Pixel Scroll 2/5/22 You Can Go Scroll At Home Tonight If You Can Get Up And File Away

(1) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and Brooke Bolander in a virtual event on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The readings will be held live on YouTube — link to come.

  • N.K. Jemisin
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, art by Lauren Panepinto
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, art by Lauren Panepinto

N. K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row, for the Broken Earth trilogy, currently in film development. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

  • Brooke Bolander

Brooke Bolander’s fiction has won the Nebula and Locus awards and been shortlisted for the Hugo, Shirley Jackson, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy. Her work has been featured on Tor.com and in LightspeedStrange Horizons, Uncanny, and The New York Times, among other venues. She currently resides in New York City.

(2) TITLES TO RETURN TO. A Guardian “Books” interview with David Mitchell includes a shout out to Ursula K. Le Guin, among others: “David Mitchell: ‘If I need cheering up, Jamie Oliver’s recipes usually help’”.

The book that changed me as a teenager
EB White’s Charlotte’s Web gave me the uncomfortable idea that the contents of my bacon sarnie had wanted to be alive as much as I did. Anne Frank’s Diary and Richard Wright’s Native Son gave me a sense of proportion regarding my own problems and injustices….

The book I reread
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, once a decade. It’s trippy, human, mind-expanding, curious, feels more prescient by the year and has one of my favourite lines from anything: “The King was pregnant.” The book is a chance to catch up with my past and future selves and see how we’re getting on.

(3) A BURNING SENSATION. The TV show has been a boon to Irish tourism, however, this place won’t be a destination anymore: “Winterfell set from Game of Thrones set on fire” reports Winteriscoming.net.

Game of Thrones was one of the most elaborately produced shows in television history, meaning it had a lot of really big, really impressive sets. Winterfell, King’s Landing, Meereen…this show took us to some spectacular places, and the crew deserves plaudits for their fine work.

It must be hard for some of those crew members to watch their work get torched. But according to the Belfast Telegraph, that’s what happened earlier this week. Per the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, it was a “controlled burn,” meaning this wasn’t a grease fire that got out of hand or anything; they meant to do this, although we’re not sure entirely why. They may just be getting rid of a set that’s no longer needed in the area, or it could be part of another production; there are other movies and TV shows that might need a burning castle….

(4) BLACK HISTORY MONTH. The Horror Writers Association blog is running a “Black Heritage HWA interview series” – here’s a quote from the introduction by Linda Addison.

… This country is built by a wide variety of people from different cultures, and just as horror fiction has many sub-genres, Black horror writers are not defined by one type of writing. From gothic through paranormal, supernatural, weird and so on, Black writers are creating work in wide-ranging areas.

Black horror is growing in every category of writing: novels, short/long fiction, non-fiction, as well as graphic novels, screenplays, poetry collections, and podcasts. Publishing through traditional and Black-owned publishing companies, along with self-publishing presents authors with several venues to offer their work to the public.

Horror writing allows readers to experience the rush of fear, the thrill of danger in the safety of their homes or theaters. Black Americans have historic and current experiences with real-life horror that can flavor our work. A society can only benefit by exposure to different voices and stories….

And here are links to the interviews presented so far —

Do you make a conscious effort to include African diaspora characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Yes, I do. I’m from a majority Black community (New Orleans), so to write in a realistic way, I portray those characters and I portray them with as much humanity and complexity as I can.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

I have always loved horror, ever since I was very young. I think one of the attractions is that in real life, the monsters we encounter have almost unlimited power over us and seem invincible. But what horror teaches us is that there is usually a rule or legend… a silver bullet, a wooden stake, salt, water, a talisman… a method that a normal person can employ to vanquish the monstrous entities in our midst. Through knowledge and courage we become giant slayers.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?

Horror changes as we change, so yes, absolutely. In the twenty…-ok we don’t really need to calculate just how long it’s been, do we? Since I have been writing, I have seen smartphones be created and apps take over the world. I have seen electric cars on the road and school being conducted online. The world has advanced and horror has done so as well, using the technology of the day to add to the stories that are told. I think that will continue – we’ll figure out a way to make something brand new sinister… I’m sure someone is already thinking of something amazing for that self-driving car already!

And to the Black writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

To the Black writers out there getting started, write the themes you’re passionate about in your horror. Build on them. Terrify people with the unfamiliar and stay true to the craft. Listen to that writers voice inside and tell the story you want to tell.

(5) HWA PUBLISHERS COUNCIL. The Horror Writers Association has assembled a group to facilitate communication between horror authors and publishers: “Horror Writers Association Announces Inaugural Publishers Council”.

In an effort to build stronger relationships between the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and horror publishers, editors, and industry professionals, the HWA announced the launch the first ever HWA Publishers Council. This council will be comprised of an elected cohort of individuals who represent a diverse spectrum of genres and outlets across the publishing industry—from traditional small and mid-size presses, niche publishers, and indie micro-presses to magazines and other horror publishing industry professionals.

The inaugural council will be overseen by HWA President John Palisano and co-chaired by HWA Board of Trustees Treasurer Maxwell Gold and Black Spot Books Founder and President Lindy Ryan. Seated on the inaugural council are Jennifer Barnes (Raw Dog Screaming Press), Michael Bailey (Written Backwards), Don D’Auria (Flame Tree Press), Kevin Lucia (Cemetery Dance), Wendy Wagner (Nightmare Magazine), Romie Stott (Strange Horizons), and Jonathan Maberry (Weird Tales). Cohort members will serve one year.

Says co-chair Maxwell Gold, “My hope is that with the Publishers Council, the Horror Writers Association will be able to create not only resources for writers, but also more transparent understanding and education into how publishing works.”…

(6) UP TO THE HILT IN SUSPENSE. “Amazon Releases ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Show Character Photos With One Thing Missing”. Yahoo! Entertainment has collected all the Instagram photos.

You gotta hand it to Amazon Studios, they know how to tease a TV show.

The company released the first character photos from its highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series.

There’s just one catch: There are no heads.

The photos (below) show the hands and midsections of characters from the show. Character and actor names are also not being released.

These hands-of-the-king may seem frustrating to some, but the goal is to fuel fandom speculation about who is who — as well as draw attention to the intricate costume, prop and accessory work. Indeed, there are a lot of hints and details packed into each shot.

Here’s one example:

(7) I SOLUTE. Harry Potter is third of three detectives mentioned in this piece about YA mysteries: “Sleuth Youths” at CrimeReads.

…Harry Potter is the embodiment of that classical trope of mystery detectives, the outsider. Not only does Harry have a mystery to solve, but he is learning all about his new world at the same time that we are….

(8) MOON WOMAN. Ann Holmes discovers “The Radical Woman Behind ‘Goodnight Moon’” in The New Yorker.

Bruce Handy, in his 2017 book about children’s literature, “Wild Things,” confesses that he always imagined the writer Margaret Wise Brown to be a dowdy old lady “with an ample lap”—just like the matronly bunny from her classic story “Goodnight Moon,” who whispers “hush” as evening darkens a “great green room.” In fact, Brown was a seductive iconoclast with a Katharine Hepburn mane and a compulsion for ignoring the rules. Anointed by Life in 1946 as the “World’s Most Prolific Picture-Book Writer,” she burned through her money as quickly as she earned it, travelling to Europe on ocean liners and spending entire advances on Chrysler convertibles. Her friends called her “mercurial” and “mystical.” Though many of her picture books were populated with cute animals, she wore wolfskin jackets, had a fetish for fur, and hunted rabbits on weekends. Her romances were volatile: she was engaged to two men but never married, and she had a decade-long affair with a woman. At the age of forty-two, she died suddenly, in the South of France, after a clot cut off the blood supply to her brain….

(9) MEMORY LANE.

1962 [Item by Cat Eldridge] Sixty years ago at Chicon III where Earl Kemp was the Chair,  Wilson Tucker was Toastmaster and Theodore Sturgeon was the Guest of Honor, Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land won the Hugo for Best Novel. It had been published the previous year by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 

Other nominated works that year were Dark Universe by Daniel F. Galouye, Sense of Obligation (also called Planet of the Damned) by Harry Harrison, The Fisherman (also known as Time Is the Simplest Thing) by Clifford D. Simak and Second Ending by James White.  

It was his third Hugo in six years after Double Star at NyCon II and Starship Troopers at Pittcon. He’d win his fourth and final Hugo for The Moon is a Harsh Mistress at NyCon 3 in five years.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 5, 1906 John Carradine. I’m going to count Murders in the Rue Morgue as his first genre appearance.  After that early Thirties film, he shows up (bad pun I know) in The Invisible ManThe Black CatBride of FrankensteinAli Baba Goes to TownThe Three Musketeers and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Look, that’s just the Thirties. Can I just state that he did a lot of genre work and leave it at that? He even had roles on The Twilight ZoneThe MunstersLost in SpaceNight Gallery and the Night Strangler. (Died 1988.)
  • Born February 5, 1919 Red Buttons. He shows up on The New Original Wonder Woman as Ashley Norman. Yes, this is the Lynda Carter version. Somewhat later he’s in Hoagy in Pete’s Dragon followed by being the voice of Milton in Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.  He also played four different characters on the original Fantasy Island which though I suspect it’s not a record is still impressive. (Died 2006.)
  • Born February 5, 1924 Basil Copper. Best remembered for Solar Pons stories continuing the character created as a tribute to Sherlock Holmes by August Derleth. I’m also fond of The Great White Space, his Lovecraftian novel that has a character called Clark Ashton Scarsdale which has to be homage to Clark Ashton Smith. Though I’ve not seen them them, PS Publishing released Darkness, Mist and Shadow: The Collected Macabre Tales of Basil Copper, a two-volume set of his dark fantasy tales. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 5, 1941 Stephen J. Cannell. Creator of The Greatest American Hero. That gets him Birthday Honors. The only other genre series he was involved with was The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage which I never heard of. He also created the Castle series with Nathan Fillion of Firefly fame and was one of the actual players at the poker games on the series. View one of them here. (Died 2010.)
  • Born February 5, 1961 Bruce Timm, 61. He did layout at Filmation on the likes of of Flash Gordon and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Sought work at DC and Marvel without success before being hired at Warner Brothers where his first show was Tiny Toons before he and his partner on that series created Batman: The Animated Series. That in turned spawned more series by him — Superman: The Animated SeriesBatman BeyondStatic ShockJustice League in several series and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Certainly not all of them but that’s the ones I remember seeing and enjoying. His first love is comics. He and writer Paul Dini won the Eisner Award for Best Single Story for Batman Adventures: Mad Love in the early Nineties and he’s kept his hand in the business ever since. Harley Quinn by the way is his creation. He’s a voice actor in the DC Universe voicing many characters ranging from the leader of a Jokerz gang in a Batman Beyond episode to playing The Riddler in Batman: Under the Red Hood
  • Born February 5, 1964 Laura Linney, 58. She first shows up in our corner of the Universe as Meryl Burbank/Hannah Gill on ever so excellent Truman Show before playing Officer Connie Mills in The Mothman Prophecies (BARF!) and then Erin Bruner in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. She plays Mrs. Munro In Mr. Holmes. Her last SF was as Rebecca Vincent in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
  • Born February 5, 1974 Rod Roddenberry, 48. Son of those parents. Currently Executive Producer on DiscoveryPicardLower Decks and the forthcoming Strange New Worlds. His very first job in the Trek franchise was as Production Assistant on Next Gen. Interestingly his Wiki page says he was a Consulting Producer on the fanfic video Star Trek: New Voyages. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) NAMING CONVENTIONS. If Harlan Ellison’s story had been titled “Drifts Off the Isle of Langerhans,” a couple of these would have been the right choice to clear them. “’Betty Whiteout,’ ‘Ctrl Salt Delete’ top winners in MnDOT Name-a-Snowplow contest” reports MPR News. [Via Paul Weimer.]

“Betty Whiteout” is the runaway winner in this winter’s Minnesota Department of Transportation Name-A-Snowplow contest.

The name honoring Hollywood icon Betty White, who died Dec. 31 at age 99, received 40,024 online votes in the results announced Thursday.

Coming in second with 21,372 votes was “Ctrl Salt Delete,” followed by “The Big Leplowski” (17,478), “Plowasaurus Rex” (13,209) and “Scoop Dogg” (13,144).

“Blizzard of Oz” (12,742), “No More Mr. Ice Guy” (11,198) and “Edward Blizzardhands” (10,664) rounded out the top eight.

…Last winter’s winners were “Plowy McPlowFace,” “Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya,” “Duck Duck Orange Truck,” “Plow Bunyan,” “Snowbi Wan Kenobi,” “F. Salt Fitzgerald,” “Darth Blader” and “The Truck Formerly Known As Plow.”

Two of this winter’s winners — “Blizzard of Oz” and “Edward Blizzardhands” — had been among the names that fell short in voting last winter….

(13) CRITICAL ROLE THEORY. Slate discovers that a popular show on Amazon Prime is D&D-derived. “The Legend of Vox Machina on Amazon Prime: The story behind Critical Role landing its own cartoon.”

