The Resurgence and Power of Subtle Science Fiction

V. S. Holmes

在线动漫成本人视频在线动漫成本人视频Science Fiction Fantasy as a genre is known for tackling massive scopes and complicated settings, from Blade Runner’s seedy cyberpunk cities to the galactic warfare in Ender’s Game. In the past decade, however, sci-fi has undergone a tonal shift from action-packed pages and explosion-filled screens to creeping subtlety. While blockbuster action films and space marines are still fun fan favorites, focus has shifted to reflect the audiences’ deeper understanding of our own world–and how it inspires SFF world building.

在线动漫成本人视频All genres rely on the reader for a piece of the experience. Art’s subjectivity lies in the fact that what a reader brings to the table doesn’t always fit with the framework an author crafted. Sci-fi and horror rely on a much larger contribution than many other genres. The most powerful books and films in the genre, both modern and classic, are those that trust their audience and respect them enough to toss an intricate ball of science or magic and social questions with a wink and say, “your turn.”

This is where subtlety’s power lies. Bombastic scenes and fire and explosions rock your system by overloading it–arguably mimicking the disorienting experience of firefights and disasters. Slow suspense and easing into a sense of, well, unease, puts the ball in the viewer’s court in a vastly more intimate way. We see this in the slightly-to-the-left world of Black Mirror, each episode extrapolating from its quiet world building. The only limit to the scene’s impact is our own imaginations. We see this effect across most fiction, from thrillers to historical dramas, but science fiction and horror lend themselves to these quiet tools on a deeper level, in part because that is where their roots lie.

Sci-fi’s conception sits in the speculative, the parent of all human innovation: what if? When crafting these stories, we build a huge framework for this question, leaping from concept to concept in an augmented version of Nightmare Before Christmas’s “What’s This?” While we might tease and tweak and slip in hundred clues as to how we, as authors, would respond to that question, the answer is ultimately up to the reader.

This is powerful because when we encounter analogous situations in our own world, we find their foundations in insidious complacency, atrocities protected by corrupt laws, and thousands who look the other way. That same uncertainty whether societies can change carries over and lends credence to the fictional worlds we create and consume.

I’ve seen readers remark on the accurate, slow-burn warfare in my Blood of Titans world, and how it leans away from fast-paced LitRPG and sweeping battles present in many of the genre’s classics. This is because war and revolutions aren’t won by a sudden cataclysmic battle. Most end with them, yes, but what sows the seeds for victory is actually that steady, quiet drive and the determined innovation of the unseen populace.

When writing, I strive to dig into the how and why behind the flashy excitement of divine battles and massive rebellions, and the part of craft that, for me, is a bit like volleying postulations between myself and my audience. While my prose might languish in the lyrical or rich, my worlds are built on the same understated complexity as our own.

My science fiction Starsedge: Nel Bently series is louder than my fantasy, on the surface. I love my dramatic shuttle launches and Rubik’s-cube mechanical planets as much as the next nerd! But under the veneer of those explosions and fire-brand personalities, is the question of where we are going, how we can possibly get there from the dark crossroad where we currently stand. With questions like these, I turn to my community, to my readers, and to the thousands of unheard giants who brought us this far.

So, why is subtlety seeing a resurgence in popularity? Tracing back some of the horrific or awe-inspiring concepts in world building, it’s no surprise that we find they mirror events in our own world. So many marginalized voices write incredibly impactful speculative works because we know there isn’t always a happy ending. We know how deep and knotted the roots of these systems reach in our own world because we’ve seen the underbelly. We’re privy to the depths our own antagonists will go. Some of the most powerful works of science fiction are woven by those exploring oppression–the Alien IP, specifically Prometheus, is an incredible analogy for abortion, and Viscera is a SFF made all the more powerful by the transgender perspective of its author, Gabby Squalia. As a disabled person and trauma survivor, seeing Furiosa’s nuanced character in a world as hard as cinematic as Mad Max brought so much inspiration.

As marginalized creators receive a long-overdue focus in the mainstream, we return to the genre’s genesis. After all, sci-fi was birthed by the likes of Margaret Cavendish (The Blazing World) and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein and The Last Man), marginalized for their gender, and many more who had to imagine a world in which our voices are heard.

The return of these themes in sci-fi is a reflection of what we see in the world today. As nations are rocked with change and communities reach a boiling point, we look back on the steps it took to get this far, the steps still needed to move forward. Where better to search for those roadmaps than fiction that speculates on where we could go or what communities we will build from the shambles of this one? The science fiction that speaks to me the most, both as a creator and an audience, are the ones that explore not only the terror that so many of us experience, but our power, our agency, and the incredible future we can create.

Like my fiction, I’ll end this with a postulation: where better to seek answers to “what if?” than the genre asking that question all along?


V. S. HOLMES is an international bestselling author. They created the Reforged series and the Nel Bently Books. Smoke and Rain, the first book in their fantasy quartet, won New Apple Literary’s Excellence in Independent Publishing Award in 2015 and a Literary Titan Gold Award in 2020. In addition, they have published short fiction in several anthologies.

When not writing, they work as a contract archaeologist throughout the northeastern U.S. They live in a Tiny House with their spouse, a fellow archaeologist, their not-so-tiny dog, and own too many books for such a small abode. As a disabled and queer human, they work as an advocate and educator for representation in SFF worlds.

Blood and Mercy, the final book in the Blood of Titans: Reforged series hits shelves June 27th 2020

V. S. HOLMES LINKS:

  • Site: www.vsholmes.com
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/VS_Holmes
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvsholmes/
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vs_holmes/
  • Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/vs-holmes
  • Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/v-s-holmes
  • Universal Pre Order: books2read.com/bloodandmercy

Masked Filers Reading SFF:
The Iron Dragon’s Mother

Chip Hitchcock reads Michael Swanwick’s The Iron Dragon’s Mother beside a family heirloom. Chip says the photo was —

— Taken in front of a bookcase my father made at Los Alamos, probably during one of their long, isolated winters.

(And if you magnify enough you can admire Chip’s C.J. Cherryh hardcover collection!)


If you want to see this series continue, send photos of your mask and social distancing reads to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com

Pixel Scroll 6/25/20 You Scroll My Pixel Round Baby Right Round

(1) THE BOOKSELLER FROM UNCLE. Laurie Hertzel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has assembled readers’ “Fond memories of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s, and hope for the future”.

Elaine K. Murray, Minneapolis:?It was my mother’s bookstore. All the years she worked at Sears across the street she could go there and get her beloved vintage mysteries at a price she could afford. After she retired I would drive her there and buy her books for a Christmas or birthday present.

She has been gone more than five years, but I could still go there, find books from some of her favorite authors, and feel like she was still near me.

Now that’s gone forever and I can’t seem to stop crying.

(2) WRITER INDEPENDENCE DAY. Cat Rambo is teaching two online courses on the Fourth of July. Registration and cost information at the links.

The next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific time.

The question isn’t how to tell a good idea from a bad one; it’s how to learn to turn any idea into a story. Come with a story idea, no matter how vague. We’ll discuss multiple ways of plotting a story based on its unique inspiration, as well as engaging in class exercises designed to hone your plotting skills. Learn how to build a roadmap for your story that will help you complete it in a class that combines discussion, lecture, and in-class writing exercises.

Next class date is Saturday, July 4, 2020, 1:00-3:00 PM Pacific Time.

Learn how to create interesting, rounded characters that your readers can identify with, whether hero or villain. We’ll cover how to write convincing interesting dialogue as well as how to flesh out a character so they come alive and help you move the story along. A combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class writing exercises will help you apply new technique immediately to your own stories.

The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers is offering plenty more classes in the weeks to come. Here are two examples.

Saturday, July 11

Values are not universal across all cultures, and thus what a satisfying story looks like is not limited to one model either. This course examines East Asian storytelling forms and themes, including the four-act kish?tenketsu structure, which is not based on conflict, tension, and resolution. The course will use case studies from books, films, and other mediums, and in-class exercises and games to demonstrate that elements that we consider staples of European/Western storytelling, such as the Hero’s Journey story structure, the empowerment arc, and individual heroism, are not universal across all cultures. Students will complete the course with tools to analyze the European/Western forms and themes in the stories they have written as well as templates from East Asian storytelling to explore and apply to their work.

Sunday, July 12 

Are you a novelist with a fascinating world? Have you thought about turning your novel into an RPG? In this class, gaming industry veteran will walk you through the ins and outs of adapting your novel to fit a gaming world. This class is customized for authors who have published at least one original novel or novella. It is not designed for adaptations of someone else’s work.

(3) MURDOCH MYSTERIES. [Item by Daniel Dern.] We are on the home stretch of, via Acorn.tv, watching the Murdoch Mysteries [1], and, sans spoilers, I thought I’d drop a brief note on one of the episodes we saw earlier this week, Season 13 Episode 11, “Staring Blindly into the Future”

In addition to the use of (then) new scientific techniques to solve crimes — fingerprinting, blood typing, ultraviolet to reveal bloodstains, surveillance cameras — and various legitimized/finessed tech, like a prototype hyperloop, a (larger) roomba, and more — another of the sf/fan-adjacent aspects of the show is the use of historical figures (e.g., Mark Twain, played by William Shatner).

