Pixel Scroll 9/26/22 They Sentenced Me To Twenty Years Of Scrolldom, For Trying To File The Pixel From Within

(1) IT’S A HIT! NASA’s DART mission crashed into the targeted asteroid today.

And CNN reports “After DART’s successful collision with an asteroid, the science is just getting started”.

For the first time in history, NASA is trying to change the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Now that a spacecraft successfully hit the asteroid Dimorphos — the science is just getting started.

To survey the aftermath of the impact, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission will launch in 2024. The spacecraft, along with two CubeSats, will arrive at the asteroid system two years later.

Hera will study both asteroids, measure physical properties of Dimorphos, and examine the DART impact crater and the moon’s orbit, with the aim of establishing an effective planetary defense strategy.

The Italian Space Agency’s Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids, or LICIACube, will fly by Dimorphos to capture images and video of the impact plume as it sprays up off the asteroid and maybe even spy the crater it could leave behind. The mini-satellite will also glimpse Dimorphos’ opposite hemisphere, which DART won’t get to see before it’s obliterated.

The CubeSat will turn to keep its cameras pointed at Dimorphos as it flies by. Days, weeks and months after, we’ll see images and video captured by the Italian satellite that observed the collision event. The first images expected back from LICIACube could show the moment of impact and the plume it creates.

The LICIACube won’t be the only observer watching. The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the impact. The Didymos system may brighten as its dust and debris is ejected into space, said Statler, the NASA program scientist.

But ground-based telescopes will be key in determining if DART successfully changed the motion of Dimorphos.

(2) WSFA AT 75. The 75th anniversary of the Washington Science Fiction Association will be celebrated this weekend at the club’s annual Capclave.

(3) OCTAVIA BUTLER GOES INTO HALL OF FAME. The 2022 induction ceremony for the National Women’s Hall of Fame was held last weekend, honoring Octavia Butler, Hidden Figures’ Katherine Johnson, and other 2021 inductees. See a video of the ceremony here.

(4) WILD BLUE AND OTHER YONDERS. “Sharp-Eyed Viewers Notice Stunning Addition To Key U.S. Intelligence Logo” at MSN.com. Oh, yeah. Check for yourself on the U.S miliary’s NIM-Aviation Homepage.

A federal intelligence office charged with matters related to aviation has a new logo ― and it suggests the organization is tracking more than just known aircraft.  

The logo of the National Intelligence Manager-Aviation shows a series of aircraft as well as a UFO…. 

(5) WHERE CAPS BELONG. In a way it’s more of a thought experiment, interestingly constructed by Max Florschutz: “Being a Better Writer: The Problem With Proper Nouns in Sci-Fi and Fantasy” at Unusual Things.

See, the genesis of this post comes from my editing on Starforge. This titan of a book is now in the Beta phase, which means looking for typos, misspelled words, misplaced quotation marks, and all that jazz. However, it also means going through and ensuring proper capitalization of proper nouns. At which point, I ran into a bit of a conundrum. Said conundrum led me to Google, which in turn pointed me to this post from 2009 concerning a similar issue in Fantasy writing—though note that it does as well address Science Fiction as well.

Anyway, what is this conundrum? Well, before we dive into it directly, I have a sort of pop quiz for you. You can do it in your head, but if you’re really determined you can bring out a pen and pencil and do the classic grade-school exercise. It’ll only take a moment either way, but here we go. Correctly capitalize the following sentence:

“The terran vehicle rolled up the hill, backed by dozens of terran marines.”

That’s it. Got it? Placed those capital letters where they belong? Okay, check out the answers after the break….

(6) FIGURES OF FUN. Cora Buhlert brings us another “Masters-of-the-Universe-Piece Theatre: ‘Peeping Mantenna’”.

… Here we have He-Man and Skeletor in the style of the 2002 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon (currently streaming here), for which the designs of the characters were updated. I don’t normally buy all of the He-Man and Skeletor variants (and there are a lot of them), but I like these two, since they are quite different from the standard versions, including redesigned accessories. Though I’ll give 2002 Skeletor’s sword to my Keldor figure, since it actually is Keldor’s sword.

The third new arrival is Mantenna, a member of the Evil Horde and the closest thing Masters of the Universe has to a bug-eyed monster….

(7) TODAY’S RUNNER-UP. Steve Davidson suggested a Scroll title based on a children’s toy. He even provided art!

The Cow Says “Moo!” The Cat Says “Meow!” The Pixel Says “Scroll!”

(A “modified” image of a See-N-Say is below.)

(8) SUCCESSFUL CASTING. Gretchen Rue discusses her favorite TV witches. “The Most Underrated Witches in Media” at CrimeReads.

