By John Hertz: (reprinted from No Direction Home 44, dated 24 Dec 19)
Caring what befalls,
Ardently helping, leading,
Reaching what can be,
Oh what fun it is to ride
Love and laughter currently.
It’s the International Year of the Periodic Table, so declared by the United Nations to honor the Table’s being substantially invented in its modern form 150 years ago by Dmitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907).
We had learned there were elements. Other organizations of them had been proposed. His predicted the existence and properties of new elements, which when discovered proved to be so. At the time elements were characterized by their atomic weight; some known elements did not behave according to his theory; he said their atomic weights must have been measured incorrectly; this too proved so.
He is said to have reported, “In a dream I saw a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down.” Luckily he escaped the Higamus Effect.
* * *
In the 23 Nov 39 Cleveland Plain Dealer, p. 20, the column “Good Morning from Claire MacMurray”, headed “Thanksgiving Nightmare”, recounted:
Mrs. Amos Pinchot…. dreamed one night that she had written a poem so beautiful, so wise, so close to the ultimate truth of life that she was immediately acclaimed by all the peoples on the earth as the greatest poet and philosopher of all the ages. Still half asleep as the dream ended, she stumbled out of bed and scribbled the poem down, realizing that she must take no risk of forgetting such deathless lines. She awoke in the morning with the feeling that something wonderful was about to happen – oh, yes! Her poem.
She clutched the precious paper and, tense with excitement, read the words she had written. Here they are.
Men are Polygamous
* * *
I sometimes think we may have run into a new element. The most recently recognized is Element 118, oganesson, symbol Og, synthesized in 2002 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, near Moscow, by a joint team of Russian and American scientists, and formally named (28 Nov 16) for the physicist Yuri Oganessian (1933- ), who has played a leading role in discovering the heaviest elements in the Periodic Table.
This new element, if it proves to be Element 119, should be an alkali metal, which seems right. It may be essential; certainly characteristic, widespread, and highly radioactive.
We could call it mnisikakía, after the Greek; its symbol could be M (Mn is taken, manganese). I thought of calling it iracundia, after the Latin, but the symbol I is taken (iodine) and so is Ir (iridium). Or we could keep the symbol M and call it by its common name, resentment.
What did Thoreau know?
“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” H. Thoreau, Walden ch. 1 (1854)
As I’ve said, one cudgel used in this fight is a demand for civility, and I’m seeing it raised again in the debate surrounding the RWA ejecting Courtney Milan for speaking up. Courtesy becomes weaponized, a way of silencing. A way of forcing others to wait for the conversational turn that never gets ceded. Note Silverberg calling Jemisin’s speech “graceless and vulgar” and Spinrad weighing in to call Ng “swinish.” I cannot help but think that these men are less upset by what was said, than that it was not delivered with the deference that they felt Campbell, a proxy for themselves, deserved.
Hegemonic structures replicate themselves, continually pretending to reinvent and innovate but doing so in the same old forms. Traditional publishing is as prone to this as any other social structure. Indie writers get treated as though they were the nouveau riche, obsessed with money, when many of them are actually making a living at writing in a way our forebears—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Gilman—would have totally approved of. The truth is being a New York Times best-selling author doesn’t mean one is rolling around on moneypiles like Scrooge McDuck unless you’re part of a very very small group. For things to truly change, publishing must bring in new voices and not just allow them, but encourage them to speak.
(2) SHORT STORY MARKET. Heather Rose Jones’ Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast will be open for short story submissions for audio
publication during the month of January 2020.
Stories should be set in an identifiable pre-1900 time and place but may include fantastic elements that are either consistent with the setting or with the literature of that setting. And, of course, stories should center on a female character whose primary emotional orientation within the context of the story is toward other women.
Despite its popularity and far-reaching impact on the fantasy genre, Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time have never won a Hugo Award.
In 2014 the entire WoT series was nominated for (but did not win) the “Best Novel” award. The “Best Series” category did not exist at the time. WoT’s nomination caused a controversial stir, as some people didn’t feel it was appropriate to consider the entire 15-book Wheel of Time series as one single work. This helped prompt the World Science Fiction Society, which awards the Hugos, to add a new category in 2017, the “Best Series” award.
At the time, it didn’t mean much for The Wheel of Time, but it did enable several other long-running and popular series (including Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive) to be recognized with nominations and awards.
And now The Wheel of Time will have one more chance to potentially earn a Hugo Award.
Earlier this year, in 2019, Brandon Sanderson published “A Fire Within the Ways”, a short story that was included in the Unfettered III anthology from Grim Oaks Press. This written sequence contained a lng set of “deleted scenes” from A Memory of Light. With Harriet’s permission, the scenes were lightly edited and submitted for publication in the Unfettered III anthology, with proceeds going to support health care needs for writers in need. According to the WSFS bylaws, any new installment to a written series, regardless of length, makes The Wheel of Time eligible for the Best Series award. Therefore, A Fire Within the Ways makes WoT eligible for the first–and likely only–time.
(4) AUSTRALIAN FIRES CLAIM FAN’S HOME. BBC has been reporting all day on
the fate of the Australian resort town of Mallacoota as the east Victoria bush
fires overtook it. Moshe Feder reports, “I just heard from Carey Handfield that
longtime fan Don Ashby has lost his home to the fire.”
…Plus, I think that there’s a better way to look at the decade: how did science fiction and fantasy storytelling change in the last ten years? Why? After consulting with a number of authors, editors, and agents, it’s clear that the entertainment industry and SF/F have experienced major changes in the last ten years, from the introduction of streaming services, to Disney’s franchise domination, gender and politics within SF/F, self-publishing, and a growing acceptance of SF/F content within mainstream culture. This list is broken down into those categories, with a representative example or two from each section.
Future Tense started experimenting with publishing science fiction in 2016 and 2017, but we really invested in it in 2018, publishing one story each month. That year was capped off by Annalee Newitz’s quirky and urgent “When Robot and Crow Saved East St. Louis,” which won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best short science fiction of the year. Our hope was that these glimpses into possible futures could provide a thought-provoking parallel to our coverage of emerging technology, policy, and society today, inviting us to imagine how the decisions we’re making today might shape the way we live tomorrow, illuminating key decision points and issues that we might not be giving enough attention.
Men In Black, the 1997 sci-fi comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, remains in the red despite making $589 million (£448 million) at the global box office over 20 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, that translates to $944 million (£718 million) in 2019 money, not taking into account extra ticket prices for 3D or IMAX.
This is according to the film’s screenwriter Ed Solomon, who adapted Lowell Cunningham’s comic book seriews for Sony Pictures, who then turned it into a mega-blockbuster with a $90 million (£68 million) budget that spawned three sequels and an animated series, not to mention shifting piles of merchandise.
Solomon, who also wrote all three Bill & Ted films, Now You See Me, and Charlie’s Angels (2000), shared on Twitter that he had received his “Men In Black profit statement” from the studio over the festive period which said that the film had lost “6x what it lost last period”, linking back to a previous tweet from June this year that said the film was “STILL in the red”….
OBIT. In sadder news, Syd Mead, an artist who worked on Blade
Runner, Aliens, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, has passed away. Variety
has the story.
…Mead started his design career in the auto, electronics and steel industries working for Ford Motor Co., Sony, U.S. Steel and Phillips Electronics. He then transitioned to film. His career began as a production illustrator working with director Robert Wise (“West Side Story”) to create Earth’s nemesis V’Ger in the 1979 “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.”
He continued fusing technology with creativity, bringing to life some of the biggest films in science fiction. In 1982, he served as a visual futurist on “Blade Runner,” before collaborating as a conceptional artist with director Steven Lisberger on the 1982 “Tron.”
He explained his inspiration for “Blade Runner” to Curbed in 2015, “For a city in 2019, which isn’t that far from now, I used the model of Western cities like New York or Chicago that were laid out after the invention of mass transit and automobiles, with grids and linear transport. I thought, we’re at 2,500 feet now, let’s boost it to 3,000 feet, and then pretend the city has an upper city and lower city. The street level becomes the basement, and decent people just don’t want to go there. In my mind, all the tall buildings have a sky lobby, and nobody goes below the 30th floor, and that’s the way life would be organized,” Mead said.
(9) INNES OBIT. Neil Innes, best
known for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, The Rutles and in collaboration
with Monty Python, has died
at the age of 75.
…A spokesperson for the Innes family said he had not been suffering from any illness and had passed away unexpectedly on Sunday night.
…In the 1970s, Innes became closely associated with British comedy collective Monty Python, contributing sketches and songs like Knights of the Round Table and Brave Sir Robin, as well as appearing in their classic films The Holy Grail and Life of Brian.
He wrote and performed sketches for their final TV series in 1974 after John Cleese temporarily left, and was one of only two non-Pythons to be credited as a writer, alongside The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.
A film about Innes called The Seventh Python was made in 2008.
