The finalists for the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2022 have been revealed. They include several productions and performances of genre interest.
Toby Jones, Grief is the Thing with Feathers – A family has lost its mother, and black-feathered Crow – “therapist, healer, feathered Mary Poppins – promises to stay until they no longer need him.”
Christopher Eccleston, Murmuration — a non-sff production, however, it is about a man who hears voices. (And Eccleston did used to play Doctor Who!)
Best Supporting Performance
Jenny Bede, The Hauntening (ghosts)
Joanne Whalley, Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls (horror)
Best Original Single Drama
The Goldilocks Zone by Tanika Gupta — Astrophysicist Sofia Khaled’s discovery of a potentially habitable planet opens up painful memories for her but a startling new truth for humanity.
The Brummie Iliad by Homer, adapted by Roderick Smith — The Birmingham accent is not normally associated with the classical world’s epic poetry, but its hard-edged, cynical and wistful qualities turn out to be a perfect vehicle for a story of blood-thirsty warriors, long-suffering women and meddling Gods.
Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Ayeesha Menon
Best Original Series or Serial
London Particular by Nick Perry — Investigating the disappearance of her brother, Alice uncovers powerful secrets in the forgotten corners of London. Time travelling drama
Best European Drama
Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, adapted and produced by Ilinca Stih
Best Podcast or Online Audio Drama
Tracks: Abyss by Matthew Broughton – fifth season, description hints it might have fantastic elements
From short stories and novellas to novelettes and poems – and even best covers! – let us know your Asimov’s favorites this year. Winners join the pantheon of Asimov authors who represent the Who’s Who of science fiction writers over the past thirty years.
For brief synopses of Asimov’s 2021 fiction and cover art, see Sheila Williams’ editorial “Looking Backward.”
Twenty-five years ago this year, Superman died at the hands of Doomsday. And the issue in which he died, Superman #75, became iconic. Now, Superman is dying again. And in another 75th issue. But this time, so are Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League. DC Comics has announced that issue #75 of the current Justice Leaguebook will be its last. And it will feature almost the entire team dying on a mission. Writer Joshua Williamson (Batman) and artist Rafa Sandoval (The Flash) have the somber duty of laying the world’s greatest heroes to rest.
According to the official description from DC Comics, a new Dark Army, featuring the DCU’s greatest villains, has formed on the edges of the Multiverse. And they pull together the best and most powerful heroes in an epic war to push the darkness back. In the end, the Dark Army kills the Justice League. And with only one survivor left to warn the remaining heroes of Earth about what is coming for them.
(2) VOICE. Morgan Hazelwood kicks off a series of posts about what she learned about writing at the Worldcon. “Finding The Authorial Voice: A DisCon III Panel”. When you’re looking to get published, people sure talk a lot about your ‘voice’. But what exactly is it? And how can you change yours?” (Also a YouTube video.)
What is Authorial Voice?
It’s a hard thing to define, but the panelists did their best.
A thread that is in all your work, so people can identify you as the author, no matter the subject. It’s what makes you sound like you. (Jo Walton/Cass Morris)
What unites all your work (JT Greathouse)
What sells you to the reader – often why you read an author. New voices on old stories can carry the story (Walter Jon Williams)
A forcefulness of writer personality (Usman T. Malik)
(3) OCTOTHORPE. In episode 49 of the Octothorpe podcast, “Not Sufficiently Sassy”, John Coxon is demanding, Alison Scott joined a Discord, and Liz Batty knows a lot about the WSFS Constitution.
We criticize Amazon for the way they treated Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, listen to Hugo, Girl, and chat about the latest Worldcon gossip.
The producers of Tom Cruise’s future space movie on Thursday announced plans to attach a studio to the International Space Station in development by Houston-based company Axiom.
U.K.-based studio Space Entertainment Enterprise, co-founded by producers Elena and Dmitry Lesnevsky, contracted Axiom to build the module. Called SEE-1, the module would be “the world’s ?rst content and entertainment studios and multipurpose arena in space.”
SEE-1 is scheduled to launch in December 2024. It will attach to Axiom’s first module that the company plans to connect to its space station in September 2024….
… The SEE-1 module is an inflatable module, according to Axiom, which will have a diameter of nearly 20 feet. Using inflatable modules is an increasingly popular approach of private companies developing space stations to build large living areas, due to the advantage of launching in a smaller form factor and then expanding to a greater volume once in space.
… I start out my list with an older title, but a personal favorite, A Potion To Die For by Heather Blake. In this novel, Carly Bell Hartwell is the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magical potion shop specializing in love potions in Hitching Post, Alabama. Carly’s potions are popular in the town. Maybe a little too popular as a soothsayer recently predicted that one of the married couple in Hitching Post was headed for divorce. Now, it seems that every married couple in town wants a love potion from Carly to save their marriage. To make matters worse, Carly finds a dead man in her shop clutching one of her potion bottles in his hands. Now, she is a suspect for a murder that could send her to prison and ruin her business for good….
(6) G.M. FORD OBIT. Mystery novelist and raconteur G.M. Ford died on December 1, 2021, says Shelf Awareness. His agent, Lisa Erbach Vance of the Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency made the announcement. Ford was 76.
Ford’s first novel, Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca?, introduced the irreverent Seattle private eye Leo Waterman and was a finalist for the Anthony, Shamus and Lefty Awards. The Waterman series extended through 11 more books, the most recent of which, Heavy on the Dead, was published in 2019. His work also included the six-book Frank Corso mystery series and several stand-alone novels. His wife, author and photographer Skye Moody, said that “he will live on in his many books and in our broken hearts.”
