Pixel Scroll 9/5/22 Boosterspice Fields Forever

(1) CHICON 8 MEMBERSHIP NUMBERS. Chicon 8 drew 3,574 warm bodies (494 at door). Another 947 watched at least one hour of virtual programming. There were ~6,500 total members of all types. (Numbers via KevinStandlee.)

(2) WORLDCON MASQUERADE PHOTOS. Chicon 8 posted a rich gallery of photos: “Masquerade! Astounding Faces on Parade!” Includes notes on the award winners, including Best in Show, Arwen’s Lament presented by Rae Lundquist and company. (Which also won “Excellence in Workmanship for Hobbit Feet”.)

(3) CLOSING CEREMONIES. Thanks to Kevin Standlee who encouraged me to run any of his posts and photos.

The 2023 Chengdu Worldcon leadership:

The Chengdu Worldcon committee singing to the Closing Ceremonies audience.

(4) HE WAS A WALKING WORLDCON HIGHLIGHT. Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki shared some general comments about being able to achieve his trip to Chicon 8, and the Hugo acceptance speech he didn’t get to give. Lots of photos, too! Thread starts here. (Full text of the speech is on Facebook.)

And there’s a photo of another heartwarming moment on Lezli Robyn’s Facebook page here of Ekpeki being “gifted an iPad and keyboard, for all the future masterpieces he will write.” Robyn added in comments, “It was not from us! But I was the messenger/organizer.” So I don’t know who gave it to him.

(5) CONGRATULATIONS, HUGO WINNER. When Cora Buhlert sent these photos of her Hugo outfit last night she was about to practice her speech again. Now we know – the extra rehearsal was worth it!

(6) TODAY’S THING TO WORRY ABOUT. Lincoln Michel contests a recent meme: “No, Most Books Don’t Sell Only a Dozen Copies”. After dissecting the premises of how sales are measured, Michel offers some conclusions.

…In terms of the dozen copies statistic, I can’t evaluate it because it is unclear what it’s referring to. Fifty-eight thousand books is more books than PRH publishes in a given year, but far less than their entire backlist. Is 58k all new books published with an ISBN, including self-published books? Is it something else? I really don’t know and none of the publishing professionals I follow seem to know either. (Editing to add: Jane Friedman, who posted this number originally on Instagram, noted there was no source given in testimony. Friedman gives her own guess in the comments.)

In my experience, and with the data I’ve seen, most traditionally published novels that you see on bookstore shelves or reviewed in newspapers sell several hundred to a few thousand copies across formats. Many sell much more of course. I’ve seen some flops that sold only a couple hundred. And of course not all traditionally published novels appear in bookstores or reviewed in newspapers. Is it possible someone has published a Big 5 novel that sold only 12 copies over its lifetime? I suppose. But I don’t think it’s 5% much less 50%!…

(7) SHARED UNIVERSE. Wole Talabi tells Guardian readers: “Out of this world: why we created the first collaborative African fantasy universe”. (See the list of members of the Sauúti Collective at the link.)

Creative writing can be a lonely business. As writers, we inhabit whole worlds and characters that live only in our heads for days or years, as we deposit them on the page. This is particularly true for speculative fiction – an umbrella genre of stories that involve supernatural or futuristic elements, or settings that are not the real world.

This creative loneliness is why I’ve always admired the concept of a “shared world” – a fictional setting with its own set of rules where multiple authors can create stories. Some examples are Thieves’ World, edited by Robert Lynn Asprin, or George RR Martin’s Wild Cards (which spawned dozens of books, comics and games, and was optioned for film and TV).

Because writers use the same settings, characters and concepts of the shared world in a connected way, they are in conversation with each other, as a community in the act of creation.

As a speculative fiction author from Africa, where recognition for the genre is growing and community is an important part of the culture, I’ve long wanted to be able to do this with my contemporaries – create together. Not only with other African authors but with the greater African diaspora.

That’s why, working with Fabrice Guerrier, a Haitian-American author and founder of Syllble, a production house based in Los Angeles, and the Nigeria-based magazine Brittle Paper, I sought out a group of like-minded volunteer authors from five African countries to form the Sauúti Collective.

Together we have created Sauúti – a unique shared world for and by Africans and the African diaspora….

(8) MEMORY LANE.  

1967 [By Cat Eldridge.] Alan Garner’s The Owl Service (1967)

It all begins with the scratching in the ceiling. From the moment Alison discovers the dinner service in the attic, with its curious pattern of floral owls, a chain of events is set in progress that is to affect everybody’s lives. — Alan Garner’s The Own Service

Yes, I do have favorite novels as you already know and Alan Garner’s The Owl Service which came out fifty-five years ago is one of them. I think of it as an Autumnal work so it being September, I decided to take a look at it. So here we are.

The Owl Service is supposedly a young adult novel, however, it is much, much more than that. Set in modern Wales, it is an adaptation of the story of the Welsh myth concerning the woman Blodeuwed who becomes an owl — equally made of feathers and claws. It was, as Garner has said, an “expression of that myth”. 

In his version, three teenagers visiting a Welsh estate find themselves re-enacting the story by the two boys both being bitter rivals for the girl who came with them to the estate. They awaken the legend by finding a dinner service with an owl pattern, hence the title of the novel.

It is a novel filled with myth come to life with characters, both the children and the adults, being fully realized. It wasn’t his first novel as he’d written three novels previously (The Weirdstone of BrisingamenThe Moon of Gomrath and Elidor) but of all works he’s done, it’s my favorite still. It’s not his most complex, that honor goes to Boneland which is a sequel to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath.

