Pixel Scroll 4/24/24 The City With Two Dates Twice

(1) NAOMI KRITZER Q&A. Hear from Naomi Kritzer in this 2024 Minnesota Book Awards roundup: “Meet the Finalists: GENRE FICTION”.

Minnesota Book Award finalist Andrew DeYoung (2023) moderated a discussion between all four 2024 finalists in contention for the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction: C.M. Alongi, author of Citadel (Blackstone Publishing); Tashia Hart, author of Native Love Jams  (self-published); Naomi Kritzer, author of Liberty’s Daughter (Fairwood Press); Emma Törzs, author of Ink Blood Sister Scribe (William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers).  The Minnesota Book Awards are sponsored by Education Minnesota; Macalester College is the 2024 category sponsor for the Genre Fiction category.

(2) MURDERBOT’S VOICE. AudioFile Magazine has been “Talking with Author Martha Wells” about the audio versions of her series.

…This relatability is part of what has made The Murderbot Diaries so beloved. Golden Voice Kevin R. Free, who has narrated all of the unabridged audiobooks in the series, says that fans regularly reach out to him to tell him that they’ve listened over and over again. “When people say, ‘It’s comforting to me when I listen to this,’ I just feel so happy that I’m bringing people comfort.” Free stresses that he’s also a fan of the books, and he’s quick to give full credit to Wells….

(3) APPLY FOR SLF OLDER WRITERS GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation will accept applications for the 2024 Older Writers Grant from May1 through May 31. The complete guidelines are here.

Since 2004, the $1,000 Older Writers Grant has been awarded annually to writers who are at least fifty years of age at the time of application to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. These funds may be used as each writer determines will best assist their work. This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature.

Grant applications are open to all: you do not need to be a member of SLF to apply for or receive a grant. Launched in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the Speculative Literature Foundation addresses historical inequities in access to literary opportunities for marginalized writers. Our staff and board are committed to representing racial, gender, and class diversity at all levels of our organization. This commitment is at the heart of what the Speculative Literature Foundation stands for: equal access to create and advance science fiction, fantasy, and horror literature. We strive to enable writers at any stage of their career and of any age, any ethnicity, any gender expression, from any location and of any economic or social status, who want to learn about, or create within, the speculative arts. The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

(4) NEW VOLUME IN THE TAFF LIBRARY. Sue Mason’s Into the Wide Purple Yonder: A Fan Artist in America, a report of her westbound TAFF trip to the USA and the 2000 Chicago Worldcon (Chicon 2000), was published in 2023 by Alison Scott, illustrated with many photographs and artwork by Sue herself. David Langford says it now has been “Added to the TAFF site with the kind permission of Sue and Alison on 24 April 2024.” Cover artwork by Sue Mason.

(5) DOES THIS WARNING SOUND FAMILIAR? Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders devote their latest Our Opinions Are Correct podcast to “Fascism and Book Bans (with Maggie Tokuda-Hall)”.

Science fiction has been warning us about fascism for decades — so why haven’t we listened? How did Nazis become just another monster in our stories, like werewolves or cyborgs? Plus we talk about the new wave of book censorship with Maggie Tokuda-Hall, co-founder of the new organization Authors Against Book Bans.

(6) POWER PACKED. CBR.com lists the “13 Most Powerful Artifacts In The Marvel Universe (That Most Fans Forgot Exist)”. We’ll begin by reminding you about —

#13 — Casket Of Ancient Winters

First Appearance: Thor (Vol. 1) #346, by writer/penciler Walt Simonson, inker Terry Austin, colorist Christie Scheele, and letterer John Workman Jr.

Created by the frost giants, this ancient weapon has limitless power stored within it. The Casket of Ancient Winters can unleash a devastating icy wind that can consume entire worlds. It often gets forgotten because it has been stored in Odin‘s treasure room safely for years.

The Casket of Ancient Winters briefly appeared in the MCU. Loki used it to help the frost giants take over Asgard. His plan was unsuccessful, and the artifact remained locked in Odin’s vault, but it is an endlessly powerful tool that has been seemingly forgotten by Marvel fans.

(7) SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY JOURNAL APPRECIATION OF DEB GEISLER. “In memory of Deborah Geisler: a life of impact” – read the complete article in The Suffolk Journal.

…Geisler was known for her snark and humor, from her cherished pocket constitution to her in-class commentary. In her beloved 1980s Mazda GLC, Geisler was a vibrant presence on campus, one that worked to push her students just as much as she worked to foster their passion for journalism.

Edwards, who had a class with Geisler in the spring of 2020 at the start of the coronavirus in 2020, said her spirit was pivotal to maintaining community and morale throughout Zoom classes.

“Through the transition to virtual learning, Deb made it so all about the students. She put her students before herself, she again always found time to make us laugh. She was very, very flexible. She really was just great,” said Edwards.

Geisler was heavily involved in the Suffolk and Boston communities. At Suffolk, she was the adviser to The Suffolk Voice. Her passion for all things science fiction led her to chair Noreascon 4, the 2004 World Science Fiction Convention, along with her involvement in conventions through the years….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born April 24, 1930 Richard Donner. (Died 2021.) Tonight we have Richard Donner who has entered the Twilight Zone, errr, the Birthday spotlight. As a genre producer, he’s responsible for some of our most recognizable productions.

