By John Hertz: The Rotsler Award for 2022 has been given to Ulrika O’Brien of Kent, Washington.
The annual Award, begun in 1998 after the death of Bill Rotsler and in his memory, is for long-time wonder-working with graphic art in amateur publications of the science fiction community. It is decided by a three-judge panel and carries an honorarium of US$300. Rotsler was, among much else, one of the great fanartists.
O’Brien might be called a triple-threat player among us. She’s an important fanwriter; she’s published her own fanzine Widening Gyre, and currently co-edits Beam with Nic Farey; she was the 1998 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) delegate, attending, among much else, the 42nd Eastercon (United Kingdom national convention, held annually over Easter weekend) —I guess that and her fanart make her quadruple.
“Fanzine” was coined by Russell Chauvenet in the 1940s for the periodicals by and for fans that are so characteristic of fandom. We long took for granted that they’d be on paper, although tales mention slices of bologna, or worse; today there are electronic media too, as well as fannish conventions’ fliers, program and souvenir books, and other such companions.
You can see some current fanzines electronically here. Some, not all, of course — did you expect we’d all march to the same drummer?
O’Brien arrived after the age of the mimeograph stylus and correction fluid. By then, fanzines were mostly produced with photocopiers; after that, scanners and computer printers. Lately some fanzines have been able to use color. O’Brien has done that too.
…Here are some specific areas that often stand out to me along these lines:
Unless your book becomes part of some rabid geek fanbase or a English lit staple, few if any readers are going to read your stories with the Talmudic scrutiny you write and revise them. Readers are distracted. We read a story on a loud, crowded subway. We put a novel down midchapter and don’t get back to it for weeks. We read a chapter sleepily late at night. We miss things. What writers fear is beating their reader over the head is often doing the bare minimum to tap them on the shoulder.
This is a lesson even famous and award-winning authors can forget. I remember hearing a favorite writer give a craft talk and mention how in their first draft of a novel they had a line from chapter 1 repeated near the end of the book. “Aha, everyone will snap their fingers at the connection and realize the true identify of this character!” they thought. But then their editor, they said, quite rightly pointing out no one was going to remember that line 250 pages later. The novel needed to repeat that line four, five, or more times spaced out across the text for the reader to notice.
… But it’s quite plausible that the Internet is losing its coolness and its clickbait appeal. It definitely feels stale and formulaic, more so with each passing month, and I’m not the only person who thinks so. If you dig into the numbers, you find that engagement on the largest platforms is falling—and not in a small way (as Sinatra might say).
The numbers don’t lie, and Kriss serves them up here—summarizing the bad news for clicks and swipes…
… But the metrics now tell a different story.
I shouldn’t be surprised by all this. My own experience at Substack has made me acutely aware of the longform renaissance. When I launched on this platform, I definitely planned to write those long articles that newspaper editors hate—Substack would be my moment of luxurious freedom! Even so, I assumed that my shorter articles would be more popular. I guess I’d drunk the Kool-Aid too, accepting the prevailing narrative that readers want it short and sweet, so they can read it complete in the time it takes the Piano Man to play a request.
Yet my Substack internal metrics reveal the exact opposite of what I expected. The readershere prefer in-depth articles. Who would’ve guessed? For someone like me, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s like some positive karma in the universe is reinforcing my own better instincts.
But the real reason is that the market for clickbait is saturated, and longform feels fresher, more vital, more rewarding….
(4) LOWREY COMMENCES TAFF REPORT. “Orange Mike” Lowrey reports the 2020 TAFF race status is now “Trip report in progress”.
The first installment of A Visible Fan Abroad: A TAFF Journal of the Plague Years, “Chapter the First: The Trip That Never Was” appears on pages 22-23 of Nic Farey and Ulrika O’Brien’s Beam 17.
When they make it available online, readers will find it at eFanzines.com.
(5) SFF IN NYT. Amal El-Mohtar reviews Babel, The Anchored World, and Self-Portrait with Nothing in “The Magic of Translation” at the New York Times.
The word “translation” connotes movement: carrying meaning from one language to another, or shifting bodies from one place — or one context — to another, all while recognizing that moving entails loss and change. These books dwell in that potent space between setting out and arriving….
The saga around Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter has been just that: a months-long soap opera involving lawsuits and subpoenas, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, even a town hall. But why does Musk — one of the world’s richest and arguably most influential men — want a social media platform?
It’s Been a Minute host Brittany Luse puts the question to Jill Lepore, political historian and host of The Evening Rocket, a podcast about Musk. Lepore says that the idea of being a savior of free speech would appeal to Musk, who has built around himself a mythology inspired by what she sees as a misinterpretation of mid-twentieth century science fiction.
Lepore discusses how Musk crafted a powerful narrative that millions around the world have bought into; how he draws from science fiction and film; and why we need to be more critical of billionaire visionaries….
(7) ONLINE CLUB MEETING. The Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club will take up “Lock In by John Scalzi” on November 29, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. Register at the link.