…Another, known as Les Espaces d’Abraxas, reinvented and repurposed classical elements in unsettling, otherworldly combinations; it features vast columns made not of stone but of reflective glass. That project was often described as a kind of “Versailles for the people.” But its jarring juxtapositions made it seem dystopian — and it served as the perfect backdrop for Terry Gilliam’s 1985 movie, “Brazil,” and the last of the “Hunger Games” movies.
… He founded his firm, Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura, in Barcelona in 1963. In 1975, the firm — and Mr. Bofill — moved to La Fábrica, a 32,000-square-foot former cement factory outside Barcelona, which he spent decades turning into a habitable ruin.
Five years earlier he had proposed a housing project for Madrid called the City in the Space, an endlessly expandable structure with turrets and crenelations and, in some renderings, a crazy quilt of colorful patterns….
… In an unexpected twist, Mr. Bofill’s older buildings found new fans in the 21st century. “Westworld,” the HBO sci-fi series, was shot in part at La Fábrica, and “Squid Game,” the Korean TV juggernaut, featured sets that closely resembled La Muralla Roja.
Those Bofill buildings and others became familiar Instagram backdrops — or in the words of Manuel Clavel Rojo, a Spanish architect and educator, “His buildings became pop icons at the very end of his career.”
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1959 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-three years ago this evening, a new genre anthology series called Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond first aired on ABC where it would run for three years. (If you saw it in syndication, it was called just One Step Beyond.) It was created by Merwin Gerard who previously had done nothing at all of a genre nature. He was associate producer here with it actually being produced by Collier Young.
Unlike other anthology programs of the time, this series was presented in the form of docudramas. Mind you, the stories depicted hewed close to known urban legends or were remakes of let’s call them horror films on the light side. Ninety-six half-hour episodes would be filmed during its. When it was cancelled, it was replaced by The Next Step Beyond which ran for one season of twenty-five episodes, fourteen of which were remakes of the first series.
John Newland, the original series host, and Gerard were involved in an attempt in the late Seventies to revive it. It failed miserably lasting but twenty-five episodes. As Newland stated later, “The remakes were a bad idea, we thought we could fool the audience, and we soon learned we couldn’t.”
They are legally available on YouTube now so you can see the first episode, “The Bride Possessed” here if you desire.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 20, 1884 — A. Merritt. His first fantasy story was published in 1917, “Through the Dragon Glass” in the November 14 issue of All-Story Weekly. His SFF career would eventually consist of eight novels and fifteen (I think) short stories. I’m sure that I’ve read The Moon Pool, his novel, and much of that short fiction, but can’t recall the other novels as being read by me. In the realm of the usual suspects, Apple Books is clearly the better place to find his work as they’ve got everything he published whereas Kindle and Kobo are spotty. (Died 1943.)
Born January 20, 1920 — DeForest Kelley. Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Trek and a number of films that followed plus the animated series. Other genre appearances include voicing Viking 1 in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars (his last acting work) and a 1955 episode of Science Fiction Theatre entitled “Y..O..R..D..” being his only ones as he didn’t do SF as he really preferred Westerns. Lots of them. (Died 1999.)
Born January 20, 1934 — Tom Baker, 88. The Fourth Doctor and still my favorite Doctor. My favorite story? The “Talons of Weng Chiang” with of course the delicious added delight of his companion Leela played by Lousie Jameson. Even the worst of the stories were redeemed by him and his jelly babies. And yes, he turns up briefly in the present era of Who rather delightfully. Before being the Doctor he had a turn as Sherlock Holmes In “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, and though not genre, he played Rasputin early in his career in “Nicholas and Alexandra”! Being a working actor, he shows up in a number of low budget films early on such as The Vault of Horror, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,The Mutations, The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood. And weirdly enough, he’s Halvarth the Elf in a Czech-made Dungeons & Dragons film which has a score of ten percent among audience reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes.
Born January 20, 1958 — Kij Johnson, 64. Writer, and associate director of The Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas English Department, which is I must say a cool genre thing to be doing indeed. If you not read her Japanese mythology based The Fox Woman, do so now as it’s superb. The sequel, Fudoki, is just as interesting. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe is a novella taking a classic Lovecraftian tale and giving a nice twist. Finally, I’ll recommend her short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees: Stories. She’s well-stocked at the usual digital suspects. Oh, and she has a very cool website — https://kijjohnson.com/.
Born January 20, 1981 — Izabella Miko, 41. She was in The Clash of Titans as Athena. Why Goddess tell would anyone remake such a perfect film? She also had a recurring role on the very short-lived The Cape series as Raia, and she had a recurring role as Carrie on Deadwood.
Born January 20, 1983 — Svetlana Viktorovna Khodchenkova, 39. I think her only SFF role was in the most excellent Hugh Jackman-led The Wolverine in which she had the dual role of Dr. Green who becomes The Viper. Marvel fans will recognize that this is a new version of the character. But most of her career involves Russian-titled productions so I’m not sure whether any of them are SFF…
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump shows the effects of being bitten by a radioactive insect are unpredictable.
WhereasBaldoshows one reason why the future is unpredictable.
Randall Munroe thinks the process was more complex than we assume.