His first such works was on The Twilight Zone (hence my joke above in case you didn’t get it) as he produced six episodes there including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. He’d go on to work in The Sixties on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Get Smart!, and The Wild Wild West. He closed out this period by producing Danger Island (which I’ve never heard of) where, and I quote IMDB, “Archaeologists are being pursued by pirates around an island in the South Pacific. On this island, various adventures await them.” It’s at least genre adjacent, isn’t it?

Richard Donner in 1979. Photo by Alan Light.

So forty-eight years ago and then two years later, he directs not one but two now considered classic films in two very different genres. First out was The Omen with an impressive cast far too long to list here that got mixed reviews but had an audience that loved and which birthed (that’s deliberate) a franchise and garnered two Oscar’s nominations.

Next out was, oh guess, go ahead guess, Superman. Yes, it would win a much-deserved Hugo at Seacon ’79. DC being DC the film had a very, very difficult time coming to be and that was true of who directed the film with several sources noting that Donner may have been much as the fourth or fifth choice to do so. Or more.

So what did he do post-Superman? Well something happened during the production of Superman II and he was replaced as director by Richard Lester during principal photography was Lester receiving sole directorial credit.  That being most likely tensions, and that was the polite word, which he had with all of the producers concerning the escalating production budget and production schedule. Mind you both films were being shot simultaneously. 

If you’re so inclined, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released oddly enough when the film came out so I’m assume he had the legal right to do so which I find damn odd. 

He did go on to direct The Goonies. Now I really don’t think it’s genre, but I will say that the treasure map and the premise of treasure make it a strong candidate for genre adjacent, wouldn’t you say? Truly a great film! 

He went on to direct one of my favorite Bill Murray films, Scrooged. The Suck Fairy says she still likes that film and will agree to watch it every Christmas as long as there’s lots of hot chocolate to drink

His last work was a genre one, Timeline, about a group of archaeologists who travel back to fourteenth century France, based on a Michael Crichton thriller.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) SUN-RELATED SFF ON LEARNEDLEAGUE. [Item by David Goldfarb.] There was a One-Day Special quiz about the Sun recently. Most of it isn’t relevant to our interests, but there were two questions involving SFF:

4.  In the Marvel Universe, Brazilian mutant Roberto da Costa draws powers from the Sun that include super strength, flight, and the ability to generate blasts of energy. What superhero name does da Costa use as a member of both the X-Men and the New Mutants?

Only 17% of players knew this was “Sunspot”.

7.  The 1953 science fiction story “The Golden Apples of the Sun” follows a spaceship tasked with approaching the Sun and trying to literally capture a sample of its material within a giant metal cup operated by a robot hand. The title of the story was taken from a line in the 1899 poem “The Song of Wandering Aengus.” Name either the author of the sci-fi story (who is American) or the writer of the namesake poem (who is Irish).

45% of players got this one. The poet was William Butler Yeats; I won’t insult Filers by giving the name of the SF author.

If anyone is curious about the whole quiz they can find it by following this link.

(11) WINNING WITH BREATHABLE AIR. NPR explains how “New Catan board game introduces climate change to gameplay”.

In the original version of the popular board game Settlers of Catan, players start on an undeveloped island and are encouraged to “fulfill your manifest destiny.” To win you have to collect resources and develop, claiming land by building settlements, cities, and roads.

A new version of the board game, Catan: New Energies, introduces a 21st-century twist — pollution. Expand responsibly or lose. In the new version, modern Catan needs energy. To get that energy players have to build power plants, and those plants can run on renewable energy or fossil fuels. Power plants operated on fossil fuels allow you to build faster but also create more pollution. Too much pollution causes catastrophes….

(12) SANCTIONS IGNORED. “New Isekai Anime Series Believed to Have Been Outsourced to North Korea”CBR.com tells what raised people’s suspicions.

…This week, 38North published an article revealing that a North Korean animation studio was believed to have worked on the upcoming anime Dahlia in Bloom. This is despite sanctions currently being observed forbidding businesses from working with state-owned North Korean companies. An analysis of leaked files shows that the North Korean studio was likely April 26 Animation Studio, also known as SEK Studio. 38North adds that the studio is North Korea’s leading animation studio, producing many series for domestic TV.

Analysis of the files has also revealed that instructions in Chinese were provided to the North Korean studio, with 38North adding that a Chinese company likely acted as an intermediary between the North Korean studio, Dahlia in Bloom‘s animation studio and others. Other animated series the studio is believed to have worked on are HBO’s Iyanu, Child of Wonder and Invincible Season 3. Files have also been identified that may suggest a relationship with the Japanese animation studio Ekachi Epilka (Demon Lord, Retry!).

Despite its many risks, outsourcing in the Japanese anime industry is often done due to significantly lower labor costs.…

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Phil Foglio recommended a video – “The Process: Inking Old-School”.

[Thanks to Steven French, Teddy Harvia, Kathy Sullivan, Michael J. Walsh, David Goldfarb, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, and SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day OGH.]