Science fiction can have real policy impacts, and comes rife with real-life commentary. For the next gathering of our Science Fiction/Real Policy Book Club, we have selected Lock In by John Scalzi.
The detective novel imagines a world in which a pandemic left 5 million people in the U.S. alone with lock in syndrome: fully conscious but unable to move. Twenty-five years later, enormous scientific and technological investment has created a way for those living with “Haden’s syndrome” to take part in daily life. While they remain in their beds, robotic avatars let them take classes, interact with their families, and work—including as FBI agents. Chris is a rookie FBI agent assigned to work a case that seems to involve the world of Haden’s syndrome, and he and his partner must figure out exactly what’s going on. Lock In is a fascinating tale that raises questions about the “real” world, accessibility and disability, public-health funding, and much more.
Join Future Tense and Issues in Science and Technology at 6pm Eastern on Tuesday, Nov. 29, to discuss the novel and its real-world implications. The book club will feature breakout rooms (they’re fun and stress-free, we promise) where we can all compare notes and share reactions, even if we didn’t finish the book (though we picked a short one this time!).
(8) FRANK DRAKE (1930-2022). Radio astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake died September 2. He was a pioneer of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, carrying out the first search for signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, Project Ozma, in 1960. He is the inventor of the “Drake equation” used to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. The Guardian obituary notes:
…As a radio astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, he made the first observations of Jupiter’s radiation belts, analogous to the Van Allen belts around the Earth, and was one of the first astronomers to measure the intense surface temperature on Venus, a consequence of the greenhouse effect of its thick atmosphere. But it is for Project Ozma, named after Princess Ozma in L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz books and carried out with Green Bank’s 85ft radio telescope, that he will be remembered.
For three months Drake observed the sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani for radio signals that might be from planets with extraterrestrial civilisations. None were found, but as Drake recalled in a 2012 interview: “It was a start – and it did stimulate a lot of other people to start searching.”….
(9) MICHAEL CALLAN (1935-2022). Actor Michael Callan died October 10. Best known for his roles in Cat Ballou and West Side Story, his genre resume included the film The Mysterious Island, and television’s The Bionic Woman,Fantasy Island, Knight Rider, and Superboy.
(10) MEMORY LANE.
1928 — [By Cat Eldridge.]The Passing of Mr. Quin (1928)
We have a special treat for you this Scroll, a silent film first shown in the UK ninety-four years ago. The Passing of Mr. Quin was based off a short story by Agatha Christie. Though it did not feature Hercule Poirot, as that film debut wouldn’t happen for another three years.
It is a rather odd story. To wit, Professor Appleby has abused his wife, Eleanor, for years but when he is brutally murdered and her lover, Derek, goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Eleanor suspects the worst as she indeed should.
A mysterious stranger, known mostly as “Mr Quin” appears, and begins to seduce her, but his alcoholism causes him to die quite soon. On his death bed, he confesses that he was Derek all along, and offers her to a rival, who promises to make Eleanor a happy wife.
Not cheerful at all and with just more than a soupçon of misogyny there as well but I don’t think it had any of the anti-Jewish tendencies Christie was known for early on. Need I say that the scriptwriters had their way with Christie’s original story? Well they did.
This silent film was directed by Leslie Alibi. Three years later he directed the first ever depiction of Poirot with Austin Trevor in the lead role. That was not a silent film and Trevor once claimed he was cast as Poirot because he could speak with a French accent. The Poirot film unfortunately is now lost.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born October 15, 1911 — James H. Schmitz. Writer of short fiction in a space opera setting, sold primarily to Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science-Fiction. His “Lion Loose” was nominated for a Short Fiction Hugo at Chicon III, and The Witches of Karres was nominated for Best Novel at NyCon 3. Sources laud him for his intelligent female characters. His collections and novels are available at the usual suspects. (Died 1981.)
Born October 15, 1919 — E.C. Tubb. A writer of at least one hundred forty novels and two hundred twenty short stories and novellas, he’s best remembered I think for the Dumarest Saga. His other long-running series was the Cap Kennedy stories. And his short story “Little Girl Lost” which was originally published in New Worlds magazine became a story on Night Gallery. He novelized a number of the Space: 1999 episodes. Somewhat surprisingly he’s never been nominated for or won any awards. (Died 2010.)
Born October 15, 1924 — Mark Lenard. Sarek, the father of Spock in the Trek franchise, showing up in that role in “Journey to Babel”. (The role got reprised in the animated series, as well as three films and two episodes of The Next Generation.) Surprisingly he played Romulan Commander in “Balance of Terror,” in the first season, and a Klingon Captain in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He also had one-offs on Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West, Otherworld, The Secret Empire, The Incredible Hulk, and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He had a recurring role on the Planet of The Apes as Urko. (Died 1996.)