The Owl Service was made into a Granada Television series in 1969. If you live in the U.K., it’s available on DVD.  It was BBC Radio 4 series in 2000. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 5, 1914 Stuart Freeborn. If you’ve seen Yoda, and of course you have, this is the man who designed it, partly based on his own face. Besides being the makeup supervisor and creature design on the original Star Wars trilogy, he did makeup on The OmenDr. Strangelove2001: A Space Odyssey and all four of the Christopher Reeve-fronted Superman films. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 5, 1936 Rhae Andrece and Alyce Andrece. They played twin androids in I, Mudd, a classic Trek episode. (And really their only significant role.) Both appeared as policewomen in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” on Batman. That’s their only genre other appearance. They appeared together in the same seven shows. (Died 2009 and 2005, respectively.)
  • Born September 5, 1939 George Lazenby, 83. He is best remembered for being James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Genre wise, he also played Jor-El on Superboy and was a Bond like character named JB in the Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. film. 
  • Born September 5, 1940 Raquel Welch, 82. Fantastic Voyage was her first genre film, and her second was One Million Years B.C. (well, it wasn’t exactly a documentary) where she starred in a leather bikini, both released in 1966. She was charming in The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers. She has one-offs in BewitchedSabrina the Teenage WitchThe Muppet ShowLois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHappily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and Mork & Mindy
  • Born September 5, 1946 Freddie Mercury. Now you know who he was and you’re saying that you don’t remember any genre roles by him. Well there weren’t alas. Oh, Queen had one magnificent role in the 1980 Flash Gordon film starring Sam J. Jones, a film that has a seventy percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. But I digress as only cats can do. (Prrrr.) Queen provided the musical score featuring orchestral sections by Howard Blake. Most of Blake’s score was not used. Freddie also composed the music for the first Highlander film. And Freddie was a very serious SJW. He cared for at least ten cats throughout his life, including Delilah, Dorothy, Goliath, Jerry, Lily, Miko, Oscar, Romeo, Tiffany and Tom. He was adamantly against the inbreeding of cats and all of them except for Lily and Tiffany, both given to him as gifts, were adopted from the Blue Cross. (Died 1991.)
  • Born September 5, 1964 Stephen Greenhorn, 58. Scriptwriter who has written two episodes for Doctor Who: “The Lazarus Experiment” and “The Doctor’s Daughter”, both Tenth Doctor stories. He wrote one episode of Around the World in 80 Days, reuniting him with David Tennant. He also wrote Marchlands, a supernatural series with Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston
  • Born September 5, 1973 Rose McGowan, 49. Best known as Paige Matthews on Charmed. She played two different roles in the Grindhouse franchise, Cherry Darling in Planet Terror and Pam in Death Proof. She was Miss Kitty in Monkeybone, a very weird film indeed.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) ARCANE. Boing Boing points out that “Arcane is the first streaming show to win the Emmy for best animated program”.

…The aforementioned Arcane from Netflix was the talk of the town last year, earning heaps of praise from fans and critics. Now the series can add Emmy award winner to its growing list of accolades. The win marks the first time an animated show from a streaming service snagged the award….

(12) KERFUFFLES OF POWER. Stuart Heritage of the Guardian wouldn’t want you to miss any: “The backlash to rule them all? Every controversy about The Rings of Power so far”. What, only six?

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power so far, for several reasons. The series has veered wildly in quality, with its second episode a vast improvement on its stunning but directionless pilot. It’s hard, too, to crosscheck with the source material, given that the entire shebang is cobbled together from a bunch of Tolkien’s appendices.

But the main reason why it’s difficult to form a consensus is the internet. Even more so than usual, it is being especially internetty about The Rings of Power, churning up no end of controversies about it in service to the discourse. Here’s a quick compendium of what we’ve all endured so far….

(13) HUGO LOSERS TROPHY. Camestros Felapton had an artificial intelligence art program help him gin up a trophy for those who didn’t win last night. Image at the link. “For those who need it today”.

(14) PHOTOS FROM JAMES BACON’S PRESENTATION AT CHICON 8. Including the badge ribbons distributed to support Ukraine fandom.

(15) TAMMY’S TASTING AT CHICON 8. Tammy Coxen serves Ukraine-themed drinks.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Nancy Sauer, 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 Daniel Dern.]

Pixel Scroll 6/1/22 The Ones Who Scroll Away From Pixelas

(1) BURKE TELLS MORE ABOUT HER BALTICON EXPERIENCE. Stephanie Burke has written a 2600-word comment on File 770’s “Balticon Chair Apologizes After Author Stephanie Burke Removed From Panels” post that goes into fuller detail about her experience. The link is here. In the last two paragraphs she says —

…It took me close to 20 years to build up my reputation there as a person who did her best to make sure everyone had representation, that willful ignorance would be avoided, to be someone who was safe for anyone to speak to, to offer info, links, and some perspective that may help them as well as learn how I can improv myself, and now it is gone here with no proof and no way to defend myself. All I got was the decision of the board still stands and I still don’t have an idea of what exactly I was supposed to have said. They told me they didn’t have the recordings in the room where ever panel was recorded so unless someone is lying about the recording, I’ll never get the chance to defend myself. Unless of course, the recording is found at the last moment but to me that sounds like looking for proof of guilt than proof of evidence of innocence.

One of the last things I told them and still remains true, was that closest feeling I could aquait with being walked out of that room like that was a time when I was a teen working at a summer camp when some woman claimed that I had stolen her wallet. I was marched out of the room like the cops knew I was guilty, the accusing eyes and twisted lips, only to be let back in a few moments later with the woman happily calling out that she just misplaced her wallet and just found it in her purse and everything was all good and okay now, right? The cops kind of shrugged at me and said okay and that was it but I went into the bathroom and threw up my lunch. This was the closest I had ever come to feeling like that and I never want to feel like that again. I know would feel it again if I walked into another Balticon event….

