Pixel Scroll 1/5/23 Plant-Based Baloney Weighed The Solar-Powered Raven Down

(1) OF LANDINGS UNSTUCK. The New York Times’ Carlo Rotella reminds us of the power of words in “Good Fantasy Writing Is Pure Magic”.

As I watched last fall’s showdown of TV’s big-money epic fantasy franchises, I was wincingly reminded that language is the most underrated special effect. Unforced errors of word choice — loose talk of “focus” and “stress” in HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” for example — kept pulling me down from my fantasy high and into the diction of emails from human resources. Case in point: “I have pursued this foe since before the first sunrise bloodied the sky,” says the elf warrior-princess Galadriel in Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” “It would take longer than your lifetime even to speak the names of those they have taken from me.” She’s adrift on a life raft with a mysterious stranger after a sea-monster attack, and certain dark intimations suggest that eldritch evil draws nigh. So far, so OK, but then her speech reaches its climax: “So letting it lie is not an option.”

Clangalang! Descending from a tagline fashioned by writers of the movie “Apollo 13” from something a NASA flight director said, “X is not an option” has become a staple of business-speak and coach-talk. The writers of Galadriel’s speech couldn’t have killed the buzz any deader if they’d followed up with, “I’m all about laserlike focus 24-7 on getting some closure on this whole Sauron thing.” …

(2) INTERZONE NEWS. [Item by Andrew Porter.] The new version of Interzone now has a website — https://interzone.press/ — which has the covers and Tables of Contents for the next three issues (294 to 296) coming in January, March and May 2023. The style of the covers is certainly quite a change.

(3) WHO RULES? James Davis Nicoll puts a claim to the test in “SF and Fantasy Governments: A Semi-Scientific Survey” at Tor.com.

…Are science fiction and fantasy as rife with autocracies as some have implied? Or is this merely an illusion, one to which I might be subject because I am personally rather tired of autocratic settings?

It’s been nearly a year since my project began. The results are not quite as I expected….

(4) MAY I BUY A VOWEL? Apparently from now on I will be saying it was Turkiye where I ate Turkish Delight in 2004. “US changes to Turkey’s preferred spelling at ally’s request” reports MSN.com.

The [State] department has instructed that new official documents refer to Turkiye instead of Turkey, although the pronunciation will not change, officials said. But neither the State Department website nor the Foreign Affairs Manual, which guides U.S. diplomatic practices, had been revised to reflect the change as of midday Thursday.

“The Turkish embassy requested that the U.S. government use the name “Republic of Turkiye” in communications,” the department said. “We will begin to refer to Turkiye and Republic of Turkiye accordingly in most formal, diplomatic, and bilateral contexts, including in public communications.”

The move comes ahead of an expected visit to Washington later this month by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during which Turkey’s position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its resistance to allowing Finland and Sweden to join NATO will be high on the agenda.

(5) THE MONEY KEEPS ROLLING IN. It sells tickets whether or not critics love it. Deadline has the numbers: “‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Tops $1.5B Global, Becomes No. 10 Highest-Grossing Film Of All Time [Worldwide]” .

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, as expected (see below), has exceeded $1.5B globally with Wednesday’s figures included. The running total through yesterday is $1,516.5M, meaning that it has overtaken Top Gun: Maverick as the No. 1 worldwide release of 2022. What’s more, it is now the No. 10 biggest movie ever globally.

The 20th Century Studios/Disney sci-fi epic has also in the past day crossed Furious 7 worldwide. Today, it will pass The Avengers to claim the No. 9 spot on the all-time global chart. 

Internationally, it is the No. 9 biggest movie ever, and, in Europe, is the highest-grosser of the pandemic era (having passed Spider-Man: No Way Home). It is also the No. 5 release of all time for the region…. 

(6) MEDICAL UPDATE. Jeremy Renner tweets video update ICU. View it at the link: “A ‘not no great’ ICU DAY, turned to amazing spa day with my sis and mama”.

(7) MEMORY LANE.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille has the best matzo ball soup in the galaxy. Lots of garlic, matzo balls with just the right consistency to absorb the flavor, big chunks of chicken, and the whole of it seasoned to a biting perfection. One bowl, along with maybe a couple of tamales, will usually do for a meal.

As for entertainment, Feng gets some of the best Irish musicians you’ll ever hear—good instrumental backing, fine singing, some stupendous fiddle playing, and driving energy. Hell, some of the songs are actually Irish.

— Steven Brust’s Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille

Warning: very mild spoilers by inference. H’h

The novel is, to put it charitably, not one of his better efforts though the food and music scenes are wonderful. Think I’m being harsh? Let’s ask the author:

Not one of my better efforts, I think, but there are bits of it I like. It started out to be funny, developed a serious side, and I was never able to get the elements to blend the way I wanted them to. Grumble grumble. It’s always pleasant to run into someone who liked this book; it means that I can still do all right when I’m not on my game.

I wrote a terrible harsh review of it that I’ll not link that I thought Brust would hate but he wrote me an email saying that even he didn’t like the novel. But his scenes of the characters eating are fantastic: 

Cecil’s? It was a small place with a lot of mirrors and chrome and a little bit of an antiseptic feeling. The food was good, though. We had something that tasted like oyster soup and almost was, then she had a small salad and I had something with beef and mushrooms in a sherry sauce. No complaints.

They also drink a lot of coffee and I do mean a lot of it. They must have sacks of beans in this interstellar hopping cafe. And a hell of a roaster. 

So it’s reading for these scenes and the Irish music scenes herein. The SF story? Well, not so much, say me and the author. 

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born January 5, 1929 Russ Manning. An artist who created and drew the Gold Key comic book character Magnus: Robot Fighter; who drew the Tarzan comic book from 1965–1969 and the Tarzan newspaper comic strip from 1967 – 1972; and the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979–1980. (Died 1981.) (bill) 
  • Born January 5, 1940 Jennifer Westwood. Folklorist who I’m including on the Birthday Honors List (if the King can have such a list, I can too) for one of her works in particular, Albion: Guide to Legendary Britain as it has a genre connection that will take some explaining. Ever hear of the band from Minnesota called Boiled in Lead? Well they took their name from a local legend in that tome about a man that was wrapped in lead and plunged in a vat of scalding oil so that he now stands forever in a circle of stones. Among the genre folk that have had a role in the band are Emma Bull, Steven Brust, Adam Stemple, Jane Yolen and Will Shetterly. (Died 2008.)
  • Born January 5, 1941 Hayao Miyazaki, 82. A masterful storyteller who chose animation as his medium. He co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 and has directed some of the best loved films of all time. His films include the Oscar winning film Spirited AwayMy Neighbor Tortoro, and adapting the classic novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones for the big screen.  (Matt Russell)
  • Born January 5, 1959 Clancy Brown, 64. I first encountered him as the voice of Lex Luthor in the DC animated universe. All of his voice roles are far too extensive to list here, but I’ll single out his work as Savage Opress, Count Dooku’s new apprentice and Darth Maul’s brother, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  Very selected live roles include Rawhide in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, The Kurgan in Highlander, Sheriff Gus Gilbert in Pet Sematary Two, Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, Sgt. Charles Zim in Starship Troopers and, one of my favorite weird series, Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivàle.
  • Born January 5, 1966 Tananarive Due, 57. I’m particularly fond of her short fiction which you can find in her BFA winning Ghost Summer collection which also won the Carl Brandon Kindred Award. The Good House and The Between are novels are worth reading for having strong African-American characters.
  • Born January 5, 1975 Bradley Cooper, 48. He’d be here just for voicing Rocket Raccoon in the MCU. In fact he is here just for that role. Mind you he’ll have voiced him six times by that Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 3 comes out, so I’d say he’s got him spot perfect.
  • Born January 5, 1978 Seanan McGuire, 45. Ahhhh, one of my favorite writers. I just finished re-listening to her Sparrow Hill Road stories which was are excellent and earlier I’d read her much of InCryptid series, both of her Indexing books which are beyond amazing and I hope she does more of. 

(9) PROTO WRITING’S EARLIER BEGINNING LEARNED. “Mystery of ancient dots and stripes on Europe’s caves is solved” reports Yahoo!

For decades, researchers had suspected that the seemingly random dots and stripes on cave paintings across Europe contained a hidden meaning, yet they were unable to decipher them.

Now, thanks to the work of a pioneering amateur, the code has been cracked and archaeologists believe that a wave of discoveries is set to tumble forth.

The first great revelation is that ancient humans were using the paintings to track the mating and birthing seasons of wild animals such as cattle, horses and mammoths….

For example, paintings of aurochs, wild ancestors of modern cattle, in Spain had four dots on them. This showed that they were mating four months after “bonne saison” or Paleolithic spring.

Prof Pettitt and Prof Bob Kentridge, also at Durham, helped confirm the findings by proving that there was almost no statistical chance of the results being coincidental.

By showing that the dots were more than just a simple tally, for example of hunting kills, the research has revealed a much higher level of thought among hunter-gatherers said Prof Pettitt…

(10) A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. John L Ford is a lifelong fan turned author of Science Fiction. He hails from a background in Natural Sciences having a degree in Meteorology. His novel Dominion is an escape into the analogy of Artificial Intelligence.

Where the corrosive power of time failed, Dominion begins. Unable to wear down the chains of grief left in the wake of losing her and stuck in the quagmire of postmortem morosity, Colton is on the verge of hanging his legacy upon the gallery walls of dimmed mediocrity in the museum of unknown history. Then, it happens.

A flash of insight, as though spoken from the grave, it becomes the guiding light; one desperately needed to reinvent purpose and meaning. It is so much of what she meant to him shining through, that internal voice from the past, that it strikes him with an idea so profound it could only result in the ensuing research. Is it fiction or reality?

Leonardo da Vinci visualized flying machines, and the essential aspects of that ‘fiction’ became fact. And just as the genetics of his ideas evolved into man-made dragonflies and humming birds, Colton Reinholt, a physicist, with a unique mind for synthesis, drafts an idea, too.

Borrowed by observation of actual physiological biology, he uses solid state physics to reconstruct a natural paradigm only ever achieved by evolution’s miracle, the human mind. Thus, what emerges in this physical and ethereal journey simply must carry more than mere soupcon of riveting plausibility.

So, through accelerating technological forces on the world often charging boldly before compunction, we are compelled by our own evolution to satisfy an unstoppable desire for discovery. What is really meant by the phrase, ‘Artificial Intelligence’? This is what we adventure through experimental exploration into the energy of the mind.

What begins as an innocent thought experiment, frolicsome dabbling fuses with technical knowhow and its synthesis results in a fantastic gestalt. By bridging disparate scientific disciplines, it ultimately gives rise to a power that may either become benevolent or malevolent. For despite all human conceits, the answer to the question of good versus evil is not one we are capable to define.

Available from Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.

(11) ROBORAPTORS. Behind a paywall in Nature, “A robotic bird of prey scares off nuisance flocks in a flash – and they don’t seem to get wise to the deception”. “Plagued by problem birds? Call RobotFalcon!”

Birds that hit aeroplane windscreens or are sucked into jet engines can cause accidents and costly damage, so airfields work to keep birds — particularly flocking birds — away. Trained falcons are more effective than scarecrows, but are expensive to keep and need to rest between patrols.

Rolf Storms at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and his colleagues designed a robotic raptor to take over the task.

