Pixel Scroll 3/18/16 How Green Was My Pixel?

(1) WHEN MARS HAD BEACHES. The Daily Galaxy covers the announcement — “NASA: ‘Ancient Mars Had a Vast Ocean Covering Half Its Northern Hemisphere’”.

A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean, according to NASA scientists who, using ground-based observatories, measured water signatures in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. Scientists have been searching for answers to why this vast water supply left the surface.

“Our study provides a solid estimate of how much water Mars once had, by determining how much water was lost to space,” said Geronimo Villanueva, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new paper. “With this work, we can better understand the history of water on Mars.”

Perhaps about 4.3 billion years ago, Mars would have had enough water to cover its entire surface in a liquid layer about 450 feet (137 meters) deep. More likely, the water would have formed an ocean occupying almost half of Mars’ northern hemisphere, in some regions reaching depths greater than a mile (1.6 kilometers).

(2) ELLISON AUDIOBOOK CROWDFUNDED. The Kickstarter for a Skyboat Audiobook of Harlan Ellison’s Star Trek Teleplay “The City on The Edge of Forever” has successfully funded.

This project will produce a full-cast audiobook of the Harlan Ellison’s original Star Trek Teleplay, including Ellison’s commentary on the story’s inception and development and the controversy over its rewriting by the TV show heads.

The Stretch Goal for a separate enhanced adaptation of the teleplay with a full Dolby soundtrack and complete Foley sound effects was not achieved.

Links to audio and video snippets from the recording process can be found on the Campaign Updates tab.

(3) HAUNTED IRELAND. Dublin, the City of Ghosts and Guinness will host the Dublin Ghost Story Festival from August 18-21. Guests of Honour will be Derleth Award winner Adam Nevill (Banquet for the Damned, Apartment 16, House of Small Shadows, No One Gets Out Alive, and Lost Girl).

The literary ghost story in all its guises has deep roots in Ireland – from the domestic hauntings of Mrs. Riddell’s Weird Stories to the spectral disturbances of J.S. Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly; from Elizabeth Bowen’s urbane “Demon Lover” to Bram Stoker’s blood-drenched and monolithic contribution to literature: Dracula. We invite you to join us at the Dublin Ghost Story Festival to raise a pint of the black stuff and celebrate literature of the supernatural—both past and present—in a city where some of the genre’s most memorable nightmares were born. Slainte!

The MC will be John Connolly (The Book of Lost Things, Nocturnes, and Night Music). Other guests include John Reppion and Lynda E. Rucker.

(4) MAINSTREAM ENTROPY. Brandon Kempner has his “Final Best of 2015 Mainstream Meta-List” at Chaos Horizon.

It’s Spring Break for me, so I’ve got a chance to wrap up some of my “lists of lists.” The first we’ll look at is my Best of 2015 Mainstream Meta-List. This list collates 20+ “Best of 2015” lists by mainstream outlets such as the NY Times, Amazon, Goodreads, Entertainment Weekly, and so on.

The collation works in a simple fashion: appear on a list, get 1 point. I then add up the points from all 20 lists. Results are below. I tried to use the same sources as last year so we can meaningful year-to-year comparisons.

(5) DRAKE OBIT. Larry Drake, who won two Emmy Awards playing mentally-challenged office worker Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law, passed away March 17 at the age of 66.

He also starred in the 1990 cult classic, Darkman, as well as playing Administrator Chellick in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Critical Care” and had additional appearances on various shows including Firefly, Crossing Jordan, and Six Feet Under.

(6) HUGO NOMINATING DEADLINE. The Worldcon reminds you that March 31 is not far away….

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 18, 1964 The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao makes its premiere in Denver, Colorado.

(8) REACTING TO THE PUPPIES. Rachael Acks does a very good job of presenting a writer’s thought process about the Sad Puppies 4 list in “I wish I could trust you and I hate what we’ve become”.

But it’s just a recommended list. But it’s got the “Sad Puppy” name all over it and all that goddamn baggage.

Because this is the thing. After three years of slates and shouting and people being intensely shitty, after the porous barrier between sad and rabid and the fecal stench known as Beale that clings to everything, I cannot fucking trust any of this.

So is it a recommended reading list, innocently offered? Or is it a Trojan Horse, intending to get people to maybe think hey, we don’t really need to ratify those WSFS amendments everyone voted on last year when we were almost universally pissed off about a slate rolling the Hugos. See, it’s not so bad. Let it go. And then next year it starts all over again because nothing’s been fixed.