(11) THINKING AHEAD. Isaac Arthur’s latest video is about the SF trope of telepathy and what if science had a fix?
Telepathy and other psychic abilities have often been investigated by science, but could the future offer humanity such talents, and is science they key to unlocking or creating them?
…After an on-set accident involving a prop gun led to the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” last month, the use of guns on film sets has been a hotly debated topic in Hollywood. Several A-list actors and directors have pledged to stop working on films that use real guns. Guillermo del Toro would join them, but he has not fired a gun on one of his sets in over a decade.
Appearing alongside Jane Campion, Pedro Almodóvar, Kenneth Branagh, Asghar Farhadi, and Reinaldo Marcus Green as part of The Hollywood Reporter’s Director’s Roundtable, del Toro took a strong stance against the use of real guns in filmmaking. The Oscar-winning director said that he has not fired a real gun on set “since 2007 or 2008.” According to del Toro, the decision began as a practical necessity, but later became his preferred approach…
One of the hallmarks of Star Trek’s visual aesthetic is the classic jump to warp speed. Audiences were treated to the first version of the warp jump in 1979 with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In this video, we will be doing a survey of how the warp jump effect changed over the years. Note: The Kelvin timeline and other alternate continuities are not included in this overview.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has found some interesting organic compounds on the Red Planet that could be signs of ancient Mars life, but it will take a lot more work to test that hypothesis.
Some of the powdered rock samples that Curiosity has collected over the years contain organics rich in a type of carbon that here on Earth is associated with life, researchers report in a new study.
But Mars is very different from our world, and many Martian processes remain mysterious. So it’s too early to know what generated the intriguing chemicals, study team members stressed….
(15) THE FOURS BEWITCHOO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] If you get bored with regular Lego Star Wars, you can play in “mumble mode!”
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Jen Hawthorne, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jayn.]
The Critters Workshop, “for serious writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror,” has announced the outcome of their 24th annual Critters Writers Workshop Readers Poll honoring print and electronic publications published during 2021.
There are 41 categories – see the final tally for all of them at the link. Below are the sff works that finished on top.
Freak on a Moped, Chuck W. Chapman, Black Bed Sheet Books
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY NOVELS
In the Name of the Otherworld, Hermione Lee, World Castle Publishing
The Brass Queen, Elizabeth Chatsworth, CamCat Publishing,
POSITIVE FUTURE NOVELS
Angel Brave, Vijaya Schartz, BWL Publishing
HORROR SHORT STORIES
“For The Gods”, Robert P. Ottone, Dark INK/AM Ink
(Tied for 6th – “The Best Damned Barbershop in Hell”, Bruce Arthurs, Third Flatiron)
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY SHORT STORIES
“Pioneer House”, Jon Black, 18thWall Productions
STEAMPUNK SHORT STORIES
“The Widow’s Might”, Elizabeth Chatsworth, Galaxy Press
MAGICAL REALISM SHORT STORIES
“Sixers”, Barbara Lund, Galaxy Press
POSITIVE FUTURE SHORT STORIES
“Shaken, Not Stirred”, Wulf Moon, DreamForge Magazine
Writers of the Future Vol. 37, Galaxy Press
“Character Agency—I Need a Hero!”, Wulf Moon, DreamForge Magazine
DreamForge Anvil Issues 2021, Jane Noel
BOOK/E-BOOK COVER ARTWORK
Writers of the Future Volume 37, Echo Chernik
MAGAZINE/E-ZINE COVER ARTWORK
The Guide (Star*Line Magazine Issue 44.3), Austin Arthur Hart, [link]
(1) LOTR SERIES TITLE ANNOUNCEMENT. Amazon Studios will be calling it — The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. The series begins airing on Amazon Prime on September 2, 2022.
Amazon Studios’ forthcoming series brings to screens for the very first time the heroic legends of the fabled Second Age of Middle-earth’s history. This epic drama is set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and will take viewers back to an era in which great powers were forged, kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness. Beginning in a time of relative peace, the series follows an ensemble cast of characters, both familiar and new, as they confront the long-feared re-emergence of evil to Middle-earth. From the darkest depths of the Misty Mountains, to the majestic forests of the elf-capital of Lindon, to the breathtaking island kingdom of Númenor, to the furthest reaches of the map, these kingdoms and characters will carve out legacies that live on long after they are gone.
(2) IN TRANSLATION. The Lord of the Rings on Prime also tweeted a video displaying versions of the series title in different languages – including two of Tolkien’s.
Amazon has published today not only the trailer for the series “Rings of Power” (see below) but also a teaser with the title in different languages. There is a Polish version (I will show it in a moment). There is also a Sindarin version! This is the correct Sindarin (you can see that the creators of the series have tried to get good Tolkien linguists).
(3) SPACE UNICORNS SOUND OFF. You have until February 7 to make your voice heard:
The poll will be open from January 10 to February 7, after which we’ll announce the results. We’re excited for you to share which Uncanny stories made you feel!
A snazzy certificate will be given to the creator whose work comes out on top of the poll!
(4) ALGORITHM RUN AMOK. The Fantasy Book Critic blog was buried under a massive amount of wrong DMCA takedown notices generated by the Link-Busters anti-piracy service, and for the time being has been removed by its host, Blogger, for the breach of TOS (Terms of Service). Link-Busters reportedly has acknowledged their mistake and agreed to notify Blogger. This reputable blog is one of the judges of both the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off and the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition.