There’s a new show on Amazon Prime, and boy, does it come with a lot of backstory.

No, it’s not the Lord of the Rings show, which Amazon has already thrown a ton of money at—that’s not out until later this year. This one is animated, and at first blush, it may just seem like any old cartoon about magic and action and dragons. But The Legend of Vox Machina, a fun, raunchy fantasy series with new episodes out every Friday, has already taken the internet by storm. That’s because it started out as a long-running Dungeons & Dragons game, called Critical Role—which just so happens to be one of the most successful web series in history.

…Beginning like most D&D games—with a group of friends, some creative ideas, and a whole lot of dice—Critical Role is a story set in the fantasy world of Exandria, created by game master and renowned voice actor Matthew Mercer. Mercer and his friends started livestreaming themselves playing the game for an audience in 2015, when the story was already underway.

The internet quickly fell in love with the story and its colorful characters via these streams, which aired weekly on Twitch and YouTube. The story of the Vox Machina campaign in particular—the first D&D game played together by the Critical Role cast—followed this ragtag team on their adventures, which involved them growing from self-interested mercenaries searching for a big payout to saving their realm from otherworldly dangers, with plenty of other high-stakes subplots along the way. The campaign streamed (almost) every Thursday night for over two years as our brave heroes fought dragons, demons, and would-be gods. With each episode usually running between three and four hours, the first campaign ended with more than 400 hours of wacky, intense, and above all impeccably narrated gameplay to watch.

The primary cast included Grog Strongjaw (played by Travis Willingham), Pike Trickfoot (Ashley Johnson), twins Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan (Laura Bailey and Liam O’Brien), Keyleth (Marisha Ray), Scanlan Shorthalt (Sam Riegel), and Percival de Rolo (Taliesin Jaffe).

Even after the story of Vox Machina came to a close, Critical Role just kept on rolling. A second campaign ran for three additional years, clocking in at over 500 hours, and Campaign 3 kicked off in October 2021. Each campaign features a new story, new characters, and a different setting within the world of Exandria, and the cast continues to stream all of it for its ever-growing fan base. All told, that’s 1,000 hours of content—and counting.

(14) HEAVY DUTY. Science and Nature says “World’s Second Largest Meteorite Discovered in Argentina”.

A 30,800-kilogram meteorite has been unearthed in Argentina, and experts have declared it to be one of the largest meteorites ever found on Earth.

The discovery, made on the border of Chaco, about 1,078 km (670 miles) northwest of the Buenos Aires, has been attributed to a meteor shower that hit the region more than 4,000 years ago. Weighing in at more than 30 tons, the find has been controversially named the second largest meteorite on Earth, but until further tests are completed, it’s too soon to give away that title just yet.

The undisputed king of Earth-based meteorites is a 66-ton whopper called Hoba, excavated in Namibia nearly a century ago. While the Hoba meteorite has been fully uncovered from its resting place in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia, due to its size, it has never been removed.

It’s thought to have slammed into Earth some 80,000 years ago, and its age has been estimated to be between 190 million and 410 million years. The rival contender for the second spot is El Chaco – a 37-ton meteorite discovered in the same Argentinian field as this new find.

Now experts will need to perform additional weigh-ins to see if this new Argentinian meteorite, called Gancedo, can beat that and secure the title below Hoba.

“While we hoped for weights above what had been registered, we did not expect it to exceed 30 tons,” Mario Vesconi, president of the Astronomy Association of Chaco, told the Xinhua news agency over the weekend. “[T]he size and weight surprised us.”…

(15) WHEELS WITHIN WHEELS. Keeper of the Jewel: Highcliff Guardians Series Book One begins a new series by fantasy author and podcaster, Richard H. Stephens.

Something evil lurks beneath the palace.

A phantasm from a darker past makes its presence known to Khae Wys, Queen of the Elves.

Braving the perils of a haunted tower, the queen seeks the counsel of the mysterious Fae, for only they can predict what is to come. A future that doesn’t bode well for her only living child.

In a desperate attempt to save the heir to the Willow Throne, Princess Ouderling is exiled to the only place capable of protecting her. Highcliff, the home of the coveted Crystal Cavern and the dragons that watch over it.

The Duke of Grim, however, has other plans for the princess.

Featured at the Amazon.com Kindle Store and the Amazon.ca: Kindle Store.

Stephens says, “Halfway through book three of the Soul Forge Saga, Into the Madness, (aptly named), one of my main characters did something so uncalled for that it opened the floodgates to the potential for a 20-30 book series. A storyline so involved with lore and magic that it will span many centuries. Who knew the addition of a dragon would become an all-consuming desire to write an in-depth back story? Thus, the Legends of the Lurker was born.”

(16) COMING ATTRACTIONS. On March 9, Marvel Comics will release Captain Carter #1.

Captain Carter, the fan-favorite character recently featured in Marvel Studios’ What If reports for duty in her very own comic series next month. Prolific creator Jamie McKelvie uses his acclaimed talents to bring this Marvel super hero to the forefront of Marvel Comics canon, writing the series and designing the character’s brand-new look. McKelvie will be joined by rising star artist Marika Cresta, known for her recent work on Star Wars: Doctor Aphra. The five-issue limited series will introduce this World War II hero in an adventure that will find Peggy Carter as a woman out of time, facing the reappearance of an old foe in modern day and deciding what she stands for as the wielder of the shield.

 “There’s a whole load of story meat in the premise that interests me,” McKelvie told Syfy Wire. “It’s almost 80 years since the end of World War II. That’s a big difference to the 20 years Steve Rogers was in the ice in the original comics timeline. It’s a huge gap, and so much has changed since then. Even the decade since MCU Cap woke up has seen a lot of big shifts in the world. So that’s immediately exciting to me –– how do you deal with waking up in such a radically different world, with every anchor in your life long gone?”

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Steven French, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Pixel Scroll 7/14/20 No Space Suit? No Service!

(1) WHERE TO FIND WHO. HBO Max did this video meetup to promote that they are now the exclusive outlet for Doctor Who Seasons 1-11. (Future season/specials will premiere on BBC AMERICA.)

Moderated by Terri Schwartz of IGN, HBO Max, in partnership with BBC America, presents the first-ever, historic meeting of The Doctors: Jodie Whittaker, Matt Smith, and David Tennant.

(2) LIKE YOU NEED TEENY TINY BRANDING IRONS. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Remember the Cordwainer Smith story with the laminated mouse brain? here is a picture of a mouse brain slice that won a prize: “Extreme closeup of mouse-brain slice wins top Life Science Microscopy prize” at Ars Technica.

Spain’s Ainara Pintor snagged the top honor from over 400 submissions with her gorgeous image of an immunostained mouse-brain slice, titled Neurogarden. The image focuses on the hippocampus area of a single slice, but there are more than 70 million neurons in the mouse brain as a whole, according to Pintor.

(3) THE MAINSTREAM GOES FILK. [Item by Rob Thornton.] A new musical genre named “bardcore” has emerged, in which musicians create medievalized versions of pop tunes reports The Guardian: “Never mind the ballads! How bardcore took over pop music”.

Is [it] a big thing? Where on earth have you been for the past two months? Bardcore is booming online, swarming all over YouTube and Reddit, and appealing to what i-D Magazine calls Generation Z’s ‘existential humour’.

Here is a bardcore version of Radiohead’s “Creep” as done by the musician Hildegard von Blingin’.

(4) OLD GUARD REVIEW. NPR’s Linda Holmes reports that “‘The Old Guard’ Is A Smart Blend Of Action And Emotion”.

…Here’s a quandary: How do you make a compelling movie — one with a good measure of fairly graphic violence, by the way — about a group of heroes who can’t be killed? Don’t they always have the upper hand? Won’t they always win? There are clever ways that the story itself gets around this problem, but it’s also absolutely critical that it’s in the hands of a director who understands, and can convey on film, that link between physical vulnerability and humanity. Because one of the things this story is about is that even if you do not die, the pain of cycling through injury after injury, recovery after recovery, reconstitution after reconstitution of your being, is a hard way to exist.

It’s a story that’s partly about the attrition of your spirit that can come from being, very literally, a “survivor.” And particularly because new recruit Nile (KiKi Layne, whom you know from If Beale Street Could Talk) is a black woman and two of her teammates are men who fell in love after being on opposite sides of The Crusades (which is a witty idea, let’s be honest), there is additional subtext here about the churn of violence and the costs of enduring it. Moreover, in a world seized with emergencies that activists are scrambling to address, it is frustrating enough when you feel like years have passed and all the attempts you have made to improve the world have come to nothing. What would it be like to feel that for centuries? For longer? Would you really want the long view? How much perspective could you stand to have about humanity?

More immediately, the plot is this: Andy (Theron) has been doing this the longest. She wants out of the hero business, really, but she can’t escape. She’s pulled into a job with teammates Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). The job, conveyed to them by a man named Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is to rescue a group of kidnapped girls in South Sudan. How can they say no? When it turns out there’s more to the job than meets the eye, she’s confronted by the fact that there are people out there who know about her and her team and wish them no good.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Nile is a young soldier consumed with the wars of the present, and shortly after she discovers that something is very unusual about her response to injury, she winds up in the company of the Old Guard. (They don’t go around calling themselves that, by the way; it would be very corny. And they don’t do it.)

This is the first film I’ve seen in quarantine that felt to me like a proper big summer movie — and yet it transcends so much of what’s sometimes been disappointing about that category. Yes, it’s a comic book movie. Yes, it’s an action movie. Yes, it’s about a team of good-doers. And it’s exciting and satisfying and tense and all those things. But everything from its queer couple to its leading women to its director to its thoughtfulness to its point of view about violence makes it such a welcome addition….

(5) A SHORTER REVIEW OF SOMETHING EVEN OLDER. Brooke Bolander has a concise take. Thread starts here.

(6) THE CUPBOARD IS SEMI-BARE. Variety says transforming San Diego Comic-Con into an online experience has an extra challenge – how to bake a cake without all the usual ingredients: “Comic-Con ‘At Home’ Aims to Rescue Fandom’s Biggest Week — Even If Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm Are No-Shows”.

Indeed, almost no feature films announced panels for Comic-Con@Home. Paramount, Sony, and Universal are sitting out the convention entirely, while WarnerMedia’s DC Entertainment elected to launch their own virtual fan convention — DC FanDome on Aug. 22 — to promote its suite of film, TV and comic book properties.

The biggest blow for Comic-Con@Home, however, is arguably the lack of participation from marquee Comic-Con participants Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm, which aren’t bringing any of their features or live-action scripted TV series to Comic-Con@Home. Fans had been especially anticipating first looks at Marvel Studios’ upcoming slate, including theatrical releases “Eternals” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and Disney Plus series “Falcon and the Winter Solider” and “WandaVision.”

(7) SFWA DEI. The members of SFWA’s newly-formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee are:

  • Alaya Dawn Johnson – traditional novelist
  • Alex Acks – traditional novelist 
  • Crystal Watanabe – freelance editor
  • James Beamon – SFWA director-at-large, short fiction writer
  • Jane Pinckard  – writer, game designer, researcher, teacher
  • Kyle Aisteach  – short fiction writer
  • Michi Trota – SFWA Editor-in-Chief, critical and creative nonfiction writer
  • Tao Roung Wong – indie novelist
  • Whitney “Strix” Beltrán – game writer

The committee is developing procedures, and setting its action and scope, and will update the membership soon. 

(8) IMAHARA OBIT. Grant Imahara, host of MythBusters’ and White Rabbit Project, has died at the age of 49. The Hollywood Reporter story is here.

…While as part of the MythBusters team he sky-dived and drove stunt cars, on film sets he came into contact with some of the most iconic characters in screen history, installing lights onto Star Wars‘ R2-D2, creating the robot Geoff Peterson for The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and working on the Energizer Bunny.

…In his nine years at Lucasfilm, he worked for the company’s THX and Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) divisions. In his years at ILM, he became chief model maker specializing in animatronics and worked on George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels, as well as The Matrix ReloadedThe Matrix RevolutionsGalaxy QuestXXX: State of the UnionVan HelsingThe Lost World: Jurassic ParkA.I. Artificial Intelligence and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

In 2000, Imahara also competed in Comedy Central’s BattleBots with a robot he built himself called “Deadblow” that won two Middleweight Rumbles, was the first season’s Middleweight runner-up and became the third season’s first-ranked robot.

He was also an actor on The Guild and Star Trek Continues (as Sulu in the latter.)