This episode features a dozen — most of whom (all but 3, IIRC) have appeared on previous episodes throughout the season:

  • Nikola Tesla
  • Svetlana Tsiolkofsky (a fictional daughter of rocketry’s Konstantin T.)
  • Thomas Edison
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Emma Goldman
  • Albert Einstein (previous name-dropped but not shown)
  • Marie Curie
  • Ernest Rutherford
  • Henry Ford
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Harry Houdini
  • H.G. Wells

Fun stuff!

[1] From the CBC URL:  “Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.”

(4) JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS BACK COVER. The Guardian reports a practice adopted by some newly reopened UK bookstores to minimize COVID-19 contamination  — “Flipping hell: book designers lament Waterstones’ back-to-front displays”.

It was understandable but slightly “heartbreaking”,?designer Anna Morrison?said of the news that Waterstones is asking shoppers to judge a book by its back cover.

The retailer has offered its apologies to book designers after some newly reopened branches began displaying books back to front so browsers could read the blurb without picking it up.

…People can pick up a book in Waterstones but if they do not buy, it is quarantined for 72 hours. A branch in Swansea was first to post on Twitter that they were turning books round where possible.?

(5) SOME AMENDS. John Scalzi reacted to news about the misconduct of several sff writers he knows (named in the piece): “When Friends Fuck Up, and So Do I”.

… I have some friends who have fucked up in how they’ve been treating women.

… I’m angry at my friends right now. I’m sad for my friends right now. I’m even more angry?about?and sad?for?the women who they have made feel unsafe, and who they have harassed, or groomed, or otherwise harmed, because it is unacceptable. I want to be a friend to my friends and I also want to chuck them off the side of the fucking boat and be done with them. I want to think there’s a way back for some of them, for the same reason there was a way back for me when I’ve fucked up before. That’s on them, and right now I don’t know how much, if any, of my personal time and credibility I want to put into helping them. I’m frustrated and I’m tired that we keep having to do this, and I’m ashamed that some of the reason we keep having to do this rests on me. I understand and accept why I need to write this piece and I also?fucking resent?having to, and that resentment rests solely on my friends, and me….

(6) GAMING FIGURES ACCUSED. The New York Times covered last weekend’s outpouring: “Dozens of Women in Gaming Speak Out About Sexism and Harassment”. Tagline: “After more than 70 allegations surfaced on Twitter this weekend, gaming companies and streamers responded with action. Some say it’s the beginning of real change in the industry.”

More than 70 people in the gaming industry, most of them women, have come forward with allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault since Friday. They have shared their stories in statements posted to Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and the blogging platform TwitLonger.

The outpouring of stories from competitive gamers and streamers, who broadcast their gameplay on platforms like Twitch for money, led to the resignation of the C.E.O. of a prominent talent management company for streamers and a moment of reflection for an industry that has often contended with sexism, bullying and allegations of abuse.

Already, the response has been a far cry from Gamergate?in 2014, when women faced threats of death and sexual assault for critiquing the industry’s male-dominated, sexist culture. Now, some are optimistic that real change could come.

Gamers began sharing their stories after a Twitter user who posts as Hollowtide?tweeted about an unnamed “top” player?of the online game Destiny on Friday night, referring to the person as a “scum lord.” Three female streamers, JewelsVerne, SheSnaps and SchviftyFive, saw the post and decided to come forward about their experiences with the gamer in question, who is known online both as Lono and SayNoToRage. The women posted their allegations, including nonconsensual touching, propositioning for sex and harassment, on Twitter using their streamer handles. (The streamers did not provide their legal names to The New York Times. In years past, women gamers who have spoken out against the industry using their legal names have been subjected to further harassment, hacking and doxxing.)

In interviews with The Times, when asked to describe their experiences with Lono, the streamers asked a reporter to refer to their?public statements?on Twitter, TwitLonger and?Twitch.

Lono responded to their Twitter accusations in a?YouTube video?posted on Saturday. “There is no excuse for my behavior. There is no way to gloss over it. The things I did were unacceptable,” he said in the video. “Being inappropriate with these people robbed them of their sense of safety and security and it broke trust, and I am deeply sorry.” (He declined to speak to a reporter from The Times on Monday, and would not share his last name.)

(7) BRAVE NEW SHOW. “You are an essential part of a perfect social body.” Brave New World  begins streaming July 15 on Peacock. Let SYFY Wire set the frame: “It’s A ‘Brave New World’ In First Full Trailer For Peacock’s Sci-Fi Dystopia Series”.

…Based on the highly-conditioned, controlled, and warped population in Huxley’s 1932 novel, this society is a tragic one in need of resistance. So why not John? And, as the new posters for the series declare, “everybody happy now.” The grammar might be a little strange but the sentiment is clear: this dystopia thinks emotional problems have been solved thanks to some handy pharmaceuticals.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 25, 1903 – George Orwell.?His other work is admirable but he compels our attention with?Animal Farm?and?Nineteen Eighty-Four.??Naturally people on both the Left and the Right have claimed them and attacked them.??Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Thai.??(Died 1950) [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1935 – Charles Sheffield.? Physicist and SF author. “Georgia on My Mind” won both the Hugo and the Nebula.??Thirty novels, a hundred shorter stories, some with co-authors. ?Translated into Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish.??Toastmaster at BucConeer the 56th Worldcon.??Pro Guest of Honor at Lunacon 44 the year I was Fan Guest of Honor.??(Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born June 25, 1944 – Rick Gellman, age 76.? Art Shows and Dealers’ Rooms at various conventions.??Helped start a Gordy Dickson Memorial Scholarship Fund for sending writers to?Clarion.??Founded the?Minnesota Munchie Movement.??[JH]
  • Born June 25, 1958 – Pat Sayre McCoy, age 62.? She chaired WindyCon 33 and 34; ran the Green Room at Chicon 2000, the 58th Worldcon; contributed an essay to the wrestling with “SF conventions and Gender Equity” in?Journey Planet?13, as did Our Gracious Host.?[JH]
  • Born June 25, 1963 – Yann Martel, age 57.? Famous for?The Life of Pi, second of three SF novels (besides writing?Beatrice and Virgil, which is not about those two historical persons, nor a book-length treatment of?The Divine Comedy, but – well, read it for yourself).??A theatrical adaptation of?Pi?with puppets (no, not hand puppets)?was a?great success?and was scheduled to open?in London?this month, naturally postponed.??[JH]
  • Born June 25, 1980 – Amanda Arista, age 40.??Third novel about Merci Lenard, who always gets her story but doesn’t always get the truth she wants, just released?in January.??Three novels about an urban panther.??AA herself likes bowling, croquet, and the SMU (Southern Methodist University)?Creative?Writing Program?in which she once studied and now teaches.??[JH]

(9) US IN FLUX. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “A Cyber-Cuscuta Manifesto,” a story about big data, emerging life forms, and a plea for coexistence by Regina Kanyu Wang.

?It was a public hearing held online. Billions of people crowded into the meeting room, in suits, in pajamas, on treadmills, on sofas, in groups in front of large screens suspended above busy streets, alone at home with VR headsets on. The host called for silence and their words were translated into myriad languages, in both sound and text. The audience held its collective breath and waited for the special guest to show. A face appeared, vague in detail, like billions of faces merged into one. The face began to talk, in an equally vague voice, in thousands of languages at the same time, alien but also familiar to everyone…

On Monday, June 29 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Regina in conversation with Athena Aktipis, a psychology researcher who studies cooperation across systems, from human sharing to cancer. Registration required.

(10) TONI WEISSKOPF Q&A. Author Robert E. Hampson interviewed Baen Books publisher Toni Weisskopf for his Wake Forest University class.

(11) BOUNTY PAID. “Rare ‘Star Wars’ Toys Attract Big Money At Auction”Forbes reported some high sales figures in March – but also that one rare item failed to attract its minimum bid.

One of the most sought after?Star Wars?collectibles has sold for $93,750 at auction.

Bidding on the Rocket-Firing Boba Fett started at $30,000 but had already exceeded the $60,000 lower estimate before the auction began thanks to several absentee bids. The final sale price includes the buyer’s premium.

The unpainted promotional item, made of blue plastic, is a prototype that utilized an L-Slot design named after the shape of the backpack mechanism to allow the rocket to fire. It was created by toymaker Kenner to promote the second film in the franchise,?Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It is one of the few prototypes known to exist. The launcher design was amended to a J-Slot mechanism and eventually replaced by a non-firing version. None of the firing toys were ever made available to the general public.

This item is the latest to be available on the market. A similar item sold at auction through Hakes in July 2019 for $112,926. Another, one that had been painted and had a J-Slot design in the backpack, sold for $185,850 in November 2019. Both prices include the buyer’s premium.

(12) LUNAR LOO. “NASA and HeroX Launch Lunar Loo Challenge to Find Way for Astronauts to Poop on the Moon”. So, will this be an outhouse with a crescent Earth on the door?

HeroX, the social network for innovation and the world’s leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition “Lunar Loo” on behalf of the?NASA Tournament Lab?(NTL) and NASA’s?Human Landing System?(HLS) Program. NASA is preparing to return to the Moon by 2024 and needs to develop a new way for astronauts to urinate and defecate in microgravity and lunar gravity. The crowdsourcing challenge calls on the global community of innovators to provide innovative design concepts for fully capable, low mass toilets that can be used both in space and on the moon.

Competitive toilet designs will align with NASA’s overall goals of reduced mass and volume, lower power consumption, and easy maintenance. Selected designs may be modified for integration into Artemis lunar landers. This effort is all part of NASA’s?Artemis?program to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.