The fans are trying to accelerate getting their blog restored through social media. Thread starts here.
…Lots of these broadcasts still exist today, and they often make for compelling listening. I would go so far as to say that some vintage radio adaptations of Poe’s stories surpass, both in fidelity to the source material and overall dramatic effectiveness, any film or TV version ever done of them….
His list begins with this 1957 episode of Suspense — “The Pit and Pendulum”.
(6) FOUNDING OF THE SCA. Fanac.org has extracted the story of how the Society for Creative Anachronism was started from an audio interview with the late Ed Meskys.
Ed Meskys tells us the story of the beginnings of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in this short audio recording (enhanced with photographs). Ed played a pivotal role in introducing fencers Dave Thewlis and Ken de Maiffe to Diana Paxson, and has an insider’s perspective on how the “Great Idea” was born. Ed recounts how the First Tournament came to be, and points us to a contemporary report about it in his fanzine, Niekas. You can read the report on page 7 of #16 at Niekas This short recording is excerpted from a longer 2018 interview by Mark Olson.
(7) THE MATRIX HAS A FUTURE AGAIN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Financial Times behind a paywall, Tom Faber reviews games connected to The Matrix.
The most interesting of the Wachowskis’ experiments in gaming was The Matrix Online (MX)O), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game released at the same time World Of Warcraft was becoming a cultural phenomenon. Following the end of the trilogy, they wanted fans to ‘inherit the storyline’ and collaboratively write a narrative which would be canon in the Matrix universe. Over four years the game’s story developed in instalments, notably featuring the death of Morpheus. This collaborative cross-media space that the Wachowskis created feels imaginative even today, as we buckle under the weight of the extended cinematic universe of Marvel and Star Wars.
Just ahead of the recent film, a new playable Matrix was released. The Matrix Awakens is not a full game but rather a tech demo intended to show off Unreal Engine 5, the latest iteration of Epic’s software engine which powers many contemporary games. It features (Keanu) Reeves reprising his role in scenes written by Lana Wachowski, including action and narrative sequences, before players are let loose in a stunningly realistic open world. While you can do little more than play tourist in this space, it is a remarkable demonstration of the game worlds we can expect as developers get to grips with the new generation of consoles. After a long period of silence, a return to the Matrix in gaming once again points us towards the future.
… That said, Lincoln Michel is right that there seem to be more books featuring multiple intertwining timelines right now, that they share certain characteristics such as addressing social issues (though you could argue that The Star Rover address the issue of prisoner abuse) and that they mainly come from the literary side of the pond rather than from the genre side, whereas the predecessors were mostly genre writers. In addition to Cloud Atlas, the examples Michel gives are Appleseed by Matt Bell, To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara, Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr, Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel and How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.
However, I’m not just linking to this article because I’m interested in literary trends, subgenre formation and genre taxonomy (though I am), but also because Lincoln Michel demonstrates how to identify and define a new trend/potential subgenre without being a jerk about it….
A core-world alien, Snaggles, studies the social evolution of various carbon-based intra-skeletal species. Humanity’s past falls within its remit. Humanity’s present, however, is an inconvenience. Billions of humans interfere with field work. Therefore, Snaggles makes a deal with Doran. Doran can provide his fellow humans with immortality and vast power if they take his one-way tickets to habitable exo-planets. Most humans find the offer attractive. By the modern era, Earth has ten million humans left on it….
(Walter Jon Williams hastened to let his Facebook followers know it’s by no means a rare subject in his catalog — he’s written three on that theme.)
(10) YVETTE MIMIEUX (1942-2022). Actress Yvette Mimeux, whose place in genre history was cemented in 1960 with her appearance as Weena opposite Rod Taylor’s H. George Wells in The Time Machine, died January 17 at the age of 80. She also co-starred as an ESP-sensitive scientist in The Black Hole (1979), Disney’s highest budgeted movie up to that time.
Her other genre appearances included: One Step Beyond (1960 TV show, 1 ep.), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The Picasso Summer (1969) – based on a Ray Bradbury short story, Death Takes a Holiday (1971 TV movie), Black Noon (1971 TV movie), The Neptune Factor (1973), Bell, Book and Candle (1976 TV movie), Snowbeast (1977 TV movie), and Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978 TV movie).
(11) GASPARD ULLIEL OBIT. French actor Gaspard Ulliel, cast as Midnight Man in the upcoming Marvel series Moon Knight, has died following a skiing accident. He was injured Tuesday in a collision with another skier. After being airlifted to Grenoble, he died of a traumatic brain injury NBC News reported. Among Ulliel’s many upcoming projects was La bête, a science fiction movie reteaming him with his Saint-Laurent director, Bertrand Bonello.
(12) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
2006 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Just sixteen years ago, Pan’s Labyrinth premiered. In Spanish, it was called El laberinto del fauno which meansThe Labyrinth of the Faun. It was written, directed and co-produced by Mexican-born and raised Guillermo Del Toro. Other producers were Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuarón, Frida Torresblanco and Álvaro Augustin.
It was narrated by Pablo Adán with a primary Spanish language cast (Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil and Álex Angulo) with the exception of Doug Jones as the Faun and the Pale Man who of course has a very long relationship with Del Toro going back to Mimic which was based on theDonald Wollheim’s story of the same name. The “Mimic” story was nominated for a Retro Hugo at Worldcon 76.