(2) FIRE DISPLACES SFF WORKSHOP. Taos Toolbox has moved to Albuquerque this year. Nancy Kress announced on Facebook.

Taos Toolbox is not going to be in Taos this year. The two-week intensive science-fiction writing workshop that Walter Jon Williams and I teach is usually held at the ski resort of Angel Fire, near Taos, New Mexico. However, the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak wildfire is less than a dozen miles from Angel Fire and not yet close to being contained. Since it’s not good to incinerate workshop attendees, the workshop has moved to a hotel in Albuquerque….

Walter Jon Williams, the event’s founder, filled in the details on Facebook.

So quite a number of plans have gang agley in the last days, so I’ve been putting out fires— nearly literal fires.

Taos Toolbox, the master class for writers of science fiction and fantasy, starts this weekend, and has been held at the Angel Fire resort for the last decade or more. It’s a deluxe place in a beautiful mountain setting, and unless there’s a mountain bike rally or something, it’s not too crowded or noisy and we can concentrate on our work.

Except this year we have the Hermit’s Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history, over 300,000 acres and currently only 60% contained. It’s ten miles from Angel Fire, and when it gets a wind behind it, a fire can race along at 5 miles per day. Angel Fire has been at the “prepare to evacuate” stage for weeks now.

I mean, the pandemic wasn’t enough?

Now the fire is 60% contained, and the odds are Angel Fire would have been fine, but I couldn’t guarantee that. I couldn’t absolutely promise that Hermit’s Peak wouldn’t blaze up again, or that we wouldn’t have to evacuate 20 people to lodging unknown. So I moved the workshop to the Sonesta ES suite hotel in Albuquerque, which is quite luxe, offers free breakfast, and has a fine view of the semi trucks running past on the freeway….

(3) ROYALTY IN GENRE. The British Science Fiction Association anticipated Jubilee Weekend by launching this discussion topic:

Here are two of the many responses.

(4) THE GODFATHER. Craig Miller who created the Official Star Wars Fan Club for Lucasfilm told Facebook friends about his new nickname.

During the Star Wars Celebration panel “Fandom Through the Generations”, Dan Madsen – the founder of the Star Wars Celebration conventions and Star Wars Insider – called me “The Godfather of Star Wars Fandom”.

That actually felt a little weird. I suppose not entirely inaccurate. Part of my job was to take Star Wars to Fandom and to keep Lucasfilm of the mind that fans are important. But I’d never thought of it that way….

The post also contains a photo of the plaque and trophy Craig received this weekend when he was made an Honorary Member of the 501st Legion.

(5) SHOULD IT BE A PERMANENT HUGO? Trevor Quachri expands on a DisCon III panel discussion about the proposed Best Video Game Hugo in “The Play’s the Thing”, his editorial in the May/June Analog.

…So it seems straightforward: games, particularly of a “science fiction, fantasy, or related subject” bent (per the award description) deserve a permanent spot on the ballot, right?

Well, let’s hit the pause button for a moment.

Everyone on that games panel quickly stumbled over the same basic question: Given all of that background, what’s the primary criterion for judging the “best” game in a given year? And what makes the Hugo for Best Video Game different from any of the other already-existing game awards given out by fans, professional game designers, and the like? Is it a “writing in games” award? The Hugos may be primarily literary, but well-written games may not actually be the best games, taken on their own merits. (Chess, for example, isn’t a lesser game because the pieces don’t each have an elaborate backstory.)

And how do you explain what makes a good game to folks unfamiliar with them? Games are built from readily-understandable art to one degree or another—the graphics are art; the music is art; voice acting is acting, which is art; and yes, the stories in games are art—but the thing that makes games unique—the game part—isn’t so easily grasped….

(6) CORA BUHLERT. Camestros Felapton continues his series of why-you-should-vote-for each Best Fan Writer finalist with “Cora Buhlert: Hugo 2022 Fanwriter Finalist”.

Cora Buhlert is a prolific indie author, champion of independent publishing, blogger, pulp historian as well as a teacher and translator. Based in Germany, her sci-fi writing and reviews are primarily in English but she is also a tireless ambassador for science fiction from beyond the insular English speaking perspective on the genre.

(7) FROM THE START. Wole Talabi shared some “Preliminary Observations From An Incomplete History of African SFF” at the SFWA Blog.

When Did the History of Published African SFF Begin?

Tricky. And there is probably no right answer since publishing from early colonial Africa was problematic and it depends on what you define as SFF. I’ve arbitrarily limited my scope to works published between 1921 and 2021, even though I don’t have any entries from 1921. Why 100 years? To quote Geoff Ryman: Because it’s easy to remember. And the first entry in the database is Cameroonian Jean-Louis Njemba Medou’s Nnanga Kon, a novel published in 1932 in Bulu. I suppose that’s as good a point as any to start. However, that’s only one way to look at things. Another is to observe the rapid increase in published works that begins in 2011, peaks in 2016, and has somewhat stabilized since (although this could simply reflect my inability to keep up with documenting new works).

(8) COVID TRACKING. Balticon 56’s “Covid Reports” page lists five attendees who report they have tested positive.

This page will continue to be updated as COVID-19 positive tests are reported after the con. If you attended Balticon in person and have a positive test result before June 15th, please email covid@balticon.org.