Or is it a way to try to fuck over a lot of writers who don’t want anything to do with this, because suddenly they’re on the damn list, and no one knows if it’s a slate or not, but there’s the knee jerk feeling of if these assholes want a thing, I don’t.

Or is it a way to score some cheap points because if these writers end up on the final ballot and win (or score over No Award), look at all these SJW hypocrites, see they’re okay with slates as long as it’s people they like. That’s certainly consistent the Wile E. Coyote-style Sooper Genius I’m Totally Playing Six Dimensional Chess nonsense we perennially get out of Beale.

And is the very existence of this post (and ones like it) going to be used to add to the carefully curated sense of grievance that’s been fueling this entire stupid, stupid fight?

This makes me so angry, because I’m already seeing people getting dragged into this bubbling cesspool of bullshit and paranoia. And I hate thinking like this. I hate it. I want to believe the best in people. I want to believe in good intentions, and change, and moving on from bad times.

(9) MAKING A DECISION. Catherynne M. Valente asks “When Is a Slate Not a Slate? or Why Is the Puppy Sad?”

So what do I do? Honestly, I still don’t know. My stomach hurts. At the moment, it really does look like people just liked my book. Anyone could recommend something, after all. Locus doesn’t need my permission and neither does anyone else, so requiring it from the Puppies alone, as long as it is not a slate, would be strange. I’ve been on some WEIRD rec lists in my time, I tell you what. And I will absolutely not dismiss readers because of the URL where their desires are expressed.

It all comes down to whether this recommendation list is a list or a slate.

Right now, it doesn’t look like a slate. Right now, it looks like a list complied by people with extremely wide-ranging tastes and interests. Right now, I’m inclined to try to mend fences across fandom in whatever little way I can by giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is all in good faith–because I want to be given the benefit of the doubt that I act in good faith. So for right now, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to believe in the better angels of our–and Puppy–nature. I’m going to choose to believe that they looked at the thousand suggestions of ways to recommend books that would not run afoul of the spirit of the Hugos and adjusted their methods accordingly. I’m going to choose to believe that the political rhetoric of the Puppy movement is a thing of the past, and from here on out, it will be about what each and every one of us said it should be about–good books. Nothing else.

If this changes, if all that ugliness comes roaring back and it becomes about something other than the content of books, I will change my mind and very quickly. But for right now, I have to try to believe that things can get better. This is my Pollyanna moment. I sincerely hope I don’t regret it.

(10) NO DILEMMA. John Scalzi does not have conflicting feelings about his presence on the SP4 list — “Notes on Awards and Slates 3/18/16”.

8. In sum: I’m not seeking award consideration this year; I would not willingly participate on an award nomination slate; If I’m on such a slate it’s without my consent; Those who have put me or my work on such a slate should remove me from it; If they won’t remove me, or anyone who asks to be removed, they’re likely assholes; And maybe you should factor that in when thinking about them and their motives.

(11) NO WAR. Alexandra Erin recommends a simple response to the list, in “The Pups of Wrath Yield Bitter Whine”.

So, if the Sad Puppies have a plan to claim victory no matter what happens, the question is, how do we beat them?

And the answer is: we don’t. We shouldn’t. No one’s goal should ever be to “beat” these truly sad individuals at anything, no more than our goal should be to shut them up or shut them out of the process.

The Sad Puppies are at war with both the future and past of science fiction and fantasy, but no one is (or no one should be) at war with the Sad Puppies. Our goal should be to make speculative fiction welcoming and inclusive in spite of them, not to shut them out of it in the hopes that this will make things welcoming and inclusive. Our goal should be to get more people involved and keep them engaged so as to dilute the ability of small cliques of bigots motivated to become the tastemakers and kingmakers to game the system.

The correct course of action to take on the Puppy list is to ignore it. If they’re going to claim victory no matter what happens (and the fact that they claimed victory in 2015 should be enough to convince anyone that they will), then there’s really nothing more for anyone to do except get out and nominate now, and get out and vote later. Don’t let the existence of their list or its contents sway you one way or another.

And if you found yourself on their list? Well, they’re just a pack of dogs howling at the moon. This is not a situation that requires the moon to answer.