Reception for it was excellent. It won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, at Nippon 2007 which had dual Toastmasters in the guise of George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori. Children of Men, The Prestige, V for Vendetta and A Scanner Darkly were also nominated for this Award.
Critics really liked it. Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun Times said of it that “Nothing I am likely to see, however, is likely to change my conviction that the year’s best film was Pan’s Labyrinth.” And Mark Kermode writing in The Observer exclaimed that it is “an epic, poetic vision in which the grim realities of war are matched and mirrored by a descent into an underworld populated by fearsomely beautiful monsters.”
Box office was quite superb as it cost just under twenty million to produce and made over eighty million. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a near perfect ninety one percent rating.
Usually I don’t note the figures made for a film but the Faun got some great ones including the NECA eight inch version which you see here in all its nightmarish glory. The Pale Man got his own figure as well.
(13) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 19, 1916 — Bernard Baily. A comics writer, editor and publisher. Best remembered as co-creator of the DC Comics the Spectre and Hourman. For DC Comics precursor National Comics, Baily co-created and drew the adventure feature “Tex Thomson” in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the landmark comic book that introduced Superman. (Died 1996.)
Born January 19, 1924 — Dean Fredericks. Actor best known for his portrayal of the comic strip character Steve Canyon in the television series of the same name which aired from 1958–1959 on NBC. His first genre role is in Them! followed by appearances in The Disembodied and the lead in The Phantom Planet which you can watch here. (Died 1999.)
Born January 19, 1930 — Tippi Hedren, 92. Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds which scared the sh!t out of me when I saw it a long time ago. She had a minor role as Helen in The Birds II: Land’s End, a televised sequel done thirty years on. No idea how bad or good it was as I’ve not seen it. Other genre appearances were in such films and shows as Satan’s Harvest, Tales from the Darkside, The Bionic Woman, the new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Batman: The Animated Series.
Born January 19, 1932 — Richard Lester, 90. Director best remembered for his Eighties Superman films. He’s got a number of other genre films including the exceedingly silly The Mouse on the Moon, Robin and Marian which may be my favorite Robin Hood film everand an entire excellent series of Musketeers films. He also directed Royal Flash based on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novel of that name.
Born January 19, 1956 — Geena Davis, 66. Her first genre role was as Veronica “Ronnie” Quaife in The Fly reboot, followed by her widely remembered roles as Barbara Maitland in Beetlejuice and Valerie Gail in Earth Girls Are Easy. She also played Morgan Adams in the box office bomb Cutthroat Island before getting the choice plum of Mrs. Eleanor Little in the Stuart Little franchise. She has a lead role in Marjorie Prime, a film tackling memory loss in Alzheimer’s victims some fifty years by creating holographic projections of deceased family members that sounds really creepy. Who’s seen it? Her major series role to date is as Regan MacNeil on The Exorcist, a ten-episode FOX sequel to the film.
Born January 19, 1958 — Allen Steele, 64. Best, I think, at the shorter length works as reflected in his three Hugo wins: the first at LA Con III for his “The Death of Captain Future”, the second for his “… Where Angels Fear to Tread” at BucConeer and his third for “The Emperor of Mars” at Renovation. Not to say that you should overlook his novels and future history series beginning with The Jericho Iteration, which is well-worth your time.
Born January 19, 1962 — Paul McCrane, 60. Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop whose death there is surely an homage to the Toxic Avenger. A year later, he’d be Deputy Bill Briggs in the remake of The Blob, and he played Leonard Morris Betts in the “Leonard Betts” episode of the X-Files.
(15) GENRE MUSIC TOPS THE CHARTS. In the Washington Post, Bethonie Butler says that the songs from Encanto have become very popular, with four songs on the Billboard Hot 100 and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” reaching #5. They’ve also gotten many fans on TikTok. “How ‘Encanto’ and its soundtrack became a viral phenomenon”.
… If you didn’t know the “Hamilton” creator was responsible for “Encanto’s” original songs, you would almost certainly know by the time you heard “Surface Pressure.” In the bouncy track, the brawny Luisa (Jessica Darrow) belts out her anxiety and resolve around the (literal) heavy lifting she takes on to help her family. It contains one of the most [Lin Manuel] Miranda–esque lines ever: “Under the surface, I feel berserk as a tightrope walker in a three-ring circus,” Luisa sings before asking, “Was Hercules ever like ‘Yo, I don’t wanna fight Cerberus?”
A Washington-state based aerospace company has exited stealth mode by announcing plans to develop one of the holy grails of spaceflight—a single-stage-to-orbit space plane. Radian Aerospace said it is deep into the design of an airplane-like vehicle that could take off from a runway, ignite its rocket engines, spend time in orbit, and then return to Earth and land on a runway.
“We all understand how difficult this is,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, chief technology officer, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing.
Scientists examined the conductivity of bridgmanite, previously named as the most abundant material in the Earth, that is found in great quantities between the core and mantle of the Earth’s interior—a place known as the Core-Mantle-Boundary (CMB.)
By experimenting on bridgmanite using extreme temperatures and pressures found at the CMB, scientists found that bridgmanite is about 1.5 times more conductive of heat than previously thought.
Consequently, the heat transfer of the high temperatures found at the center of the Earth to its outer areas, like the molten rock of the mantle and beyond, is happening faster than was previously thought….
(18) SMELLETH LIKE THE SHOW THOU LOVE. Last month, Old Spice did a commercial that ties into The Witcher. And Netflix ran a related quiz that’s still online: “Old Spice + The Witcher” – I’m counting on you to better my rate of 50% correct.
