Announced June 28, they emerged from a field of 12 finalists that also included Frogger, GoldenEye 007, Guitar Hero, NBA Jam, Nokia Snake, Super Smash Brothers Melee, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
About Bejeweled:Initially created as a web-based Flash game in 2001, Bejeweled popularized the “match three” puzzle game and became one of the most iconic mobile games in history. It inspired many other mobile games using the same mechanics, and the game’s developer estimated in 2013 that it had been downloaded more than 500 million times. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly called Bejeweled “the Gone with the Wind of the casual-game world—the most commercially successful and influential puzzle program in the genre’s short history.”
“Players from around the world have devoted tens of billions of hours to playing Bejeweled and the games that it inspired,” says Curator Shannon Symonds. “Now, Bejeweled and its successor puzzle games seem commonplace—a regular part of all our lives—and it’s that reach, influence, and icon status that make Bejeweled so deserving of being the very first mobile game added to the World Video Game Hall of Fame.”
About Centipede: When it debuted in 1981, Atari’s Centipede challenged players to blast an insect as it zigzagged across the screen in challenging patterns and at various speeds. Ed Logg led a team that included Dona Bailey, one of the only female programmers in the 1980s arcade video game industry, to develop a game that helped attract more female players. It was an immediate success and became synonymous with the golden age of the arcade, though it also found later life in re-releases on home consoles, portable game systems, mobile game apps, and even as a board game. It also spawned multiple clones—from Bug Attack to War of the Bugs—and a sequel, Millipede.
“Centipede appeals to a wide demographic and is often cited as a game that helped attract more women to the arcade in the early 1980s,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant vice president for electronic games and interpretation. “But it’s also one of the best-selling arcade games of that era and its fast-paced, bug-blasting gameplay is as challenging and satisfying to play today as it was decades ago.”
About King’s Quest: Designed by Sierra On-Line cofounder Roberta Williams, King’s Quest (1984) introduced players to the fantastical world of Daventry. The fairytale setting, unique visuals, and irreverent humor helped to make the game a hit on personal computers and popularized the graphic adventure genre. Sierra On-Line, led by Ken and Roberta Williams, produced seven sequels, and the game influenced dozens of adventure games that followed, establishing Roberta Williams as one of the most significant game designers of the 1980s and 1990s.
“It’s difficult to overstate King’s Quest’s influence on adventure games. More than any other game of its type, King’s Quest established or reinforced many of the conventions of the adventure games that followed it,” says Archivist Julia Novakovic. “Many games still today can trace their lineage back to King’s Quest.”
About Minecraft: With its endless play possibilities, Minecraft has become a global phenomenon since its introduction in 2009. Players in a worldwide, online community make their own creations using sets of pixilated blocks that they mine and use to build elaborate structures. The game offers nearly unlimited opportunities for creativity. As of 2019, the game had sold more than 176 million copies across all platforms, with more copies sold for consoles than for personal computers.
Says Digital Games Curator Andrew Borman, “The success of Minecraft speaks to the maturing of video games as a cultural touchstone. No longer do game creators need to be obsessed about having the most realistic looking graphics. Minecraft features a retro simplicity that hearkens back to fondly remembered days of 8-bit computers. Minecraft came of age at a time when indie gaming had emerged to give individual developers a greater say in the games they developed, and no game is a better representative of this movement than this bestselling hit creation.”
Nominations came from the public. (People are invited to make recommendations for next year’s class here). The finalists were selected on the advice of journalists, scholars, and other individuals familiar with the history of video games and their role in society.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame at The Strong was established in 2015 to recognize individual electronic games of all types—arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile—that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general.
(1) GARCIAGATE GOFUNDME. Chris Garcia, Vanessa and the boys had to evacuate from their Northern California home because of the fires. So far their house has survived, but there’s no telling when they will be able to return. Til then, they’re in hotels. A GoFundMe appeal launched yesterday: “GarciaGatePenguins Fire Relief” People have donated $5,780 of the $10,000 goal in less than 24 hours.
…Initially they believed their home is lost, but are holding out hope that their home and belongings aren’t destroyed. It may still be a long voyage in the clean up process, assuming the house is still standing. What may have been destroyed by smoke damage is also still an unknown. It has been an incredibly hard time and they are incurring many added expenses for temporary lodging and having to eat out.
(2) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman continues having the conversations he would have had in New Zealand had there been a flesh-and-blood CoNZealand. It’s time for tea and scones with Farah Mendlesohn on Episode 126 of Eating the Fantastic.
I’d previously made plans to chat and chew with three guests on the ground in Wellington, but since that proved impossible, I decided to go virtual, too, urged on by my Patreon supporters. And so, during my previous two episodes, you were able to eavesdrop as I dined with Lee Murray in New Zealand and Stephen Dedman in Australia. This time around, we’re off to Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England for tea and scones with Farah Mendlesohn.
Farah was a Hugo Award finalist this year in the category of Best Related Work for her book The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein, and had previously been nominated in that category for The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children’s and Teens’ Science Fiction, and On Joanna Russ. She won a Hugo (with Edward James) in 2005 for The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, as well as a World Fantasy Award in 2017 for Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction, which she wrote with Michael M. Levy.
She’s also edited anthologies, including Glorifying Terrorism, Manufacturing Contempt: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction, which she created to protest laws introduced by the British Government she saw as restricting free speech. She was the chair of the Science Fiction Foundation from 2004-2007, served as President of the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts from 2008-2011, and is currently an Associate Fellow of The Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy.
We discussed the reasons Robert A. Heinlein resonated with her, how her early and current readings of Heinlein differ, why the science fiction of the ’30s was far more politically radical than that of the ’40s and ’50s, her deliberately controversial comment about Ursula K. Le Guin, the circumstances under which she’s more interested in the typical rather than the groundbreaking, that period during the ’20s when everyone was fascinated by glands, the one Heinlein book she wishes we’d go all back and reread, our joint distaste for fan policing, and much more.
We’re getting the first look at the upcoming second season of His Dark Materials, HBO/BBC’s big-budget adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy epic.
The second season begins after Lord Asriel has opened a bridge to a new world, and, distraught over the death of her best friend, Lyra follows Asriel into the unknown. In a strange and mysterious abandoned city she meets Will, a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.
“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling has emerged into a fresh controversy after she returned the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon her by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization in December 2019, following criticism from Kerry Kennedy. Kerry is the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, and the president of the organization.
“Over the course of June 2020 — LGBTQ Pride Month — and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements,” Kennedy posted on the organization’s website on Aug. 3. “On June 6, she tweeted an article headlined “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.” She wrote glibly and dismissively about transgender identity: ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Kennedy said she had spoken with Rowling “to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community — one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.”
“Because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year,” said the author. “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honor, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”
Rowling said Kennedy’s statement “incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people.”
While appearing on David Tennant’s celebrity interview podcast, David Tennant Does a Podcast With…, Sulu actor Takei alleged that the cast of the original Star Trek TV series all got along apart from Shatner, with Takei confirming that it often felt like “William Shatner versus the rest of the world”.
“It got more and more intense,” Takei recalled. “How do I put it? It began from the TV series. There was one character whose charisma and whose mystery was like a magnet.
“It was Spock, the strange alien with pointy ears. That intrigued the audience and women thought ‘I’m the one who can arouse him.’ His fan letters were this many, and Leonard’s were that many, and that created an insecurity [in Shatner].”
He continued: “Movie-making, TV-making, theatre-making is all about collaborative teamwork. A good actor knows that the scene works when there’s that dynamic going on with the cast. Some actors seem to feel that it’s a one-man show. That’s the source of some tensions.”
Shatner saw the article and lashed out —
Then, in an unrelated exchange on Twitter, Shatner downplayed Trek’s immediate benefits to his career.
(6) THE MARTIAN CANTICLES. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the August 24 Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney talks to progressive rocker Rick Wakeman about his new album, The Red Planet, He says he got the idea for the album about Mars by attending the Starmus International Festival of astronomy and music in Tenerife, Spain.
“Next year’s Starmus, due to be held in Armenia, marks the 50th anniversary of the first orbit of Mars by a space probe. Wakeman will be among the musicians appearing. He describes how the event’s founder, the astrophysicist Garek Israelian, updated him about the latest Martian findings.
‘He told me that it’s beginning to look like 20bn years ago Mars was a blue planet with oceans and rivers. ‘Your good friend David Bowie may have been right,’ Wakeman recalls. The rock musician–who played the piano part on Bowie’s celebrated ‘Life on Mars’ in 1971–went very quiet as the scientist spoke. Inside, a light went on. ‘Bingo!’ he said to himself/”
(7) THE TOON IS OUT THERE. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Lower Decks must look like a success, since now X-Files seems to be jumping onto the animated spin-off bandwagon. But since this show is being done by the creators of Movie 43 (which currently earns a generous 5% on Rotten Tomatoes) I wouldn’t hold out much hope for the series being watchable. From Variety: “‘X-Files’ Animated Comedy Series in Development at Fox”.
