Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #37

Bill Higgins (left) and Steven H Silver (right), photo by Chris M. Barkley at Capricon 39, 16 February 2019

Capricon 39: Information PLEASE!

By Chris M. Barkley: When I was attending Worldcon 76 at San Jose, Chicago area fan writer and editor Steven H Silver approached me with an unusual proposition: would I be interested in participating in a fantasy and sf version of an old radio show Information Please.

I had been a radio talk show host myself, which was called Bad Moon Rising and was broadcast on a public access radio station from the summer of 1976 through the spring of 1983. As an aficionado of old-time radio shows, I knew about Information Please but I had never heard an episode. But I knew about the basic premise and format and was sufficiently intrigued to agree.

According to its Wikipedia entry:

Information Please was an American radio quiz show, created by Dan Golenpaul, which aired on NBC from May 17, 1938 to April 22, 1951. The title was the contemporary phrase used to request from telephone operators what was then called “information” but is now called “directory assistance”.

The series was moderated by Clifton Fadiman. A panel of experts would attempt to answer questions submitted by listeners. For the first few shows, a listener was paid $2 for a question that was used, and $5 more if the experts could not answer it correctly. When the show got its first sponsor (Canada Dry), the total amounts were increased to $5 and $10 respectively. A complete Encyclopædia Britannica was later added to the prize for questions that stumped the panel. The amounts went up to $10 and $25 when Lucky Strike took over sponsorship of the program.”

Mr. Silver’s idea was to present this show in a panel format at sf conventions on a regular basis. Steve Davidson, the current publisher of Amazing Stories, agreed to be the sponsor these contests and eventually offer prizes of subscriptions to winners who submitted questions that stumped the panel.

Since it was not widely publicized, there was a lack of audience material to work with and as a result, Mr. Silver wrote all of the questions himself.

Besides myself, Steven also invited Rich Horton and Bill Higgins of General Technics to participate as future hosts or participants.

There was no room on the 2018 Windycon programming schedule so it was mutually agreed that the pilot episode of “F&SF Information Please” would be held this weekend at Capricon 39.

Mr. Silver was our host and seated to his right were myself, Mr. Higgins, Chicago fan David Hirsch and Capricon 39 Author Guest of Honor Seanan MCGuire.

Unlike Jeopardy! or other quiz shows, you can’t really study for it; the questions are so arcanely phrased that you have to rely on all of the inherent knowledge you possess plus and improvisational comedy skills you can muster. And believe me, had there been an audio recording of the panel, you would have gotten an earful of both.

Mr. Silver began with a series of common knowledge questions regarding Hugo Award winners, Harry Potter characters and fan related items of interest. (I am being deliberately vague here because the questions that were used may turn up at future conventions.)

The questions became harder and more perplexing as the panel progressed, much to the delight of the 40 plus members of the audience attending. In fact, several members of the audience knew some of the tougher entries involving Disney movies, fantasy characters from novels, spaceship names and sf convention history.

At one remarkable point in the proceedings, we were all treated to the splendid singing voices of Ms. McGuire and Mr. Higgins, who both sang filk songs from memory.

I must say that I modestly held my own during the proceedings with a few swift answers and some snappy repartee. And I also also admit I laughed so hard that afterwards I thought that I had stressed my vocal chords.

Alas, all of this has been mostly lost to history because I did not think of setting up my smartphone to record the panel.

I think that this particular game show would be a welcome addition to local and regional conventions and I am urging everyone reading this to participate if and when this may show up on a programming schedule.

I can say with some certainty that Information Please will be performed at Windycon 47 this coming November (where, coincidentally, I am the Fan Guest of Honor.) I am hopeful that other venues around the country will be announced as well.

If you would like to participate and have a chance to win a subscription to Amazing Stories, please send your questions to Steven H. Silver at: infopleasesf@gmail.com 

Let the flow of knowledge, and hilarity, ensue!

Where To Find The 2018 Nebula Finalists For Free Online

By JJ: The Nebula Finalists have just been announced, and if you’d like to check them out to see whether you think they’d be good contenders for your Hugo ballot, you can use this handy guide to find material which is available for free online.

Where available in their entirety, works are linked (most of the Novelettes and Short Stories are free). If not available for free, an Amazon link is provided. If a free excerpt is available online, it has been linked. (In some cases, you may need to scroll down the linked page and/or click on an “Excerpt” link to see the excerpt.)

Have you read / seen / played any of these already? What did you think?

Fair notice: All Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit fan site Worlds Without End.

Novel

Novella

Novelette

Short Story

Game Writing

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Pixel Scroll 2/20/19 Ain’t No Sound But The Sound Of His Scroll, His Pixel Ready To Go

(1) STOLEN HEARTS. Another romance writer has been accused of plagiarism: the #CopyPasteCris row involves accusations that Cristiane Serruya lifted large sections of her romance novels from works by Courtney Milan and other writers, then blamed the mess on a ghostwriter she’d hired. One side-effect is that the Romance Writers of America is under pressure to either bar ghostwritten works from its awards or insist such works are identified as such when submitted. Will there be calls for sff and horror organizations to follow suit?

Milan said a reader alerted her to the wording issue in Serruya’s book, and tweeted, “I’m not exactly sure how to proceed from here, but I will be seeking legal counsel.”

Milan is a lawyer who used to teach intellectual property law at Seattle University.

Then the story became much larger. On Twitter, Milan and other authors and readers began posting passages from Serruya’s work that appeared to be lifted from other sources, sometimes using the hashtag #CopyPasteCris.

On Tuesday morning, Serruya initially seemed to deny the charges, tweeting at Milan, “Good morning, @courtneymilan I just woke up to this and I am astonished. I would have never, ever, done this. I am in this writing for a few years now and I am also a lawyer. Could we perhaps talk?”

Shortly after her first tweet, Serruya tweeted that her book did, indeed, contain plagiarism, which she blamed on a ghostwriter she had hired through Fiverr, a service that matches freelance creative professionals with those who want to hire them for gigs.

…Other authors and readers, per Milan’s advice, looked into the book to make sure Serruya had not stolen even more writers’ intellectual property. Boy howdy, the results…

…But wait, the plot thickens. Not only was this hodgepodge of a book submitted to the RITA contest, but Serruya was also judging some categories.

Let’s recap, shall we?

  1. “Author” Cristiane Serruya published a book, allegedly ghostwritten, full of stolen words and others’ intellectual property.
  2. She submitted this book for consideration to an award that Ms. Milan was previously not allowed to submit.
  3. She played a role in which books won in America’s most prestigious awards in the romance genre.
  4. When called out for it, she lied.
  5. When lies got her nowhere, she attempted to shift the blame.
  6. As of this writing, Serruya has taken down Royal Love. She has not, however, taken down Royal Affair, which apparently also contains stolen intellectual property from romance superstars.

(2) THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS. SYFY Wire wishes they had the key — “Lord of the Rings writers locked in guarded room at Amazon Studios”.