John Scalzi, who knew him from a JoCo Cruise, wrote a short farewell.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • July 14, 1989 Muppets From Space premiered. It is the first film since the death of Jim Henson to have an original Muppet-focused plot, and is a breakaway from other Muppet films as it is the only non-musical Muppets film to date. Directed by Tim Hill, it was produced by Brian Henson and Martin G. Baker off a script written by Jerry Juhl, Joey Mazzarino and Ken Kaufman. It starred Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta, Frank Oz (in his last Muppet role), Jeffrey Tambor, F. Murray Abraham,  David Arquette, Josh Charles,  Hollywood Hogan, Ray Liotta and Andie MacDowell. Some critics really loved it, some really despised it and mourned the passing of Henson. It bombed at the box office. At Rotten Tomatoes, audience reviewers give it a not bad 58% rating.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born July 14, 1918 – Ingmar Bergman.  Director, writer, producer of film, television, theater, radio; questioning, perhaps re-creating, the human condition.  Five dozen films, fifteen dozen plays, half a dozen ours; one is Mozart’s Magic Flute; perhaps not The Magician, whose characters prove to be engaged in theatrical, not supernatural, magic.  Three Academy Awards, Golden Bear at Berlin, Palme des Palmes at Cannes, many more. (Died 2007) [JH]
  • Born July 14, 1926 – Jef De Wulf.  For us two dozen covers for works in French, like this and this; also this; five hundred all told.  Had his own photography studio, in the end worked with the photo department of a regional newspaper.  (Died 1994) [JH]
  • Born July 14, 1926 Harry Dean Stanton. My favorite genre role for him? The video for Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. No, I’m not kidding.  He also played Paul of Tarsus in The Last Temptation of Christ, Harold “Brain” Hellman in Escape from New York, Detective Rudolph “Rudy” Junkins in Christine, Bud in Repo Man, Carl Rod in Twin Peaks twice, Toot-Toot in The Green Mile, Harvey in Alien Autopsy and a Security Guard in The Avengers. He didn’t do a lot of genre tv, one episode of The Wild Wild West as Lucius Brand in “The Night of The Hangman” and a character named Lemon on Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the “Escape to Sonoita” episode. (Died 2017.) (CE)
  • Born July 14, 1939 – George Slusser, Ph.D.  Eight books of SF criticism; anthologies of papers at U. Cal. Riverside’s Eaton Conference; Professor of Comparative Literature, first Curator of the Eaton Collection, Director of the Eaton Program for SF Studies.  “Clarke, along with Asimov and Heinlein … human dramas determined by advances in science and technology… to blend two otherwise opposite activities.”  Pilgrim Award.  (Died 2014) [JH]
  • Born July 14, 1943 Christopher Priest, 77. This is the Birthday of the One and True Christopher Priest. If I was putting together an introductory reading list to him, I’d start with The Prestige, add in the Islanders and its companion volume, The Dream Archipelago. Maybe Inverted World as well. How’s that sound?  (CE)
  • Born July 14, 1949 Nick Bantock, 71. This is a bit of a puzzler for me. He’s the creator of The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and The Morning Star Trilogy, a series of faux letters and postcards telling a story between two individuals. ISFDB lists it as genre but I’ve never heard it described as such before, and it certainly isn’t shelved as such in bookstores that I’ve frequented. Who’s read it here? (CE)
  • Born July 14, 1960 – Michèle de Laframboise, 60.  A dozen novels for us, as many shorter stories in Abyss & ApexGalaxiesTesseract (“Women Are From Mars, Men Are From Venus”); others too.  For one of her books she did this cover with Jean-Pierre Normand.  Translated into German, Italian, Russian.  Three Auroras, Prix Cécile-GagnonPrix Solaris.  Website (in English and French, of course) here.  [JH]
  • Born July 14, 1960 – Larry Segriff, 60.  Two novels of Tom Jenkins, a young adult who finds adventure in the stars.  Ten shorter stories.  Three Tom Clancy Net Force tie-ins.  Ten anthologies with Martin H. Greenberg.  Productive and competent.  [JH]
  • Born July 14, 1964 Jane Espenson, 56. She had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where she shared a Hugo Award at Torcon 3 for her writing on the “Conversations with Dead People” episode, and she shared another Hugo at Chicon 7 for Games of Thrones, season one. She was on the the writing staff for the fourth season of Torchwood and executive produced Caprica. And yes, she had a stint on the rebooted Galactica. (CE)
  • Born July 14, 1966 Brian Selznick, 54. Illustrator and writer best known as the writer of The Invention of Hugo Cabret which may or may not be genre. You decide. His later work, Wonderstruck, definitely is. The Marvels, a story of a travelling circus family is magical in its own right though not genre.  (CE)
  • Born July 14, 1979 – Yukiko Montoya, 41.  Novelist, playwright and theatrical director, radio and television host.  Akutagawa, Noma, Mishima, Ôe Prizes; Nanboku and Kishida Drama Awards.  Recent collection in English, The Lonesome Bodybuilder.  The New York Times says she wins over her audience by pushing the absurd to extremes.  For example, in “The Straw Husband” the narrator’s husband is –    [JH]
  • Born July 14, 1989 Sara Canning, 31. Major roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events,  Primeval: New World and The Vampire Dairies, she also appeared in Once Upon a TimeWar for the Planet Of The ApesAndroid EmployedSupernatural and Smallville to name some of her other genre work. (CE) 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

TwistedDoodles translates parenting into genre:  

(12) MR. RICO GOES TO WASHINGTON. David Gerrold told Facebook readers “Starship Troopers is the single most misunderstood book in the entire SF genre.” An excerpt:

….Now, to be fair — Heinlein stacked the deck. Not the first time, not the last time. In this book, the enemy exist as a relentless, unending horde of mindless giant insects. Bugs. There is nothing there to empathize with. They are killing machines — chitinous terminators. The only response is kill or be killed. And in that context, Heinlein’s assertin is justifiable.

Now, consider if the enemy was not some kind of alien bug — but instead, another branch of humanity. Or even just another nation with a shared border. And consider that the battle is not so much a fight to the death, but an argument over whether eggs should be broken at the big end or the little end. At that point, the whole discussion of military service breaks down with one simple question, “Are you fucking kidding me? You want me to die on that fucking hill?”

Second question? How well did Heinlein do it? Well, we’re still talking about the book 60 years later, so I would say that he did a damn good job. Except that we’re not just talking about the book, we’re arguing ferociously about it. So maybe his point wasn’t as clear as he intended it to be. The accusations of fascism have pretty much obscured the more interesting point, which is worth discussion even if we’re not at war:

What is the obligation of a citizen toward the nation in which he lives? If the citizen benefits from their participation, what is their obligation — but also if the citizen does not benefit, what are their options?…

(13) STAR WARS IN THE NEWS. From the New York Times article, “Headed to the Convention? No I, More Republicans are Saying”:

…Everyone in the media wants to act like it’s some big deal that Susan Collins and Lamar Alexander aren’t going to the convention,” said Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida. “The reality is the number of delegates craving the octogenarians and septuagenarians of the Senate are surely lower than the number who have purchased their third Star Wars costume….

(14) A HIPPER FLIPPER. “Robot dolphins: the cruelty-free £20m ‘animal’ you can’t tell from the real thing”The Guardian will tell you call about it.

…They can respond to questions, swim happily in shopping mall display tanks, and withstand close contact that would usually be harmful to real animals – without any ethical problems. And they could soon be coming to aquariums in China.

Entrepreneurs in New Zealand are working with American creators of some of Hollywood’s most famous creatures to develop animatronic dolphins that look almost identical to their living counterparts.

A robotic dolphin that can nod an answer to a child – thanks to the human controlling it by remote – might sound unappealing or disconcerting. But as marine parks around the world face increasing pressure to abandon exhibitions featuring real whales and dolphins, the creatures provide an appealing alternative, their creators say.

(15) THE PICTURE OF HEALTH. “The new tattoo: Drawing electronics on skin:” Tagline: “MU engineers discover the possibility of using pencils to draw bioelectronics on human skin.”

… Since its invention, pencils — made of lead including various levels of graphite, clay and wax — have often been used for writing and drawing. In the study, the researchers discovered that pencils containing more than 90% graphite are able to conduct a high amount of energy created from the friction between paper and pencil caused by drawing or writing. Specifically, the researchers found pencils with 93% graphite were the best for creating a variety of on-skin bioelectronic devices drawn on commercial office copy paper. Yan said a biocompatible spray-on adhesive could also be applied to the paper to help it stick better to a person’s skin.

(16) THE PERFECT IS THE ENEMY. HBO Max dropped a trailer for the animated series Close Enough, which premiered on the channel last week.

(17) THE LIGHTS IN THE STY ARE NOT STARS. Elly Griffiths speculates about “Why Marshes Capture Our Imaginations—And Inspire Some Of Our Most Unsettling Folklore” at CrimeReads.

…I first came across this legend when I was researching a book, which was subsequently called The Lantern Men. I soon found out that there are many myths and legends about mysterious lights appearing on marshland at night. One version links them to a wicked blacksmith called Jack who tricks the devil and so escapes hell but can never be allowed into heaven. Jack is condemned to walk the earth forever, carrying a single coal from hell inside a pumpkin. The tradition of putting lighted candles into pumpkins at Halloween, also known as jack o’ lanterns, probably comes from this fable.

Jack is not the only creature abroad at night. Sometimes the blacksmith is called Will and, in English folklore,  marsh lights are often called will o’ the wisps, wisp meaning a bundle of twigs tied together to make a torch.  There are some regional variations, hobby lanterns in the north and pixie lights in Devon and Cornwall, where hapless travelers are said to be ‘pixie led’.

(18) HOPE AND GLORY. BBC says “‘Hope’ and ambition drive UAE’s Mars mission”.

The United Arab Emirates will despatch a satellite to Mars to study its weather and climate this week.

Hope, as the 1.3-tonne probe is called, is launching on an H-2A rocket from Japan’s remote Tanegashima spaceport.

The 500-million-km journey should see the robotic craft arrive in February 2021 – in time for the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s formation.

Lift-off is scheduled for 05:43 local time on Friday (20:43 GMT; 21:43 BST on Thursday).

An earlier attempt on Wednesday was called off ahead of time because of expected poor weather conditions over Tanegashima.

…Why is the UAE going to Mars?

The UAE has limited experience of designing and manufacturing spacecraft – and yet here it is attempting something only the US, Russia, Europe and India have succeeded in doing. But it speaks to the Emiratis’ ambition that they should dare to take on this challenge.

Their engineers, mentored by American experts, have produced a sophisticated probe in just six years – and when this satellite gets to Mars, it’s expected to deliver novel science, revealing fresh insights on the workings of the planet’s atmosphere.

In particular, scientists think it can add to our understanding of how Mars lost much of its air and with it a great deal of its water.

The Hope probe is regarded very much as a vehicle for inspiration – something that will attract more young people in the Emirates and across the Arab region to take up the sciences in school and in higher education.

(19) UNWRAPPED BOXING DAY. “Rare Super Mario becomes highest-selling video game”.

A rare version of the classic 1985 Super Mario Bros has sold at auction for $114,000 (£90,000), the most ever paid for a video game.

The cartridge, still in its original packaging, sold to an anonymous bidder.

And the US auctioneer said demand “was extremely high”, partly because this particular packaging had been used for a short while only.

The previous record for an auctioned game was $100,000 – for a different copy of Super Mario.

(20) NOT ZERO YET. In Godzilla:  King of the Monsters Pitch Meeting on ScreenRant, Ryan George explains that the film has lots of characters who utter “science words” and Snarky Countdown Guy, who is snarky when he isn’t counting things down.

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, John Hertz, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Daniel Dern, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/19 These Are The Pixels That Try Men’s Scrolls

(1) IN OPINIONS YET TO COME. Brooke Bolander is the latest sff author to pen a futuristic op-ed for the New York Times.

As Tor.com puts it –

Asking “Who Should Live in Flooded Old New York?” Bolander imagines a time in which it’s illegal to live in the flooded remains of NYC, with the only residents being those who are too poor to move elsewhere. In this future, Mr. Rogers’ theme song has turned into an “old folk song,” and “draconian federal regulations” punish those remaining, while millionaires running illegal tourism schemes in the city get off scot-free.

(2) WHAT TOR LEARNED FROM LIBRARY SALES EMBARGO. Jason Sanford’s analysis, “Does library ebook lending hurt book sales? Tor Books experiment reveals answers, may lead to new ebook lending terms”, is a free post at his Patreon page. 

Sanford interviewed Fritz Foy, president and publisher of Tom Doherty Associates, the unit of Macmillan that includes Tor, who shared “an unprecedented look at their embargo test….”

…To discover if library ebook lending was indeed hurting sales, Macmillan used their Minotaur imprint as a control group and Tor Books as an experimental group. The two groups have books which sold in similar patterns along with authors and book series which drove steady sales from year to year.

For the experiment Tor prohibited ebook sales to libraries until four months after a book’s release. After that date libraries could purchase the Tor ebooks. The control group Minotaur instituted no such restriction. (As a side-note, Foy said the there was never a plan to do a six-month embargo on ebook sales to libraries, as reported in that Good e-Reader article.)

Foy was surprised by the experiment’s stark results.

“All but one title we compared (in the Tor experiment group) had higher sales after the four month embargo on ebook sales to libraries,” he said. “And the only title where we didn’t see this happen had bad reviews. And when you looked at the control group, sales remained the same.”

(3) LOTR DIRECTOR. “‘The Lord Of The Rings’: J.A. Bayona To Direct Amazon Series”Deadline has the story.