Collisions between birds and airplanes can damage aircrafts, resulting in delays and cancellation of flights, costing the international civil aviation industry more than 1.4 billion US dollars annually.

The RobotFalcon is a practical and ethical solution to drive away birdflocks with all advantages of live predators but without their limitations.

Primary research here.

(12) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Adam Savage, in this video which dropped Sunday, continues his trip to London examining an original Christopher Reeve Superman suit and how they built such suits before Spandex was invented.

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

Pixel Scroll 8/2/22 I Took My Files Down To Jaxom’s Ruth (You Know That Dragon With The Pixeled Tooth)

(1) WITNESS FOR THE PLAINTIFF. Stephen King took the stand today and AP News was there: “Stephen King testifies for government in books merger trial”.

…King’s displeasure about the proposed merger led him to voluntarily testify for the government.

“I came because I think that consolidation is bad for competition,” King said. The way the industry has evolved, he said, “it becomes tougher and tougher for writers to find money to live on.”

King expressed skepticism toward the two publishers’ commitment to continue to bid for books separately and competitively after a merger.

“You might as well say you’re going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house,” he quipped. “It would be sort of very gentlemanly and sort of, ‘After you’ and ‘After you,’” he said, gesturing with a polite sweep of the arm.

King’s was entertaining and informative, although he had little specific to say over how the merger might harm bestselling authors, with the government’s case focusing on those receiving advances of $250,000 or more. Attorney Daniel Petrocelli, representing the publishers, told King he had no questions for him and demurred on a cross-examination, saying instead he hoped they could have coffee together some time….

(2) BAIL OUT. Costume Con 40 chair Sarah Richardson is trying to raise $80,000 to pay a large penalty owed to their facility because of the shortfall in meeting their room rental commitment: “Covid-19 Relief for Costume-Con 40”. (On the other hand, some are advising the concom to work with an attorney who specializes bankruptcy.)

…Because of the sudden cancellation of Costume-Con 38 and the rescheduling of Costume-Con 39, we lost any potential advertising and seed money that might have been generated by those events. So far, we have been able to cover all our expenses except one, the venue cost.

Many of our attendees, especially our international members, were unable to attend due to Covid travel restrictions were levied right before the convention. Because of this, over a fourth of our registered members (100+ people) were not able to attend. This led to our not meeting the room night obligations in our contract, and so we must pay a hefty “attrition” penalty. We have been negotiating since April with the hotel to resolve this outstanding balance and continue to do so.

This is where we need your help. As a small, volunteer-run non-profit, we are turning to our community and putting out a request for monetary donations to help defray this debt. Any amount will be a help to us. And we intend, should we exceed our goal of retiring this particular debt, to “pay it forward” to next year’s Costume-Con and thus further ease the financial strain caused by the pandemic. Remember, we are a 501(c)3 non-profit and would be happy to issue a receipt for tax purposes.

(3) THAT’S CLAWFUL. Cora Buhlert sent He-Man and friends on a beach holiday and posted another action figure photo story on her blog: “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Holiday on Orkas Island’”.

In the 1980s Filmation cartoon, Clawful looks quite different from his toy counterpart, probably because the cartoon was based on an early prototype. He also seems to be one of a kind. However, the 2002 He-Man cartoon reveals that there is a whole species of lobster people out there and that they hail from a place called Orkas Island, which also happens to be the retirement home of an aged warrior called Dekker, Duncan’s former mentor and predecessor at Man-at-Arms.

So I decided to send Prince Adam, Teela and Man-at-Arms on a well-deserved holiday and have Clawful and his fellow aquatic Evil Warrior Mer-Man cause some trouble. I also got out a bunch of maritime themed objects to serve as props….

(4) HE FIGURES IT OUT. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] Here is a video by a toy collector and YouTuber named Pixel Dan who wound up as a panelist on the He-Man 40th anniversary panel at San Diego Comic Con (he wrote a collector’s guide to Masters of the Universe toys). He offers a rare look at what the infamous Hall H looks like backstage and on stage. His enthusiasm is certainly infectious. Plus, bonus interview with Kevin Smith who moderated the panel.

(5) PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE. Kim Bannerman wrote a nice profile of Zenna Henderson at Luna Station Quarterly“The Improbable Worlds of Zenna Henderson”.

…Henderson’s experiences as a teacher would influence her writing throughout her career. In her 1952 short story “Ararat”, aliens marooned on Earth are searching for a new teacher to guide their children; all the other teachers have been scared away by the children’s telekinetic powers. This story was the first in a series that featured ‘The People’, a community of gentle humanoids trying to survive on Earth.

The People are isolated, lonely individuals seeking safety and community, and they must suppress their inherent gifts in order to be accepted by human society. Instead of focusing on conquest and war, Henderson’s stories examine the quiet, personal lives of The People…. 

(6) CARS. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie.] We had a small science fiction fayre down our way here in Brit Cit. Stalls with SF miniatures, playing card collectables abounded. Sadly, no second-hand book stall (which, on second thoughts, did save a couple of hours of my time). Nor did there seem to be a tie-in with our local film memorabilia and gaming shop, The Movie Shack: even though it was just twenty yards away inside our indoors shopping precinct. However, in the mix was a Ghostbusters marshmallow man and car, and there was also a Back to the Future DeLorean: it was one way to beat the Worldcon queues — the last time a Back to the Future DeLorean was on Worldcon show…

(7) THE BIRD IS THE WORD. Sarah Z delivers “An Exhaustive Defense of Fanfiction” in a new YouTube video.

On art, transformativity, and the literary wonders of putting your middle finger up at preps.

(8) NEW FROM LEONARD MALTIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I listened to the podcast Leonard and Jessie Maltin did with Michael Uslan.  Although Leonard Maltin and Uslan never met, they quickly determined they were the same age, were both guys from Jersey (Uslan’s from exit 105) who developed obsessions very early (Maltin with animation, Uslan with comics) and both were probably two rows away from each other at a notorious  1966 screening of the 1943 Batman serial at Manhattan’s Eighth Street Playhouse where the audience got rowdier and rowdier as the film got stinkier and stinkier.

Uslan grew up with comic books and read everything.  But the event that changed him was in 1972 when he successfully proposed what became the first university course on comic book at Indiana University.  This led to his getting calls from Stan Lee and Sol Harrison at DC.  He first did scripts (He proudly remembers Julius Schwartz telling him. “Your story doesn’t stink:” when he did a story for The Shadow).  In 1979 he acquired the movie rights to Batman and spent ten years in development until Tim Burton’s film came out.  He has been an executive producer on every Batman project since, including Lego Batman.  He also got DC to give him the movie rights to Swamp Thing for free if he agreed to spend $15,000 on the character, which led to two Swamp Thing movies in the 1980s.

Uslan says he likes the takes Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and Robert Pattinson have done with the character and people shouldn’t complain about a film until they’ve seen it.  Leonard Maltin quoted Harlan Ellison, “You have the right to your informed opinion.”  He has two volumes of memoirs about his life with Batman and a Broadway play in development.  In addition, Uslan is an executor of Stan Lee’s estate and is working on Lee’s forthcoming centennial celebration. Maltin on Movies: Michael Uslan.

(9) MEMORY LANE.  

1986 [By Cat Eldridge.] Since we just discussed the Grateful Dead by way of the Jerry Garcia birthday write-up, let’s talk about a novel, that according to the author in an email received just now was indeed named after a Dead song. (Yes, he is one of the writers that gets dark chocolate.) 

There are certain novels that I return to from time to time and Steve Brust’s Brokedown Palace is one of them. It’s the only stand-alone novel set in Dragaera series, which runs currently to over twenty five novels. (I’ve read quite a few of them.) It leads off the series. It is also notable for being set in Fenario, the human-populated portion of that world.

The novel is heavily influenced by Hungarian myth and culture, not surprising giving that Brust is of Hungarian descent.  Brust uses that tradition’s folklore to great effect while combining it with family dynamics  King László, the oldest of the brothers, is a fair and just ruler along the Princies of the Lands. All live in Brokedown Palace.

Once upon a time, there were four brothers who lived in the land of Fenario. These were the King and Princes of the land, and they lived together in the decrepit Old Palace in the center of the city of Fenario. Ahhh but things are not as they seem as things well become very complicated… I won’t say more than that as it’d spoil things if you’ve not read it yet. 

This is a more complex novel than Brust usually writes and the characters here actually have more agency, more feel of being actual individuals  than that they usually get in his novels. That’s a reflection of it being a family-based novel so it feels more intimate than usual.

The wonderful cover art on the first edition is by Alan Lee. Since the art on the actual first edition is obscured by title text and other typography, we’re using the version on a later edition to display it. (ISFDB has the real first edition cover here.)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born August 2, 1917 Wah Chang. Co-founder in the late 1950s, with Gene Warren and Tim Baar, of Project Unlimited Inc, the first true special effects company. They provided the effects for numerous George Pal productions, including The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, Jack the Giant Killer, and The Time Machine (for which they won an Academy Award, although Chang’s name was erroneously omitted). Wang and his fellow Projects coworkers did essentially all of the effects for the original Outer Limits television series. Perhaps most famously, Chang created some of the best-known effects for the original Star Trek, including the communicator, the tricorder, the Romulan Bird of Prey, the Tribbles, and numerous aliens, although he did not receive screen credit for any of this work. A talented artist, later in life he gained reknown as a wildlife sculptor. (Died 2003.) (PhilRM)
  • Born August 2, 1920 Theodore Marcuse. He was Korob in “Catspaw”, a second season Trek episode written by Robert Bloch that aired just before Halloween aptly enough. He had appearances in The Twilight Zone (“The Trade-Ins” and “To Serve Man”), Time TunnelVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaWild Wild West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the episodes “The Re-collectors Affair”, “The Minus-X Affair”, and “The Pieces of Fate Affair”. (Died 1967.)
  • Born August 2, 1932 Peter O’Toole. I’m tempted to say his first genre role was playing King Henry in A Lion in Winter as it is alternate history. It really is despite some of you saying it isn’t. Neat film. Well the original is, the second, not so much. Stewart just doesn’t work in that role for me. Actually before that he’s got an uncredited role in Casino Royale as a Scottish piper. Really he does. His first genre role without dispute is as Zaltar in Supergirl followed by being Dr. Harry Wolverine in Creator. He’s Peter Plunkett in the superb High Spirits, he’s in FairyTale: A True Story as a very credible Arthur Conan Doyle, and Stardust as King of Stormhold. Not surprisingly, he played in a version of Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander. (Died 2013.)
  • Born August 2, 1948 Robert Holdstock. Another one who died far too young. His Ryhope Wood series is simply amazing with Lavondyss being my favorite volume. And let’s not overlook his Merlin Codex series which is one of the more original takes on that character I’ve read. The Ragthorn, co-written with Garry Kilworth, is interesting as well. Tor, which has the rights to him in the States, has been slow to bring him to the usual suspects. (Died 2009.)
  • Born August 2, 1954 Ken MacLeod, 68. Sometimes I don’t realize until I do a Birthday note just how much I’ve read of a certain author. And so it was of this author. I’ve read the entire Fall Revolution series, not quite all of the Engines of Light Trilogy, just the first two of the Corporation Wars but I’ve got it in my to-be-finished queue, and every one of his one-off novels save Descent. His Restoration Game is quite chilling.  I should go find his Giant Lizards from Another Star collection as I’ve not read his short fiction. Damn it’s not available from the usual suspects! Hugo Award wise, he didn’t win any but had some nominations. The Sky Road was nominated at the Millennium Philcon, Cosmonaut Keep at ConJosé and Learning the World at L.A. Con IV. 
  • Born August 2, 1956 Leslie Ackerman, 66. She is best remembered for her role as the waitress in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 1996 episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”. She also showed on the rebooted Twilight Zone as Time-Traveller in the “Lost and Found”.  She was on The Incredible Hulk and Project UFO.  She retired from acting several years after filming “Trials and Tribble-ations”.
  • Born August 2, 1970 Kevin Smith, 52. Well-loved comics writer who’s worked for DC, Marvel and other venues. He was involved with both Daredevil and Green Arrow. He directed the pilot for the CW supernatural comedy series Reaper, produced and appeared in a reality television series, Comic Book Men, and appeared as a character in the animated Superman: Doomsday.