(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 31, 1958 — The Crawling Eye premiered. In the U.K, it was called The Trollenberg Terror. Directed by Quentin Lawrence, it stars Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, and Janet Munro. Les Bowiec who worked on Submarine X-1 did the special effects. The film is considered to be one of the inspirations for Carpenter’s The Fog. Critics found it to be inoffensive and over at Rotten Tomatoes, it currently a thirty percent rating among reviewers.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 31, 1937 — Anthony Hopkins, 82. I think one of his most impressive roles was as Richard in The Lion in Winter but we can’t even call that genre adjacent, can we? He was, during that period, also King Claudius in Hamlet. I’ll say playing Ian McCandless in Freejack is his true genre role, and being Professor Abraham Van Helsing In Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a plum of a genre role. It’s a better role than he as Odin has the MCU film franchise. What else have I missed that I should note?
Born December 31, 1943 — Ben Kingsley, 76. Speaking of Kipling, he voiced Bagherra in the live action adaptation that Disney did of The Jungle Book. He was also in Iron Man 3 as Trevor Slattery, a casting not well received. He’s The Hood in Thunderbirds (directed by Frakes btw), Charles Hatton in A Sound of Thunder and Merenkahre in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third of three great popcorn films.
Born December 31, 1945 — Connie Willis, 74. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for her work, a feat that impresses even me, someone who isn’t generally impressed as you know by Awards! Of her works, I’m most pleased by To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book and Bellwether, an offbeat novel look at chaos theory. I’ve not read enough of her shorter work to give an informed opinion of it, so do tell me what’s good there.
Born December 31, 1945 — Barbara Carrera, 74. She is known for being the SPECTRE assassin Fatima Blush in Never Say Never Again, and as Maria in The Island of Dr. Moreau. And she was Victoria Spencer in the really awful Embryo, a film that that over five hundred review reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a sixteen percent rating.
Born December 31, 1949 — Ellen Datlow, 70. Let’s start this Birthday note by saying I own a complete set of The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror which yes , I know it was titled The Year’s Best Fantasy for the first year. And I still read stories for them from time to time. If that was all she had done, she’d have been one of our all-time anthologists but she also, again with Terri Windling, did the Fairy Tale and Mythic Fiction series, both of which I highly recommend. On her own, she has the ongoing Best Horror of Year, now a decade old, and the Tor.com anthologies which I’ve not read but I assume collect the fiction from the site. Speaking of Tor.com, she’s an editor there, something she’s also done at Nightmare Magazine, Omni, the hard copy magazine and online, and Subterranean Magazine.
Born December 31, 1953 — Jane Badler, 66. I first encountered her on the Australian-produced Mission Impossible where she played Shannon Reed for the two seasons of that superb series. She’s apparently best known as Diana, the main antagonist on V, but I never saw any of that series being overseas at the time. She shows up in the classic Fantasy Island, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution.
Born December 31, 1958 — Bebe Neuwirth, 61. She’s had but one television SF credit to her name which is playing a character named Lanel in the “First Contact” episode of the Next Gen series during season four, but I found a delightful genre credential for her. From April 2010 to December 2011, she was Morticia Addams in the Broadway production of The Addams Family musical! The show itself is apparently still ongoing.
Born December 31, 1959 — Val Kilmer, 60. Lead role in Batman Forever where I fought he did a decent job, Madmartigan in Willow, Montgomery in The Island of Dr. Moreau, voiced both Moses and God in The Prince of Egypt, uncredited role as El Cabillo in George and the Dragon and voiced KITT in the not terribly we’ll conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh, that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone.
Born December 31, 1971 — Camilla Larsson, 48. Therese in the first series of Real Humans on Swedish television. She was Jenny in the Mormors magiska vind series which is definitely genre given it’s got a ghost and pirate parrots in it!
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Lio warns us that pocket universes can pop up unexpectedly.
Scroll down to the third cartoon – a classic from The Far Side as cops deduce what killed these cats…
(13) THE LONELINESS OF GENERAL HUX. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Nobody really understands the motivations of General Hux in the most recent Star Wars movie, so Slate Magazine’s Dan Kois (@DanKois) gets into Hux’ head with excerpts from the General’s private diaries: “The Lost Diaries of General Hux”. The results are laugh-out-loud funny:
Kylo Ren loves making little comments about Starkiller Base. “I sense a great regret in your heart about the failure of your planet-sized death machine,” he says. It hurts my feelings. I spent years managing that project, prime years of my career, and I only got to blow up one star system before the whole thing was destroyed. Which, incidentally, was the fault of those horrid contractors, not me. I can’t complain to Ren, obviously. I wish there was someone I could talk to! I ordered a therapist droid from the medical bay but Snoke had them all reprogrammed to say “Your problems are inconsequential, focus only on crushing the Resistance.” No one knows how to reboot them. It’s too bad—therapy is supposed to be covered in the medical plan, and a lot of our nameless young stormtroopers could stand to talk things out about their kidnapping, parents being killed, etc.
When the creators of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were working on adapting the wizarding world for the stage, they knew a lot of people have seen the Harry Potter movies. And they didn’t want to reproduce the things most people have already seen.
The result is a spectacle that relies much more on human-powered magic than special effects trickery. And the show’s creators have documented that process in a lavish new coffee-table book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: The Journey. So I went on my own journey, backstage at the current Broadway production, to see how that magic is made.
Around and under the stage of Manhattan’s Lyric Theater, there’s a warren of corridors and staircases so complex you almost expect to pop out in Hogsmeade. But instead, I end up in a rubber-floored workout room where today’s cast is warming up for the show, directed by movement captain James Brown III (who also plays the magisterially surly Bane the Centaur).
It’s pretty intense. There’s yoga, stretching, and some hard-core calisthenics. Grunts and groans ripple around the room as Brown leads everyone through their paces. This isn’t usual for a Broadway show, but then not that many shows are this physical. The actors in Cursed Child create effects that would have been done digitally onscreen with their own bodies, and with the help of some special crew members.
With some blockbuster space missions under way, 2019 saw some amazing images beamed back to Earth from around the Solar System. Meanwhile, some of our most powerful telescopes were trained on the Universe’s most fascinating targets. Here are a few of the best.
Up in the clouds
Nasa’s Juno spacecraft has been sending back stunning images of Jupiter’s clouds since it arrived in orbit around the giant planet in 2016. This amazing, colour-enhanced view shows patterns that look like they were created by paper marbling. The picture was compiled from four separate images taken by the spacecraft on 29 May.
(17) UNDEAD SUPERHEROES. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] The LARGE majority of this list had me mentally screaming,
“Noooooooo.“ In my very loudest mental voice. I’ve left out the reasons cited
for wanting to bring each of them back in reproducing the list below. It’s
kinder that way. CBR.com lists “10 Saturday Morning Cartoon Superheroes That Need To Be
Saturday morning cartoons. Before the advent of 24-hour cartoon networks and streaming services, this was the only way for kids to get their fill of both animated fare and sugary cereals. It was a Golden Age filled with characters that ran or drove past the same scene several times, animals that talked, and scrappy puppies that saved older cartoon franchises.
In the 1960s and 70s, it was also the place where superheroes came to life. Not only familiar ones like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. But also ones created for that precious five hours of time on Saturday’s. Some would continue on beyond this era. Others would vanish around the same time they premiered. Yet, they all have a space in our dusty and aging hearts. To honor these pioneers, here are 10 Saturday morning cartoon superheroes that need to be resurrected.
TOPPS NOW celebrates the greatest moments… as they happen!
(19) CLEVER COMMERCIAL. “Not genre but will put a smile on your face,” promises John King Tarpinian.
[Thanks to Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Martin
Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Olav Rokne, Darrah Chavey, Mike Kennedy, N.,
Heather Rose Jones, Nina Shepardson, Chip Hitchcock, Moshe Feder, and JJ for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the
day Daniel Dern.]
… Writer, the middle word in Romance Writers of America, is a word without gender, a word without color or race, a word without sexual orientation, without creed. We’re writers, and as such must expect to be treated, must demand to be treated, fairly and equitably by our professional organization.
…Again, I regret all the years I didn’t hear, didn’t see, didn’t listen, remained unaware of all the sad and unfair things that are now coming to light.
I hope that light continues to shine, and by doing so may change RWA for the good, may remind those in leadership positions what the purpose was all those years ago. To support and advocate for romance writers. Not specific kinds of romance writers.
Let me add, as a personal note, that over the course of my life, the course of my career, the couple hundred books I’ve written, I may have–most likely have–said or done or written something that was offensive, racist, homophobic. Without intent–but intent doesn’t mean a damn to those hurt. So I’ll apologize without qualification.
I hope I’ve learned along the way. I intend to continue to learn and do better.
RESOURCES. Links to new developments are continually
added at these two sites:
DISCUSSION. Lynn Spencer’s post “Has RWA Lost Its Way?” at All About Romance is followed by a wide-open comments section with opinions from all sides of the issue. Spencer says in conclusion:
It’s obvious at this point that RWA screwed up. Frankly, as more information becomes available, it appears obvious that they made more than just one mistake. Their internal procedures are clearly flawed and while Courtney Milan is an author with a high enough profile to draw attention to the problems, one can only imagine how many people who are not so well-known may have been treated equally poorly by the organization. Story after story after storyof alleged irregularities and bias at RWA(some going back to the early days of the organization) have been pouring out ever since this particular story broke and I can only imagine that will continue.
