Unfortunately, this case was not a class action, and therefore only the actual parties in the case can be bound by the court’s order. We were surprised and disappointed, however, that the court adopted Internet Archive’s proposal to limit the injunction to books that the publishers have made available in electronic form. As we explained, limiting the injunction in this way fails to recognize that the author has the right to decide in what formats they wish to make their books available, and that the market for a print book can be harmed by an unauthorized electronic edition as easily as the market for an ebook can.
But regardless of the scope of the injunction, the court’s decision on the main legal issue remains in place: Making full-text copyrighted books available for free on the open internet without permission is copyright infringement. That is just as true for books owned by self-published authors and micro publishers as it is for the books owned by the publishers in this case.
We therefore expect Internet Archive to comply with demands by authors who hold copyrights in their books (e.g., self-published authors and where rights are reverted) to take down any titles that are still on its website….
A model takedown letter and full directions are at the link.
(3) IT MEANS MORE THAN SIMPLY NAMING A CRATER. BBC Radio 4 program “Seek the Light, Out of the Shadows” is available online for the next few weeks.
Singer, story teller and seven-times Radio 2 Folk Awards winner, Karine Polwart brings together her love of science, history and the natural world.
Karine looks up into the dark for a story of discovery, diversity and the righting of a historical wrong.
When young geologist turned planetary scientist Annie Lennox surveyed the night sky of her Aberdeenshire home, little did she realise that one day she’d be giving names to landmarks on our closest neighbours in the solar system. In 2021, while studying for her PhD, Annie discovered an enormous 50km wide crater near Mercury’s southern pole. An area that had never been seen in sunlight until until the Messenger mission of 2015.
The crater’s distinctive spectral colour and shape caught her eye. As the first person to see it, Annie has the honour of naming it. An accomplished singer and harpist, Annie named it ‘Nairne’ after the 17th-century Scottish poet and songwriter Lady Carolina Nairne.
All the craters of Mercury are named after famous artists, Burns and Pushkin are there along with Bach and Boccaccio. And it was this dominance of white men that Annie wanted to challenge. The International Atstonomical Union’s naming conventions around new discoveries have proven themselves inherently sexist and exclusionary and Annie felt compelled to do waht she could to rebalance it. In her lifetime, Lady Carolina Nairne was responsible for such staples of Scottish folk singing as ‘Charlie is my darlin’ and ‘Caller Herrin’, yet she’s largely unknown, publishing much of her work anonymously or under pseudonyms. Now there is a corner of the universe that will forever be a testament to her talents.
(4) MAXIMUM PEEVATION. James Davis Nicoll actually got paid to tell Tor.com readers about his “Five Readerly Pet Peeves (That Have Nothing To Do With Storytelling)”
…A bugaboo I discovered when I began collecting the books published by the otherwise exemplary Haikasoru imprint has to do with the orientation of the book’s title on the spine of the book with respect to the text inside the book. In short, if the title on the spine is right way up, I expect the words on the page to be right way up when I open the book. Opening the text to discover I am holding it upside down kicks me out of the reading experience. Haikasoru eventually stopped orienting their titles in an idiosyncratic way, yay…but until then it was a distraction.
Don’t let that stop you from running out and buying every book in the Haikasoru line. The works themselves earned their places on my shelves….
(5) PUBLISHER FUNDRAISING AUCTION. “Award-Winning Indie Publisher Hosts Auction To Stay Open Amid Book Bans Targeting Poc, LGBTQ+ Youth Lit” at The Mary Sue.
Award-winning indie publisher Levine Querido is hosting an auction to stay open as book banning takes a toll on publishers. Unfortunately, Levine Querido is exactly the type of publisher most likely to be badly impacted by the rise of book banning across the United States. This isn’t only because it’s an independent publisher with less support and resources than major publishers like HarperCollins or Penguin Random House. It also has to do with the kinds of books LQ specializes in, which feature marginalized writers and artists….
The full list of auction items is here.
(6) PROPOSED LAW ABOUT CLOTHING IN CHINA. The New York Times reports “China May Ban Clothes That Hurt People’s Feelings. People Are Outraged.” Andrew Porter wonders how such a law would affect cosplay.
…Now the government is proposing amendments to a law that could result in detention and fines for “wearing clothing or bearing symbols in public that are detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese people and hurt the feelings of Chinese people.” What could be construed as an offense wasn’t specified.
The plan has been widely criticized, with Chinese legal scholars, journalists and businesspeople voicing their concerns over the past week. If it goes into effect, they argue, it could give the authorities the power to police anything they dislike. It would also be a big step backward in the public’s relationship with the government.
In July, an older man on a bus berated a young woman, on her way to a cosplay exposition — where people dress up as a characters from movies, books, TV shows and video games — for wearing a costume that could be considered Japanese style. A security guard at a shopping mall last month turned away a man who was dressed like a samurai. Last year, the police in the eastern city of Suzhou temporarily detained a woman for wearing a kimono.
