File 770’s Twenty Most-Read Posts of the Year

“2020 Hugo Awards” got more traffic than any other post this year, although not because people wanted to know who won the Hugos. George R.R. Martin left a comment on that post alternately explaining, defending, and apologizing for his choices as toastmaster of CoNZealand’s much-criticized Hugo Awards ceremony, a quote that was widely-linked by mainstream reports about the uproar. Many of those same articles also linked to GRRM’s old post answering criticism of his efforts to host Dublin 2019’s Hugo Losers Party, pulling it up the list right behind his 2020 comment.

The second top story is Andrew Porter’s obituary for Elyse Rosenstein, which went viral as fans across the spectrum realized you could point to the very person who had the idea for the original Star Trek convention.

And so here are the year’s 20 most-read posts according to Google Analytics.

  1. 2020 Hugo Awards
  2. Elyse Rosenstein Has Died
  3. GRRM on the Hugo Losers Party
  4. Clarkesworld Removes Isabel Fall’s Story
  5. Dan Simmons Criticized for Remarks About Thunberg
  6. The #DisneyMustPay Alan Dean Foster and SFWA Joint Press Conference
  7. Writers Circulate Letter of Concern About Saudi Worldcon Bid
  8. Artists Corroborate Flegal Harassment Allegations
  9. Pixel Scroll 8/1/20 Scrollers Tick In Vain
  10. AO3 Blocked in China
  11. Memphis Worldcon Bidders: Won’t Run Retros If They Win; Address Diversity and Inclusion Policies
  12. Pixel Scroll 8/3/20 Undeserved Loss And Inaccessible Healing
  13. Where To Find The 2020 Hugo Award Finalists For Free Online
  14. Schluessel: My Zoom Background Censored Again
  15. Hugo Awards 2020 Finalists
  16. Pixel Scroll 8/5/20 Please Pixel Your Scroll In The Form Of A Question
  17. 2020 Recommended SF/F Page
  18. Pixel Scroll 8/2/20 Lemonade Stand On Zanzibar
  19. How Audible’s Returns Policy Exploits Writers
  20. 2020 Recommended SF/F List

Pixel Scroll 12/31/20 It’s Shuffled Off Its Mortal Scroll, Run Down The Curtain And Joined The Bleedin’ File Invisible! This Is An Ex-Pixel!

The title is longer than today’s Scroll!

(1) REGRESS REPORT. Michael Dirda says his heaps are still sparking joy: “Clutter, says who? College essays, letters from Stephen King and Tucker Carlson: I’m keeping (almost) all of it” in the Washington Post.

As we close out the last week of turbulent 2020, there are 15 boxes stacked precariously on a couch in the small living room of this house. There are another 20 or so identical boxes crammed floor-to-ceiling in a dark corner of the basement. All of them contain what I refer to grandiosely as “my papers.”By that I mean a lifetime’s accumulation of letters, newspaper clippings, reporter’s notebooks, photocopied articles, three-ring binders, file folders, photographs, ID cards and driver’s licenses, magazines and journals (Gramophone, The Armchair Detective, Studies in Bibliography), drafts of short stories and poems — and even a few elementary school compositions and college essays. Everything has been stashed away higgledy-piggledy, a system that I’ve been known to rationalize by murmuring a line from poet Wallace Stevens: “A great disorder is an order.”

But I’m done with that. Having devoted chunks of this plague year to sorting and culling my books, I now face the more daunting task of weeding through all this memorabilia and paper clutter….

(2) REAL STINKERS. In The Guardian, columnist Louise Candlish has a particular character type in mind as she lists her “Top 10 most dislikable characters in fiction“ (literary fiction, that is). One genre work makes the cut for a group of characters (counted as a single entry for the author’s purpose)—Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Top 10 most dislikable characters in fiction”.

3. The other children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
One way of signalling who your hero is in a children’s book is to make every other child deeply detestable. The Oompa Loompas explain far better than I can the vices of Charlie’s rivals: Veruca Salt is “the little brute”; Augustus Gloop is “unutterably vile”; and Violet Beauregarde is “some repulsive little bum”. Square-eyed Mike Teavee is the least offensive, so we’ll be kind and spare him.