Supernatural is a hard show to discuss without needing to put an asterisk on all the things it did wrong. It was frequently toxic, misogynistic, and struggled mightily with its female characters who were all either victims or the embodiment of pure evil. Not exactly the most fertile grounds for growing relatable characters who fit the bill for underrated witches. And yet Supernatural has not one, but two of the most underrated witches in all of modern television. There is ongoing antagonist Rowena, who pesters and plagues the Winchesters over the course of multiple seasons, but Rowena, played by Ruth Connell, defies the regular run of the mill baddie legacy most other female villains on the show get saddled with. She Is funny, she has sexual agency, she is emotionally complex and has her own deep backstory that drives her to do the things she does beyond the standard demon-possession fare of most other women on the show. Rowena is a match for the Winchesters, and often an unwitting ally, and she gets to be smart, beautiful, and charismatic season after season. She is only underrated in that she has been somewhat overshadowed in popularity by similarly love-to-hate/hate-to-love demon Crowley….

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.  

1987 [By Cat Eldridge.] ALF: The Animated Series (also known as ALF on Melmac) premiered on NBC thirty five years ago on a Saturday morning. Though it lasted two years which you would think would give it over fifty episodes, it had two seasons of just thirteen episodes instead. 

WARNING: PREACHING MODE ENGAGED

Interestingly it has a long runtime of thirty minute in an era where most cartoon series had twenty to twenty six minutes of time so that as much junky product as possible could be pushed unto the young viewing audience. Buy! Buy! Buy! Who cares about your teeth! 

PREACHING MODE OFF

It was created by Paul Fusco (the only acting talent who returned here.) He is the puppeteer and voice of ALF on ALF and was the creator, writer, producer, and director of the series, and Tom Pratchett, the co-creator of ALF who shows his most excellent taste by being involved in the writing of The Great Muppet Caper. If you’ve not seen the latter, it’s on Disney + right now.

(No, I’m not plugging Disney +. Just noting the Angry Mouse has a lot of interesting product in his vast pockets. I personally am avoiding Him like the bubonic plague for the time being.) 

Why the human characters didn’t appear is rather simple — the shows premise is that ALF is traveling to various places on his home-world of Melmac.  It was a prequel to the ALF, depicting ALF’s life back on his home planet of Melmac before it exploded. How well they did this ive no idea as I’ve not seen it.

Now want weird? Really frelling weird? It was paired with ALF Tales, a spin-off of this series, that had the astonishingly weird premise of characters from that series were playing various characters from fairy tales. Now this series only lasted twenty-one episodes. 

It apparently never got reviewed by the critics, not altogether surprisingly.  Amazon and Tubi, should you care, are streaming it. Personally I’d go watch ALF instead if I were you as it’s actually really great. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 26, 1866 Winsor McCay. Cartoonist and animator who’s best remembered for the Little Nemo strip which ran between The Wars and the animated Gertie the Dinosaur film which is the key frame animation cartoon which you can see here. He used the pen name Silas on his Dream of the Rarebit Fiend strip. That strip had no recurring characters or theme, just that a character has a nightmare or other bizarre dream after eating Welsh rarebit. What an odd concept. (Died 1934.)
  • Born September 26, 1872 Max Erhmann. Best remembered for his 1927 prose poem “Desiderata” which I have a framed copy hanging here in my work area. Yeah big fan. Genre connection? Well calling it “Spock Thoughts”, Nimoy recited the poem on Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy, his 1968 album. (Died 1945.)
  • Born September 26, 1941 Martine Beswick, 81. Though she auditioned for Dr. No, she was instead cast in From Russia with Love as Zora. She also appeared as Paula Caplan in Thunderball. She would appear in One Million Years B.C. opposite Raquel Welch.  She made several Hammer Studio films including Prehistoric Women and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde.
  • Born September 26, 1944 Victoria Vetri, 78. I do have a very expansive definition of SF and she definitely gets here by being in the Sixties pulp film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth as Sanna, and a lost world film called Chuka playing Helena Chavez. She’d also in be a bit of forgotten horror in the role of Rosemary’s Baby as Terry Gionoffrio. But actually she enters SF lore by way of a role she didn’t do. Vetri has been incorrectly identified in myriad sources as playing the role of the human form of a shape-shifting cat in the Trek’s “Assignment: Earth” episode, a role actually played by April Tatro. As she notes, she has brown eyes and that actress has blue eyes. She had a handful  of genre appearances — The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman as Florence of Arabia, Mission: Impossible and Land of Giants.
  • Born September 26, 1956 Linda Hamilton, 66. Best known for being Sarah Connor in The Terminator film franchise and Catherine Chandler in the Beauty and the Beast series. She also played Vicky Baxter in Children of the Corn, and Doctor Amy Franklin in King Kong Lives. She would be Acacia, a Valkyrie in “Delinquents” of the Lost Girl series, a role she would reprise in two more episodes, “End of a Line” and “Sweet Valkyrie High”.
  • Born September 26, 1957 Tanya Huff, 65. Her Confederation of Valor Universe series is highly recommended by me.  And I also give a strong recommendation to her Gale Family series. Let’s not forget the cat friendly Keeper’s Chronicles series. I’ve not read her other series, so I’ll ask y’all what you’d recommend.
  • Born September 26, 1968 Jim Caviezel, 54. John Reese on Person of Interest which CBS describes as a “crime drama”. Huh. He was also Detective John Sullivan in Frequency, and Kainan in Outlander. And yes he played Number Six in the unfortunate reboot of The Prisoner
  • Born September 26, 1985 Talulah Riley, 37. Miss Evangelista in “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, two Tenth Doctor stories. She also portrays Angela in Westworld, and she shows up in Thor: The Dark World as an Asgardian nurse. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) ROCKY HORROR. Today’s also the anniversary of this movie’s release:

(13) HIGHER GEAR. Inverse reminds us that “40 years ago, one sci-fi show had the most bizarre beginning in TV history”. Video clips at the link.

…Michael Long, we’re told, has a metal plate in his head — “probably from military surgery” — and this metal plate deflected the bullet away from his brain and into his face. He later emerges from reconstructive surgery all Hasslehoffed-up at the 11:57-minute mark. This means there’s been at least one commercial break before we even see Hasselhoff in Knight Rider.

Frankly, the fact that the show needed a talking car after that setup is fascinating. Today, if the premise of Knight Rider were floated as a prestige drama all about the nature of identity and the existence of false identities, you can’t imagine a studio executive saying, “Yeah, but what if he had a talking car, too?”

The soap opera-esque origin story of Michael Knight’s face was actually a brilliant starting point for the series. By Season 2 episode “Goliath,” we learn that there’s an evil version of Michael Knight — Garthe Knight — also played by Hasselhoff, with a small, sleazy mustache and a soul patch. (The fact he looks like Michael Knight is because Michael Knight’s new face was based on Garthe’s, not the other way around.)…

(14) IT’S ELEMENTRY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Entertainment Weekly discusses what happened when a scientist visited The Big Bang Theory set and found uranium!

…. During the tour, the physicist noticed one of the props in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. Prady says, “People always ask what that thing on the wall post was, it was this wooden box that was actually an antique Geiger counter. The physicist looks at it and goes, ‘That’s an old Geiger counter.'” (A Geiger counter is a device used to detect radiation).

It turns out the Geiger counter was more than just a unique prop….

(15) SCARY FOOD. Fortunately, these horrifying “Hallowieners” are baloney says Snopes.

(16) A WORLD UNBUILT. Arturo Serrano finds one that’s not so good: “Nanoreview: The Paper Museum by Kate S. Simpson” at Nerds of a Feather.

…The Paper Museum is a frustrating read. The microcosm inside the museum is described in abundant, at times excessive detail, while the world outside of it is a nebulous blank that may as well be made of air. Since we only follow Lydia, who basically never leaves the museum, the significance of a world without paper is lost because we never get to see that world…. 

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This clip of Alasdair Beckett-King satirizing a “popular space show: appeared last year. “Every Episode of Popular Space Show™”.

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

2022 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

 The Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) has announced the finalists for the 2022 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction:

  • “The Birdsong Fossil” by DK Mok, Multispecies Cities: Solarpunk Urban Futures, (April 2021) World Weaver Press ed. by Christoph Rupprecht, Deborah Cleland, Norie Tamura, Rajat Chaudhuri, and Sarena Ulibarri;
  • “Dress of Ash” by Y. M. Pang, Seasons Between Us: Tales of Identities and Memories, ed. by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law, Laksa Media Groups Inc. (2021);
  • “Eight Mile and the City” by Steven Harper, When Worlds Collide, ed. by  S. C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, Zombies Need Brains, LLC (July 2021);
  • “Fisherman’s Soup” by Kristina Ten, Mermaids Monthly, (May 26, 2022) ed. by Julia Rios, Meg Frank, and Ashley Deng;
  • “From the Ashes Flew the Ladybug” by Alexandra Seidel, The Deadlands, Issue 7 (November 2021) ed. by E. Catherine Tobler;
  • “Laughter Among the Trees” by Suzan Palumbo, The Dark Magazine, Issue 69 (February 2021) ed. by Sean Wallace;
  • “Space Pirate Queen of the Ten Billion Utopias” by Elly Bangs, Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 138 (November 2021) ed. by John Joseph Adams;
  • “Standing Orders” by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Derelicts, ed. by David B. Coe and Joshua Palmatier, Zombies Need Brains, LLC (July 2021); 
  • “A Stranger Goes Ashore” by Adam R. Shannon, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 328 (April 22, 2021) ed. by Scott H. Andrews; and
  • “A Universe All to Himself” by Ryan Priest, Metaphorosis, (April 2021) ed. by B. Morris Allen;

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction, and showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2021). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction

Association (www.wsfa.org) and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave (www.capclave.org), held this year on September 30 – October 2, 2022 at the Rockville Hilton & Executive Meeting Center in Rockville, Maryland 20852

2022 WSFA Small Press Award Taking Submissions

The Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) has announced that the submission period for the 2022 WSFA Small Press Award is now open and will close on March 31, 2022.