Born October 15, 1935 — Ray “Duggie” Fisher. Editor, Conrunner and Fan, who chaired the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, was on the committee for several other conventions, and was a founding member of the Poplar Bluff Science Fiction Club and the Ozark Science Fiction Association. His fanzine ODD was a finalist for a Best Fanzine Hugo. His contributions to fandom were, sadly, cut short by his death at age 52 due to complications of diabetes. (Died 1988.) [JJ]
Born October 15, 1942 — Lon Atkins. Editor, Conrunner, and Fan who chaired a DeepSouthCon and was editor of numerous fanzines and apazines, including eight years as co-editor of Rally! He was Fan Guest of Honor at a Westercon, and a recipient of Southern Fandom’s Rebel lifetime achievement award. He was also a ferocious Hearts player. (Died 2016.) [JJ]
Born October 15, 1953 — Walter Jon Williams, 69. The last thing I read by him was his most excellent Dagmar Shaw series which I highly recommend, but Fleet Elements is on my TBR list. I also like his Metropolitan novels, be they SF or fantasy, as well as his Hardwired series. I’m surprised how few awards that he’s won, just three with two being Nebulas, both for shorter works, “Daddy’s World” and “The Green Leopard Plaque”, plus a Sidewise Award for “Foreign Devils”. Damn it, where is his Hugo?
Born October 15, 1954 — Linnea Sinclair, 68. Merging romance, SF and paranormal into, well, damned if I know. She’s here sole because I’m really tickled by the use of her SJW credentials as told here: Games of Command and the short story “Of Cats, Uh, Furzels and Kings” feature telepathic feline creatures called ‘Furzels’. Sinclair has stated that these are inspired by her two cats.
Born October 15, 1968 — Jack du Brul, 54. A writer of somewhat SF novels that EoSF says of “the Philip Mercer sequence featuring a geologist who – not entirely unlike Steven Spielberg’s similarly scholarly Indiana Jones – has physical gifts extending beyond the probable.” He also co-wrote, and continued after Clive Cusler passed on, The Oregon Files.
(12) THE DOUBLE-OH GENERATION.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Alexandra Petri says that she is worried that the new James Bond might be a Millennial. “What the millennial James Bond might look like”. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to text!” She’s got a million of them.
(13) RAMBLING MAN. John Meaney’s post “What I Did On My Holiday” shows that he kept up his impressive workout regimen even while vacationing in “places like Lindisfarne (think Vikings) and Whitby Abbey (think Dracula) and the Western Highlands of Scotland.” He also snapped a memorable photo.
…The Caledonian Canal features a long series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase, and I did take photos of the canal itself, but was struck by this piece of useful advice, which we should always bear in mind every day….
That’s the fundamental question at the heart of SPELLJAMS, a new compilation album curated and produced by Chris Funk. The Decemberists guitarist wasn’t tasked with soundtracking just any old D&D campaign: SPELLJAMS is a companion piece to the newly rebooted Spelljammer setting, an outer-space-set oddity that’s become a cult favorite since its introduction in 1989. Spelljammer is a bit of an outlier within the broader D&D lore, which made it ripe for the kind of freewheeling, adventurous track listing Funk assembled for the album.
(15) LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DODGING. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Lucy, a spacecraft designed to visit Jupiter’s Trojan astroids, will swing past Earth for a gravity assist on Sunday. To get the proper oomph from the assist, it will have to come so close to Earth that it will be inside the orbit of many Low-Earth-Orbit satellites (including the International Space Station).
Cognizant of the possibility of a collision between Lucy and a LEO satellite, NASA has pre-prepared two orbit changes to stagger Lucy’s closest approach just a little bit. Or, if needed, a little bit more than that. They’re waiting as long as they can to calculate orbital positions for everything and make that decision, because the longer they wait the more accurate the predictions will be.
With luck, observers in parts of Australia or the western US may be able to see Lucy glinting like a diamond before it ducks into or after it comes out of Earth’s shadow, respectively. If you miss this chance you’ll get another opportunity two years hence when Lucy swings by for another orbital assist. “NASA on Collision Alert for Close Flyby of Lucy Spacecraft”. Gizmodo says the Space Force has been scrambled!
…The collision assessment team will send Lucy’s position to the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, which monitors objects in low Earth orbit. The team is prepared to perform swerving maneuvers if Lucy has more than a 1 in 10,000 chance of colliding with another object. “With such a high value mission, you really need to make sure that you have the capability, in case it’s a bad day, to get out of the way,” Highsmith said….
…The edible replica, which was painstakingly modeled out of dough to resemble Harrison Ford‘s captured character in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, has been on display outside the family bakery in Benicia, Calif., since Sunday. He is accompanied by a chalkboard that adorably proclaims, “Our hero Pan Solo has been trapped in Levainite by the evil Java the Hut.”…
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In this 2021 clip, Alasdair Beckett-King explains that even in the olden times, pepole couldn’t remember their passwords!
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael J. Walsh, Rob Thornton, JeffWarner, Todd Mason, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Peer.]