These episodes were related to anti-Japanese sentiment instigated by the Chinese government. But the confrontations go beyond that.
Last month in Beijing, security guards cracking down on expressions of gay pride stopped people dressed in rainbow-themed clothes from entering a concert featuring the Taiwanese singer Zhang Huimei, better known as A-Mei. Also in August, people filed complaints about a concert by the Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai because her fans displayed rainbow lights and some of the male fans dressed in what was described as “flamboyant” female clothing. Just last week the police in Shenzhen scolded a man who was livestreaming in a miniskirt. “A man wearing a skirt in public, do you think you’re positive energy?!” the police yelled at the man.
If the proposed amendments, which are open to public comment until Sept. 30, are approved by the national legislature, such incidents could result in fines of up to $680 and up to 15 days in police custody.
“The morality police is on the verge of coming out,” a lawyer named Guo Hui wrote on Weibo. “Do you think you can still make fun of Iran and Afghanistan?” People posted photos last week of Iranian and Afghan women wearing miniskirts and other Western-style clothes in the 1970s, before their countries were taken over by autocratic religious rulers.
Many people are concerned that the proposal doesn’t specify what would constitute an offense. The language it uses — clothing or symbols that are “detrimental to the spirit of the Chinese nation and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” — tracks expressions the foreign ministry and official media use to voice their displeasure at Western countries and people. No one knows exactly what they mean.
Without a clear definition, enforcement of the law would be subject to the interpretation of individual officers….
(7) LOSCON 49 SPECIAL GUEST. Loscon 49 welcomes Robert J Sawyer as a Special Guest. The convention will be held at the LAX Marriott from November 24-26.
Rob is one of only eight writers in history — and the only Canadian — to win all three of the world’s top Science Fiction awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A prolific author, his most recent release is The Oppenheimer Alternative.
(8) DISNEY’S LATEST WAY TO EMPTY YOUR WALLET (OR MAYBE YOUR BANK ACCOUNT). [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Disney has announced they are releasing a Blu-ray + digital box set of 100 films. What’s the price, you ask? Well, if you ask, maybe you can’t afford it. Pre-orders start at Walmart.com later this month at a cool $1,500. “Disney will release a 100-film Blu-ray collection that includes Pixar movies” at The Verge.
Disney is releasing a 100-film Blu-ray collection on November 14th called the Disney Legacy Animated Film Collection (via The Wrap). Preorders will start on September 18th at Walmart.com, and we regret to inform you it will cost $1,500, according to The Wrap.
The collection includes movies from both Disney and Pixar, all crammed into three volumes of discs that span Disney’s entire feature film history from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves to this year’s Elemental.
What’s really impressive is how little filler this package seems to have. Scrolling through the list that The Wrap published, it has every single movie I’d have wanted to see, like all of the Toy Story movies, both of The Incredibles, The Black Cauldron, Frankenweenie, and Robin Hood, but very few of the mediocre direct-to-video snoozers the company produced so many of over the years…
The Wrap’s coverage includes the complete list of films.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 11, 1856 — Richard Ganthony. Playwright of A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony which is a genre version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Really, it is. Published in 1912, it was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921) and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates. It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924.)
- Born September 11, 1929 — Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the Avenger, Conan the Victorious, Conan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available at the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
- Born September 11, 1930 — Jean-Claude Forest. He became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962. In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name featuring Jane Fonda, with him acting as design consultant. It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. (Died 1998.)
- Born September 11, 1941 — Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense, Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
- Born September 11, 1951 — Michael Goodwin, 72. Ahhh — Alan Dean Foster’s Commonwealth series. I know that I’ve read at least a half dozen of the novels there and really enjoyed them, so it doesn’t surprise that someone wrote a guide to it which is how we have Goodwin’s (with Robert Teague) A Guide to the Commonwealth: The Official Guide to Alan Dean Foster’s Humanx Commonwealth Universe. Unfortunately, like so many of these guides, it was done once and never updated.
- Born September 11, 1952 — Sharon Lee, 71. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading with the latest being Neogenesis. The authors have won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for lifetime contributions to science fiction, and The Golden Duck (the Hal Clement Young Adult Award) for their Balance of Trade novel. They are deeply stocked at the usual digital suspects.
- Born September 11, 1965 — Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 58. She’s manager and editor of Agog! Press with her partner, Australian horror writer Rob Hood. Winner of an astounding sixteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2021 for Best Collected Work for Dark Harvest. She also collected one for The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction. She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available at the usual suspects.
- Born September 11, 1970 — Colson Whitehead, 53. Winner of the Arthur Clarke C. Award for The Underground Railroad. Genre wise, he’s not a prolific writer, he’s written but two other such works, The Intuitionists and Zone One. He’s written but one piece of short genre fiction, “The Wooden Mallet”. However he’s written seven other works including John Henry Days which is a really interesting look at that legend, mostly set at a contemporary festival.