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2021). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association and presented at their annual convention, Capclave, held on September 30 – October 2, 2022 in Rockville, MD.

Submissions should be sent to admin@wsfasmallpressaward.org

See The Rules webpage for details.

T. Kingfisher Wins 2021 WSFA Small Press Award

The Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) announced October 2 that T. Kingfisher has won the 2021 WSFA Small Press Award for best short fiction published by a small press in 2020.

“Metal Like Blood in the Dark” by T. Kingfisher, Uncanny Magazine, (September/October 2020) ed. by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, is the winning story.

The other finalists for the 2021 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction were:

  • “Foster-Child of Silence and Slow Time” by Brian Hugenbruch, My Battery Is Low And It Is Getting Dark, ed. by Crystal Sarakas and Joshua Palmatier, Zombies Need Brains LLC (July 2020);
  • “Guest Athletes” by Jennifer R. Povey, The Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown Vol. III ed. by John Paul Catton, Excalibur Books (October 10, 2020); 
  • “Heritage Hill” by Matthew R. Davis, Outback Horrors Down Under: An Anthology of Antipodean Terrors, ed. By Steve Dillon, Things in the Well, (October 2020);
  • “The Longest Season in the Garden of the Tea Fish” by Jo Miles, Strange Horizons (April 2020) ed. by Gautam Bhatia, Rasha Abdulhadi, et al.;
  • “Memories Taste Best When Marinated With Sadness” by Feng Gooi, Hexagon Magazine, Issue 2 (Fall 2020) ed. by J.W. Stebner;
  • “Myself” by Rebecca Enzor, DreamForge, Issue 7 (December 2020) ed. by Scot Noel;
  • “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell, Diabolical Plots (June 15, 2020) ed. by David Steffen;
  • “Reformed” by Caias Ward, Mysterion, (March 23, 2020), ed. by Donald S. Crankshaw and Kristin Janz.

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2020). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner was chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was presented at their annual convention, Capclave.

2021 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

The Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) has announced the finalists for the 2021 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction:

  • “Foster-Child of Silence and Slow Time” by Brian Hugenbruch, My Battery Is Low And It Is Getting Dark, ed. by Crystal Sarakas and Joshua Palmatier, Zombies Need Brains LLC (July 2020)
  • “Guest Athletes” by Jennifer R. Povey, The Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown Vol. IIIed. by John Paul Catton, Excalibur Books (October 10, 2020) 
  • “Heritage Hill” by Matthew R. Davis, Outback Horrors Down Under: An Anthology of Antipodean Terrors, ed. By Steve Dillon, Things in the Well, (October 2020)
  • “The Longest Season in the Garden of the Tea Fish” by Jo Miles, Strange Horizons (April 2020) ed. by Gautam Bhatia, Rasha Abdulhadi, et al.
  • “Memories Taste Best When Marinated With Sadness” by Feng Gooi, Hexagon Magazine, Issue 2 (Fall 2020) ed. by J.W. Stebner
  • “Metal Like Blood in the Dark” by T. Kingfisher, Uncanny Magazine, (September/October 2020) ed. by Lynn M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas 
  • “Myself” by Rebecca Enzor, DreamForge, Issue 7 (December 2020) ed. by Scot Noel
  • “Open House on Haunted Hill” by John Wiswell, Diabolical Plots (June 15, 2020) ed. by David Steffen
  • “Reformed” by Caias Ward, Mysterion, (March 23, 2020), ed. by Donald S. Crankshaw and Kristin Janz

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2020). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction

Association (www.wsfa.org) and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave (www.capclave.org), held on October 1-3, 2021 at the Rockville Hilton, Rockville, MD.

2021 WSFA Small Press Award Taking Submissions

The Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) has announced that the submission period for the 2021 WSFA Small Press Award is open. Entries will be taken through March 31, 2021.

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2020). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association and presented at their annual convention, Capclave, held on October 1-3, 2021.

Submissions should be sent to admin@wsfasmallpressaward.org

See The Rules webpage for details.

Honigman Wins 2020 WSFA Small Press Award

Charlotte Honigman has won the 2020 WSFA Small Press Award for best short fiction published by a small press in 2019. The Washington Science Fiction Association made the announcement October 17 during their annual convention, Capclave, held online this year.

The winning story appeared in a collection edited by Kate Wolford.