The “free” collectibles in Disneyland’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that didn’t have a price tag and weren’t nailed down have found their way to cyberspace with many of the five-finger discount items showing up on the secondary market.
A simple search for “Galaxy’s Edge” on the eBay online shopping site reveals a slew of purloined items that probably should not have left the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new 14-acre land at the Anaheim theme park.
Other resourceful Galaxy’s Edge visitors simply took more of the free Star Wars stuff than Disneyland might have anticipated or expected. As a result, many of the pilfered and hoarded souvenirs are no longer available in the new Star Wars land.
Gone are the Galaxy’s Edge maps and Docking Bay 7 sporks that are likely not to reappear in the park or the land. It’s always possible they were intended as grand opening swag. Or maybe new shipments of the popular keepsakes are bound for Batuu….
…What constitutes thievery? If a Disneyland employee hands you something without a price tag on it are you obligated to give it back? Most people would agree that keeping a theme park map as a souvenir is OK, but taking restaurant silverware is stealing. It appears plenty of Disneyland visitors are stepping over that grey line.
Star Trek actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series, found himself in the middle of an internet argument about autism, and how society should accommodate those with the disorder. Congressional candidate Brianna Wu threw herself into the argument attempting to take a shot at Shatner. The actor quickly shot her down with a firm response about her own past.
One of Shatner’s threads begins here
(and includes a couple of comments where Scott Edelman tries to contradict
Shatner with a cocktail of Harlan Ellison and George Bernard Shaw quotes).
The mystery question is whether Shatner writes his own tweets or delegates that to someone else?
(3) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE INTERNET. In the aftermath of Ulrika O’Brien’s BEAM #14 editorial, John Scalzi analyzes his role in the past decade of Hugo fanhistory: “On Being Denounced, Again (Again)”
6. So why, over the last decade plus change, have certain people focused on me as the agent of change (and not necessarily a good one) with regard to the Hugos? After all, this latest editorial is not the first jeremiad about me on the subject; people will recall I was a frequent example from the Puppy Camp of Everything That Was Wrong in Science Fiction and Proof the Hugos Were Corrupt, etc.
Here are some of the reasons:
a) professional/personal dislike and/or jealousy; b) unhappiness with inevitable change with fandom and the science fiction and fantasy community and genre generally and the need to find a single cause to blame it on; c) ignorance (willful or otherwise) of the labor of other people (many of them not straight and/or white and/or male) to change the tenor of the SF/F community (and as a consequence, its awards); d) a general lack of understanding that the SF/F community is a complex system and like most complex systems a single input or actor, in this case me, does not usually precipitate a wide system change on its own; e) my privileged position in the community makes me an easy and acceptable target/strawman/scapegoat — no one’s exactly punching down when they go for me.
(4) ABOUT THAT GATE. Darusha Wehm, Escape Pod associate
editor and author, has also responded to Ulrika O’Brien’s BEAM 14
editorial. Thread starts here.
(5) HE WANTS GEEZERS TO GET OFF HIS LAWN, TOO. This was S.M.
Stirling’s response to Scalzi’s post:
(6) DEVOURING BRADBURY. In “David
Morrell: Preparing for Crisis and Finding Inspiration” on Crimereads, Mark Rubinstein
interviews David Morrell about his new collection, Time Was.
Morell explains how he started off as a writer “devouring Ray
Bradbury” and how his short stories “tend to be in the Serling/Bradbury
mold.” He also offers good advice about a writing career from his
teacher, Phil Klass.
David Morrell: …Philip Klass, my writing instructor from years ago, insisted that writers who went the distance and enjoyed long careers, were those who had a definable viewpoint and a unique personality in their prose. That’s been my lifelong goal as a writer.
(7) LONDON CALLING. Britain’s
North Heath SF Group has been in touch. Filers are invited!
It is a small group not even three years old and based at the Kent end of London (not far across the Thames from the Excel if ever they hold another Worldcon there).
While the group is only 15 strong, they are getting a fair bit of social media interest and now have over 100 Facebook followers nearly all from SE London.
If any Filers are based in SE London (apparently the 89 and 229 busses to the Brook St stop is useful if any live on those routes), or have fan friends based in SE London then they’d be welcome at their next meet which is especially for new members. July 11 – see details on Facebook.
The group is a broad church SF group (member’s interests span books, films, TV) with some having specialist interests.
Last weekend a few gathered for a barbecue, and yes, the garden really is bigger on the outside….
Robert J. Friend, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, who defied racism at home and enemy fire over Europe and who later oversaw the federal government’s investigation into U.F.O.s, died on Friday in Long Beach, Calif. He was 99.
… “Do I believe that we have been visited? No, I don’t believe that,” he said. “And the reason I don’t believe it is because I can’t conceive of any of the ways in which we could overcome some of these things: How much food would you have to take with you on a trip for 22 years through space? How much fuel would you need? How much oxygen or other things to sustain life do you have to have?”
But unlike many of his colleagues, he favored further research.