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • In The Far Side, an archeologist has dug up someone familiar, He’s not Yorick, but you knew him well.  

(12) GREEN TOWN. Wauke-Con 2022, Waukegan’s second annual comic book convention in Ray Bradbury’s home town, will take place October 8-9. The proceeds benefit Three Bros. Theatre.

(13) TURN OFF THE BATLIGHT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Warner Discovery won’t release Batgirl and has blown off the $70 million spent on it because the new regime doesn’t think the film works. “’Batgirl’ movie gets ‘shelved’ by Warner Bros: source” reports the New York Post.

Holy millions down the drain, Batman! 

The DC Comics film “Batgirl” will be completely “shelved” by Warner Bros., a top Hollywood source told The Post. 

That means it won’t hit theaters or the streaming service HBO Max. Fans will not see it.

The reportedly $70 million movie (the source said the budget was actually more than $100 million), which was doing test screenings for audiences in anticipation of a late 2022 debut, would rank among the most expensive cinematic castoffs ever.  

Those tests were said to be so poorly received by moviegoers that the studio decided to cut its losses and run, for the sake of the brand’s future. It’s a DC disaster….

(14) THE DOOR INTO BUMMER. [Item by Cora Buhlert.] I found this USA Today headline funny for all the wrong reasons: “Fact check: Scientists at CERN are not opening a ‘portal to hell’”.

… The accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, had undergone repairs and upgrades, and scientists plan to use it to crash protons together and learn more about the origins of the universe.

Nevertheless, social media users are suggesting that the machine has a different purpose. A Facebook post shared July 5 shows a TikTok video of a woman who claims that CERN scientists are using the machine to open a doorway for demons.

“If y’all don’t know about cern it’s a demonic/Evil machine that opens up portals to other dimensions/Hell/other spiritual worlds(not Heaven/or bosom of Abraham)and it brings in demons wicked spirits/High Evil Principalities,” reads the caption of the post….

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Stray,” Fandom Games, in a spoiler-filled episode, says that Stray is “A playable Internet cat video, wrapped around a cyberpunk dystopia” but the least realistic thing about it is that the cat follows a robot’s instructions, because a real cat would “ignore you for four hours and then throw up on your carpet.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Jennifer Hawthorne, Cora Buhlert, PhilRM, Todd Mason, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

Pixel Scroll 8/26/17 M. Glyer’s Classic Tale Of Wretched Hives And High Tsundokus

(1) CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING. Have comic cons reached a saturation point, or is it a problem with this company in particular, which turned over CEOs last year? ICv2 says gateshow runner Wizard World continues to tank — “Wizard World Sales Drop Nearly 50%”.

Wizard World has released its Q2 financials, and the situation has deteriorated even further from the big loss in Q1 (see “Wizard World Revenue Decline Produces Big Operating Loss“).  Sales declined 49% in Q2 compared to the same quarter last year, and the company had an operating loss of $1.9 million, compared to a $475,000 operating profit in Q2 2016.

…The company says it is planning 22 events in 2017, and hoping to increase revenue over 2016.  That seems a bit of a stretch at this point, with first half sales over $6 million less in 2017 than in 2016.

(2) HOLLYN ON CARSON CENTER ADVISORY BOARD. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln announces: “Carson Center taps arts, entertainment leaders”.

Twenty-five international leaders and innovators in new media will offer their advice and expertise to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s new Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts.

Founding Director Megan Elliott on Aug. 23 announced the center’s initial advisory board, which will partner in the center’s strategic planning and offer valuable industry insight. The board includes leaders in art, technology, gaming, television and film, design, interactivity, communications and business, among other fields, with experience and connections with mainstays such as Lucasfilm, YouTube, Google, Disney and Paramount Pictures.

One of them is a longtime fan —

Norman Hollyn, the Michael Kahn Endowed Chair in Film Editing at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Hollyn is a longtime film, TV and music editor.

(3) UNCOMFORTABLY CLOSE. Now that its publisher’s attempt to game the NY Times Bestseller list has caused the internet to turn a glaring spotlight on Handbook for Mortals, more of their tricks are coming to light — like the cover’s similarity to another artist’s work.

(4) IT GETS VERSE. And Fran Wilde has commemorated the book’s delisting with this parody:

(5) KEEP THE MONEY COMING. Sofawolf’s Kickstarter to publish T. Kingfisher’s Summer in Orcus as an illustrated book has reached all its stretch goals, but if in the remaining hours of the drive they hit $28K then backers will be rewarded with an ebook edition of Black Dogs by Kingfisher’s closer personal friend Ursula Vernon. 🙂

So what’s next? We’ve gone over the financial numbers and everything that we have already committed to, and don’t see enough room for another physical thing without having to introduce some new levels and the resulting chaos that would cause. However, just because we can’t offer another physical thing, doesn’t mean we can’t add on a virtual one.

Many years back, we edited and published the first novel Ursula ever wrote, Black Dogs, as a two-part print edition. For a whole host of reasons (mostly lack of time) we have been slow to tackle the conversion of much of our backlist into eBook format, but we know more than a few of you have been requesting Black Dogs for some time.

Now will be that time.

We’ve gotten the okay from Ursula to release the eBook editions for free to the Kickstarter backers as part of the final stretch goal, which we are going to set at $28K (since we are already almost at $23K and we expect the usual last week frenzy). This will be added to all levels from $8 (Baba Yaga) on up.

If you are not familiar with the story, we want to stress that Black Dogs is not like Summer in Orcus in many ways. While it too centers around a young girl, in this case named Lyra, it is an altogether harsher world which she inhabits; and she both comes from and passes through some dark places to get where she is going. The writing is both clearly very early Ursula, and at the same time, very clearly all Ursula (or T. Kingfisher, or whomever you care to reference).

(6) GUFF DELEGATE. Donna Maree Hanson is chronicling her fan fund trip online. The entries about museum visits are lavishly illustrated with photos of the exhibits. This excerpt is taken from one of the posts about the Worldcon – “Guff # 6 -The Hugo Awards”.

Then it was our turn to go on stage. The ceremony is on You Tube I believe and was webcast. We were in the beginning section. There was an International group of people presenting, South Africa, Poland, China, US and Australia. We had to sit on a sofa on stage and then after we presented we had a short interview. Amazing, John [the TAFF delegate] and I got to plug the fan auction to like 5000 people! They had John’s name wrong in the script so Karen Lord called him Jeff. We gave John a hard time. So Jeff what did you do with John etc.

After the awards ceremony we were invited to the Hugo Losers’ Party. There was a shuttle bus (a small one) so a lot of people took cabs. We waited with C E Murphy and ? (I’m sorry I forgot your name again) and Nalo Hopkinson, George RR Martin, Pat Catigan and others. A Finish fan guy leaped on the bus and Nalo can I come with you and did.

The venue was Helsinki’s steam punk nightclub. It was crowded by the time we got there. Winners turn up and are boohed and made to wear ridiculous head gear. There was an amazing steampunk cake. Lots of booze. Lots of food and desserts in mini containers. The music was good at first but then we tried to dance and the music went to shit. Go figure. I had a blast but wanted to go home. Beans, my daughter, wanted to party and dance and I didn’t get out of there until around 2 am. But I met people, talked to people. John and Valerie turned up late dressed in their steam punk gear. So cute.

Here is a collection of shots, including the steampunk cake. The steampunk couple are John and Valerie Purcell….

(7) MARS CON IN SEPTEMBER. The 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention will take place September 7-10 at UC Irvine.

The four-day International Mars Society Convention brings together leading scientists, engineers, aerospace industry representatives, government policymakers and journalists to talk about the latest scientific discoveries, technological advances and political-economic developments that could help pave the way for a human mission to the planet Mars.

On opening night the convention will feature a panel of science fiction greats discussing “The Human Future in Space.”

Members of this special panel will include Greg Benford (Timescape, The Martian Race, Chiller), David Brin (Startide Rising, The Uplift War, The Postman), Larry Niven (Ringworld, Lucifer’s Hammer, The Integral Trees) and Jerry Pournelle (Footfall, A Mote in God’s Eye, Starswarm).

The science fiction panel discussion will begin at 7:00 pm at the University of California Irvine (A-311 Student Center) and will be open to the public.

Commenting on the panel, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said, “This will be an extraordinary event. It’s like having a conference panel a generation ago featuring Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke. I can hardly wait.”

(8) ARRRH. Gail Selinger’s new pirate history, Pirates of New England: Ruthless Raiders and Rotten Renegades will be released September 1.

One would be mistaken to think of pirates as roaming only the Caribbean. Pirates as famous as William Kidd and Henry Every have at various times plundered, pillaged, and murdered their way up and down the New England seaboard, striking fear among local merchants and incurring the wrath of colonial authorities. Piracy historian Gail Selinger brings these tales of mayhem and villainy to life while also exploring why New England became such a breeding ground for high seas crime and how the view of piracy changed over time, from winking toleration to brutal crackdown….

Gail Selinger is a maritime historian and pirate expert who served as a consultant on the History Channel’s Modern Marvels: Pirate Tech. Her commentary appears on the DVDs of The Princess Bride and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. She is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pirates and lectures on pirates and pirate history.

(9) NOT THE TERRITORY. Alex Acks explains why “I Don’t  Like Fantasy Maps”. And it’s not because you can never get them folded up again. Here’s the first of 10 points:

Most of them are terrible. Like geographically, geologically terrible. You’ve already probably seen me complain about the map of Middle Earth. From my experience as a reader, and I’ll readily admit that I have neither had the patience nor time to read every fantasy book ever written, the majority of fantasy maps make me want to tear my hair out as a geologist. Many of them are worse than the Tolkien map, and without his fig leaf of mythology to justify it. (And sorry, it’s not a fig leaf that works for me.)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born August 26 – David K.M. Klaus

(11) ALIENS AHEAD. The New York Times previews an upcoming exhibit at UC Riverside: “For Latino Artists in Sci-Fi Show, Everyone’s an Alien”.

Starting Sept. 16, Ms. Cortez’s “Memory Insertion Capsule” will greet visitors to “Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas,” an exhibition at the University of California, Riverside that shows Latin American and Latin-heritage artists mining the tropes of science fiction.

Some, like Ms. Cortez, have created startling objects that offer portals into alternative worlds or mimic time machines. Others use the imagery of extraterrestrials to express something of the immigrant’s alienating experience. Most engage in the speculative thinking long associated with science-fiction literature and film to explore social issues.