(12) MY MILEAGE MAY VARY. Meanwhile, back in 1961, The Traveler deprecates the short fiction in the April issue of Analog, including a slap at one of my favorite Christopher Anvil stories. Hmph! Don’t expect to see Galactic Journey on my Seacon Hugo ballot!

Back to the dreary stories, Pandora’s Planet, by Chris Anvil (whose best work always appears outside of Analog), is another “Earthmen are just plain better at everything than everyone else” story.  In this case, some fuzzy humanoids can’t seem to win a war to subjugate a planet’s native race without the help of some plucky, original Terrans.  The point of the piece seems to be that unorthodox war is just as valid as “real” war, and stuffy rigidity will only lead to failure.  That’s fine so far as it goes, but the canny Terran tactics aren’t that innovative, and the stodginess of the fuzzies is insufficiently explored.  Two stars.

(13) HANGING AROUND THE GUARDIANS SET. At ScienceFiction.com, “Karen Gillan Takes Us Behind-The-Scenes In This ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2? Photo!”

If you’ve been dying to see more from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘ it looks like Karen Gillan (‘Doctor Who’,’Oculus’) has brought us another behind-the-scenes photo from the set! Our first shot of Nebula in the film came from Gillan herself and while it wasn’t much, this time we’ve got quite a different view as the 28-year old looks to be flying around in a harness against a blue-screen.

 

(14) TOTALLY TEA. The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog delivers the latest in a series of Incredibly Specific Lessons, “A History of the Tea-Creating Machine in Fact and Fiction”.

Synthetic food replicators in science fiction (and real life) can vary a ton. They might create anything imaginable, or just spit out soylent green; they might function perfectly, or constantly fall apart. But everyone wants just one thing out of them: tea.

The entirety of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series is the masterpiece of a sci-fi satire artist, but the franchise features one particularly memorable moment: when Arthur Dent locates the Nutri-Matic Drinks Dispenser and places a simple, if predictably English, request.

Of course Beckie Leckie is also in the mix.

(15) DICK SHORTCOMINGS. MD Jackson suspects “You Don’t Know Dick”, but tries to remedy your shortcomings in a post at Amazing Stories.

So how is it that this crazy science fiction writer (and, some would argue that he was literally crazy) has come to have such a hold on audiences today? How is it that his work (lauded as it was) that languished in the sci-fi ghetto of the mid-twentieth century, has become amplified in the twenty-first? Has the rest of the world only now caught up to where Dick was when he wrote all those stories years ago?

The phenomenon is nothing new. Look at Vincent Van Gogh. Largely ignored in the 1800’s, he died poor and insane, but in the twentieth century his genius is applauded by the art world. Almost everyone in the twentieth century loves a Van Gogh. In the 18th he couldn’t sell a painting to save his life.

Is Phillip K. Dick the twenty-first century’s Vincent Van Gogh? Have we arrived at the place where he was decades before? Is he watching us, amused that it took us all so long to get here?

(16) ZWICKER INTERVIEW. The indefatigable Carl Slaughter has an interview with “Short Story Writer Richard Zwicker on Humor, Detective, and Greek Mythology” at SF Signal.

CS: Why Greek mythology?

RZ: I don’t usually write straight fantasy. I do like to borrow from mythology, however. Borrowing can work as long as you do something different and worthwhile with the source material. You’re not going to get far if all you do is retell the myth or slap on a different POV. On the other hand, many myths aren’t detailed, so there is plenty of opportunity to flesh things out or consider “What if?”

A recurring detective character I use is Phokus, set in ancient Greece, who has to deal with the whims of the gods. In these I borrow problems from the Greek myths. Phokus gets hired by Zeus to find out who stole fire, or he has to track down Daedalus, who pushed his nephew Talus off a cliff.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, James Bacon, JJ, and David K.M. Klaus for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 3/11/16 Guardians of the Fallacy

(1) SF BEER. Poul Anderson used to set great store by Heineken beer. This billboard ad from the 1970s claims Mr. Spock did, too.

Spock-744x419

(2) SYFY PROTOTYPE. Deadline tell us “Cote de Pablo Poised To Star In Syfy Pilot ‘Prototype’”.