An animated “X-Files” comedy series spinoff is in the works at Fox, Variety has confirmed.
The project is currently titled “The X-Files: Albuquerque.” It has received a script and presentation commitment at the broadcaster. The show would revolve around an office full of misfit agents who investigate X-Files cases too wacky, ridiculous or downright dopey for Mulder and Scully to bother with. They’re basically the X-Files’ B-team.
“X-Files” creator Chris Carter is attached to executive produce the project, with Rocky Russo and Jeremy Sosenko attached to write and executive produce. Gabe Rotter, who worked on the “X-Files” revival at Fox, will also executive produce. 20th Television and Fox Entertainment will produce. Bento Box will provide animation. Neither Gillian Anderson or David Duchovny is involved with the project at this time.
(8) UP THE AMAZON. Publishers Lunch reports:
…In advance of Independent Bookstore Day on August 29, Powell’s Books announced that it will no longer sell rare and collectible books through Amazon Marketplace. Owner Emily Powell wrote in a message to customers, “For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world…. The vitality of our neighbors and neighborhoods depends on the ability of local businesses to thrive. We will not participate in undermining that vitality.”
We’ve all read about it: after decades of construction, a shiny new generation ship is loaded with a crew of bright-eyed optimists. Once the sun is just another bright star in the sky, mutiny and civil war reduce the crew to ignorant peasants…unless something worse happens. This is a narrative pattern set as early as Murray Leinster’s 1935 “Proxima Centauri,” solidified by Heinlein’s 1941 “Universe,” and embraced by authors ever since: human foibles in the confined space of a generation ship ensure calamity. Ideally not of the sort that leave everyone too dead to be interesting.
But it does not have to go that way! Here are five examples of generation ships that managed to avoid mutiny, civil war, barbarism, and mass cannibalism.
(10) THE MAGIC OF LONDON BOOKSHOPS. Publishers Weekly conducted a “Q & A with Garth Nix” whose new book is The Left-Handed Booksellers of London.
Why did you choose to set the tale in 1983 London?
In part I chose to set the story in 1983 London because that was when I first saw it in person, visiting from Australia. I was there for about six months, off and on—even though I have returned to the U.K. many times since—so I have particularly concrete memories of that time. But I also wanted to make it a slightly alternate 1983, so the world of the book could be more diverse and have greater gender equality, and I could enjoy myself including and transforming various cultural references of the time.
The magic users in your book are booksellers rather than being specifically wizards, witches, magicians, etc. What’s the connection for you, between selling books and casting spells?
I think bookshops have always been rather magical, so by extension, the people who work in them are too! There is also something magical about making the connection between a book and a reader. I always had tremendous satisfaction in match-making a customer with a book they didn’t know they wanted, but would later come back in to rave about and buy everything the author had written.
In Merlin and the booksellers generally, you’ve created a group of characters who are magically gender-fluid. Why was it important for you to include this facet of the characters?
I think this is similar to my writing about places I wish really existed, that I could visit. While it isn’t easy for the booksellers to physically become the gender they feel they are, it is far easier than it is in this world. I think it would be good to be, as Merlin says, “somewhat shape-shiftery.”
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 28, 1956 — X Minus One’s “Surface Tension.” Based off the short story of the same name by the Hugo Award winning James Blish that was first published in the August 1952 edition of Galaxy Science Fiction, it first aired on this date in 1956. A Cold War tale in which The East and The West knowing the sun will soon explode meet to decide how to save the human race. Can this end well? The story was adapted as usual by George Lefferts. The rather extensive radio cast was Luis Van Rooten, Danny Auchal, Lawson Zerbe, Larry Haines, Mason Adams, Jim Stevens and Bob Hastings. You can listen to it here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 28, 1749 – Johann von Goethe. Two-part play Faust big in the history of fantasy; four shorter stories, a dozen poems, also ours; other plays, poems, novels; criticism; science, particularly anatomy, botany, color; three thousand drawings. Inspired Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Gounod. On the cusp leaving the balance of Classicism for the passion of Romanticism. (Died 1832) [JH]
Born August 28, 1833 – Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Bt. Painter, illustrator, designer. “I mean by a picture a beautiful, romantic dream of something that never was, never will be – in a light better than any light that ever shone – in a land no one can define or remember, only desire – and the forms divinely beautiful”. Here is The Beguiling of Merlin. Here is Angeli laudantes (Latin, “Angels praising”; tapestry). Here is The Golden Stairs. Here is The Wheel of Fortune. Here is a study for The Masque of Cupid (Desiderium is Latin, “desire”). His accepting a baronetcy disgusted his socialist wife and friends. (Died 1898) [JH]
Born August 28, 1896 — Morris Ankrum. Numerous appearances in the Fifties — in Rocketship X-M as Dr. Ralph Fleming, as a Martian leader in Flight to Mars, in Red Planet Mars playing the United States Secretary of Defense, in Invaders From Mars playing a United States Army general, and as yet another Army general in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. (Died 1964.) (CE)
Born August 28, 1916 – Jack Vance. Forty novels – these are round numbers; I think The Dying Earth is a novel, and I think it’s science fiction. Sixty shorter stories. Memoir This Is Me, Jack Vance (or more properly “This is I”). Interviewed in Aberrations, Lighthouse, Locus, Orbit (Dutch, hello Kees van Toorn), SF Review, StarShipSofa. Mystery novels too (Edgar for The Man in the Cage), unless they all are. Three Hugos, a Nebula; Prix Utopia; Forry (for service to SF; Los Angeles Science Fantasy Soc.); Jupiter; Emperor Norton Award (for extraordinary invention and creativity); Seiun; World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement; SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Grand Master; SF Hall of Fame. (Died 2013) [JH]
Born August 28, 1917 — Jack Kirby. Responsible for a goodly part of modern comics from Captain America and the X-Men to Challengers of the Unknown and the New Gods. I’m very much looking forward to the New Gods film being worked on, now delayed by the Pandemic. (Died 1994.) (CE)
Born August 28, 1925 – Arkady Strugatsky. A score of novels, fifty shorter stories, with his brother Boris; also translated English (with B) and Japanese. Roadside Picnic is much applauded; I recommend Hard to Be a God. Interviewed in Fiction (French), Foundation, Locus, Polaris (German), Urania (Italian), Yellow Submarine (French). Together Guests of Honour at Conspiracy ’87 (45th Worldcon). (Died 1991) [JH]
Born August 28, 1948 — Vonda McIntyre. I’ve read a number of her works including Dreamsnake and The Moon and the Sun which are all phenomenal. The latter was based on a short stor of hers done as a faux encyclopaedia article “The Natural History and Extinction of the People of the Sea”, that was illustrated by Le Guin. Way cool. (Died 2019.) (CE)
Born August 28, 1951 – Barbara Hambly, 69. Forty novels, two dozen shorter stories. Interviewed in Andromeda Spaceways, Locus. Forry Award. Two Lord Ruthven Awards. Children of the Jedi a NY Times Best Seller. Served a term as SFWA President. Black Belt in karate (shôtôkan). Outside our field, notably historical fiction (free man of color Benjamin January, nineteen detective novels in antebellum New Orleans; The Emancipator’s Wife; Search the Seven Hills; several others). Peter Nicholls calls her writing vigorous, interesting, and alert. [JH]
Born August 28, 1954 – Diane Turnshek, 66. Astronomer; teaches at Carnegie Mellon Univ. and Univ. Pittsburgh. Four short stories and a Probability Zero. SFWA Speakers’ Bureau. Dark Sky Defender Award from Int’l Dark Sky Ass’n. Ranks Flatland about the same as The Taming of the Shrew. [JH]
Born August 28, 1964 – Traci Harding, 56. A score of novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Her publisher (HarperCollins/Voyager Australia) says she blends fantasy, fact, esoteric theory, time travel, and quantum physics; sold half a million books in Australia alone. Worked in film studio management before starting to write novels. Website here. [JH]
Born August 28, 1965 — Amanda Tapping, 55. She’s best known for portraying Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. She also starred as Helen Magnus on Sanctuary which I never managed to see. Anyone seen it? She was in The Void which also starred Adrian Paul and Malcolm McDowell. (CE)
Born August 28, 1978 — Rachel Kimsey, 42. She voices Wonder Woman on Justice League Action, yet another series that proves animation, not live, is the DC film strong point. Here’s a clip of her voice work from that show. She was Zoe, the old imaginary friend of Frances, on Don’t Look Under The Bed, a supposedly horror that ran on Disney. Disney, horror? And she was a zombie in the “Don’t Let Her Pull You Down” musical video by New Found Glory. (CE)
Born August 28, 1978 — Kelly Overton, 42. She has the lead role of Vanessa Van Helsing in Van Helsing, a Syfy series based off of Zenescope Entertainment’s Helsing graphic novel series. She‘s been on True Blood as the werewolf Rikki Naylor, and then there’s The Collective, a horror film written, directed, and produced by her and her husband, Judson Pearce Morgan. (CE)
Each week on NewberyTart, Jennie and Marcy, two book-loving mamas (and a librarian and a bookseller, respectively), read and drink their way through the entire catalogue of Newbery books, and interview authors and illustrators along the way.
