(1) WILL KOSA LEAD TO DELETION OF ONLINE QUEER CONTENT? Charlie Jane Anders’ latest Happy Dancing newsletter warns “The Internet Is About to Get a Lot Worse”.
…For now at least, you can still talk freely about being trans or queer on the Internet, without fear of overt censorship*. You might well face online harassment and violent threats, and you might even face real-world consequences if you get on the radar of the worst people. But the Internet does not suppress the trans and queer stories that are being violently removed from schools, libraries, and other public spaces in much of the country right now.
That’s about to change — unless we all take action.
A new bill called the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, is sailing towards passage in the Senate with bipartisan support. Among other things, this bill would give the attorney general of every state, including red states, the right to sue Internet platforms if they allow any content that is deemed harmful to minors. This clause is so vaguely defined that attorneys general can absolutely claim that queer content violates it — and they don’t even need to win these lawsuits in order to prevail. They might not even need to file a lawsuit, in fact. The mere threat of an expensive, grueling legal battle will be enough to make almost every Internet platform begin to scrub anything related to queer people.
The right wing Heritage Foundation has already stated publicly that the GOP will use this provision to remove any discussions of trans or queer lives from the Internet. They’re salivating over the prospect.
And yep, I did say this bill has bipartisan support. Many Democrats have already signed on as co-sponsors. And President Joe Biden has urged lawmakers to pass this bill in the strongest possible terms….
(2) WRITER’S NATIONAL FRONT CONNECTION RECALLED. David A. Riley announced to readers of his blog on June 19 that his 11,600-word sword and sorcery novelette “Ossani the Healer and the Beautiful Homunculus” “has been accepted for publication – and by one of the most prestigious markets I have ever appeared in.” On July 5 he revealed that the story “will be published sometime later this year in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.”
Today someone who noticed the F&SF sale news connected Riley with his history of having once been part of the UK’s National Front.
Christopher Rowe is referring to F&SF publisher Gordon Van Gelder and editor Sheree Renée Thomas.
David A. Riley’s history with the UK’s National Front became common knowledge in 2016 after Riley was included on HWA’s Bram Stoker Award Jury. The HWA appointment became news at a time when questions were already being asked of Riley due to his involvement in the relaunch of Weirdbook. Riley reportedly answered in a no-longer-available Facebook thread. The davidandrewrileyisafascist Tumblr hosts a screenshot of the comment, which says in part:
I think I need to put the record straight. Yes, I was in the National Front for ten year from 1973 to the middle of 1983. During that time I never regarded the party as fascist, though it did have minority elements within it that undoubtedly were. …I have never regarded myself as a fascist, and certainly not a nazi. The term ‘white supremacist’ is one I don’t recognise and certainly repudiate. If you saw me associating with my ethnically diverse neighbours in Bulgaria you would not level that at me then. I know this will not convince some people, and, quite honestly, I accept that….
The relationship between Riley’s past political views and organizing activity, and his current views, and whether he should be serving on an HWA awards jury, became subjects of intense discussion. Before long HWA President Lisa Morton said he was taken off the jury by mutual agreement.
Riley was interviewed by David Dubrow shortly after the 2016 kerfuffle (“Interview With David A Riley”.) Here is a quote:
Do you feel as though you have anything to apologize for in regard to your politics, past or present?
Who should I apologize to? To those who have been baying for my blood? Most of the people involved in this debate come from the States. Since I have never been involved in politics there I should certainly not have to apologise to them. Do I regret having spent those years that I did in the National Front? Yes. If I had my time over again I would not do it. But the early seventies were a different time….
Today s. j. bagley commented on Rowe’s report about Sheree Renée Thomas’ statement:
And Rowe expressed this concern to another author:
(3) AI TRAINING PUSHBACK. [Item by Bill.] Danish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance has taken down the prominent “Books3” dataset, that was used to train high-profile AI models including Meta’s. “Anti-Piracy Group Takes AI Training Dataset ‘Books3′ Offline” reports Gizmodo. Despite being removed from their original host site, the dataset is available elsewhere on the internet.
One of the most prominent pirated book repositories used for training AI, Books3, has been kicked out from the online nest it had been roosting in for nearly three years. Rights-holders have been at war with online pirates for decades, but artificial intelligence is like oil seeping into copyright law’s water. The two simply do not mix, and the fumes rising from the surface just need a spark to set the entire concept of intellectual property rights alight.
As first reported by TorrentFreak, the large pirate repository The Eye took down the Books3 dataset after the Danish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance sent the site a DMCA takedown. Now trying to access that dataset gives a 404 error. The Eye still hosts other training data for AI, but the portion allotted for books has vanished….