(12) COURSE CORRECTION. Apparently there was a problem with fulfilling the incentives earned by backers of the 2015 Kickstarter for Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place, because the publisher’s new CEO is trying to make it right.

I know that there are some of you who either weren’t sent the correct rewards or any rewards at all. I sincerely apologize for this. There is absolutely NO reason that you shouldn’t have your rewards by now. That is unacceptable and just a little ridiculous. You have our apologies. We’ll absolutely be correcting this sort of problem.

I also wanted it known that Jaym (Gates) is absolutely NOT to blame for the delays. That falls squarely on our shoulders. Throughout, Jaym has been absolutely professional and has worked hard as your advocate. I also wanted to issue a public apology to Jaym for all the delays as well. Thank you for all your hard work and patience, Jaym. We really appreciate it.

Now, onto fulfillment and reward questions. Right now, I’m going through and trying to figure out who has gotten what and who hasn’t. We’re taking steps to get this sorted out immediately and to get everything to you all that you backed in short order.

To that end, it would help us greatly if you would take a few moments and fill this form out –

Genius Loci Backer Form

(13) WHEN TROI WAS ALMOST CANNED. Paramount wanted to let Marina Sirtis know who was wielding the hammer in these contract negotiations.

The final film for the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew was nearly short one cast member. According to Marina Sirtis, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Deanna Troi, negotiations for her return in Star Trek: Nemesis were not going smoothly and at one point Paramount Pictures threatened to replace her in the film with Jeri Ryan, the actress who played the Borg Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager. …While this is the first time that Sirtis has openly discussed the threat, Ryan has mentioned in it the past, saying that she was utterly confused by how Seven of Nine could possibly make sense showing up in a Star Trek: The Next Generation movie. With Star Trek: Voyager off the air as of 2001, Seven of Nine technically wasn’t doing anything else, but with much of Star Trek: Nemesis revolving around Troi’s wedding the film’s script would have needed a serious rewrite to account for Troi’s absence and Seven of Nine’s introduction.

 

(14) MORE ABOUT W75. Sarah Groenewegen’s Worldcon 75 report is rich in info about the panels: “WorldCon75 – All bound for Helsinki”.

Anyway, I didn’t end up seeing too many panels. I heard about some excellent ones, which will no doubt be highlighted in other reviews and reminiscences. The one that I did see that stood out was the one supposed to be on pre-Harry Potter magical schools. While I quite enjoyed it and found some of the panellists interesting – and I would have like to hear more about Italian versions, rather than just the Anglophone ones – it was a victim of too many panellists for 45 minutes, and the moderator was less than optimally effective, especially when a latecomer arrived on the panel and took over.

The Resistance panel was also good, but very heavily US-centric, saved by Kameron Hurley talking about her experiences in South Africa and drawing on her academic work in the field.

I enjoyed the one on Cyberpunk with Pat Cadigan (but, honestly, I could listen to her all day), and I found Quifan Chen’s contributions to be fascinating about real-life now cyberpunk cities in his native China. I’m reading Pat’s Synners, at long last, and greatly enjoying it.

(15) MAPS OF THE STARS HOMES. For those who have been worried about aliens tracking us down and mugging us based on information we’ve sent into the universe, this might represent good news…. Ethan Siegel tells Medium readers, “Voyager’s ‘Cosmic Map’ of Earth’s location is hopelessly wrong”.

Located throughout the galaxy, the Voyager golden records are emblazoned with the relative orientations, distances, and pulse timing frequencies of 14 different pulsars. (The Pioneer 10 and 11 missions also have the pulsar information on them.)…

Pulsars were only first discovered 50 years ago (by Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, above) in 1967; they were incredibly novel still when the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft were launched. Now that we have a better understanding of how they work, how ubiquitous they are, and how their apparent properties change over time, we can see that these are terrible long-term beacons! In hindsight, it would have been better to put together the astronomical properties of the Sun, along with the masses, radii, atmospheric contents, and orbital parameters of the planets. After all, those are the pieces of information we use to identify exoplanet systems today, and would be the best way to, on a long-term basis, identify our Solar System.

(16) BANGING ON. Someone wants to know: “Is Canada’s official residence in Ireland haunted?”

Canada’s ambassador to Ireland is concerned about ghosts.

Specifically, Ambassador Kevin Vickers is worried about a spirit that might be haunting Canada’s official residence in Dublin.

In a recent Facebook post, the ambassador describes hearing unusual bangs, laboured breathing and heavy footsteps in the residence’s halls.

Mr Vickers, a history buff, suggests it may be the spirit of one of the leaders of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising.

When he first moved into the residence, the ambassador heard rumours that Irish nationalist Patrick Pearse had once lived at the home in Dublin’s Ranelagh district.

Pearse was one of the architects of the April 1916 rebellion to overthrow British rule and set up an Irish republic.

(17) MINNEAPOLIS FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has posted a photo-illustrated audio recording on YouTube of the “Minneapolis Fandom, 4th Street Fantasy & Music” panel at Balticon 51.

Geri Sullivan (Balticon 51 Fan Guest of Honor) and Steven Brust (Balticon 51 Special Guest) tell the true story of Minneapolis fandom from rent parties to 4th Street Fantasy to the music. Steve talks about how he programmed conventions, and where he got the idea for his first book, and Geri talks about her first years in fandom. There are great anecdotes about Steve, convention running and more, but overwhelmingly this audio program (with supplemental images) is about the music and culture of Minneapolis fandom. The fan history program was developed for Balticon 51 by the Fanac Fanhistory project.

 

[Thanks to Greg Hullender, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Paul Weimer, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor Hampus Eckerman.]

Steven Brust’s Fourth Street Fantasy Remarks Generate Heat

Steve Brust opened last weekend’s Fourth Street Fantasy convention in Minneapolis with a short speech that used the term “safe space” to make an impact – and succeeded, for better or worse. He upset a number of hearers and ignited a controversy that has played out on Facebook and several blogs in the past two days.

Steven Brust posted his text: “My opening remarks at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention”

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is not a safe space. On the contrary, it is a very unsafe space. Of course, it ought to be safe in the sense of everyone feeling physically safe, and in the sense that there should be no unwanted harassment, and it should be free of personal attacks of any kind. But other than that, it is not safe.

Your beliefs about writing, and my beliefs about writing, and what is good, and how to make it good, should be sufficiently challenged to make us uncomfortable.

The interaction of art and politics is getting more and more in our faces. Whether this is good or bad is beside the point (although I think it’s good); it reflects changing social conditions, intensification of conflicts. Anyone who thinks art is independent of social conditions is as hopelessly muddled as someone who thinks there is a direct, simplistic 1:1 correspondence between them.

The result of this is that political understanding, unexamined assumptions, agendas, are very much present in the art we create and thus in the discussions of that art.

If no one feels unsafe, or unthreatened during these discussions, we’re doing them wrong. The same is true in discussing technique, because technique, content, form, attitude toward the creation and role of art, and understanding of society, are all interconnected, and in challenging one, we are liable to find ourselves challenging another….

Scott Lynch delivered the Fourth Street Fantasy board’s closing statement, which was perceived to be, in part, a response to Brust:

We, the board of the 4th Street Fantasy Convention exist to facilitate energetic and even challenging conversation. We want to provide spaces to do so, in both a moderated and unmoderated fashion. At 4th Street, the conversation is intended to spread from our shared spaces to more private spaces where attendees may consent to discuss, discourse, blather or argue about anything on any terms they desire.

We do not prescribe a mindset or an approach for attending 4th Street. We do not demand that anyone be made to endure anything against their will. We want to provide a space in which everyone feels welcome, and everyone respects the welcome we desire to extend. What we do here can be hard, it can be frightening, it can be exhausting. We want to support you in doing it. We want you to know that we take your needs, your comfort, and your sense of safety very seriously. As a friend of the convention said this weekend, “It is difficult to be bold in front of strangers when you don’t feel fundamentally welcome.” We are here to listen to you, we are here to have your backs, and we are doing our damnedest to kindle that fundamental sense of welcome, to sustain it, and to make it grow, in this year and every year to come.

Lydy Nickerson articulated her negative response to Brust’s opening speech in “The Rules: A Memo for Every Man in My Life”. (Click to see the complete post. There are substantial comments there, too.)

At Fourth Street Fantasy Convention, this year, Steven Brust, from the dais, delivered a speech about safety and free speech that made me so angry I had to leave the room. Since then, various people have talked about the issues of safety, harassment, and free speech, often as a response to that situation, but sometimes as a continuation of other conversations. I have some very specific issues with the things Steven said, but I don’t want to write about them at this moment. Instead, I want to address something that comes up over and over in these conversations, and always from men. “What are the rules?” “How can I know how to behave if you won’t clarify what you want?”

Dear men, please do not ask me to provide to you something that I have never had. I cannot provide you the rules. I do not know what they are, and I never have. I have spent my entire life, my personal, professional, educational, social, and romantic life, navigating the complexities of human interaction without rules. There has never been a point at which my exact decibel level was approved, the exact number of square inches of skin I can expose has been acceptable, a precise hairstyle I could wear that would clearly communicate who and what I was. I have spent my entire life being judged by a set of shifting rules.

I have spent my entire life being lied to about what those rules were. If I talk too softly, no one listens, but if I speak more loudly, I am bitchy and dismissed. If I am clear and logical, I am mocked for inadequately mimicking maleness, but if I am emotional, I am mocked for being too feminine and not worth paying attention to. There is no level of dress that does not open me up to either being a prude or a slut.

The penalties for transgressing these ever-shifting “rules” vary. Sometimes, it’s just being unpersoned. Sometimes it is getting a bad job-performance review. Sometimes, it’s unwanted and uncomfortable conversations. Always, at the back of my mind, has been the knowledge that if I girl wrong at the wrong guy, I might be physically assaulted. And if that were to happen, my entire girl-ness would then be on trial. What was I wearing? What did I say? How did I say it? Was it my fault? Oh, yes, some percentage of the population will assert, it was totally my fault. Because I didn’t follow a rule that, you know, doesn’t actually apply all the time, isn’t written down, is entirely contextual, and nobody every told me in the first place.

Rules are a luxury that I have never had. The only way rules have ever applied to me is as a stick to beat me with. They are a shifting landscape of horror. I don’t know if all-male spaces have clear, comfortable rules that everybody knows and the penalties are clear. I rather doubt it, but I don’t know. What I do know is that to be a woman in this culture is to be constantly moving through a space where expectations are variable, and are rigidly enforced on a whim, and can dramatically affect my life.

When we talk about harassment, safety, and safe spaces, stop asking me for rules. You never gave me any, and so I have none to give you. All I can offer you is this shifting, difficult, dangerous, ambiguous space that I live in. If you want to be an ally, if, indeed, you want to be my friend, you must learn to inhabit this uncomfortable space with me. You must accept that there aren’t clear rules where you can know that you are right….

Will Shetterly defended Brust’s use of language: “Ideology makes you confuse the literal and the metaphorical–a bit about the 4th Street Kerfuffle”.

The people who’re upset by Steve’s talk are unable to see that his opening lines are metaphorical:

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is not a safe space. On the contrary, it is a very unsafe space.

And they’re unable to see that his third line is literal:

Of course, it ought to be safe in the sense of everyone feeling physically safe, and in the sense that there should be no unwanted harassment, and it should be free of personal attacks of any kind.