Amazon Studios’ high-profile The Lord of the Rings TV series has made a key hire. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona has been tapped to direct the first two episodes of the big-scope fantasy drama, following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson, who directed the feature adaptations of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novels.

…Bayona’s first feature film, critically acclaimed thriller The Orphanage, executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, premiered to a 10-minute standing ovation at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and later won seven Goya Awards in Spain, including best new director.

Bayona most recently directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide last year. He also directed the features The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and A Monster Calls, starring Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones, as well as the first two episodes of Showtime’s hit series Penny Dreadful.

(4) LOTR LOCATION. And where will the series be filmed? Probably where you’d have predicted it would if you never heard about the plan for Scotland. Yahoo! Movies reports “Scotland loses out on lucrative ‘Lord of the Rings’ shoot over ‘Brexit uncertainty’, claims new report”.

Amazon’s $1.5 billion (£1.19bn) Lord of the Rings series looks set to begin filming in New Zealand this month, after producers reportedly got cold feet about shooting in Scotland.

The NZ Herald reports that a “huge” part of the series, said to be the most expensive TV show ever made, will be produced in Auckland, specifically at the Kumeu Film Studios and Auckland Film Studios, with an official announcement coming this month. The report states that pre-production on the Amazon show has been based at the two studios for the last year.

Producers were also said to be considering Scotland as a production base, but New Zealand’s public-service radio broadcaster Radio New Zealand (Radio NZ), claims “the tumultuous Brexit situation hindered Scotland’s pitch”.

(5) RESNICK RETURNS TO FB. Mike Resnick gave Facebook readers a medical update about his frightening health news:

Sorry to be absent for a month. 4 weeks ago I was walking from one room to the next when I collapsed. Carol called the ambulance, and 2 days later I woke up in the hospital minus my large intestine. Just got home last night.

I don’t like growing old.

(6) TIDHAR PICKS BUNDLED. Storybundle announced the The 2019 World SF Bundle, curated by Lavie Tidhar:

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Afro SF V3 by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • The Apex Book of World SF 5 by Cristina Jurado and Lavie Tidhar
  • Nexhuman by Francesco Verso
  • Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

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

  • Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Z. Hossain
  • After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun
  • The Thousand Year Beach by TOBI Hirotaka
  • Slipping by Lauren Beukes
  • Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Vanishing Kind by Lavie Tidhar

This bundle is available only for a limited time.

(7) JAMES WHITE AWARD. The judges for the 2019 James White Award will be Justina Robson, Chris Beckett and Donna Scott.

The competition is open to original, unpublished short stories of not more than 6,000 words by non-professional writers. The award, established in 2000, offers non-professional writers the opportunity to have their work published in Interzone, the UK’s leading sf magazine. The deadline for submissions was June 28. The winner will be announced in August.

(8) JUMANJI. The next sequel will be in theaters at Christmas.

In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • July 3, 1958 Fiend Without A Face premiered.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future was released.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day debuted in theaters.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1898 E. Hoffmann Price. He’s most readily remembered as being a Weird Tales writer, one of a group that included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. He did a few collaborations, one of which was with H. P. Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”. Another work, “The Infidel’s Daughter”, a satire on the Ku Klux Klan, also angered many Southern readers. (Died 1998.)
  • Born July 3, 1926 William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well, that is his bio. Rotsler was a four-time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a “Retro-Hugo” for his work in 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He responsible for giving Uhura her first name, created “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming”, popularized the idea fans wore propeller beanies and well, being amazing sounding. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 Tim O’Connor. He was Dr. Elias Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for much of its run. Other genre appearances were on The Six Million Dollar ManThe Twilight Zone, The Outer LimitsWonder WomanKnight RiderStar Trek: The Next Generation and The Burning Zone. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 Ken Russell. Altered States is his best known SF film but he’s also done The Devils, an historical horror film, and Alice in Russialand. Russell had a cameo in the film adaptation of Brian Aldiss’s novel Brothers of the Head by the directors of Lost in La Mancha. And, of course, he’s responsible for The Who’s Tommy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 Tom Stoppard, 82. Screenplay writer, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which is adjacent genre if not actually genre. Also scripted of course Brazil which he co-authored with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeow. He also did the final Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade final rewrite of Jeffrey Boam’s rewrite of Menno Meyjes’s screenplay. And finally Shakespeare in Love which he co-authored with Marc Norman.
  • Born July 3, 1943 Kurtwood Smith, 76. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible ThunderlizardsThe X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s Spawn, Judtice League, Batman Beyond, Green Lantern and Beware the Batman. His last role was as Vernon Masters as the superb Agent Carter.
  • Born July 3, 1962 Tom Cruise, 57. I’m reasonably sure his first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in the abysmal Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in the even far more abysmal War of The Worlds. I’ve not seen him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas then Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) IT DON’T PAY TO BE IGNORANT. Not on Jeopardy! as Andrew Porter witnessed tonight:

In the category American Writers, the answer was, “In a story by this sci-fi master, ‘I Sing the Body Electric!’ is the title of a pamphlet for a robot grandmother.”

Wrong questions: “Who is Isaac Asimov?” and “Who is Robert Heinlein?”

(13) AURORA AWARDS. The 2019 Aurora Awards Voter Package is online, available to members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association.

The purpose of the Aurora Awards Voter Package is simple. Before you vote for the Aurora Awards this year, we want you to be able to read as much of the nominated work as possible, so you can make and informed decision about what is the best of the year. Please note: the package is only available while voting is open. Remember voting ends September 14, 2019 at 11:59:59 EDT!

The electronic versions of these Aurora Award nominated works are made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. If you like what you read, please support the creators by purchasing their works, which are available in bookstores and online.

(14) EN ROUTE. John Hertz, while packing for his journey to Spikecon, paused to quote from the classics:

Farewell my friends, farewell my foes;
To distant planets Freddy goes;
To face grave perils he intends.
Farewell my foes, goodbye my friends.

(15) MORE BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ. At Tor.com, Gabriella Tutino publicized a list compiled by Reddit User einsiboy, creator of the TopRedditBooks site: “Here are the 100 Most Discussed Fantasy Books on Reddit”.  The Reddit link is here. I’ve only read 19 of these – what a disgrace!

(16) JDA REAPPLIES TO SFWA. Mary Robinette Kowal took office as SFWA’s new President at the start of the month. Jon Del Arroz says his latest application for membership is already in her inbox: “A New Dawn For SFWA!” [Internet Archive link].

Things are changing at SFWA as my friend Mary Robinette Kowal has been installed as president, after I endorsed her candidacy early on.

…As she has featured my books on her blog not once, but twice, I know that Ms. Kowal’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is important to her, and she will be doing everything she can to change the perception that SFWA is a place where Conservatives and Christians are not welcome to be called professional authors.

As such, I have reapplied to SFWA as of yesterday, and let Ms. Kowal know, so we can begin the long journey of working together to ensure equality for Conservative and Christian authors. I’ve offered my services as an ambassador to the community, so she will directly be able to hear the grievances of such authors who have been treated as second class citizens — dare I say, 3/5ths of a professional author — for so long now within the science fiction community.

(17) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE INTERNET. Shades of Cryptonomicon. Futurism.com thinks that the “Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables”

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

(18) FOUR FOR THE FOURTH. For the holiday, James Davis Nicoll has lined up “4 SF Works Featuring a Far-Future U.S.A.” at Tor.com.

In Joe and Jack C. Haldeman’s There Is No Darkness, English is an obscure language, spoken only on backwater worlds and a few places on Earth. We don’t know exactly when the book takes place, as year zero has been set to the founding of the (future) Confederacion. We are told the year is A.C. 354.

What we see of a future Texas suggests that it’s still as recognizably American as Justinian’s Constantinople would have been recognizably Roman. While the region seems a bit down at heel, it’s also one of the more optimistic takes on a future America.

(19) SCALZI GIVEAWAY. Or maybe Christmas will come early and you can read this:

(20) IF IT E-QUACKS LIKE A DUCK. Thomas has found a place where “Robots Replace Ducks in Rice Paddy Fields”.

Aigamo is a Japanese farming method that uses ducks to keep unwanted plants and parasites out of rice paddy fields. This duck crossbreed is able to keep the paddy clear without the use of herbicides or pesticides, and the fowls’ waste actually works as a pretty good fertilizer.  

The method was first introduced in the 16th century but soon fell out of favor. It wasn’t reintroduced as a natural farming method until 1985 and it quickly became popular across the country as well as in China, Iran, France, and other countries. 

About 15 ducks can keep a 1,000-square-meter area clear of insects, worms, and weeds, and they even enrich the water with oxygen by constantly stirring up the soil. But as humans are prone to do, an engineer from Nissan Motor, needed to build a better mousetrap, although this one may not have too many beating down a path to his door. 

Created as a side project, the Aigamo Robot looks less like its namesake and more like a white, floating Roomba with eyes. While the ducks can be trained to patrol specific areas, the robot employs Wi-Fi and GPS to help the robot stir up the soil and keep bugs at bay, though no word yet on how much ground it can cover in a single day. 

(21) SPIDER TO THE FLIER. Have you seen “United–Fly Like a Superhero” on YouTube? The Spider-Man version of the United Airlines safety video? Too bad it’s not as much fun as the Air New Zealand hobbit videos.

(22) STRANGE VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “9 Ways To Draw A Person” on Vimeo, Sasha Svirsky offers a strange video that doesn’t actually tell you how to draw a person.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jason Sanford, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Pixel Scroll 7/2/19 Just A Pixel Scroll, Filing Is Our Only Goal

(1) OVERVIEW. Neil Clarke’s “A State of the Short SF Field in 2018” from The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 4 can be read by clicking Amazon’s “Look Inside the Book” feature here. The free preview contains the whole of Neil’s summary of the short SF field. Gardner Dozois used to write something similar in his annual anthologies, and it’s nice to see Neil stepping up here. Plenty of interesting analysis and opinions.

(2) KNITTING TOGETHER A COMMUNITY. “The Raksura Colony Tree” is a project to be presented at Dublin 2019, inspired by Martha Wells’ previously Hugo-nominated series Books of the Raksura.

If you’re coming to Dublin to join in the fun and are interested in creating things with needle and thread, this is your chance to be an active part in a community art project.

Cora Buhlert recently posted something she was inspired to do:

There are examples of many different types of foliage that people have come up with here.

(3) WARTS AND ALL. James Davis Nicoll rises to the defense of “Ten Favorite Flawed Books That Are Always Worth Rereading” at Tor.com. Here’s one of them —

The eponymous station in Richard C. Meredith’s We All Died At Breakaway Station is a vital link in humanity’s communications network. It’s the facility through which hard-won information about the genocidal alien Jillies must pass. Therefore, the Jillies plan to destroy it. Absalom Bracer’s convoy is determined to defend it, despite the notable disadvantage that said convoy consists of a hospital ship and two escorts crewed by the walking wounded. The prose goes beyond purple into ultraviolet, but the novel delivers on its title with grand explosions and heroic sacrifices.

(4) BY ANY OTHER NAME. Futurism explains how “This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like ‘Ass Federation’ And ‘Hot Pie’ Because Robots Can Be Weird Too”

Ship Shape

Scottish author Iain M. Banks populated his sci-fi Culture book series with humanoid robots, alien races, and artificially intelligent spaceships that chose their own names.

So: Research scientist Janelle Shane thought it would be fun to use those ship names to train a real neural network to — what else? — conjure up new names for self-aware spaceships. The results? Hilarious. Puzzling. Generally? Great.

(5) SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE. The kickoff event of the Speculative Collective Salon on July 11 will feature best-selling authors Jennifer Brody, Rachel A. Marks, and Neo Edmund.

Join us to launch the SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE Salon, a new quarterly gathering of SoCal’s growing speculative fiction community. The program will include a reading and conversation with best-selling authors Jennifer Brody, Rachel A. Marks, and Neo Edmund. The authors will have books to sell and sign, and time will be set aside to network and chat with likeminded fans of the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. The event will take place at 1888 Center, 115 N. Orange St., Orange, CA. Admission is free. Come early to enjoy the venue’s art gallery and bookstore or pick up something to drink from the in-house Contra Coffee & Tea shop.

Their next event is:

October 10, 2019: The SPECULATIVE COLLECTIVE Salon, featuring USA Today best-selling author Russell Nohelty, YA science fiction author Merrie Destefano, and Dr. David Sandner, an English professor at California State University, Fullerton, who also publishes speculative fiction and non-fiction.

(6) FUTURE TENSE. This month’s entry in our Future Tense Fiction series is “Space Leek,” by Chen Qiufan/Stanley Chen.

I blinked. The walls and floors of the cabin vibrated as the spaceship adjusted its docking position, waking me up from my nap. My partner, Jing, was busily checking the dashboard.

“Are we there yet?” I mumbled.

“Look, it’s the Roast Garlic. Your favorite.” She pointed to the porthole.

The floating Yutu-3 space station gradually enlarged in my sight as I gazed out the porthole. I smiled. This was my third time up here, yet my eyes still widened when I saw it.