So, where does RWA go from here? Over the short term, I honestly think that the organization has broken trust with too many people. This isn’t a situation where they can apologize and hope we will all forget about it. Perhaps if they:
(1) clean house and start over by electing a brand new board who would then hire a new executive director;
(2) audit what has been happening not just with the complaints against Courtney Milan but with the ethics committee in general and make those findings publicly available, including the names of everyone on the shadow ethics committee, and
(3) show by their actions that RWA is willing to listen and to really do the work of becoming more diverse, inclusive and anti-racist, then over the long term they may survive.
However, RWA has damaged its reputation with a significant portion of its membership and with the romance community at large, and one can understand those of us who will be slow to risk trusting it again. There are lots of questions to be answered here, and from what is already known, it is apparent that once those questions are answered, the organization will have to change if it is to survive.
Ilona Andrews charts what she thinks is the underlying
cause of the conflict. Thread starts here.
Ivy Quinn assembled a thread of screencaps of comments
left on RWA’s Facebook page. The thread starts here.
Diana Hicks described her experience with racism in the
RWA. Thread starts here.
Former RWA President HelenKay Dimon a few days ago tweeted
a series of steps that, if taken, might let the organization move forward. Thread
RWA PRESIDENT DAMON SUEDE. He got his message out to RWA Chapter Leaders, but what he’s telling them has been challenged by Courtney Milan and others. An effort to remove him from office is under way.
Alyssa Day tweeted screencaps of RWA President Damon
Suede’s message to RWA Chapter Leaders.
Courtney Milan contradicted some of what Suede wrote in a thread
that starts here.
CIMRWA (Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural
Chapter of Romance Writers of America) is ready to submit its petition to
recall incoming RWA President Damon Suede.
RWA has been caught swapping out its December 26
and December 30 statements at the top of the organization’s webpage.
The distilled essence of Tessa Dare’s take is –
REACTION FROM THE SFF COMMUNITY.
N.K. Jemisin contrasted how SFWA and RWA handled the challenge
of racism. Thead starts here.
Mad Genius Club’s Sarah A. Hoyt and Dave Freer posted word salads disapproving the motives and purposes they imputed to Courtney Milan.
Meanwhile, Chuck Tingle is still pissed off at RWA President Suede for saying, in effect, that he is a pen name of two collaborators.
The purpose of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) is to support, advocate, and provide resources for approximately 9,000 romance writers, advocate for the genre, and provide a safe and respectful environment for writers to discuss and express their ideas.
We do not take positions for or against specific literary criticism or authors’ points of view. We do, however, have explicit policy for our members’ professional conduct. RWA’s Member Code of Ethics is designed to induce RWA members, especially RWA’s leaders, to exhibit integrity, honesty, and other good professional practices, thereby enhancing the romance writing profession.
RWA is fully committed to the confidentiality and integrity of the ethics process at all levels. Our Code of Ethics and procedures cannot be selectively or inconsistently applied on a situational basis. All ethics complaints received must be properly reviewed and addressed according to our policy manual, and the organization must apply a single standard consistently and equitably.
Beginning in August of 2019 and subsequently, the RWA Ethics Committee received complaints filed by two members, Suzan Tisdale and Kathryn Lynn Davis, against former Board member Courtney Milan. These complaints allege several violations of the RWA Member Code of Ethics by Ms. Milan while she was serving in an RWA leadership position and that this led to the loss of a three-book contract by Ms. Davis.
At the time of the complaint, Ms. Milan served as Chair of the Ethics Committee and was now subject to review by the Committee for allegations by the aforementioned RWA members. Ms. Milan was asked to voluntarily step down as the Ethics Committee Chair to eliminate any conflict of interest, which she did, and the Board appointed additional Committee members and a new Chair. Those members made up a diverse Ethics panel – the standard RWA protocol in RWA Ethics cases – that had not served under Ms. Milan because of the need for confidentiality and the potential for conflicts of interest.
In accordance with RWA policy, the Ethics panel met and delivered its report to the Board, dismissing all charges against Ms. Milan except one: a violation of the association’s express purpose of creating a “safe and respectful environment” for its community of writers.
While the Ethics panel unanimously recommended a series of sanctions against Ms. Milan, the Board chose to reduce these to a one-year suspension and a permanent ban on leadership positions in RWA. After this private information was made public on December 23, it led to an intense backlash online – including the spreading of false information, threats, and personal information. The Board then held an emergency executive session, rescinding the remaining sanctions. That is where things stand and where they will remain unless a future Board decides to revisit the issues. Several Board members have subsequently resigned for a variety of reasons.
RWA is not alone in trying to balance free speech with civil discourse and the damage – personal and financial – its absence can do. It is, however, up to us to find a pathway forward to meet the competing needs of free expression without subjecting our members to harassment, intimidation, and financial loss.
To provide a path forward, we are taking or have taken the following actions:
In an abundance of caution over confusion regarding RWA’s policies and procedures, the complaint against Courtney Milan has been closed and no action is being taken at this time. Ms. Milan remains a member of RWA.
RWA affirms our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are in the process of recruiting and nominating strong, diverse candidates for the vacant Board seats to foster a Board culture rooted in transparency and accountability; all candidates are subject to Board approval.
RWA will authorize a full, complete, and transparent review of the Member Code of Ethics and enforcement procedures.
RWA is hiring an independent, outside law firm to conduct an audit of the process and these events to provide a clear report of the facts.
Our members have strong opinions, which we applaud. But when expressed inappropriately, and in some cases far worse, by our organizational leadership – past and present – these can result in personal and financial harm to members. Other members have inappropriately shared personal and/or private information which has legal consequences and has resulted in members feeling threatened, exposed, and unsafe. This is unacceptable behavior. As writers we know more than most, words have consequences.
The Board and staff remain committed to serving our members and fulfilling our mission. We can and will do better. RWA is not alone in these challenges, but as writers, we must lead the way.
Sincerely, RWA Board and Staff
Courtney Milan tweeted two threads reacting to the statement.
There’s not a lot of love at the Romance Writers of America this holiday season. Lots of passion, but not too much love.
The organization, which bills itself as the voice of romance writers and cites 9,000 members, has been upended over the way it has treated one of its authors, Courtney Milan, a Chinese American writer and a former chair of its Ethics Committee.
The Texas-based trade association initially accepted the vote of its Ethics Committee that Milan had violated the group’s code with negative online comments about other writers and their work. Then, just before Christmas, it reversed course, rescinding its vote ”pending a legal opinion.” Now its entire leadership has changed….
Nine board members of the Houston-based Romance Writers of America resigned this week in a startling exodus that took place during a holiday lull. The organization — which represents a billion-dollar industry and celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2020 — will enter the new year with decimated leadership and lingering questions about its focus and future after several romance authors questioned the association’s commitment to a diverse community.
“I knew this kind of thing could happen, but I certainly didn’t see it happening this way, over Christmas week,” said author Piper Huguley. “I knew there was a big push coming, a resistance against this. I believe we’re in a fight for the soul of this organization, which to a number of people who observe it is not unlike what’s going on in the country politically. Right now the big question is, ‘What’s going to happen?’”…
…Ms. Milan, who is Chinese-American, took issue with the depiction of 19th-century Chinese women in the book, including a description of “slanted almond eyes” and a quote from a character describing them as “demure and quiet, as our mothers have trained us to be.” “The notion of the submissive Chinese woman is a racist stereotype which fuels higher rates of violence against women,” Ms. Milan wrote on Twitter.
Ms. Davis, who is an honorary R.W.A. member, disagreed with Ms. Milan’s assessment, saying her book was historically accurate and based on years of research. She filed an ethics complaint with the R.W.A., saying that Ms. Milan’s comments were “cyberbullying” and cost her a publishing contract.
…Ms. Davis, who filed one of the complaints, said she was “stunned” by the R.W.A.’s judgment against Ms. Milan and said the penalty “far exceeded the substance of the complaint.” “We asked for an apology. That was what we wanted,” she said.
HelenKay Dimon, who was president of R.W.A. until her term ended in late August, said that she thought there had been a series of breakdowns in the process and is calling for a full audit.
“People care enough to get that upset,” she said. Now, the organization needs to “step up and take responsibility and have a plan.”
“I think the organization and the membership and the people who drove this decision are not the same things,” Ms. Milan said. “The response of the membership should be heartening to anyone who cares about diversity in R.W.A. and romance.”
(1) QUEEN’S NEW YEAR HONOURS. Over a thousand people are on the list. It is a very good New Year to be a musician with the surname “John” — both Olivia Newton-John and Elton John received honours.
As for literature and genre…
Queen’s New Year’s Honors list, literary agent Felicity
Bryan was given an MBE for services to publishing, and novelist Rose
Tremain was made a Dame.
Director Sam Mendes received a Knighthood for services to
drama. He was Executive Producer of Penny Dreadful, and his two James
Bond movies, the Oscar winning Skyfall and Spectre, released in
2012 and 2015 respectively, are the most successful in the history of the
(2) THE BEST OF TIMES, THE WORST OF TIMES. Jason Sanford has released “a detailed look at science fiction and fantasy magazine publishing in this day and age” — “#SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines”. His report is loaded with information and includes observations by a dozen magazine editors.