(3) DOOM OBIT. “Rapper MF Doom dies at 49, wife says”. He styled himself after Doctor Doom and was a noted fan of comic books. The Chicago Tribune pays homage:

… Now calling himself MF Doom and wearing a metal mask inspired by the Marvel Comics villain Dr. Doom, Dumile released “Operation: Doomsday” in 1999. Produced by Dumile himself under the pseudonym Metal Fingers, the album couldn’t have been more out of step with hip-hop’s mainstream; featuring Dumile’s signature plainspoken flow and head-spinning volleys of intricate internal rhymes, off-the-wall cultural references and non-sequiturs, the album gained him a sizable cult following.

(4) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • December 31, 1987 — On this day in India, Superman premiered. It produced and directed by B. Gupta. The film stars Dharam Singh Deol more commonly known as Dharmendra, Puneet Issar, Sonia Sahni and Ranjeeta Kaur. Puneet Issar plays the role of Superman. It was not sanctioned by Warner Brothers., nor did they sue.  It was unbelievably bad according to the critics who reviewed it, and yes you can watch it here as Warner Brothers doesn’t seem to care.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • December 31, 1995: The last new Calvin and Hobbes cartoon strip was published.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 31, 1872 – Edith Olivier.  The first Lady Mayor of Wilton.  Decorated for her service during World War II.  A novel and three shorter stories for us, four other novels, nonfiction, memoirs, journals.  In a chapter “Things Past Explaining” she recounts waking one summer night to hear a thud on the floor by her bed – an oldfashioned tennis racket.  Her windows and door were closed.  “If it was an apport by a passing spirit, I can only say that the sense of humour of those in another world is very different from ours.”  (Died 1948) [JH]
  • Born December 31, 1890 – Joe Sewell.  Seventy interiors for “Riddles of Science” and “Scientific Mysteries” in Amazing.  Those also serve who only sit and draw.  (Died 1967) [JH]
  • Born December 31, 1931 – Bob Shaw.  One of the Wheels of IF i.e. Irish Fandom.  Two Hugos, three FAAn (Fan Activity Achievement) Awards, as Best Fanwriter.  Toastmaster at Seacon ’79 the 37th Worldcon and ConFederation the 44th.  Brought to Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon by the BoSh Fund; to Aussiecon Two the 43rd Worldcon by the Shaw Fund.  Co-author of The Enchanted Duplicator which you can see here.  You can also see “Fansmanship”.  Rebel Award – lived variously in the U.K. and U.S.  Doc Weir Award (U.K.; service).  In fact this is all BoSh as you can see.  (Died 1996) [JH]
  • Born December 31, 1943 Ben Kingsley, 77. 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. (CE) 
  • Born December 31, 1945 Connie Willis, 75. 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. (CE)
  • Born December 31, 1949 Ellen Datlow, 71. Let’s get 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 MagazineOmni, the hard copy magazine and online, Sci Fiction webzineandSubterranean Magazine. (CE) 
  • Born December 31, 1949 – Susan Shwartz, Ph.D., age 71.  A score of novels, threescore shorter stories.  Half a dozen anthologies.  Essays, introductions and afterwords, letters, reviews in AnalogAresSF ReviewSFWA Bulletin (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America), Thrust.  Interviewed by Darrell Schweitzer and Lesley McBain.  Unable to resist writing “A Neopro’s Guide to Fandom and Con-Dom” for the Noreascon Three Souvenir Book (47th Worldcon) but made up for it with “Appreciating Esther Friesner” for Millennium Philcon the 59th, hello Susan.  [JH]
  • Born December 31, 1953 Jane Badler, 67. 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 IslandSir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Bitch, Popcorn & Blood and Virtual Revolution. (CE)
  • Born December 31, 1958 Bebe Neuwirth, 62. Ok 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. (CE)
  • Born December 31, 1959 Val Kilmer, 61. Lead role in Batman Forever where I thought 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 well conceived reboot of Knight Rider. Best role? Ahhh that’d be Doc Holliday in Tombstone. (CE)
  • Born December 31, 1967 – Cynthia Leitich Smith, age 53.  This Muskogee Creek Nation author with a Univ. Michigan law degree was just given the first Katherine Paterson Chair at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and the Neustadt Prize.  A score of novels, young-adult, and children’s books, some comic, some fantastic (half a dozen for us), some realistic; essays, short stories, poetry, not to omit “A Real-Live Blonde Cherokee and His Equally Annoyed Soul Mate” in L. Carson ed., Moccasin Thunder.  [JH]
  • Born December 31, 1982 – Remus Simian.  (There should be, but the software won’t allow it, a cedilla under the of Simian, indicating a sound like in English sure.)  One story, and that passably strange, in Paradox, the magazine of the H.G. Wells SF Society of Timisoara (that should have a cedilla), Banat, Romania, twin club of the U.K. Phoenicians and thus of its successor the Northumberland Heath SF Group, all part of the Science Fact & Science Fiction Conctatenation – they use a superscript, I don’t know if they’d accept SF**2.  (Died 2004) [JH]

(7) COMICS SECTION.