“Roast Garlic” was the nickname I had given the space station….

There’s a response essay, “What Will Humans Really Need in Space?”, by architecture professor and space settlements expert Fred Scharmen.

…The 1975 study was on the design of large-scale space settlements. These would be located, like the Yutu-3 space station in Chen Qiufan’s story, at the Earth-moon Lagrangian points where gravity between these two bodies allows for stable orbits. Unlike the Yutu-3 (or as the characters in the story call it, the Roast Garlic), these were not intended to be purely research stations. They would be home to about 10,000 people engaged in the work of building solar-powered satellites.

The team realized that these people would need to bring, or make, all of the things they needed themselves….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • July 2, 1939 — The first Worldcon begins in New York, continuing to July 4. Attendance is approximately 200.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 2, 1914 Hannes Bok. He’s a writer,  artist and illustrator who created nearly one hundred and fifty covers for various detective, fantasy and sf fiction magazines. He shared one of the inaugural 1953 Hugo Awards for science fiction achievement for Best Cover Artist with Ed Emshwiller. He also wrote a handful of novels, the best known being The Sorcerer’s Ship,  The Blue Flamingo and Beyond the Golden Stair. (Died 1964.)
  • Born July 2, 1933 Gloria Castillo. She first shows up in a genre role in Invasion of the Saucer Men (which also bore the title of Invasion of the Hell Creatures). Later she would be in Teenage Monster, and had an appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. (Died 1978.)
  • Born July 2, 1948 Saul Rubinek, 71. Primarily of interest for being on Warehouse 13  as Artie Nielsen, but he does show rather often else on genre series and films including going on EurekaMasters of Horror, Person of InterestBeauty & the BeastStargate SG-1The Outer Limits and Star Trek: The Next GenerationMemory Run and Death Ship are seeming to be his only only genre films. 
  • Born July 2, 1950 Stephen R. Lawhead, 69. I personally think that The Pendragon Cycle is by far his best work though the King Raven Trilogy with its revisionist take on Robin Hood is intriguing. And I read the first two of the Bright Empires series which very much worth reading.
  • Born July 2, 1951 Elisabeth Brooks. She is no doubt best remembered for her role as the evil, leather-clad siren Marsha Quist in The Howling. Her other genre appearances included Deep SpaceThe Six Million Dollar ManKolchak: The Night Stalker and The Forgotten One. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 2, 1956 Kay Kenyon, 63. Writer of the truly awesome The Entire and the Rose series which I enjoyed immensely. I’ve not read her Dark Talents series, so opinions please.
  • Born July 2, 1965 Jerry Hall, 54. She seems to wandered into a number of films down the years such as Alicia in Batman and Newswoman in Freejack, not to Woman in Park in Vampire in Brooklyn. Not real roles, just there. 
  • Born July 2, 1970 Yancy Butler, 49. Detective Sara Pezzini on the Witchblade series which would’ve been awesome with current CGI. She was later Avedon Hammond in Ravager, Captain Kate Roebuck in Doomsday Man, Angie D’Amico in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, Reba in Lake Placid 3 and Lake Placid: The Final Chapter, Officer Hart in Hansel & Gretel Get Baked (also known as Black Forest: Hansel and Gretel and the 420 Witch) (given the latter, a career low for her) and Alexis Hamilton in Death Race 2050. Series work other than Witchblade wasa recurring role as Sgt. Eve Edison in Mann & Machine inher first genre role.
  • Born July 2, 1990 Margot Robbie, 29. Harley Quinn in what I consider the second best Suicide Squad film, the best being the animated Assault on Arkham Asylum which also has a better Harley Quinn in it. Just saying. She both acting and producing the forthcoming Birds of Prey film. She has since played Jane Porter in The Legend of Tarzan, and voiced Flopsy Rabbit in Peter Rabbit

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) SAD STORY. Rachel Weiner in the Washington Post reports that Pankaj Bashin pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in his murder of Bradford Jackson.  Bashin claimed that Jackson was turning into a werewolf and had to be killed to “save 99 percent of the moon and planets.” “Man who thought he killed werewolf in Alexandria pleads not guilty by reason of insanity”.

(11) PHONE SURVEILLANCE IN CHINA. Vice / Motherboard reports  “China Is Forcing Tourists to Install Text-Stealing Malware at its Border”. Tagline: “The malware downloads a tourist’s text messages, calendar entries, and phone logs, as well as scans the device for over 70,000 different files.”

Foreigners crossing certain Chinese borders into the Xinjiang region, where authorities are conducting a massive campaign of surveillance and oppression against the local Muslim population, are being forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities, a collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the German public broadcaster NDR has found.

(12) HEART OF DARKNESS. Not that we don’t have problems of our own — Vice / Motherboard covered that story, too: “How Amazon and the Cops Set Up an Elaborate Sting Operation That Accomplished Nothing” Tagline: “Behind-the-scenes emails show how Amazon and Ring worked with police in Aurora, Colorado to make people scared of each other.”

For Amazon, fear is good for business.

If customers fear their neighbors, and fear they might steal a package, customers are less likely to be mad at Amazon if they don’t get a package they ordered. They’re also more likely to buy an Amazon-owned Ring doorbell camera, which is marketed as way of surveilling your stoop for package deliveries and package thieves—especially on Neighbors, the Ring-owned “neighborhood watch” app.

(13) DEEP DIVE. Doris V. Sutherland has a set of “2019 Hugo Award Reviews: Novelettes” at Women Write About Comics. Here’s an excerpt from the review of Brooke Bolander’s story:

Parts of The Only Harmless Great Thing are written from the perspective of elephant-kind. These are framed as tales told by a mother elephant to her calves, recalling certain sequences from Bolander’s other Hugo finalist of the year, “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” – as with that story there is a distinct Kipling influence, complete with the occasional “best beloved”. Storytelling is important to elephants, we are told: “Without stories there is no past, no future, not We. There is Death. There is Nothing, a night without moon or stars.”

(14) INCREDIBLE JOURNEY. “Scientists ‘speechless’ at Arctic fox’s epic trek” – BBC has the story.

A young Arctic fox has walked across the ice from Norway’s Svalbard islands to northern Canada in an epic journey, covering 3,506 km (2,176 miles) in 76 days.

“The fox’s journey has left scientists speechless,” according to Greenland’s Sermitsiaq newspaper.

Researchers at Norway’s Polar Institute fitted the young female with a GPS tracking device and freed her into the wild in late March last year on the east coast of Spitsbergen, the Svalbard archipelago’s main island.

The fox was under a year old when she set off west in search of food, reaching Greenland just 21 days later – a journey of 1,512 km – before trudging forward on the second leg of her trek.

She was tracked to Canada’s Ellesmere Island, nearly 2,000 km further, just 76 days after leaving Svalbard.

What amazed the researchers was not so much the length of the journey as the speed with which the fox had covered it – averaging just over 46 km (28.5 miles) a day and sometimes reaching 155 km.

(15) ALIEN TERRAIN. BBC will explain “How Iceland helped humans reach the moon”— photos and essay.

Fifty years after the first moon landing, a small Icelandic town celebrates its pivotal role in propelling humankind into space.

…Yet few people realise that this triumphant leap for mankind was propelled in part from an unlikely place: Iceland. In the years preceding the Apollo 11 mission, Nasa believed it was essential for its astronauts to prepare for their intragalactic journey by training in the most otherworldly terrain on Earth. After scouring the globe, officials determined that the moon’s lunar landscape was strikingly similar to that just outside Húsavík, a quiet 2,300-person fishing community on Iceland’s northern coast. Nasa sent 32 astronauts to train in its crater-filled terrain in 1965 and 1967. Incredibly, of the 12 humans who have ever walked on the moon, nine first touched down in Húsavík – including Armstrong himself.

…Next stop: Mars

For several years, Nasa has been studying geothermal sites in Iceland as a way to prepare for its ambitious plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020. According to planetary scientists, Iceland’s glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs are eerily similar to how Mars looked billions of years ago, and by studying subtle marks in Iceland’s iron-rich rocks, scientists are able to detect clues indicating where water once flowed.

“The Apollo astronauts I have met have told me that Iceland [is] an even better place to train astronauts to visit Mars than it was for the Moon,” Örlygsson said. “We know a lot about the geology of Mars because rovers have been studying the surface of Mars for some time. What they have discovered is that there are many more similarities between the geology here in Iceland and the geology of Mars.”

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Wet Book Rescue” on YouTube offers practical advice on rescuing wet books from the Syracuse University Libraries.

[Thanks to James Davis Nicoll, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Joey Eschrich, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Darrah Chavey, Greg Hullender, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cliff.]

2019 Locus Award Winners

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced the winners of the 2019 Locus Awards in Seattle during Locus Awards Weekend.

(Below) Mary Robinette Kowal accepts for N.K. Jemisin. Liza Groen Trombi of Locus stands at left.

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

FANTASY NOVEL

  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)

HORROR NOVEL

  • The Cabin at the End of the World, Paul Tremblay (Morrow; Titan UK)

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)

FIRST NOVEL

  • Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

NOVELLA

  • Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

NOVELETTE

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

SHORT STORY

  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington“, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)

SPECIAL AWARD FOR COMMUNITY OUTREACH & DEVELOPMENT

  • Mary Anne Mohanraj

ANTHOLOGY

  • The Book of Magic, Gardner Dozois, ed. (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)

COLLECTION

  • How Long ’til Black Future Month?, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

MAGAZINE

  • Tor.com

PUBLISHER

  • Tor

EDITOR

  • Gardner Dozois

ARTIST

  • Charles Vess

NON-FICTION

  • Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, Ursula K. Le Guin & David Naimon (Tin House)

ART BOOK

  • Charles Vess, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga)

2018 Nebula Awards

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) announced the winners of the 54th Annual Nebula Awards in Woodland Hills, CA on May 18.

The Nebula Awards, given annually, recognize the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the previous year. They are selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The first Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.

2018 NEBULA AWARD WINNERS

Novel

  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)

Novella

  • The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)

Novelette

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)

Short Story

  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)

Game Writing

  • Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Screenplay by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

  • Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)

OTHER AWARDS PRESENTED

The Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award

  • Lee Martindale

The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award

  • Neil Clarke
  • Nisi Shawl

Damon Knight Memorial Grandmaster Award

  • William Gibson

Tweeted photos of winners who were present:

Uncanny Magazine 2018 Favorite Fiction Reader Poll Results

The winning story in the Uncanny Magazine 2018 Favorite Fiction Reader Poll Is —

Other stories finishing in the Top Five were:

2. The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society by T. Kingfisher

3. How to Swallow the Moon by Isabel Yap

4. The Thing About Ghost Stories  by Naomi Kritzer

5. (TIE)

Pixel Scroll 1/16/19 Right After I Graduate, I’m Gonna Cut The Scrolls Off My Shoes, Sit In A Blog, And Learn To Play The Pixelhorn

(1) GHOSTBUSTERS 3. Though few details seem to be available, it looks like there will be a fourth live-action Ghostbusters movie (Variety: “Jason Reitman to Direct Secret ‘Ghostbusters’ Movie”), with a new generation of Reitman taking over in the director’s chair.

Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman.

Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise.

Reitman has also co-written a screenplay with Gil Kenan and plans to shoot the film this summer, with Sony planning to release the latest sequel in summer 2020. Insiders say this film will be a continuation of the 1984 sequel and will not be connected to the 2016 film. Sources couldn’t say if that means that the original cast members will be back, as exact story details are still being kept under wraps but sources say Reitman has begun testing teenagers for four mystery roles.

ScienceFiction.com quotes Reitman:

 “I’ve always thought of myself as the first Ghostbusters fan when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set. I wanted to make a movie for all the other fans. This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ‘80s happened in the ‘80s, and this is set in the present day.”

(2) KOWAL DECLARES SFWA CANDIDACY. Mary Robinette Kowal announced on her blog: “Dear SFWA members: I’m running for the position of President.”

…I believe that SFWA is an important organization and that volunteering for it is a way that we can each help to pay it forward by making the field stronger.  As a group, we can improve things within the industry in ways that individuals cannot, but we are dependent on our volunteers. We are dependent on you. I would very much like to help SFWA move forward so that it can continue to inform, support, promote, defend and advocate for our members.

Besides health care, what else am I interested in accomplishing?

  • New opportunities to help our members diversify their income streams
  • Strengthening the Nebula Conference as a professional development conference
  • Protecting our rights for free speech
  • Outreach to underserved and underrepresented writers in the SFF community
  • Taking full advantage of our 501c3 status to apply for grants that will allow SFWA to be a more active and useful organization for our members

John Scalzi threw his support behind her in a post today at Whatever: “Mary Robinette Kowal is Running for SFWA President and I Endorse Her Candidacy”.