On today’s episode, Jennie and Marcy talk about the finalist of the 1971 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children’s literature, Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl.
Marcy: Since I started reading what I consider to be better science fiction, the tone of the book leaves me thinking it could be a little better, even if it might not necessarily be true, but it just falls in that category. Does it make sense the association?
Jennie: I think that we’re both talking about prejudices we have when it comes to books as we approach them and what we enjoy versus what we have been exposed to in the past. I think that makes total sense. I’m just like, Elana should be with a knife in her teeth and she should be hanging from the rafters.
Marcy: You want her to be Zoe from Firefly.
Jennie: I was thinking more Ripley.
This is a really great discussion about what we’ve come to expect from heroines in sci-fi!
Marcy: Which is ironic because this is probably one of the building blocks that got us to where we are to the ones that we wanted.
Jennie: I think it’s really good that we take some time and look at this and hopefully bring it to some new new readers.
Marcy: I have nothing but gratitude for the innovators who gave us any main characters, much less ones who rebelled in even any small ways and accomplished things and were characters who had agency. In this case, literally, even if they make bad choices sometimes, which people do. It’s still totally necessary to get us to where we are now, where we have so many choices and so many great female characters. We wouldn’t be here without those.
Libraries have long been home to feline residents who keep patrons company, promote activities and programs, and assist with pest control. We checked in on four library cats (and their humans) to see how their lifestyles have changed during the pandemic.
Browser from Texas’s White Settlement Public Library may be one of the nation’s most famous library cats. In a viral story from 2016, a city council member tried to oust Browser from his position at the library; after a public outcry, Browser was reinstated for life while his political opponent lost his reelection campaign.
Browser has stuck around the library during the pandemic closure but seems to be missing the crowds.
“He is generally quite independent, but since the closure he always wants to be near people. We can usually find him in the lap of a staff member, or lying helpfully on their keyboard,” library staffer Kathryn King told I Love Libraries. “Now that we are offering curbside service, he posts himself at the window during curbside hours to watch the patrons come and go.”…
…What is true is that Heinlein is probably less generally relevant to newer science fiction readers and writers than he was to new SF readers and writers in earlier eras. I have essayed this at length before and therefore won’t go into it again now. I will say, however, that Heinlein’s work and the work of many of his contemporaries are at an awkward age: enough decades after publication that the underlying cultural assumptions of the work and the author are no longer consonant with contemporary times, but not enough decades out that the work can be comfortably be considered a “period piece,” which means that consonance is no longer expected.
In other words: a lot of “Golden Age of Science Fiction” work currently lies in a sort of cultural uncanny valley, existing in a simultaneous state of being too distant from contemporary readers, and also not nearly distant enough. That’s not Heinlein’s fault, precisely; it’s a matter of time and culture. It’s going to happen to most creative work — well, most work that’s remembered at all.
(17) BRADBURY’S CRIME. Time travelers…dark carnivals…living automata…and detectives? Hard Case Crime is celebrating Ray Bradbury’s centennial, with a deluxe illustrated commemorative collection of his finest crime stories: Killer, Come Back To Me.
Honoring the 100th birthday of Ray Bradbury, renowned author of Fahrenheit 451, this new, definitive collection of the master’s less well-known crime fiction, published in a high-grade premium collectible edition, features classic stories and rare gems, a number of which became episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Ray Bradbury Theater, including the tale Bradbury called “one of the best stories in any field that I have ever written.”
Is it murder to destroy a robot if it looks and speaks and thinks and feels like a human being? Can a ventriloquist be incriminated by the testimony of his own dummy? Can a time traveler prevent his younger self from killing the woman they both loved? And can the survivor of a pair of Siamese twins investigate his own brother’s murder? No other writer has ever rivaled the imagination and narrative gifts of Ray Bradbury, and the 20 unforgettable stories in this collection demonstrate this singular writer’s extraordinary range, influence and emotional power.
(18) HOLE NEW IDEA. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] Universe Today brings to our attention a new theory that would allow human-transmissible wormholes. There are, however, just a feeeew caveats. For instance, though the trip would be almost instantaneous for the passengers, an outside perspective would see the trip take longer than light would take to travel the same distance. Oh, and there’s the bit where the engineering would be many, many orders of magnitude greater than anything humans are currently capable of. And the thing where the effect depends on whether a particular 5-dimensional model of the universe correctly describes it or not. “One Theory Beyond the Standard Model Could Allow Wormholes that You Could Actually Fly Through”.
The study, titled “Humanly traversable wormholes,” was conducted by Juan Maldacena (the Carl P. Feinberg Professor of theoretical physics from the Institute of Advanced Study) and Alexey Milekhin, a graduate of astrophysics student at Princeton University. The pair have written extensively on the subject of wormholes in the past and how they could be a means for traveling safely through space.
…The fireworks underlined the light in the darkness, the path forward, the bombs bursting in air, and made me reflect on our journey here for our movement to push this great American culture in a healthy and wondrous direction through science fiction and comics.
God’s blessed me with talents beyond most of the field in science fiction, fantasy, and comics, and on top of it, a clear vision of what needs to be done with the work not only to produce greatness for my own edification, but to do glory to His name and bring a return to hope, heroism, and the exceptionalism of mankind to fiction and culture.
It’s been missing for a long time, and the trials and tribulations, the struggles, the blacklisting, the bannings, they all were trials given to me to push me to outwork and out-innovate the competition, which is the true American way of winning.
(20) SONG DYNASTY CAT TWEETS. You wouldn’t want to miss this. Thread starts here.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, James Davis Nicoll, Mike Kennedy, Chris Barkley, Olav Rokne, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
The 2020 Pegasus Award finalists were announced on August 27. The Pegasus Award is presented by the Ohio Valley Filk Fest (OVFF) for excellence in filking. The convention has been cancelled due to the pandemic, but the awards will still be given.
This spring, when the pandemic forced bookstores across the country to close and authors to cancel their tours, many editors and publishers made a gamble. They postponed the publication of dozens of titles, betting that things would be back to normal by the fall.
Now, with September approaching, things are far from normal. Books that were bumped from spring and early summer are landing all at once, colliding with long-planned fall releases and making this one of the most crowded fall publishing seasons ever. And now publishers are confronting a new hurdle: how to print all those books.
The two largest printing companies in the United States, Quad and LSC Communications, have been under intense financial strain, a situation that has grown worse during the pandemic. LSC declared bankruptcy in April, and the company’s sales fell nearly 40 percent in the fiscal quarter that ended June 30, a drop that the company attributed partly to the closure of retailers during the pandemic and the steep fall of educational book sales. In September, LSC’s assets will be put up for auction. Quad’s printing business is also up for sale; this spring, the company had to temporarily shut down its printers at three plants due to the pandemic.
At the same time, there has been a surprising spike in sales for print books, a development that would normally be cause for celebration, but is now forcing publishers to scramble to meet surging demand. Unit sales of print books are up more than 5 percent over last year, and sales have accelerated over the summer. From early June to mid-August, print sales were up more than 12 percent over the previous 10 weeks, according to NPD BookScan. The surge has been driven by several new blockbuster titles, including books by Suzanne Collins, Stephenie Meyer, John Bolton and Mary Trump. Publishers have also seen an unexpected demand for older titles, particularly books about race and racism, children’s educational workbooks and fiction.
“The infinite printer capacity hasn’t been there for a while, now enter Covid and a huge surge in demand, and you have an even more complex situation,” said Sue Malone-Barber, senior vice president and director of Publishing Operations for Penguin Random House, which is delaying titles at several of its imprints as a result of the crunch.
(2) DIAL M. A trailer dropped for Come Play, a horror movie about creatures that live inside a cellphone.
Newcomer Azhy Robertson stars as Oliver, a lonely young boy who feels different from everyone else. Desperate for a friend, he seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver’s devices against him to break into our world, Oliver’s parents (Gillian Jacobs and John Gallagher Jr.) must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen. The film is produced by The Picture Company for Amblin Partners.
(3) HUGO RULES PROPOSAL. Jay Blanc tweeted a link to their first draft of a proposed amendment to the WSFS Constitution that would provide a standing Advisory Committee for the Hugo Awards. See the text at Google Docs. Blanc’s commentary justifies the need for a new committee:
The intent of this amendment is to correct a point of failure in the current way the Hugo Awards are administered, a flawed institutional memory and a lack of any consistent infrastructure.
The innate problems of “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to infrastructure became obvious when the 2020 Hugo Awards online-ballot process failed to be ready for use for the ballot deadline. When it did become ready to use, after the ballot deadline was pushed back, it was discovered that it did not correctly register votes for some users.
There had been a pre-existing online ballot system, used by Helsinki and Dublin, this system was robust and had an open development process. However it is unclear why this system was not used, or if it was why it was heavily modified and those modifications kept private and unreviewed. This is a clear failure of infrastructure that can be fixed by having standing advice on applying online balloting systems.