“I, for one, also believe that the probability of there being life elsewhere in this big cosmos is just absolutely out of this world — I think the probability is there,” he said.
(9) WRIGHT OBIT. An actor in theALF series died
June 27. BBC has the story —
Actor Max Wright has died aged 75 after a long battle with cancer, his family has confirmed.
He was well known for playing Willie Tanner, the adoptive father of an alien, in the hit 1980s sitcom ALF.
Born June 27, 1941 — James P. Hogan. A true anti-authoritarian hard SF writer in the years when that was a respectable thing to be. I’m sure that I’ve read at lest a few of his novels, most likely Inherit the Stars and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. A decent amount of his work is available digitally on what is just called Books and Kindle. (Died 2010.)
Born June 27, 1966 — J. J. Abrams, 53. He of the Star Trek and Star Wars films that endlessly cause controversy. I can forgive him any digressions there for helping creating Fringe and Person of Interest, not to mention Alias at times.
Born June 27, 1952 — Mary Rosenblum. SF writer who won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel for The Drylands, her first novel. She later won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History Short Form for her story, “Sacrifice.” Water Rites and Horizons are the only ones available digitally. (Died 2018.)
Born June 27, 1959 — Stephen Dedman, 60. Australian author who’s the author of The Art of Arrow-Cutting, a most excellent novel. I really should read Shadows Bite, the sequel to it. He’s the story editor of Borderlands, the tri-annual Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine published in Perth. Apple Books has nothing for him, Kindle has The Art of Arrow-Cutting and a few other titles.
Born June 27, 1972 — Christian Kane, 47. You’ll certainly recognize him as he’s been around genre video fiction for a while first playing Lindsey McDonald on Angel before become Jacob Stone on The Librarians. And though Leverage ain’t genre, his role as Eliot Spencer there is definitely worth seeing.
Born June 27, 1975 — Tobey Maguire, 44. Spider-man in the Sam Raimi trilogy of the Spidey films. His first genre appearance was actually in The Revenge of the Red Baron which is one serious weird film. Much more interesting is his role as David in Pleasantville, a film I love dearly. He produced The 5th Wave, a recent alien invasion film.
Born June 27, 1987 — Ed Westwick, 32. British actor who has roles in the dystopian Children of Men, S. Darko (a film I couldn’t begin to summarise), Freaks of Nature (a popcorn film if ever there was one), the “Roadside Bouquets” episode of the British series Afterlife (which I want to see) and The Crash (which may or may not be SF).
(13) ALA DROPS MELVIL DEWEY NAME FROM AWARD. The decimals
remain, but Dewey is gone. Read the resolution here. Publishers
Citing a history of racism, anti-Semitism, and sexual harassment, the council of the American Library Association on June 23 voted to strip Melvil Dewey’s name from the association’s top professional honor, the Melvil Dewey Medal. The ALA Council approved the measure after a resolution was successfully advanced at the ALA membership meeting, during the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC.
Best known by the public for creating the Dewey Decimal Classification System, Dewey was one of the founders of the American Library Association in 1876, and has long been revered as the “father of the modern library,” despite being ostracized from the ALA in 1906 because of his offensive personal behavior.
In an article last June in American Libraries,Anne Ford questioned why the ALA and the library profession still associates its highest honor with a man whose legacy does not align with the profession’s core values. This week, some 88 years after his death, Dewey’s #TimesUp moment appears to have finally come.
…When I began work on The Dragons of Babel, I had no idea whether it existed in the same universe as The Iron Dragon’s Daughter or not. The two books had no characters or locations in common. Even the names of the gods were different, though at the head of each pantheon was the Goddess. Only she and the dragons were the same. Ultimately, I decided that it did no harm for the books to be in the same world (though, presumably, on different continents) and would please those who had read The Iron Dragon’s Daughter. So I brought Jane back—not from our world but from an earlier period of her life, when she was behaving very badly—for a brief cameo appearance. Just as a small treat, an Easter egg, for those who had read the earlier novel.
To my surprise, The Iron Dragon’s Daughter had been characterized by reviewers as an “anti-fantasy” because it challenged many of the assumptions of genre fantasy. This had never been my intent. But, the idea having been placed into my head, in The Dragons of Babel I set out to upend the standard model of fantasy in as many ways as possible while still delivering its traditional pleasures….
“King Kong,” the big-budget musical driven by its massive namesake puppet, will close Aug. 18 after less than a year on Broadway, the show’s producers announced on Tuesday.
… “King Kong” was capitalized for $30 million, according to the production. That sum — enormous by Broadway standards — has not been recouped.
The show eventually opened to stinging reviews, with most of the praise going to the towering title character himself, a colossal marionette clocking in at 20 feet tall and 2,000 pounds. For the week ending June 23, it grossed just shy of $783,000 at the box office, only 53 percent of its potential take.