  • “The Partisan and the Witch” by Charlotte Honigman, Skull and Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga, ed. by Kate Wolford, World Weaver Press (January 2019)

The other finalists for the 2020 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction were:

  • “The Blighted Godling of Company Town H” by Beth Cato, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 268 (January 3, 2019) ed. by Scott H. Andrews
  • “Fairest of All” by Ada Hoffmann, The Future Fire, ed. by Djibril al-Ayad (August 2019)
  • “Give the Family My Love” by A. T. Greenblatt, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 149 (February 2019) ed. by Neil Clarke
  • Painter of Trees by Suzanne Palmer, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 153 (June 2019) ed. by Neil Clarke
  • “Somewhere Else, Nowhere Else” by Juliet Kemp, Portals ed. by Patricia Bray and S.C. Butler, Zombies Need Brains, LLC (June 2019)
  • “The Sound of Distant Stars” by Judi Fleming, Footprints in the Stars, ed. by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, eSpec Books (July 2019)
  • “The Weight of Mountains” by L. Deni Colter, DreamForge, Issue 2 (June 2019) ed. by Scot Noel

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small  presses in the previous year (2018). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

Capclave, D.C.-Area Con, Celebrates 20 Years

Capclave: Where reading is
not extinct

The Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) will virtually host the 20th Capclave online from October 17-18. Memberships are $10.

This year’s Capclave will feature author and founding editor of FIYAH Magazine Troy L. Wiggins as Guest of Honor, and to celebrate the 20-year anniversary many past author Guests of Honor are returning including Connie Willis, Ken Liu, Nancy Kress, Carrie Vaughn, Catherynne M. Valente, Sarah Beth Durst, Alyssa Wong, and James Morrow.  

Taking advantage of the online nature of the convention this year, Capclave will feature an international line-up, including Aliette de Bodard in France; Australians Kaaron Warren, Lisa Fuller, Jason Nahrung, and Kirstyn McDermott; and from China, Regina Kanyu Wang, Samusara, A Que, Sara Chen, Emily Jin, and Guangzhao Lyao.

The convention will feature panels on writing, reviewing, and other topics. Program participants will read from their works and participate in kaffeeklatsches. There will also be virtual fan areas on the Capclave discord server.

A special membership rate of $55 for both this year and 2021. Register at the Capclave website.  

2020 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

The Washington (DC) Science Fiction Association (WSFA) has announced the finalists for the 2020 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction:

  • “The Blighted Godling of Company Town H” by Beth Cato, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 268 (January 3, 2019) ed. By Scott H. Andrews
  • “Fairest of All” by Ada Hoffmann, The Future Fire, ed. by Djibril al-Ayad (August 2019)
  • “Give the Family My Love” by A. T. Greenblatt, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 149 (February 2019) ed. by Neil Clarke
  • “Painter of Trees” by Suzanne Palmer, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 153 (June 2019) ed. by Neil Clarke
  • “The Partisan and the Witch” by Charlotte Honigman, Skull and Pestle: New Tales of Baba Yaga, ed by Kate Wolford, World Weaver Press (January 2019)
  • “Somewhere Else, Nowhere Else” by Juliet Kemp, Portals ed. by Patricia Bray and S.C. Butler, Zombies Need Brains, LLC (June 2019)
  • “The Sound of Distant Stars” by Judi Fleming, Footprints in the Stars, ed. by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, eSpec Books (July 2019)
  • “The Weight of Mountains” by L. Deni Colter, DreamForge, Issue 2 (June 2019) ed. by Scot Noel

The WSFA Small Press Award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction.  The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small  presses in the previous year (2018). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story.

The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association (www.wsfa.org) and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave (www.capclave.org), held virtually this year on October 17-18, 2020.

Pixel Scroll 5/14/20 You Will Scroll Eternal, Shiny And Chrome

(1) MOOT COURT. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from Robert Barnes’ Washington Post report of a Supreme Court hearing an argument about whether states have the right to punish “faithless electors” who cast a vote in the Electoral College other than the candidate who won a state’s electoral votes.

“What of the elector who decides after the election ‘I really like Frodo Baggins,’” asked Justice Clarence Thomas, referencing one of the principal protagonists of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings.  That person is free to vote his or her convictions, a lawyer challenging state restrictions said, but not for a hobbit; the candidate must be a real person.

(Link: “Supreme Court considers ‘faithless’ presidential electors and finds more questions than answers”.)

(2) US IN FLUX. ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination launched the latest story in their Us in Flux project today, Tina Connolly’s “Skating Without Streetlights”, a story about virtual reality and friendship, with a bit of a YA spin.

On Monday, May 18 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Connolly in conversation with VR developer Dennis Bonilla.  

(3) WINDING DOWN NASFIC. Columbus 2020 NASFiC announced today it is cancelled. Their statement “We will not be offering any refunds but, that being said, we still plan on publishing a souvenir book for all attending and supporting members” received some pushback in a public Facebook conrunners’ group. Treasurer Kim Williams has responded with a supplementary statement:

We don’t know what our bills are going to be or what will be left over, And now unfortunately one person has escalated their unhappiness about no refund to PayPal and is encouraging her entire group of friends to do likewise.

So, why did NASFIC say no refunds?

1. We just got to the point of cancellation This Morning. It’s hard to be in the land of “who knows?” so we got the main piece of information out to everyone as soon as possible. We didn’t want people making travel plans and fighting to cancel those too. I treated you with the respect I would have hoped for.