Further, there appears to have been some issue with confusion over information provided to Hugo Award finalists, and a lack of clear communication lines and recording of any complaints raised.
While the unique localised structure of the Worldcon is overall beneficial, these problems can only be addressed by having some form of standing committee. This amendment does not mandate this committee as replacement for the Worldcon Committee’s handling of the Hugo Awards, but does establish a weight of advice and infrastructure. I would expect Worldcon Committees to opt-in to accepting this advice and infrastructure, rather than continue to reinvent the wheel. But this amendment leaves it open to any individual Worldcon to choose to go it’s own way in the administration of the Hugo Awards if it decides that is correct….
…Stephen King requests only a token amount from anyone optioning one of his novels; the “option” reserves a book for a limited time, usually a year, with the big bucks coming if and when that option is exercised. “I want a dollar,” King said in 2016, “and I want approvals over the screenwriter, the director and the principal cast.” That’s a snip until you realise that the back end is where he makes his real movie money: he got an eight-figure cheque from the recent adaptation of It.
More common are those tales of writers whose work takes an interminable time to reach the screen – Caren Lissner, for instance, whose book Carrie Pilby was optioned on several occasions between publication in 2003 and the film’s production in 2016 – or those that never get greenlit at all.
How realistic is it for writers to get rich from selling adaptation rights? “It’s just not,” says Joanna Nadin, whose YA novel Joe All Alone was adapted into a Bafta-winning 2018 television series. “It’s unrealistic to think any aspect of writing can make you rich.” Nadin confesses that she gets dollar signs in her eyes when she learns that a book of hers has been optioned. “For about 10 minutes, I revamp my Oscar acceptance speech, choose my mansion and dine out on imaginary caviar. Then I try not to think about it, knowing that, if anything happens, it won’t be for many years.”
Marshall Ryan Maresca’s debut novel, The Thorn of Dentonhill, came out from DAW Books in February of 2015. Five years later – now, in 2020, smack in the midst of a global pandemic – Maresca is publishing four different series of novels with DAW, each series already three books in, each one set in his originally devised city of Maradaine. And there are many more books on the way.
Even those of us who write almost creatively, day-in, day-out, to meet the relentless deadlines of journalism are like, “Maresca, how the hell? How do you write so much so quickly? And how do you sell novel after novel after novel when other writers we know can’t even seem to land a publisher?”
…”When I started this particular project,” says Maresca over a cup of java and safely distanced at a picnic table outside Thunderbird Coffee on Manor, “I’d already had the world stuff built out, but it wasn’t quite working for me. I thought that, since I’d done all the world-building, I needed to show all of it to the reader at once. Which was a terrible idea, and it didn’t work. But when I was working on that book – which is now sitting in a drawer and will never see the light of day – I had this sort of wild idea, that drew in part from inspiration from comic books.”
Note: Maresca’s favorites among comics are West Coast Avengers, Chris Claremont’s classic run of X-Men, and Mark Gruenwald’s many-charactered D.P.7 – all adding, he tells us, to the authorial influence of such unillustrated story cycles as Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s Green Sky trilogy and David Eddings’ Belgariad. But, the wild idea?
“I thought, instead of trying to show everything,” says Maresca, “why don’t I just show one city, different aspects of that? And from there, I could tell different kinds of stories and have them be somewhat interconnected. And so, somewhere in my file cabinets, there’s a handwritten piece of paper, where I’ve written four story tracks: one vigilante-by-night, one old-time warrior, one two-brothers-heists, one two-cops-solve-murders. And that was the origin of everything. And so I slowly built up my outlines of what all these were – and part of that also came from just the way the publishing industry is. I wrote Thorn of Dentonhill first, and then, while I was shopping for agents, I was also like, well, I should just keep writing. But it’d be silly to write a book two of this series without knowing if I sold book one. So I wrote a different book one – the first book of a different series. And then, as I was looking for someone to buy Thorn, I got that second book one done. And I was like, okay, now that I have an agent interested, I’m gonna write another book one. So that, by the time my agent Mike Kabongo was shopping things around, and the editor at DAW was interested, I had the first book of each of the four series already done.”
The Folio Society recently published a special edition of Octavia Butler’s 1979 novel Kindred, a time-travel narrative set between modern-day Los Angeles and a pre-Civil War US. I interviewed the book’s illustrator, James E. Ransome, about what it took to depict scenes of slavery, Ransome’s artistic influences, his dream projects, and more….
AR: Had you read the Damian Duffy/John Jennings graphic novel of Kindred before working on this?
JR: I hadn’t read it beforehand, but I came across it at a bookfair in the middle of working on this project. I was impressed. It was good to see a graphic novel with an illustration for every scene, and as a creator I enjoyed getting another take on the material.
AR: How did you decide which scenes to showcase?
JR: The Folio Society’s art director, Sheri Gee and I discussed it in a series of conversations. We were looking for dramatic scenes that would be interesting to capture. Things that were more dynamic than, say, two people sitting at a table talking. The very beginning scene, with the boy drowning, was a natural choice. Butler’s chapter titles—“The River,” “The Fire,” etc.—were also helpful leads.
Ruby met Ken Spears when both were sound editors and then staff writers at the cartoon powerhouse Hanna-Barbera, and they created the supernatural kids show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which centered around a talking Great Dane and bowed on CBS in September 1969. All but four of the first 25 episodes were written and story-edited by them.
In the early 1970s, then-CBS president of children’s programming Fred Silverman hired Ruby and Spears to supervise the network’s Saturday morning cartoon lineup, and they followed the executive to ABC for similar duties in 1975. (Scooby-Doo joined that network’s lineup as well.)
Two years later, ABC set up Ruby-Spears Productions as a subsidiary of Filmways, and the company launched Saturday morning animated series around such characters as Fangface, Plastic Man, Mister T and Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Ruby-Spears was acquired by Hanna-Barbera parent Taft Entertainment in 1981.
…In the 1980s, legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby was hired by Ruby to bring his vision to Ruby-Spears Productions. As a result, the Ruby family owns the rights to hundreds of original Kirby-designed characters and more than two dozen projects developed by Ruby. The intellectual property rights to those characters, artwork and projects are now being offered for sale.
(8) BOOK ANNIVERSARY.
In August sixteen years ago, Catherynne M. Valente published her first novel, The Labyrinth. Described by the publisher as “a journey through a conscious maze without center, borders, or escape–a dark pilgrim’s progress through a landscape of vicious Angels, plague houses, crocodile-prophets, tragic chess-sets, and and the mind of an unraveling woman”, it was published by Prime Books with an introductory essay by Jeff VanderMeer. It is not currently in-print. (CE)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 27, 1922 – Frank Kelly Freas. Three hundred covers, over a thousand interiors (I think; I lost count twice) for us; five hundred saints for the Franciscan Order; MAD magazine 1957-1964 with Alfred E. Neuman front, advertising-parody back covers; airplanes while serving in the U.S. Air Force; Skylab; comics; gaming. Interviewed in Galileo, Interzone, Lighthouse, Locus, Perigee, SF Review, Shadows, Solaris, Thrust. Eleven Hugos; three Chesleys (with wife Laura). LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Soc.) Forry Award (service to SF); Skylark; Inkpot; Phoenix; Frank Paul Award. Writers & Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award. Fellow, Int’l Ass’n Astronomical Artists. SF Hall of Fame. Guest of Honor at DeepSouthCon 10, 14, 26; Boskone 10, Lunacon 34, Balticon 31, Loscon 27; Chicon IV (40th Wordcon), Torcon 3 (61st Worldcon; could not attend). Eight artbooks e.g. A Separate Star; As He Sees It. This famous image was adopted by the Judith Merril Collection in Toronto. This famous image was adapted by the band Queen for its album News of the World. Here is John Cross in Slan. (Died 2005) [JH]
Born August 27, 1929 — Ira Levin. Author of Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives and The Boys from Brazil. All of which became films with The Stepford Wives being made twice as well as having three of the television sequels. I’ve seen the first Stepford Wives film but not the latter version. Rosemary’s Baby would also be made into a two-part, four hour miniseries. (Died 2007.) (CE)
Born August 27, 1942 – Robert Lichtman, 78. Leading fanwriter, faneditor. Fourteen FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) awards, as a correspondent and for his fanzine Trap Door. TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate. Secretary-Treasurer of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Ass’n, our oldest and highest-regarded apa, founded 1937) since 1986. Edited Ah! Sweet Laney! (F.T. Laney collection; named for FTL’s I’m-leaving-goodbye zine Ah! Sweet Idiocy!), Some of the Best from “Quandry” (Lee Hoffman collection; her zine Quandry so spelled), Fanorama (Walt Willis collection; his columns in Nebula); co-edited last issue of Terry Carr’s fanzine Innuendo. Fan Guest of Honor, Westercon 55. [JH]
Born August 27, 1945 — Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. The only short stories of his that I’m familiar with are the ones in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available from the usual digital suspects. (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born August 27, 1947 — Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 73. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. (A Roger Moore Bond, not one of my favored Bonds.) One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also in. It’s where they first hooked up. (CE)