If you think about his statement logically, there’s no reason to interpret the first two lines as saying he wants 4th Street to be a place that’s physically unsafe, and there’s every reason to think his third line means exactly what it says. But humans aren’t logical. To people who think of safe spaces as sacred spaces, any questioning of the idea is taboo. At least one of Steve’s critics insists they do understand metaphor. But if that’s true, why are they upset?

Steve Brust wrote a follow-up on his blog, the end of which reads:

Evidently I was wrong. And, while one can always blame the reader for failing to understand, when enough readers get it wrong, one begins to side-eye the writer.

So let me state clearly and for the record I do not support that kind of atmosphere, I do not want that kind of convention, and I deeply apologize for any pain or fear that was caused by anyone thinking I did mean that.  My fault, not yours.

ETA: It’s worth pointing out that it isn’t just a matter of reading, but that this was a speech, not presented as text, and a speech that, moreover, I deliberately opened with a shocker.  This makes more reasonable the number of people who went past the “physically safe” and “no harassment” parts.  Again, my bad.

Flint Won’t Make It To Balticon 51; Brust Added As Special Guest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society announced that Balticon 51 Guest of Honor, Eric Flint, will not be able to travel to the con due to health constraints; he will, however, be attending some sessions via video teleconference.

Flint has been battling cancer, and opportunistic diseases such as pneumonia, which he discussed on Facebook.

Author and musician Steven Brust, the author of the Draegara fantasy novels, the Incrementalists secret-history series, To Reign In Hell, and Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grill will be coming to Balticon 51 as a Special Guest. A lot to look forward to — Brust’s resume reads: “I’m the author of twenty-six novels and one solo record. I’m an enthusiastic amateur drummer, guitarist, banjo player, and poker player.”

The 1632 MiniCon is still a go. While series creator Flint will be missing, all of the other contributors to the 1632 universe are still coming to Balticon 51, so the 1632 programming will carry on.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 3/18/17 Your Mother Was A Scroller And Your Father Smelt Of Pixelberries

(1) CLARIFICATION. In my report about Sunil Patel the other day I conflated two separate social media comments that were each about two different newly-published Patel stories that came out very recently.

Just before Twitter started circulating angry anti-Diabolical Plots tweets (because of the story published there), there had been a complaint about Patel’s story “The Tragedy of the Dead Is They Cannot Cry” in Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge, view-able from the front page.

Whether or not Galaxy’s Edge can accurately be called “sad-puppy-adjacent,” it makes more sense that somebody might apply the label there than to David Steffen, who published the Long List anthologies as a very deliberate middle finger to the Puppies.

(2) MORE THAN HEY YOU. Steven Brust on “Fantasy Writing and Titles of Nobility”.

For Americans there is an element of the romantic and the exotic about titles of nobility, about Baron Soandso, or Count Thisandsuch, that I suspect is missing, or at any rate different, for who were raised in places where a feudal aristocracy was part of history..  In reality, the feudal landlords were vicious bloodsuckers—when not for personal reasons, than simply because of the nature of the property relations that ultimately defined everyone’s life.  What I am not about to do is suggest is that American fantasy writers ignore the exotic and romantic elements—your readers have them in their heads, and unless you see your job is primarily pedagogical (which I do not), what is in the reader’s head is key: it is easier to play with the reader’s head if you work with what you know is rattling around in there.

(3) RACISM TAKES EXTRA WORK. Justina Ireland offers one more reason why “Writing is Hard: Racism in a Fantasy Landscape”. The excerpt covers the first of her four points.

I touched on the idea of dismantling racism within a fantasy setting on twitter earlier this week.  Authors, especially white authors, like to tackle ideas of racism within fantasy settings by creating fake races for the point of view characters to be racist against.  This seems like a good idea in theory, but it is actually harder than just writing fantasy cultures that have a correlation to real world cultures and deconstructing real world racism within a fantasy setting.

Here’s why:

  1. You have to teach a reader about the power structures in your fantasy world. And then deconstruct them.  Part of writing fantasy is about teaching a reader how to read your book.  This involves setting up scenes that illustrate the possible outcomes that can exist in your fantasy world.  Can your characters use magic? Great, now you have to show the reader the price of that magic, or the societal ramifications of that magic.  But you also will have to do that for the racism against the made up races within your book.  So creating a made up race creates more work to be done on the page.

(4) A BETTER TANGLED WEB. Aidan Doyle begins his explanation of the Twine program in “Writer’s Guide to Twine” at the SFWA Blog.

Twine was created by Chris Klimas in 2009 and is “an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories.” Simply put, it’s a program that makes it easier for writers to make their own “Choose Your Own Adventure” style fiction. There are a number of tools for writing interactive fiction, but Twine is one of the simplest and most popular.

Interactive Fiction (IF) comes in many forms, including text-based parser games such as Zork where the player types in commands (Go north. Eat chocolate. Talk to green wizard). If you want to make this style of game, then Inform is probably your best option. Ken Liu’s Clockwork Soldier is an example of a traditional story which has IF-like commands embedded within it.

In contrast, stories written in Twine generally present the reader with choices in the form of hypertext links. Although there are many systems available for writing IF, Twine in particular has been celebrated for its ease of use. Twine is more focused on stories as opposed to games and produces HTML files, allowing anyone with a modern browser to read your story.

(5) BERRY OBIT. Rock’n roll legend Chuck Berry passed away today.

(6) THE FORCE IN ARIZONA. Phoenix public radio station KJZZ had a six-minute piece about Jedi-ism’s rise. (Listen at the link.)

The Star Wars universe has been a vital part of popular culture for more than 40 years, and that passion was renewed by the box-office smash “The Force Awakens.”

And thousands of people have decided that they want the force to be with them, even when they’re not watching one of the films.

They have decided to practice Jedi-ism. And here with me to explain its tenets and more is Jodie Vann, an instructor in ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

(7) MONOPOLY BROKEN. Or improved. It alll depends on how you feel about the change.

The boot has been booted, the wheelbarrow has been wheeled out, and the thimble got the thumbs down in the latest version of the board game Monopoly. In their place will be a Tyrannosaurus rex, a penguin and a rubber ducky.

More than 4.3 million voters from 146 countries weighed in on which tokens they wanted to see in future versions of the property-acquisition game, which is based on the real-life streets of Atlantic City. Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro announced the winners Friday morning.

(8) QUANTUM OF STROLLERS. Bruce Arthurs came across some of these “quantum physics for babies” books by Chris Ferrie listed on Goodreads Giveaways and thought they might be quirky enough for a Pixel Scroll mention: Books.

Quantum Physics for Babies is a colorfully simple introduction to the principle which gives quantum physics its name. Baby will find out that energy is “quantized” and the weird world of atoms never comes to a stand still. It is never too early to become a quantum physicist!

The author, Chris Ferrie, is an actual quantum theorist who self-published the original Quantum Physics For Babies; surprise, it took off well enough Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (childrens books division of Sourcebooks) will be coming out with an entire series starting in May.

Ferrie’s recently-started blog is fun too. Here’s an excerpt from “Milking a new theory of physics”:

For the first time, physicists have found a new fundamental state of cow, challenging the current standard model. Coined the cubic cow, the ground-breaking new discovery is already re-writing the rules of physics.

A team of physicists at Stanford and Harvard University have nothing to do with this but you are probably already impressed by the name drop. Dr. Chris Ferrie, who is currently between jobs, together with a team of his own children stumbled upon the discovery, which was recently published in Nature Communications*.

The spherical theory of cow had stood unchallenged for over 50 years—and even longer if a Russian physicist is reading this. The spherical cow theory led to many discoveries also based on O(3) symmetries. However, spherical cows have not proven practically useful from a technological perspective. “Spherical cows are prone to natural environmental errors, whereas our discovery digitizes the symmetry of cow,” Ferrie said.

(9) MORE MARS BUZZ. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the Moon, has launched a virtual reality movie detailing his plan to get humans to Mars. The BBC has the video — Buzz Aldrin takes you to Mars in VR.

The film – Cycling Pathways to Mars – lasts just under 10 minutes and features the astronaut as a hologram narrating the experience.

Mr Aldrin’s plan involves using the moons of Earth and Mars essentially as pitstops for people travelling to and from the Red Planet – a trip that will take about six months each way.

(10) FOR THE ROUND FILE. Chip Hitchcock says, “If you thought the jet-boarder wasn’t extreme enough, somebody pushing circular runways. He says it’s to prevent crosswind landings — but airports that could afford such a mishegoss can certainly afford enough runways to avoid this hazard, and as a former lightplane pilot (who had to learn about heavy ops to get an instrument rating) I see so many things wrong with this idea.”

(11) IN A COMMA. The BBC notices the Oxford-comma case, and provides several other examples of expensive errors in comma use.

(12) FROM BBC TO BB-8. “Droids Interrupt Darth Vader Interview” is a parody of the “Children Interrupt BBC Interview” viral video.

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Bruce Arthurs, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Gregory N. Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 2/22/17 Scroll Me A Pixel And I Reply, Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie

(1) EARTH ][. Or maybe Seveneves for Seven Brothers. “NASA Telescope Reveal Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star”

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

 

(2) COMMON SENSES. Mary Robinette Kowal did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today where someone asked her opinion of this writing advice —

“Include all five senses on every single page of your manuscript. That’s every 250 words.”

This is stupid. Yes, you should include all five senses, but at that pace, it becomes muddy. Plus your main character probably isn’t running around licking the walls.

When you’re there, check the schedule of upcoming AMA’s on the right-hand side of the page. An almost-relentless list of heavy hitters, including Yoon Ha Lee on March 30, Aliette de Bodard on April 25, and Gregory Benford on May 16.

(3) SF HALL OF FAME IS BACK. “Prepare to party like it’s 3001” may not scan very closely with Prince’s lyrics, but that’s how MoPOP is inviting people to attend the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame which opens March 4 in Seattle.

Join MoPOP for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Celebration honoring the Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary.

  • Featuring guests of honor: Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency); Wende Doohan, wife of the late James Doohan (Star Trek); Robyn Miller (Myst co-creator); and more
  • Live performances by Roladex, DJ Kate (False Prophet), and the all-female Wonder Woman-loving marching band, Filthy FemCorps
  • Trek Talk panel exploring Star Trek’s 50-year impact on pop culture, fandom, and geekery
  • Hall of Fame spotlights on the mammoth Sky Church screen
  • Costume parade, MovieCat trivia, gaming, and activities
  • Stellar photo ops, themed food and drink specials, and beyond

Tickets include admission into MoPOP’s Infinite Worlds of Science FictionFantasy: Worlds of Myth & Magic, Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds, and the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame gallery.

(4) TECHNOLOGY SHOULD NOT BE MUSHED UP. The future is not yet: UPS drone has glitches.

The delivery firm UPS has unveiled a drone-launching truck – but the event did not go completely to plan.

One aircraft failed to launch properly and was then nearly destroyed….

The Horsefly octacopter involved was made by Ohio-based Workhorse Group.

The initial test went well, with the aircraft launching from a platform built into the truck’s slide-open roof.

But a second attempt was more problematic.

The drone tipped over when it tried to take off, rocked back and was then nearly crushed when the truck’s roof began to close over the launch pad where the machine was still sitting.

(5) BUGS MR. RICO! This Saturday is the annual Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois here in Champaign-Urbanana (typo intentional). Jim Meadows explains:

The festival is put on by the university’s entomology department, using cheesy insect sf movies with bad science, to educate the public through reverse example.