Pixel Scroll 3/23/24 Please Be Aware That The Closest Pixel Might Be Behind You

(0) The Saturday Scroll will be a short one. I am on my way to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday — which will feel a bit incongruous because I’m still shocked and saddened by this first piece of news:

(1) DEB GEISLER, FN (1957-2024). Dr. Deborah M. Geisler (Deb), chair of Noreascon 4, the 2004 Worldcon, died today at the age of 66.

Her husband, Mike Benveniste, announced on Facebook that she passed at home while resting comfortably under hospice care after a long battle with lung and heart disease.  He added:

Deb was, at her core, a teacher.  As a professor of Communication and Journalism at Suffolk University, she touched the lives of students for over 30 years.  Deb never stopped caring profoundly about her students and the material she taught.  She was also a science fiction fan, fellow of NESFA, and conrunner and made many friendships in that community. 

She was chair of Noreascon 4, a Boskone, the 2004 Worldcon, and volunteered her time, experience, and snark to many other conventions. She was also the love of my life — we would have been married 33 years this October.

Deb is survived by her sister Libby and brother Doug as well as her extended family.  I will post arrangements for a wake and a memorial in the future once I know them.

Deb Geisler in 2015. Photo by Michael Benveniste.

(2) FRANK R. PAUL AWARDS DEADLINE. The submission window for the Frank R. Paul Awards closes March 31. The relaunched award will be presented at the 2024 NASFiC in Buffalo. Award administrator Frank Wu reminds artists:

Frank R. Paul was the first great science fiction magazine artist; he did the covers for the first few years of Amazing Stories, and Ray Bradbury, Forry Ackerman and Arthur C. Clarke were enticed into this field by his art. The FRP awards for best book cover and magazine cover art offer a $500 honorarium for each. Any artist, author, editor or publisher can submit up to 5 of their own works from 2023; the awards are open to everyone, including pro, semi-pro, fan or indie. Reprinted works are fine, as long as the art is new for 2023. The award winners will be determined by a panel of judges, and Frank R. Paul’s grandson Bill Engle is a member of the award committee. 

For more information, please see the award website or contact the chief awards administrator, Frank Wu, at [email protected].

The Frank R. Paul Awards were last run in 1996 by Kubla-Khan and the Nashville SF Association. Frank Wu is funding the first year’s award. For subsequent years they will be setting up a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and taking donations. 

(3) COIN OF THE REALM. “Coming to a Galaxy Near You – The Royal Mint Launches New Star Wars™ Range”.

The Millennium Falcon today (Monday 18th March) landed onto an official UK coin, as The Royal Mint unveils its latest collectable Star Wars™ coins and bullion bars.

Following the success of its first Star Wars coin series, Series 2 is dedicated to the franchise’s iconic vehicles. Designed by Ffion Gwillim, the first coin is the series depicts the infamous Millennium Falcon, one of the most recognised and celebrated vehicles in the Star Wars galaxy. Collectors and fans will enjoy the coin’s unique lenticular feature, depicting a silhouette of the Millennium Falcon and the Rebel Alliance ‘Starbird’ symbol.

Combining traditional minting techniques with modern technology, The Royal Mint’s craftspeople have faithfully reproduced the Star Wars vehicles for the first time on official UK coins. The lenticular feature, which tilts in the light to reveal symbols, is favourited by coin collectors, and demonstrates The Royal Mint’s specialised striking techniques. An advanced picosecond laser was used to imprint the intricate designs onto coin making tools to ensure exquisite accuracy.

Other coins launching in 2024 will showcase a TIE FighterX-Wing, and Death Star II.

(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY.

[Written by Cat Eldridge.]

Born March 23, 1952 Kim Stanley Robinson, 72. If the Mars trilogy was the only work that Kim Stanley Robinson had written, he’d rank among the best genre writers ever. So let’s talk about it. The trilogy consists of Red MarsGreen Mars and Blue Mars plus The Martians collection of short stories which I’ve not read because I didn’t know it existed until now. 

(He wrote another Mars set novel prior to this, Icehenge, but it is not related to this continuity however it shares much of its themes.)

Kim Stanley Robinson reading at Boskone 57 in 2020. Photo by Daniel Dern.

The trilogy with its colonizing and terraforming of Mars told through many narratives is quite fascinating. The use of multiple narratives isn’t by any means my favorite approach to telling a story but works perfectly here and I can’t imagine a more traditional approach working here. 

Red Mars won a BSFA and Nebula. Green Mars and Blue Mars won Hugos.

Then he went and wrote the outstanding Three Californias Trilogy. The novels that make up the trilogy are The Wild ShoreThe Gold Coast and Pacific Edge. I’ve only spent brief periods of time there, though I lived in both states north of there, but I found his creation of three possible future Californias rather interesting. 

May I note that the Science in the Capital series (Forty Signs of RainFifty Degrees Below, Sixty Days and Counting) is one perhaps that I can’t judge fairly as I didn’t like the first novel so I stopped there. 

His best one-off novels I think are without argument (ha!) The Years of Rice and Salt and New York 2140.  Now I’ll admit that’s based at, in part, on the fact that he’s written a lot of novel outside of the series I’ve read such as The Ministry for the Future with future generations being vested now which sounds interesting and  and Red Moonwell. 