(9) BACK FROM CONQUEST. Kij Johnson reports on a successful Ad Astra Center fundraiser in “Summer starts with a screeching sound, as of hot brakes making a hard turn.”

…Last weekend was a benefit auction for the Ad Astra Center, held at ConQuest, the KC SF convention, this was fantastic fun: we had a great team of six people, and ended up with more than 300 auction items, and made (we think) close to $3000, which is pretty extraordinary, considering this was a small con this year. (I also was on panels with Fonda Lee, Katherine Forrister, and other cool people.) Chris McKitterick and I had a chance to talk about what Ad Astra is looking forward to doing, and I am ever more excited by what’s going to be possible….

(10) SHALLOW ROOTS. Abigail Nussbaum says there’s a reason for the sense of sameness in the series’ second season in “Love, Death, Robots, but no Women” at Lawyers, Guns & Money.

…There have been thirty-five Love, Death + Robots episodes. Something like thirty of them are based on a previously-published short stories. Only one of those stories is by a woman. (Also, only one of those stories—not the same one—is by a person of color.) And frankly, that’s not only reprehensible in its own right, but it tells in the final product. There’s a certain laddishness to the stories the show chooses to tell, a disinterest in the inner life of anyone but manly, taciturn men. Bug hunt stories abound, and despite the show identifying itself as science fiction, there is no shortage of episodes that are just plain horror, whose appeal seems primarily to be watching a lot of people get torn to bits cinematically (“The Secret War” in season 1; “The Tall Grass”, season 2; “Bad Traveling”, season 3). Though some episodes have female protagonists, there are also a lot of stories where women exist to be ogled (“The Witness”, season 1) or fucked (“Beyond the Aquilla Rift”, season 1; “Snow in the Desert”, season 2).

I watched the recently-released third season over the last couple of evenings and was not impressed…. 

(11) STRANGER TV. In contrast, Nussbaum enthuses about “Stranger Things Season 4, Volume I” on her Tumblr.

Folks, I am somewhat flabbergasted to report that the fourth season of Stranger Things – a show that I would previously have described as “derivative fun, if you don’t think about it too hard” – is not only its best, but genuinely good TV. There are some caveats to this claim – the last two episodes haven’t been released yet, and the protracted episode runtimes (ranging from 63 to 98 minutes) are impossible to justify – though for the most part the show wears them pretty lightly. But even so, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen…. 

(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1984 [By Cat Eldridge.] I still remember The Dune Encyclopedia fondly as it is an amazing creation. Published by Berkley thirty-eight years ago, it was written by Willis E. McNelly and forty-two other individuals not as a work of non-fiction but rather as an in-universe work. Everything in it was something that was supposed to actually be true. It was edited by Hadi Benotto, an archaeologist you’ll find in God Emperor of Dune and Heretics of Dune.

It was authorized by Herbert, who considered it canon, and went into detail such things as character biographies, looks at the worlds in that universe, a look at the spice melange, how such things as the stillsuits and the heighliners of the Spacing Guild function.

Herbert wrote the foreword to The Dune Encyclopedia and said: “Here is a rich background (and foreground) for the Dune Chronicles, including scholarly bypaths and amusing sidelights. Some of the contributions are sure to arouse controversy, based as they are on questionable sources … I must confess that I found it fascinating to re-enter here some of the sources on which the Chronicles are built. As the first ‘Dune fan’, I give this encyclopedia my delighted approval, although I hold my own counsel on some of the issues still to be explored as the Chronicles unfold.” 

Brian Herbert later, being the, well, I can’t use the word I want to use, declared everything here non-canon. That allowed him to write anything he wanted to in the novels he and Kevin J. Anderson have putting out by the armload. He even said his father never intended it to be canon.

If you’d like to purchase a copy today, it’ll cost you dearly, particularly in hardcover. A good copy is now running around two hundred and fifty dollars. 

(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born June 1, 1926 Andy Griffith. His most notable SFF genre credit is as Harry Broderick on the late Seventies Salvage I which lasted for two short seasons. Actually that was it, other than a one-off on The Bionic Woman. It’s streaming for free on Crackle whatever the Frelling that is. (Died 2012.)
  • Born June 1, 1928 Janet Grahame Johnstone, and Anne Grahame Johnstone. British twin sisters who were children’s book illustrators best remembered for their prolific artwork and for illustrating Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians. They were always more popular with the public than they were with the critics who consider them twee. (Janet died 1979. Anne died 1988.)
  • Born June 1, 1940 René Auberjonois. Odo on DS9. He’s shown up on a number of genre productions including Wonder WomanThe Outer LimitsNight GalleryThe Bionic WomanBatman Forever, King Kong, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryEnterpriseStargate SG-1 and Warehouse 13He’s lent both his voice and likeness to gaming productions in recent years, and has done voice work for the animated Green Lantern and Justice League series. He directed eight episodes of DS9. And he wrote a lot of novels, none of which I’ve read. Has anyone here read any of them? (Died 2019.)
  • Born June 1, 1947 Jonathan Pryce, 75. I remember him best as the unnamed bureaucrat in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He’s had a long career in genre works including Brazil, Something Wicked This Way Comes as Mr. Dark himself, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Governor Weatherby Swann, The Brothers Grimm, in the G.I. Joe films as the U.S. President and most recently in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote as Don Quixote. 
  • Born June 1, 1948 Powers Boothe. Though not genre, he played saloon owner Cy Tolliver on the Deadwood series, and “Curly Bill” Brocius in Tombstone, one of my favorite films. Now genre wise, he’s in the animated Superman: Brainiac Attacks voicing Lex Luthor, The Avengers as Gideon Malick, Gorilla Grodd and Red Tornado in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited and a recurring role as Gideon Malick in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series. (Died 2017.)
  • Born June 1, 1954 Michael P. Kube-McDowell, 68. A filker which gets major points in my book. And yes, I’m stalling while I try to remember what of his I’ve read. I’m reasonably sure I’ve read both of his Isaac Asimov’s Robot City novels, and now I can recall reading Alternities as well. God, it’s been at least twenty years since I read him which I thought odd, but then I noticed at ISFDB that he hasn’t published a novel in that long. 
  • Born June 1, 1966 David Dean Oberhelman. Another one who died far too young. Mike has an appreciation of him hereThe Intersection of Fantasy and Native America: From H.P. Lovecraft to Leslie Marmon Silko which he co-wrote with Amy H. Sturgis was published by The Mythopoeic Press. ISFDB lists just one genre essay by him, “From Iberian to Ibran and Catholic to Quintarian”, printed in Lois McMaster Bujold: Essays on a Modern Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Died 2018.)
  • Born June 1, 1996 Tom Holland, 26. He’s known for playing Spider-Man in five films: Captain America: Civil WarSpider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and the recently out Spider-Man: Far From Home