…Some of you may recall that I was SFWA president once, from 2010 to 2013. Mary Robinette was my vice president for two of those years, 2010 through 2012, and was secretary of SFWA for two years before that. In my role as president, I got a chance to see her work for SFWA up close. She was, in a word, excellent. As my VP she gave me sound advice and counsel (up to and including telling me when I was wrong), she executed on policy and strategy in ways that were smart and effective, and she was my not-so-secret weapon in instances that required tact and delicacy. She was, in sum, the very best of vice-presidents….

(3) NEXT STAR WARS COMICS ON THE WAY. Marvel’s “celebration of Star Wars characters” continues in April, with epic one-shots of heroes and villains of the original film trilogy in Age of Rebellion. For more information, visit StarWars.com.

Following the legendary sagas of the Jedi, the Sith, and more from AGE OF THE REPUBLIC, join writer Greg Pak (The Incredible Hulk, Weapon H) and artist Chris Sprouse (Black Panther) for new tales about some of the most iconic Star Wars heroes and artist Marc Laming (Beckett, Star Wars Annual) for new stories about the galaxy’s most dangerous villains. With covers by Terry and Rachel Dodson, these are stories you don’t want to miss! 

Also in April, discover brand new sides of some of your favorite – and deadly – heroes and villains in AGE OF REBELLION SPECIAL #1, written by superstar team Marc Guggenheim (X-Men Gold), Jon Adams (The New Yorker, Love Romances), and Si Spurrier (Doctor Aphra), and drawn by Adams, Caspar Wijngaard (Doctor Aphra Annual), and Andrea Broccardo (Star Wars), with cover art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Guru-eFX!

(4) SFWA READINGS. There are four SFWA readings coming up in the Seattle/Portland area:

Seattle

Seattle events are held at the Wilde Rover Irish Pub and Restaurant, 111 Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033. Phone: (425) 822-8940. Readings start at 7pm and go until 8:30

  • January 29, 2019. KG Anderson, Joe Follansbee, Edd Vick
  • April 23, 2019. Rebecca Roanhorse, Kari Maaren, Sam J. Miller
  • September 10, 2019. Ted Chiang, Jack Skillingstead, Daryl Gregory
  • November 12, 2019. Jeff Grubb, Shanna Germain, Caroline M. Yoachim

Portland

Portland events are held at Lucky Lab on Hawthorne. 915 SE Hawthorne Blvd.  Portland, OR 97214. (503) 236-3555 Readings start at 7pm and go until 8:30

SFWA Link: https://www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-readers/reading-series/sfwa-northwest-reading-series/

(5) OOPS. You could be forgiven for thinking that yesterday’sTor’s promotional message contains a premature prediction, although I think it was just intended to be a list of the author’s accomplishments. See if you can spot the issue. (Image comes from here.)

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 16, 1903 Harold A. Davis. Notable as another writer of the Doc Savage novels under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson. He was the first ghostwriter to fill in for Lester Dent on Doc Savage.  Davis would create the character of  Ham’s pet ape Chemistry in Dust of Death. (Died 1955.)
  • Born January 16, 1927Anne R. Dick. Author of Search for Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982: A Memoir and Biography of the Science Fiction Writer. Her importance to Philip despite their short marriage can be appreciated in this New York Times obit for her. (Died 2017.)
  • Born January 16, 1946 Graham Masterton, 73. English horror writer with numerous titles to his credit. I want to to single out Rules of Duel, a short novel from the early 1970s that he wrote with William S. Burroughs. And The Manitou film based off his novel is a lot of bloody fun.
  • Born January 16, 1948 John Carpenter, 71. My favorite films by him? Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York.  His films include the Halloween franchise, The Thing, Starman (simply wonderful), The Philadelphia ExperimentGhosts of Mars and many other films. What do you consider him to do particularly well?
  • Born January 16, 1949 Caroline Munro, 70.Active in SF and horror films in the Fifties and Sixties. Amongst her many  films are Hammer Horror films such as Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter and Dracula A.D. 1972. Later films include Starcrash (Christopher Plummer is in it so it can’t be that bad, can it?) and At the Earth’s Core. She appeared also as Tammy, a nursing employee of a sinister health farm, in “The Angels of Death” of The New Avengers, a vastly underrated show in my opinion if only for the fact it had the young and quite sexy Joanna  Lumley on it .
  • Born January 16, 1980 Lin-Manuel Miranda, 39. Sometimes I find that the Birthday honorees have the oddest genre credits but this is the first singer and composer I’ve run across.  His first genre credit is voicing Shag Kava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens but he also gets credited as special featured composer. Next up is as composer and singer for the animated Moana film. His most recent, and I’ve no idea if he sings in it but I assume he does, is in Mary Poppins Returns 

(7) THEY’RE DEAD JIM (OR WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS). Easy come, easy go? Newsweek lets us know that, “China’s Moon Plants That Sprouted Are Already Dead.” The experiment kicked off just before the mission’s landing site on the back side of the Moon did its monthly thing and earned the otherwise misleading title Dark Side of the Moon, (No, not that Dark Side.)

Yesterday the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) announced that cotton seeds carried to the far side of the moon by its Chang’e 4 lander had sprouted, marking the first time that humans had successfully grown living material on the surface of another world.

But just a day later, it has emerged that the sprouting cotton buds died as night fell over the lunar far side, bringing the brief experiment to an end. The cotton seeds formed part of a “mini-biosphere” experiment aimed at understanding how plants and animals can grow and live on the moon.

The experiment involved a “mini-biosphere” consisting of a sealed metal canister filled with water, soil and air, which was designed to be its own self-sustaining ecosystem. To this mix, scientists added yeast, fruit fly eggs and the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and rock cress—a flowering plant in the mustard family.

The biosphere was powered by natural light from the Sun, so the death of the sprouts as the canister entered the lunar night—where temperatures can dip to as low as -280 degrees Fahrenheit—was anticipated by mission planners.

“Life in the canister would not survive the lunar night,” Xie Gengxin, leader of the experiment from Chongqing University, told Xinhua, China’s state-run, English language news agency.

(8) DISSENTING OPINION. Don’t count Abigail Nussbaum among the fans of Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch: “The Illusion of Free Will: On ‘Bandersnatch’ and Interactive Fiction” at Asking the Wrong Question.

After seven years, four seasons, eighteen episodes and two specials, the conversation around Black Mirror seems to have settled itself into distinct camps. There are those who see it as a meaningful commentary on the growing role of technology in modern society and the pitfalls of our growing dependence on it. And there are those who decry it as a cynical, reflexively anti-tech exercise in nastiness. I tend to think of myself as falling between the two extremes—there are a lot of ideas in Black Mirror that I find interesting and unique, especially when it comes to the intersection of technology and capitalism; but I often feel as if many of them have happened largely by accident. The show’s latest foray, however, the interactive movie “Bandersnatch”, written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade, has shaken my indulgence. Not only does it revel in some of Black Mirror‘s worst excesses, it’s also an extremely bad example of interactive fiction, at a moment when the form is enjoying a creative flowering.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

January 16, 1939 — The comic strip Superman appeared. Robert Kerr writes:

80 years ago today the first Superman daily strip appeared in the Houston Chronicle. This was the first place Superman had appeared outside of Action Comics. His own solo comic book was still a couple of months away. The daily strip was where Krypton was first mentioned by name and the first place Superman got a more detailed origin. This was full circle for Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Before DC Comics bought Superman for Action Comics #1, Superman was rejected by every major newspaper syndicate in the country. Before Superman pretty much created the comic book industry, cartoonist wanted their strips to be in newspapers.

(10) IT’S NOT THE WESTERN. Digg has some graphs that show “How Movie Genres Have Changed In Popularity Since 1910, Visualized”. Guess which genre is the perkiest?

The graph reveals several interesting trends. Some genres, for instance, have evidently fallen out of favor, such as musicals and westerns. In the 1930s, 15% of the movies released were musicals, while in 2018, the figure has fallen far below 5%. And although westerns saw a resurgence in the ’70s after its decline in the ’60s, the genre has had scant representation in recent years.

(11) TREK TRIVIA. ScienceFiction.com invites you to show your mastery of Star Trek and “Match The First Officer To The Starship”. The quiz is at the link.  It was tougher than I expected – I scored only 3/10!

The ships of the United Federation of Planets have a long history of service, exploration, and combat in the Star Trek Universe.  While the Captains of these ships usually end up getting most of the glory, it takes many, many crew members to effectively maintain a starship’s operations, and while the Captain is usually busy calling the shots, much of the administrative and personnel work falls to the First Officer.

This quiz will test your knowledge of those brave souls assigned to ships as the XOs.  In some cases, these characters may have only served the First Officer role for a short while; in other cases, you may see names  of officers whose adventures have squarely shown them in the second-in-command role.  This will be no easy task, but hopefully you are up for the challenge.  Engage! 

(12) ST PHONE HOME. Do you want a better ST:TOS cosplay phone? Or do you miss your flip phone? Standing on the shoulder of the Wall Street Journal (whose story is behind their paywall), Mashable proclaims that, “A rebooted Razr with a foldable smartphone screen is coming in February, report says.”

Hellooo, 2004 is calling, and it is STOKED!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Lenovo and Verizon are soon to reboot the iconic aughts Razr flip phone, with a 2019 twist — or should we say…. fold!!!

The report claims that Lenovo Group, Inc. has teamed up with Verizon as an exclusive partner to sell a new version of the Razr, based on the word of “people familiar with the matter.” 

The new Razr will be a smart phone, but it will be able to retain its flip phone form because the screen will be a foldable. It will reportedly become available as soon as February (!!!), and cost $1500. Which, ouch. But that’s maybe worth it for retro foldable screen glory?

(13) WILL THE U.S. RETURN TO SPACE THIS YEAR? The Verge: “How SpaceX’s first astronaut crew is preparing to take on a brand new spacecraft” — “If schedules hold, SpaceX could fly people this summer.”

2019 may finally be the year when American astronauts launch to orbit from American soil again, ending an eight-year drought that started when NASA’s Space Shuttle program shut down in 2011. The inaugural flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are slated to take place in the coming months, and the launches will see privately owned vehicles carrying space agency astronauts for the very first time. If the current schedules hold, California-based SpaceX may be the first one to send its vehicle to space with two NASA astronauts on board.

For this Verge Science video, we visited SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, to meet those astronauts and see what one possible future of American crewed spaceflight looks like.

(14) BUT THEN HE GETS GOOD REVIEWS.  A paper in Maine will not be ditching its book reviews after all: “Stephen King persuades newspaper not to scrap its book reviews”.

Author Stephen King – and his readers – have persuaded his local newspaper to reverse a decision to axe its book reviews.

The Portland Press Herald, based in his home state of Maine, had decided to stop running reviews of local books.

After King expressed dismay, the paper challenged him to get 100 followers to buy digital subscriptions.
His fans did not disappoint him, prompting the paper to pledge that “book reviews will return”.

(15) DISNEY MUSIC. “A Place Called Slaughter Race” from Ralph Breaks the Internet. Performed by Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, and Cast Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Phil Johnston, and Tom MacDougall

[Thanks to Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Bill, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing Firesign reference editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Pixel Scroll 7/1/18 Hand Me 5000 Pixels By Midnight Or I Reveal The Rest Of The Scroll!

(1) NEW MARKET, NEW MONEY. SF magazine Hard Universe is taking submissions. The attention-grabbing part is how writers will get paid:

Payment for authors will be SFWA profession rates of 6 cents a word.  Payment will be made at the time of publication and be made in cryptocurrency equivalent to 6 cents a word at the time of publication.

The cryptocurrency involved is described by their sponsor at the Thought Network.

Rob Furey, speaking for Hard Universe, told Facebook readers:

Cat Rambo informed me that cryptocurrency will be viewed as any other foreign currency and valued at the exchange rate on the day of payment.

Authors will be given a link to open a secure personal wallet The cryptocurrency will be deposited in there. After that you can do with it as you like.

This is the kind of fiction they’re looking for:

Welcome to Hard Universe, where the math is strong, the science both lifts and limits, and the theories are robust.  In the coming pages we will provide science fiction based on plausibility and humanity, on the stand-up potentials of the human spirit faced with the finite yet unbounded qualities of the Universe’s inbuilt rules.
At the onset, Hard Universe will be quarterly.  Each issue will launch from a classic science fiction tale to inspire modern stories in the same vein.

(2) INSPIRED BY LE GUIN. Larry Clough spotted this sign at Saturday’s protests in Washington, DC and posted it on Facebook.

(3) BEWARE BATMAN SPOILER. This is the first time I’ve had to ROT-13 a headline – and don’t read the permalink of io9’s article either if you want the surprise to be preserved: “Jryc, Ybbxf Yvxr QP Pbzvpf Fcbvyrq Ongzna naq Pngjbzna’f Jrqqvat va gur Arj Lbex Gvzrf”.

SPOILER WARNING

(Did I make that sufficiently clear??)

The New York Times has published an article whose very headline is a major spoiler for fans of the DC universe (and followers of Batman in particular). Quoting the article:

If you’re invested in Batman’s romantic life, you might want to steer cleer of the paper of record today.