He’s won way, way too many Awards to go into in detail, but I’ll will note that he won both the Robert A. Heinlein Award for everything that he done to that date, and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in service to society. 

(5) VIDEO OF THE DAY. The Season 1 trailer for the new Doctor Who has dropped.

[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Frank Wu, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]

Pixel Scroll 6/26/19 Pixel Scroll Powers Activate!

(1) HILL HOUSE. Whatever DC Comics’ other problems may be, they’re pretty sure they can sell this: “DC Launching New Horror Line From Writer Joe Hill”.

Hill House Comics will consist of five miniseries and debut this October. Just days after announcing the closure of the DC Vertigo imprint, DC is signaling that it hasn’t moved away from creator-owned comic book material. The publisher has announced a new pop-up imprint, Hill House Comics, curated by horror writer Joe Hill.

The line of five original miniseries — each one targeted to readers 17 and older — will feature two titles written by the Fireman and Heart-Shaped Box author himself, with all five titles including a secondary strip, “Sea Dogs,” also written by Hill. Other titles will be written by The Girl With All The Gifts author Mike Carey, playwright and The Good Fight screenwriter Laura Marks, and critically acclaimed short story writer and essayist Carmen Maria Machado. Artists for the line include Sandman veteran Kelley Jones, as well as The Unwritten’s Peter Gross.

(2) CAFFEINE SEEKERS. Ursula Vernon has the most interesting conversations. Thread starts here.

(3) WESTERCON/NASFIC. The Spikecon program is live — https://spikecon.org/schedule/

(4) NET FANAC. In 2017, The Guardian tracked down these behind-the-scenes fan creators: “Watchers on the Wall: meet the rulers of the world’s biggest TV fan sites”. Whovian.net’s Dan Butler said:

I was 12 when Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005, and at school it was seen as nerdy. Because I had no one to talk to about it, I created a website to show my love. I wrote reviews of the episodes and used a website builder, then later I built a site from scratch.

What I loved about the show was the idea that you could be walking down the street and meet the Doctor, and your life could change forever. I liked the balance between domestic drama and science fiction – the first series was like watching a soap one scene, and Star Trek in the next. For me, Christopher Eccleston, who was my first Doctor, is the closest to how I think the part should be; if you walked past him, he wouldn’t stand out. Since then, the Doctors have been more flamboyant – more alien.

(5) WHERE PULP HISTORY WAS MADE. This was once the headquarters of Street & Smith’s pulp magazine empire, which after 1933 included Astounding: “The 1905 Street & Smith Building – 79-89 Seventh Avenue” at Daytonian in Manhattan

In 1928 the firm took made an innovative marketing move by hiring the Ruthrauff & Ryan Advertising Agency to produce a radio program to promote Detective Story Magazine.  Called “The Detective Story Hour,” it was introduced and narrated by a sinister voice known as “The Shadow.”  His tag line became familiar to radio listeners across the country:  “The Shadow knows…and you too shall know if you listen as Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine relates for you the story of…” whatever story was featured that week.

As it turned out, The Shadow’s character was so successful that it detracted from the Detective Story sales.  Street & Smith decided the best way to handle the problem was to introduce a new magazine featuring The Shadow.

(6) STAND ON ZANZIBAR. Extra Credit makes John Brunner sound absolutely prescient.

How do we cope with a crowded world we as humans were never evolutionarily designed for? Stand on Zanzibar was written in 1968 but it uncannily, accurately predicts many of our present day’s social tensions and stressors. However, it also has a certain optimism that makes it stand out among other dystopic fiction we’ve discussed.

(7) ARISIA CORRECTS GOH LIST.  Saladin Ahmed proved to be unavailable after Arisia 2020 prematurely announced him as a Guest of Honor. There was a tweet —

He had also been added to the Arisia 2020 website (still visible in the Google webcache at this time). When his name was taken down without an announcement, there was curiosity about the reason.

I asked Arisia President Nicholas “phi” Shectman, and he replied:

Saladin was invited and let us know that he was interested but had to check availability. We misunderstood and made an announcement (and put his name on our web site) prematurely. It turns out he’s unable to make it this year. We’ve apologized to him privately and are preparing a public retraction.

(8) OTHER ARISIA NEWS. Arisia Inc.’s discussion of how to improve its Incident Report process, and the determinations made about some of the IR’s (with no names cited) are minuted in the May issue and June issue of Mentor.

The June issue also gave an update about the litigation over Arisia’s cancellation of plans to use two strike-affected hotels (for the 2019 event):

Hearings for the Westin and Aloft disputes are still scheduled for July 11 and June 25 respectively. We have hired Deb Geisler as an expert witness to testify about how hard it is to change hotels at the last minute, in support of our assertion that the deadline we gave the Westin for the strike to be resolved was the actual latest we could wait before canceling with them. I still think there is an 80% chance that we will prevail and if we do we will still be in the Westin. I also still expect to know the answer in late July or early August.

…Deb is a professor at BU, teaches non-profit event management, has chaired Intercon, we mainly selected her because she has academic credentials

Deb Geisler also chaired Noreascon 4 (2004).