HeroX says this is the payoff:

This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category.? The top three participants in the?Junior category?will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise.

(13) ABOUT THE WEATHER. I’ll bet they were.

(14) FROM HIDDEN FIGURE TO MARQUEE NAME. BBC reports “Nasa to name HQ after first black female engineer”.

Nasa is to name its headquarters in Washington DC after its first black female engineer, Mary Jackson.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said Jackson had helped to break down barriers for African Americans and women in engineering and technology.

The story of Mary Jackson was told in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. Born in Hampton, Virginia, she died in 2005.

Last year, Nasa renamed the street outside its headquarters as Hidden Figures Way.

“Hidden no more, we will continue to recognise the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made Nasa’s successful history of exploration possible,” Mr Bridenstine said in a statement.

“Mary W Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped Nasa succeed in getting American astronauts into space,” Mr Bridenstine added.

“Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology.”

(15) LISTEN TO THE RHYTHM OF THE FALLING RAIN. “The Science Behind That Fresh Rain Smell”.

Scientists have known for decades that one of the main causes of the smell of fresh rain is geosmin: a chemical compound produced by soil-dwelling bacteria. But why do the bacteria make it in the first place? It was a bacteria-based mystery… until now! Maddie gets some answers from reporter Emily Vaughn, former Short Wave intern.

Transcript here

(16) FORK OVER. Snippet good! “Google to pay for ‘high quality’ news in three countries”.

Google says it will pay some news outlets for “high-quality” stories that it uses amid pressure from publishers.

Part of the initiative will require Google to pay for its users to access news stories otherwise locked behind a so-called paywall on certain websites.

The first sites to join are in Australia, Brazil, and Germany, with a product launch set for later this year.

It comes as authorities in some countries investigate how tech firms use news content without paying for it.

Australia has put forward plans to force Google and Facebook to pay news publishers under competition rules.

France has already issued Google with an order to do so.

It is the latest development in a long-standing row with news publishers over whether tech giants should pay them to include “snippets” of news articles in search results or on social media.

(17) YOUTH’S A STUFF WILL NOT ENDURE. “Parties — Not Protests — Are Causing Spikes In Coronavirus”, according to NPR.

As the U.S. begins to open back up, coronavirus clusters — where multiple people contract COVID-19 at the same event or location — are popping up all over the country. And despite drawing massive crowds, protests against police violence and racial injustice in Washington state weren’t among those clusters.

“We did have a rally in Bellingham, which is our county seat, and there was also a protest, and we have not been able to connect a single case to that rally or to the protest, and what we’re finding is in large part that’s due to the use of masks,” Erika Lautenbach, the director of the Whatcom County Health Department in Washington State, tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it’s really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease.”

For the clusters that have popped up, Lautenbach says the state has been using contact tracing to learn more about how they’re contributing to the spread of the virus. For instance, it found that 14 cases were associated with a party of 100 to 150 people in early June. Subsequently, 15 more cases were associated with the original 14.

“So that one event spread to 29 people and 31 related employers,” Lautenbach says. “Our challenge is to continue to trace as it moves through families, as it moves through workplaces and as it moves through social events as well.”

But protests just aren’t spreading the disease in the same way, Lautenbach says.

“We’re finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren’t wearing masks, are our primary source of infection,” Lautenbach says. “And then the secondary source of infection is workplace settings. There were 31 related employers just associated with that one party because of the number of people that brought that to their workplace. So for us, for a community our size, that’s a pretty massive spread.”

And much of that spread, Lautenbach says, is affecting young people.

“We have seen almost a near flip in the cases that we’re experiencing,” Lautenbach says. “So in April of this year, we were really struggling with long-term-care outbreaks. And so about 3 out of 4 people were over the age of 30 and really pretty heavily skewed to 60-plus. And by contrast, in June, we’re seeing that now 2 out of 3 people that have contracted this disease are under 29.”

(18) SPLICING EDGE. NPR reports,“A Year In, 1st Patient To Get Gene Editing For Sickle Cell Disease Is Thriving”.

Like millions of other Americans, Victoria Gray has been sheltering at home with her children as the U.S. struggles through a deadly pandemic, and as protests over police violence have erupted across the country.

But Gray is not like any other American. She’s the first person with a genetic disorder to get treated in the United States with the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR.

And as the one-year anniversary of her landmark treatment approaches, Gray has just received good news: The billions of genetically modified cells doctors infused into her body clearly appear to be alleviating virtually all the complications of her disorder, sickle cell disease.

(19) DON’T LESNERIZE. Dean Koontz, in the course of telling fans his new book Devoted is available, filled them in about his experience dining out in newly-reopened California.

Wow, after months of having to eat at home every night, we here in Koontzland were excited when our favorite restaurants began to do business again this past week. We went with Ms. Elsa on opening day. The patio tables were ten or twelve feet apart, the waiters wore masks and gloves, the busboys wore full-face plastic shields, and the mood-music guitarist kept alternating between “Eve of Destruction” and “Saint James Infirmary.” It was sooooo romantic!

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

Uncle Hugo’s Looks Into the Future

Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s as they looked before the fire.

The GoFundMe to help Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore owner Don Blyly has raised $148,684 to date.

Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore and Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis.

Sam Blyly-Strauss posted a long update on June 22. It includes this request from Don —

GOFUNDME: If you will feel ripped off if I decide not to open a new brick-and-mortar store, or to reopen a science fiction store but not a mystery store, please do not contribute to the GoFundMe at this time. Details here.

And at the Uncle Hugo’s website, Don Blyly is mulling over “Current Events and Future Scenarios” in some detail:

…I’ve had lots of people offer to donate their used books to help stock the used bookshelves for the Uncles. I’ve told them that it could take 6-12 months for me to figure out if I will be opening a new brick-and-mortar store, and I don’t have anyplace to store the thousands of books people want to contribute. If I decide that I’m likely to re-open a brick-and-mortar store, then I will rent storage and start accepting books. But I don’t want to rent storage, collect thousands of donated books, and then have no way to sell them.

There are various ways for The Uncles to move forward from here. The mail-order-only from my home is quick and easy and will bring in some cash to support me, but is not capable of doing a lot of things that a brick-and-mortar store can provide. (I haven’t had a chance to even consider how taxes or various called-for-but-not-yet-real business rescue plans might influence my decisions.) The options that I am looking at include:

1) Rebuild in the same location, if I can come up with enough money. People are used to finding us there. (When we moved there, we started telling people 6 months in advance that we were going to be moving and 3 months in advance we started telling people where and when we were going to be moving, but we were having people decades later “discovering” that we were still in business because when they saw the empty storefront at the old location they just assumed we had gone out of business.) The space was adequate. Mass transit connections (important to some of the staff and many of our customers) are pretty good and will get better over the next couple of years, but the parking situation is not very good. The property tax would probably double from $20,000 a year to $40,000 a year, and it was hard to afford $20,000. And I’d be stuck with this expensive building when I decide to retire. It would probably take about a year for this option.

2) Buy a new lot somewhere else and build a new building there. This would probably be the worst option. Nobody would know where to find The Uncles, it would be the most expensive option, it would involve the high property tax for the new building, and would be difficult for me to retire someday unless I could sell the building. It would take over a year for this option.

3) Find an older existing building, buy it, and turn it into a bookstore. This would probably cost around half as much as either of the first two options with lower property taxes than the first two options. I have no idea what the current real estate market is like, what might be available, and where I would have to move to.

4) Find an existing building and rent it. Again, I have no idea of what the existing real estate market is like or what is available. I know that around 100 small businesses are burnt out and looking for new locations to move to, and there is a sudden severe shortage of commercial buildings that have not been burnt out. On the other hand, there are a lot of businesses that are not going to survive COVID-19, so 6-12 months from now there might be more options.

5) Just stick with the mail order business and don’t open a new brick-and-mortar location. I’m 69 years old, with increasing arthritis in my hands and wrists, and my eye sight keeps slowly declining. A bunch of people, including my kids and some of my staff, are pushing this option. It would make it very easy to retire when my body forces me to. But I’ve enjoyed meeting with a lot of customers over the decades, turning people on to new authors they might otherwise never have discovered, hosting signing events, and providing tens of thousands of inexpensive used books for people who can’t afford to maintain their book addiction at new prices. I just feel happier when surrounded by thousands of books, as do many of our customers. And Ecko the store dog REALLY misses going to work and greeting customers.

[Thanks to Kathryn Sullivan for the story.]

Premios Ignotus 2020 Finalists

The finalists for the Premio Ignotus 2020 (2020 Ignotus Awards) have been announced by Spain’s Asociación Espa?ola de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror.

They include works in Spanish translation by Aliette de Bodard, Christopher Golden, N. K. Jemisin, Stephen King, Kameron Hurley, Nnedi Okorafor, Alix E. Harrow, Joe Hill, Martha Wells and Bev Vincent.

Winners will be announced at the online Hispacón 2020.