Gbqnl, gur Arj Lbex Gvzrf ena n fgbel pnyyrq “Vg Whfg Jnfa’g Zrnag gb Or, Ongzna” juvpu vf nobhg gur hcpbzvat Ongzna #50, qhr bhg Jrqarfqnl jvgu jevgvat ol Gbz Xvat naq neg ol Zvxry Wnava, jvgu pbybef ol Whar Puhat naq yrggrevat ol Pynlgba Pbjyrf, nybat jvgu n oril bs thrfg negvfgf. Va vg, gur negvpyr erirnyf jung gur urnqyvar znxrf cerggl pyrne: Ongzna vfa’g trggvat zneevrq guvf Jrqarfqnl. Ongzna naq Pngjbzna, gur yrtraqnel ureb/nagv-ivyynva cnvevat, vf abg zrnag gb or. Ng yrnfg abg va gur pnaba QP Havirefr, gung vf.

(4) STAN LEE. The Los Angeles Times tries to sort out what’s happening: “As Marvel movies soar, Stan Lee sees his private life crumble, with allegations of elder abuse”.

If the life of Stan Lee were turned into a superhero movie, it would be difficult to tell the good guys from the bad.

A battle over the Marvel Comics legend’s legacy is underway, featuring a cast of characters whose competing agendas make the plot of “Avengers: Infinity War” look simple by comparison. A man who says he is Lee’s manager and caretaker was arrested this month in Los Angeles on suspicion of filing a false police report and is being investigated over alleged elder abuse, according to court filings. A court has placed Lee, 95, under the temporary guardianship of an attorney, who has received a restraining order against the manager.

Since his wife, Joan, died last year at age 93, Lee has found himself surrounded by people with unclear motives and intentions, friends and colleagues say. The decline of his private life stands in stark contrast to the soaring success of Marvel, the brand he helped to create five decades ago. The blockbuster movie adaptations released by Disney’s Marvel Studios are perennial box-office winners that have helped to keep Lee’s influence thriving among new generations.

At the center of the current dispute is Lee himself — no longer able to see or hear well, but still active enough to attend red-carpet premieres and make cameo appearances in Marvel movies. On one side is Keya Morgan, a 42-year-old memorabilia collector and dealer who became close to Lee and served as his manager and de-facto gatekeeper. On the other side is Lee’s 68-year-old daughter, J.C. Lee, and her attorney, Kirk Schenck, who have battled Morgan over access to her father and his money.

(5) AVOIDING ELDER ABUSE. At Comicbook.com, “Casey Kasem’s Daughter Addresses Elder Abuse Claims Surrounding Stan Lee”

Anti-elder abuse advocate Kerri Kasem, daughter of legendary Scooby-Doo voice actor and American Top 40 host Casey Kasem, has detailed the warning signs of elder abuse that could be affecting famed Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee.

“In the last year of my father’s life, his wife [Jean Kasem] isolated him, keeping him away from us kids, all family members, his own brother, co-workers, friends — nobody could get a hold of him,” Kasem told USA Today.

“We called the police and they couldn’t help us, and we called Adult Protective Services, and they couldn’t help us, why? There are no laws allowing adult children to see their ailing parents in this country. Soon as you turn 18, you have no rights to see your parents — unless of course you have the Kasem Cares Visitation Bill in your state — and I’ve been working for the last five years on changing the laws in this country so that adult children have rights to see their parents.”

The Kasem Cares Visitation Bill, signed into law in 2017, allows a child to petition a court for visitation of their parent without going through a lengthy trial. Per the official website, the bill has been passed in 12 states, including California, where Lee resides.

(6) TREK GRADUATES. In “Star Trek Trek Directors’ School: Rick Berman”, an interview on StarTrek.com, ST:TNG/DS9/V/E executive producer Rick Berman discusses how so many actors from these series ended up directing.  The interview opens with:

Q: How, when, and why did the so-called directors’ school come about?

A: Jonathan Frakes, who I was very close to, personally and professionally, was very interested in directing. This was around season two. My theory on that was it was a slippery slope. There were a lot of potential pitfalls. What do you do if their episode is mediocre? On the other hand, actors were extremely good candidates for episodic directing simply because they lived their lives on the sets. They saw everything that went on, technically. Being actors, they knew everything that was going on dramatically, they spoke actor-ese and they’d see the technical elements of production and camera work going on. They seemed, in a sense, better candidates for potential directors than technical people. If a cameraman or an assistant director wanted to direct – and there are exceptions to this rule — they know the technical elements, but they don’t speak the actor-ese. They don’t understand how, necessarily, to deal with actors and to deal with character work. It’s much easier for an actor who’s directing to talk to the director of photography or sound man or production designer, and get information of a technical nature than it is for an assistant director to have somebody to discuss, “How do I talk to an actor about his performance?” So, actors always seemed to me to be decent candidates for directing.

However, what I said to Jonathan was, “You need to spend some time shadowing other directors. You need to spend time going through the whole process, going through the script, going through pre-production and all the prep a director does, spending time with directors on the stage, spending time with the director as he’s prepping each day’s work and spending time with the director in editing.” This was not always easy, because these actors were busy. They didn’t have time to necessarily do that because they were working. So, they had to find time. And my feeling was if they really had a passion to do this, they’d make it their business to find time. At some point, whether it was Jonathan or me or somebody else, it became known as “going to school” prior to getting a directing assignment. Jonathan spent numerous episodes, when he was light in an episode, going to school. Even when he was busy and had a full load of pages on a specific episode, he’d find time, whether it was lunch hours, before work, after work, scenes he wasn’t doing, to do all the things I mentioned before.

StarTrek.com also promises follow ups with some of the “graduates” of this “directors’ school,” beginning with Jonathan Frakes.

(7) FIRST CONTACT. Buzz Dixon sent the link to his reminiscence: “Harlan”.

…I met him in person at Filmation Studios back in 1978, but before then we had encountered each other on the pages of Dick Geis’ Science Fiction Review.

Let me backtrack and explain.

Harlan would approve….

(8) GRIFFIN OBIT. Helen Griffin (? – 2018): British actress, playwright and anti-war activist, died 29 June, aged 59. Genre appearances; Doctor Who (two episodes, 2006), The Machine (2013).

(9) FIRMIN OBIT. Peter Firmin (1928-2018): British producer, writer and director, died 1 July, aged 89. Genre work includes the animated series Noggin the Nog (1959 and 1979) and The Clangers (1969 and 2015).

(10) YOUNG PEOPLE. James Davis Nicoll turns on the radio and has his panel listen to Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt”. Unbelievably, we here at All Bradbury All The Time are linking to a post that starts with this sentence:

I am not particularly fond of Ray Bradbury’s fiction but I know lots of people are. Logically, he seems like a safe bet when introducing young people to old SF in its various forms. The Veldt in particular was adapted to radio on a number of occasions. Paranoia about children was a common theme in the early Baby Boom years and The Veldt seems to be a prime example of the subgenre. I don’t see the attraction myself but I know I am in the minority where Bradbury was concerned. But will my young people agree with the majority or agree with me?

The X Minus One adaptation of The Veldt is here.

(11) BEHIND A PAYWALL. In the June 23 Financial Times, Nilanjana Roy discusses the successes of Marlon James and Toni Adeyemi in selling fantasy novels and how more people of color ought to be writing sf and fantasy.

Growing up in India, I read fantasy and sf classics by the dozen, ‘translating’ as I devoured The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of thee Rings, 2001, and other books.  It was easy enough to Imagine Tolkien’s orcs as similar to Indian rakshasas, or to mentally shift Dorothy to an Indian jungle where lions and monkeys travelled the Yellow Brick Road.  But rural Kansas was exotic to me.  And it was impossible to imagine writing a novel that might be read in the US or the UK where the hobbits were Indian, the Shire a version of the Punjab countryside…

…Speculative fiction is, by definition, about casting wide the net of the imagination.The excitement that James, Adeyemi, Liu Cixin and others have generated is also an index of how much richer SF could be in the future; speaking up to ‘diversity’ simply means creating more, and richer, fictional worlds to explore.  Somewhere on this planet, I hope there’s a teenager who dreams of becoming an sf writer–the next Rowling or Tolkien, yes, but also the next Adeyemi, the next (N.K.) Jemisin.

(12) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present Brooke Bolander and Angus McIntyre on Wednesday, July 18, 7 p.m. at the KGB Bar.

Brooke Bolander

Brooke Bolander writes weird things of indeterminate genre, most of them leaning rather heavily towards fantasy or general all-around weirdness. She attended the University of Leicester studying History and Archaeology and is an alum of the 2011 Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UCSD. Her stories have been featured in LightspeedTor.comStrange HorizonsUncanny, and various other fine purveyors of the fantastic. She has been a repeat finalist for the Nebula, the Hugo, the Locus, and the Theodore Sturgeon, much to her unending bafflement. Follow her at brookebolander.com or on Twitter at @BBolander

Angus McIntyre

Angus McIntyre is the author of the novella The Warrior Within, published by Tor.com. His short fiction has appeared in Abyss & Apex Magazine, and in several anthologies including Humanity 2.0Swords & SteamMission: Tomorrow, and Black Candies: Surveillance, Visit him online at https://angus.pw/ or follow him on Twitter at @angusm.

The KGB Bar is at 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs) in New York, NY.

(13) ASTRONAUT HONORED. On the day of the Summer Solstice, Ohio honored their late native John Glenn with the official opening of the John Glenn Astronomy Park. The facility is located in Hocking Hills (40 miles outside of OH capital, Columbus) and is surrounded by 10,000 acres of forest which shields it nicely from light pollution. A story on CNBC — “Ohio honors late space icon and native son John Glenn with an astronomy park—here’s a look inside” — includes photos of some of the features and events at the Park.

(14) THANKS, INTERNET. John Scalzi did a follow-up: “More Things I Don’t Miss”.  I love this one:

  1. Having to wait to listen/hear music. So, when I was 13, there was this song that came on the radio that I immediately fell in love with, but I missed the title of it, and it was electro-pop and all my friends listened to heavy metal so they were no help, and there was nothing I could do but wait to see if the radio station would play it again, and they did, but I missed the intro and they didn’t identify the song at the end, so I had to wait again for them to play it, and it wasn’t like a hugely popular hit in the US at the time, and I had to go to school and all, so it took a week before I learned the song was called “Only You” by this group called Yaz, and the album it was on wasn’t in stock at my local music store, not that I really had the money to buy it anyway, so it took another week of me skulking by the radio in my room waiting for it to come on again so I could lunge at the tape recorder I had set up when it started, which meant that for a couple of years the only version of the song I had was one missing the first ten seconds and an interlude where my mom came in and told me dinner was ready.

(15) TO SLEEP, PERHAPS. BBC reports a “Hi-tech dreamcatcher defeats sleep amnesia”. Chip Hitchcock sent the link with a comment: “A neat idea in theory, but the wake-people-up-just-in-time notion reminds me of Brunner’s ‘Such Stuff’; i.e., will people get enough dreaming done to stay sane?”

“The idea that you can take something concrete – a technology – that can help you access that poetic and metaphorical side of your own cognition is really exciting.”

To achieve this he has invented a hand-worn device he calls Dormio.

It collects biosignals that in turn track transitions in sleep stages – such as a loss of muscle tone, heart rate changes, and alterations in skin conductance.

The goal is to study a particular stage of sleep – the period between wakefulness and deep sleep, known as hypnagogia.

(16) BIRD WITH A BIG BILL. You couldn’t make this up: “Polish charity gets huge phone bill thanks to stork”. Someone stole the SIM card from a bird tracker and abused it.

According to official broadcaster Radio Poland, the environmental EcoLogic Group placed a tracker on the back of a white stork last year to track the bird’s migratory habits.

It travelled some 3,700 miles (6,000kms), and was traced to the Blue Nile Valley in eastern Sudan before the charity lost contact.

EcoLogic told the Super Express newspaper that somebody found the tracker in Sudan, removed the sim card and put it in their own phone, where they then racked up 20 hours’ worth of phone calls.

Radio Poland says that the organisation has received a phone bill of over 10,000 Polish zloty ($2,700; £2,064), which it will have to pay.

(17) GAME OVER.

http://his-name-is-alonso.tumblr.com/post/73915280633/towritelesbiansonherarms

[Thanks to Buzz Dixon, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Steve Green for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 8/4/17 Is This A File Which I See Before Me, The Pixel Toward My Hand?

(1) THE YOUTH ARE BACK. James Davis Nicoll kicks off Phase II of Young People Review Old SFF with a 1909 tale.

In the hope of selecting more accessible works, I crowd-sourced my selections and now provide my readers with more (well, any) background information on the pieces.

The first Phase II story comes from an author not generally thought of as an SFF author. E. M. Forster is perhaps best known for mainstream works like Howard’s End, A Passage to India and A Room with a View. Forster did write fantastic fiction, however. 1909’s “The Machine Stops” is the one Sfnal work of his many who rarely venture outside SF have read, thanks to all the genre anthologies that featured it. Set in a wired world not too dissimilar to our own, it hides its age well. Or so it seems to me.