  • Ziggy has a holiday traveler’s waking nightmare.

(8) TWENTY-TWENTY TV VISION. Thrillist calls these the “Best Fantasy & Sci-Fi TV Shows of 2020: Our Favorite Series This Year”. First on the list:

The Boys (Amazon Prime)

Season 2. 8 episodes.
The Boys, already the savviest show about the state of pop culture, went even darker and harder in its second season. Despite operating in the same genre as Marvel and DC, The Boys is less about world saving and more about greedy corporate entities that trade on public fears in order to sell their product—the product in this case being superheroes. This batch of episodes introduced You’re the Worst‘s Aya Cash as a no-bullshit feminist using the language of women’s rights for her own evil aims, a fucked up narrative not just there for shock value: It gets to the root of something genuinely insidious in the entertainment industry.—Esther Zuckerman

(9) IN A HURRY. “Long-distance quantum teleportation is now possible, meaning quantum internet” says SYFY Wire.

Raise your hand if you ever wanted to get beamed onto the transport deck of the USS Enterprise. Maybe we haven’t reached the point of teleporting entire human beings yet (sorry Scotty), but what we have achieved is a huge breakthrough towards quantum internet.

Led by Caltech, a collaborative team from Fermilab, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Harvard University, the University of Calgary and AT&T have now successfully teleported qubits (basic units of quantum info) across almost 14 miles of fiber optic cables with 90 percent precision. This is because of quantum entanglement, the phenomenon in which quantum particles which are mysteriously “entangled” behave exactly the same even when far away from each other….

(10) SPARE THE CREDENTIAL. “A snake bit my cat. Clearing out my bank accounts to save him was an easy choice” in the Washington Post is a moving article by the author of The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

…Rocky is a great hunter, and for years he brought us gifts: birds (dead and alive), rabbits (dead and alive), lizards (dead) and ground squirrels (alive, always, and so hard to catch). At 19 pounds, Rocky is big enough that a friend once mistook him for a bobcat. Such sightings are not uncommon where we live, on the edge of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. The danger of that terrain jolted me on a recent Friday, when I got a text from a neighbor accompanied by a picture of a baby Western diamondback rattlesnake. “Rocky thinks this is a toy,” she wrote.

I raced out the door, calling his name, my heart thumping, fearful of losing him in a year already marked by too much loss. Rocky emerged from behind a creosote bush and rushed toward me. As I scanned his body, I saw puncture wounds behind his left digits.

We have human health insurance but not pet insurance. I didn’t hesitate to give my credit card number to the animal hospital’s desk attendant, who asked for it as a condition of admitting him that night, when his left paw was already swollen as big as the head of a golf club. Four doses of antivenin, several blood tests to check his clotting time, three nights at the hospital, plus who-knows-what-else-because-I-lost-track brought the total to $6,200….

(11) CATS AND ELIOT. Before there was music, there were words….

So Cats was a weird movie, huh? Join me, Maggie Mae Fish (and my alternate cat personality), as I explore the weird origins of Cats in the poetry (and warped mind) of TS Eliot.

(12) FIRE WHEN READY. “Amateur Batman Builds His Own Wrist Mounted Grappling Gun”Gizmodo will show it to you.

A childhood spent obsessing over Batman’s wonderful toys eventually transitions to a disappointing adulthood where you realize those gadgets just can’t exist in real life, even with a billion-dollar budget. That hasn’t stopped many from trying, and JT from YouTube’s Built IRL has come closer than most at recreating Batman’s grappling gun….

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Camestros Felapton arrived in 2021 almost a whole day ahead of File 770. Not only has he survived the impact (so far), he sent his readers a video from the future:

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

International Union of Writers Announces New Literary Award

The International Union of Writers has announced the finalists for the newly created London Literary Awards, a five-yearly award given in six categories to writers in the Russian and English literary communities.

The International Union of Writers (IUW), established in Paris in 1954, describes itself as the world’s largest organization of literary professionals. Since 2010, the main division is located in Moscow. The IUW unites writers’ unions in more than 40 nations, and works to protect the social and professional rights of writers and journalists.