(14) IT’S GOT ISSUES. At The Verge, Alex Cranz says, “The merging of Comixology and Kindle has created a hell I’d like to escape”.

In February of this year, Amazon finally completed its consumption of the once independent app for downloading comics, Comixology. Amazon had acquired the app way back in 2013, and apart from removing the ability to buy comics directly from the app, it left it untouched for nearly a decade. But this year, Amazon changed things — incorporating Comixology’s digital marketplace directly into the Kindle ecosystem and totally redesigning the Comixology app. It has taken two distinct mediums — digital comics and digital books — and smashed them together into an unholy blob of content that is worse in every single way. Apparently, if you let one company acquire a near-monopoly in the digital books and comics spaces, it will do terrible things that make the experience worse….

…The new Comixology app is largely just… annoying. That’s the best word for it. Everything you need is still there, but the design isn’t really intuitive, and it can make a large collection of comics (I’ve been using Comixology since 2011) difficult to navigate. It feels sort of like when you go to the grocery store after they move aisles around. Everything is still there, but the change feels so dramatic after years of the familiar.

But where my local Food Bazaar will helpfully label the aisles, Comixology has not. There are no clear labels for useful built-in tools like its “Guided View,” which is designed to fluidly move you from panel to panel with a swipe instead of having each page take up the whole display. The Guided View is still there, but the clear explanation of what it is or how to use it is gone. You access it by double-tapping — which I only know because I was trying to access the menu to leave the book.

(15) CONFRONTING THE BLANK PAGE. Neil Clarke wrestles with the question of what he should be doing in his monthly Clarkesworld editorial: “Managing This Expectation”. He posits several ideas – here are two of them.

…Or perhaps, I’m filing a report of “criminal” acts? Earlier this week I was the victim of an ageist attack suggesting that I was “too old to be editing one of the leading science fiction magazines” and I should “get out of the way” so someone younger can do it. I’m only fifty-five, not the oldest editor I know, and not about to give up the magazine I started over one person’s disrespectful opinion on the matter. Their punishment is measured by the amount of time I continue to edit Clarkesworld.

Could be that it’s like being a referee, outlining how we’d like to see the game played? It’s perfectly fair to criticize or celebrate the finalists or winners of any award. Science fiction is a broad field with a variety of styles that might not appeal to everyone and the awards will reflect some of that. It’s only natural to be thrilled or disappointed when your favorite player wins, loses, or is benched. That said, we want a fair fight here. There should be no punching below the belt–criticizing or campaigning against based on anything other than the work they’ve done….

(16) FANTASY ART ON EXHIBIT. [Item by Bill.] The Hunter Museum of Art in Chattanooga, TN is holding this exhibition through September 5: “Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration”.

For hundreds of years, artists have been inspired by the imaginative potential of fantasy. Unlike science fiction, which is based on fact, fantasy presents an impossible reality—a universe where dragons breathe fire, angels battle demons, and magicians weave spells. Enchanted offers a thoughtful appraisal of how artists from the early 20th century to the present have brought to life myths, fairy tales, and modern epics like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Featuring nearly 100 artworks, the exhibition explores Greek myths, Arthurian Legends, fairy tales, and modern superheroes.

The Hunter’s description of the event isn’t much, and a better one can be found here at the Norman Rockwell Museum, which organized the event.

There is an accompanying book available from Amazon and Bud’s Art Books.

If you can’t make it to Chattanooga, the exhibition is also travelling to Flint, MI and will be on display at the Flint Institute of Arts from September 24, 2022 – January 8, 2023.

(17) SOME CAN AND SOME CANTON. Camestros Felapton, in “Some Swiss news about far-right publisher Vox Day”, covers Vox Day’s announcement that he’s threatening to sue [Internet Archive link] the journalists who reported his purchase of a Swiss castle.

The journalists’ article includes this paragraph:

…On the internet, Vox Day summarizes the alt-right – to which he avoids being directly attached – as the defense of “the existence of the white man and the future of white children”. The blogger also confesses a certain admiration for Adolf Hitler. “National Socialism is not only human logic, it is also much more logical and true than communism, feminism or secular Zionism,” the Minnesota-born American writes on his blog. …

Vox always objects to being identified with Hitler and Nazis (see “Complaint About Term ‘Neo-Nazi’ Results in Foz Meadows Post Moving from Black Gate to Amazing Stories” from File 770 in 2016).