(4) PURLOINED VOLUMES. And the Guardian is quite familiar with what’s in Books3: “Zadie Smith, Stephen King and Rachel Cusk’s pirated works used to train AI”.
… More than 170,000 titles were fed into models run by companies including Meta and Bloomberg, according to an analysis of “Books3” – the dataset harnessed by the firms to build their AI tools.
Books3 was used to train Meta’s LLaMA, one of a number of large language models – the best-known of which is OpenAI’s ChatGPT – that can generate content based on patterns identified in sample texts. The dataset was also used to train Bloomberg’s BloombergGPT, EleutherAI’s GPT-J and it is “likely” it has been used in other AI models.
The titles contained in Books3 are roughly one-third fiction and two-thirds nonfiction, and the majority were published within the last two decades. Along with Smith, King, Cusk and Ferrante’s writing, copyrighted works in the dataset include 33 books by Margaret Atwood, at least nine by Haruki Murakami, nine by bell hooks, seven by Jonathan Franzen, five by Jennifer Egan and five by David Grann….
(5) WEEKEND B.O. The Hollywood Reporter checked the cash registers and found “’Blue Beetle’ Box Office Opening Beats ‘Barbie,’ ‘Strays’ Gets Lost”.
…After ruling the box office roost for four weekends, Barbie fell to second place as DC’s superhero pic Blue Beetle took the top spot. It opened to an estimated $25.4 in North America. …
(6) BRADBURY MEMORIES. On Ray Bradbury’s 103rd birthday, John King Tarpinian visited his gravesite, bringing a funny book, a cake, and a dinosaur. (John always takes the cake to the cemetery office for the staff to enjoy.)
(7) BACK IN THE DAY. In this episode of Day at Night taped on January 21, 1974, host James Day speaks with Ray Bradbury about his career, the importance of fantasizing, his aspirations as a young child, his dislike of college for a writer, his idea of thinking compared to really living, and his love of the library.
(8) REMEMBERING BUSTER CRABBE. Steve Vertlieb invites fans to read his article “Careening Spaceships And Thundering Hooves: The Magic, Majesty (And Friendship) Of Buster Crabbe … And An Era” at Better Days, Benner Nights.
When I was a little kid, prior to the Civil War, I had an imagination as fertile and as wide as my large brown eyes, dreamily filled with awe and wonder. My dad brought home our first television set in 1950.
Here is an affectionate remembrance of the Saturday Matinee and 1950’s Philadelphia television when classic cliffhanger serials thrilled and excited “children of all ages”… when careening spaceships and thundering hooves echoed through the revered imaginations and hallowed corridors of time and memory…and when Buster Crabbe lovingly brought “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers,” “Red Barry,” and “Captain Gallant Of The Foreign Legion” to life in darkened movie palaces, and on television screens, all over the world.
Return with us now to “those thrilling days of yesteryear” when Zorro, Buzz Corry of the “Space Patrol,” Ming, The Merciless, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry in “The Phantom Empire,” and Larry “Buster” Crabbe lit the early days of television, and Saturday afternoon motion picture screens, with magical imagery, and unforgettable excitement. Just click on the blue link above to escape into the past, via the world of tomorrow.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 22, 1909 — Paul W. Fairman. His story “No Teeth for the Tiger” was published in the February 1950 issue of Amazing Stories. Two years later, he was the founding editor of If, but he edited only four issues. In 1955, he became the editor of Amazing Stories and Fantastic which he would hold for three years. There are several films, Target Earth and Invasion of the Saucer Men, based on his stories, plus some TV episodes as well. (Died 1977.)
- Born August 22, 1919 — Douglas W F Mayer. A British fan who was editor for three issues of Amateur Science Stories published by the Science Fiction Association of Leeds, England. He was thereby the publisher of Arthur C. Clarke’s very first short story, “Travel by Wire”, which appeared in the second issue in December 1937. He would later edit the Tomorrow fanzine which would be nominated for the 1939 Best Fanzine Retro Hugo. (Died 1976.)
- Born August 22, 1920 — Ray Bradbury. Seriously where do I start? He wrote some of the most wonderful stories that I’ve ever read, genre or not, many of which got turned into quite superb video tales on the Ray Bradbury Theater. As for novels, my absolute favorite will always be Something This Way Wicked Comes. (I’m ambivalent on the film version.) And yes I know it isn’t really a novel but The Illustrated Man I treat as such and I loved the film that came out of it with Rod Steiger in that role. Let’s not forget The Martian Chronicles. (Died 2012.)
- Born August 22, 1945 — David Chase, 78. He’s here today mainly because he wrote nine episodes including the “Kolchak: Demon and the Mummy” telefilm of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. He also wrote the screenplay for The Grave of The Vampire, and one for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Enough Rope for Two”, which he also directed.