This weekend, their guest is University of Illinois alumnus Paul Hertzberg, executive producer of the two movies being shown:  “Caved In” (2006) (with nasty beetles, I think) and 2016’s “2 Lava 2 Lantua” (nasty tarantulas — a sequel to “Lavalantula” which was shown at the festival last year).

The SyFy cable channel and its commissioning of cheap TV movies, often involving bugs, has been a godsend to the Insect Fear Film Festival, giving it a fresh supply of insect sf movies to draw from.

(6) BRYANT’S WILD CARDS INTERVIEW. George R.R. Martin has online the video recorded at MidAmeriCon II of Ed Bryant talking about the Wild Cards series.

After we heard about Ed’s death, I contacted Tor to ask them if Ed had been one of the writers they had talked with in Kansas City. I am pleased to say he was, and we can now present his interview to you complete and uninterrupted.

All those who knew and loved him will, I hope, appreciate the opportunity to see and hear from Ed one last time… but I should warn you, there is a bittersweet quality to this tape, in light of what was coming. Sad to say, Ed never did finish that last Wild Cards story he was working on, nor any of the other tales that he hoped to write.

Sooner or later, all of us have to see The Jolson Story. Be that as it may, for one last time, I am honored to present my friend Edward Bryant…

 

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 22, 1630 — Popcorn was first introduced to English colonists by Native Americans.

(8) SPAM OF THE DAY. Daniel Dern tells the story —

I got this PR email (not unreasonably, since I’m a tech journo):

Subject: Feb. 2017: Marketing Tech Secrets Powering Unicorns

To which I replied: Why do I feel this is a Peter S Beagle / Cory Doctorow mashup novel?

(9) EXTRA CREDIT READING. Yes, I should mention The Escapist Bundle again.

You see, the eleven fantastic books in this bundle come from authors tied together by, among other accolades, their inclusion in a single volume of Fiction River, in this case a volume called Recycled Pulp. For those of you unfamiliar with Fiction River, it’s an original anthology series that Adventures Fantastic calls “one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

With 22 volumes published so far, Recycled Pulp proves one of the most creative volumes. Inspired by the fantastic, escapist pulp fiction of the last century, the amazing authors in this volume were tasked with creating modern escapist fiction from nothing but a pulp-inspired title. The results were fantastic, indeed.

The initial titles in the Escapist Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Waking the Witch by Dayle A. Dermatis
  • Hot Waters by Erica Lyon
  • Recycled Pulp by Fiction River
  • The Pale Waters by Kelly Washington
  • Isabel’s Tears by Lisa Silverthorne

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • A Death in Cumberland by Annie Reed
  • Neither Here Nor There by Cat Rambo
  • The Slots of Saturn by Dean Wesley Smith
  • The War and After by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Revolutionary Magic by Thomas K. Carpenter
  • Tales of Possibilities by Rebecca M. Senese

This bundle is available for the next 22 days only.

(10) VIRGIN FIELD EPIDEMIC. Steven Brust thinks con crud has been around for awhile.

Yes – that’s practically the Curse of King Tut’s Tomb.

(11) OH THE HUMANITY. “Two Huge Sci-Fi Novels Were Snubbed by the Nebula Awards” and Inverse contributor Ryan Britt is overwrought:

On Tuesday, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America released its nominees for the 2016 Nebula Awards and there were two glaring omissions in the category for Best Novel. Cixin Liu’s Death’s End and Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey. Does the nominating committee of the Nebulas have something against science fiction that everyone loves?

(12) STICK YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR EARS AND GO ‘LA LA LA’. Can Arrival win? Inverse skeptically takes “A Historical Look at Why Science Fiction Always Gets Screwed at the Oscars”.

1969’s 41st Academy Awards is a kind of patient zero for how respectable science fiction movies would be treated at the Oscars for the rest of time. The Academy had to acknowledge some good special effects and makeup, and at least give a shout-out to original writing. Science fiction received a pat on the head in 1969, but 2001: A Space Odyssey — maybe the best sci-fi movie ever made — didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture. And, like 1969, 2017’s intelligent sci-fi movie, Arrival, is pitted against an Oscar-bait favorite: the musical La La Land. In 1969, the musical Oliver! won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Art Direction. Clearly, the Academy prefers singing and dancing to thoughtful reflection on the meaning of existence.

Although when you put it in those terms, who doesn’t?

(13) NO COUNTRY FOR OLD SPACEMEN. Woody Harrelson has had a pretty good career, and will soon add to his resume an appearance in a spinoff from Star Wars. The first picture of the Han Solo film team was released the other day. (Westworld star Thandie Newton will also have a role in the film, though she is not in the photo.)

L to R: Woody Harrelson, Chris Miller, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo (as Chewbacca), Phil Lord and Donald Glover

(14) BRUNCH. Not to be outdone, Twentieth Century Fox issued a photo of the Alien: Covenant cast. Unfortunately, they didn’t furnish a handy key telling who’s who. Maybe that’s less important because so many of these characters will probably get killed before the end of the movie? That’s what we expect to happen in an Alien movie, anyway.

(15) STAR CLICKIN’. ScreenRant found it easy to remember “17 WTF Things Captain Kirk Did”. Here are some of the subheads from the middle of the list. How many of them can you associate with the right episode or movie even before you look?

  1. Threatened To Spank a Planetary Leader
  1. Took Scotty To A Bordello To Cure His “Total Resentment Towards Women”
  1. Created the Khan Problem in the First Place
  1. Didn’t Tell Anyone Else He Knew They Weren’t Really “Marooned For All Eternity”
  1. Cheated on a Test — And Made It Really Obvious
  1. Pissed Off “God”

(16) PROPOSED WORLDCON 75 PANEL. It isn’t the joke, it’s how you tell it.

The Rosetta Stone for deciphering this cryptic exchange is Ursula Vernon’s 2012 blog post “In Which I Win A Hugo And Fight Neil Gaiman For Free Nachos”.

…Pretty much the minute I handed the Hugo to Kevin and sat down, the fact that I was running on a mango smoothie and crabcakes hit me, and I wanted a cheeseburger or a steak or something RIGHT NOW. The Loser’s party had a small free nacho bar. It was very tight quarters, and I had to squeeze past a curly-haired man in a dark suit who was….ah.

Yes.

“I shall dine out for years,” I said, “on the story of how I shoved Neil Gaiman aside to get to the free nachos.”

He grinned. “When you tell the story, in two or three years, as you’ve added to it, please have me on the floor weeping, covered in guacamole.”

“I think I can promise that,” I said.

(17) MEANWHILE, BACK IN 1992. Tom Hanks frames a clip of Ray Harryhausen receiving the Gordon E. Sawyer Award from Ray Bradbury at the Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards.

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Steven Brust and Skyler White’s The Incrementalists

“Watch Steven Brust. He’s good. He moves fast. He surprises you. Watching him untangle the diverse threads of intrigue, honor, character and mayhem from amid the gears of a world as intricately constructed as a Swiss watch is a rare pleasure.”
— Roger Zelazny

THE INCREMENTALISTS

TheIncrementalists

The Incrementalists — a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.

Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste?and argued with her?for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules?not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.

FIREWORKS IN THE RAIN

  • An original short story about some of the same characters published by Tor.com in 2013. Read the story here

THE SKILL OF OUR HANDS
sequel to The Incrementalists

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Skills of Our Hands

The Incrementalists are a secret society of two hundred people; an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations and time.

They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, a little bit at a time.

Now Phil, the Incrementalist whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has been shot dead. They’ll bring him back—but first they need to know what happened. Their investigation will lead down unexpected paths in contemporary Arizona, and bring them up against corruption in high and low places alike.

But the key may lay in one of Phil’s previous lives, in Kansas in 1859, and the fate of a man named John Brown.

Available for pre-order at Amazon and other retailers.

[Post by Carl Slaughter.]

Chapter Five Esk 8/29 Ancillary Doghouse

(1) Laura J. Mixon’s Hugo speech and a great deal more commentary at – “Acceptance Speech Online! And Other Post-Hugo Neepery”

Tonight, I honor Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Tricia Sullivan, Athena Andreadis, Rachel Manija Brown, Kari Sperring, Liz Williams, Hesychasm, Cindy Pon, and the many others targeted for abuse, whose experiences I documented in my report last fall. They’re great writers and bloggers—read their works!

Thanks go to those who stood up for them: Tade Thompson, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Pat Cadigan, Sherwood Smith, and Nalo Hopkinson. Read their works too!

Thanks also to those who helped me with my research behind the scenes. You know who you are, and we wouldn’t be here with you, either. Thanks to George RR Martin, who boosted me for this award, and to all who voted for me.

I wrote my report out of love for this community. Out of a rejection of abusive behavior and the language of hate. There’s room for all of us here. But there is no middle ground between “we belong here” and “no you don’t,” which is what I hear when people disrespect members of our community. I believe we must find non-toxic ways to discuss our conflicting points of view. I plan to keep working toward that, in ways true to my own values and lived experiences. And I hope you all will, too. Science fiction and fantasy literature is our common bond and our common legacy. It belongs to all of us. Those who deny that do great harm.

I see our conflict as a reflection of a much larger societal struggle, as Robert Silverberg referred to, and I stand with people from marginalized groups who seek simply to be seen as fully human. Black lives matter. Thank you.

(2) Melina on Subversive Reader – “A Letter To ‘Old’ Hugo Voters from a ‘New’ Hugo Voter”

  1. We don’t necessarily bring the same schema to our voting as you do

Part of being part of a community for a while means you start knowing the players. You know that Joanne Bloggs edits for that publisher, and Jane Smith worked with those people who love her. As a new voter, you don’t necessarily know that – it’s possible that the new voter is dipping their toes into the inner circle of knowledge for the very first time.

This is where the packet is a brilliant idea – all the information a new voter needs to fairly judge a person or piece of writing against others. Except, in 2015, there were times when the packet just sucked (and I’m not just talking about the writing). Several of the awards ask us to judge a person’s output over a year – best editors, best fan writer, the art awards etc. And while some categories did this well (the art categories) others provided little or no example of what the nominees were achieving.

This is especially clear in the editing categories. I’ve heard a number of commentators complaining that these categories shouldn’t have been No Awarded without any of them acknowledging that the packets were either thin on quality work or pretty much non existent. Additionally, there weren’t a lot of credible commentators advocating that we vote for one editor or another. So how is a new voter supposed to know that we should vote for a certain editor without evidence or advocacy?

 

  1. No Award is not a tragedy or unethical

The option to use No Award is brilliant. It allows us to consider the works that are nominated, judge them according to our own criteria and say ‘nope’ when we think the work doesn’t reach the level a Hugo winner should reach. It’s like the perfect anti bell-curve mechanism.

So, when a No Award is awarded, it’s not a tragedy. It’s the voters, as a group, saying yeah, no, none of the nominated work was good enough. We’re not going to lower our standards just because that’s what was nominated. Try again next year.

Standards are fabulous. It makes sure that we’re celebrating the very best. It shows that we really value excellence in the winners.

Yes there were a lot of No Awards in 2015. That’s because the work nominated was not of a high enough quality to win or got on the ballot in a way we do not agree with as a community. Our standards are high and we should be proud of that.