(18) YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE. JustWatch determined these were the “Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies and TV Shows in the US in May 2022”

Rank*MoviesTV shows
1Spider-Man: No Way HomeStar Trek: Strange New Worlds
2Sonic the Hedgehog 2Obi-Wan Kenobi
3MorbiusSeverance
4Ghostbusters: AfterlifeStranger Things
5MoonfallDoctor Who
6FirestarterMoon Knight
7Jurassic World: Fallen KingdomThe Man Who Fell to Earth
8Jurassic WorldThe Time Traveler’s Wife
9The BatmanHalo
10Sonic the HedgehogThe Twilight Zone

*Based on JustWatch popularity score. Genre data is sourced from themoviedb.org

(19) BAGEL POWER. Accented Cinema is prepared to tell you “The Hidden Meaning of Everything Everywhere All at Once”.

Here it is! My analysis of the metaphors hidden in Everything Everywhere At at Once. Did you know why Michelle Yeoh put a googly eye on herself? Let’s find out!

(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodhunt,” Fandom Games says while earlier installments of this franchise “turned a bunch of nerds into enerds wearing eye shadow,” this installment is “the latest in the ‘kill people in a rapidly shrinking circle genre.”  The narrator thinks the game is boring and says, “call me when Bloodhunt has Ariana Grande and industrial dancing!”

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

Pixel Scroll 12/2 Have Rocket, Will Unravel

(1) SECOND OPINION. The President of Turkey is not a forgiving audience for social satire. So we learn from “Turkish Court to Determine if Gollum-Erdogan Comparison is Insult” at Voice of America.

The fate of a Turkish doctor is in the hands of experts who are tasked with determining whether he insulted the Turkish president by comparing him with the Gollum character from the “Lord of the Rings.”

Bilgin Ciftci could face two years in jail for sharing images on Facebook that seemed to compare President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the creepy character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels and film adaptations….

Turkish law states that anyone who insults the president can face a prison sentence of up to four years. Even stiffer sentences could befall a journalist.

Between August 2014, when Erdogan was elected, to March of this year, 236 people have been investigated for “insulting the head of state,” according to the BBC. Just over 100 were indicted.

 

Erdogan Gollum

(2) DIANA’S BOOK ON KINDLE. Now you can pre-order a Kindle edition of Bandersnatch, Diana Pavlac Glyer’s book about the Inklings. The release date is December 8.

You can also request a download of the first chapter at the Bandersnatch website.

(3) THESE THINGS COST MONEY! Destroying Death Stars is bad for galactic business. Or so claims a Midwestern academic. “Professor calculates economic impact of destroying ‘Death Stars’”.

Assistant professor of engineering at Washington University Zachary Feinstein recently published a study entitled “It’s a Trap: Emperor Palpatine’s Poison Pill” which posits that there would be a “catastrophic” economic crisis in the Star Wars universe brought on by the destruction of the Death Stars.

Feinstein’s research indicates that the two Death Stars constructed in the films cost approximately $193 quintillion and $419 quintillion respectively to complete. He calculated the cost of the planet-destroying space weapons by comparing them to the real life USS Gerald Ford.

According to Feinstein, the economic impact of both Death Stars being destroyed within a four-year period would cause an economic collapse comparable to the Great Depression.

Feinstein says the size of the Galactic economy would drop by 30 percent without a government bailout, which he doesn’t believe the Rebel Alliance would provide.

Well, there’s your problem. Rebel governments are notoriously reluctant to bail out recently overthrown tyrants.

(4) MONDYBOY TAKES STOCK. Ian Mond is “Moving Forward” at The Hysterical Hamster.

For the last three months I’ve had the nagging suspicion that I was a dead man walking when it came to writing reviews.  As much as I’ve enjoyed the process of reading novels on shortlists and then sharing my thoughts, the time it was taking to write a half decent review meant I wasn’t keeping pace with my reading.  And as the gap between reviews and books read widened that nagging suspicion became a cold hard reality.

I simply don’t have the time to produce reviews of a quality high enough that I’m happy to see them published.  Yes, I could try to write shorter pieces, limit myself to 500 words, but every time I’ve attempted this my inner editor has taken a nap and before you know it I’ve spent five days writing a 1,500 word ramble.  And, yeah, I could Patreon the shit out of this blog in the vain hope that asking for cash will compel me (more likely guilt me) into writing a review every couple of days.  But fuck that.  I’d rather enjoy the books I’m reading then feel weighed down by the responsibility of having to review them.

So I’ve made the mature decision to quit while I’m ahead….

Will it last?  Will I be back in eight months with a similar post talking about how I no longer have the time to turn on my computer let alone snark about the Hugo Awards?  Very likely.  (I mean, it’s taken me three days to write this blog post).

(5) ROOTS. SF Signal’s latest “MIND MELD: The Influential roots of Science Fiction”, curated by Shana DuBois, asks:

What genre roots have you found to be most influential and inspiring for you and your own writing?”

Providing the answers this time are Usman T. Malik, SL Huang, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Ferrett Steinmetz, Wendy N. Wagner, Kat Howard, Daryl Gregory, Amal El-Mohtar, Lesley Conner, and Jennifer Marie Brissett

(6) AH, THE CLASSICS. Cat Rambo says yes, the “classics” are worth reading, in “Another Word: On Reading, Writing, and the Classics” at Clarkesworld.

The point I want to make about my perspective on the “classics” is that I’ve read a substantial portion, both of the F&SF variety and the larger set, and made some of them the focus of study in grad school. (Again from both sets, since that focus was an uneasy combination of late 19th/early 20th American lit and cultural studies with a stress on comics/animation. You can see me here pontificating on The Virtual Sublime or here on Tank Girl. I’m not sure I could manage that depth of theory-speak again, at least without some sort of crash course to bring me back up to speed. But I digress.)