Born August 27, 1952 – Darrell Schweitzer, 68. Three novels; two hundred fifty shorter stories, as many poems; anthologist, bookseller, correspondent, editor, essayist, historian, interviewer, reviewer. “Books” in Aboriginal, “The Vivisector” in SF Review, “Words & Pictures” (motion-picture reviews) in Thrust and Quantum. Editor, Weird Tales 1987-2007 (sometimes with J. Betancourt 1963- , G. Scithers 1929-2010). If sandwich man were still a current expression one could pun that DS often serves dark and horror on wry. A few essay titles: “Naked Realism versus the Magical Bunny Rabbit”, “Prithee, Sirrah, What Dostou Mean by Archaic Style in Fantasy?”, “Halfway Between Lucian of Samosata and Larry Niven”. Two Best Short Fiction of DS volumes expected this year. [JH]
Born August 27, 1955 – Steve Crisp, 65. Two hundred twenty-five covers, a dozen interiors, for us; illustration, photography, outside our field. Here is Best Fantasy Stories from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Here is The Worlds of Frank Herbert. Here is a Fahrenheit 451. Here is a Neuromancer. Website here. [JH]
Born August 27, 1957 — Richard Kadrey, 63. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and The Everything Box. I’ve got The Grand Dark on my interested in listening to list. (CE)
Born August 27, 1962 — Dean Devlin, 58. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a website.The team then produced Independence Day, the rather awful Godzilla rebootand Independence Day: Resurgence which so far I’ve avoided seeing. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted just thirteen episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you guess the premise of. (CE)
Born August 27, 1965 – Kevin Standlee, 55. Long active in San Francisco Bay Area fandom. Fan Guest of Honor at Baycon 1993, Marcon 43, CascadiaCon (8th NASFiC; North America SF Con, since 1975 held when Worldcon is overseas), Westercon 72 (with wife Lisa Hayes and her bear Kuma); co-chaired ConJosé (60th Worldcon; with T. Whitmore); chair of Westercon 74 (scheduled for 2022). Has chaired World SF Society’s Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, Mark Protection Committee; has chaired Worldcon and other con Business Meetings, no small task, notably and heroically at Westercon 64, when no bid for Westercon 66 got enough votes and site selection fell to the Bus Mtg in a contentious 3-hr session. Patient explainer of parliamentary procedure. [JH]
Born August 27, 1970 – Ann Aguirre, 50. Forty novels, a dozen shorter stories, some under other names, some with co-authors. Honor Bound (with R. Caine) a Hal Clement Notable Young Adult Book for 2020. WithdrewLike Never and Always from RITA Award consideration. “Can you tell us a two-sentence horror story?” “It’s just like the flu. Don’t worry about taking precautions.” [JH]
Born August 27, 1978 — Suranne Jones, 42. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa in “Mona Lisa”. Yes, that Mona Lisa. More importantly, she’s in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She’s Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS. She’s Eve Caleighs in The Secret of Crickley Hall series, an adaption of the James Herbert novel. (CE)
Camestros: There is literally nothing I want to watch here…
Timothy: We could…
Camestros: No, no, we are not watching Cats again. Look, maybe it’s time to go outside?
Timothy: No way! It’s a hellscape out there! A seething dystopian nightmare! Woke mobs are cancelling cats for not wearing masks! It’s EU commissioners herding us inside our borders and stealing our holiday homes in the South of France and forcing us to use metric! It’s Attack on Titan but with giant buck naked Boris Johnsons eating people! There are SCOTTISH people about!
…In late July and early August before the series aired, the network sent out stylized packages made up of “Lovecraft Country”-inspired items from Black-owned businesses, brands and creatives. The gift bag included a backpack from Life on Autopilot, sunglasses from Bôhten Eyewear, a “Sundon” candle by Bright Black, a Grubhub gift card for recipients to order from Black-owned restaurant; as well as the novels “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi, “The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and “Lovecraft Country” by Matt Ruff (provided by Amalgram Comics & Coffeehouse).
For Gagne and her team, the creation of the kit was also about saluting “Lovecraft Country’s” creator Misha Green and the Black heroes of her story, so the package also included direct nods to the show with a “South Side Futuristic Science Fiction Club” sweatshirt from BLK MKT Vintage and a notebook which serves as a “field guide” to understanding the cultural context behind all of the items in the bag, as well as information on the businesses themselves.
With “influencer kits” and their focus on Black-owned businesses, Gagne says, “given everything that’s going on, I think that that’s something that people really embrace and honor and really want to support in a big way.”…
The discourse about reading fiction during the pandemic has followed two broad tracks: There are those who take comfort in the activity, and those who have found reading impossibly difficult. I belong to the latter camp, but I’m all the more excited to share the following books, which, while very different in genre and mode, shook me out of listless distraction with their originality.
DANCE ON SATURDAY(Small Beer Press, 318 pp., paper, $17) is Elwin Cotman’s third collection of short fiction. We tend to call fiction “short” when it’s not a novel, but the six stories in “Dance on Saturday” are long, deep and rich, each so thoroughly engrossing and distinctive in its style that I had to take long breaks between them…
THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS(Del Rey, 327 pp., $28) is Micaiah Johnson’s debut, but that word is utterly insufficient for the blazing, relentless power of this book, suggesting ballroom manners where it should conjure comet tails…
Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.
“There was a megatonnage race — who was going to have a bigger bomb,” said Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age. “And the Soviets won.”
Last week, the Russian nuclear energy agency, Rosatom, released a 30-minute, formerly secret documentary video about the world’s largest hydrogen bomb detonation. The explosive force of the device — nicknamed Tsar Bomba, or the Tsar’s bomb, and set off on Oct. 30, 1961 — was 50 megatons, or the equivalent of 50 million tons of conventional explosive. That made it 3,333 times as destructive as the weapon used on Hiroshima, Japan, and also far more powerful than the 15 megaton weapon set off by the United States in 1954 in its largest hydrogen bomb blast…
(14) THE EYES HAVE IT. Cora Buhlert shows off her handiwork.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Check out Klaatu on top of the Capital Records building (along with some other famous guy named Ringo)… From 1974.
[Thanks to David Doering, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title cedit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have notified members that they will be subject to discipline if they violate a new policy against abuse of the SFWA Member Directory.
Last month, one of our members used the membership directory to send all members of SFWA a promotional email. This was done without SFWA’s consent or prior knowledge. As a result, the Board decided to prioritize an email harvesting policy already in development for the organization.
No one is named in the announcement, however, the timeframe is right for this alert tweeted in June by Natalie Luhrs which many writers remarked on and SFWA responded to. Thread starts here.
The SFWA Member Directory exists as a courtesy to facilitate communication between individual members of SFWA. It is not to be used for marketing or promotional purposes.
SFWA provides a number of opt-in opportunities for promotion, including our Featured Books and Authors Program and the New Release Newsletter page where you can promote new releases. The board encourages members to participate in these approved programs as both readers and writers.
The Horror Show with Brian Keene is ending with next week’s episode the host announced today in “Curtain Call”. He’s still going to do some video interviews with authors on YouTube, but the podcast is ending.
..I’ll focus ONLY on giving them a platform, rather than a format where they have to share the spotlight with whatever terrible fucking thing happened in the industry that week…
Keene feels that doing a podcast with the premise of The Horror Show – delivering news of the field – requires spending time on some painful disclosures.
If you’re going to do a show that — at least in part — focuses on fairly presenting news that impacts the horror genre and industry — then you’re going to have to give oxygen to some of that poisonous stuff. And when you give oxygen to the poisonous stuff, it slowly takes your own oxygen away.
Here lately, I’m having trouble breathing.
(And yes, it occurs to me that “I can’t breathe” has very particular connotations in our society right now, so let me take this as an opportunity to reiterate that Black Lives Fucking Matter, and if you disagree with me, that’s okay. Stop buying my books).
At times in 2020 Keene was required to report about people he knew well, like Borderlands Books owner Alan Beatts, and author Matt Hayward. And in June a single episode of his podcast covered allegations against 10 different individuals in the comic book, horror, science fiction, book fields involving everything from sexual coercion to sexual assault.
Keene says he continues to enjoy “giving a platform to other voices and shining a spotlight on the genre’s history. …Those things don’t take away my oxygen.” So he will be transferring the interviews planned for The Horror Show with Gabino Iglesias, Stephen Graham Jones, Cina Pelayo, Tim Waggoner, Wesley Southard, and Somer Canon, to his YouTube channel.
(1) ROFCON 2020. Eric Flint and Ring of Fire Press will host the inaugural Ring of Fire Con (RoFCon I), a virtual convention, from September 11-13, with panels, guests, and signing opportunities. Attendance is free – register at the link.
Among the guests attending will be: Steven Barnes, David Brin, DJ Butler, Eric Flint, Charles Gannon, Cecelia Holland, Tom Kidd, Mercedes Lackey, Jody Lynn Nye, Christopher Ruocchio, Tom Smith, David Weber, and Toni Weisskopf.