2. We do not have all the information from the hotel or any of our other vendors on what we owe them. We don’t know what is going to be left! I’m negotiating with each vendor doing the best I can.

3. We have to say no refunds at this point because we can’t even begin to know what might be left over.

4. We really would like to do a Souvenir/Program Book because we want to do something for our guests. We put a lot of thought into our choice of guests and feel horrible about not having a convention for them.

5. One of the issues we discussed TODAY is what we should do if any funds are left after that. What we would like to do is participate in the “pass along” program, just like any other WSFS event even though we didn’t receive any.

But if this person continues her claim, it risks all of the above, She wants her refund before anyone else even has a chance.

So, now I really don’t know what is going to happen. .

(4) MORE CONVENTION CANCELLATIONS. Oxonmoot and KublaCon are two more of the many fannish events now off the calendar.

Oxonmoot 2020’s co-chairs Elena Davison and Mike Percival told members the Tolkien Society’s fall event is off for this year.

It is with great sadness that we have reached the decision that it will be impossible to hold a face-to-face Oxonmoot in 2020.

At all times, we have had in mind that we would only run Oxonmoot if we could do so in a way which was safe for our members.

Following the publication on Monday 11th May of the UK Government document “Our Plan to Rebuild”, describing their Covid-19 recovery strategy, it is clear that some level of social distancing will still be required in September, and this has a dramatic impact on the way the spaces in college can be used – for example the capacity of the Hall is reduced by almost 80%. This has led the college to advise that they do not feel able to accommodate our event. In addition, the proposed introduction of a 14-day self-isolation period for overseas travellers would make it difficult for overseas members to attend….

KublaCon’s Executive Producer Mike Eckert says the Oakland, CA gaming convention is cancelled.

…We know this will disappoint many of you, we are disappointed along with you.  We also know there will be questions as to what comes next.

Some of us on Staff, myself included, lost their day job amid this pandemic, many more staff are at home, quarantined; just like you. You may be wondering what happens to your badge fees, ticket fees or booth fees. We want to help answer all of that and we humbly ask for your help too….

(5) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman is still “Social Distancing” – which means eating at home and withstanding the sharp cross-examination conducted by fans of his podcast, something the accomplished raconteur is thoroughly prepared to do,.

Two episodes ago, we sheltered in place together as I ate lunch and answered 33 questions from listeners and former guests of Eating the Fantastic. Since it’ll be awhile before the convention circuit starts up again and restaurants are back in business, I decided to once more invite you into my home to join me for a meal.

After all, my original call for questions had yielded 95 of them, and there was no way I was going to let that meat go to waste!

So after having roasted up a pork butt and assorted vegetables, I pulled together a plate and attempted to answer as many as I could while (metaphorically) breaking bread with you.

…I talked about my early days in the Marvel Comics Bullpen, the many things legendary editor Gardner Dozois and I shoved up our noses, when my food and fandom interests began to overlap, what I would have said to Harlan Ellison had he been in Barry Malzberg’s shoes, whether experiencing personal tragedy helps or harms a writer, the cognitive dissonance I feel about comics having taken over the world, which character caused me to start writing (hint: it was Conan the Barbarian), what I wishes I knew less about, who I was the most thrilled to have met in my life, whether I still get a kick out of my favorite childhood treats, what a terrible collaborator I am, and much, much more.

(6) NEWTON OBIT. Barry Newton, past President of the Washington Science Fiction Association (2014), died May 12 of cancer. He was 70. Barry was part of WSFA for nearly 50 years, having joined in June 1970.

He contributed items to the Scroll in years gone by.

He was retired from the National Institute of Standards & Technology.

His daughter, Meridel, said on Facebook  he will be cremated and inurned in Arlington National Cemetery whenever they resume burials. A celebration of life will be held when gatherings become possible again.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • May 14, 1996 Doctor Who aired on the Fox Television Network in the United States. Starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, Daphne Ashbrook as Grace Holloway and Eric Roberts as The Master. It was directed by Geoffrey Sax off a script by Matthew Jacobs. It was intended as a pilot to American produced and based Who series but internal politics at BBC killed it off. Some critics loved, some hated it; the audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes gave it a decent forty eight percent rating.  He has since reprised the role, briefly in video form and quite extensively in audio form for Big Finish. 