Their press release says:

The goal of the London Literary Award is to encourage communication between English-language and Russian-language writers and two to create a common cultural space for sharing and understanding between these two great literary communities.

There are six categories of the London Literary Award:

  • The Charles Dickens Award for novels, short fiction, or journalism.
  • The Lord George Noël Gordon Byron Award for poetry or essays
  • The Samuel Johnson Award for criticism.
  • The William Shakespeare Award for dramatic works.
  • The Lewis Carroll Award for science fiction and fantasy.
  • The Mikhail L. Lozinsky Award for literary translation from Russian to English and English to Russian.

Each award will be presented in three categories: New Authors, Established Authors, and Grand Masters.

Their jury has compiled a preliminary list of finalists who they regard as deserving of the title, Best Author of the Year. From this, a shortlist of finalists (listed below) was chosen.

And since the works will be written in different languages, each award will be presented to both Russian and English-speaking authors.

Russian winners will receive a grant to translate their book so it can be published in the UK. For the winner of the William Shakespeare Award for Drama, the winner’s play will be produced on the stage of the Royal Court Theater.

The finalists in all categories follow the jump. NOTE: The names are copied from the press release. Some spellings have been corrected, but not all have been caught.

Continue reading

Best Professional Artist Hugo: Eligible Works from 2020

By JJ: To assist Hugo nominators, this post provides information on the artists and designers of more than 700 works which appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy for the first time in 2020.

These credits have been accumulated over the course of the year from dust jackets, Acknowledgments sections and copyright pages in works, cover reveal blog posts, and other sources on the internet. This year, Filers Martin Pyne and Karen B. also collected this information, and though we had a lot of overlap, their extra entries have greatly increased the information we are able to provide you. My profound thanks go to Martin and Karen for all of their hard work.

You can see the full combined spreadsheet of Editor and Artist credits here (I will be continuing to update this as I get more information).

In this post I will display up to 8 images of artworks for each artist for whom I have identified 3 or more works which appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy for the first time in 2020. Clicking on the thumbnail will open a full-screen version of each work; where I could find a version of the work without titles, that is the image which is linked.

Please note carefully the eligibility criteria according to the WSFS Constitution:


Professional Artist

3.3.12: Best Professional Artist. An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during the previous calendar year.

3.2.11: A Professional Publication is one which meets at least one of the following two criteria:
(1) it provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or,
(2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner.

3.10.2: In the Best Professional Artist category, the acceptance should include citations of at least three (3) works first published in the eligible year.


Under the current rules, artwork for semiprozines and fanzines is not eligible in this category. You can check whether a publication is a prozine or a semiprozine in this directory (the semiprozine list is at the top of the page, and the prozine directory is at the bottom).

Please be sure to check the spreadsheet first; but then, if you are able to confirm credits missing 2020-original works and the names of their artists from Acknowledgments sections, copyright pages, or by contacting authors and/or artists, go ahead and add them in comments, and I will get them included in the spreadsheet, and if the artist is credited with at least 3 works, in this post. If you have questions or corrections, please add those also. Please note that works may or may not be added to the list at my discretion.

PLEASE DON’T ADD GUESSES.

Artists, Authors, Editors and Publishers are welcome to post in comments here, or to send their lists to jjfile770 [at] gmail [dot] com.


(warning: this post is heavily image-intensive, and will probably not work well on mobile devices: flee now, or prepare to meet your doom extremely slow page download)

Only those bying stoute of heyrte and riche in bandwydthe shouldst click hither to proce’d…

Pixel Scroll 12/30/20 Is There Nothing I Can Take? Doctor! To Relieve This TARDIS-Quake?

(1) ALL IN THE FAMILY. Cora Buhlert has announced the winner of the 2020 Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents. This year, she has a Retro Darth Vader Parenthood Award winner as well.

… This year also marks the 40th annual Darth Vader Parenthood Award for Outstandingly Horrible Fictional Parents.

Let’s have a bit of background: I have been informally awarding the Darth Vader Parenthood Award since sometime in the 1980s with the earliest awards being retroactive. Over the years, the list of winners migrated from a handwritten page to various computer file formats, updated every year. Last year, I finally decided to make the winners public on the Internet, because what’s an award without some publicity and a ceremony? The list of previous winners (in PDF format) up to 2017 may be found here, BTW, and the 2018 winner and the 2019 winner were announced here.