(3) It’s a theory —

(4) CBC Radio’s news program As It Happens did an interview with Mary Robinette Kowal about the Puppies on August 28, so I’m told. I haven’t listened to it myself. The link to the program is here. Kowal reportedly begins at 16:40.

Hugo Awards flap

A group of angry reactionaries tries to hijack the biggest awards in science fiction and fantasy — but it turns out there’s no space for their opinions.

(5) Elizabeth Bear on Charlie’s Diary – “How I learned to stop worrying and love the concept of punitive slating…”

The Rabid Puppies, though, are self-declared reavers out to wreck the Hugos for everybody. I think their organizer Vox Day has made himself a laughingstock, personally—he’s been pitching ill-thought-out tantrums in SFF since before 2004, and all he ever brings is noise. But he and his partisans seem to be too ego-invested to admit they’re making fools of themselves, so they’ll never quit.

So it’s totally possible that the Rabid Puppy organizers and voters, in the spirit of burning it all down, would nominate a slate consisting of the sort of vocal anti-slate partisans who could conceivably swing legitimate Hugo nominations on fan support, having a track record of the same.

I’m talking about people such as our good host Charlie Stross, John Scalzi, George R.R. Martin, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and myself. Or just, you know, people they hate—the categories overlap. The goal here would be to then attempt to either force us to withdraw or refuse nominations to prove our lack of hypocrisy, or for fandom to again No Award the whole process. This is the Human Shield option, which—in a slightly different application—is what led to the inclusion on the Rabid Puppy slate of uninvolved parties such as Marko Kloos, Annie Bellet, Black Gate, Jim Minz, and so on in 2015.

This possibility concerns me a bit more, but honestly, I think it’s pretty easy to manage. First of all, I’m going to state up front that I will never willingly participate in a slate. If I learn that I have been included on a slate, I will ask to be removed, and I will bring as much force to bear on that issue as I legally can.

Additionally, I’m going to rely on the discretion of readers and fans of goodwill, who I think are pretty smart people. If you see my name on a slate, please assume that it’s being done by ruiners to punish me, and that whoever put it there has ignored my requests to remove it. I have nothing but contempt for that kind of behavior, and I’m frankly not going to do anything to please them at all.

(6) Ann Leckie – “On Slates”

First off, I deplore slates. In the context of the Hugos, they are an asshole move. Just don’t slate.

Second off, I am saying unequivocally that I do not agree to be on anyone’s slate, do not approve of my inclusion in any slate, and anyone who slates a work of mine is thereby demonstrating their extra-strong motivation to be seen as an asshole.

Now, there’s some concern that assholes making up a slate for next year would deliberately include the work of people they hate, in order to force those people to withdraw any nominations they might get. This might be a genuine concern for some writers. It is not one of mine.

(7) John Scalzi on Whatever – “Final(ish) Notes on Hugos and Puppies, (2015 Edition)” 

[From the second of ten points.]

The going line in those quarters at the moment is that the blanket “No Award” just proves the Hugo Awards are corrupt. Well, no, that’s stupid. What the blanket “No Award” judgment shows is that the large mass of Hugo voters don’t like people trying to game the system for their own reasons that are largely independent of actual quality of work. In the Sad Puppy case the reasons were to vent anger and frustration at having not been given awards before, and for Brad Torgersen to try to boost his own profile as a tastemaker by nominating his pals (with a few human shields thrown in). In the Rabid Puppy case it was because Vox Day is an asshole who likes being an asshole to other people. And in both cases there was a thin candy shell of “Fuck the SJWs” surrounding the whole affair.

The shorter version of the above: You can’t game the system and then complain that people counteracting your gaming of the system goes to show the system is gamed. Or you can, but no one is obliged to take you seriously when you do.

(8) David Gerrold on Facebook

Given all those different belief systems, any attempt to discuss healing and recovery is likely to be doomed — because it’s no longer about “I’m right and you’re wrong” as much as it is about, “my story about all this is the only story.” That’s not just a difference of degree, it’s an attempt to control the paradigm in which all this is occurring.

Which brings me to the inescapable conclusion — if one person pees in the pool, we’re probably not going to notice it. But if we’re all peeing in the pool, it’s going to start stinking pretty bad.

There is a larger narrative — one that we seem to have forgotten. We are all fans because we are all enthralled by the sense of wonder that occurs when we read a good science fiction story or fantasy. Perhaps we came to this genre looking for escape, but ultimately what makes this genre special is that it’s about all the different possibilities. It’s about who we really want to be — it’s about the question, “What does it mean to be a human being?” Are we slans? Are we transhumans? Are we starship troopers?

As Tananarive said, “There are no final frontiers. There’s only the next one.”

That’s what SF is about — it’s about exploration, discovery, and stepping into the next possibility. Our awards are about excellence, innovation, and merit.

There is room in this community for everyone who brings their enthusiasm. We have steampunk and heroic engineers and fantasy fans and gothic horror and gender-punk and space opera and cyberpunk and deco-punk and alternate histories and utopias and dystopias and zombies and vampires and all the other different niches that make up this vast ecology of wonder.

None of us have the right to define SF — we each define it by what we read and what we write. None of us have the authority to demand or control the behavior of others. The best that any of us can do is recommend and invite. And yes, this is another narrative — a narrative of inclusion that stands in opposition to the narratives of division.

That’s the narrative I choose to live in.

(9) Jeffrey A. Carver on Pushing A Snake Up A Hill “Sad Sad Puppies Affair – Sasquan Roundup, Part 2”

While I stand firmly with the rejection of the gaming effort of the SPs, I feel for those writers and editors who were hurt by the whole affair. Some innocent writers and editors were unwillingly associated with the puppies slate, because the SPs happened to like their work. Other worthy individuals were kept off the final ballot because of the stuffing. Still, the winning novel, The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu), got its place on the ballot because another author withdrew his work after receiving support from the stuffers. Some say that the Hugo Awards as an institution were strengthened by the voters’ repudiation of the attempt to game the system, and I hope that turns out to be true. But it’s hard to say that there were winners in the affected categories. Those writers who were shut out may get another chance, another year, and then again they may not. Either way, it has to hurt.

(10) Adam-Troy Castro – “These Are Not Reasons to Vote For Me For a Hugo”

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because you’re my friend on Facebook.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because you’re my friend in real life.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because we shared a great time at a convention.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because I’m politically liberal and you like what I stand for.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because my strongest opposition is politically conservative and you wish to oppose what they stand for.

Please don’t nominate me for a Hugo because it’s “my turn.”

(11) Adam-Troy Castro – “While I’m At It”

“I am among the finest writers working today.”

That, my friends, is the kind of statement that immediately casts doubt on itself.

(12) Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt – “I’ve Been To The Desert On A Horse With No Name”

Which brings me to: congratulations.  You probably achieved at least half of your objective — to drive out the people who don’t think/act like you and aren’t part of your groups.  It is heartily to be hoped you won’t live to regret it, but don’t bet on it.

So, the show over, and once I’d gotten over being both mad and sad but mostly sad, we started discussing (Kate and Amanda and I) operational details for next year.  Stuff like how many noms, where do we get recommends, do all three of us have to read something before we recommend it, and oh, yeah, logo? patches? t-shirts?  Incredibly threatening stuff like that, you know?  Since Kate, Amanda and I routinely PM and send each other scads of emails everyday (otherwise known as being ‘thick as thieves’) including on all important topics such as “that cute thing the cat did yesterday”, it barely rose above the ambient noise.

So imagine our surprise when Kate got hacked on facebook, not once, not twice but three times in a 24 hour period and her account started spamming sunglass adds.  Coincidence?  I don’t know guys.  One time, maybe.  But three times, when Kate has pretty d*mn good security?  Bah.

(13) Cedar Sanderson on Cedar Writes – “Muzzled Redux”

I still wholeheartedly support the idea of reclaiming the Hugo Awards for excellence above ‘connections’ and even more, the idea of making the Hugo Awards back into a ‘Best of’ rather than a tiny super-minority. I do support the idea of a diverse nomination pool. A really diverse one, where you don’t have to be ‘approved’ by the right people to be included. So it’s not that I was shut out.

Rather, due to full-time (plus some) school and family obligations that need my attention, I cannot afford the time to be slandered right now in public, and this is what will happen. Yes, I have to fear that from the people who are running the show right now. Doubt what I say? One of the people in the front lines, a Latina woman, was accused by a milk-white woman, of using an ethnic slur. Which confused the accused woman, since English is not her first language, maybe it meant something she didn’t know? No… it’s a standard identifier that had been used extensively in the military since the 1950s. The accuser was making up mud to fling and try to make it stick. You can see the inherent hypocrisy, and the reason I have to avoid the poo-flinging monkeys.   The Sad Puppy movement supports me, knows what is happening in my life, but the other side? They wouldn’t care, and would no doubt use it as a tool to try and destroy me.

Pat Patterson in a comment on Cedar Writes

You know the scene in Henry V about the feast of St Crispan? I like the kenneth Branagh version, personally.
Well, on every instance of the Hugo awards, however long they last,
you will be able to strip your sleeve and show your scars and say “These wounds I had as a nominee for the Best Fan Writer Hugo,”
Old dogs forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But you’ll remember, with advantages,
What words you wrote this year. Then shall the names,
Familiar in your mouth as household words-

(14) Steven Brust on The Dream Café – “Who Really Runs the Hugo Awards?”

In a surprising development, the dispute among “Trufans” “SMOFS” “Sad Puppies” and “Rabid Puppies” has produced a result: We now know exactly who runs the Hugo Awards. It turns out to be Mrs. Gladys Knipperdowling, of Grand Rapids, Iowa.

Mrs. Knipperdowling, 81, came forward yesterday to reveal that she has personally chosen all Hugo winners and nominees since 1971 when her aunt Betty “got too old and cranky,” as she put it in an exclusive interview. “I wouldn’t have said anything about it,” she added, “but then I heard there was all of this trouble.”

Asked about the people usually accused of picking the Hugo winners, Mrs. Knipperdowling became confused. She claimed never to have heard of the Nielsen Haydens at all, and when John Scalzi was mentioned, she asked, “Is he the nice young man in the bow tie?”

(15) Dysfunctional Literacy – “I Am No Award!”

alien

I’ve never heard of anybody named No Award, and I’ve never read anything by No Award, but No Award must be awesome.

No Award won so many honors because Hugo voters are in a big argument over stuff that non-Hugo voters don’t care about.  Science fiction fans have always liked to argue about stuff that other people don’t care about.  Before I was born, it was Jules Verne vs. H.G. Wells or Flash Gordon vs. Buck Rogers.  When I was a kid, it was Star Wars vs. Star Trek or Marvel vs. DC.  Today, science fiction fans are divided between social justice warriors and sad puppies.

[Thanks to Mark Dennehy, another Mark, Danny Sichel, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

The Dogcatcher In The Rye 6/17

aka The Summer of our Manufactured Discontent

In today’s roundup: Sarah A. Hoyt, Vox Day, David Gerrold, Steven Brust, John Scalzi, Peter Grant, Laura J. Mixon, Laura Resnick, Spacefaring Kitten, Chris Gerrib, David Gerrold, Adam-Troy Castro, Lis Carey, Larry Correia, Brad Johnson and mysterious others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Nigel and DMS.)

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Fun House Mirrors” – June 17

But I’ve been on a slow simmer since the Irene Gallo comments, and that was brought to a boil yesterday.

Why yesterday, you ask?