Back in August I tweeted congrats to the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies for achieving their fundraising goal. Which again, excellent news! But I then foolishly used that thread to try and demonstrate why BCS’s success was proof that science fiction and fantasy magazines were doing better than ever.
Spoiler: I was wrong. As multiple editors and publishers of genre magazines quickly pointed out.
In addition, the boon of e-publishing has lowered the traditional printing and distribution cost barriers to creating new genre magazines. This allows more people than ever, including marginalized and diverse voices, to create their own magazines without the need for a large company or trust fund to support their dreams.
But despite all this, times are still tough for many magazines. A number of high-profile and award-winning genre magazines have shut down in the last two years, including Apex Magazine, The Book Smugglers (although their review site continues), Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Shimmer.
And during this same time period Neil Clarke, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Clarkesworld, has been speaking publicly about the many issues faced by genre magazines and warning that the short fiction market was “oversaturated when compared to the number of paying readers.” He believed this might eventually result in a market correction and said a big part of the problem was that having so many SF/F short stories available to read for free had “devalued short fiction.”
(3) CLIMATE CHANGE. [Item by SF Concatenation’s Jonathan
Cowie.] Not strictly SF but since climate fiction
is arguably a sub-branch of SF —
The BBC Radio 4 morning Today programme is the
most listened radio news programme in the British Isles.
In the dead period between Christmas and New Year,
when Westminster and Capitol Hill are shut down, the Today programme
gives over editorial control to guest editors. This morning (30th Dec) we
had Greta Thunberg as the day’s editor who brought on folk from Antarctic
researchers to the head of the Bank of England.
It is a three-hour programme interspersed with the
general news of the day — such as the Australian wildfires. Rarely do we
get such an intense, diverse burst of climate information on a news programme. You
can listen to it here.
Back then I was perhaps considered as depressing and
even a few might have thought a little controversial alarmist. However over the
subsequent decade I have bullet-point listed the key science developments since my
original writing of the essay. These show how the overall science view
has slowly migrated to my own perspective. In fact, today my own views
might be considered by some as positively conservative…
But if you want a short (8 minute) summary as to how
well we are doing addressing the issue then here’s Thunberg herself earlier
Map lovers will be thrilled by the possibility to peruse some of the world’s most unique historic maps. Over 91,000 maps from the exhaustive David Rumsey Map Collection have been placed online for the world to view and download, making it a treasure trove of information related to cartography. The collection, which was started over 30 years ago, is now housed at Stanford University.
In the 1980s, David Rumsey, president of the digital publishing company Cartography Associates, began building his collection by first focusing on maps of North and South America. With materials dating from the 16th to 21st centuries, the collection is unique in its scope of maps focusing on the United States. From 19th-century ribbon maps of the Mississippi to the world’s largest early world map, the collection is filled with special gems that show the wide variety of artistic maps produced throughout history.
If you’re a pantser you are not in sole charge of the work. The characters, the plot, the theme, all chip in and drag the book to new and exciting places. You want them to do that. This is the whole point of pantsing in the first place. The book will go to places that you, if you outlined it at the beginning, could never have imagined. You know the thing’s really alive, when it gets up and runs!
But to get this to happen, you have to listen…
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 30, 1865 — Rudyard Kipling. Yea, Kipling. I didn’t do him last year and he’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got Hump“ and “ The Cat that Walked By Himself“ being wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic in them that I should’ve of done so. Or there’s always The Jungle Books, which run to far more stories than I thought. Yes, he was an unapologetic Empire-loving writer who expressed that more than once but he was a great writer. (Died 1936.)
Born December 30, 1922 — Jane Langton. Author of the Hall Family Chronicles series which is definitely SFF in nature having both fantasy and SF elements in these charming tales for children. The eight books herein are mostly not available digitally though Kindle has the final novel but the Homer Kelly mysteries which both Fantastic Fiction and ISFDB list as genre or genre-adjacent are partially available. (Died 2018.)
Born December 30, 1942 — Fred Ward, 77. Lead in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins which was pleasant but forgettable upon finishing. Co-lead with Kevin Bacon in several of the Tremors films. Plays The Captain in The Crow: Salvation and Maj. General David Reece in the Invasion Earth series. My favorite role for him? Detective H.P. Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell. Is he that Lovecraft? Maybe, maybe not.
Born December 30, 1945 — Concetta Tomei, 74. Blank Dominique, operator along with Blank Reg (the late Morgan Shepherd) of Big Time Television, on Max Headroom. She’s had one-offs on Touched by an Angel, Numb3rs, Ghost Whisperer, and Voyager.
Born December 30, 1950 — Lewis Shiner, 69. Damn, his Deserted Cities of the Heart novelwas frelling brilliant! And if you’ve not read his Wild Cards fiction, do so now. He also co-wrote with Bob Wayne the eight-issue Time Masters series starring Rip Hunter which I see is on the DC Universe app. Yea! Anyone that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on Kindle with Joe Lansdale? It looks interesting.
Born December 30, 1951 — Avedon Carol, 68. She was the 1983 winner of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund to Albacon II in Glasgow, And she was GOH at Wiscon II along with Connie Willis and Samuel R. Delany. She has been nominated for three Hugos as Best Fan Writer. She’s been involved in thirty apas and fanzines according to Fancyclopedia 3.
Born December 30, 1959 — Douglas A. Anderson, 60. The Annotated Hobbit, for which he won the Mythopoeic Award, is one of my favorite popcorn readings. I’m also fond of his Tales Before Narnia: The Roots of Modern Fantasy and Science Fiction which has a lot of great short fiction it, and I recommend his blog Tolkien and Fantasy as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there. Today he’s saying a few words about Holdstock.
Born December 30, 1976 — Rhianna Pratchett, 43. Daughter of Terry who now runs the intellectual property concerns of her father. She herself is a video game writer including the recent Tomb Raider reboot. For her father, she’s overseen and being involved several years back in The Shepherd’s Crown, the last Discworld novel, to print. She was also with Simon Green the writer of The Watch, the Beeb’s Ankh-Morpork City Watch series. She’s a co-director of Narrativia Limited, a production company which holds exclusive multimedia and merchandising rights to her father’s works following his death. They, of course, helped develop the Good Omens series on Amazon.
Born December 30, 1980 — Eliza Dushku, 39. First genre role was Faith in the Buffyverse. Not surprisingly, she’d star in Whedon’s Dollhouse. I think her Tru Calling series was actually conceptualized better and a more interesting role for her. She voices Selina Kyle, Catwoman, in the animated Batman: Year One which is quite well done and definitely worth watching. She done a fair of other voicework, two of which I’ll single out as of note. One is is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies – view here. The other role is fascinating — The Lady In Glen Cook’s The Black Company series. Here’s the link to that story.
Born December 30, 1986 — Faye Marsay, 33. Shona McCullough In a Twelfth Doctor story, “The Last Christmas”. She also was on A Game of Thrones for several seasons as The Waif. (Who that is I know not as I didn’t watch that series.) She also played Blue Colson in Black Mirror’s “Hated in the Nation” tale. Her theater creds include Hansel & Gretel, Peter Pan and Macbeth — all definitely genre.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Speed Bump – a superhero joke so obvious you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it first.
…The most recent teardown on our list, this 1937 Cheviot Hills house was the home of author Ray Bradbury for more than 50 years. In January 2015, starchitect Thom Mayne began deconstruction of the house, much to the chagrin of Bradbury fans and local preservationists. Mayne claimed, “I could make no connection between the extraordinary nature of the writer and the incredible un-extraordinariness of the house. It was not just un-extraordinary, but unusually banal.”
In Retrospect: Rowling’s Hugo Award is very likely one of the most controversial in the history of the award – while beloved, the Harry Potter novels have never quite received their due as literature. They are books for children and the series is wildly popular, a combination which is great for success and less great for earning respect (such that it truly matters).
The main thing working against Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for its place in Hugo Award history, though, is that it won the award over A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin (as well as novels from Ken MacLeod, Robert Sawyer, and Nalo Hopkinson). A Storm of Swords is, notably, the third novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire sequence and widely considered the finest novel in not only that series but in Martin’s acclaimed career. To those who care about such things, Martin is considered “core genre”, writing epic fantasy and being a lifetime part of the Worldcon community. Rowling was an outsider who writes children’s books. I’m sure there is a segment of the old guard Worldcon crowd who still has not gotten over Rowling’s win and Martin’s loss….
After first pledging to upend the way people worked, WeWork vowed to change how they lived: WeLive, a sleek dormitory for working professionals with free beer, arcade games in the laundry room and catered Sunday dinners, would spread around the world.
It has not quite turned out that way.
WeLive has not expanded beyond its first two locations and efforts to open sites in India and Israel have collapsed. In addition to long-term rentals, WeLive offers rooms at its only locations, in New York City and Virginia, for nightly stays on hotel sites.
…Now WeLive’s chances of surviving as the We Company tries to recover from its failed initial public offering are slim, said Scott Galloway, a business analyst and professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
“I bet WeLive is wonderful for everyone except the shareholders and We,’’ Mr. Galloway said. “There was a total lack of internal controls. Where were the board’s basic questions like, ‘Why are we doing WeLive?’”