The new Lord of the Rings series from Amazon is being kept more secret from fans than the One Ring was from the Elven-kings, Dwarf-lords, and Mortal Men. Apart from very vague and mysterious teases like a map laden with Easter eggs, Tolkien fans know next to nothing about the upcoming series that hopes to somehow co-exist with Peter Jackson’s fantasy films after the latter defined Middle-earth for a generation. And that’s partially because of how Amazon’s writer’s room is protected.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the team responsible for creating the first season of LotR TV has been even more isolated than Gollum in his cave….

(3) HOW AMAZING IS THAT? Steve Davidson is adding a convention to his brand: “Announcing Amazingcon® (Very Preliminary)” .

The micron itself? A one day affair, consisting of two panels, a catered lunch break, a mini-dealers room and art show, bringing in two regionally popular guests, open to attendance of between 100 and 250 (max), designed to appeal to two distinct but related audiences: local folks familiar with the GoHs who would like a more intimate experience with them and local fans who want to experience a traditional convention for the first time, without having to commit to a full weekend, the travel and lodging requirements and etc.

This is currently a test-case, is expected to take place in Manchester, NH (or relatively close by) and is expected to happen in a 2020 time frame.  (Very local helps keep associated expenses down.)

We expect to replicate nearly everything a traditional, weekend long convention does;  there’ll be membership badges and registration, panels with Q&A, an opening and closing ceremonies and even what we’re calling A “Dead Dog Dinner Party” for our GoHs, staff and selected members of the convention….

(4) HE GETS BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS. The Yorkshire Post talked to one of Interzone’s co-founders about what he overcame to write his new book: “Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis has not stopped Leeds sci-fi and fantasy writer Simon Ounsley”

…When Simon Ounsley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease six years ago, he felt any chance to have a fiction book published had slipped from his grasp. But he has continued to write with the help of voice activation software and now has a children’s story on sale and another in the pipeline. “I have wanted to write fiction all my life,” he says. “But except for a few short stories, I was never able to secure the interest of an agent or publisher.

…“I had almost decided I should try to self-publish a children’s novel I had written, when an extraordinary stroke of luck led to me finding a publisher.”

That publishing firm is Journey Fiction, run by writer Jennifer Farey from Las Vegas, USA. Simon had been in touch with her husband Nic through science fiction fanzines and asked him to take a look at the book last September. He offered to show it to Jennifer and on December 1 The Shop on Peculiar Hill was released, available through Amazon and online bookstores.

It is in the sci-fi genre that Simon has done much of his writing, including for fanzines from 1978. He was one of eight people who launched fantasy and science fiction magazine Interzone in 1982. Still in existence today, it is the longest running British sci-fi magazine in history. Harrogate-born Simon was involved for six years.

(5) TROLLS HAMMER CAPTAIN MARVEL. Captain Marvel had a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97% rating a few weeks ago, but the trolls went to work and pushed it down to 63%. Stylist phrased the news this way — “Sexist trolls are targeting Captain Marvel with fake bad reviews”:

Over here in the Stylist.co.uk offices we know that women are strong and smart and powerful and awe-inspiring. We celebrate this on a daily basis. But there are many out there who aren’t as comfortable watching a female superhero save the world in such spectacular fashion.

And they’re all trolls lurking in the swampy backwaters of the internet.

A campaign spearheaded by sexist social media users to target Captain Marvel with negative reviews has hit Rotten Tomatoes today. The idea, according to these users, is to ensure that the movie’s audience score is impacted and reduced.

Just to be clear, the film hasn’t even been released yet. But that hasn’t stopped people leaving negative comments on the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes’ page anyway. These reviews target the film’s female-led subject matter and star Larson’s commitment to utilise inclusion riders on the press tour for the movie to ensure that female, disabled and people of colour journalists are given preference for interview time. 

(6) HORROR’S HISTORIC SOURCES. Jess Nevins, author of the forthcoming book A Chilling Age of Horror: How 20th Century Horror Fiction Changed The Genre, illuminates “A short history of 20th century African-American horror literature”:

In a very real sense horror, in the form of slavery, was a part of the African-American experience from the beginning. Unsurprisingly, horror was a part of African-American narratives from the first as well. The folklore, legends, and myths brought over from Africa during the Middle Passage and turned into oral literature by the slaves was one significant element of pre-twentieth century African-American horror literature.1 A second, which long outlasted the African folklore and legends as a source of African-American horror, was the Gothic, which in its “Afro-Gothic” form was as popular by the end of the twentieth century as it was in its more primitive form centuries earlier.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • February 20, 1962 — Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. He made 3 trips around the earth in his Mercury-Atlas spacecraft, Friendship 7, in just under 5 hours.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 20, 1912 Pierre Boulle. Best known for just two works, The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. The latter was was La planète des singes in French, translated in 1964 as Monkey Planet by Xan Fielding, and later re-issued under the name we know. (Died 1994.)
  • Born February 20, 1926 Richard Matheson. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen television episodes of The Twilight Zone, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.)
  • Born February 20, 1943 Diana Paxson, 76. Did you know she’s a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism? Well she is. Genre wise, she’s best known for her Westria novels, and the later books in the Avalon series, which she first co-wrote with Marion Zimmer Bradley, then – after Bradley’s death, took over sole authorship of. All of her novels are heavily coloured with paganism — sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. I like her Wodan’s Children series more than the Avalon material.
  • Born February 20, 1945 Brion James. Without doubt best known for his portrayal of Leon Kowalski in Bladerunner. He did have a number of genre roles including playing Stubbs in Enemy Mine, Tank in Steel Dawn, Stacy in Cherry 2000, Staten Jack Rose in Wishman, Maritz in Nemesis… Well you get the idea. He appeared in myriad low budget, not terribly good genre films after Bladerunner. (Died 1999.)
  • Born February 20, 1954 Anthony Head, 65. Perhaps best known as Librarian and Watcher Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he also made an impressive Uther Pendragon in Merlin. He shows up in Repo! The Genetic Opera as Nathan Wallace aka the Repo Man, in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance as Benedict, and in the awesomely great Batman: Gotham by Gaslight voicing Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Born February 20, 1972 Nick Mamatas, 47. Writer and editor. His fiction is of a decidedly Lovecraftian bent which can be seen in Move Under Ground which also has a strong Beat influence. It is worth noting that his genre fiction often strays beyond genre walls into other genres as he sees fit. He has also been recognised for his editorial work including translating Japanese manga with a Bram Stoker Award, as well as World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award nominations. 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brewster Rockit scores with this Marie Kondo/Star Wars gag.
  • In Frazz, they discuss how SJW credentials view food.

(10) VERTLIEB ON TV. Film historian Steve Vertlieb appeared in an episode of Counter Culture, a local PBS talk show, that aired last night. You can watch the episode at the link.

I want to thank popular comedian and radio personality Grover Silcox for inviting me share a delightful segment of his new “Counter Culture” television interview series which aired last night on WLVT TV, Channel 39 Public Television in Allentown. We sat together at the famed Daddypops Diner in Hatboro, Pennsylvania where the wonderful series is filmed, and talked about the long history of Monster Movies. For anyone who didn’t catch it last night, the program is available on line by accessing the link below. You’ll find my segment in the middle of Episode No. 3.