And there is no danger of spoiling this year’s result, for as Cora herself says —

This is another winner where many members of our esteemed audience will go, “Who?”

(2) ON SECOND THOUGHT. “Michael Sheen Hands Back OBE From Queen Elizabeth II” – in a report today Deadline says the Good Omens actor did it in 2017. But it’s news to me!

…Speaking in a YouTube interview with Guardian columnist Owen Jones, the Welsh actor said he handed back an Order of the British Empire (OBE) that he received in 2009 for services to drama.

He quietly returned the honor in 2017 after conducting research on Wales’ relationship with England as part of delivering the Raymond Williams Society lecture. He referenced his unease with practices such as handing the Prince of Wales title to the heir to the throne, despite that individual being English.

(3) STALLING SPEED. The Guardian reports on the woes of the famous bookstalls along the banks of the Seine in Paris: “Through gilets jaunes, strikes and Covid, Paris’s 400-year-old book stalls fight to survive”.

…One recent Sunday, though, Jérôme Callais made €32. And there was a day that week when he made €4: a single paperback, he can’t even recall which. It has not, Callais said, sheltering from driving rain on an all but deserted Quai de Conti, been easy.

“In fact, it’s been terrible,” he said, surveying a long, long row of shuttered boxes. “The culmination of three disastrous years. First the gilets jaunes and their protests. Then the transport strikes last winter. And now Covid: travel bans, lockdowns, curfews. In financial terms, a catastrophe.”

Not that anyone ever became a bouquiniste for the money. Even in non-pandemic times, small-scale, secondhand bookselling in the era of smartphones, e-readers and Amazon is never going to be much of a money-spinner….

(4) PIXEL ADJACENT. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Learned by having just watched 10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘A Christmas Story.

(The movie based on Jean Shepherd’s stories from his collection In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which many folks of my greying years listened  to Shep read on his radio show over the years):

1, One of the 8,000 kids who auditioned for the role of Ralphie (Shep’s younger self) was Wil Wheaton. (This fact makes it sufficiently sf-adjacent to be a Scroll item.)

2, One of the auditioners for the role of the father was Jack Nicholson.

(5) THOMAS ON BRADBURY. This is from an interview with new F&SF editor Sheree Renée Thomas in the December Locus:

I really loved Ray Bradbury because he often wrote about small towns.  Even though I’ve lived in New York, I don’t really think of Memphis as a small town–it’s a big city with lots of different little towns in it–but I liked that Bradbury wasn’t patronizing and dismissive.  He recognized, like so many other writers, that in these places great complexity, mystery, and human drama can be found.  He had some problematic things in his work, but he was more progressive than some of his peers at the time.  I loved his language and his characters,

There’s a big excerpt of the interview at the link (although this paragraph admittedly isn’t part of it.)

(6) STAGING FRANKENSTEIN. The New York Times revisits “A ‘Frankenstein’ That Never Lived”. Tagline: “On Jan. 4, 1981, the effects-heavy production opened and closed on the same night. Forty years later, the creators revisit a very expensive Broadway flop.”

The show’s human stars included John Carradine, in what would be his last stage role, as the blind beggar.

GIALANELLA Carradine had been doing such crap — B movies, commercials. He was an old man, but he still had that deep, rich, whiskey voice. During previews, Joe rented a screening room and showed us “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein” [from 1935, in which Carradine had an uncredited bit part]. Someone turned to him and said: “That’s such a great film. What’s your memory of it?” He stood for a minute and said, “Two days’ work.”

CARRIE ROBBINS, costume designer His hands were so riddled with arthritis he could not dress himself. I had a lovely small-of-stature dresser who was able to hide in the “fireplace” of the old man’s hut and help him out.

The role of Victor Frankenstein went to William Converse-Roberts, a recent Yale Drama School graduate who would be making his Broadway debut. After extensive auditions of other actors, the part of the Creature went to Keith Jochim, who had originated the role in St. Louis.

GIALANELLA Nobody was nailing it. I went to Joe and said, “You’ve got to bring in Keith.” They didn’t want to do it. They wanted someone with at least New York credibility.

MARTORELLA Keith’s audition was incredibly moving. We had 10 minutes, and he ended up reading for a half an hour. Then he came back in the afternoon in the makeup he had designed [for St. Louis]. I wrote in my diary, “He had totally transformed himself into a heap of horror.” I can still see the faces of Tom, Joe and Victor. They were in awe.