The uncertainty about WeLive comes as other co-living companies are thriving and expanding. A London-based company, The Collective, has plans to build a co-living building in Brooklyn, while another company, Common, has more than 12,000 beds under development in multiple cities, including a 600-unit building in Miami.
Constance: Ooh, this is tricky, and actually, Veronica Mars is a good case study here.
Veronica Mars went on as long as it did entirely because of its fandom. In the ’00s, fan mail-in campaigns got it renewed for a second and third season despite low ratings. In 2013, the fan Kickstarter campaign raised over $5 million to pay for the movie’s production budget. This year, the show’s history of intense fan engagement is an enormous part of what led to the Veronica Mars Hulu revival — and in that revival, Veronica’s love interest Logan dies, destroying the ship that large swaths of the fandom were hugely invested in and, with it, their fannish investment in the show.
My impulse when Logan died was to think, “Well, that sucks, but certainly showrunner Rob Thomas is entitled to do whatever he wants with his characters. He doesn’t owe me or his fans anything.” But a number of fans disagreed: Rob Thomas, they said, had taken advantage of their desire to see Veronica and Logan together, using their investment as shippers to leverage not just their time and attention, but the literal dollars out of their pockets. In that case, didn’t he owe them something? Wasn’t killing Logan a betrayal of the contract Thomas had made with the fandom?
To be honest, I can see the argument. When a show’s survival depends this heavily on its fans, the power dynamic between creator and fandom does change dramatically. The Veronica Mars fandom went above and beyond to keep that show coming back again and again, and the showrunner responded by destroying the piece of the show that a huge part of the fandom cared about most. Emotionally, that does feel like a betrayal.
Emily:…I think a lot about a quote from Joss Whedon that I heard when I was a teenager and decided was accurate without a ton of reflection: “Don’t give people what they want; give them what they need.” Of the many bits of storytelling wisdom Whedon has dispensed in interviews over the years, this is the one that has most taken on a life beyond his fandom, because it speaks to something that I think we’re all a little wary of in 2019: anesthetizing art against the horrors of the world so much that it becomes a sort of safe space.
…That rich worldbuilding seen in the first novel is extended and expanded on here. From the nature of magic, to the political structure of the capital (including the true structure of the Queen’s Men), the novel enfolds rich details of the main character’s world. Both Ellisberg and now, Dannsburg come across as distinct, real cities that you can imagine walking down the streets of (although do mind the smell of the first, and all the guards in the second)….
(14) JEOPARDY! On tonight’s Final Jeopardy, contestants
showed they can draw a blank on non-sff literary items, too. Andrew Porter took
Answer: In a New Yorker profile, he said, “Where I like it is out west in Wyoming, Montana, & Idaho, & I like Cuba & Paris.”
Wrong questions: “Who is Kerouac?” and “Who is John Wayne?”
In this episode of Kurzgesagt, they’re talking about building engines powerful enough to move entire stars, dragging their solar systems along with them….
[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, N., Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Bill, Alan Baumler, John A Arkansawyer, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
(originally called the Tiptree Award) has selected two new Fellows:
drag performer Devonix and writer/sound-and-media artist Martha Riva Palacio
Obón. The Fellowships awarded to these artists will support projects that
expand the boundaries and possibilities of the speculative, playing joyously
with the traditional sense of el género (which, in Spanish, means genre
and gender at the same time) across a range of mediums.
Devonix’s contributions to
the New Orleans drag scene challenge how we currently understand and access
speculative fiction. In a fusion of genre and drag, Devonix encourages
audiences to critique our dystopian reality and imagine other possibilities.
Devonix’s drag king performances are fiercely intelligent, provocative, and
playful. By transforming into a robot overlord, a flesh-eating monster, a
vampire and other entities familiar to speculative fiction readers, Devonix
deconstructs and rearranges the audience’s understanding of gender in
Martha Riva Palacio Obón
creates hybrid projects through words and sound. Her current project seeks to
bring her fascination with outer space into inner space. Human and non-human
memories, her grandmother’s voice and the chirping of crickets, her own body
and voice — all these meld into a fascinating exploration of the space a body
occupies. Obón erases the line we constantly draw between us and them: our
bodies and planet Earth, our consciousness and an expanding galaxy, our sense of
self and every single being surrounding us.
addition to choosing two Fellows, the Fellowship Committee announced an honors
list of “writers and artists are all doing exciting work in gender and
speculative fiction,” which includes Marina Berlin, M.L. Krishnan, Kailee
Pedersen, and Aigner Loren Wilson.
Otherwise Award celebrates works of speculative fiction that imagine new
futures by exploring and expanding our understanding of gender roles. Through
the Fellowship Program, the Award also encourages those
who are striving to complete works, to imagine futures that might have been
unimaginable when the Award began. Now in its fifth year, the Fellowship Program seeks out new voices in the field, particularly from communities
that have been historically underrepresented in science fiction and fantasy and
by those who work in media other than traditional fiction.
Fellow will receive $500. The work produced as a result of this support will be
recognized and promoted by the Otherwise Award. Over time, the Fellowship
program will create a network of Fellows who can build connections, provide
mutual support, and find opportunities for collaboration.
members of the 2019 selection committee for the Otherwise Fellowships were 2018
Fellows Vida Cruz and Ana Hurtado, 2018 Award winner Gabriela Damián Miravete,
and Fellowship Committee chair Rox Samer. For more on the work of the latest
Otherwise Fellows (and on the work of past Fellows), visit the Otherwise Award
website at otherwiseaward.org.
Arisia Inc. today signed agreements
with the Westin Boston Waterfront and Aloft Boston Seaport District hotels to
settle the charges from the cancellation of their hotel contracts for Arisia
2019, held this past January 18-21.
The announcement distributed by Arisia
President (Nicholas “phi” Shectman says:
“Under the terms of these agreements, the hotels have waived a total of approximately $150,000 in cancellation fees and anticipated attrition charges, provided that Arisia makes a residual $44,486.23 payment by March 15, 2020. Arisia and the Westin Boston Waterfront also signed contracts for the 2022 and 2023 events. The terms of these contracts are broadly similar to the terms in place for the 2020 and 2021 contracts (and don’t contain attrition clauses) and we are confident that it will be possible to run great events under these contracts.
“This settlement does not get us out of the woods. We have already paid tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and we don’t have the cash on hand to cover the $44,000 payment. We have launched a fundraising campaign at https://corp.arisia.org/Donations to cover this amount. A small group of anonymous donors will be matching donations to this campaign. We are hopeful that with your help we will be able to hold great conventions and continue our charitable purpose. Thank you particularly to everyone who has offered their support already.
“We still have other issues to address, at least as serious as this one. We have much more work to do on our incident response process, our volunteer experience, and generally on fostering the affirmative culture we would like to see at Arisia. We thank you for your support here as well.
“Arisia is looking forward to returning to the Westin and Aloft this coming January and for years to come, and we hope you will join us.”
Arisia 2020, their 31st convention, will be held January 17-20, 2020 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, with the Aloft Boston Seaport District providing overflow guest rooms.
The 32nd issue of four-time Hugo
winner Uncanny Magazine will
be available on January 7.
Hugo Award-winning Publishers Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are proud to present the 32nd issue of their four-time Hugo Award-winning online science fiction and fantasy magazine, Uncanny Magazine. Stories from Uncanny Magazine have been finalists or winners of Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. As always, Uncanny features passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture, along with a Parsec Award-winning monthly podcast featuring a story, poem, and interview from that issue.
of Uncanny Magazine’s content will be available in eBook versions
on the day of release from Weightless Books, Amazon, Barnes
& Noble, Google Play, and Kobo. Subscriptions are always available
through Amazon Kindle and Weightless Books. The free online content will
be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and
half on February 4.
Issue 32 Table of Contents
“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
“Imagining Place: The BBC Miniseries” by Elsa Sjunneson
“Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” by Rae Carson (1/7)
“My Country Is a Ghost” by Eugenia Triantafyllou (1/7)
“You Perfect, Broken Thing” by C.L. Clark (1/7)
“Where You Linger” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (2/4)
“And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands” by Sharon Hsu (2/4)
“The Spirit of the Leech” by Alex Bledsoe (2/4)
“Braid of Days and Wake of Nights” by E. Lily Yu (2/4)
“Writing with My Keys Between My Fingers” by Meg Elison (1/7)
“Save Me a Seat on the Couch: Spoiler Culture, Inclusion, and Disability” by Marissa Lingen (1/7)
“Speculative Fictions, Everywhere We Look” by Malka Older (2/4)
“Street Harassment Is an Access Issue” by Katharine Duckett (2/4)
“Who Do You Think You Are” by Ada Hoffmann (1/7)
“Elegy for the Self as Villeneuve’s Belle” by Brandon O’Brien (1/7)
“The Death of the Gods” by Leah Bobet (2/4)
“A tenjô kudari (“ceiling hanger” yôkai) defends her theft” by Betsy Aoki (2/4)
Caroline M. Yoachim Interviews Eugenia Triantafyllou (1/7)
Caroline M. Yoachim Interviews Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (2/4)
Uncanny Magazine Podcast 32A (1/7)
“Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse” by Rae Carson, as read by Erika Ensign
“Who Do You Think You Are” by Ada Hoffmann, as read by Joy Piedmont
Lynne M. Thomas Interviews Rae Carson
Uncanny Magazine Podcast 32B (2/4)
“And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands” by Sharon Hsu, as read by Joy Piedmont
“The Death of the Gods” by Leah Bobet, as read by Erika Ensign
(1) STABBY VOTING. Reddit’s r/Fantasy
voting for the Stabby Awards. They’ve suffered voting shenanigans in the
past, too, and here’s what they’ve done to stop them —
It’s now time to vote for the /r/Fantasy Best of 2019 Stabby Awards. Due to the sub’s growth over the past year (from the time that the nomination thread went live to now, we’ve grown by over 8,000 subscribers!) and to issues we experienced with vote gaming last year, voting will be taking place off Reddit.