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 26, 1904 Peter Lorre.  I think his first foray into genre was in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea film as Comm. Lucius Emery though he was in Americanized version of Casino Royale which an early Fifties episode of the Climax! series as Le Chiffre. (James was called Jimmy. Shudder!) Other genre roles were in Tales of Terror as Montresor in “The Black Cat” story, The Raven as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo and The Comedy of Terrors as Felix Grille. (Died 1964.)
  • Born June 26, 1910 Elsie Wollheim. The wife of Donald A. Wollheim. She was one of the original Futurians of New York, and assisted them in their publishing efforts, and even published Highpoints, her own one-off fanzine. When he started DAW Books in 1972, she was the co-founder, and inherited the company when he died. Their daughter Elizabeth (Betsy) now runs the company along with co-publisher and Sheila E. Gilbert. (Died 1996.)
  • Born June 26, 1950 Tom DeFalco, 69. Comic book writer and editor, mainly known for his Marvel Comics and in particular for his work with the Spider-Man line. He designed the Spider-Girl character which was his last work at Marvel as he thought he was being typecast as just a Spider-Man line writer. He’s since been working at DC and Archie Comics.
  • Born June 26, 1969 Lev Grossman, 50. Author of most notable as the author of The Magicians Trilogy which is The Magicians, The Magician King and The Magician’s Land. Perennial best sellers at the local indie bookshops. Understand it was made into a series which is yet another series that I’ve not seen. Opinions on the latter, y’all? 
  • Born June 26, 1969 Austin Grossman, 50. Twin brother of Lev. And no, he’s not here just because he’s Lev’s twin brother. He’s the author of Soon I Will Be Invincible which is decidedly SF as well as You: A Novel (also called YOU) which was heavily influenced for better or worse by TRON and Crooked, a novel involving the supernatural and Nixon. He’s also a video games designed, some of which such as Clive Barker’s Undying and Tomb Raider: Legend are definitely genre. 
  • Born June 26, 1980 Jason Schwartzman, 49. He first shows up in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as Gag Halfrunt,  Zaphod Beeblebrox’s personal brain care specialist. (Uncredited initially.) He  was Ritchie in Bewitched, and voiced Simon Lee in  Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation. He co-wrote Isle of Dogs alongwith Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Kunichi Nomura. I think his best work was voicing Ash Fox in Fantastic Mr. Fox. 
  • Born June 26, 1984 Aubrey Plaza, 34. April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation which at least one Filer has insisted is genre. She voiced Eska in recurring role on The Legend of Korra which is a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. She was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as Julie Powers. Currently she’s Lenny Busker on Legion. 

(10) MCINTYRE MEMORY BOOK. Remembering Vonda, the memorial book of anecdotes and sentiments about the late Vonda McIntyre, is not only available for sale as trade paperback ($12.12), but can be downloaded as a free PDF.

TRADE PAPERBACK 
FREE PDF

Jane Hawkins had an idea: to collect all the lovely stories written around Vonda’s death, and to put them in one place for us all to enjoy. This book is that place.Stephanie A. Smith and Jeanne Gomoll joined forces to edit the book. Vonda’s community—her friends, colleagues, readers, and admirers—shared their fondest memories, stories, praise and love for the dear friend they had recently lost.

All proceeds from books sold through LuluDotCom will benefit Clarion West.

(11) DEAL TERMINATOR. Unfortunately, most of the article is behind Adweek’s paywall, but the photo is funny: “Arnold Schwarzenegger Kicks ‘Gas’ as a Used Car Salesman in This Parody for Electric Vehicles”.

It’s no surprise that a cheesy used-car salesman like Howard Kleiner, sporting a man-pony, a Hawaiian shirt and a porn ‘stache, would be into throwback gas guzzlers. For him, it’s V8 or nothing, and if you pick the wrong vehicle on his lot, he may hand you a snide bumper sticker that says, “Carpool lanes are for sissies.”

(12) HISTORY THAT IS EVEN MORE ALTERNATE THAN USUAL. Jered Pechacek is determined to explain to us “WHY you can’t LEGALLY MARRY CLAMS in the STATE OF MAINE.” Thread starts here. Even easier to follow at Threadreader.

Oh yes, let freedom ring.

(13) CONVERTIBLE FALCON. Not much gets by Comicbook.com“Funko’s Massive Star Wars Millennium Falcon with Han Solo Pop is Live”.

Today, out of nowhere, Funko launched a Deluxe Star Wars Millennium Falcon with Han Solo Pop figure today that must be among the largest that they have ever produced. It measures a whopping 5.5″ tall, is 10.5″ wide and 13.25″ long with a price tag to match – $64.99.

(14) THE MOUSE THAT ROARS. NPR tells you how it’s going to look from now on: “‘Endgame’ Nears All-Time Record, And The Age Of The Disney Mega-Blockbuster Is Upon Us”.

There’s been some question about whether Avengers: Endgame will knock global box-office champ Avatar out of first place in Hollywood’s record books.

…Now, you’d think the threat that Disney might swipe the crown away from Fox would prompt wails of anguish, but it’s hard for the folks at Fox to be too upset.

Because these days, Disney owns Fox.

Which means Disney doesn’t just own the Marvel Universe — and Star Wars, which it bought a few years ago — it now also owns Avatar. And that fact is about to change the way the rest of Hollywood is forced to do business.