(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Trailers: Hawkeye,” the Screen Junkies say that “in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, even the lamest ideas must exist” and that the series features Hawkeye’s assistant, who is obsessed with branding, and a deaf character who doesn’t have to hear the characters surrounding her overuse the word “bro.”
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Chris Barkley, Dann, Cora Buhlert, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stuart Hall.]
Mystery Writers of America today announced the nominees for the 2022 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2021. The 76th Annual Edgar® Awards will be celebrated on April 28, 2022.
The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen (Amazon Publishing – Lake Union)
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby (Macmillan Publishers – Flatiron Books)
Five Decembers by James Kestrel (Hard Case Crime)
How Lucky by Will Leitch (HarperCollins – Harper)
No One Will Miss Her by Kat Rosenfield (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Deer Season by Erin Flanagan (University of Nebraska Press)
Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian (Harlequin Trade Publishing – Park Row)
Suburban Dicks by Fabian Nicieza (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
What Comes After by JoAnne Tompkins (Penguin Random House – Riverhead Books)
The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer (Penguin Random House – Viking Books/Pamela Dorman Books)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
Kill All Your Darlings by David Bell (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory (Tom Doherty Associates – Tordotcom)
Starr Sign by C.S. O’Cinneide (Dundurn Press)
Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks (Europa Editions – World Noir)
The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell (Penguin Random House – Penguin Books)
BEST FACT CRIME
The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History by Margalit Fox (Random House Publishing Group – Random House)
Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green (Celadon Books)
Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away by Ann Hagedorn (Simon & Schuster)
Two Truths and a Lie: A Murder, a Private Investigator, and Her Search for Justice by Ellen McGarrahan (Penguin Random House – Random House)
The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade by Benjamin T. Smith (W.W. Norton & Company)
When Evil Lived in Laurel: The “White Knights” and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer by Curtis Wilkie (W.W. Norton & Company
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper360)
The Unquiet Englishman: A Life of Graham Greene by Richard Greene (W.W. Norton & Company)
Tony Hillerman: A Life by James McGrath Morris (University of Oklahoma Press)
The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock: An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense by Edward White (W.W. Norton & Company)
BEST SHORT STORY
“Blindsided,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Michael Bracken & James A. Hearn (Dell Magazines)
“The Vermeer Conspiracy,” Midnight Hour by V.M. Burns (Crooked Lane Books)
“Lucky Thirteen,” Midnight Hour by Tracy Clark (Crooked Lane Books)
“The Road to Hana,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by R.T. Lawton (Dell Magazines)
“The Locked Room Library,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Gigi Pandian (Dell Magazines)
“The Dark Oblivion,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Cornell Woolrich (Dell Magazines)
Cold-Blooded Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Workman Publishing – Algonquin Young Readers)
Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Dead Man in the Garden by Marthe Jocelyn (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books)
Kidnap on the California Comet: Adventures on Trains #2 by M.G. Leonard & Sam Sedgman (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Feiwel & Friends)
Rescue by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic – Scholastic Press)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Feiwel & Friends)
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Macmillan Children’s Publishing – Henry Holt and Company BFYR)
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris (HarperCollins – Quill Tree Books)
The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (Penguin Young Readers – G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR)
BEST TELEVISION EPISODE TELEPLAY
“Dog Day Morning” – The Brokenwood Mysteries, Written by Tim Balme (Acorn TV)
“Episode 1” – The Beast Must Die, Written by Gaby Chiappe (AMC+)
“The Men Are Wretched Things” – The North Water Written by Andrew Haigh (AMC+)
“Happy Families” – Midsomer Murders, Written by Nicholas Hicks-Beach (Acorn TV)
“Boots on the Ground” – Narcos: Mexico, Written by Iturri Sosa (Netflix)
ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD
“Analogue,” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by Rob Osler (Dell Magazines)
* * * * * *
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet by Katherine Cowley (Tule Publishing – Tule Mystery)
Ruby Red Herring by Tracy Gardner (Crooked Lane Books)
Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
The Sign of Death by Callie Hutton (Crooked Lane Books)
Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney (St. Martin’s Paperbacks)
* * * * * *
THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD
Double Take by Elizabeth Breck (Crooked Lane Books)
Runner by Tracy Clark (Kensington Books)
Shadow Hill by Thomas Kies (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
Sleep Well, My Lady by Kwei Quartey (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
Family Business by S.J. Rozan (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)
* * * * * *
The following Special Awards were previously announced:
Laurie R. King
Lesa Holstine – Lesa’s Book Critiques; Library Journal Reviewer
This April, all-star artists mark Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary with a series of variant covers showing Marvel heroes and villains suited up Spidey-style.
Artists such as Dan Jurgens, Kaare Andrews, Rahzzah, Kyle Hotz, Declan Shalvey, Pete Woods, Rod Reis, David Baldeón, Bengal, Romina Jones, will array the following characters and many more in Spider-Man-inspired gear:
The Visual Effects Society released the nominations for the 2022 VES Awards on January 18. Warner Bros’ Dune and Disney’s animated Encanto lead the field with six apiece, followed by the Disney+ Marvel series Loki with four nominations, the most of any broadcast series.
The VES Awards recognize VFX artistry in 25 categories spanning film, TV, animation, commercials and video games. The nominees were selected by the 4,000 VES members worldwide.