Novela / Best Novel

  • Asuntos de muertos, by Nieves Mories (Cerbero)
  • El arcano y el jilguero, by Ferran Varela (El transbordador)
  • Inmóviles: Día, by Juan José Díaz Téllez (el autor)
  • Pakminyó, by Felicidad Martínez (Cerbero)
  • Voces en la ribera del mundo, by Diana P. Morales (Triskel)

Novela Corta / Best Novella

  • La pandilla UFO 2: El secreto del área 51, by Israel Moreno (el autor)
  • La última mujer de La Mancha, by Enerio Dima (Cerbero)
  • Las mocedades de Rodrigo, by Almijara Barbero Carvajal (Cerbero)
  • Los comuneros, by Sergio Salvador Campos (Matraca)
  • Mundo al revés: Origen, by ?ngel Padilla (Sportula)

Cuento / Best Short Story

  • Corvus Corax, by Bruno Puelles (Wave Books)
  • “El falso comerciante de pimienta”, by David P. Yuste (en la revista Círculo de Lovecraft número 11)
  • “Martina ama su trabajo”, by Héctor Espadas López-Tello (in the anthology Seiya, la noche silenciosa published by Lengua de trapo)
  • “Nada mejor que la risa de un ni?o”, by Tony Jiménez (in the anthology Pasen y mueran published by Suseya)
  • “No hay delito”, by Tamara López (in the anthology Más macabras published by maLuma)

Antologia / Best Anthology / Collection

  • Actos de F. E., by various authors (Cerbero)
  • Crónica de sucesos, by Tamara López (collection) (Matraca)
  • Cuentos para Algernon: A?o VII, selected by Marcheto (la web Cuentos para Algernon)
  • Pasen y mueran, coordinated by Tamara López (Suseya)
  • Tormenta e ímpetu, coordinated by Josué Ramos (Tinta púrpura)
  • Trece relatos de amor maldito, by Cristina Bermejo Rey (collection) (Papeles del duende)

Libro de ensayo / Best related Book

  • Cortázar visto por Elia Barceló, by Elia Barceló (Cazador de ratas)
  • Infiltradas, with selections by Cristina Jurado and Lola Robles (Palabaristas Press)
  • Moriremos por fuego amigo, by Juan Manuel Santiago (Cazador de ratas)
  • Supernovas. Una historia feminista de la ciencia ficción audiovisual, by Elisa McCausland y Diego Salgado (Errata Naturae)
  • ?Todos flotan! Las pesadillas de Stephen King Vol. II (1990-2019), by Tony Jiménez (Applehead Team Creaciones)

Articulo / Best related work

  • “Aliette de Bodard sobre la supresión de la maternidad”, [Motherhood and Erasure] by Aliette de Bodard (en la web La nave invisible, with translation de Loreto ML)
  • “El ni?o que era Stephen King”, by Tony Jiménez (in the magazine Imágenes de actualidad número 404)
  • “Guía para empezar a leer Mundodisco de Terry Pratchett según tus gustos”, by Carla Campos (en la web Origen cuántico)
  • “La fetichización de la violencia contra las mujeres en las distopías”, by Laura Huelin (en la web La nave invisible)
  • “La impronta de No profanar el sue?o de los muertos”, by Pako Mulero Arenillas (en la web La cabina de Nemo)
  • “Ochenterror”, by David P. Yuste y Tony Jiménez (in the magazine La cabina de Nemo número 6)

Ilustración / Best Cover

  • Cover of Darkgate, la oscuridad que devora, by José Raúl Orte Crespo (Tebeox)
  • Cover of El lamento de la sirena, by Libertad Delgado (Khabox)
  • Cover of La brigada lluminosa, by Marina Vidal (Mai Més)
  • Cover of Quien teme a la muerte, by Joey Hi-Fi (Crononauta)
  • Cover of ?Todos flotan! Las pesadillas de Stephen King Vol. II (1990-2019), by Manuel J. Iniesta (Applehead Team Creaciones)

Producción audiovisual / Audiovisual production

  • Café librería (podcast), by Beatriz Aguilar Gallo, Carla Plumed, David Pierre, Gemma Martínez y Miriam Beizana Vigo
  • Klaus (largometraje), directed by Sergio Pablos
  • La olla de la Cocina del Infierno (podcast), by Sato Yasei David
  • Proyecto Terror (podcast), by Patricia Prida
  • Rock entre amigos (podcast), by Kike Molla Tormo

Tebeo / Comics

  • Darkgate, la oscuridad que devora, by José Raúl Orte Crespo y Tony Jiménez (Tebeox)
  • Lo que trajo Laqueus, by David Hueso y Fabián ?lvarez (editado Tantor Books)
  • No mires atrás, by Anabel Colazo (La cúpula)
  • Ocultos, by Laura Pérez (Astiberri)
  • Very Horrible Stories 2, by Juan Carlos Cervera and Nacho Fito (Tantor Books)

Revista / Magazine

  • La cabina de Nemo, edición by Pako Mulero Arenillas
  • SuperSonic, dirección by Cristina Jurado (Palabaristas Press)
  • Tantrum, dirección by Sam G. C., Santiago Eximeno and Tomás Rivera (Impresiones privadas)
  • Vuelo de cuervos, edición by Lorena Gil Rey
  • Windumanoth, dirección by ?lex Sebastián, David Tourón y Víctor Blanco

Novela extranjera / Foreign Novel

  • Ararat, by Christopher Golden (Grupo Tierra Trivium, with translation by Efraim Suárez)
  • El cielo de Piedra [The Stone Sky], by N. K. Jemisin (Nova, with translation by David Tejera Expósito)
  • El instituto [The Institute], by Stephen King (Plaza & Janés, with translation by Carlos Milla Soler)
  • La brigada de luz [The Light Brigade], by Kameron Hurley (Alianza, with translation by Natalia Cervera)
  • Quien teme a la muerte [Who Fears Death], by Nnedi Okorafor (Crononauta, with translation by Carla Bataller Estruch)

Cuento extranjera / Foreign story

  • “El experto en turbulencias” (“The Turbulence Expert”), by Stephen King (in the anthology Por los aires Penguin Random House, with translation by José ?scar Hernández Sendín)
  • “Las guías de la bruja: vías de escape. Compendio práctico de portales a mundos de fantasía” (“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”), by Alix E. Harrow (en la web Cuentos para Algernon, with translation by Marcheto)
  • “Quedan liberados” (“You Are Released”), by Joe Hill (in the anthology Por los aires Penguin Random House, with translation by José ?scar Hernández Sendín)
  • Sistemas críticos (“All Systems Red”), by Martha Wells (La esfera by los libros, with translation by Carla Bataller Estruch)
  • “Zombis en el avión” (“Zombies on a Plane”), by Bev Vincent (in the anthology Por los aires published by Penguin Random House, with translation by José ?scar Hernández Sendín)

Sitio web / Web

Libro Infantil-Juvenil / Children’s-Youth Book

  • Cuenta nueve estrellas, by Andrea Maceiras (Anaya)
  • El abrazo de la sirena, by Ana Alcolea (Anaya)
  • El secreto de Olga, by Patricia García-Rojo (Anaya)
  • Prácticas mágicas, by Nahikari Diosdado (Cerbero)
  • Siete días en un planeta desconocido, by Bruno Puelles (Dilatando mentes)

Pixel Scroll 6/24/20 Pretty Pixels In The File, They Twinkle On The Screen, And Then Get Refreshed So That New Ones Are Seen

(1) JUMP ON THE TRUCK. In the Washington Post, Robert Zubrin and Homer Hickam have an opinion piece where they say that SpaceX Dragon’s success should make the preferred launch vehicle for a return to the Moon and NASA should shelve the Orion rocket as too unwieldy. “Send the SpaceX Dragon to the moon”.

In March 2019, Vice President Pence?challenged NASA?to land astronauts on the moon by 2024 “by any means necessary.” This was a potential breakthrough, because after nearly 50 years of drift, the White House was finally giving NASA’s human spaceflight program a concrete goal with a clear timeline and forceful support — a necessity for any progress and the restoration of the agency’s can-do spirit. The purpose for the mission itself is a blend of economic, scientific and world leadership goals designed to make the investment worthwhile to all Americans.

NASA’s response to Pence’s challenge was to proceed with what it already had in the pipeline: the Orion crewed spacecraft and the massive shuttle-derived Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift expendable booster rocket. SLS has been in slow-walk development since 2006, with more than?$18 billion?spent, but it is still years away from launch. Considering this track record, we unhappily doubt the SLS/Orion combination will meet the vice president’s challenge.

But now we have an alternative. The contract that resulted in the Dragon crewed spacecraft was issued by NASA in 2014. Six years and?$3 billion?later, it has flown astronauts into orbit. What SpaceX did was show that a well-led entrepreneurial team can achieve results that were previously thought to require the efforts of superpowers, and in a small fraction of the time and cost, and even — as demonstrated by its?reusable Falcon launch vehicles?— do things deemed impossible altogether. This is a revolution….

(2) RWA. The Romance Writers of America will hold a virtual RWA Conference from August 28-30. A full list of the RWA 2020 Conference Scholarships are at the link. Some new ones have been added.

RWA also has clarified a recent announcement about Dreamspinner Press to say they are available to advocate for non-members, too. Thread starts here.

(3) FROM THE CANOE. Elizabeth Bear posted “an open letter to my friends and acquaintances in the publishing community who have been outed as serial harassers, and to the ones who still think they’re getting away with something.”

It begins:

Hey there. I know you’re having a rough time right now, and I’m sorry to say you earned it. I wish I had known about your behavior sooner; I wish I had known that you weren’t just making rank jokes among friends, as we all do once in a while, but engaged in serious abuses of your power, engaged in harming people.

I am, needless to say, very very disappointed in you.

I’m saddened for the people you have hurt, and I’m really disappointed that you have turned out not to be the person I thought you were. Even more, I’m wondering if you even have the self-awareness to realize how much you have harmed not just the people you harassed or gaslit or backstabbed, but also the communities you were a part of. How much you have damaged the people who care about you and who have tried to be your friends, as well….