Because the hypocritical scum (I apologize to any scum I might have offended) who runs file 770 has been gleefully linking anything of mine that even uses the letters H-u-g- and o in the same paragraph, but yesterday I wrote about his hypocrisy in taking a sentence of mine out of context and linking it with a clever-daft punchline of the “Hydrophobia that falls on you from nowhere” to imply I was homophobic.

Did he link yesterday’s post? Are you kidding? Even though he’s fairly sure his blinded followers will rarely click through, he couldn’t afford to explode his narrative. He’d on the flimsiest of “evidence” – i.e. my refusal to go into details on same sex marriage and other accommodations for more “exotic” orientations in a post to which it wasn’t even incidental – declared me homophobic, and he couldn’t risk the narrative being exploded.

I confess that when my Baen colleagues were making fun of file 770 and going on about “Mike Glyer, Fifty Hugos” (the number of nominations he’d had) I thought they were being a little mean. After all, the man was just well-intentioned and blinkered, and believed the narrative.

Guys, I was wrong, you were right. He’s not deceived, but he willfully deceives. He is not a useful idiot, but one who would seek to make idiots out of others. He’s not the sheep, but the judasgoat.

Why does that matter to me? Why do I get so upset if it’s not true? Isn’t it an axiom (at least on the left side of politics) that you only get upset if it’s secretly true?

[I reminded Sarah A. Hoyt the roundup titles are a trope, not a comment on the writers quoted. She did not take me up on my offer to run another excerpt, so I can only commend the entire post to you — “Dispatches From Another World” – June 12.]

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Updates” – June 17

Since many of you have been asking, no, no one has received any response from anyone at Tor Books or Macmillan. We know at least some of the emails have been read by the recipients. Be patient, we have to give Macmillan time to investigate the situation and discover for themselves just how dysfunctional and unprofessional their U.S. subsidiary is. Remember that Julie Crisp, Editorial Director of Tor UK, left the company “following a review of the company’s science fiction and fantasy publishing” in May, and her public behavior was unobjectionable in comparison with that of Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

Also, Jagi has asked that when you send her your pictures of your Tor books, please tell her what state or country you are from. She’s received them from 65 people to date.

David Gerrold in a comment on Facebook – June 17

So, Vox Day has declared a boycott of Tor Books.

I expect this will be as effective as the Baptist boycott of Disney World.

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The blindness of the ideologically bound” – June 17

And so, when Ms. Gallo accused me – me – of being ‘unrepentantly racist’ purely because I happened to support the Sad Puppy cause, that was the last straw.  I’d heard that lie from SJW’s before, of course, and been able to get over it . . . but lies like that are like the Chinese water torture.  Sooner or later, something’s going to snap.  Her accusations were, to me, unforgivable;  and since she’s never seen fit to retract them, they still are.  Since her employer has seen fit to allow her, and others like her, to pontificate about something of which they apparently know absolutely nothing, to make false accusations and toss denigrations around like confetti, doing so on company time and using company computers and networks . . . that employer is complicit in the whole mess.  Hence my outrage against Tor.  Hence the boycott for which I will call on Friday if Tor and its holding company, Macmillan, don’t act against those responsible.

I won’t take this any more.  I know I’m far from the only Puppy supporter who’s had enough of the SJW’s lies and slanders and libels.  They want a war?  They can have one.

Laura J. Mixon

“I stand with Irene Gallo, and I stand with Tor” – June 17

Bullies and abusers rely on the larger community’s desire for comity—our willingness to live and let live—to impose their will and silence dissent. In such a case, it’s incumbent on people with standing in the community to speak up against them, providing a counterweight to their destructive ideas. By speaking when she did, in my view, Irene was doing what other thought leaders in our field like N. K. Jemisin, John Scalzi, and the Nielsen Haydens have done: guarding the health and well-being of our SFF community by standing up against hate speech.

Some feel the stark terms Irene applied to the Sad and Rabid Puppies movements in her FaceBook post—racist, misogynist, homophobic, neo-nazi—were too harsh and too broadly applied. That she spoke out of turn and had no business criticizing the Sad and Rabid Puppies campaign while promoting a Tor book. They protest that their views are not extreme, and using such terms unfairly maligns them, by lumping them in with someone they don’t support. Some members of the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns have indeed distanced themselves from Beale, and perhaps they were initially unaware of just how extreme his views were.

I believe that communities can grow and change. People can learn; viewpoints can shift. I have a seed of hope that someday, through continued dialog and education, we can find a way through this and mend some of the rifts that this conflict has exposed.

But there is no getting around the fact that a misogynistic, homophobic white supremacist, who has spoken approvingly of shootings and acid attacks on women, and of Hitler and the Holocaust, who has called a respected SFF scholar and popular writer an ignorant, “not equally human” savage, stands at the heart of this conflict. Beale’s followers and fellow travelers may not themselves hold all the bigoted views he does, but information on who he is and how he feels about women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and others has been widely shared by now. If people are emailing you calling for Irene to be fired, they are unavoidably supporting Beale’s hate-filled agenda.

Laura Resnick on Facebook – June 17

I’m guessing that, for a raft of reasons, Tor and Macmillan will not meet any of these demands, and so it seems likely the Puppies will boycott the biggest publisher in our genre starting on Friday. I’m skeptical that a few hundred people will have an effect on a program the size of Tor, and also skeptical that their numbers will grow. So I’m more concerned about what persons, organizations, or businesses will be the Puppies’ next target. I didn’t think they would stop with the Hugos, and I’m skeptical they’ll stop with Tor, either.

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Answering Peter Grant” – June 17

Sad Puppy activist Peter Grant was one of the most vocal people pushing for this week’s hatemail campaign directed at Tor….

He says:

I’ll do my best not to stoop to name-calling, with the exception of referring to the other side as ‘social justice warriors’ or SJW’s. I do so only because I have no other name in my vocabulary to adequately or accurately describe them. If anyone can suggest a better, more acceptable alternative, I’ll be grateful.

I replied in the comments that the best alternative would be Happy Kittens. Sadly, it seems like my comment was deleted.

I’d like to rephrase my suggestion here: please drop the SJW and start using Happy Kittens if you insists on having a handle for the people who are critical of Sad Puppies. It’s not offensive. It’s kind of funny in the same way as Sad Puppies. It looks ridiculous in an angry sentence. Plenty of good reasons.

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Puppy Bites Woman AGAIN, Pictures at 11 !!!!” – June 17

I find a notable fact buried in the piles of puppy-doo.

I’m going to dig said fact out and clean it up for you. I’m doing this because facts have been one thing in short supply in this debate. For the most part, what we get are vague statements that some unnamed person committed some undefined offense sometime during a large event. But now we have a fact.

Per Vox, 765 individual people emailed Tor complaining about Gallo. That sounds like a lot, except, 79,279 people bought a copy of Redshirts in 2013. So, if you take 765 and divide it by 79,279, you get .00964. In other words, less than 1% of the people who bought one book from Tor are complaining. You’d have to magnify that complaint number by an order of magnitude to get anybody’s attention.

David Gerrold in a message on Facebook – June 17

A friend has pointed out to me that any attempt to calm people down is doomed unless everyone involved wants to calm down. He then went on to point out that too often there are individuals who will have a vested interest in escalating the uproar. It increases their visibility — and their illusion (delusion?) of power.

It is — according to my very wise friend — a kind of ferocious madness that has to reach a peak before it can burn itself out. It cannot be calmed and those… efforts are doomed. It has to be inflamed by those who are enraptured by the heat they can generate and like any addiction, the dosage has to be increased, they can only crave more and more — until the whole thing becomes a bonfire and they are finally, ultimately immolated in the flames.

He might be right.

I’ve seen flame wars online that have destroyed whole forums — and I’ve seen the perpetrators of these flame wars move from forum to forum, leaving a trail of ruined relationships behind them. I cannot think of a single instance where a call for peace was effective. Even Gandhi died by a bullet.

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 17

I have heard more than one person say that they’re dreading Worldcon.

I won’t say that this is what the Sad and Rabid Puppies want as a group, even if I do think it’s what of a couple of the individual standard-bearers want. I will say that it is certainly what a great number of the trolls slamming so-called SJW writers on their behalf want. (And I do think it would tickle Beale the Galactic Zero no end. This is the guy who cheers spree killers, after all.)

Alas, I am not going to Worldcon this year. It would take an unexpected windfall of colossal proportions. Maybe next year, or the year after.

But if I was, “dread it”? To hell with that. I go to have fun, to catch up with old friends, to make new ones, to find treasures in the Dealer’s Room, to talk about my pop-culture obsessions and to hear others talk about my pop-culture obsessions. I’d be going, this year, to see my friend David Gerrold in his Guest of Honor gig and to see him and my friend Tananarive Due nail their Hugo-hosting gig. You think, if attendance was in my cards for me, I would waste more than one millisecond of brain energy on the premise that some no-neck gibberer with a fixation on his own imaginary oppression might say something nasty to me?

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Cedar ‘Go Buy A Shooter Bimbo Shirt’ Sanderson” – June 17

Cedar Sanderson is the third member of the Mad Genius Club in this category, and she has produced what is probably the single best blog post in the voters packet I’ve read so far that has actually something do with SFF. In it, she ponders the shortcomings of generic fantasy on the lines of Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a book I should probably read sometime. The text would be stronger if Sanderson had gone into specifics and given some more concrete examples of bad fantasy, but it’s not bad as is.

H.P. on Every Day Should Be Tuesday

“Review of Rat Queens vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe” – June 17

ratqueens

Each of the four members has her moments, the story is intriguing enough, and the comic is genuinely funny. They’re foul-mouthed, horny, and have a distinct tendency to cause disproportionate property damage. And can drink their rival adventurers under the table as easily as they kill their enemies. They’re joined by a host of cool minor characters, from a long-suffering captain of the town watch who’s sleeping with one of the Rat Queens to the friendly rival adventurer group named the Four Daves (exactly what it says on the tin) to a villainous local merchant to one very annoying town watchman. All in all, it probably has the best combo of awesome female characters around.

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Best Editor, Long Form — 2015 Hugo Award Nominees” – June 17

[She reviews all five nominees. I excerpted the one that struck me as the most favorable.]

Sheila Gilbert: Ms. Gilbert is, with Betsy Wollheim, Publisher at DAW. Ms. Gilbert did provide both a list of edited works, and sample chapters. Her writers include Seanan McGuire, Julie Czerneda, and Jacey Bedford, and the sample chapters include both science fiction and fantasy. Within the limits of my ability to assess her work as an editor, I’m very impressed. There are also some new works added to my To Be Read list.

Font Folly

“Hugo Ballot Reviews: Graphic Story” – June 17

[Preceded by reviews of all nominees.]

Rat Queens is hands-down the winner of slot number one on my Hugo ballot in this category. And with Zombie Nation at number five, the only thing left up in the air is where how I’m going to rank Saga, Sex Criminals, and Ms. Marvel, because I want all of them and Rat Queens to take home an award, dang it!

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Somebody sent me a Sad Puppies holster” – June 17

I’ve not been saying much about the Sad Puppies controversy lately, because right now it is out of my hands. Some employees of a publishing house said some pretty outlandish things, and their customers are ticked and writing lots of letters. I’m staying out of that one.

But some author friends had this made for me and sent as a gift. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to be identified.

Sad Puppy 1911 Holster Right Hand

Sad Puppy 1911 Holster Right Hand