 (11) SHOES FOR INDUSTRY! [Item by Andrew.] Robert Sheckley is now writing our reality. Cnet reports: “Nike’s Android app doesn’t run well with its Adapt BB self-tying shoes”.

A faulty app has tripped up Nike’s $350 self-tying shoes.

Nike released the Adapt BB, its tech-infused sneaker, on Sunday during the NBA’s All-Star game, along with an app that can control the shoe’s fit and light-up colors.

You’re able to loosen and tighten the sneakers through two buttons on the sneaker’s side, but Nike executives talked up the app experience, saying that it would also help you with your fitness activities in the future.

The Adapt BB needed a firmware update in its first week, which could only be installed via an iOS or Android app, Nike executives said in January.

But for people using Android, the app for the self-tying sneakers hasn’t been a perfect fit. Multiple reviews for the Nike Adapt app on Google’s Play Store said that it hasn’t connected to the left shoe, and an update rendered the sneaker’s main feature useless.

Usually bricking tend to render devices completely useless, at least the Adapt BB just turns into a regular pair of sneakers. You’re also still able to control the fit through the buttons on the side.

(12) THE CASTLE WILL CLOSE. The Verge: “The Man in the High Castle will end with season 4, trailer reveals”. Sean Hollister writes:

I think I’ve come to a realization — most of my current favorite TV shows are only still favorites because I’m waiting for them to come to what seems like an inevitably gruesome end. I’m a deer in the headlights, hoping that in a world where death and dismay is around every corner, the Game of Thrones cast might actually find their final rest; the handmaids in The Handmaid’s Tale might permanently escape their torture and mutilation the only way that seems plausible; Westworld will see the robots triumph over humanity (yes I’m in that camp); and that Killing Eve might, well, it’s right there in the title. 

That’s why I’m delighted to say that The Man in the High Castle will end after its fourth season, as you can see by watching this new trailer. 

(13) PAYING IT FORWARD. Award-winning and best-selling paranormal romance writer Nalini Singh wants to send a New Zealand first-timer to the Romance Writers of NZ con.

(14) CROSS-GENRE ROMANCE. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast interviews Jeffe Kennedy: “SFFMP 221: Whether Awards Are Worth Trying for, Marketing Fantasy Romance, and Being Active in SFWA and RWA”. Among the many questions covered: “How much ‘romance’ has to be in a story for it to be considered sci-fi or fantasy romance?”

This week, we chatted with RITA award-winning fantasy romance author Jeffe Kennedy. She started her career writing non-fiction, shifted to romance and fantasy romance with traditional publishing, and now does some self-publishing as well. We asked her about whether awards are worth trying for, her thoughts on the professional organizations SFWA and RWA, and what she’s tried and liked for marketing over the years.

(15) SKYLARK THANKS. The full text of Melinda Snodgrass’ 2019 Skylark Memorial Award acceptance speech has been posted to her blog – click the link.

(16) SWEET SCREAMS ARE MADE OF THIS: Over at Featured Futures, Jason has incorporated Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year: Volume Eleven into the “Collated Contents of the Year’s Bests (2018 Stories, Links)”.

Welcome to the third annual linked collation of annuals or “year’s bests.” As the contents of the Afsharirad, BASFF, Clarke, Datlow, Guran, Horton, Shearman/Kelly, and Strahan science fiction, fantasy, and horror annuals are announced, they will be combined into one master list with links to the stories which are available online. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy some of them and that will help you decide which annual or annuals, if any, to purchase.

(17) SHED A TEAR. At Quick Sip Reviews, Charles Payseur rolls out his next award: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2018! The “There’s Something in My Eye” Sippy for Excellent Making Me Ugly-Cry in Short SFF”.

…I’m something of an emotive reader, which means that there are times when reading that a story just hits me right in the feels and I need to take a moment to recover. These are stories that, for me, are defined most by their emotional weight. By the impact they have, the ability to completely destroy all the careful emotional shields we use to keep the rest of the world at bay. These are the stories that pry open the shell of control I try surround myself in and leave me little more than a blubbering mess. So joining me in smiling through the tears and celebrating this year’s winners!

(18) BUZZ. “Scientists Release Controversial Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In High-Security Lab”NPR has the story, a look at the pros and cons.

Scientists have launched a major new phase in the testing of a controversial genetically modified organism: a mosquito designed to quickly spread a genetic mutation lethal to its own species, NPR has learned.

For the first time, researchers have begun large-scale releases of the engineered insects, into a high-security laboratory in Terni, Italy.

“This will really be a breakthrough experiment,” says Ruth Mueller, an entomologist who runs the lab. “It’s a historic moment.”

The goal is to see if the mosquitoes could eventually provide a powerful new weapon to help eradicate malaria in Africa, where most cases occur.

(19) SFF AND THE ACADEMY. BBC’s “Oscars 2019: 17 quirky facts about this year’s Academy Awards” includes some genre-relevant items:

10. In 2008, The Dark Knight helped prompt an Oscars rule change, which expanded the best picture category from five nominees to as many as 10.

It was hoped this would allow for more blockbuster superhero films (i.e. movies the public actually go to see) to be acknowledged.

However, it’s taken a decade for a superhero film to actually benefit from this rule change – in the shape of this year’s nomination for Black Panther.

12. Incredibles 2 is nominated for best animated feature this year.

But sequels have rarely won in this category since the Oscars introduced it in 2001.

The last one that did was 2010’s Toy Story 3. (Despite its misleading title, 2014’s Big Hero 6 wasn’t a sequel.)

(20) BACK TO THE HANGAR. The Hollywood Reporter has more on the cancellation of Nightflyers.

Nightflyers will not fly again for Syfy. The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has opted to cancel the expensive space drama based on the George R.R. Martin novella after one season. The cancellation arrives as one of its leads just booked a series regular role in a broadcast pilot.

Nightflyers was, without question, a big swing for Syfy….

In a bid to eventize Nightflyers, Syfy set a binge model and released the entire series on Dec. 2 on its digital platforms and aired the series over 10 straight nights on its linear network. The series hit Netflix on Feb. 1 and, unlike the breakout success that became LIfetime’s You, did not break out. The Dec. 13 season finale — which now doubles as a series finale — drew just 420,000 live viewers (down from 623,000 for the premiere).

(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Smash and Grab on Youtube is a Pixar film by Brian Larsen about two robots who would rather play than perform their menial jobs.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Steve Green, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Steve Davidson, Chip Hitchcock, Errolwi, Andrew, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]

Datlow Shares ToC for Best Horror of the Year, Volume 11

Ellen Datlow has revealed the table of contents for The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eleven, to be released in September by Night Shade.