(4) STOKERCON UK. The StokerCon UK committee has announced a new set of dates for the Horror Writers Association event which has been chased around the calendar by the coronavirus. The post is here.

…Secondly, we are grateful to the majority of you who, since our previous announcement, have allowed us to get on with trying to save the convention—or at least a version of it—by rescheduling it.

To that end, we are pleased to let you know that, at the moment, we have agreed tentative dates for the event with the two convention hotels of 28-31 January 2021. With events and advice changing so quickly, the hotels have agreed to follow UK Government advice and are prepared to reassess or postpone the event once again nearer the time, depending on the spread and hopeful containment of the virus.

(5) YOU ARE HERE. Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes about this moment with empathy and wisdom: “Business Musings: Shock, Survival, and Forgiveness”.

… We now know where we are. We’re in that prolonged change. It’s a transition, and we’ve finally hit it. All of 2020 will be a year of half-measures, making do, and getting through.

Frankly, I find knowing where we are calming. I now know how to proceed day to day. I don’t like it, but I don’t have to like it.

I, you, all of us just have to survive it.

The knowledge of where we’re at, though, took me out of survival mode. I’m no longer obsessively reading the news every day, trying to figure out where we are. I’m donning my mask when I go out. I make that daily calculation—is it worth the risk to my health (and Dean’s health) to do whatever it is I am planning to do?

I can calculate risk now. And, more importantly, Dean and I are agreed. We consult if we’re going to do something outside of our usual schedule, based on the level of risk.

We are more or less staying home, but we did anyway, since we work here. ?That sense of ease, that feeling of no longer being on the knife’s edge, has made it easier to focus, although not always easier to work.

I’m one of the few people I know who has made the mental transition out of survival mode. (If one of us gets sick, I know I’ll head right back into it.) Now that I know how we’re going to be living day to day, I’m willing to live day to day. I don’t need to be ever vigilante for another tow truck, coming at us out of the dark.

Because I’ve made this transition, I can see other folks who haven’t. In my various social media feeds, I’m watching writers talk about their process or their lack of one. Writers, discussing how their work has changed or just plain stopped. Writers, who can’t face any of their usual projects, and who are feeling lost and don’t exactly know why.

Everyone knows the changes in their writing habits come from the pandemic, but most don’t understand what to do. And many people are worried that the changes to their writing methods are permanent.

Are those changes permanent? It depends on the change. They seem to fall into two categories…

… We are in a new place. Like any new place, it will take time to learn all its ins and outs. We have to explore it and understand it—and survive the transition into it.

If you’re dealing with actual life and death issues, from someone being very ill in your life to a major loss of income or career, then give yourself time to recover. Take the pressure off your writing. There’s enough pressure in your life….

(6) MEDIA BIRTHDAY,

  • June 24, 1982 Blade Runner?premiered. It was?directed by Ridley Scott, and was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. It starred?Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos and Sean Young. It was based very loosely on Philip K. Dick’s?Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep??It would win the Best Dramatic Presentation at ConStellation, beating out The Wrath of Khan,?E.T.,?The Dark Crystal?and?The Road Warrior.?Critics were puzzled by it and t generated little street buzz nearly thirty years ago. It would vastly raise its stature over the years, now being considered one of the Best SF works ever?done. It’s worth Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th-anniversary digitally remastered version; this is the only version over which Scott retained full artistic control.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 24, 1842 – Ambrose Bierce.??Four hundred short pieces, sixty poems.??A pioneer in realistic fiction; a great fantasist; a biting satirist.??When William Dean Howells said AB was among our three greatest writers, AB said “I am sure Mr. Howells is the other two.”??Translated into Croatian, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish.??(Died 1914, maybe) [JH]
  • Born June 24, 1915 – Sir Frederick Hoyle.??Coined the expression “Big Bang”, rejected the theory. ?Radar research in World War II with more personnel than the Manhattan Project. Mayhew Prize, Balzan Prize, Crafoord Prize.??Founded the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy and resigned from it.??A dozen SF novels, two dozen shorter stories, some with co-authors; translated into Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Japanese, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian,??Spanish, Swedish.??(Died 2001) [JH]
  • Born June 24, 1937 – Charles Brown.? Founded?Locus?(with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf) as a fanzine; it grew, changed, and “semiprozine” was invented to describe it; 29 Hugos by the time of his death.??You could disagree with him; on panels with him I opposed his “mainstream literature is about the past, science fiction is about the present, nobody can write about the future”; no one has outdone him.??Writers & Illustrators of the Future Award for lifetime achievement.??(Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born June 24, 1947 Peter Weller, 73. Yes it’s his Birthday today too. Robocop obviously with my favorite scene being him pulling out and smashing Cain’s brain, but let’s see what else he’s done. Well there’s?The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a film I adore. And then there’s?Leviathan?which you I’m guessing a lot of you never heard of. Is it of the?Naked Lunch?genre? Well,?Screamers?based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “Second Variety” certainly is. Even if the reviews sucked. ?And?Star Trek Into Darkness?certainlyqualifies. Hey he showed up in?Star Trek: Enterprise!?(CE)
  • Born June 24, 1948 – Kris Neri, age 72.Two novels for us; four more, sixty shorter stories.??After living in San Francisco, and Southern California, moved to Sedona (Arizona); now at home in Silver City (New Mexico).??Teaches writing through the U. Cal. L.A. Extension School.??Says her Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty magical mysteries feature “a questionable psychic who teams up with a modern goddess/FBI agent”.??Website?here. ?[JH]
  • Born June 24, 1950 Mercedes Lackey, 70. There’s a line on the Wiki page that says she writes nearly six books a year. Impressive. She’s certainly got a lot of really good series out there including the vast number that are set in the?Valdemar universe. I like her?Bedlam’s Bard?series better. She wrote the first few in this series with Ellen Gunn and the latter in the series with Rosemary Edghill. The?SERRAted Edge?series, Elves with race cars, is kinda fun too. Larry Dixon, her husband, and?Mark Shepherd were co-writers of these.?Lackey and Dixon are GoHs of this year’s Worldcon, CoNZealand. (CE)
  • Born June 24, 1950 Nancy Allen, 70. Officer Anne Lewis in the?Robocop?franchise. (I like all three films.) Her first genre role was not in?Carrie?as?Chris Hargensen, but in a best forgotten a film year earlier (Forced Entry) as a unnamed hitchhiker. She shows up in fan favorite?The Philadelphia Experiment?as?Allison Hayes and I see her in?Poltergeist III?as Patricia Wilson-Gardner (seriously — a third film in this franchise?). She’s in the direct-to-video?Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return?as Rachel Colby. (Oh, that sounds awful.) And she was in an?Outer Limits?episode, “Valerie 23”, as?Rachel Rose.?(CE)
  • Born June 24, 1961 Iain Glen, 59. Scots actor who played as Ser Jorah Mormont in?Game of Thrones, he’s also ?well known for his roles as Dr. Alexander Isaacs/Tyrant in the Resident Evil franchise; and he played the role of Father Octavian, leader of a sect of clerics who were on a mission against the Weeping Angels in “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone”, all Eleventh Doctor stories.?(CE)
  • Born June 24, 1970 – Nicolas Fructus, age 50.? Recently, comics and storyboard art?for animated films and video games.??Worked with Moebius, Philippe Druillet; founded Delcourt publishing house.??Here?is a cover for?Bifrost.??Here?is one for Kij Johnson’s novella “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe”.??Here?is?A Year in the Air.??[JH]
  • Born June 24, 1982 Lotte Verbeek, 38. You most likely know her as Ana Jarvis, the wife of Edwin Jarvis, who befriends Carter on?Agent Carter. She got interesting genre history including being?Geillis Duncan on the?Outlander?series, Helena in?The Last Witch Hunter,?Aisha?in the dystopian political thriller?Division 19?film and a deliberately undefined role in the now-concluded?cross-world?Counterpart?series.?(CE)
  • Born June 24, 1988 – Kasey Lansdale, age 32.?Country music singer-songwriter who has been writing in our field with her father Joe Lansdale; six short stories with him, two alone; edited two anthologies, recently?Impossible Monsters.??“Tremble” with JL was in?Pop the Clutch?from Dark Moon last year.???Website?here.??[JH]
  • Born June 24, 1994 Nicole Mu?oz, 26. You’ll perhaps best remember her for role as Christie Tarr (née McCawley) in the?Defiance?series. Her first role was playing a Little Girl in?Fantastic Four.?Likewise she was A Kid with Braces in?The Last Mimzy, and yes, Another Girl, in Hardwired. The latter was written by Michael Hurst, and has apparently nothing to with?the Walter Jon Williams novel of the same same. (CE)?

(8) COMICS SECTION.

(9) STICK WITH IT. USPS announced “New Stamps Celebrating Bugs Bunny’s 80th Birthday Coming Soon to a Post Office Near You”.

The U.S. Postal Service will issue commemorative Forever stamps celebrating Bugs Bunny’s 80th birthday. The Postal Service and Warner Bros. Consumer Products are excited to dedicate these stamps at a virtual ceremony on July?27, the 80th anniversary of Bugs Bunny’s official screen debut.

Bugs has always been known for his impeccable impersonations and his masterful masquerades, so the soon-to-be-revealed 10 designs on this pane of 20 stamps each showcase a costumed Bugs Bunny?in some of his most memorable getups.