NASA’s Curiosity rover last week measured the highest level of methane gas ever found in the atmosphere at Mars’s surface. The reading — 21 parts per billion (p.p.b.) — is three times greater than the previous record, which Curiosity detected back in 2013. Planetary scientists track methane on Mars because its presence could signal life; most of Earth’s methane is made by living things, although the gas can also come from geological sources…
… NASA ran a follow-up experiment last weekend and recorded a methane level less than 1 p.p.b., suggesting that the high reading last week came from a transient gas plume.
(17) GETTING UNSTUCK IN TIME. Camestros
Felapton is happy to offer “Some
advice for time travellers”. Pay attention — even if he starts with “Don’t
Panic!” there’s a lot here you haven’t heard before.
4. Listen to that mysterious stranger you meet early on
Honestly, even if you aren’t currently planning to go time travelling, NOW is the time to carry a notebook. When the uncannily familiar stranger and/or your great aunt starts babbling to you about destiny, or how what has been written can (or cannot) be unwritten, get them to pause a moment and ask them to write it down in your handy notebook.
This encounter may be the point where you are told The Rules (we’ll get to The Rules in a moment). Having them written down will make your life so much easier and will also make it easier for you to explain them to your younger self when you meet them when you are disguised as an uncannily familiar stranger.
Starting June 28th, take a seat in Sheldon’s spot and relive your favorite moments from apartment 4A. Recreate Sheldon’s signature knock, stroll through the foyer to see the infamous broken elevator or visit the Caltech Physics Department Cafeteria featuring original costumes from Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, Howard, Raj, Bernadette and Amy.
(19) COLBERT ON MEDIA. Steven Colbert starts with the news that Kim Kardashian is offering a new line of makeup that doesn’t go on your face. The Good Omens cancellation petition is his second bit, starting at the 2:00 mark (in case you want to fast-forward past Kim Kardashian’s thighs).
[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chip Hitchcock, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rob Thornton.]
Ulrika O’Brien launches BEAM 14 with an editorial that might have gone unnoticed outside the circle of FAAn Award voters if she hadn’t (1) given John Scalzi the KTF treatment and (2) Scalzi hadn’t tweeted a link to the zine to his 165,000 Twitter followers.
…But once a year, like clockwork, the Fan Hugo short list comes out and somehow I can never quite avoid seeing it. When I do see it, I increasingly find a bunch of total strangers who’ve not visibly participated in fandom, and I see red all over again. I will inevitably be told that the failing is in me, that were I to educate myself, I would discover their merit. As often as not, whatever merit is involved, what I actually discover are more neo-pros doing nothing remotely to do with fandom as we know it, or if they do, only in pursuit of making money off us. So thanks, Scalzi. Fuck you. Wait, what now? Why am I still on about John Scalzi’s Fan Writer Hugo, eleven years after the parade? Because it was John Scalzi who finally broke the Fan Hugos, that’s why. And he didn’t do the rest of the Hugos any favors, either, as it turns out….
Taking two steps back and looking at the bigger picture and the actual societal changes occuring in the relevant time period, what do we see? Nothing mysterious and nothing secretly controlled by John Scalzi but rather the increasing and inevitable online nature of fandom, along with generational change. The period of 2000 to 2020, was always going to be one in which fandom would have the kind of generational change that fandom is always having because people get older and people from a younger generation become more influential. To use tired generational-terms, a shift from Baby Boomers to Gen-X with (now) more Millennials (and younger).
The accompanying shift was technological with blogs, blogging networks (particularly Live Journal at one point), social media platforms and commerical pop-culture media sites changing where fan-related discourse was happening. This was a cross-generational change (e.g. GRRM’s Live Journal or how influential Mike Glyer’s File770 fanzine-turned-blog became during the Puppy Debarkle).
Doc Rocket’s tweet is especially interesting for its “no one, really” conclusion —
By Ulrika O’Brien: I confess when I first sat down at the cashiers’ table, I felt a degree of trepidation. As I surveyed the crowd across the dim and smoky haze in Guinan’s, it seemed to me that most fans present were there to drink and weren’t terribly interested in our little proceedings. But from the moment Andy Hooper took the mic, the auction rolled along at a spanking pace with brisk and lively bidding and much jollity. It was a good time, and made good money.
Final auction sales came to $1870.00, divided thus:
Checks to TAFF and DUFF sitting administrators will be sent out this week; GUFF funds have been disbursed.
There were a lot of heroes who made this auction so successful, and I will probably manage to forget someone because it was a long and busy convention but here goes:
PREP AND RUNNERS
Andrew P. Hooper
Especially the super-helpful Kelly Buehler, who was originally only there to run the sound board and stepped up like a champ.
She who would rather not be named on the internet
And of course a gigantic shout out of thanks to everyone who donated auction goods, and everyone who came and bid and bought our stuff. You guys are all TOTALLY AWESOME.
Editor’s Appeal: Is “Pixel Scroll” a good title for these daily posts? If so, I still think there needs to be some adornment and variety to keep it fresh. Can anybody think of a scheme to generate a brand of subtitles? (The “Pixel Scroll” title could be changed to something else to facilitate a winning idea.)