  • “I Remember Nothing” by Anne Billson
  • “Monkeys on the Beach” by Ralph Robert Moore
  • “Painted Wolves” by Ray Cluley
  • “Shit Happens” by Michael Marshall Smith
  • “You Know How the Story Goes” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  • “Back Along the Old Track” by Sam Hicks
  • “Masks” by Peter Sutton
  • “The Donner Party” by Dale Bailey
  • “Milkteeth” by Kristi DeMeester
  • “Haak” by John Langan
  • “Thin Cold Hands” by Gemma Files
  • “A Tiny Mirror” by Eloise C. C. Shepherd
  • “I Love You Mary-Grace” by Amelia Mangan
  • “The Jaws of Ouroboros” by Steve Toase
  • “A Brief Moment of Rage” by Bill Davidson
  • “Golden Sun” by Kristi DeMeester, Richard Thomas, Damien Angelica Walters, and Michael Wehunt
  • “White Mare” by Thana Niveau
  • “Girls Without Their Faces On” by Laird Barron
  • “Thumbsucker” by Robert Shearman
  • “You Are Released” by Joe Hill
  • “Red Rain” by Adam-Troy Castro
  • “Split Chain Stitch” by Steve Toase
  • “No Exit” by Orrin Grey
  • “Haunt” by Siobhan Carroll
  • “Sleep” by Carly Holmes

[Thanks to Jason for the story.]

2018 Nebula Awards Nominees

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA, Inc.) announced the nominees for the 54th Annual Nebula Awards on February 20, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing. The awards will be presented in Woodland Hills, CA at the Warner Center Marriott during a ceremony on the evening of May 18.

2018 Nebula Award Finalists

Novel

  • The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
  • The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
  • Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)
  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)
  • Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

Novella

  • Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)
  • The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)
  • Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)

Novelette

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)
  • “An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)
  • “The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)
  • “The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)
  • “Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

Short Story

  • “Interview for the End of the World”, Rhett C. Bruno (Bridge Across the Stars)
  • “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington”, Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18)
  • “Going Dark”, Richard Fox (Backblast Area Clear)
  • “And Yet”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny 3-4/18)
  • “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”, Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/6/18)
  • “The Court Magician”, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 1/18)

Game Writing

  • Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker (House of Tomorrow & Netflix)
  • The Road to Canterbury, Kate Heartfield  (Choice of Games)
  • God of War, Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog, Orion Walker, and Adam Dolin (Santa Monica Studio/Sony/Interactive Entertainment)
  • Rent-A-Vice, Natalia Theodoridou (Choice of Games)
  • The Martian Job, M. Darusha Wehm (Choice of Games)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy”, Written by: Megan Amram
  • Black Panther, Written by: Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole
  • A Quiet Place, Screenplay by: John Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Screenplay by: Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman
  • Dirty Computer, Written by: Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning
  • Sorry to Bother You, Written by: Boots Riley

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

  • Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt; Macmillan)
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time, Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents)
  • A Light in the Dark, A.K. DuBoff (BDL)
  • Tess of the Road, Rachel Hartman (Random House)
  • Dread Nation, Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
  • Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword, Henry Lien (Henry Holt)

The Nebula Awards will be presented during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference, which will run from May 16th-19th and feature programming developed and geared toward SFF professionals. On May 18th, a mass autograph session will take place at the Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills and will be free and open to the public.

The Nebula Awards, presented annually, recognize the best works of science fiction and fantasy published in the previous year. They are selected by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The first Nebula Awards were presented in 1966.

2019 Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival Goes Bi-Coastal

The annual Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival for the first time since its inception will hold a bi-coastal gathering with films, premieres and panels in New York City, Los Angeles and Santa Ana, CA. Independent filmmakers will have a platform to tackle a variety of themes that empower the narratives of Philip K. Dick, whose work continues to serve as a profound mark on the literary and entertainment worlds.

The festival will open in New York City on Thursday, March 7th and Saturday, March 9th. “We have developed a strong following here,” said Daniel Abella, the founder and director of the festival. “Our fans have become loyal supporters of our films and platform so we acknowledge their support by bringing back great sci-fi year after year.” Features include Saku Sakamoto’s ARAGNE: Sign of Vermillion about a young woman’s discovery of a mysterious class of insects and the U.S. premiere of Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited, the remastered version of Kent Smith and Tom Huckabee’s post-apocalyptic 1983 film starring Bill Paxton. Then, a lone survivor searches for answers after the human race vanishes in the World Premiere of John Norby’s Assimilation.

The West Coast edition of the festival will run in partnership with Media Arts Santa Ana (MASA), a non-profit organization that supports its community’s cultural empowerment through special resources and initiatives. Dick, the festival’s namesake, was a resident of the city in his final years and wrote several of his last major works there. It will help create discussion about how Santa Ana and Orange County influenced Philip K. Dick’s vision and celebrate one of Santa Ana’s most treasured and influential artists.

Festivities begin on Thursday, March 14th in Los Angeles. “Blade Runner is set in L.A. in 2019,” said Abella when referring to the 1982 adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? “There is no better honor than by holding the festival in the very city and year depicted in one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time.” Screening titles include Matthew Evan Balz’s Corvus, which follows a woman’s perilous efforts to build a machine capable of hypnosis and the depiction of extant technology in Emily Dean’s Andromeda about an android’s awakening of human emotions. Closing the night is Josh Gibson’s atmospheric Pig Film about a woman’s work on a hog farm during the impending end of the world.

The festival then opens in Santa Ana, CA from Friday, March 15th through Sunday, March 17th. Essential films include Unzipping, the cinematic directorial debut of actress and writer Lisa Edelstein about the poignant unfastening of a marriage and Star Trek veteran Walter Koenig’s confrontation with fate in Michael Baker’s Who is Martin Danzig? Holding its World Premiere is Tony Dean Smith’s mind-bending thriller Volition about a clairvoyant man’s quest to avoid his own murder and the U.S. and L.A. Premiere of Sarah K. Reimers’ Bitten about a dog’s rabid night of risk and adventure. Dive Odyssey kicks off a lineup of feverish documentaries as Janne Kasperi Suhonen takes viewers on an absorbing aquatic journey and Colin Ramsay and James Uren decipher what makes “good” artificial intelligence in the dawn of ethics and technology in Good in the Machine.

Observing the 90th anniversary of Philip K. Dick’s birth and the 50th anniversary of Blade Runner’s origin novel, the two organizations joined forces for the Philip K. Dick Multicultural Dystopian/Sci Fi Short Film Challenge, a short film competition that invited participants to develop projects that analyze contemporary life in view of themes associated with Philip K. Dick.

The festival’s expansion has also furthered its commitment to feature a more inclusive brand of filmmaking with 31 percent of the official selections directed or co-directed by women and minority filmmakers. Many films are seen from the perspectives of racially and gender diverse characters. “There is a new freshness entering the genre,” said Abella, who curated an equality-driven showcase of films from the emerging talent strengthening the industry. “Science fiction is based on exploring the ‘other’ and no one is more qualified than those groups who have been marginalized to tell their story using the tools of sci-fi.”

The PKD Film Festival schedule follows the jump.

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2018 Aurealis Awards Finalists

The finalists for the 2018 Aurealis Awards were announced February 19 by the Continuum Foundation (ConFound). The award recognizes the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers.