…In its first week, Avengers: Endgame sold 88% of the movie tickets that were purchased in North America, leaving just 12 percent to be split by more than a hundred other movies that might as well not have been open. Go back to other mega-blockbusters, and you see the same thing. they take up all the oxygen. Avengers: Infinity War, The Last Jedi, The Force Awakens, Black Panther each took in about 80 percent of their opening weekends, crushing everything else at the multiplex. Small wonder that other studios have learned to steer clear of these all-consuming box office behemoths.

…Every studio opens something big in late December, which has resulted for years in a happy flotilla of blockbusters that play to different audience segments, lifting all boats.

But Disney recently made an announcement that’s going to change that. Now that the company controls all of the franchises in the 2-billion-dollar club (Marvel, Star Wars and Avatar), it doesn’t have to play chicken with other studios about opening dates — it can just claim them.

And it’s done that … for the next eight years.

(15) IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR. “Spirited Away: Japanese anime trounces Toy Story 4 at China box office” — BBC has the numbers.

Japanese animation Spirited Away has dominated the Chinese box office over its opening weekend, making more than twice as much as Disney’s Toy Story 4.

The Studio Ghibli film grossed $27.7m (£21.8m), according to Maoyan, China’s largest movie ticketing app.

Spirited Away was officially released in 2001, but only now, 18 years later, has it been released in China.

However, many Chinese viewers grew up with the film, having watched DVDs or pirated downloads.

…China has a strict quota on the number of foreign films it shows.

One analyst told the BBC last year that political tensions between China and Japan in the past could be why some Japanese movies had not been aired in China until very recently.

(16) HOW TO FIND IT AGAIN. WIRED’s Gretchen McCullough praises Hugo-nominated Archive of Our Own in “Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online”.

…The Archive of Our Own has none of these problems. It uses a third tagging system, one that blends the best elements of both styles.

On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don’t have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling. Wrangling means that you don’t need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don’t need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you….

(17) SCOOPS AHOY. Delish says get ready to stand in line in Indiana, er, Burbank: “Baskin-Robbins Is Recreating The Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Shop From ‘Stranger Things'”.

Deep into any Netflix binge of Stranger Things, it’s easy to get sucked into the misadventures of Eleven and co. and wonder what a day in the life of a character would be like. Baskin Robbins is making this marathon-fueled fever dream one step closer to a reality. The ice cream retailer announced on Wednesday that they’ll be recreating the Stranger Things Scoops Ahoy Ice Cream Shop.

Lick your ice cream cone like its 1985 at a Burbank, CA, installation in its Baskin-Robbins location. Designed to reflect the ice cream parlor located inside the food court of Starcourt Mall—which is frequented by Hawkins, IN locals—you can visit from Tuesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 14.

Not only does a press release boast replicas of nautical décor and staff uniforms (like you could forget Steve Harrington and Robin’s shifts scooping sundaes there), but also show-inspired treats. Previously announced Stranger Things flavors, which have been teased relentlessly on the company’s Instagram, will be ready for consumption and include:

Flavor of the Month, USS Butterscotch: Inspired by the Scoops Ahoy shop at the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins, IN, the July Flavor of the Month is a decadent butterscotch-flavored ice cream with butterscotch pieces and a toffee-flavored ribbon. Also available in pre-packed quarts.

(18) SPIDER-MAN THEME REVISITED. Mark Evanier pointed out this music video on News From Me.

We love a cappella singing on this site and Will Hamblet told me about this one. It’s the theme from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon show as rendered by a vocal quartet called Midtown. The snazzy video was, they say, shot entirely on an iPhone using the iMessage comic filter.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Kathy Sullivan, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, JJ, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 8/12 Scroll My Tears, the Policeman Said

Pompeii, Krakatoa, Sasquan — only one of them was a science fiction convention…

(1) Dilbert bypasses actual writing to work on social media marketing for his sci-fi novel.

Yes, sometimes there is a fine line between documentary and parody.

(2) SF Signal’s new Mind Meld “Exploring Fear in Fiction” poses this question to its participants:

How do you use the fears that fascinate you in your writing, and how do the things in those dark recesses and corners of your mind come to the fore? What authors evoke the fears lurking in your own head and how do they do it?

Rising to meet the challenge: Stina Leicht, Kendare Blake, Robert Jackson Bennett, David Annandale, Lisa Morton, Mercedes M. Yardley, Mark Yon, David Nickle, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Andrew Pyper, Kate Maruyama, Anna Yeatts, Tiemen Zwaan, K. V. Johansen.

(3) Camestros Felapton (Nick asks, is that your real name?) has produced a literal (did I use that word right CPaca?) map of the 2015 Puppy kerfuffle.

A map of the various websites and groupings involved in the on-going internet kerfuffle over the Hugo Awards. Most symbols don’t really mean anything. Groupings of bloggers under a heading in bold. Crossed swords represent places where a notable discussion/argument etc occurred. This may include Brad Torgersen explaining what he intended or some kind of deceleration of intent (e.g. a boycott) or somebody pointing out what somebody else had done.

Several people offered corrections and suggestions. The best is CPaca’s plaint, “What, you couldn’t have a little Tank driving off a cliff in Marmot Gulch?”