(10) IT PAYS TO PAY ATTENTION. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Even when it’s not something plot-essential, a lot can go by if you aren’t listening carefully (and know the territory).
Here’s an addition to the two callouts I caught in the final two episodes of The Flash (see Item 10 in the June 17, 2023 scroll)…
In the trailer for Gen V, the upcoming spinoff of The Boys, as potential supers (in a looks-like-Professor X’s School for Mutants) suggest power-related names, one student suggests “Coagula”. Which is the cape-name (or whatever we call these) of one of the late Rachel Pollack’s characters for her run on DC’s The Doom Patrol comics (after Grant Morrison’s run). (Here’s Coagula’s Wikipedia entry.)
(11) LOOK FOR IT ON STAR TREK DAY. “Paramount Teams with Kid Cudi on ‘Star Trek: Boldly Be’ Campaign” — Animation World Network has the story.
In celebration of “Star Trek Day,” Scott Mescudi, AKA Kid Cudi, is joining forces with Star Trek in a one-of-a-kind collaboration reflecting the “optimistic and inclusive spirit of adventure, discovery, imagination, and most importantly, hope, at the heart of the cultural phenomenon.” The collaboration will launch Star Trek’s new “Boldly Be” campaign.
Mescudi lends his lens to music with an original song inspired by Star Trek, an interactive gaming component, and a bold fashion collaboration that will launch in October. More details will be announced later….
(12) THERE’S PLENTY GOOD MONEY TO BE MADE SUPPLYING THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE. [Item by Steven French.] A company previously known for making chips for games is now making billions from AI: “How savvy trillion-dollar chipmaker Nvidia is powering the AI goldrush” in the Guardian.
It’s not often that the jaws of Wall Street analysts drop to the floor but late last month it happened: Nvidia, a company that makes computer chips, issued sales figures that blew the street’s collective mind. It had pulled in $13.5bn in revenue in the last quarter, which was at least $2bn more than the aforementioned financial geniuses had predicted. Suddenly, the surge in the company’s share price in May that had turned it into a trillion-dollar company made sense.
Well, up to a point, anyway. But how had a company that since 1998 – when it released the revolutionary Riva TNT video and graphics accelerator chip – had been the lodestone of gamers become worth a trillion dollars, almost overnight? The answer, oddly enough, can be found in the folk wisdom that emerged in the California gold rush of the mid-19th century, when it became clear that while few prospectors made fortunes panning for gold, the suppliers who sold them picks and shovels prospered nicely.
We’re now in another gold rush – this time centred on artificial intelligence (AI) – and Nvidia’s A100 and H100 graphical processing units (GPUs) are the picks and shovels. Immediately, everyone wants them – not just tech companies but also petro states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Thus demand wildly exceeds supply. And just to make the squeeze really exquisite, Nvidia had astutely prebooked scarce (4-nanometre) production capacity at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the only chip-fabrication outfit in the world that can make them, when demand was slack during the Covid-19 pandemic. So, for the time being at least, if you want to get into the AI business, you need Nvidia GPUs….
(13) TIM BURTON ON AI. “Tim Burton on Seeing His Animation Style Imitated by AI: ‘It’s Like a Robot Taking Your Humanity’” at Yahoo!
…“They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!” he exclaimed in response. “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
Some of the AI-generated examples included Elsa from Frozen with a pale white face and wearing a black dress while standing in what appeared to be a haunted forest, as well as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty with a similar colored face but with stitches across her cheeks and lying in a long, dark dress.
While Burton acknowledged that some of the creations were “very good,” it didn’t take away from the less-than-enjoyable feeling he got from seeing his creative style imitated.
“What it does is it sucks something from you,” he explained. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”…
(14) THE FLIP SIDE. Guillermo del Toro is positively glib by comparison. “Guillermo del Toro Talks Artificial Intelligence: ‘I’m Worried About Natural Stupidity’” at Yahoo!
Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro isn’t much worried about artificial intelligence and its impact on making entertainment content.
It’s people that keep him up at night, evidently. “People ask if I’m worried about artificial intelligence, I say I’m worried about natural stupidity. It’s just a tool, right?” the Pinocchio and Shape of Water director said during a keynote address at the Toronto Film Festival on Friday.
“If anyone wants movies made by AI, let them get it immediately. I don’t care about people who want to be fulfilled and get something shitty, quickly,” he said, arguing that AI would succeed or die based on what people did with it creatively to bring a personal vision to a screen.
“Otherwise, why not buy a printer, print the Mona Lisa and say you made it,” del Toro said during his appearance in Toronto, which was part of the TIFF Visionaries program sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter….
(15) A GIF TO HUMANITY. Here’s a Godzilla teaser. You can watch the complete commercial on Facebook.
(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. J. Michael Straczynski pointed Facebook followers to this is a dramatization of the Amazing Spider-man #36 that is about the terrorist attacks in New York on 9/11/2001: The Black Issue 9/11.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Mike Kennedy, Steven French, William S. Higgins, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]