Walt Boyes, Editor, Grantville Gazette and Ring of Fire Press adds:
Not only do we have a great guest list, but we are also teaching marketing for authors, how to get published, and recruiting new authors. We have dealt with issues of race, sex, gender, and nationality and prejudice around the world. We are looking for authors to write in the 1632 Universe who are non-traditional. We encourage women, LGBTQ+, and Persons of Color to look at writing for us. We publish bimonthly, The Grantville Gazette, which is a SFWA approved venue that pays SFWA professional rates.
(2) BRADBURY CENTENNIAL RECORDING STILL PLAYING. You can hear last Saturday’s Ray Bradbury Read-A-Thon of Fahrenheit 451 anytime through September 5.
Readers from across the United States will join William Shatner (actor), Neil Gaiman (author), Marlon James (author), Marjorie Liu (author), P. Djèlí Clark (author), Dr. Brenda Greene (author), Alley Mills Bean (actress), James Reynolds (actor), Tananarive Due (author), and Steven Barnes (author) to bring this relevant work to social media. Susan Orlean (author) provides an afterword.
…Bradbury, in his later years, was a frequent visitor to South Pasadena. In fact, Bradbury chose the South Pasadena Public Library as the location of his 90th Birthday Celebration. In 2010 South Pasadena City Council declared August 22nd Ray Bradbury Day….
In 2013 the South Pasadena Public Library named the conference room in honor of the late Ray Bradbury, for his work as lifelong advocate for public libraries. The Ray Bradbury Conference Room currently hosts a collection of Bradbury books and artifacts, including ephemera, photographs, artwork, and first edition prints. On the walls of the Conference Room hang a brick from Ray Bradbury’s home in Los Angeles (now demolished) and a portion of drywall from Bradbury’s home office, where much of his writing was conducted….
(4) 2020 HINDSIGHT. Few fans really expect science fiction writers to predict the future. But what about mainstream authors who can’t even predict the present? Consider this Amazon customer review of Honeysuckle Season by Mary Ellen Taylor.
This novel is set in Virginia during two time periods: the early 1940’s, and the summer of 2020. Chapters alternate between the two time periods. The story was enjoyable, but every time I came to a chapter set in 2020, I asked myself, “when is the author going to say something about Covid-19?” The answer is — never. I found that very disturbing and distracting. The author apparently wrote the book before the pandemic, and made the assumption that summer 2020 would be just like other summers, with large wedding parties, no social distancing, etc. Bad assumption.
(5) WORLDCON PUBLICATION ARCHIVE. Fanac.org is making the move to a different interface for accessing Worldcon Publications. (And it looks very good!)
If you’ve been paying attention to recent newsletters and flashes, Mark Olson has put together a new, easier-to-love format for Worldcon pubs. All the worldcon pubs are searchable PDFs and you’ll also find bidding material, and even ephemera. You can find it all at http://fanac.org/conpubs/Worldcon/.
The format and the link for photos and audio stay the same for now, and over the next few days (or maybe weeks) we will migrate completely to the new approach. For a little while, worldcon pubs may be available the old way as well, but one by one those will be cleared out. If you have any worldcon pubs bookmarked, then please be aware that those bookmarks will not be valid for too much longer. All hail Mark Olson, king of the Worldcon pubs! And most seriously, a heartfelt thanks to Mark from a webmaster who really didn’t want to start coding again. (Aug 22)
(6) EVERMORE ASKS FOR HELP. Yesterday’s Scroll reported Utah’s Evermore Park is in financial straits. The owners have launched a GoFundMe appeal: “Helping Evermore Park Through COVID-19”. It’s raised $13,693 of the $100,000 goal in the first 24 hours.
Evermore Park is small business in Pleasant Grove, Utah that creates an immersive experience that exists purely to allow everyone who enters to discover their own imagination. We aim to tell unique stories that inspire, educate, and allow guests to escape–even just for a little while–to a world that allows you to be the hero. We need your help to keep this project going during COVID-19.
We opened our doors in September of 2018. From the moment the doors were officially opened, we have been creating magic and allowing guests to interact with our characters and park in ways that few other businesses have even come close to attempting….
…Alternately humorous, disturbing, satiric, violent, tender, vicious, somber, fantastic, and familiar, A Boy and His Dog and its adaptations have become the most referenced and influential landmarks of a sub-genre that has often been disregarded as escapist, clichéd, and one-dimensional. In order to understand how the text became so important, the history of Ellison’s original story and its film adaptation must be traced and explicated. In this article, I will compare and contrast Ellison’s definitive novella, L. Q. Jones’s early screenplay draft, and his final film adaptation and its promotional campaign to show how content is transformed, often radically, once it leaves the hands of its creator, and how certain differences in these texts come to exist.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 26, 1953 — War of The Worlds premiered. It was produced by George Pal, and directed by Byron Haskin. It starred Gene Barry and Ann Robinson with narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. The Martian war machines were designed by Al Nozaki, and the sizzling sound effect would be used again as the first Trek phaser sound. (You know what novel it was adapted from.) The film was both a critical and box office success with its earnings making it the top SF film of the year. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 26, 1901 – Earle Bergey. A hundred sixty covers for us, a handful of interiors; much more, thousands all told, adventure, aviation, detective, sports, Western. He was a prominent – hmm – “pin-up” artist; but look at this cover for Zane Grey’s Spirit of the Border. This famous cover for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes may arouse – ahem – indignation now, but is very funny if you’ve actually read the book, and if I may, suggests – sorry – the question “Who’s exploiting whom?” and the realization that we heterosexual men have more to be ashamed of than we thought. He could also do this. (Died 1952) [JH]
Born August 26, 1904 — Christopher Isherwood. I’ll first note, though not genre, that he wrote Goodbye to Berlin, the semi-autobiographical novel which was the inspiration for Cabaret. Genre wise, he co-wrote Frankenstein: The True Story with Don Bachardy, The Mortmere Stories with Edward Upward, and one short story in the Thirties, “I am Waiting”. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born August 26, 1904 — Peter Lorre. I think his first foray into genre was in the Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea film as Comm. Lucius Emery though he was in Americanized version of Casino Royale which an early Fifties episode of the Climax! series as Le Chiffre. (James Bond was called Jimmy. Shudder!) Other genre roles were in Tales of Terror as Montresor in “The Black Cat” story, The Raven as Dr. Adolphus Bedlo and The Comedy of Terrors as Felix Grille. (Died 1964.) (CE)
Born August 26, 1911 — Otto Oscar Binder. He’s best remembered as the co-creator with Al Plastino of Supergirl and for his many scripts for Captain Marvel Adventures and other stories involving the entire Marvel Family. He was extremely prolific in the comic book industry and is credited with writing over four thousand stories across a variety of publishers under his own name. He also wrote novels, one of which was The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker, one of the series created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist and co-plotter Jack Kirby. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born August 26, 1911 – Gerald Kersh. He has been described as “hammering out twenty novels, twenty collections of short stories and thousands of articles”. Harlan Ellison wrote, “you will find yourself in the presence of a talent so immense and compelling, that you will understand how grateful and humble I felt merely to have been permitted to associate myself with his name as editor.” The Secret Masters is ours, as are a hundred seventy shorter stories. (Died 1968) [JH]
Born August 26, 1926 – Thomas Clareson, Ph.D. Edited Extrapolation 1960-1987; essayist, correspondent, there and elsewhere, Analog, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, NY Rev SF, Riverside Quarterly. Bibliographic studies, critical anthologies. First President of the SF Research Ass’n; its Clareson Award, named for him, began 1995. Pilgrim Award. Robert Silverberg’s Many Trapdoors may be the title of the year for 1992. (Died 1993) [JH]
Born August 26, 1949 – Fred Levy Haskell, 71. Involved at the start, therefore a Floundering Father of Minn-stf (stf from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction, pronounced “stef” or “stiff”, the latter funnier since false) though he later said he was out getting a sandwich at the time. Fanziner, chaired Corflu 6 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable). Fan Guest of Honor at LepreCon 4, Archon7 (which for years I’ve been saying should be pronounced Arch on, but what do I know?), Minicon 22. Note his two-part unhyphenated surname. Recently, see here. [JH]
Born August 26, 1949 — Sheila E Gilbert, 71. Co-editor-in-chief and publisher of DAW Books with Elizabeth R (Betsy) Wollheim. For her work there, she has also shared the Chesley Awards for best art director with Wollheim twice, and has received Hugos by herself for Best Professional Editor (Long Form). (CE)
Born August 26, 1958 — Wanda De Jesus, 62. She’s Estevez in Robocop 2, a film that had its moments but rarely, and she has two other film genre roles, Lexie Moore in Captain Nuke and the Bomber Boys, and Akooshay in Ghosts of Mars. Series wise, she has a number of one-offs including Babylon 5, Tales from The Darkside, SeaQuest DSV, Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child and voicing a character on one of the Spider-Man series. (CE)
Born August 26, 1965 – Elizabeth Isaacs, 55. Four novels for us. Runs an authors’ group Writers, Etc. going between writers and motion pictures. Master’s degree magna cum laude (and Phi Beta Kappa) from Austin Peay State U., studied classical opera. Ranks Great Expectations about the same as The Time Machine, both below Nineteen Eighty-Four; fear not, all three below Blueberries for Sal. [JH]
Born August 26, 1970 — Melissa McCarthy, 50. Yes, I know she was in the rebooted Ghostbusters. Fanboys across the net are still wetting their pants about that film. I’m much more interested in Super Intelligence in which she is playing a character that has an AI who has decided to take over her life. It reminds me somewhat of Naomi Kritzer’s Hugo Award winning “Cat Pictures Please” premise. (And we are not talking about The Happytime Murders in which she was involved.) (CE)
Born August 26, 1993 – Nancy Yi Fan, 27. First novel at age 12, NY Times Best Seller. Oprah Winfrey said this showed NYF was smart, which misses the point, but Errors in the direction of the enemy are to be lightly judged. A prequel and sequel followed. Her pets, suitably, are birds. [JH]
When NASA launched the Voyager spacecrafts to explore the cosmos in 1977, they sent along the Golden Record—and with it, music from around the world—as a snapshot of humanity, should intelligent lifeforms ever find it. But what if the aliens tuned in to the radio instead?