- Born August 22, 1955 — Will Shetterly, 68. Of his novels, I recommend his two Borderland novels, Elsewhere and Nevernever, which were both nominees for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature, and his sort of biographical Dogland. Married to Emma Bull whose Finder: A Novel of The Borderlands is always highly recommended, they did a trailer for her War for The Oaks novel which is worth seeing as you’ll spot Minnesota fans in it. And Emma as the Elf Queen is definitely something to behold. Will was planning to run for Governor of Minnesota so he had collected funds for that. That instead went instead to this film
- Born August 22, 1948 — Susan Wood. She received three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer in 1974, 1977, and 1981, and a Best Fanzine Hugo as coeditor of Energumen in 1973. In 1976 she was instrumental in organizing the very first feminist panel at a con, at MidAmericon. The reaction to this helped lead to the founding of A Women’s APA and of WisCon. While teaching courses in SF at UBC, one of her students was William Gibson. “Fragments of a Hologram Rose” which is his first published story was written as an assignment in her SF class. (Died 1980.)
- Born August 22, 1963 — Tori Amos, 60. One of Gaiman’s favorite musicians, so it’s appropriate that she penned two essays, the afterword to “Death” in Sandman: Book of Dreams) and the Introduction to “Death” in The High Cost of Living. Although created before they ever met, Delirium from The Sandman is based on her. Bookriot did a nice piece on their friendship.
(10) LONE STAR REVIEWS. BookRiot challenges readers: “Can You Guess the Fantasy Book Based on Its 1-Star Reviews?” I’m surprised I’m able to say I did guess one.
We’ve all been there: You go to leave a review of an amazing book, only to see that someone has left it a dreaded 1-star review. And when you read it? Oof. Did the two of you even read the same book? Well, let’s put it to the test. Can you guess these fantasy books based only on their 1-star reviews?
I did not get this one. I should have – I read it! But then, I thought it was good. Maybe that threw me off.
“What a bore! To read a rock’s thoughts and almost nothing else happens? Please!”
“Be careful when you see a Shakespeare reference while looking for a good fantasy read. I do not recommend.”
(11) WARM UP YOUR CREDIT CARDS. “Disney Drops Another Great 4K Blu-Ray Surprise With Plush Releases Of Major Star Wars And Marvel Shows” – Forbes has the story.
…The information released by Disney today lists four initial series set to get the 4K Blu-ray and Blu-ray treatment: Loki Season One, WandaVision, The Mandalorian Season One, and The Mandalorian Season Two….
… What’s more, these TV series releases are going all-out to appeal to fans by sporting steelbook packaging for both their 4K and HD Blu-ray versions; gorgeous box art designs by artist Attila Szarka; as well as concept art cards and never-before-seen bonus features. And as perhaps the biggest surprise of all, Disney has confirmed that it will be pressing the 4K versions of these TV series releases on 100GB discs rather than the 66GB-capacity discs that it’s used for all of its previous 4K Blu-ray releases bar the two Avatar movies….
(12) WHERE’S MY JETPACK LYRICS? Here they are. Thank you, Peer, for these sympathetic words.
Jet pack crashes
A new Scroll cries
Its pixels falls to the floor
Mike opens his eyes
The confusion sets in
Before the filer can even click the box
An old scroll dies
Its pixel fall to the floor
Mike closes his tabs
The items that was in theirs
Reposted now, by the baby down the hall
Oh, now feel it being discussed again
Like a rolling thunder reported on X
Blogs pulling Items from the center of the scroll again
I can tick box now
A new scroll is born.
(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon comes to Netflix starting December 22. The way Variety sees it, “…The trailer has just about every piece of sci-fi and fantasy imagery you can imagine: a princess prophesied to end a war, spaceships raining lasers down on a hapless village, talking robots, a spider creature, a badass wielding glowing red laser swords, a flying pegasus-like animal and lots of slow-mo….”
The YouTube blurb says:
From Zack Snyder, the filmmaker behind 300, Man of Steel, and Army of the Dead, comes REBEL MOON, an epic science-fantasy event decades in the making. When a peaceful colony on the edge of a galaxy finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force, Kora (Sofia Boutella), a mysterious stranger living among the villagers, becomes their best hope for survival. Tasked with finding trained fighters who will unite with her in making an impossible stand against the Mother World, Kora assembles a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge. As the shadow of an entire Realm bears down on the unlikeliest of moons, a battle over the fate of a galaxy is waged, and in the process, a new army of heroes is formed.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Bill, Steven French, Dan Bloch, Steve Vertlieb, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, and Chris Barkley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]