(10) A BIG IDEA. Rosamund Lannin is “Searching for Body Positivity in Fantasy” at Tor.com.

I remember the first time I encountered an attractive fat woman in a fantasy novel. My heart flipped a little as I read about a woman was for-real fat. She wasn’t your usual fictional overweight woman, either: there was no zaftig or curvy or voluptuous to be found near the Scientist’s Daughter in Haruki Murakami’s?Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. But she was definitely attractive. The narrator describes her as follows:

“A white scarf swirled around the collar of her chic pink suit. From the fullness of her earlobes dangled square gold earrings, glinting with every step she took. Actually, she moved quite lightly for her weight. She may have strapped herself into a girdle or other paraphernalia for maximum visual effect, but that didn’t alter the fact that her wiggle was tight and cute. In fact, it turned me on. She was my kind of chubby.”

(11) THE NEXT SHIFT. At The Mary Sue, Cree Myles advises: “If You Really Want to Unlearn Racism, Read Black Sci-Fi Authors”.

… Society generally views the science fiction genre as one of leisure. You read it because you have time, not because you want to learn something. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While all writers are charged with the task of creating a more empathetic society, science fiction writers have the additional burden of telling us what happens next.

Some of our best thinkers, and certainly our most comprehensive hopers, have been sci-fi writers. N.K. Jemisin has given us black female demigods who, despite their powers, still somehow suffer at the hands of an oppressive society. Octavia Butler has given us shapeshifters, time travelers, and voyagers who all had to react and survive under patriarchy and racism. Ursula K. Le Guin was creating entire non-binary societies … in the 1960s.

(12) IT’S IN THE OH! E. D. Ursula Vernon coins a word:

(13) BACK FROM THE FUTURE. “Segway: End of the road for the much-hyped two-wheeler”

Segway is ending production of its original two-wheeler, which was popular with city tour guides and some police forces – but not the public.

Launched in 2001, the much-hyped self-balancing vehicle promised to revolutionise personal transport.

The Segway, invented by US engineer Dean Kamen, debuted with much fanfare, but struggled to make a profit.

Accidents didn’t help with the Segway’s popularity, and the company was bought by Chinese rival Ninebot in 2015.

Made at a factory in New Hampshire, in the US, production of the Segway Personal Transporter will end on 15 July.

Announcing the news, Segway president Judy Cai said: “Within its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in security and law enforcement, viewed as an effective and efficient personal vehicle.”

However, in the vehicle’s almost two decade-long history it has also been the subject of mockery and high-profile collisions as well as a tragic death.

(14) THE PASSENGER PIGEON OF VIDEO STORES. Atlas Obscura leads readers to something that’s the last of its kind: “Bend Blockbuster Video”.

In early summer of 2018, there were two Blockbusters left in?Alaska?and one in?Oregon. The Alaska stores finally closed that summer, leaving the Bend store as the last one standing. National media attention soon followed and the Bend Blockbuster became a tourist site as well.?And after the last Blockbuster Video in?Australia?closed in 2019, the Bend store became the only one left in the world.?

[Thanks to Microtherion, JJ, John Hertz, Lise Andreasen, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Amazon’s Best Books
of 2020 So Far

The 20 books picked by Amazon editors as “Best Books of 2020 so far” include works by sff authorsMax Brooks, Suzanne Collins, N.K. Jemisin, and John Scalzi.

They also picked these 20 sff category books as Amazon’s Best science fiction and fantasy of 2020 so far:

  • The City We Became: A Novel by N. K. Jemisin
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  • Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells
  • Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
  • Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  • The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
  • Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward
  • Firewalkers by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Night Country by Melissa Albert
  • The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey
  • Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Repo Virtual by Corey J. White
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
  • The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
  • The House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
  • A Longer Fall by Charlaine Harris
  • The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
  • Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
  • Agency by William Gibson

DisCon III Hotel Waits
To Learn Fate

Employees of the Washington Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C., main venue of the 2021 Worldcon, have been notified of the hotel’s potential permanent closure. The facility has been shuttered since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Members of Local 25, the union representing hotel workers, told local ABC affiliate WTOP they were informed of the potential closure during Zoom calls held with more than 500 Wardman Park employees.

Marriott spokesperson Casey Kennett told a WTOP reporter:

Marriott International has provided advance notice to employees, government officials and union officials about a potential closure of the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

The hotel has been temporarily closed since March. At this time, no decision has been made about the hotel’s future operation and reopening, as discussions are ongoing.

The 2021 Worldcon committee today posted a “Statement from DisCon III Regarding Marriott Wardman Park”:

DisCon III is aware of the news stories that have been published recently about the Marriott Wardman Park and we are monitoring the situation closely.  We are in contact with our salesperson at the hotel and other industry contacts, and are receiving updates. As the news stories made clear, there are ongoing discussions but no formal decisions have been made.

Just after winning the bid, DisCon III signed a contract with the Omni Shoreham for all of its function space and a significant majority of its hotel rooms.  This contract is not impacted by the discussions at the Marriott Wardman Park.

Throughout all of this, DisCon III remains committed and confident that we will host a fabulous Worldcon in Washington, DC next year, and we look forward to welcoming you.

The property was formerly the site of the Sheraton-Park Hotel, where the 1974 Worldcon was held. Sheraton replaced that structure with a modern brick tower and in 1980 reopened it as the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Marriott International took over management in 1998 and changed the name to the Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

If Marriott closes the hotel, there is always the possibility another chain might take it over. There would still be important questions about how soon it would resume operations, and what terms new management might require to host next summer’s Worldcon. Meanwhile, DisCon III has its space in the nearby Omni Shoreham.  

2020 McIlvanney Prize Longlist and Bloody Scotland Debut Shortlist Released

The Bloody Scotland festival on June 23 announced contenders for the two awards it hosts that celebrate Scottish noir, the McIlvanney Prize for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and the Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Book of the Year award.

Both awards are ordinarily handed out at the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling, Scotland, which has been cancelled this year, however, the winners will be announced in September, the month when the festival would have taken place.

The McIlvanney Prize recognizes excellence in Scottish crime writing, and includes a prize of ?1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.. Here is the McIlvanney Prize 2020 longlist:

McIlvanney Prize for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Longlist

  • Lin Anderson, Time for the Dead (Macmillan)
  • Lisa Gray, Bad Memory (Thomas & Mercer)
  • Andrew James Greig, Whirligig (Fledgling)
  • Doug Johnstone, A Dark Matter (Orenda)
  • Val McDermid, How the Dead Speak (Little, Brown)
  • Ben McPherson, The Island (HarperCollins)
  • James Oswald, Bury Them Deep (Headline)
  • Ambrose Parry, The Art of Dying (Canongate) aka Chris Broomyre and Marisa Haetzman
  • Mary Paulson-Ellis, The Inheritance of Solomon Farthing (Mantle)
  • Caro Ramsay, The? Red, Red Snow (Severn House)
  • Craig Robertson, Watch Him Die (Simon & Schuster)
  • Francine Toon, Pine (Doubleday)

Bloody Scotland Debut Crime Book of the Year Shortlist

  • Deborah Masson, Hold Your Tongue (Transworld)
  • Stephen O’Rourke, The Crown Agent (Sandstone)
  • Marion Todd, See Them Run (Canelo)
  • Francine Toon, Pine (Doubleday)

Pixel Scroll 6/23/20 Nobody Would Have Come If I’d Yelled Chocolate

(1) ON THE DOUBLE. Connie Willis took a much-needed break from the news and devised this recommendation list: “Books And Movies: Doubling Your Pleasure”.

Okay, the world continues to go mad, with Covid-19, racism, and social injustice rampant. (Tonight, for instance, they’re tear-gassing people in D.C. again, coronavirus cases in Arizona are spiking, and two megachurch conmen are claiming they’ve invented a new air conditioning that kills 99.9 per cent of the virus. Note: They haven’t.)

I spend most of my days yelling and/or screaming at the TV and obsessing about how nuts everything is and how many things need to be fixed, and today’s no exception, but some of the time, just to keep a tenuous hold on our sanity, my family and I try to think about stuff that has nothing to do with the mayhem around us. To that end, my husband quilts, my daughter does the Getty Art Challenge, I read Agatha Christie mysteries, and together my daughter and I make up lists of favorite books and movies.

We thought you might need to take a mental break occasionally, too, so we’re sharing this, but I don’t want you to think that we’re not still VERY AWARE of how much is wrong and how much we need to do to rescue the world from its current messes.

So, in that spirit…

My daughter Cord and I had so much fun coming up with our lists of books that we reread over and over again, that we decided to put together another list, this one of movies and books that you should definitely read and/or watch….

For example:

5. BOOK: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen
MOVIE: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant)

It’s impossible to improve on Jane Austen, but Emma Thompson almost pulls it off in her brilliant script for the 1995 movie, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. She got rid of a bunch of extraneous characters and equally extraneous scenes and made the younger sister Margaret (a mere cipher in the novel) into a charming and fully-developed character who by the end was my favorite: “He’s kneeling down!”

(2) IGNORE THOSE CLICKBAIT WEBSITES. That’s what George R.R. Martin says. He means the other ones, not mine, I’m sure. Even if I am also linking to his Winds of Winter progress report. Because we all want to know!

…If nothing else, the enforced isolation [of the pandemic] has helped me write.   I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress.   I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week.   But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week.   It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go.   Please do not give any credence to any of the click-bait websites that like to parse every word of my posts as if they were papal encyclicals to divine hidden meanings.