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 14, 1848 – Albert Robida.  French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist, novelist.  Edited and published Caricature magazine 1880-1893; 520 illustrations for Pierre Giffard’s weekly serial The Infernal War (1908); 60,000 during AR’s life.  In The Twentieth Century (1882; set in 1952), War in the Twentieth Century (1887), Electric Life (1890), five more, imagined technological developments integrated with daily living, e.g. the telephonoscope, whose flat-screen display shows news, plays, conferences, 24 hours a day; here’s an aerial rotating house.  Books about Brittany, the Touraine, Normandy, Provence, Paris, The Old Towns of ItalyThe Old Towns of Spain, text, drawings, lithographs.  Illustrated Cyrano de Bergerac, Rabelais, Swift.  Clock of the CenturiesThe End of Books (with Octave Uzanne); The Long-Ago Is With Us TodayIn 1965.  (Died 1926) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1852 – Henri Julien.  First full-time newspaper editorial cartoonist in Canada.  Interiors for Douglas Erskine’s novel A Bit of Atlantis (1900), reviewed by Everett Bleiler in Science Fiction, the Early Years (1991).  Here’s a flying canoe.  Louis-Philippe Hébert (1850-1917) called him the most original talent in the country.  Posthumous collection, Album Henri Julien (1916).  (Died 1908) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1853 – Sir Hall Caine.  Novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, poet, critic.  Secretary to Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Recollections of Rossetti (rev. 1928).  Son of a Manxman, moved there, elected to its legislature; Bram Stoker dedicated Dracula to him in Manx.  The Christian, first novel in Britain to sell a million copies; The MahdiThe Eternal City (translated into thirteen languages), The ScapegoatThe White ProphetThe Prime Minister (play), fantasy; fifteen more novels, seventeen plays, four films (plus more made from his books); The Supernatural in Shakespere (HC’s spelling), The Supernatural Element in Poetry, eighteen more books of non-fiction; ten million books sold.  Went to Russia, Morocco, Iceland, Egypt.  Sixty thousand people at his funeral.  (Died 1931) [JH] 
  • Born May 14, 1929 – George Scithers.  His fanzine Amra 1959-1982 won two Hugos.  Chaired three Disclaves and the 21st Worldcon; Fan Guest of Honor at the 2nd NASFiC (N. Am. Science Fiction Convention, held when the Worldcon is overseas) and the 59th Worldcon; frequent chair of the annual WSFS (World SF Society) Business Meeting.  Served as President of WSFA (Washington, D.C., SF Ass’n) and Official Arbiter of The Cult (an apa – amateur press ass’n – famous in song and story).  First editor of Asimov’s; two Hugos as Best Professional Editor.  Perpetrated the Scithers SFL (Science Fiction League) Hoax.  Revived Weird Tales (with John Betancourt).  World Fantasy special award for Weird Tales (with Darrell Schweitzer), 1992.  World Fantasy lifetime-achievement award, 2002.  (Died 2010) [JH] 
  • Born May 14, 1933 – Ron Bennett.  British fanwriter, collector, publisher, used-book dealer, even while living in Singapore.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate, 1958; trip report, Colonial Excursion.  Chaired the 13th Eastercon (United Kingdom natcon, i.e. nat’l convention), ran the Dealers’ Room at the 45th Worldcon.  Member variously of OMPA (Off-trails Magazine Publishers Ass’n, serving awhile as its Official Editor), FAPA (Fantasy Am. Press Ass’n), The Cult (see G. Scithers note); best-known fanzines, Skyrack (rhyming with “beer hack” because, as RB well knew, it meant shire oak, but what a name), Ploy.  (Died 2006) [JH]
  • Born May 14, 1935 Peter J. Reed, 85. A Vonnegut specialist with a long history starting with Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: The Vonnegut Chronicles: Interviews and Essays that he wrote with Marc Leeds, and Kurt Vonnegut: Images and Representations with Leeds again. He also wrote a handful of essays such as “Hurting ’til It Laughs: The Painful-Comic Science Fiction Stories of Kurt Vonnegut“ and “Kurt Vonnegut’s Bitter Fool: Kilgore Trout”. (CE)
  • Born May 14, 1944 George Lucas, 76. For better and worse I suppose, he created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. (Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade are fine. Several Star Wars films are.) And let’s not forget THX 1138. My fave works that he was involved in? LabyrinthRaiders of the Lost ArkThe Empire Strikes Back and Willow. Oh, and and The Young Indy Jones series. (CE)
  • Born May 14, 1947 Edward James, 73. Winner at Interaction of Best Related Non-Fiction Book for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction which he did with Farah Mendlesohn. A companion volume, The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, was also edited with Mendlesohn. He was the editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction from 1986 to 2001. (CE)
  • Born May 14, 1952 – Kathleen Ann Goonan, 68.  Author, Montessori certified teacher, professor at Georgia Tech (Ga. Inst. of Technology).  Three Nebula nominations; John W. Campbell Memorial Award for In War Times; first novel Queen City Jazz, a N.Y. Times Notable Book; six more novels, forty shorter stories, translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish; cover art for her collection Angels and You Dogs.  Reviews in SF EyeN.Y. Rev. SF.  John Clute caught her allusion to Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) and said of her Nanotech Cycle (QC Jazz the first published) that its heavy plotting only partially coats over the intellectual ferment of the whole.  [JH] 
  • Born May 14, 1968 Greg Davies, 52. He played King Hydroflaxq In the Twelfth Doctor story, “The Husbands of River Song“. A man who’s just a head. Literally. He’s also the Balloon Man in Teen Titans Go! To the Movies. (CE)

(11) SCALZI Q&A. It’s a good interview about a writer’s interaction with literature, but the New York Times’ headline has no relevance to any of his answers that I can see: “The Science Fiction Writer John Scalzi Readily Quits Reading”. (If I’m wrong, I’m sure you’ll let me know!)