The winners of the Aurealis Awards, as well as the Sara Douglass Book Series Award, and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on Saturday May 4.

2018 Aurealis Awards – Finalists

BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION

  • The Relic of the Blue Dragon, Rebecca Lim (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Slightly Alarming Tales of the Whispering Wars, Jaclyn Moriarty (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Endsister, Penni Russon (Allen & Unwin)
  • Secret Guardians, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)
  • Ting Ting the Ghosthunter, Gabrielle Wang (Penguin Random House Australia)
  • Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt, Rhiannon Williams (Hardie Grant Egmont)

BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL / ILLUSTRATED WORK

  • Deathship Jenny, Rob O’Connor (self-published)
  • Cicada, Shaun Tan (Hachette Australia)
  • Tales from The Inner City, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)

BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY

  • “A Robot Like Me”, Lee Cope (Mother of Invention, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Moon Collector”, D K Mok (Under the Full Moon’s Light, Owl Hollow Press)
  • “The Sea-Maker of Darmid Bay”, Shauna O’Meara (Interzone #277, TTA Press)
  • “Eight-Step Koan”, Anya Ow (Sword and Sonnet, Ate Bit Bear)
  • “For Weirdless Days and Weary Nights”, Deborah Sheldon (Breach #08)

BEST HORROR SHORT STORY

  • “The Offering”, Michael Gardner (Aurealis #112)
  • “Slither”,  Jason Nahrung (Cthulhu Deep Down Under Volume 2, IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • “By Kindle Light”,  Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Antipodean SF #235)
  • “Hit and Rot”, Jessica Nelson-Tyers (Breach #08)
  • “Sub-Urban”, Alfie Simpson (Breach #07)
  • “The Further Shore”, J Ashley Smith (Bourbon Penn #15)

BEST HORROR NOVELLA

  • “Andromeda Ascends”, Matthew R Davis (Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, Things In The Well)
  • “Kopura Rising”, David Kuraria (Cthulhu: Land of the Long White Cloud, IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • “The Black Sea”, Chris Mason (Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, Things In The Well)
  • Triquetra, Kirstyn McDermott (Tor.com)
  • “With This Needle I Thee Thread”, Angela Rega (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Crisis Apparition, Kaaron Warren (Dark Moon Books)

BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY

  • “Crying Demon”, Alan Baxter (Suspended in Dusk 2, Grey Matter Press)
  • “Army Men”, Juliet Marillier (Of Gods and Globes, Lancelot Schaubert)
  • “The Further Shore”, J Ashley Smith (Bourbon Penn #15)
  • “Child of the Emptyness”, Amanda J Spedding (Grimdark Magazine #17)
  • “A Moment’s Peace”, Dave Versace (A Hand of Knaves, CSFG Publishing)
  • “Heartwood, Sapwood, Spring”, Suzanne J Willis (Sword and Sonnet, Ate Bit Bear)

BEST FANTASY NOVELLA

  • “This Side of the Wall”, Michael Gardner (Metaphorosis Magazine, January 2018)
  • “Beautiful”, Juliet Marillier (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “The Staff in the Stone”, Garth Nix (The Book of Magic, Penguin Random House)
  • Merry Happy Valkyrie, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Dressmaker and the Colonel’s Coat”, David Versace (Mnemo’s Memory and Other Fantastic Tales, self-published)
  • The Dragon’s Child, Janeen Webb (PS Publishing)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY

  • “The Sixes, The Wisdom and the Wasp”, E J Delaney (Escape Pod)
  • “The Fallen”, Pamela Jeffs (Red Hour, Four Ink Press)
  • “On the Consequences of Clinically-Inhibited Maturation in the Common Sydney Octopus”, Simon Petrie & Edwina Harvey (A Hand of Knaves, CSFG)
  • “A Fair Wind off Baracoa”, Robert Porteous (Hand of Knaves, CSFG)
  • “The Astronaut”, Jen White (Aurealis)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVELLA

  • “I Almost Went To The Library Last Night”, Joanne Anderton (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Starling Requiem, Jodi Cleghorn (eMergent Publishing)
  • Icefall, Stephanie Gunn (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Pinion”, Stephanie Gunn (Aurum, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Singles’ Day”, Samantha Murray (Interzone #277, TTA Press)
  • Static Ruin, Corey J White (Tor.com)

BEST COLLECTION

  • Not Quite the End of the World Just Yet, Peter M Ball (Brain Jar Press)
  • Phantom Limbs, Margo Lanagan (PS Publishing)
  • Tales from The Inner City, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Exploring Dark Short Fiction #2: A Primer to Kaaron Warren, Kaaron Warren (Dark Moon Books)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

  • Sword and Sonnet, Aiden Doyle, Rachael K Jones & E Catherine Tobler (Ate Bit Bear)
  • Aurum, Russell B Farr (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Mother of Invention, Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Infinity’s End, Jonathan Strahan (Solaris)
  • The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year, Jonathan Strahan (Solaris)

BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

  • Small Spaces, Sarah Epstein (Walker Books Australia)
  • Lifel1k3, Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Catching Teller Crow, Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina (Allen & Unwin)
  • His Name was Walter, Emily Rodda (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • A Curse of Ash and Embers, Jo Spurrier (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Impostors, Scott Westerfeld (Allen & Unwin)

BEST HORROR NOVEL

  • The Bus on Thursday, Shirley Barrett (Allen & Unwin)
  • Years of the Wolf, Craig Cormick (IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • Tide of Stone, Kaaron Warren (Omnium Gatherum)

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

  • Devouring Dark, Alan Baxter (Grey Matter Press)
  • Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit, Alison Goodman (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • City of Lies, Sam Hawke (Penguin Random House)
  • Lightning Tracks, Alethea Kinsela (Plainspeak Publishing)
  • The Witch Who Courted Death, Maria Lewis (Hachette Australia)
  • We Ride the Storm, Devin Madson (self-published)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

  • Scales of Empire, Kylie Chan (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Obsidio, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Lifel1k3, Jay Kristoff (Allen & Unwin)
  • Dyschronia, Jennifer Mills (Picador Australia)
  • A Superior Spectre, Angela Meyer (Ventura Press)
  • The Second Cure, Margaret Morgan (Penguin Random House)

Pixel Scroll 2/19/19 Imagine There’s No Pixels – It’s Easy If You Scroll

(1) SHAT MEETS SHELDON. DigitalSpy has its CBS eye open: “The Big Bang Theory shares first look at Star Trek legend William Shatner’s cameo”.

The Star Trek legend will turn up briefly in the 12th and final season of the hit comedy series, and features exclusively in a brand-new trailer.

(2) LE GUIN FILM. Hob gives the 2018 documentary “Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin” a positive review.

If you’re afraid, as I was, that this would be a generic “this person is important, here are some writers to tell you why” documentary with a lot of book covers turned into motion graphics… it mostly isn’t. It’s really very good, and I can’t complain that it’s short and a bit thin in some respects if the alternative was not to make it.