Due to the pandemic the VES Awards ceremony date and format are still to be determined.
The complete list of nominees follows the jump — many are of genre interest.
Hello, friends and subscribers! I’m starting a newsletter, because Twitter is like drinking from a firehose, Patreon costs you money, and I rarely have the braincells to blog these days. (Plus, when all your presence is on someone else’s platform, they can delete you at any time and leave you floundering in the social void.)
I promise that if you subscribe, I will not bother you too much. Also, I have no intention of charging for this thing, although apparently “newsletter” now means “thing you charge money for” and I don’t know what to call a thing that used to be a newsletter but now isn’t? (Free newsletter? I dunno. May need to workshop that.)
Anyway, let’s give this a try and see what happens!
The theme of Issue #1 is “So I’ve Started GMing…”
…Our game hook is that all the players are interns from the Church of the Good Boy, an all-dog temple established in our previous campaign. So they are all dogs, except for the rogue, who has paperwork stating that he is a dog, despite suspiciously cat-like ears…
(2) PUBLISH LIKE A PIRATE DAY. This might be the topic of Red Wombat’s next newsletter:
(3) CSI SKILL TREE. The CSI Skill Tree series examines how video games “envision possible futures, build rich and thought-provoking worlds, and engage people as active participants in unfolding and interpreting stories.”
The next event in the CSI Skill Tree series will be on Wednesday, February 23, from 1:00-2:15 p.m. Eastern and feature Cloud Gardens, a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. The guest speakers are SFF author and translator Ken Liu and game designer Liz Fiacco, who has worked on titles including The Last of Us 2 and Pillars of Eternity. The event is virtual, free, and open to everyone. Here is the registration page.
The event is cohosted with Orion Magazine, a quarterly publication working at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, and attendees will receive a code for 20% off a subscription to Orion.
Join the Center for Science and the Imagination and Orion Magazine, an ad-free, quarterly print publication at the convergence of ecology, art, and social justice, for our latest event, featuring “Cloud Gardens,” a 2020 gardening game about using plants to overgrow and transform abandoned post-industrial landscapes. At once soothing and cryptic, “Cloud Gardens” uses pastel colors and calming music to raise questions about the boundaries we construct between organic and built environments, the human and the nonhuman, the sublime and the dystopian.
For “Discovery,” that means it will return for a fifth season. The show is due to resume its fourth season on Feb. 10. “Lower Decks” will now be back for a fourth season, with Season 3 of the animated comedy set to debut this summer.
“Strange New Worlds” has yet to debut its first season, which will drop on Paramount Plus on May 5.
(5) MINUTES OF THE WORLD SQUEECORE CONGRESS. Sure, you could run your own Twitter search for the latest “squeecore” tweets – but these are curated tweets. You know, like a cooking show where the chef does marvels by adding pancetta or Calabrian chiles. (People are now looking around, asking, “So why don’t I see anything Mike added?”)
LAURA DIAZ DE ARCE
DR. AMANDA DILLON
PAUL M. CRAY
(6) FOWL BAWL. Was it a slow news week? Having nothing more pressing to do, TIME Magazine ripped Donald Duck as one of the “Top 10 Worst Awards-Show Hosts” for his work on the 1958 Oscars.
We love classic cartoons as much as the next kid disguised as a grownup, but given the star power of the glittering 1950s, Donald Duck probably didn’t need to co-host the 30th Academy Awards. Bob Hope, Jack Lemmon, David Niven, Rosalind Russell and James Stewart also ran the 1958 show. Donald appeared on film rather than, as is preferable for most hosts, in person. Still, he wasn’t completely out of his element: 15 years earlier, his short Der Fuehrer’s Face won an Oscar.
(7) CHUCK SHIMADA OBIT. LASFS member Charles Shimada passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 26, 2021, Calvin Ogawa reported on Facebook. LA-area fans remember Chuck for doing a lot of the Audio/Video technical setup for many conventions over the years – including the 1996 Worldcon I chaired.
Much earlier, at the 1975 EquiCon, Chuck let me run the projector as we showed Star Trek episodes. These were Gene Roddenberry’s personal 16mm prints. And while I was rewinding one of them, I noticed to my horror that I had not closed the reel lock — the reel was starting to do a high-frequency wobble. What would happen when it reached the end? OMG! Was it going to fly off and unspool irreplaceable film all over the fans sitting in front of the projection stand? What would happen to my hand if I grabbed the reel to stop it spinning? I found out. Nothing, fortunately; film saved; I lived to volunteer another day.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1973 — [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-nine years ago, The Six Million Dollar Man premiered this evening on ABC. It was based on Martin Caidin’s Cyborg. Executive Producer was Harve Bennett, who you will recognize from the Star Trek films. It was produced by Kenneth Johnson who would later do The Bionic Woman spin-off and the Alien Nation film.
Its primary cast was Lee Majors, Richard Anderson and Martin E. Brooks. Majors had a successful second series shortly after this series was cancelled, The Fall Guy, about heart-of-gold bounty hunters. The Six Million Dollar Man would run for five seasons consisting of ninety-nine episodes and five films. The Fall Guy would run five seasons as well.
Reception by media critics is generally positive. Phelim O’Neil of The Guardian says, “He was Superman, James Bond and Neil Armstrong all rolled into one, and $6M was an almost incomprehensibly large amount of money: how could anyone not watch this show?” And Rob Hunter of Film School Reviews states “The story lines run the gamut from semi-believable to outright ludicrous, but even at its most silly the show is an entertaining family friendly mix of drama, humor, action, and science fiction.”