EXCLUSIVE: NCIS alumna Cote de Pablo is nearing a return to series television. I have learned that the fan favorite is in negotiations to play the female lead opposite Jack Davenport in Prototype, Syfy’s sci-fi thriller drama pilot written by Tony Basgallop (24: Live Another Day). It centers on three unlikely cohorts  — two of them played by de Pablo and Davenport — who inadvertently stumble upon an invention that challenges the very nature of quantum physics – a discovery which in turn puts their lives in grave danger.

De Pablo would play Laura Kale, a driven, extremely intelligent mother of two. Excited about a potentially world-changing machine being developed by herself and two partners, she is certain that she is on the brink of something history-making. Propelled by a shot at glory, she is not about to give up despite numerous setbacks.

(3) AUTOGRAPHED LENSMAN. Heritage Auctions is already taking bids for items in its “April 6 Rare Books Grand Format Auction”.  The chair J.K. Rowling sat in to write a couple of Harry Potter books is on the block. So is an autographed boxed set of the Fantasy Press edition of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series – they’re looking for an opening bid of $2,000.

Edward E. (“Doc”) Smith. The History of Civilization, including: Triplanetary, First Lensman, Galactic Patrol, Gray Lensman, Second Stage Lensman, Children of the Lens. Reading: Fantasy Press, 1955. First edition, limited to seventy-five numbered sets, of which this is number twenty-four. Each volume signed by the author and volume one additionally warmly inscribed to Smith’s “friend and fellow-toiler in the vineyard of SF,” Ben J[—]. Six octavo volumes. Publisher’s special binding of quarter reddish-brown leather over brick red cloth-covered boards, spines lettered in gilt, in publisher’s original box. Books very nearly fine with only minimal rubbing to spine ends and light soiling. Box edges worn, some lid edges split with tape at corners. From the collection of Dr. Stuart David Schiff.

(4) ANOTHER REASON MCDEVITT ROCKS. Locus Online reports the International Astronomical Union has approved a proposal to name an asteroid after sf writer Jack McDevitt:

The asteroid, now known as “Jackmcdevitt,” is designated 328305, and was discovered in 2006 by astronomer Lawrence Wasserman at Kitt Peak observatory in Arizona.

(5) WHY BATMAN STINKS ON ICE. ScreenRant will happily tell you the “13 Worst Things About Batman & Robin”.

11. Bat Ice Skates

Again, in a continuation of the bizarre ‘60s Batman mythos, Joel Schumacher’s take on the Dynamic Duo is filled with a collection of oddly specific bat-gadgets. Considering that Batman had no idea that Mr. Freeze would turn out to be the big villain of the movie, it’s strange that he had already prepared a collection of ice-themed accessories, including a jet ski and special ice-themed costumes.

In their first run-in with Mr. Freeze, upon discovering that the floor has been frozen solid, Batman and Robin activate their “bat ice skates,” which appear out of the bottom of their boots with a click of the heels. The convenience of this gadget takes the silly accessories of Batman’s utility belt from the ‘60s show to a cinematic extreme, adding fuel to the fire of the joke that Batman’s true superpower is his magic utility belt which can produce anything the plot requires it to.

(6) GRAPHIC MARCH MADNESS. Comic Mix is getting ready to run webcomics brackets — “Announcing the 2016 Mix March Madness Webcomics Tournament”

Yes, it’s that time of year again, the time where bracketology reigns supreme and the cry around the nation is “Win or Go Home!” Last year’s Mix March Madness Webcomics Tournament was incredibly popular, and so we’re doing it all over again– and raising money for the Hero Initiative in the process!

We’re giving you a list of over 300 webcomics, and we want your votes . We’re taking the top 128 and putting them in a single elimination tournament where we whittle down the contestants down to one. The top 128 vote getters make it into the tournament, with the biggest getting top seeds. The voting ends Sunday, March 13 at 11:59 PM EDT, and brackets go up on Monday, March 14!

Simply check off the strips you want to see in the tournament below. If there are webcomics you don’t see, check “Other” at the end and include the strip name AND THE URL. We’ll add them to the main list periodically for higher visibility.

(7) FREE AUTOGRAPHS. The West Australian has a story on the Australian national convention — “Perth fandom unites for 41st Swancon”. It’s funny what you have to explain to people nowadays.

Beasley said Swancon welcomed the increase interest in fandom these nationally-run conventions bought but he hoped the local version could always retain its more intimate, community feel.

“You will most likely see our guests wandering around the hotel interacting with anyone who buys them a coffee,” he said.