(4) Sarah A. Hoyt’s version of the past six months of Puppies, “The goat kicks back”, shuffles the cards and deals them in a way that makes sense to her. That generally means belittling critics, or treating them as if they don’t have agency.

Which brings up “I’ll walk with you.”

I like Vonda and read her long before I came here.  And I’m sure all she’s heard is the game of telephone in her circles, the same nonsense that convinced the dim bulb Irene Gallo that we’re all “right wing extremists.”  I’m just going to say she’s trying to be nice, and the reprehensible people in this equation are the ones who so “Othered” Sad Puppies as to convince her we’re some kind of bigots.

To borrow Mark’s description in a comment here: “It’s a whistlestop tour through puppy history, illustrated with out-of-context screen shots and bizarre conflations of different events, culminating in identifying a clearly satirical website as an attempt to trick potential puppies.”

(5) Chris Meadows sums up the Antonelli story for TeleRead and makes a reliable prediction:

This is really something in the nature of a pre-game show to the kerfuffle that will invariably follow the announcement of this year’s Hugo winners (or “No Award” votes, as the case might be). No matter who wins, or whether nobody wins, some people won’t be happy, and there will be plenty of ranting and grumbling from both sides. And the Puppies will emerge determined to do even better (or worse) next year—which they might well be able to do, since Worldcon bylaws mean that no change designed to rebalance the procedure can go into effect until two years after it was proposed.

I just keep thinking of the old aphorism about academic politics being so vicious because there is so little at stake. It occurs to me that could very easily describe the politicking over literary awards, too.

(6) Although Ann Somerville’s primary interest is rebutting selected statements by K. Tempest Bradford, in the process she distilled the latest kerfuffle into a few well-chosen, pungent words.

As letting Antonelli off the hook, this is simply bullshit. No one in the comments on that post is saying “Antonelli should be let off the hook or let’s wait and see or oh it was so long ago”. The only defenders of Antonelli I’ve heard about at all have been his Sad/Rabid Puppy fellow travellers. Even at the very start of this, when all we knew about Antonelli is what he’d done to Gerrold, his apology, and Gerrold’s acceptance, there were easily half of those commenting condemning him outright and saying the apology was self-serving. The others thought Gerrold had been generous and on the face of it, the apology matched the offence. The more information we have had about Antonelli’s behaviour, has meant those praising him for his apology have changed their minds, and more people have joined in to say the apologies are nothing but an abuser’s typical tactic.

No one is letting Antonelli off the hook, not even Sasquan. Whether he’s facing the full consequence of his behaviour is another matter. But the idea that he is being given a free pass is nonsense – and again Bradford knows this. She also knows the only reason Antonelli’s apology was given any consideration by serious people was because the only known (at the time) victim of his actions, accepted it.

(7) Lyda Morehouse in “Dirty Dogs, Old Tricks” on Bitter Empire pays David Gerrold several ironic compliments.

Amazingly, this so-called reaction to the way he thought he was being treated has resulted in… (drum roll, please)… zero consequences for Antonelli.

Yep, the way he’s been treated by his loyal opposition is well beyond fairly. A few more people know his name now, and, at worst, have crossed him off their to-be-read list. But, the folks running the Hugo Awards, the Sasaquan WorldCon Committee, have not banned him (though they really kind of wanted to). Guess why they didn’t?

Because David Gerrold asked them not to.

In fact, Gerrold has been calling for peace all over the internet and asking everyone to try to be more compassionate.

Wow, yeah, what a psychotic that Gerrold guy is.

Good thing the cops know to be on the alert. You wouldn’t want a raging wanker like Gerrold wrecking your party.

(8) Vox Day has his own notions about giving peace a chance:

As for Sasquan, we have no interest in disrupting it, but we do expect our attendees to be prepared for any SJWs inclined to violate the posted Sasquan harassment policy. That is why I encourage every VFM, Puppy, and Dread Ilk attending Sasquan to keep a recorder running at all times on your Android or iOS phone. If you’re subsequently subject to any verbal or physical harassment, you’ll have material evidence on hand to bring to the relevant authorities. More importantly, you’ll also have a strong defense to present against the inevitable SJW lies concerning your own behavior.

(9) Deb Geisler, chair of the 2004 Worldcon, puts in perspective what the 2015 committee is going through.

Today, there is a group of people who are starting their own week-long count-down to the World Science Fiction Convention. This one is in Spokane, Washington. Their convention has been fraught with difficulties. Many of their people are not laughing. They’re not even grinning.

They are still trying to build something special for fandom. They’re often not getting much satisfaction. In fact, some are sitting around right now, wishing they were somewhere else, dealing with something else. Perhaps at a villa in Tuscany…perhaps in Port-aux-Français (since that’s as far away as one can get from the Spokane Convention Center and still be on land) in the Kerguelen Islands (also known as the Desolation Islands – you can get to the irony of that on your own)….

What I will say is this: If you are going to the convention, say something nice to the people you meet with a “committee” or “staff” or “volunteer/gopher” ribbon. You don’t need to compliment them on things. Just say something nice. Or maybe something that will make them laugh. Or smile at them and say nothing at all. (This last works particularly well when you don’t much like them.)