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born January 18, 1882 — A.A. Milne. Talking fat bears obsessed with honey. Bouncing tigers, err, tiggers. Morose, well, what is he? It’s certainly genre. And though it isn’t remotely genre, I wholeheartedly recommend Milne’s The Red House Mystery, a Country House Mystery that’s most excellent! (Died 1956.)
Born January 18, 1932 — Robert Anton Wilson. I think I first encountered him in something Richard E. Geis wrote about him in Science Fiction Review in the Eighties. Schrödinger’s Cat Trilogy is just weird and might or might not be a sequel to Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy co-authored with Robert Shea. But the absolutely weirdest thing he did might be an interview titled Robert Anton Wilson On Finnegans Wake and Joseph Campbell. (Died 2007.)
Born January 18, 1933 — John Boorman, 89. Director who’s responsible for one of the best SFF films ever done, Excalibur, and one of the worst, Zardoz. (He wrote the novel for that one as well.) (I know some Filers like Zardoz. Oh well.) He also directed the rather nifty Emerald Forest which Holdstock did a far better than merely good job of novelizing.
Born January 18, 1937 — Dick Durock. He was best known for playing Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing and the following television series which ran for three seasons. His only other genre appearances were in The Nude Bomb (also known as The Return of Maxwell Smart) and “The First” of The Incredible Hulk. He shows up in Die Hard with a Vengeance in a subway scene. No, it’s not genre, I just like that film. (Died 2009.)
Born January 18, 1953 — Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennet, 69. Her best novel is I think Tam Lin though one could make an argument for Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary which Windling calls her favorite fantasy novel. Her Secret Country trilogy is also a great deal of fun to read. Much of her short stories are set in the Liavek shared universe created by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly. All of the Liavek anthologies are now available on all major digital platforms. According to the files sitting in my Dropbox folder, there’s eight volumes to the series. They’re wonderful reading. End of plug.
Born January 18, 1955 — Kevin Costner, 67. Some of his genre films are Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Waterworld, The Postman and the recent Dragonfly, but I really like his Field of Dreams — his acting in it as Ray Kinsella is quite excellent. Not quite as superb as he was as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham but damned good. Bull Durham is one of my go-to films when I want to feel good. He also was Jonathan Kent in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Born January 18, 1964 — Jane Horrocks, 58. Her first SFF genre role was Pattern in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, scripted off the Joan Aiken novel. A year later, she showed up in the most excellent The Witches, scripted off the Raoul Dahl novel playing Miss Susan Irvine. She voices Black Widow / Mrs. Plum in Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride, and voiced Hannah in the late Ninties Watership Down.
(10) IRISH COMIC NEWS AWARDS SHORTLISTS. Congratulations to James Bacon who has been nominated for the Irish Comic News’ ICN Awards 2021 in the Best Irish Writer (Non-Fiction) category for his work on File 770. (James also edits and writes for Journey Planet.) The complete list of nominees is here.
As I mentioned in a year-end roundup, James uses his descriptive abilities and camera to allow Filers to accompany him to exhibits and events in vivid and enjoyable reports.
His round table interview with N.K. Jemisin about her work on Green Lantern was great fun to read. And he constantly reviews comics from off the beaten track which deserve our attention. His work last year on File 770 was considerable —
I wish him and all other nominees the best of luck.
(11) EFFICIENCY EXPERT. I can see that Michael Carroll’s sense of humor is part of his appeal – here’s how he introduces his list of Rusty Staples’ “Most Popular Posts of 2021!”
…As I promised in last year’s look back at the previous year, I ditched my plan to post at least one entry every week: doing so freed up a lot of time that I was able to divide between idly daydreaming about winning imaginary arguments with jerks, and needlessly wallowing in unwarranted self-pity. So, time well-spent, I think….
(12) MOON KNIGHT. Disney+ dropped a trailer for their new streaming series with Oscar Isaac yesterday. The series will premiere on March 30.
Microsoft on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard in a blockbuster deal worth nearly $70 billion. It’s one of the biggest acquisitions in the tech industry in recent years, one that will boost Microsoft’s standing in the growing gaming industry but could be complicated by recent concerns about Activision’s toxic culture.
The all-cash transaction is valued at $68.7 billion, and Microsoft says it will make the company the third-largest gaming company by revenue, after Tencent and Sony.
Bobby Kotick, the controversial CEO of Activision Blizzard, will continue in his role, according to a press release detailing the announced acquisition. Activision employees had previously staged walkouts and called on Kotick to step down for having allegedly been aware of widespread harassment and discrimination problems at the company for years….
(14) DOCKING MANUVER. Here we are outside 104 E. Providencia Ave in Burbank in 1964. I hope somebody explained parallel parking to Mr. Sulu later!
(15) A ROBERT PICARDO APPEARANCE. Jonathan Cowie reports that at the last Novacon they screened a short film based on a story by Chris Priest – here is a trailer for it: The Stooge.
(16) A REAL INCENTIVE. JDA truly understands the audience for his comics.
(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Cath Jackel.] Here’s a BBC Reel about How to ride a pterosaur, according to science. Includes a saddle mockup inspired by How to Train Your Dragon.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Jamoche, Joey Eschrich, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Chris Barkley, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]