We’re using a Google Form (same as we’ve used for our demographic census for years) and in order to vote you’ll need to include a link to your own user profile. Profiles will need to be at least 1 month old for their votes to count – we chose this cutoff to ensure that folks who created accounts solely to nominate and thus aren’t really part of our community aren’t going to affect the results.
…Voting will end January 4, 2019 at 9 p.m. PST. Results should be live by January 6, 2019 by 1 p.m. PST.
…An award-winning science-fiction thriller billed by critics as a modern Day of the Triffids takes a provocative approach to Britain’s growing dependence on mood-lifting chemicals and antidepressants.
Little Joe, released in UK cinemas in February, and starring Ben Whishaw, Emily Beecham and Kerry Fox, has divided reviewers with its odd, disturbing story of a newly bred plant designed to spread joy.
On set in a vast greenhouse laboratory, the acclaimed Austrian director Jessica Hausner first told her actors to forget about finding “the truth” of their characters.
“Little Joe looks at the question of how do you perceive whether someone has changed or not,” Hausner told the Observer. “That was the big issue when I talked to the actors. And so even when we were shooting, we were shooting different versions of each scene.”
…In the anxious winter of 1617, unfigurative wheels are turning beneath Johannes Kepler as he hastens to his mother’s witchcraft trial. For this long journey by horse and carriage, Kepler has packed a battered copy of Dialogue on Ancient and Modern Music by Vincenzo Galilei, his sometime friend Galileo’s father — one of the era’s most influential treatises on music, a subject that always enchanted Kepler as much as mathematics, perhaps because he never saw the two as separate. Three years later, he would draw on it in composing his own groundbreaking book The Harmony of the World, in which he would formulate his third and final law of planetary motion, known as the harmonic law — his exquisite discovery, twenty-two years in the making, of the proportional link between a planet’s orbital period and the length of the axis of its orbit. It would help compute, for the first time, the distance of the planets from the sun — the measure of the heavens in an era when the Solar System was thought to be all there was.
As Kepler is galloping through the German countryside to prevent his mother’s execution, the Inquisition in Rome is about to declare the claim of Earth’s motion heretical — a heresy punishable by death….
…But is this view of the Muse, who is after all a goddess, a being at whose feet the artist is supposed to lay the offering of the art created in order that she may judge it worthy, not very disrespectful? In assuming that the muse is just some empty thing to fill up with M. L’Artiste’s (and it is M., is it not) geeenyus?
François Truffaut once said of Catherine Deneuve: “I wouldn’t compare her to a flower or a bouquet, since there is a certain neutrality in her that leads me to compare her to the vase in which all the flowers are placed.” He meant that her reserve and air of mystery enabled spectators to “fill the vase” themselves; but the history of male film directors and their female muses is also a history of vase-filling: men translating their erotic fantasies into cinematic terms while failing to get to grips with the women themselves, who are invariably depicted as quixotic and inscrutable, even dangerous.
Not that I am sure which of the Nine would be the muse of movies – or would it vary by specific genre?
A renowned polymath, Alasdair Gray was beloved equally for his writing and art. His debut, Lanark, which Canongate published in 1981, is widely regarded as being one of the masterpieces of twentieth century fiction. It was followed by more than thirty further books, all of which he designed and illustrated, ranging from novels, short story collections, plays, volumes of poetry, works of non-fiction and translations – most recently, his interpretation of Dante’s Divine Trilogy.
The Guardian’s tribute
said he “blazed a trail for contemporary
Scottish fiction with his experimental novels.”
In 1954, Gray began writing the novel that would occupy him on and off throughout the 1960s and 70s. Lanark divides the story of a life into four books, alternating between Glasgow and a shadowy version of the city called Unthank. The novel opens with book three, in which a young man finds himself in a dark metropolis filled with strange diseases, and then jumps back to fill in the story of Duncan Thaw, who grows up in Glasgow just before the second world war. The Guardian called it “fluent, imaginative”, a novel “of undeniable quality, but rare, and not for all tastes, like an oyster, or a truffle”.
He made an indelible impression on
both the literary and fannish worlds. Alasdair
Gray and Russell Hoban were the guests of honor at the first Mexicon (1984) in
the UK. As David Langford recalls, he made ink
sketches of various fans there, and his “[John] Brosnan drawing is inscribed: ‘The
Author of Slimer, a seminal work which has influenced everything I have
(8) WOLLEN OBIT. Peter Wollen
(1938-2019), author of the influential film theory book Signs and Meaning in
the Cinema, who also directed films and wrote screenplays, died December 17.
York Times appreciation notes:
Mr. Wollen didn’t just talk and write about cinema; in the 1970s and ’80s he was actively involved in making it. Perhaps his best-known film, which he both wrote and directed, was “Friendship’s Death” (1987), an unusual science-fiction film about an extraterrestrial robot who is on a peace mission but takes a wrong turn and winds up in Amman, Jordan, in 1970, a time of conflict there.
Tilda Swinton, in one of her first film roles, played the robot. In a tribute to Mr. Wollen published by the film website IndieWire, she said “Signs and Meaning” was “the first seminal book I read about film that actually made sense while bopping you to bits with its braininess and taking the engine of cinema completely apart in front of you while making you even more excited to jump in and go racing about in it just as soon as you possibly could.”
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
December 29, 1967 — “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired. Written by David Gerrold and directed by Joseph Pevney, with some of the guest cast being Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Whit Bissell as Station Manager and Michael Pataki as Korax. Memory Alpha says ”Wah Chang designed the original tribbles. Hundreds were sewn together during production, using pieces of extra-long rolls of carpet. Some of them had mechanical toys placed in them so they could walk around.” It would come in second in the Hugo balloting to “The City on the Edge of Forever” written by Harlan Ellison. All five final Hugo nominees at Baycon (1968) were Trek episodes.
December 29, 2009 — Princess of Mars premiered. This film from Asylum had Traci Lords as Dejah Thoris and Antonio Sabàto Jr. as John Carter. Rather loosely based on A Princess of Mars by Burroughs, the film was released in Europe as The Martian Colony Wars. Currently this film has a 10% rating among reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 29, 1901 — William H Ritt. US cartoonist and author, whose best known strip, Brick Bradford, was SF. Two of the early Thirties strips, Brick Bradford and the City Beneath the Sea and Brick Bradford with Brocco the Mountain Buccaneer, became Big Little books. in 1947, Brick Bradford, a 15-chapter serial film starring Kane Richmond, was produced by Columbia Pictures. (Died 1972.)
Born December 29, 1912 — Ward Hawkins. Alternative universes! Lizard men as sidekicks! He wrote the Borg and Guss series (Red Flaming Burning, Sword of Fire, Blaze of Wrath and Torch of Fear) which as it features these I really would like to hear as audiobooks. Not that it’s likely as I see he’s not made it even to the digital book realm yet. (Died 1990.)
Born December 29, 1928 — Bernard Cribbins, 91. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film (with Peter Cushing movie as The Doctor.) He would make it into canon when he appeared as Wilfred Mott in the Tenth Doctor story, “Voyage of the Damned”, and he‘s a Tenth Doctor companion himself in “The End of Time”, the two-part 2009–10 Christmas and New Year special.
Born December 29, 1949 — Ian Livingstone, 70. Co-founder of Game Workshop whose flagship products are are Warhammer Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000. (Have I mentioned that Game Workshop has local shops where fans can buy their unpainted miniatures and other goodies?) He was the first Editor of White Dwarf which, yes, I read a long time ago.
Born December 29, 1963 — Dave McKean, 56. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him and Gaiman called The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr Punch: A Romance. Brilliant, violent, horrifying. Well, and Signal to Noise by them is worth chasing down as well.
Born December 29, 1966 — Alexandra Kamp, 53. Did you know Sax Rohmer’s novels were made into a film? I didn’t. Well, she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuruwhich Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’d also be in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Neilsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Neither will be mistaken for quality films.
Born December 29, 1972 — Jude Law, 47. I think his first SF role was as Jerome Eugene Morrow In Gattaca followed by playing Gigolo Joe in A.I., with my fav role for him being the title role in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. He was Lemony Snicket In Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Tony in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Remy In Repo Man and he voiced Pitch Black in one of my favorite animated films, Rise of the Guardians.