From 1971 to 1998, a man named John Shepherd probed that hypothetical question with astonishing dedication. Aiming for interstellar contact, he beamed everything from reggae to Steve Reich straight from his grandparents’ living room in rural Michigan, broadcasting between six to eight hours every day. He then expanded his operation—called Project STRAT—into a separate building on his grandparents’ property, complete with scientific equipment of his own design. Though Shepherd eventually ended the radio arm of Project STRAT due to the high cost of maintenance, he is now the subject of a touching new short film, John Was Trying to Contact Aliens, which recently arrived on Netflix…
I am not the same person I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will be a new me.
Over time, my personal SFF canon has changed and evolved as I’ve grown older, discovered new writers, and pushed myself into corners of the genre that I would never have experienced if not for my involvement in the broad and diverse SFF community. As time flows, we’re changed by our experiences, our values adapt to encompass new thoughts and emotions, and so canon is always evolving to envelop who we are becoming….
Even canon lists generally accepted at the time they’re published become defunct just a few years later, and, as the genre adapts, new works draw on new influences. Just go look at some old lists of “SFF canon” from earlier decades, or even 11 years ago on the web. I haven’t even heard of half those books, let alone read them. If SFF canon looks like a reading list for a History of Science Fiction 101 course, it’s missing the point of how the genre is a conversation with itself and the outside world of politics, sociology, and humanity.
As DongWon Song said, “The idea of the canon is outdated, colonialist, racist, sexist, and anti-queer. It’s easy to say that this is only true because old stuff is colonialist, racist, sexist, and anti-queer, but that’s a bullshit cop out.”
My first encounter with a work of desi science fiction was very much by accident.
During my undergraduate studies at the English department at Karachi University, while idly browsing through a professor’s personal collection on her desk, I came across Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s Sultana’s Dream, a English-language short story set in a feminist utopian world written by a Bengali Muslim woman in 20th century colonial India.
Up until then, my study of literature had been mostly white, mostly male authors, an unsurprising fact when we take into account the (Western) literary canon’s inherent whiteness and maleness, as well as the institutional history of English departments as tools of the colonial project — teaching works of English literature in the British Empire’s overseas colonies was originally part of the overarching goal of “civilising the natives.” In the words of 19th century British politician Thomas Macaulay, “a single shelf of a good European library is worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia” (gotta love that British sense of entitlement and arrogance).
… This dismissal of the genres of science fiction and fantasy (SFF) as low-brow, trashy or pulp or, at the very least, unimportant, is not just a desi stance, although it might be a bit more pronounced here. The snobbish attitude towards SFF has historically been prevalent in academic and literary circles (although things seem to be changing in the West now), even as popular culture is filled with beloved works of science fiction and fantasy films and television shows.
But the dismissal of the SFF genre, or the broader umbrella of speculative fiction, has excluded from the South Asian literary discourse a rich tradition of desi works of science fiction and fantasy, as well as the fascinating speculative fiction words being written by contemporary South Asian writers today. This makes conversations about South Asian literature woefully homogenous and, frankly, much more uninteresting than they might otherwise be.
(14) LUCRATIVE FAILURES. Sarah A. Hoyt, who often has bad things to say about traditional publishing, added some more today in “Docking Author’s Tails” at Mad Genius Club.
…But why would publishers want properties that aren’t selling that well? Why not just give the IP back, after they set the book up to fail? Why set the book up to fail at all?
Ah. Because of the long tail. In the era of ebooks, which you don’t need to store in warehouses, and which you can have out in unlimited numbers with no additional cost, the more books you have in your catalogue, no matter how little each of them sells, the more money you make.
Say you have 50k books in your catalogue, some of them so old you’re interpreting ebook rights from penumbras and emanations, and each sells two copies a month, and makes you $4 apiece…. You’re getting a very healthy income.
Heck, it’s better than having a mega bestseller. Because a mega bestseller might get uppity and sue. But if each of those books is making under $5 a month, chances are you don’t even need to send out a statement.
Honestly, ponzi scheme architects go in awe of traditional publishers in the era of ebooks.
And, you know, when I realized that, everything fell into place: why careers keep getting shorter and shorter. Why, even with indie competition, writers are treated worse and worse. Why some publishers are buying the things they are (well, you know, if you don’t mean each book to make a lot of money, you might as well promote your comrades. Besides, they need publishing credits, so they can get teaching jobs.)
Is my insight necessarily true? I don’t know. It fits my experience and that of other midlisters. And — if the older authors I heard are right — it explains why bother setting books up to fail.
A stegosaurian fossil dating back 166 million years was stumbled upon by an academic as she ran along a remote island beach, proving dinosaurs roamed further in Scotland than first thought.
Scientists say the 19-inch fossil found on the Isle of Eigg is “hugely significant” as it is the first unearthed outside the Isle of Skye, a neighbouring island in the Inner Hebrides.
The object is believed to be the limb bone of a stegosaurian dinosaur, such as a stegosaurus, which are known for their plate-backed appearance and herbivore diet…
(16) WON’T WALK AWAY FROM THIS ONE. “Tenet: Behind The Scenes” on YouTube is a promotional feature that lets people know that when a 747 crashes into a building in the film, it’s an actual 747.
John David Washington is the new Protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s original sci-fi action spectacle “Tenet.”
Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world, the Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time. Not time travel. Inversion.
[Thank to Cat Eldridge, JJ, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Dan’l Danehy-Oakes, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Lise Andreasen, Walt Boyes, rcade, David Doering, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
By Hampus Eckerman: When I was a kid, I learned to read early or to be more truthful, was taught to read early. When my brother started school, two years earlier than me, he taught me how to read at the same time and thus I soon spent the time reading through all the books that existed in the house.
My own books were of course not enough, there was a limit to how many books you could buy a child who could read 5-6 books a week (more during holidays). Soon I trawled through all my parents old books from their childhoods, the good stuff they had chosen to save. After that it was the closest library, then the libraries in nearby areas. After that it was my parents’ libraries and it was there I found it. My father’s collection of Science Fiction.
Many here would recognize it, even if most of it was in Swedish. There was Heinlein, Asimov, Simak, Sheckley, Bradbury, Le Guin and more. It was a full collection of the Swedish Science Fiction magazines Häpna! and Galaxy. To put it more succinctly: There was lot of the stuff that are celebrated in the Retro-Hugos. And I read it all.
The Retro-Hugos for me isn’t as much about the books I discovered for myself. That stuff was mostly horror, something I was the first reader of in the family. No, the Retro-Hugos is in many ways about the stuff that was discovered by my parents. The things I found in their library, in the trunks in our storage room, in the comic albums my father brought home or the books my mother gave me for Christmas. It is about the reprints of old graphic novels you could buy cheaply in secondhand comic stores. Of characters like The Shadow or Doc Savage you didn’t really know anything about apart from sudden appearances in modern comics. It is the stuff from collections of classics or The Best Of Anthologies. The stuff that was already a treasure hunt to find when I was a kid. Hunting for other people’s nostalgia.
And now mine.
* * *
There is much anger towards nostalgia nowadays. It is associated with the Sad Puppies campaign, with reactionaries, sexists and racists. With Lovecraft and Campbell. And it is not without reason. George RR Martin in many ways showed us exactly how nostalgia can be used to block the appreciation and discovery of newer works and creators when he hijacked the Hugo ceremonies to talk about people who hadn’t created much of relevance the last 50 years. The Golden Age of SF is twelve years old I’ve been told repeatedly. And George RR Martin stole the Hugo Ceremony to talk about his Golden Age, not the current one we are in. Even worse, he used it as a slap in the face towards those who rightly had complained about the racism of Campbell and about the great victory of renaming the award that had previously been used to keep on glorifying a man who still spoke in defense of the slavery.
And now that anger is directed against all nostalgia. Against the Retro-Hugos. The award should be cancelled, some say. The rules need to change, others say. The presence of nostalgia and talk about classics is hurtful by itself, says a third. And I just don’t get it.