(1) George R.R. Martin is coming to Sasquan after all and has declared he is taking back the Hugo Losers Party from the boring souls who have sanitized it and disguised it as the “Post-Hugo Nominees Reception.” GRRM and Gardner Dozois held the first one in 1976 and it immediately became de rigueur.
Gardner and I ran another one at Suncon in 1977, and yet another at Iguanacon in 1978 (I lost my first novel Hugo that year). I don’t think there was one in 1979, but don’t know for sure… that year worldcon was in England, and I didn’t have the money to go. But the Hugo Losers party came back big in 1980, at Noreascon II. That blurry picture up above? That’s me, entering the Hugo Losers Party with two Hugos in my hands. Such hubris cannot go unpunished. Nor did it. Please note the man lurking behind me. That’s Gardner, smiling innocently. A few moment later, when my back was turned, he produced a can of whipped cream and sprayed it all over my head. Sic Semper Victorius.
So George says:
Fuck 1999. Let’s party like it’s 1976.
(2) Those looking to practice their party skills should show up for Prolog(ue), the relaxacon being held in Seattle the weekend before the Worldcon (August 14-16). Ulrika O’Brien has posted a progress report at the link. The international array of Persons of Interest coming to the con includes TAFF winner Nina Horvath and —
Charles Stross – Hugo- and Locus-Award winning author of the Laundry Files series, the Merchant Princes series, and too many stand-alone novels and short stories to mention, will be reading from his latest Laundry Files book, The Annihilation Score (released July 7) and possibly unreleased upcoming stories. You Heard It Here First.
Foremost among her concerns these days, it seems, is what Le Guin considers a worrisome literary shift whereby writers—squeezed to make a living in a world that attaches less and less financial value to their profession—view themselves more as brands and “content producers” than artists. “I see so many writers getting pushed around by the sales department, the PR people, and being led to believe that that’s what they do,” she told me. “That’s a terrible waste.”
Artistic resignation in the name of pragmatism—“letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write,” as she put it in her National Book Awards speech—elicits Le Guin’s especial disapproval precisely because she herself spent an entire career bucking what others thought she should write. Yet even now that her own science fiction has been lofted into the modern literary canon, praised by no less an elitist than Yale’s Harold Bloom, Le Guin remains more interested in keeping the good fight going than in declaring victory. “We’ve come a real long way,” she admitted, “and in fact I think essentially these genre walls are down. But you would not believe how contemptuously reviewers and other people still just dismiss sci-fi. There’s still so much ignorance, and that bugs me.”
So, I’m still struggling with this. I’ve supported some Kickstarters for projects that clearly are not commercially viable that I’d like to see done. But early books in a writer’s career? Those have rarely been commercially viable for anyone, and have always represented a substantial degree of risk and commitment on the part of the author.
The timeless, fantastic Bradbury Building at Broadway and Third Street is a much-beloved Downtown Los Angeles landmark, most widely known for its significant appearances in movies including Blade Runner, (500) Days of Summer, and Marlowe, starring the late James Garner. But before it was a popular film set, it was the idea of a gold-mining magnate who really wanted to put his name on a building. His vision led him to turn down a prominent architect and mysteriously commission a totally untrained one instead, and that not-quite-architect, George H. Wyman, turned to ghosts and literature to pull it off. Avery Trufelman, producer of the design and architecture podcast 99 Percent Invisible, talked to Esotouric operators Kim Cooper and Richard Schave about the eerie history of what 99 PI calls “arguably the biggest architectural movie star of Los Angeles.”
As the story goes, Lewis Bradbury, a gold-mining millionaire, decided he wanted to build and put his name on a building, so in 1892 he commissioned prominent architect Sumner P. Hunt, who alone and with partners would design the Southwest Museum, the Ebell Club, the Automobile Club in University Park, and loads of private homes for wealthy clients throughout the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. Hunt prepared some plans for the proposed building, but when Bradbury visited the office to check them out, he wasn’t taken with any of them. Here’s where things get weird…..
It’s said that Wyman’s inspiration for the building’s design was directly inspired by a novel, Looking Backwards by Edward Bellamy, a popular science fiction novel about a utopian society that was published in 1888. A passage from that book describes this incredible building in the future (which, in those days, was 2000): “a vast hall full of light received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome.
….But the mission team cautions that it has received only 4-5% of the data gathered during 14 July’s historic flyby of the dwarf planet, and any interpretations must carry caveats.
“Pluto has a very complicated story to tell; Pluto has a very interesting history, and there is a lot of work we need to do to understand this very complicated place,” explained Alan Stern, the New Horizons principal investigator.
In a briefing at the US space agency’s HQ in Washington DC, he and colleagues then outlined a number of new analyses based on the limited data-set in their possession.