For those of us who have slogged this slog, sometimes a smile from someone is better than a paycheck. Hell, it *IS* the paycheck.

(10) Anne Rice in a public comment on Facebook renews the argument that the limit on freedom of speech depends on a willingness to defend its least savory examples.

Signing off with thanks to all who have participated in our discussions of fiction writing today. I want to leave you with this thought: I think we are facing a new era of censorship, in the name of political correctness. There are forces at work in the book world that want to control fiction writing in terms of who “has a right” to write about what. Some even advocate the out and out censorship of older works using words we now deem wholly unacceptable. Some are critical of novels involving rape. Some argue that white novelists have no right to write about people of color; and Christians should not write novels involving Jews or topics involving Jews. I think all this is dangerous. I think we have to stand up for the freedom of fiction writers to write what they want to write, no matter how offensive it might be to some one else. We must stand up for fiction as a place where transgressive behavior and ideas can be explored. We must stand up for freedom in the arts. I think we have to be willing to stand up for the despised. It is always a matter of personal choice whether one buys or reads a book. No one can make you do it. But internet campaigns to destroy authors accused of inappropriate subject matter or attitudes are dangerous to us all. That’s my take on it. Ignore what you find offensive. Or talk about it in a substantive way. But don’t set out to censor it, or destroy the career of the offending author.

(11) And here’s an unsavory example you can practice on: Tangent Online Special: Androgyny Destroys SF Review of Lightspeed.

Therefore, Tangent Online will show how the philosophy, the core defining predicates of androgyny can be applied to non-fiction as well as fiction and how in other ways it should be applied to areas of our real world lives. Thus, the table of contents for the August issue of Lightspeed below will contain only story titles—no author names; for revealing an author’s name would give immediate rise to the same conscious or unconscious bias we find in so much of our fiction. As well, the name of the reviewer is not mentioned for the same reason. Following the lead of the special Women and Queers Destroy SF issues of Lightspeed, you will find an essay following the review. Its author is also nameless, as it should be. It is the content of the words which truly matter and not who penned them. Content over author or editor is the only way to go in the Androgyny Revolution.

[Thanks to Mark and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]

Deb Geisler, Guinness Record Holder

Deb Geisler is a certified Guinness World Record title holder. In fact, her certificate came in today’s mail. She was one of 38,244 participants in Reddit.com’s 2011 Secret Santa gift exchange, the largest gift exchange ever.

Deb wasn’t in it for the record, she’s been enjoying Reddit.com’s gift exchanges all along:

I had a lot of fun at Christmas with the exchanges and others throughout the year for socks, cook books, regular books, and even one that was a one-way gifting to send much-needed school supplies to K-12 teachers). You can see the gifts site (there’s even a Dr. Who exchange coming up – but I’m not a Dr. Who fan).

Participants in these gift exchanges get matched as a sender to one person, and as the recipient of another, somewhere in the U.S. or overseas.

Ironically, the Secret Santas didn’t actually stay secret:

Everyone who took part in the exchange was eligible to get a certificate, which cost GBP20. Then Guinness sent all of the folks who had ordered the certificates email…without masking any of the addresses. So our huge, anonymous enterprise suddenly wasn’t so anonymous. Most of us thought it was hysterically funny, and the number of people replying to the full list reached a couple of hundred. The goal seemed to be to out-funny the other repliers.

Guinness felt quite embarrassed. They ended up refunding everyone’s payments and giving them the certificates free of charge.

Where Secret Masters Lurk

Conrunners with ties to the World Science Fiction Convention, and smaller cons also entirely run by volunteers, will rendezvous at SMOFcon 27 from December 4-6, 2009 in Austin, TX.

The theme of this year’s SMOFcon is Time Management. The hospitality suite opens Thursday night. During the day on Friday Vincent Docherty, Deb Geisler and Mark Olson will be running a Budget Boot Camp. (“Where did you put that decimal point, plebe? Drop and give me twenty!”)

Their first progress report has just been posted as a PDF.

Hugos in Jeopardy!

Deb Geisler reports that October 16’s episode of Jeopardy! featured a category called “Complete the Hugo Award Winning Title.” As everyone knows, this quiz show reveals a clue — an answer — and makes contestants supply the appropriate question. Deb says the contestants only got two of the questions right.

Hugo Award winners have occasionally been showing up as Jeopardy! answers for years. A quick Google search returns these examples.

A clue in the show aired October 31, 2006 was: “Isaac Asimov won a 1977 Hugo Award for this novelette about a robot named Andrew who lives to be 200 years old.” The right question was: “The Bicentennial Man.”

In the episode aired October 25, 2005, a clue in the “Classic Television” category was: “This is the first Television show to receive the Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation.” The appropriate question was: What is the Twilight Zone?

On November 7, 2000 contestants were given this answer: “10-time Hugo Award winner Kelly Freas is famous for illustrating the magazine called ‘Astounding’ in this genre.” The question: “Science fiction.”

The earliest example I found appears in the online bio of Harlan Ellison:

On 22 June 1998, Ellison’s career reached a dizzying summit when he became the answer to a clue in the Double Jeopardy round of that evening’s broadcast of the television game show, Jeopardy.

Don’t ask me why Ellison omits the mandatory exclamation point after Jeopardy!