(2) MUSICAL INTERLUDE. The band Clppng, whose album Splendor & Misery is a Best Dramatic: Short Form Hugo nominee, will perform in Helsinki at Worldcon 75.

(3) INSIDE LOOK. Dominic Parisien tells Black Gate readers “The Strategy Behind Disabled Stories: The What, Why, and How (but Mostly How) of Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction”.

When I started writing this article my face was spotted with burst blood cells. Earlier in the day I’d had one of my violent convulsive episodes. I was exhausted and aching but I meant to write, because it felt appropriate, topical. I’m here, after all, to write about Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue.

But I couldn’t muster the energy for more than a few lines. I lacked the spoons.

The project description goes like this: Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction is a continuation of the Destroy series in which we, disabled members of the science fiction community, will put ourselves where we belong: at the center of the story. Often, disabled people are an afterthought, a punchline, or simply forgotten in the face of new horizons, scientific discovery, or magical invention. We intend to destroy ableism and bring forth voices, narratives, and truths most important to disabled writers, editors, and creators with this special issue.

My colleagues will have guest posts and blog posts going up across a number of venues, and many of them will focus on the importance of representation, of disabled people placing ourselves at the centre of the narrative, of telling our own stories. For my part, I want to discuss the creative process for our project.

(4) ONGOING ACCESS PROBLEMS. Nicola Griffith has issued “An open letter to all writing programmes, workshops, and retreats”.

Everything you do—classes, retreats, workshops—should be accessible. Many of you are not.

I’ve heard all your excuses: But we love the quaint/rustic/boho vibe, and that will be ruined if we have to change! But we can’t have our woods/private chef/coziness if we move to an accessible space! But it’s important we give the students an inexpensive experience, and access costs money!

I have no sympathy for your excuses. To disabled writers like me it does not matter how beautiful/cosy/inexpensive your traditional/sorority/in-the-woods space is because we can’t access it. If we can’t visit, to teach or write, then it’s not beautiful or welcoming or inexpensive, it is a fenced enclosure with a huge red sign on the gate saying CRIPPLES KEEP OUT.

(5) BOMBS AWAY. Ann Hornaday’s story in the Washington Post, “Are movie reviews just more ‘fake news’? Some studios want you to think so.”, covers about Sony’s effort to suppress reviews for The Emoji Movie, which only got a score of 8 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and is sinking at the box office.  She notes that efforts by studios to produce “critic-proof” films have led to John Carter, The Mummy, Battleship, and other “high-profile bombs.”

“What other wide release with a [Tomatometer] score under 8 percent has opened north of $20 million? I don’t think there is one,” said Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution at Sony, when McClintock interviewed him. He sounded as proud as a farmer who had just sold a poke full of pigs to an unsuspecting butcher.

Greenstein may not have taken into full account the hair-tearing desperation of parents eager to distract kids whose last PG-rated animated movie was “Despicable Me 3” in late June. And he might find that his enthusiasm has dropped just as vertiginously as “The Emoji Movie’s” box office numbers, which by Monday had already plunged by more than 50 percent, indicating cataclysmic word of mouth. No matter: Sony’s following a similar playbook this week with another late-screener, “The Dark Tower,” hoping to beat discouraging reviews to the punch with the brand names of Stephen King, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. (As of this writing, with 20 critics reporting, the sci-fi fantasy had earned a 20 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a prominent green splat.)

(6) DOES ALL MEAN ‘ALL’? Variety’s Gene Maddaus, in “Judge Allows Lawsuit Claiming James Bond Box Set Was Incomplete”, says a judge in the state of Washington has ruled that Mary L. Johnson’s lawsuit against MGM can proceed to a jury trial.  Johnson said MGM violated the state of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act because she ordered a “Complete James Bond” boxed set from Amazon for $106 and didn’t get the 1967 Casino Royale or Never Say Never Again.

In his opinion, Martinez declined to dismiss the claim at this stage, and said a jury would have to decide whether the term was misleading.

“A jury must determine whether a reasonable person would expect ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’ to be included in a complete set of James Bond films,” Martinez wrote. “From the Defendants’ perspective, this claim will have to ‘Die Another Day.’”

(7) THE BIG BUCKS. Forbes has updated their annual guesstimates about what the top authors earned for the 12 months ending May 31, 2017. With new books, a play and more movies, J.K. Rowling returns to the top of their list –

  1. JK Rowling $95 million
  2. James Patterson $87 million
  3. Jeff Kinney $21 million
  4. Dan Brown $20 million
  5. Stephen King $15 million
  6. John Grisham $14 million
  7. Nora Roberts $14 million
  8. Paula Hawkins $13 million
  9. EL James $11.5 million
  10. Danielle Steel $11 million
  11. Rick Riordan $11million

(8) GOODREADS. It’s the heart of the awards season, so no wonder the Goodreads Blog has decided to celebrate this as “Science Fiction & Fantasy Week”.

  • Readers’ Top 50 Sci-Fi Novels From Ender to the hapless Arthur Dent, to returning to beloved worlds created by Ursula K. Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Octavia Butler, and many more.

The bar needed to be high. Every book on our list has at least a 4.0 average rating from Goodreads members. Unfortunately, this means that dinosaur king himself Michael Crichton failed to make the cut, along with other big names in the genre like Kim Stanley Robinson, William Gibson, and H.G. Wells. But while some classics may be missing, recent favorites from Emily St. John Mandel, Nnedi Okorafor, and Pierce Brown round out the list.

  • Readers’ Top 50 Fantasy Novels Go there and back again with novels full of legends, heroes, myths, and magic. From J. R. R. Tolkien to George R.R. Martin, these epic fantasies await readers.

These titles were chosen based on reader reviews, so every single book had to meet at least a 4.0 average rating from the Goodreads community. Then, for good measure, we looked at how many ratings each book has received. We also decided to select the first book in a series (although it’s worth noting that the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings as well as George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire have the rare distinction of being above a 4.0 rating).

Our hunt for the best YA sci-fi books on Goodreads reflects this partiality to the post-apocalypse. We set the bar high, only including books with at least a 4.0 average rating. The result? A sometimes grim, always thrilling peek into the future—where young women and men have the power to change their fates.

As we searched for the best YA fantasy on Goodreads, we stuck to books with at least a 4.0 average rating. This meant that popular titles with big film adaptations like Twilight, Eragon, and The Golden Compass missed the cut. While The Boy Who Lived made it in, surprising no one, the list is dominated by powerful girls with no time for evil royals or rampaging monsters.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 4, 1932 — Victor Halperin’s White Zombie is released theatrically.

(10) THE COMIC SECTION. Chip Hitchcock calls it “today’s cultural acknowledgment” – Pooch Cafe.

(11) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman invites you to “Share shawarma with Brooke Bolander in Episode 44 of Eating the Fantastic”.

Brooke Bolander

Brooke Bolander was on Nebula ballot that weekend in the short story category for “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” and is also on the current Hugo Awards ballot for that same story, one of the most talked-about tales of 2016. Her fiction, which has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Uncanny, and other venues, has been honored by nominations for the Locus and the Theodore Sturgeon awards as well. The Only Harmless Great Thing will be published by Tor in 2018.

We discussed how she ended up as a writer rather than a paleontologist, why the videogame Ecco the Dolphin terrified her but taught her to love science fiction, her early days writing fan fiction, how anger over the electrocution of Topsy the elephant and the deaths of the “radium girls” inspired her newest novella, why she avoids rereading her own writing, what broke the writers block that had gripped her for several years, and more.

(12) V’GER. “As the Voyager mission is winding down, so, too, are the careers of the aging explorers who expanded our sense of home in the galaxy.” The New York Times has the story: “The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe”. (May be behind a payroll, though I didn’t have any trouble gaining access, by feeding the URL through a Google search.)

A fleet of JPL trucks made the trip under armored guard to the same destination. Their cargo was unwrapped inside the hangar high bay, a gleaming silo stocked with tool racks and ladder trucks. Engineers began to assemble the various pieces. Gradually, two identical spacecraft took shape. They were dubbed Voyager I and II, and their mission was to make the first color photographs and close-up measurements of Jupiter, Saturn and their moons. Then, if all went well, they might press onward — into uncharted territory.

It took six months, working in shifts around the clock, for the NASA crew to reassemble and test the spacecraft. As the first launch date, Aug. 20, drew near, they folded the camera and instrument boom down against the spacecraft’s spindly body like a bird’s wing; gingerly they pushed it, satellite dish first, up inside a metal capsule hanging from the high bay ceiling. Once ‘‘mated,’’ the capsule and its cargo — a probe no bigger than a Volkswagen Beetle that, along with its twin, had nevertheless taken 1,500 engineers five years and more than $200 million to build — were towed to the launchpad.

(13) KING/KELLEY. Reason.com’s Glenn Garvin, in “Mr. Mercedes and Comrade Detective Breathe Life into Cop Genre Shows”, reviews Mr. Mercedes, an adaptation of a Stephen King novel available on DirecTV.  He says seeing Kelley “work with the characters devised by King is a religious experience, even if the church is Out Lady of Psychos and Degenerates.”

Even the bit players in Mr. Mercedes cannot be left unwatched for a moment; you never know when something querulous quirky or malificently malign is about to erupt.

But Kelley and his director Jack Bender (who worked on Lost as well as another King television adaptation, Under the Dome) are equally adept at the action sequences. The staging of the parking lot mayhem is a marvel of underlit suggestion and squishy sound effects that leverages a Grand Guignol impression from gore that’s actually rather petit. That’s the only thing small about Mr. Mercedes; this is big-time entertainment.

(14) ADAPTIVE LIFEFORM. PJ Media picked “The 5 Best Stephen King Book Adaptations”. Dann Todd notes, “As always, these things are pretty subjective.  This author leaves out The Green Mile.  Relative to the rest of the list I think it could supplant It as a film adaptation.”

(15) ARMENIA’S BESTSELLERS. What are the best-selling books in Yerevan, Armenia? Once a week Armenpress publishes the top 10. Would you believe that Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is #7, and Dandelion Wine is #10?

(16) THE LAMPREY STRATEGY. Brian Niemeier celebrates his Dragon Award nomination the way every true culture warrior does – by spending half his wordage insulting John Scalzi — “2017 Dragon Award FInalist The Secret Kings”. Because when your award-nominated novel has been out for eight months and has accumulated only 12 Goodreads ratings, trying to pick a fight with somebody people have heard of makes a certain nutty kind of sense.

(17) THE RIGHT WAY TO HACK. In “Why can’t films and TV accurately portray hackers?”, Mr. Robot’s Kor Adana explains how the show does it, and why others get it wrong.

Why does Hollywood get hacking so wrong?

There’s an easy explanation for this trend. Most writers, directors, and producers believe that it’s impossible to portray real hacking on screen and still have it be entertaining. (That’s why you see the cheesy game-like graphics, skulls, and expository messages on screen.) I couldn’t disagree more with this mindset.

If a scene needs flashy or inaccurate graphics on a computer in order to increase the drama or explain a plot point, there’s an issue with the writing. On Mr Robot, we work hard to ensure that the stakes of the scene and the character motivations are clear even if you have no idea how the technology works. If you do understand the technology, you have the added bonus of recognising real vulnerabilities, real desktop environments, and authentic dialogue that fits the context of the hack.

Back in the Eighties, the TV detective show Riptide used to make me laugh, as their hacker character regularly broke into IRS systems to get information that, in real life, they didn’t maintain.

(18) GENRE BENDING. Martha Wells wrote an article on eight works that blend science and magic minus typical fantasy tropes for the Barnes and Noble SF/F blog — “8 Books That Blend Science and Magic, Minus the Fantasy Tropes”. Her list includes novels (or novellas) from N.K. Jemisin, Sharon Shinn, J.Y. Yang, Kate Elliott, J. Kathleen Cheney, Emily Foster, Aliette de Bodard, and Kai Ashante Wilson.

Fantasy tropes can be great—that’s why they become tropes. But sometimes you want to read something you feel like you’ve never read before. I love secondary world fantasy books in which standard and well-known tropes are either in short supply, or have been transformed into something new and special by wildly original worldbuilding. I’ve always loved books that combine SF-nal technology and magic (I’ve done it in my own Books of the Raksura, in which technology is usually both biological and magical, and in the Ile Rien series, in which the magic often has mechanical components), and the one thing the eight books below have in common is that each uses different forms of technology combined with magic to build a fresh, fabulous fantasy world.

The Broken Earth trilogy, by N.K. Jemisin These are probably the first recent books that come to mind when someone mentions magical manipulation of science—it’s a key part of this brilliantly original setting. The Orogenes have a hereditary ability to manipulate energy in a world that has been destroyed over and over again. The main character deals with devastating losses as she explores the extent of her abilities and tries to uncover the deliberately erased history that may explain why all this is happening.

(19) NOT ENOUGH SPOONS. Milky Shot by Roy Kafri on Vimeo is a strange film about what happens when a giant alien spoon comes to Earth and tries to steal the world’s spoons!

[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, Darrah Chavey, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day GSLamb.]