These included the observation that Pluto has a much more rarified atmosphere than previously predicted by the models. …
The Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm in association with Kasdan Pictures and Genre Films will begin production on “Star Wars: Episode VIII” on January 16, 2016. Casting is now officially underway for new lead roles and supporting roles. Filming will take place at the Pinewood Studios in London, England among another undisclosed locations in the United Kingfom. Casting director information is posted below. Experienced film crew members can now submit resumes to the production office email below. All actors, extras, and film crew members must be legally eligible to work in the entertainment industry in the United Kingdom….
(9) Speaking of available work, Vox Day posted a Tor job announcement today – they’re looking for a publicist. See how helpful he is? Not just trying to create openings at Tor, but willing to fill them too!
(10) I enjoyed Spacefaring Kitten’s spin on this nominee –
It raises the question: who should nominate works for awards anyway? A select jury (a la the Man Booker or Clarke) or the fans who actually buy the books? Clearly there should be enough room – and integrity – for both. Yet this year’s Clarke award shortlist was almost universally praised, while, in contrast, the Hugo nominations were met with derision and incredulity (for example, so-called “rabid puppy” Vox Day, who has called women’s rights “a disease to be eradicated”, is up for two awards). You might say that this is democracy at work – the fans have spoken! – and that would be all well and good, but, tellingly, two authors recommended by the Sad Puppies have already pulled their work from the nominations, saying that they want their writing to be judged on merit and not on their assumed political affiliations. It goes without saying that all books, whatever their authors’ political stance, should be judged on whether they’re any good or not; but with some factions suggesting fans vote “No Award” on categories that they believe have been hijacked, and the Puppies urging their stormtroopers to stick to their guns, the whole thing has slipped into farce. And this is a great pity.
If Seattle is on your way to the 2015 Worldcon, is near where you live, or just seems like a perfectly nice place to attend a fannish gathering, Prolog(ue) could be for you.
As Ulrika O’Brien explains, the idea was successfully tried before on the Other Side of the Pond:
Once upon a time, in the late days of the last century, there was a Very Big Worldcon Thing in Britain, and some fans there thought it would be nice to hold a smaller convention just before it, to make a space to gather up their visiting friends from far and foreign places and also local fans who could perhaps not attend a Very Big Worldcon Thing, so that they could all find each other to hang out and drink tasty drinks and play silly games and build upon the legends of their tribe together. And so they did that thing, and they called it Precursor, and it was good.
Precursor was held in 1995 before Intersection.
Prolog(ue) 2015 will happen in the vicinity of Seattle, east of Sea-Tac airport in Renton, on August 14-16 (the weekend before Sasquan). It will be a low-key fannish and literary event with a bit of programming, plenty of food and drink, and lots of hanging around the consuite, pool, and lobby having conversations with other fans.
Jane Hawkins is handling hospitality, Suzanne Tompkins is the hotel liaison, Denys Howard will take care of registration and memberships, Randy Byers has agreed to be Managing Editor of the fanzine/progress report, Mark Plummer and Claire Brialey are the UK agents, Scott Kriedermacher is in charge of craft beer procurement, and Ulrika O’Brien is the convention chair and promotions czar.
Brad and Cindy Foster, Curt Phillips and Randy Smith are your official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund candidates in the 2014 race to pick a delegate to Loncon 3. Here are their platforms and nominators —
Brad and Cindy Foster
Why Brad and Cindy? Because they are one mind in two bodies. (They wish they had two minds, but that’s asking too much.) Because between them they have covered almost all the fannish bases. And, because this is probably the only way they will ever get to see London. He draws pictures – lots of them, and has lived the life fannish through zines and locs. (A paper-person.) She has been social (a people-person) through conventions and conversations. He’ll have to look you up in his files to remember which zine you pub, but she’ll remember your name, face, and family history.
Nominators: Mike Glyer (US), Andy Hooper (US), Steven Silver (US), David Langford (UK), Yvonne Rowse (UK).
I am a fan. I guess I always have been; I think I always will be. I’ve collected more science fiction than I’ll ever have time to read, but I keep on collecting more. I’ve written for and published fanzines; I’m the OE of FAPA. Have done many other fannish things in my time, both usual and unusual. But I’ve never traveled outside America. I’d very much to meet some of the wonderful fans in the UK and from across Europe as your TAFF delegate, and then come home to write about my adventures for you. Please support TAFF! Vote!
Nominators: Randy Byers (US), Ulrika O’Brien (US), John Purcell (US), Claire Brialey (UK), Pat Charnock (UK).
Fandom is a conversation that began in the letter columns of the 1920s pulps and now extends around the world. As active participants in that conversation, we can look for new ways to expand, strengthen, and create new and divergent paths of exchange. We truly never know where it will take us. The TAFF delegate to LonCon 3 will be able to contribute in some small and unforeseen ways to that creative conversation. I would be honored if that person were me. I also promise a speedy appearance of my trip report.
Nominators: Christopher J. Garcia (US), Mark Olson (US), Kevin Standlee (US), Colin Harris (UK), Patrick McMurray (UK).