So here’s the question that brought me here: should fantasy and science fiction readers read the F&SF classics? And the answer is a resounding, unqualified yes, because they are missing out on some great reading in two ways if they don’t. How so?

  1. They miss some good books. So many many good books. At some point I want to put together an annotated reading list but that’s a project for tinkering with in one’s retirement, I think. But, for example, I’m reading The Rediscovery of Man: The Collected Stories of Cordwainer Smith right now (in tiny chunks, savoring the hell out of it) and they are such good stories, even with the occasional dated bit.
  2. They miss some of the context of contemporary reading, some of the replies those authors are making to what has come before. The Forever War, for example, is in part a reply to Bill the Galactic Hero; read together, both texts gain more complexity and interest.

(7) This Day In History

  • December 2, 1939 – Laurel & Hardy’s The Flying Deuces is released, a movie without any science fictional content of its own (unless you count Oliver Hardy’s reincarnation as a horse in the final scenes), but figures strangely into an episode of Doctor Who. During “The Impossible Astronaut” (Doctor Who, S.6 ,Ep.10),Amy Pond, the Doctor’s companion, and Rory Williams watch the movie on DVD. Per the Wikipedia: “Rory sees The Doctor (Matt Smith) appear in the film running towards the camera wearing his fez and waving, before returning to dance with Stan and Ollie. This was achieved with Matt Smith dancing in front of a green screen.”

(8) BAXTER MARS SEQUEL. Gollancz has announced plans to publish Stephen Baxter’s sequel to Wells’ War of the Worlds.

The Massacre of Mankind is set in 1920s London when the Martians from the original novel return and the war begins again. However, this time they have learnt from their mistakes, making their attempts to massacre mankind even more frightening.

Baxter, who also co-wrote the Long Earth novels with Terry Pratchett, said it was an “honour” to write the sequel. “H G Wells is the daddy of modern science fiction. He drew on deep traditions, for instance of scientific horror dating back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and fantastic voyages such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. And he had important near-contemporaries such as Jules Verne. But Wells did more than any other writer to shape the form and themes of modern science fiction, and indeed through his wider work exerted a profound influence on the history of the twentieth century.”

It’s due to be published in January, 2017. This time, we’re told, the Martians have learned the lessons of their failed invasion: they’ll no longer fall prey to microbial infection.

(9) FASTER. Gregory Benford has posted John Cramer’s contribution to The 100 Year Starship Symposium, “Exotic Paths To The Stars.”

I was Chairman of the Exotic Technologies Session held on October 1, 2011, at the 100 year Starship Symposium in Orlando Florida.  This chapter draws on the talks given in that session, but it does not represent a summary of the presentations.  Rather, I want focus on three lines of development in the area of exotic technologies that were featured at the Symposium, developments that might allow us to reach the stars on a time scale of a human lifetime: (1) propellantless space drives, (2) warp drives, and (3) wormholes.  With reference to the latter two topics, I will also discuss some cautions from the theoretical physics community about the application of general relativity to “metric engineered” devices like wormholes and warp drives that require exotic matter…

(10) HINES DECOMPRESSES. Jim C. Hines has “Post-Convention Insecurities” after his stint as Loscon 42 GoH.

I understand the phenomenon a bit better these days, but it still sucks. Partly, it’s exhaustion. You’re wiped out after the convention, and being tired magnifies all those insecurities. And the fact is, I know I stick my foot in it from time to time. We all do. It’s part of being human.

But I spend conventions trying to be “on.” Trying to be friendly and entertaining and hopefully sound like I know what the heck I’m talking about. Basically, trying to be clever. And I trust most of you are familiar with the failure state of clever?

Sometimes a joke falls flat. Sometimes I say something I thought was smart and insightful, realizing only after the words have left my mouth that it was neither. Sometimes an interaction feels off, like I’ve failed at Human Socializing 101. Or I get argumentative about something. Or I fail to confront something I should have gotten argumentative about. I could go on and on about the possibilities. That’s part of the problem.

The majority of the conversations and panels and interactions were unquestionably positive. But there’s a span when my brain insists on wallowing through the questionable ones, and I keep peeking at Twitter to double-check if anyone has posted that Jim C. Hines was the WORST guest of honor EVER, and should be fired from SF/F immediately.

Whether or not Jim had any influence on the result, I think it’s appropriate that in a year when he was GoH Loscon put together its most diverse range of program participants, probably ever – substantive speakers from all kinds of backgrounds.

(11) HOW GOOD WAS GOODREADS CHOICE? Rachel Neumeier browses the genre winners of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards.

If it’s a massive popularity contest you aim for, then the Goodreads Choice Awards is ideal. I dunno, I think in general I am most interested in the results of awards like the World Fantasy Award, which has a panel of judges; or the Nebula, which requires nominations to come from professional writers. In other words, not wide-open popularity contests. On the other hand, there’s a place for pure popularity too, obviously, and it was really quite interesting seeing what got nominated in all the Goodreads categories.

Of course I read mainly books that have been recommended by bloggers I follow and Goodreads reviewers I follow and so on, so these awards don’t much matter to me — no awards matter to me in that sense — but still, interesting to see what’s shuffled up to the top of the heap for 2015…

(12) SEE TWILIGHT ZONE WITH HARLAN. Cinefamily’s December events at the Silent Movie Theater in LA includes a celebration of the 30th anniversary of CBS’ 1985 version of The Twilight Zone, with Harlan Ellison, Rockne S. O Bannon, Bradford May, Michael Cassutt, Alan Brennert, Paul Lynch, William Atherton, J.D. Feigelson, Martin Pasko, Rebecca (Parr) Beck & Steven Railsback in person. December 5, starts at 5:30 p.m., tickets cost $14 (free for members).