… Of late I have been visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah.   I will be dropping back into Braavos next week.    I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.

I do wish they would go faster, of course.   Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month.   I fear I shall never recapture that pace again.   Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then.    

George is also preparing to participate in the virtual Worldcon.

…I still plan to host the Hugo Awards and fulfill all the rest of my toastmasterly duties for worldcon, and have started pre-recording some bits for the ceremony (a wise precaution, since I am hopeless with Zoom and Skype and like things), but that is a lot less time-consuming and distracting than flying to the other end of the world.   In between tapings, I return to Westeros.  

(3) DOCTORS IN THE HOUSE. SYFY Wire lets you “Watch Jodie Whittaker & David Tennant Judge Stay-At-Home Doctor Who Cosplay Challenge”.

Some inventive Doctor Who fans — and Nate — showed off their costume-making talents to the world, with The Doctors themselves assessing the results. 

The Late Late Show host and former Who cast member James Corden put out a call to Doctor Who fans to compete in a cosplay challenge where they would have some 24 hours to create a costume from the show “using only objects from around their homes.” This is, in fact, keeping with the tradition of the classic series, which has often been teased for its wobbly sets and very low-budget aesthetic. (Seriously, some of the creatures were clearly made from bubble wrap.)  

James Corden also did an interview segment with the two actors.

(4) A KIND OF REALITY. Leslie Klinger, who has annotated Gaiman’s American Gods, is the subject of a LitHub Q&A. “American Gods has a new annotated version with a Sherlockian twist.”

Aaron Robertson: I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek, poetic quality of the annotations. I wonder if you have any literary influences of your own with those?

Leslie Klinger: The big “literary influence” on me is the best Sherlockian scholarship, written by hundreds of amateur scholars who love the world of Holmes and Doyle. Dorothy Sayers famously explained how Sherlockians approach the stories in their scholarship: “The rule of the game is that it must be played as solemnly as a county cricket match at Lord’s; the slightest touch of extravagance or burlesque ruins the atmosphere.”

I have carried that approach—the Sherlockian “game”—over to other books that I’ve annotated, pretending (or “pretending”) that the stories are true and analyzing them from a biographical/historical perspective. Could the character have really done that? Are the historical aspects presented true or made up?

Neil—no mean Sherlockian himself—is especially adept at weaving reality into his fiction. I discovered that in detail in the course of annotating Gaiman’s Sandman and so fully expected to find a wealth of historical underpinnings here.

(5) THE LADY IN THE MOON. “‘Over the Moon’ Cast and Filmmakers Debut Trailer, Discuss Animated Musical” in Variety.

…Actors Sandra OhPhillipa SooJohn Cho, Ruthie Ann Miles and newcomer Cathy Ang joined producers Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou, along with director Glen Keane, to discuss the making of the movie, a musical adventure about a young Chinese girl named Fei Fei (Ang), who builds her own rocket ship to travel to the moon in order to prove the existence of the legendary Moon goddess Chang’e (Soo). 

Soo, a Tony Award nominee for her work in “Hamilton,” noted that she has known about the story of Chang’e since childhood, through a children’s book written by Amy Tan. “I remember as a kid, asking my dad to read it over and over and over to me. Because I was just obsessed with this idea of the moon lady,” Soo said. “And when I was asked to play her, I was of course honored because it’s so infrequent that I’m being asked to play specifically Chinese characters. And also even more rare that I get to be in a film with incredible Asian actors who are surrounding me. So when I read the script and they invited me to come join them to create this beautiful story, I was, of course, immediately on board and so excited.”

(6) AGENT DROPS KRUEGER DUE TO ALLEGATIONS. Publishers Lunch reported today:

Agent DongWon Song announced that he was dropping Filipino-American fantasy author Paul Krueger as a client after allegations were made on Twitter that Krueger had harassed multiple women in publishing, although the specifics of the complaints available on that platform were unclear and mostly second-hand. Krueger posted a vague apology but has since deleted his Twitter account, and one person who publicly accused Krueger subsequently made her account private. DongWon said in his tweet, “I have terminated my professional relationship with Paul Krueger. This was a difficult decision to make but it is the right one.” He referred to “new information coming to light” in the past week and said he had “spoken to several people directly impacted by Paul’s behavior,” later adding, “Thank you to those of you who spoke up. That took courage and I am grateful to you all.”

(7) YOU THINK YOU HAVE TOO MANY BOOKS? “12 million books and a cherry-picker: Graduate Trainee visit to the Bodleian Storage Facility” — a Bodleian Libraries weblog invites you to see the BSF lift in action. You’ll wish one would fit in your home library!

… So how do you store 12.5 million books — and not only books, but maps, manuscripts, microfilms, periodicals and newspapers too? By 2009, the New Bodleian (which had 11 floors of space) as well as facilities at Nuneham Courtenay and a salt mine in Cheshire (yes, really) were at capacity. Costing approximately ?25 million, and involving the biggest book-move in the Bodleian’s history (6.5 million items!), the BSF needed some serious storage. As we entered the main warehouse, it became clear that they really pulled it off.

… The BSF is huge. Its shelves are 11 metres high and over 70 metres long. Before the automatic lights kick in, the narrow aisles seem to converge into darkness. We wore high-visibility jackets to alert staff driving the book-retrieval vehicles to our presence. A cross between a cherry-picker and a forklift, these vehicles are configured to fit exactly between the shelves, allowing staff to retrieve an impressive average of one book per minute. Although I personally wouldn’t like to be 11 metres up in the air, Boyd assured us it’s a very safe operation!

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 23, 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie premiered. It was produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landis who says they conceived it as a cinematic interpretation of the 1959–1964 TV series at created by Rod Serling. The film stars Vic Morrow, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Quinlan, and John Lithgow, with Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the prologue segment. Burgess Meredith took over as Host, the position of Rod Serling, in the series. So how did it fare? Critics were generally lukewarm, although some like as New York Times‘ media critic Vincent Canby, who called the movie a “flabby, mini-minded behemoth” were almost angry. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 54% rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 23, 1945 Eileen Gunn, 75. Her story “Coming to Terms” based on her friendship with Avram Davidson won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story. Her stories are in Stable Strategies and OthersSteampunk Quartet and Questionable Practices. With L. Timmel Duchamp, she penned The WisCon Chronicles, Vol. 2: Provocative Essays on Feminism, Race, Revolution, and the Future. (CE)
  • Born June 23, 1946 Ted Shackelford, 74. He’s mostly remembered as Lieutenant Patrick Brogan on Space Precinct which lasted a single season of thirty-four episodes. It was created and produced by Gerry Anderson. It combined live action, full-body prosthetics, puppetry, and Supermacromation techniques. The writing crew likewise was huge — thirty-seven are listed at IMDB. Likewise the cast was immense, Ted Shackelford, Simone Bendix, Lou Hirsch and Richard James who a cast of thirty-seven actors according ISFDB! He had the usual one-offs in Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Twilight ZoneDeadman’s Gun and The Outer Limits. (CE) 
  • Born June 23, 1951 Greg Bear, 69. Blood Music which won both a Nebula Award for Best Novelette and a Hugo Award for Best Novelette is an amazing read. I’m also very fond of the Songs of Earth and Power duology, The Infinity Concerto and The Serpent Mage, and found his Queen of Angels a fascinating mystery. (CE) 
  • Born June 23, 1953 Russell Mulcahy, 67. You’ll likely remember him as directing Highlander, but he was responsible also for Highlander II: The Quickening, but disowned it after the completion-bond company meddled with production. He would later release this film as Highlander II: The Renegade Version. He also directed several episodes of The HungerOn The BeachPerversions of Science and Tales from The Crypt. (CE)
  • Born June 23, 1963 Cixin Liu, 57. He won a Hugo Award for The Three-Body Problem and a Locus Award for Death’s End. He also a nine-time recipient of the Galaxy Award, China’s SFF awards. Anyone got a clue what’s going on with the alleged Amazon production of The Three-Body Problem as a film? (CE)
  • Born June 23, 1972 Selma Blair, 48. Liz Sherman in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. She voiced the character also in the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms and Hellboy: Blood and Iron as well. She’s Stevie Wayne in The Fog, a slasher film a few years later and was Cyane on the “Lifeblood” episode of Xena: Warrior Princess. Later on, she’d be Jessica Harris in the “Infestation” episode of Lost in Space. (CE)
  • Born June 23, 2000 Caitlin Blackwood, 20. She was the young Amelia Pond in these Doctor Who episodes; “The Eleventh Hour”, “The Big Bang”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “The God Complex”, and had a cameo in “The Angels Take Manhattan”.  She’s the cousin of Karen Gillan who plays the adult Pond. No idea how she was cast in the role but it was brilliantly inspired!  (CE)
  • Born June 23, 1896??– Paul Orban.??His first sale was a watercolor at age 14 for $5 – about $135 in money of 2020.??Fifty years later he had done a dozen covers, some fourteen hundred interiors.??Brian Aldiss said he expressed “perennial things – unending quests, great aspirations, long farewells, and a welcoming pair of arms on the far side of light.”??Here?is a cover for?Astounding?magazine. ?Here?is a cover for?Marooned on Mars.??Here?is an interior for?The World of Null-A.??Here?is an interior for Norman Menasco’s “Trigger Tale”.??(Died 1974) [JH]
  • Born June 23, 1931 – Nancy Share.?With her sister Marie-Louise Share produced the fanzine?Hodge-Podge?for SAPS (the Spectator Amateur Press Society); with Larry Touzinsky,?Fan To See?(she was Art Director) which had contributions and letters from Robert Bloch, Terry Carr, Harlan Ellison, Juanita Wellons (later J. Coulson).??When Wrai Ballard wrote Non-Poetry that poetry-haters might like, NS countered with Am-So Poetry.??After the revelations of Ghu, Foo (or Foofoo), and?Roscoe, NS proclaimed?Ignatz. ?She married Art Rapp, the first Rosconian.??(Died 2002) [JH]
  • Born June 23, 1937 – Richard Curtis, age 83.??Edited the anthology?Future Tense; audio anthology?Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy; wrote?Squirm, a movie novelization; a few shorter stories.??Best known as a?literary?agent; contributed “Agent’s Corner” to?Locus?1980-1992, collected as?Mastering the Business of Writing?(rev. 1996).??[JH]
  • Born June 23, 1947 – Mark Olson, F.N., age 73.??Active Boston fan; has been President and Treasurer of both NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) and MCFI (Massachusetts Convention Fandom, Inc., which has produced three Worldcons, four?Smofcons).??Chaired Boskone 23 and Noreascon 3 (47th Worldcon).??Fan Guest of Honor at ArmadilloCon 9, Minicon 34, WindyCon 33.?Fellow of NESFA,?a service honor. ?Active with fanhistory Website?fanac.org?(fanac?=?fan activity; FANAC = Florida Ass’n for Nucleation And Conventions ran the 50th Worldcon, then started the Website); oversees?Fancyclopedia?3.??Fanzine,?The Typo Machein.??[JH]
  • Born June 23, 1967– Tommy Ferguson, age 53.??Founded the Queen’s University of Belfast Science Fiction & Fantasy Society.??Lived in Belfast, Toronto, Belfast. ?Long-time fanzine?Tommyworld?– TF beat Claire Brialey, Tom Digby, Mike Glyer, Cheryl Morgan, Ted White, and me for Best Fanwriter in the 1998 FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards – now a?Website.??[JH]
  • Born June 23, 1981 – Erta? Altin?z, age 39.??Digital artist (his name actually uses a dotless-i character which in Turkish stands for a sound different from?i, but the software won’t show it).??Here?is a cover for?Clarkesworld?49.??Here?is Shireen Baratheon teaching Ser Davos to read.??Here?is “The Pointy End”, which for me recalls?Princess Langwidere in?Ozma of Oz.??[JH]