“The membership fee covers everything contained in the convention and our guest signings are also free.”

(8) WILL BLOOM AGAIN. Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend series will get a second season.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 11, 1818 Frankenstein published.
  • March 11, 1971: George Lucas makes his feature debut with THX-1138.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 11, 1952 – Douglas Adams

(11) DYEING OUTSIDE. Cat Rambo’s “Pink Hair Manifesto” at Medium.

The first time I dyed it, I was about to head off to my first Wiscon?—?a large feminist science fiction convention held yearly in Madison, Wisconsin. As I’ve found the case at sf conventions since then, I wasn’t the only person there with an odd hair color; I glimpsed rainbows of pink, blue, and green. And I realized it was becoming. Complete strangers would lean over and whisper, “I like your hair,” including two flight attendants on the way home.

After the con the color faded, softer and softer, until finally, when I went to get a haircut, the hairdresser was cutting away dusty rose tips. I looked in the mirror and saw a middle-aged woman with a short, practical cut.

I bought a new kit on the way home and re-pinked my hair that afternoon….

That’s another reason why I dye it pink. People talk to me. There’s something about the color that draws them to ask about it or say that they like it. The only person I’ve ever found who disapproved outright was a relative’s girlfriend. She didn’t last. My hair color has.

But more than that, the pink forces me to talk to people as well. I’ve habitually toed the line between introvert and extrovert, depending on which Meyer Briggs results you look at, and I like the fact that the pink pushes me outside myself, makes me be socially brave in a way I’ve sometimes retreated from.

(12) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day moves on to the novella category of his slate — Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Novella.

The preliminary recommendations for the Best Novella category.

  • “Fear and Self-Loathing in Hollywood”, Nick Cole
  • “Penric’s Demon”, Lois McMaster Bujold
  • “Hyperspace Demons”, Jonathan Moeller
  • “The Builders”, Daniel Polansky
  • “Slow Bullets”, Alastair Reynolds

(13) HOW DEADPOOL BEGAN. Steve Fahnestalk’s latest “Second Looks” column at Amazing Stories includes two reviews — “Marvel’s Deadpool & Ant-Man and Some Words on Writing”.

And now we come to Deadpool. I was vaguely familiar with the character—I think I’d read a recent Spiderman with him in it (one of the ones after Miles Morales became Spiderman). I knew he was called “The Merc With The Mouth,” and that he apparently couldn’t be killed, but I knew little else about him. Now I know that he’s been around for—wait for it!—25 years! (Thanks, Wikipedia!) I also found out, courtesy of the Wiki, that he was played by Ryan Reynolds already in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and that he was the dude who had everyone’s powers including Cyclops’s, and whose head was cut off and destroyed the atomic cooling tower! Whoa! Looks like I needed a crash course! (So I got some fairly recent Deadpools, like Deadpool – Dracula’s Gauntlet and Deadpool’s Secret Wars [both 2015], and read up a bit.) And from what I can tell, by casting Ryan Reynolds in this movie, Marvel (or whomever did the casting) really, really nailed the character. He’s profane, obscene, funny, athletic, heroic and antiheroic, mouthy, sexy, and a whole lot more.

(14) HOW DEADPOOL SHOULD HAVE ENDED. Yes, the How It Should Have Ended team has fixed Deadpool for ya.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Glen Hauman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Results of NPR Top 100 SF&F Survey

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien finished atop of NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey. Over 60,000 voters participated. Coming in second and third were Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

The three highest-ranking works by women were Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, #20, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, #22, and Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, #33.

Ray Bradbury had four books make the list, the most popular being Fahrenheit 451, #7. The leading Heinlein novel among his three on the list was Stranger in a Strange Land at #17.

And oh, yes, Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, #93, ran ahead of Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book, #97. I’ll have to ask if Jo Walton is willing to go two falls out of three…

Picking Up a Posthumous Hitchhiker

A continuation of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series has been authorized by Douglas Adams’ widow.

Children’s author Eoin Colfer is to write a sixth novel in the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series, seven years after the death of its creator Douglas Adams, Penguin said Wednesday.

The Irish writer, best known for his Artemis Fowl fairy stories, has the blessing of Adams‘ widow, Jane Belson, to continue the bestselling science fiction saga.

Called And Another Thing…, the new novel will be published in October 2009. Colfer said he was a big fan of the original books, which started as a BBC radio serial.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]