Twilight zine new

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension-a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas-you just crossed over into the Twilight Zone…

Rod Serling opened his beloved, suspenseful, witty, and social commentary-filled drama with the same intonation every time, before presenting each delightfully formulaic science fiction fantasy, from 1959 to 1964. Those episodes will never cease to be replayed, but in 1985 CBS gave fans some new material to latch onto… an 80s revival of the series, created with the participation of writers, filmmakers, and actors for whom the original was a beloved memory. Join Cinefamily and the cast & crew of the 80s Twilight Zone at this 30th anniversary marathon and celebration, showcasing our absolute favorite 80s style sci-fi!!!

 

(13) KUNKEL FOLLOW-UP. After last week’s post “Kunkel Awards Created”, I was able to ask some follow-up questions of the organizers. James Fudge, managing editor of Games Politics and Unwinnable, filled in some more background.

Most of the heavy lifting on this award needs to be credited to Michael Koretzky and the SPJ. Prior to AirPlay, Michael had talked to me about creating some kind of award to incentivize good games journalism. I thought this was a great idea. I also have a lot of respect for Bill Kunkel, and seeing how he is considered to be the very first “games journalist”  (and helped created the first publication dedicated to video games) it seemed right and fair that he should be honored by having an award named after him. I didn’t know Bill personally but we talked a lot about journalism, the industry, and wrestling on a mailing list dedicated to games journalists called “GameJournoPros.”

After the criteria for the awards was sorted out I reached out to the widow of Bill Kunkel to ask for permission, She kindly gave us her approval.

(14) THE YEAR IN AFROSFF. Wole Talabi lists “My Favorite African Science Fiction and Fantasy (AfroSFF) Short Fiction of 2015”.

2015 has been a good year for African Science Fiction and Fantasy (or AfroSFF, as seems to be the consensus abbreviation). The year saw the release of Jalada’s Afrofutures anthology, Issues 2, 3, 4 and X of the new and excellent Omenana and  Short Story Day Africa’s Terra Incognita. Still to come are AfroSFv2 (edited by Ivor Hartmann), African Monsters (edited by Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas) and Imagine Africa 500 (edited by Billy Kahora and Trine Andersen). So much good stuff to read and more to come….

So in the interest of fueling discussion and analysis of AfroSFF stories in general, here are my favorite AfroSFF stories of 2015 in no particular order.

(15) Filer Von Dimpleheimer has done some light housekeeping in the first two volumes of his Short Fiction Eligible for the 1941 Retro-Hugos series.

I uploaded version 1.1 of Volume Two. I fixed some minor errors, but the main thing is that I put in the disclaimer page that was in Volume Three. I’ll do the same for Volume One as well.

The links should all be the same and still work. They worked for me after I had signed out of that account, but if you or any Filers have any problems, just let me know and I’ll try to sort it out.

(16) Harrison Ford was hilarious on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

First, he tried explaining how he dislocated his ankle on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens set, using a Han Solo action figure.

Then, Ford and Jimmy downed Greedo shots and debuted a colorful drink created in honor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

(16) IT’S ONLY ROCK’N ROLL BUT I LIKE IT. Bill Roper says an ancient filk mystery has been solved.

Over 40 years ago, at the Toronto Worldcon in 1973, a young man joined the filk circle, sang a song, and vanished without a trace. The song was a lovely piece based on Arthur C. Clarke’s story, “The Sentinel”. Anne Passovoy was there and ended up reconstructing the song as best she could and adding it to her repertoire, noting that the song wasn’t hers, but presumably was something written by the anonymous young man.

And that was where things rested until last weekend at Chambanacon, when Bill Rintz and Bill Furry pulled out a song at their concert.

It was almost, but not quite the song that Anne had reconstructed. It was clearly the song that Anne had heard. All of the bones matched.

And so, as it turned out, did the feathers. Because this song was on The Byrds 1968 album, The Notorious Byrd Brothers, and titled “Space Odyssey”.

You can hear the original here. The lyrics are here.

(17) CARDS AGAINST WHOMANITY. io9 will let you “Print out the Doctor Who version of Cards Against Humanity right now”

Cards Against Humanity is the hilarious party game for horrible people, and now you can mix the game’s political incorrectness with your knowledge of Doctor Who thanks to a fan-made edition called Cards Against Gallifrey.

Because Cards Against Humanity is published under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, anyone can make their own cards for the game, provided they publish them under the same license and don’t sell them. The comedy group Conventional Improv performs a game show based on Cards Against Humanity at different conventions, and this fall, in honor of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, they played Cards Against Gallifrey and have made their version of the game available to the public. Naturally, it’s crude, offensive, and imagines most of the cast naked.

(18) GREEN ACRES. Kind of like living in a Chia Pet. “This kit lets you assemble your own green-roofed Hobbit home in just 3 days”  at The Open Mind.

Magic Green Homes fabricates such structures using prefabricated vaulted panels and covers them with soil, creating flexible green-roofed living spaces with a Tolkienesque charm. And the kicker? They’re so easy to construct, just about anyone can build one.

(19) ZICREE. Sci-fi writer-director-producer Marc Zicree gives you a tour of his Space Command studio while shooting Space Command 2: Forgiveness — and shows clips

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, von Dimpleheimer, Alan Dorey, John King Tarpinian, and Steven H Silver for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]