It helps that Le Guin herself talks quite a bit, both recently (the filmmaker worked with her on this for years, so the tone is friendly and familiar) and in earlier decades, and I’d happily listen to her talk about anything at all for hours…

(3) BETTER WORLDS. The Verge’s “Better Worlds” project draws to a close with these three stories —

A woman named Margery pulls a lever and jumps to new worlds, each one different from the last.

How do you envision Margery going from world to world? Virtual reality? Jumping between dimensions? Magic?

The lever, what it does, and Margery’s relationship to it are pure Twilight Zone. The lever itself is Archimedean and every resonant, similar idea I could layer into it. The world is a big thing to move, and the lever had to stand for a lot of things. So it’s rooted in very fundamental and ancient science, but its magic is in wordplay and related concepts and dream-images. It’s hard to say where I draw the line between fantasy and science fiction because I don’t — mostly.

A family works their way through a top-secret facility on an important mission

Your story follows a father-and-son team as they infiltrate a secret base. What inspired this particular world?

I tend to world-build around characters, and this world was designed for Ray. I wanted to show him as idealistic but practical, protective of his family while also trusting their skills and talents. But the main point of the scenario was to give him a clear objective and then alter it: he enters the base to rescue his son, but then has to face Ando’s insistence on staying behind. Ray needs to decide whether to recognize Ando’s right to make that choice, which is really about how much he trusts how he’s been raising his child. Parenting is full of moments like that, although most of them aren’t quite so starkly life-and-death.

Alexandra and Phoebe must deal with their creation Ami, an artificial intelligence that was designed to moderate online communities, as it fights fire with fire.

Social media sites like Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook have their own issues with content moderation, relying on human judgment in most cases. How do you see an AI building on those human-developed systems?

I think, actually, those sites depend too heavily on automated processes. Ami is truly intelligent and, above all, empathetic. Her distinguishing feature as an AI is her capacity to feel the pain of others and feel a responsibility to do something about it, while also possessing the suprahuman powers of a computer.

(4) BOOSTING THE JODOROWSKY SIGNAL. A fan is working to drum up demand for a book/ebook of Jodorowsky’s Dune storyboards:

In the film, Jodorowsky’s Dune you see the storyboards the director made for his never-to-be film project that introduced Moebius to HR Giger to Dan O’Bannon. I would pay a lot of money for each volume if that book were ever published, even if only in electronic form. Could you spread that idea around?

Daniel Dern adds, a quick web search turns up some admittedly-not-encouraging answers in Quora:

According to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, only 20 copies of the books were originally made, with only a few of those known to still exist in the world. The producer of the unmade film, Michel Seydoux, mentions to Jodorowsky in a deleted scene on the Blu-Ray that he recently found his personal copy that was in perfect condition, and that he was having it photocopied.

According to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, there are only two known copies of the bound and published storyboard remaining: one belonging to Alejandro Jodorowsky himself, and the other in the presumed care of Jean Giraud’s family. These persons are presumably also the ones who own the copy rights on the material, but I couldn’t say for sure, given the labyrinthine nature of cinematic intellectual properties.

While I’d be the first in the queue to purchase a copy, I am not sure this storyboard will ever be made available for purchase to the general public.

(5) MOORCOCK.The San Antonio Current connected with Michael Moorcock ahead of his appearance at the downtown library’s PopCon last weekend: “New Worlds Man: Groundbreaking Science Fiction Author and Editor Michael Moorcock Makes a Rare Appearance at Pop Con”.

“What we did at New Worlds was publish stuff nobody else would publish,” Moorcock said. “What I discovered was that if something was put into print, that was a validation of its worth. The book publishers would look at what we’d published and say, ‘Well, it’s been in print once, then we can do it again.’”

As Moorcock discussed those days, it almost seemed like a surreal narrative slipping through time and space. He wove a tale about the time the buttoned-down Aldiss falsely accused one of Moorcock’s hippy musician friends of nicking his wallet. Then another about the time he was invited onto the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey only to be shushed by Stanley Kubrick. Then he mused how he and author Kingsley Amis worked up such a mutual hatred that they refused to travel in the same train compartment together.

(6) WALDO CAN RUN, BUT HE CAN’T HIDE. So, not only are ‘bots coming for all the jobs, they’re taking over our pastimes, too (Inverse: “Waldo-Hunting A.I. Robot Solves One of Life’s Greatest Mysteries”).

Never wonder where Waldo is again. A machine designed to find a children’s book character is causing a stir on social media. “There’s Waldo” is a robot that uses computer vision to locate the beanie-clad chap in the “Where’s Waldo” series of books, automating one of the great stresses of five-year-olds worldwide.

[…] The results are impressive. Its highest record for finding and identifying a match is 4.45 seconds, much faster than it normally takes a kid to complete the task. Ditching the robot [that physically points to Waldo] from the equation could make the process even faster: a system outlined by Machine Learning Mastery in 2014 described how developers could use OpenCV, Python and Template Matching to identify Waldos in less than a second. 

(7) BROECKER OBIT. “‘Grandfather Of Climate Science’ Wallace Broecker Dies At 87”NPR has the story.

Wallace Broecker, a climate scientist who brought the term “global warming” into the public and scientific lexicon, died on Monday. He was 87.

Broecker, a professor in the department of earth and environmental science at Columbia, was among the early scientists who raised alarms about the drastic changes in the planet’s climate that humans could bring about over a relatively short period of time.

His 1975 paper “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” predicted the current rise in global temperatures as a result of increased carbon dioxide levels — and popularized the term “global warming” to describe the phenomenon.

… As early as the ’70s, Broecker spoke openly about the need to restrict fossil fuels and the disruptive effects that just a few degrees of warming could have on the environment.

“The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks,” he told the Times.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 19, 1937 Terry Carr. Well known and loved fan, author, editor, and writing instructor. I usually don’t list Awards both won and nominated for but his are damned impressed so I will. He was nominated five times for Hugos for Best Fanzine (1959–1961, 1967–1968), winning in 1959, was nominated three times for Best Fan Writer (1971–1973), winning in 1973, and he was Fan Guest of Honor at ConFederation in 1986. Wow. He worked at Ave Books before going freelance where he edited an original story anthology series called Universe, and The Best Science Fiction of the Year anthologies that ran from 1972 until his early death in 1987. Back to Awards again. He was nominated for the Hugo for Best Editor thirteen times (1973–1975, 1977–1979, 1981–1987), winning twice (1985 and 1987). His win in 1985 was the first time a freelance editor had won. Wow indeed. Novelist as well. Just three novels but all are still in print today though I don’t think his collections are and none of his anthologies seem to be currently either. A final note. An original anthology of science fiction, Terry’s Universe, was published the year after his death with all proceeds went to his widow. (Died 1987.)
  • Born February 19, 1957 Ray Winstone, 62. First genre work was in Robin of Sherwood as Will Scarlet. He next shows up in our realm voicing Mr. Beaver in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Unfortunately for him, he’s in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as George “Mac” McHale, though he he does does also voice Areas in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Born February 19, 1964 Jonathan Lethem, 55. His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a weird mix of SF and detective fiction, is fantastic in more ways that I can detail briefly here. I confess that I lost track of him after that novel so I’d be interested in hearing what y’all think of his later genre work. 
  • Born February 19, 1963 Laurell K. Hamilton, age 56. She is best known as the author of two series of stories. One is the  Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter of which I’ll confess I’ve read but one or two novels, the other is the Merry Gentry series which held my interest longer but which I lost in somewhere around the sixth or seventh novel when the sex became really repetitive. 
  • Born February 19, 1966 Claude Lalumière, 53. I met him once here in Portland. Author, book reviewer and has edited numerous anthologies. Amazing writer of short dark fantasy stories collected in three volumes so far, Objects of WorshipThe Door to Lost Pages and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes. Tachyon published his latest anthology, Super Stories of Heroes & Villains
  • Born February 19, 1967 Benicio del Toro, 52. He’s been The Collector in the Marvel film franchise, Lawrence Talbot in the 2010 remake of The Wolfman, and codebreaker DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Let’s not forget that he was in Big Top Pee-wee as Duke, the Dog-Faced Boy followed by being in Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Dr. Gonzo which damn well should count as genre even if it isn’t.
  • Born February 19, 1984 Joshua Trank, 35. Film director, screenwriter, and editor. He is known for directing Chronicle and the recent Fantastic Four. The former won A Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Anyone here seen it? 