Any comfort reads?

I reread James Clavell’s “Shogun” a lot when I travel; I tend to think of it as epic fantasy as I am unsure of its historical and cultural accuracy. Speaking of epic fantasy, Katherine Addison’s “The Goblin Emperor” is always a joy to reread; I leaned on it a lot when creating my own unready imperial ruler for the Interdependency series, the last book of which is out very soon now. And I always have at least one Susan Orlean book on my phone for when I’m stuck in the airport and in the mood for nonfiction; the current one I have at the ready is “The Library Book.” She writes books that are comforting and fascinating at the same time. That’s a good skill to have.

(12) TWO REVIEWS OF SNOWPIERCER. [Item by N.] I’m personally skeptical because the creators seemed to excise all the Bong Joon-ho-isms I enjoyed from the movie but it looks like they kept all the sociological critique. Will be interesting to see. 

The New York Times: “On Track for the Apocalypse, ‘Snowpiercer’ Comes to Television”.

… But the world that this “Snowpiercer” arrives in is one that has moved incrementally closer to the catastrophe that the series anticipates. Though the themes of the show may be more resonant now, the people who made “Snowpiercer” cannot be sure whether it will be more compelling or more terrifying to audiences as a result.The power of good science fiction, [Daveed] Diggs said, is a universality that extends beyond the moment in which it was created. “No matter what time we’re living in, it allows us to reflect on ourselves through a particular lens,” he said. “We certainly did not know that this would be the lens through which we’d be viewing our own show.”

“In TNT’s Series, Snowpiercer Is No Longer a Dark Prophesy but a Mirror”

… We are now coming up on two full months of quarantine here in the States, and though we are not exactly survivors aboard a 1,001-car high speed train careening around a frozen planet, it’s hard for dialogue like this not to resonate. Or for scenes depicting horrendous displays of classism to not gnaw at our collective conscience as we watch our ugly realities play out on a TV screen.

“Do you remember hugs? Do you remember leaving the house without a mask and gloves at the ready? Do you remember what it was like before?”

What happens when there is less to learn from the allegory than from reality itself? When simile becomes metaphor? It’s not that the society we live in is like the fictional world of Snowpiercer; it’s that the society we live in is Snowpiercer.

(13) LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDERS. The Boston Globe story “Brattle Book Shop is curating bookshelves for Zoom meetings and FaceTime hangouts” is probably paywalled, but this gives the essentials —

Friends and coworkers aren’t the only ones silently taking stock of what’s going on in the backgrounds of people’s daily virtual calls these days.

Staff at the Brattle Book Shop have also been scanning the scenes with a watchful eye. And as experts in the book trade, they’ve come to a conclusion: That shelf just beyond your upper torso? Yes, that one, with the torn edition of “Twilight” that’s next to the lilting fern. Perhaps it could use some touching up if it’s going to be on camera.

“Zoom calls: no one can see your legs,” store employees tweeted recently, “but everyone can see your apartment. We’re here to help, with the bookshelves at least.”

Like many businesses impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, Brattle Book Shop was forced to close its doors to walk-in customers back in early March. But to help fill the downtime while also staying connected to clientele both old and new, the downtown Boston business decided to tap into a niche market — one that’s been propelled by our newfound reliance on teleconferencing services like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime.

In April, bookstore owner Ken Gloss and his team began offering to curate people’s shelves with hand-picked selections of books to display during video meetings. The service, staff says, can help add a pop of character to the otherwise disorganized backdrops being scrutinized by people on the other side of the computer screen.

To Gloss, having some aesthetically-pleasing spines perfectly arranged at eye level, or even a few well-known titles neatly stacked up for show, “offers a lot of prestige.”

“When you look at someone’s books, you can tell a lot about them,” he said. “Put back there the impression that you want to give.”

This concept of cleverly organizing backgrounds specifically for Zoom calls isn’t altogether novel, Gloss explained. It’s more of an inventive take on a familiar practice at the historic family-owned business.

For years, the bookstore has fielded requests from customers looking to decorate their shelves with carefully selected reading materials and antique-looking books, items that create a more homey atmosphere.

(14) GO BOOM FALL DOWN. “Spectacular demolition at German nuclear site” – BBC shares the video taken from multiple viewpoints.

Two cooling towers have been demolished in spectacular controlled explosions at a disused nuclear power plant in south-western Germany.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Alex and Mr Fluffkins” on Vimeo, Adeena Grubb and Andy Biddle discuss what happens to a man and his cat when the lockdown is finally over and they can go out.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, N., Chip Hitchcock, Dann, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]