All of the entertainment we used to consume in more independently quantifiable ways — via TV ratings, box office, album sales — has moved to streaming, where we just have to trust Netflix or Spotify or Apple to tell us how popular it is, and they will almost certainly lie. Netflix occasionally releases random stats about how many people watched something, and they usually strain credibility. In June, it claimed 30.9 million watched a new Adam Sandler movie in its first three days, which would have made it one of the biggest openings in history if it had been released in theaters. And we never know how successful any movie is when it’s released on for-pay VOD (via iTunes, Amazon, or your cable box) because nobody shares any numbers at all, which is strange because streaming is how plenty of non-superhero movies make most of their money now. Obviously, they will know — the producers and stars who benefit. But the public will be living entirely in the dark, never knowing if something is actually a hit or just totally Astroturfed. This will be really disorienting; today, at least, the popularity of an artist accounts for like half of the way we feel about them. And hard audience figures were, for a generation of barroom debaters about pop culture, the closest thing anyone actually ever got to a “fact.” —Lane Brown
Former President Barack Obama is making a list, and checking it twice. A day after he released the list of his favorite books of 2019, he’s issued a film/TV faves ledger, including one of his own creations….
I saw the first episode of The Witcher on Festivus, and boy did that unintentionally fit the holiday theme. tldr is that the writers are just phoning this in, and hoping the strength of the fight choreography will keep people watching.
… On Friday, JPL gave a rare media tour to show off the interplanetary robotic vehicle to reporters inside a meticulous dust, hair and oil-free “clean room.” It’s the last time it will be viewed before it’s shipped off to Florida for its July liftoff.
That meant this reporter had to don a full body “bunny” suit and take an air bath with jets to blow away any wayward dust or hair left on the suit.
It took a lot of time and trouble, but NASA’s Dave Gruel said it’s crucial to keep the rover from getting contaminated.
“It’ll be a real bad day for us in the future if those samples come back from Mars and guess what? They’ve got my whisker in that sample,” Gruel said. “That’ll be bad.”
Today, Saturday December 28, would have been the legendary Stan Lee‘s 97th birthday. To mark the occasion fans all around the world are taking a moment to reflect on and honor the prolific and influential comics figure who was responsible for helping to create many of the most iconic characters in comics history — The X-Men, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, and more. It’s one of those characters that a minor league hockey team is using to help honor Lee on his birthday with special Spider-Man uniforms.
On Twitter on Saturday, the Indy Fuel hockey team shared a photo of their uniforms for the evening’s game against the Kansas City Mavericks. The special jerseys are part of the Fuel’s Marvel Super Hero Night event, which just so happens to land on Lee’s birthday. The team also posted thanking the creator for “creating a pretty awesome universe.” You can check out both posts below.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, JJ, Mike Kennedy,
Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Andrew Porter, Dann, Martin
Morse Wooster, David Langford, John Hertz, and Rich Lynch for some of these
stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dennis
Howard – classic faanish reference explained here.]
In a matter of seconds, at the end of the first episode of The Mandalorian, pop culture and Star Wars fandom was changed forever. Baby Yoda was introduced to the universe and we’ll never be the same. The immediacy in which we fell in love with The Child has left an indelible mark. The eyes, the ears, the broth sipping… We were immediately in our feelings and could not climb out. And, thankfully, so were some very creative fans.
Lovestruck, creative fans put out some wonderfully clever and sublimely hilarious videos. They run the gamut of Christmas song remakes, Hamilton mash-ups to very original productions. Take a look, dive into your Baby Yoda emotions and enjoy!
And hey – I actually know one of the singers in The Mary Sues! (She’s my daughter’s aunt.)
And maybe it was the freedom to explore obscure characters without being tethered to the baggage of canon that gave this film an opportunity to stretch? Or perhaps it was Gunn’s propensity for infusing humor, heart, and a killer soundtrack into a movie about a dysfunctional family which could very well be the most relatable premise ever?
Whatever the reason, you’ve got to give the dude credit–after all, Gunn was so confident with his realized vision that he held on to the merchandise-friendly Baby Groot until the end credits.
…Advisers to the Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have sought him out to discuss the environment. But he doesn’t like to think in terms of political parties: “I’d just say I’m an American leftist. The left’s an honourable tradition and a very broad band from Bill Clinton to Xi Jinping. Anything that seems to be progressive in a way that a social scientist or an ordinary person in the street could agree with: health insurance, a pension, and the right to a job.”
His outlook is rooted less in ideology and more in the lived experiences of landscape – specifically the boldly fragile beauty of California’s terraformed farms and coast. “California’s different: it’s the fifth biggest economy in the world, it’s the gold rush, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and it’s too lucky. I wish the whole United States was being led by California, that would get faster solutions. On the other hand, the inequality here is getting as bad as anywhere.”
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born December 28, 1913 — Charles Maxwell. He makes the Birthday List for being Virgil Earp in the “Spectre of the Gun”, a not terribly good Trek story. He also appeared in My Favorite Martian’s “An Old Friend of the Family” as the character Jakobar. His longest running genre role was as the Radio Announcer on Gilligan’s Island for which he was largely uncredited. Interestingly he had six appearances playing six different characters on the Fifties series Science Fiction Theatre. (Died 1993.)
Born December 28, 1922 — Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in a way that company is thought to be the creation of Stan Lee in way that DC isn’t thought if of having of having a single creator. He co-created the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man, an impressive list by any measure. And it’s hardly the full list. I see he’s won Eisner and Kirby Awards but no sign of a Hugo. Is that correct? (Died 2018.)
Born December 28, 1932 — Nichelle Nichols, 87. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Other film SF roles included Ruana in Tarzan’s Deadly Silence with Ron Ely as Tarzan, High Priestess of Pangea in The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space, Oman in Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes and Mystic Woman in American Nightmares. Other series appearances have been as Lieutenant Uhura and additional voices in the animated Trek, archive footage of herself in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” DS9 episode and as Captain Nyota Uhura In Star Trek: Of Gods and Men which may or may not be canon.
Born December 28, 1934 — Maggie Smith, 85. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans. Much better known as Minerva McGonagall In the Harry Potter film franchise. She also played Linnet Oldknow in From Time to Time and voiced Miss Shepherd, I kid you not, in two animated Gnomes films.
Born December 28, 1942 — Eleanor Arnason, 77. She won the Otherwise Award and the Mythopoeic Award for A Woman of the Iron People and also won the Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Fiction for “Dapple”. She’s a Wiscon Guest of Honor. I wholeheartedly recommend her Mammoths of the Great Plains story collection, which like almost all of her fiction, is available in the digital format of your choice.
Born December 28, 1945 — George Zebrowski, 74. He won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Brute Forces. He’s married to Pamela Sargent with whom he has co-written a number of novels, including Trek novels.
Born December 28, 1970 — Elaine Hendrix, 49. I found a Munsters film I didn’t know about (big fan I am yes) and she’s Marilyn Munster in it: The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas. She later is Gadget Model 2 (G2) in Inspector Gadget 2. (Anyone watch these?) And she’s Mary in the animated Kids vs Monsters.
Born December 28, 1978 — John Legend, 41. Several years back, Legend was Jesus Christ in of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice opera Jesus Christ Superstar which aired on NBC. He also voices Crow in the animated Crow: The Legend film.
Born December 28, 1981 — Sienna Miller, 38. The Baroness in one of the endless G.I. Joe films I’ve no intention ever of seeing, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra to be precise. More interestingly, she’s Victoria in the flawed but still worth seeing Stardust. (Go listen to Gaiman reading it for the best take on it — brilliant that is!) And she’s Darcy in Kis Vuk, A Fox’s Tale, a Hungarian-British animated tale that sounds quite charming.
Born December 28, 1982 — Beau Garrett, 37. She made her genre appearances first in Turistas and Unearthed, definitely grade b horror films, before being Captain Raye in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Gem in Tron: Legacy.
Born December 28, 1987 — Thomas Dekker, 32. He’s best known John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Zach on Heroes andAdam Conant on The Secret Circle. He also played Jesse Braun in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. He was also in ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 which might be one of the worse titles I’ve seen for a horror film….
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Tom Gauld’s take on a recent newsmaking bit of punctuation.
Russia’s first regiment of Avangard hypersonic missiles has been put into service, the defence ministry says.
The location was not given, although officials had earlier indicated they would be deployed in the Urals.
President Vladimir Putin has said the nuclear-capable missiles can travel more than 20 times the speed of sound and put Russia ahead of other nations.
They have a “glide system” that affords great manoeuvrability and could make them impossible to defend against.
…Mr Putin said on Tuesday the Avangard system could penetrate current and future missile defence systems, adding: “Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons.”
From a robot in your phone to a smart speaker in your kitchen, voice-to-text algorithms are moving into more and more aspects of our lives.
But how well do they understand English speakers of all backgrounds? We’re running an experiment to find out.
This is where you come in: Record yourself speaking (we’ll give you prompts), send us the clips and we’ll have the machines interpret them. It doesn’t matter if you know of or have used the devices or services we’re testing. If you can speak, we’d like to hear from you.
A podcast based on a 1930 American horror story has been relocated due to fresh inspiration from “rural English mythology” and an alleged UFO sighting.
The BBC Sounds podcast The Whisperer in Darkness features reports by US airmen who claimed to have seen a UFO in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk in 1980.