(10) FREE COMIC BOOK SUMMER. The revived event will last the summer, with 45 titles for readers to choose from. “Free Comic Book Day Changed to Weekly Event Lasting All Summer” reports Comicbook.com.

After being officially cancelled earlier this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Free Comic Book Day is back! Though usually scheduled for the first Saturday in May each year, Diamond Comic Distributors have announced the event will take place in comic shops around the country with brand new free comics every week starting in July and running through September. Due to the length of the event now, it’s being rebranded as Free Comic Book Summer for this year. Retailers will receive five to six Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) titles in their weekly shipments during each week of the promotional window, the full slate of which you can find below.

“Every year, Free Comic Book Day is our big event to thank current comics fans, welcome back former fans and invite those new to comics to join the fun,” said Joe Field, originator of FCBD, and owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, CA. “In this very different year, Free Comic Book Day is more like Free Comic Book Summer… and there’s so much fun to discover in this year’s FCBD comics! So many cool stories are available for this stretched-out Free Comic Book Day 2020. I’m confident long-time fans and newcomers alike are going to find a story that’ll make them want to visit their local comic shop every week! Fans, bring your friends and family and head to your local comic shop every week starting July 15 through September 9 to check out the new, and fantastic, free comics available that week!”

(11) A RECORD NO ONE WANTS TO SURPASS. Rob Hansen has added a section on the 1970 UK Eastercon to his THEN fanhistory website, with photos and links to audiofiles.

SCI-CON the 1970 UK National Science Fiction Convention took place over the weekend of Friday, 27th March to Monday, 30th March. It was held in London at the Royal Hotel, Russell Square (located a hundred yards or so from Russell Square Underground station). It’s widely regarded as being the worst Eastercon ever held.

Well, I guess that’s frank enough!

Bill Burns’ Prologue gives immediate hints about why things didn’t go well.

…At the Oxford Eastercon in 1969, George Hay proposed with his then-usual enthusiasm that the 1970 convention should be held in London – without having done any prep work on finding a hotel (or indeed on anything else). In the absence of any other bids, George was awarded the con. At the time he was also starting something called “The Environmental Consortium” with an office in central London, whose aims were never quite clear to me, but which an on-line reference notes was one of George’s organisations to promote “applied science fiction”.

Despite winning the bid, George had no hotel, no committee, and no idea how to run a con. Derek Stokes and I looked at each other in dismay, and volunteered for the committee in the hope of steering the con at least partially along traditional lines, but George had his own agenda and couldn’t be restrained….

(12) HAMILTON. Some inside baseball about the Disney+ release of Hamilton.

(13) MIND THE GAP. Yahoo! News reports “‘Black neutron star’ discovery changes astronomy”.

Scientists have discovered an astronomical object that has never been observed before.

It is more massive than collapsed stars, known as “neutron stars”, but has less mass than black holes.

Such “black neutron stars” were not thought possible and will mean ideas for how neutron stars and black holes form will need to be rethought.

The discovery was made by an international team using gravitational wave detectors in the US and Italy.

(14) CATCH ‘EM ALL. Peel a Woodrow Wilson from your money roll and this could be yours: “Ultra rare Pokemon card expected to fetch up to $100,000”.

An extremely rare Pokemon card, thought to be one of only seven ever produced, is up for auction online and experts said it could sell for up to $100,000.

The Pokemon Super Secret Battle No. 1 Trainer card, being sold by Heritage Auctions, is billed by the auction house as the “holy grail” of collectible cards and its condition was rated a perfect 10 by experts at PSA Card.

(15) TURNING OVER NEW ROCKS. Now that a large number of exoplanets are known, NASA is chipping in some bucks toward SETI. From USA Today, via Yahoo! — “Scientists are searching the universe for signs of alien civilizations: ‘Now we know where to look'”.

For the first time in more than three decades, research scientists have received grant money from NASA to search for intelligent life in outer space.

Specifically, the [$278K, 2 year ] grant will provide funding for a project to search for signs of life via “technosignatures.”

Grant recipient Avi Loeb of Harvard is quoted as saying:

“Such signatures might include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), megastructures or swarms of satellites.”

Anogher grantee, Adam Frank (University of Rochester) said:

“The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look. Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals? Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed.”

(16) TUBULAR. “Nasa Mars rover: Key questions about Perseverance” – BBC has the answers.

On 20 July, Nasa will get its first opportunity to launch the Perseverance rover to Mars. Here, we answer some common questions about the mission.

What will the rover do?

The Perseverance rover will land on Mars to search out signs of past microbial life, if it ever existed. It will be the first Nasa mission to hunt directly for these “biosignatures” since the Viking missions in the 1970s.

The rover will collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in tubes, and leave them on the planet’s surface for return to Earth at a future date. Perseverance will also study Martian geology and test out a way for future astronauts to produce oxygen for breathing and fuel from CO2 in the atmosphere.

In addition, a drone-like helicopter will be deployed to demonstrate the first powered flight on Mars. Perseverance will explore Mars’ Jezero Crater for at least one Martian year (about 687 Earth days).

(17) PETAFLOPSWEAT. The U.S. is nudged out of first place. “Japanese supercomputer, crowned world’s fastest, is fighting coronavirus”.

The newly crowned world’s fastest supercomputer is being deployed in the fight against the coronavirus.

Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer claimed the top spot on Monday, carrying out 2.8 times more calculations per second than an IBM machine in the US.

The US machine, called Summit, came top of the bi-annual Top500 list the previous four times.

Fugaku’s victory broke a long run of US-China dominance, returning Japan to the top for the first time in 11 years.

Top500 ranks the world’s most powerful non-distributed computer systems.

Fugaku has already been put to work on fighting the coronavirus, simulating how droplets would spread in office spaces with partitions installed or in packed trains with the windows open.

When it is fully operational next year, experts are hoping the machine will also be able to help narrow down the search for effective treatments for the virus.

The room-sized machine lives in the city of Kobe and was developed over six years by Japanese technology firm Fujitsu and the government-backed Riken Institute. Its name is another way of saying Mount Fuji.

Its performance was measured at 415.53 petaflops, 2.8 times faster than second-place Summit’s 148.6 petaflops. The US machine is housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. A supercomputer is classified by being more than 1,000 times faster than a regular computer.

(18) SWIPER, NO SWIPING. Not as attention-grabbing as politics, but with long-term consequences: “Facebook bans ‘loot-to-order’ antiquities trade”.

Facebook has banned users trading in historical artefacts on the site.

It follows a campaign by academic researchers and an investigation by BBC News, exposing how items looted from Iraq and Syria were sold on Facebook.

One expert welcomed the move but said for anything to change, Facebook should invest in “teams of experts to identify and remove networks rather than playing whack-a-mole with individual posts”.

Facebook says all trade in ancient artefacts is banned on its platforms.

(19) PLAIN GOOFY. The Screen Junkies continue their look at older movies with their “Honest Trailer” on A Goofy Movie.

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