We have already had a series of bouts where racist, sexist and hateful screeds where placed on the ordinary Hugo ballot. Of course I talk about the Sad Puppies. The solution to that was not to abandoning the Hugos. It was to No Award the racist, sexist and hateful works. It is even easier to do that with regards to the Retro-Hugos, because most of the finalists are dead anyhow, so you don’t have to care that much about someone missing out on an award. Burn the category down if you want. Even without rule changes, it would be easy to keep people like Lovecraft and Campbell away from any win. Just have some of those people now demanding the cancellation of the Retro-Hugos paying attention to what is actually among the finalists. Get the word around and vote. It works.
With a solution already in existence against bad actors or works being placed on a Hugo or Retro-Hugo ballot, it is instead time to discuss what should replace the Retro-Hugos. There are only so many years left. Soon the last Retro-Hugo has been awarded. At least in the current form.
* * *
I like the Retro-Hugos for many reasons.
It is the treasure hunt of searching through the internet, trying to find eligible works, see what was published what year, trying to remember old time characters and movies. Sharing the information with others, scanning material, finding archives.
It is a fun exercise with low stakes as most finalists are dead or well past the peak of their career. In a time where many finalists in the ordinary Hugos are active participants in social media, it is nice to have an award where there’s less chance of anger, disappointment and mistreatment regarding awards, parties or receptions.
It is less time-consuming (for some of us) as many of the works have been read before, where the novels are shorter and much of it can be found online.
It is the left field contenders appearing, such as the Little Prince or Wind On The Moon. It is the joy of sharing your favorites from your own golden age with others. Because when you were twelve, you most likely didn’t vote for the Hugos.
So how to create an award that keeps these qualities, but lessen the workload of the administrators? How to put emphasis more on the fun and enjoyment than on the worthy and winners? This is my proposal.
NO AWARD. There is no reason to hand out an award as most finalists are dead. Of course it is fun when someone actually comes to pick one up, but that is not the important thing. To paraphrase an old expression: Maybe the best award was the works we found on the way. It would save much time for administrators not to have to find out who should receive a trophy that perhaps no one would value anyhow.
CEREMONY OR NOT. Have a ceremony. If you want. Or don’t. Perhaps you can have stand-ins for the finalists on stage that get free cake and champagne if their candidate wins. Or draw one person from the audience who wins a book. Just to have someone to celebrate at or cheer for at a win, but with no nervousness as the person really didn’t have any stakes in it. Or just announce through a newsletter. I.e, let the Worldcon decide by time, effort or creativity.
FLEXIBLE CATEGORIES. In the ordinary Hugos, the current worldcon may add one category of their own. Typically used to see what new categories might be viable. I propose that the Retro-Hugos may choose exactly what categories they want. This, because the Retro-Hugos might sometime have to be run for a year where ordinary Hugos have already been handed out. For that year, the Retro-Hugos instead could run categories like.
Most Interesting Alien(s).
Most memorable fan moment.
Most surprising ending.
Best non-English work.
ELIGIBLE YEARS. Change so the Retro-Hugos could instead be run for any year that is 50, 75 or 100 years ago. So moving the step of nostalgia and golden age one step closer.
LONG LIST. Make the long list public directly after the the finalists have been chosen. This gives more time to discuss them and as there are lower stakes, there shouldn’t be that much drama about it. It should also make panel discussions around the Retro-Hugos be more interesting as you could talk about any work on the long list and not only the finalists, thus chosing to talk about more unexpected nominees.
Right now there’s 600+ persons who think the Retro-Hugos are fun enough to participate in. That shows that there is a demand for some kind of communal experience around nostalgia. But I think there is a problem in that it is easy for voting to become stagnant and less exciting over time. With less seriousness, more emphasis on the fun and with larger changes in categories, I think it will keep the exciting part of the Retro-Hugo experience.
There’s no hurry, we still have several years to go before the last missing year has been filled and the Retro-Hugos by necessity have to change form. But there’s always a good reason to have the discussion beforehand. At least to make people understand that the end of non-Hugo years must not mean an end to the Retro-Hugos. Or under whatever name the celebration of older works will exist.
The Ringo Awards nomination process was inclusive of fans and comic book professionals alike. However, voting on the 2020 Final Ballot is restricted to comic book industry creative community — anyone involved in and credited with creating comics professionally.
The awards will be presented virtually on October 24 instead of as part of The Baltimore Comic-Con.
Fan and Pro Nomination Categories
Best Cartoonist (Writer/Artist)
David Jesus Vignolli
Best Artist or Penciller
Jared K. Fletcher
Alessandro de Fornasari
Best Cover Artist
Banjax, Danger Zone (Action Lab Entertainment)
Bitter Root, Image Comics
Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Dark Horse Comics
Forgotten Home, Vices Press/comiXology Originals
Something is Killing the Children, BOOM! Studios
Best Single Issue or Story
Bitter Root Red Summer Special, Image Comics
“Hot Comb” in Hot Comb, Drawn & Quarterly
Second Coming #1, AHOY Comics
Spencer & Locke 2 #1, Danger Zone (Action Lab Entertainment)
Tales of the Night Watchman: The Steam Banshee, So What? Press
Usagi Yojimbo #6, IDW Publishing
Best Original Graphic Novel
The Adventures of Parker Reef – To Save a Soul, Chris Campana
BTTM FDRS, Fantagraphics
Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls, Graphix/Scholastic
The Hard Tomorrow, Drawn & Quarterly
Hot Comb, Drawn & Quarterly
New World, BOOM! Studios
Penny Nichols, Top Shelf Productions (IDW Publishing)
Simon Says, Image Comics
Snow, Glass, Apples, Dark Horse Comics
Dead Beats, A Wave Blue World
Drawing Power, Abrams ComicArts
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Sirens, Archaia (BOOM! Studios)
Strange Tails, Vices Press
Thought Bubble 2019, Image Comics
Best Humor Comic
The Handbook to Lazy Parenting, Drawn & Quarterly
Rick & Morty vs. Dungeons & Dragons, IDW Publishing
Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, DC Comics
Twizted: Haunted High-Ons, Source Point Press
Wonder Twins, DC Comics
Best Comic Strip or Panel
The Middle Age, Steve Conley, Andrews McMeel Universal
Nancy, Olivia Jaimes, Andrews McMeel Universal
The Nib Editorial Cartoons by Pia Guerra, thenib.com
Rhymes With Orange, Hilary Price, King Features Syndicate
Sarah’s Scribbles, Sarah Andersen, Andrews McMeel Universal
Roberta Pournelle left our stage on August 3rd (1935-2020). She survived her husband Jerry (1933-2017) by three years.
There was no public church service. Interment was at Forest Lawn on the 14th. Forest Lawn said “We’ll provide ten chairs. Don’t bring any more people than that.” I said I’d not go. There were plenty who had a better claim.
Christened Roberta Jane Isdell at her birth in Victoria, Idaho, she was reared in Seattle by a family of readers and singers. She put herself through Univ. Washington working as a secretary at Boeing. She met Jerry in 1958. Their romance included aerospace, fencing, philosophy, plays, religion, science fiction, writing.
Jerry had several careers, some of them simultaneous. To name two sometimes neglected, he was was board chairman of the Seattle Civic Playhouse, and founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. He eventually earned fame with science fiction and user’s tests of computer hardware and software.
With these, and four children, and visitors, and dogs, he came to call the Pournelles’ house in Los Angeles (Studio City neighborhood) Chaos Manor. It may not be fair to say Roberta was Lady of the Lake – there was a swimming pool – nor was it plain who captivated or restored whom – but anyway mistress of the manor. At the end a woman who’d known her for decades said she was queenly, the kind you felt glad to be with.
Meanwhile Roberta taught English for thirty years at the Kirby Center for Delinquent Minors, twenty miles southeast in Commerce, California. When I last looked she and Jerry went to St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church, Sherman Oaks. She sang in the choir.
Stories abound of Roberta and Jerry’s different styles. Waiting in what seemed an endlessly slow line to be seated at a ceremonial banquet, you might hear Jerry bellow “Donner, party of 16!” – then after more waiting, “Donner, party of 15!” You might also see Roberta quietly finding the shyest contest winner and engaging in conversation for ten or fifteen minutes, then quietly finding the next-shyest and doing it again.
The electronic may see the very moving eulogy by Jennifer Pournelle, Ph.D., [here]. She is Jerry’s daughter by a previous marriage. As it happens I was the lawyer who arranged her adult adoption some years ago.
My appreciation of Jerry can be seen [here]. As I just now wrote to a friend – whose politics I have never asked about –
James Blish in his novel Doctor Mirabilis (1964) about Roger Bacon (1220-1292) has a character observe that we human beings are part honey, part aloes. Exploring whatever agreements and disagreements I may have had with Roberta seems immaterial to me now.
The Donner-Reed party was a band of migrants to California snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter of 1846-1847. Their sufferings were terrible. Some resorted to cannibalism.