Writer Julian Simpson visited drama locations in Suffolk with actress Jana Carpenter before penning the series.
His version is loosely based on the novella set in Vermont by HP Lovecraft.
(12) VIRAL TENTACLES. This animatronic has gone viral.
(13) DISNEY EXEC PROFILED. [Item by Martin Morse
Wooster.] Behind a paywall in the November 23 Financial Times, Emma Jacobs profiles
Walt Disney Animation Studios president Jennifer Lee.
“Ms Lee knows something about identifying with animated heroes. The 48-year-old has described growing up in Rhode island on “a poor street in a rich town: where she was tormented by schoolyard bullies, In Disney’s Cinderella, Ms Lee found comfort in a character who ensured cruel mistreatment before finding happiness. The bullying left her plagued with self-doubt. ‘People talk about the dangers of rose coloured glasses,’ she said. ‘But let me tell you, the lenses of self-doubt are far worse. They are nasty. Thick and filthy.”
….”Ms. Lee once wrote that the hardest part of being a female director was not the legacy of Disney or making herself heard in a room full of men. Rather it was the red carpet. ‘I didn’t know that being a size 2…might as well be a size 92 to the elite designers; I have never wanted to be an animated character so badly.'”.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “I’m a Lunatic Chef That Cooks Food Using Explosives.”
The master chef’s guide to serving up steaks to customers extra extra extra extra extra extra extra well done, whether they asked for it or not. This is also Cooking Simulator’s July 4 2019 update that adds some festive things for destroying your kitchen even faster.
[Thanks To Chip Hitchcock, James Davis Nicoll, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, StephenfromOttawa, John King Tarpinian, N., and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Warner.]
By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 43) Saturday
11:30 a.m. at Loscon XLVI,
a panel discussion “The Asimov Centenary”.
We were starting early, or maybe
right; without birth records, he celebrated 3 Jan 1920 but it could have been
in 1919. Moderator, pro author and interviewer Alvaro Zinos-Amaro,
with Fan Guest of Honor Edie Stern, Joe Siclari of FANAC (Florida
Association for Nucleation And Conventions, sponsor of the 50th World Science
Fiction Convention [which Siclari chaired] at Orlando, Florida, and currently a
fanhistory Website <fanac.org>, fanac our
long-time slang for fan activity), Matthew Tepper the con chair and Asimov
scholar, and me.
The panel was billed as discussing
“his growth as a writer, and the
impact that his writings have had on real life culture and science”; I thought,
said, those people have gone to milk the bull.
The work of
Asimov the SF author was imagination; of Asimov the science writer – his four
hundred science columns for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science
Fiction, his six dozen popular-science books – was
explanation. He said he strove for clarity; at both this was his
talent, his skill, perhaps we may say his genius. Let us not turn
away to having an impact (that wretched cant) on real
life culture and science. His growth as a writer –
alas, I thought he shrank. I could not think The Gods
Themselves (1972) his best SF; on the
contrary. Nevertheless he was a wonder.
Tepper said Asimov brought sweeping
stories up close and personal. That also applied to his
non-fiction. Stern said, he worked out a premiss (yes, that’s how
the logic kind is spelled, plural “premisses”; “premises” is the land
kind). He showed how social forces shaped. Siclari said
he could present complex science simply. He had a spirit of play;
not only in his writing, he was active in Gilbert
& Sullivan fandom. I said he was one of our
best what if writers.
Zinos-Amaro asked, accusations of
his mistreating women have emerged: does that complicate what we think of
him? Stern reminded us these things were no news; everyone with a
skirt, she said, knew he was grabby. She told of a woman in a shirt
printed with six-finger outlines who retorted “Isaac, if your hands fit these,
you can, otherwise no”; he stopped. Tepper said, we’re faced with even
greater creative personalities who were flawed – like Wagner. We
can’t minimize either side. A woman in the audience said “I ran a
convention; he was very professional.”
On yet another side, Stern told of
a Boston collating session in the mimeograph days; just as a man declined to
pitch in, saying “I’m a published author”, Asimov stuck his head out of the
collating room calling “Hey, Tony, we need more of Page 2.”
Zinos-Amaro asked us each what one
book we’d recommend. Stern said, Pebble in the Sky (1950). Siclari
said, Foundation (1951). Tepper said, The
Caves of Steel (1953). I said, The End of
Eternity (1955). Look too for the collections of his short
stories and of his science essays. With fiction and non-fiction he had
published five hundred books – plus anthologies – plus founding Asimov’s
Science Fiction magazine.
In the Art Show the best for me was
Elizabeth Berrien. This
extraordinary wire-worker was famous among us for years. Her animals
and other creations are in many of our homes. At Lonestarcon II, the
55th Worldcon, she won Best in Art Show. As her career grew, she
found herself making things for airports, hotels, museums, offices,
restaurants, television advertising, zoos.
Chris Marble said “It’s been 21
years since she exhibited at Loscon.” In 2019 she was in the Art
Show at Spikecon, the combined Westercon (West Coast Science Fantasy
Conference) and NASFiC (North America SF Con, held when the Worldcon is
overseas), fifty miles from where the Final
Spike completed the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years earlier; Marble had carried her work to and from the 77th Worldcon in
When she’s present, at a party or a panel discussion, you’ll see
her listening or contributing to the conversation, all the while twisting
wire. She must carry the whole in her mind, like Michelangelo saying
“I just get a block of marble and chip away anything that isn’t a Madonna and
Child.” If you look at wire sculpture around the world, you’ll see
hers is distinctive. It may be unique.
We have fan tables. We
don’t know any better name for them. Along the traffic flow are
people and displays on behalf of scheduled cons, bids to hold cons, contests,
SF clubs, to answer questions and as may seem suitable.
At Loscon, the Orange County SF
Club usually has a table. Their logograph is a Space ship taking off
from an orange. To be friendly there’s usually an
orange-colored bowl with orange-flavored candy. I keep meaning to
ask whether OCSFC is in touch with the Netherlands
national football team.
If you can’t remember whether you
have a membership in something or other there may well be someone at a table
with a list paper or electronic who might, in case you don’t and want one,
offer you a do-it-now discount. Non-profit organizations have to get
I had to go off-site three times for errands that took hours. Half of one later proved needless. Another could have been avoided, but Life is a continuing series of adventures in which you learn you’d have done better to think of something else in advance.
I saw I’d be late for the Saturday
night Paul Turner memorial panel (1936-2019). High-tech
folk helped me tell Operations. I arrived after 8:30, but I
arrived. Neola Caveny moderated Greg Benford, Paul’s son now known
as the Wizard, Suzanne Vegas, and eventually me.
Paul was given
the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS in 1964. He was
Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon XX. In our audience Bill Ellern said
that while Paul is with some justice credited for inventing the LASFS Building
Fund (Jerry Pournelle, “You’re out of your mind”; Paul, “Sure I am”), by
which LASFS indeed bought a clubhouse, Betty Knight as Treasurer in the 1950s
kept saying we should start one but nobody listened. Paul held
salons with SF authors, Jet Propulsion Lab scientists, and like that, for
conversation and nourishment. His mind ranged wide.
Sunday 2:30 p.m., the second Classics of
SF book talk, C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra (1943; reached
the Retro-Hugo ballot). I’ll stay with “audience” although I invite
and perhaps some would say drag in participation. Is it a
classic? why? From the audience: the people – and the other
characters – are genuine; I asked, how could we know; a woman said, “If we
met them they’d be like that.” She had hit on what Johnson said of
Shakespeare (two geometric figures of the same shape are similar, regardless of
differences in size):
He approximates the remote, and familiarizes the wonderful; the event which he represents will not happen, but if it were possible, its effects would probably be such as he has assigned; and it may be said, that he has not only shown human nature as it acts in real exigencies, but as it would be found in trials, to which it cannot be exposed.
Another said the descriptions of
landscape were almost as interesting as the plot. Another: the
portrayal of Ransom’s internal reactions. Another: Ransom isn’t too
perfect. Sean Smith said he wrestles with his moral
dilemma. He asks “Why me?” and painfully answers. Father
John Blaker said, Lewis takes these questions seriously – but not, ran our
consensus, at the expense of his fiction.
which might ideally mean inspiring, has too often proved to
mean oppressing; we thought Lewis avoided falling into that
pit. Another said a truly loving person discusses.
If Perelandra had
anything in common with our Friday book, Asimov’s Second
Foundation (1953) – gosh – it might be the centrality of
dialogue. Look at the nearly impossible task of characterizing
Ransom’s adversary – and I don’t mean Weston.
I bought Craig Miller’s “Star Wars” Memories (2019)
from his own self. Later, helping take
down the Dealers’ Room; dinner; I got to the Dead Dog Party (until
the last dog is –) round about midnight. As it happens I’d
helped to supply it – and the Staff Den; at length I’d been made Chief Hall-Costume
Judge (the costumes some people build or assemble for strolling the halls; Marjii
Ellers called them daily wear for alternative worlds)
Some of us were still
alive. Karl Lembke, chairman (the suffix -man is
not masculine) of the LASFS Board and a refreshments wizard, was still on
duty. A good thing, too.