(9) POETRY MARKETS. The Horror Writers Association put up a specialized market report: “Poetry and Related Sources and Links — A 2019 Update”.

…I thought it would be useful to refresh the obvious — “where do I send my poetry.” The HWA has its own list of markets as does the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

(10) ISRAEL’S MOON MISSION. Israel aspires to join superpowers China, Russia and the U.S. in landing a spacecraft on the moon.

Nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) today announced that Israel’s inaugural voyage to the moon – the world’s first privately funded lunar mission – will begin on Feb. 21 at approximately 8:45 p.m. EST, when the lunar lander “Beresheet” (“In the Beginning”) blasts off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

…About 30 minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX Falcon 9 at around 60,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface, beginning, under its own power, a two-month voyage to the Moon’s surface.

…SpaceX will broadcast the historic launch live on its YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/spacexchannel), and SpaceIL will simultaneously air on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SpaceIL/) live video from inside the control room in Yehud.

…Since the establishment of SpaceIL, the task of landing an Israeli spacecraft on the moon has become a national project with educational impact, funded mainly by Morris Kahn, a philanthropist and businessman who took the lead in completing the mission, serving as SpaceIL’s president and financing $40 million. Additional donors include Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson — whose $24 million contribution enabled the project to continue — Lynn Schusterman, Steven and Nancy Grand, Sylvan Adams, Sami Sagol and others.

(11) DON’T TREAD ON THEM. A new nonprofit group—For All Moonkind—has been established to promote preservation of the Apollo 11 landing sites and other such locations on the Moon (Inverse: “‘For All Mankind’: Meet the Group Trying to Stop Moon Vandalism”).

Why did the hominin cross the plain? We may never know. But anthropologists are pretty sure that a smattering of bare footprints preserved in volcanic ash in Laetoli, Tanzania, bear witness to an evolutionary milestone. These small steps, taken roughly 3.5 million years ago, mark an early successful attempt by our common human ancestor to stand upright and stride on two feet, instead of four.

[…] The evidence left by our bipedal ancestors are recognized by the international community and protected as human heritage. But the evidence of humanity’s first off-world exploits on the moon are not. These events, separated by 3.5 million years, demonstrate the same uniquely human desire to achieve, explore, and triumph. They are a manifestation of our common human history. And they should be treated with equal respect and deference.

(12) DILLINGER RELIC. NPR puts it this way:“Facebook Has Behaved Like ‘Digital Gangsters,’ U.K. Parliament Report Says”. (For more detail, check the BBC article “Facebook needs regulation as Zuckerberg ‘fails’ – UK MPs”.)

A new report from British lawmakers on how social media is used to spread disinformation finds that Facebook and other big tech companies are failing their users and dodging accountability.

“The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission,” said Damian Collins, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that drafted the report. “We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people. The age of inadequate self regulation must come to an end.”

The 108-page report is often scathing on Facebook’s practices and corporate conduct. The committee’s inquiry into disinformation began in September 2017, as revelations emerged that Facebook had been used to spread disinformation during the U.S. presidential election and the U.K. Brexit referendum vote, both in 2016. In March 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, and showed how users’ data could be harvested and misappropriated.

(13) LEONARDO THE EVOLUTIONIST? “Virgin of the Rocks: A subversive message hidden by Da Vinci”.

… Few art historians doubt that Leonardo’s vision was influenced by his memory of a mountain excursion on which he found himself wandering “among gloomy rocks”. “I came to the mouth of a great cavern,” Leonardo would later attest, “in front of which I stood sometime astonished. Bending back and forth, I tried to see if I could discover anything inside, but the darkness within prevented that. Suddenly there arose in me two contrary emotions, fear and desire – fear of the threatening dark cave, desire to see whether there were any marvellous thing within.”

Impelled to enter, Leonardo’s curiosity was repaid by the discovery inside of a fossilised whale and a horde of ancient seashells whose engrossing geometric grooves he would memorialise in the pages of his notebooks.

Over the ensuing years, the perplexing presence of “oysters and corals and various other shells and sea snails” on “the high summits of mountains”, far from the sea, worried away at the artist’s imagination. For Leonardo, the accepted explanation by ecclesiastical scholars of a great flood, such as that described in the Old Testament, for the relocation of these shells, didn’t wash. These creatures weren’t thrown there. They were born there.

Seashells in mountains were proof, Leonardo came to believe and confided to his journal, that Alpine peaks were once the floors of seas. And the Earth was therefore much older and far more haphazardly fashioned by violent cataclysms and seismic upheavals over a vast stretch of time (not the smooth hand of God in a handful of days) than the Church was willing to admit.

(14) SPORTING LIFE. Every year sports fans have to cope with the slack period between the Super Bowl and March Madness. Will K.B. Spangler’s suggestion gain traction? Thread begins here.

(15) THE SIPPY. Charles Payseur is ready to tell us who won: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2018! The ‘I’d Ship That’ Sippy for Excellent Relationships in Short SFF”. He also lists four runners-up.

I’m a sucker for a good relationship story. They don’t have to be romantic. Or sexual. Though most of these stories do feature romance and sex, they also feature characters that interact and orbit each other in intensely beautiful ways. For some of the stories, the connections are between just two people, lovers or friends or something else. For others, the connections flow between more people, or did, and were severed. They feature people striving to find comfort and meaning in their own skins, knowing sometimes that takes help, and understanding, and compassion. And occasionally it takes kicking some ass. Whatever the case, the relationships explored in these stories have stuck with me through a very hard year.

(16) CHUCK TINGLE WOULD BE PLEASED. “Carrie, cereal and four more unusual inspirations for musicals” – see the last item in this BBC story.

If you ever wanted to watch Jurassic Park told from the point of view of the dinosaurs, then the 2012 off-Broadway musical comedy Triassic Parq is for you.

Described by the New York Times as a “bawdy tribute to dinosaurs and their newfound genitalia”, the show follows a group of dinosaurs whose lives are thrown into chaos when one of the females spontaneously turns male.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Carl Slaughter, Eli, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, and John (your capital J remembered today) King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]

2019 D.I.C.E. Video Game Awards

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) presented the 22nd annual D.I.C.E. awards on February 14 at a ceremony following the 2019 D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit.

God of War by developer SIE Santa Monica Studio and publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment won Game of the Year and eight other categories. The game takes players on a journey as the Spartan warrior Kratos, a man living outside the shadow of the gods, who with his son Atreus, venture into the brutal Norse wilds and fight to fulfill a deeply personal quest. 

God of War

The D.I.C.E. Awards also celebrated Bonnie Ross, Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Head of 343 Industries, which oversees the Halo franchise, with the special honor of being the 2019 recipient of the Academy’s Hall of Fame Award.

The AIAS membership honored video games in 23 award categories:

Game of the Year

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Portable Game of the Year

  • Florence (Annapurna Interactive/Mountains)

Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game

  • Celeste (Matt Makes Games)

Immersive Reality Game of the Year

  • Beat Saber (Beat Games)

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement

  • Tónandi (Magic Leap/Magic Leap and Sigur Rós)

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay

  • Fortnite (Epic Games)

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year

  • Into the Breach (Subset Games)

Sports Game of the Year

  • Mario Tennis Aces (Nintendo Co., Ltd./Camelot Co. Ltd.)

Role-Playing Game of the Year

  • Monster Hunter: World (Capcom)

Racing Game of the Year

  • Forza Horizon 4 (Microsoft Studios/Playground Games)

Fighting Game of the Year

  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo/Sora Ltd./Bandai Namco Studios Inc.)

Family Game of the Year

  • Unravel Two (Electronic Arts/ColdWood Interactive)

Adventure Game of the Year

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Action Game of the Year

  • Celeste (Matt Makes Games)

Outstanding Technical Achievement

  • Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar Games)

Outstanding Achievement in Story

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Character

  • God of War – Kratos (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment/SIE Santa Monica Studio)

Outstanding Achievement in Animation

  • Marvel’s Spider-Man (Sony Interactive Entertainment/Insomniac Games)

Wandering Through the Public Domain #8

A regular exploration of public domain genre works available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: I stumbled onto a fun book on Project Gutenberg today while I was looking for something completely different — as so often happens with me. I was checking to see if an 1835 book about Georgia was available on PG, and the author’s name was Longstreet. I couldn’t remember the first name, so I was checking all the authors named Longstreet. When I got to Hattie Longstreet, I found this eye-catching cover:

I never did find that Georgia book — at least, not today — but after skimming the first section of The Little Match Man, I downloaded it to read in its entirety, and perhaps organize a Librivox project to record it.

The narrator of the story is a foreign correspondent based in Japan. One day, he is bored and entertains himself by making a tiny man out of matchsticks, as he used to do when he was a child. Then, ready to smoke a cigarette, he tells the match man that he is going to strike his head. And then this happens:

But I got no further. The little man moved, and falling on his knees held out his hands as if in prayer.

I was very much surprised, and examined him carefully on every side. I had made a great many little men just like him, but I had never seen any one of them move by himself. I looked to see if there was anywhere a bit of string that I had pulled without meaning to. But no, I found nothing. The little man remained quite still in his new position, until at last I was reassured. I thought the jar of some one passing outside, or a puff of air had thrown him from the box, he was so slim and light. I sat him up again and watched him closely.

After a few minutes I saw distinctly that he moved himself. For some time he trembled very slightly, then he held out his arms, and slowly rose to his feet. I could hear a tiny voice, which seemed to come from him, but it was so feeble that compared with it the voice of a cricket would sound like a trombone.

There follows a series of stories, each with several charming illustrations by Hattie Longstreet, of their adventures together for the next few months.

I next looked up the author, and that’s where things got a bit dark. The author’s name is Luigi Barzini (1874-1947) and he was an Italian journalist. Among other assignments, he was embedded in the Japanese army in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. He wrote several non-fiction books, but The Little Match Man appears to be the only fiction he ever published. The English translation came out in 1917.

In the 1920s, Barzini became a Fascist and was one of the 250 signatories to the Manifesto of Fascist Intellectuals in 1925. In the 1930s he joined Mussolini’s government and served on various high-level commissions, culminating with his heading of the official press agency of the Italian Social Republic (the puppet state maintained in Italy after the Germans took over in 1943). After the war, he was charged and convicted for his role in Mussolini’s regime and banned from journalism. He died in poverty in 1947.

His politics also tore apart his family. One of his sons, Ettore, joined the Italian resistance, was captured, and died in a German concentration camp. His namesake, Luigi Barzini Jr., also went into journalism and was a foreign correspondent in Asia, covering the rape of Nanking among other momentous events in Japan’s war in China. Back in Italy in 1940, Barzini Jr. was charged with leaking information to the enemy and disparaging Il Duce, and was confined under house arrest and forbidden to write. The war’s end allowed Barzini Jr. to resume his career even as his father’s was ended, and he went on to become an influential writer in both Italian and English in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as a political mover and shaker.

The senior Barzini’s later career may explain why The Little Match Man is so thoroughly forgotten, but it does seem to be a fun little story.

The Pixel Scroll birthday list recently surprised me with the inclusion of Victorian scholar and art critic John Ruskin (1819-1900), someone I never thought had any connection to the science fiction or fantasy worlds. It turns out that he wrote a kind of fairy tale, a short novel called The King of the Golden River, also available as a Librivox audiobook. Here’s the description from Librivox:

When three brothers mortally offend Mr. Southwest Wind, Esquire, their farm is laid waste and their riches lost. Desperate for money, the brothers become goldsmiths and melt down their remaining treasures . . . only to find that the spirit of the King of the Golden River resides with a molded tankard, and knows the secret of the riches of the Golden River.

Sounds downright whimsical for someone remembered as a Very Serious Intellectual in the high Victorian age!

Recent Librivox releases:

  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1858-1924)

    The book follows the journey of five children who discover a mysterious creature (called by them as It) who grants them their wishes. Join in as they ask for the craziest of wishes, which are granted true for a day!

A collection of poetry about ghosts, hauntings and other spooky topics, including poems by Kipling, Longfellow, Yeats, Rosetti and many others.

A Deal with the Devil is a classic tale with a humorous twist. We find that on the night preceeding his 100th birthday Grandpapa, a cantankerous yet loveable sort, has made a deal with the devil, which his granddaughter, in part, will pay.

  • Wolfbane by Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) and C.M. Kornbluth (1923-1958)

A rogue planet, populated by strange machines known as Pyramids, has stolen the Earth from the Solar system, taking it off into interstellar space. The moon has been ‘ignited’ by alien technology to serve as a miniature sun around which both planets orbit. This new sun is rekindled every 5 years, though as the book opens, the rekindling is nearly overdue and there is fear among the populace that it may never happen again.