The show, began loading in at the Palace on Oct. 23, 1980. The crew started with 15 stagehands, which quickly swelled to three dozen. The start of previews was delayed by the complexity of Douglas Schmidt’s sets, which rotated on a giant turntable, and by issues with effects like the Tesla coil, whose full intensity was ratcheted up over the course of rehearsals.

JOHN GLOVER, actor The first time [the Tesla coil] went off, it scared the crap out of me. Instead of falling into the orchestra pit, I jumped all the way over it.

(7) WELLS OBIT. Deadline reports “Dawn Wells Dead: ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Dies From Covid Compilations At 82”. She did a lot of TV work in addition to her iconic role as Gilligan’s Mary Ann, but that series’ animated spinoff transformed her character into a genre voice acting role in Gilligan’s Planet (1982-1983) —

Gilligan’s Planet is based on the premise that the Professor had managed to build an operational interplanetary spaceship to get the castaways of the original series off the island. This series creates a different timeline for the Gilligan franchise, rendering the two Universal Television film sequels necessarily in a different continuity, as those films had integrated the cast back into society….

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 30, 1865 Rudyard Kipling. Yea Kipling. He’s written enough of a genre nature such as the Just So Stories for Little Children stories like “How the Camel Got His Hump“ and “The Cat That Walked By Himself“ being wonderful stories with a soupçon of the fantastic in them that he deserves a Birthday. Or there’s always The Jungle Book which runs 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.) (CE) 
  • Born December 30, 1869 – Stephen Leacock, Ph.D.  Forty short stories for us; he called some “nonsense novels”, but as to their length that is numerically nugatory.  Lorne Pierce Medal.  Governor General’s Award.  Mark Twain Award.  Eponym of the Leacock Memorial Medal.  Admirer of Robert Benchley, admired by Groucho Marx and Jack Benny.  A complicated conservative, a consummate comic.  Let us at his left write so well.  (Died 1944) [JH] 
  • Born December 30, 1935 – David Travis, Ph.D.   Bowler and mathematician.  Five stories.  Correspondent of AmazingSF ReviewStarship, hello Andy Porter.  (Died 2011) [JH]
  • Born December 30, 1931 – Ilene Meyer.  Artist Guest of Honor at Rustycon 3.  Here is the Norwescon 8 Program Book.  Here is the Jul 88 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Here is the May 90.  Here is the Jan 94.  Here is Vance’s Chateau D’If.  Here is the Fenners’ artbook on her.  Covers for six volumes of P.K. Dick’s letters; here is 1980-1982.  Here is The World Below; she did not live to complete The World Above.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born December 30, 1950 Lewis Shiner, 70. Damn his Deserted Cities of the Heart novel was 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 here that’s read the Private Eye Action As You Like It collection of PI stories I see listed on usual suspects  with Joe Lansdale?  It looks interesting. (CE) 
  • Born December 30, 1951 – Avedon Carol, age 69.  TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate and thus Fan Guest of Honour at Eastercon 34, whereupon she married Rob Hansen (see her report here) and both were Fan Guests of Honour at Eastercon 40.  AC also FGoH at Wiscon 11, Corflu 32 (fanziners’ con; corflu = mimeograph correction fluid; the FGoH is determined, um, idiosyncratically).  Many fanzines, see here.  [JH]
  • Born December 30, 1952 – S.P. Somtow, age 68.  Thirty novels, ninety shorter stories, many interwoven, interdependent, international.  Forty poems; a hundred essays (thirty in Fantasy Review), letters, messages, reviews, introductions to introductions – I’m not making this up, he is.  Here is his cover for The Other City of Angels.  Campbell Award (as it then was) for Best New Writer.  Locus Award.  World Fantasy Award.  Composer, conductor (Golden W from the Int’l Wagner Society), founder of performing companies, and in fact a prince of a man.  In person I last saw him playing piano four-hands with Laura Brodian Kelly-Freas (as she then was).  Website.  [JH]
  • Born December 30, 1959 Douglas A. Anderson, 61. 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 as it’s one of the better ones on fantasy literature out there: Tolkien and Fantasy (CE)
  • Born December 30, 1976 Rhianna Pratchett, 44. 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. 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. (CE)
  • Born December 30, 1980 Eliza Dushku, 40. 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, one of which I’ll single out as of note which is the character of Holly Mokri in Torchwood: Web of Lies. (CE)
  • Born December 30, 1986 Faye Marsay, 34. 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 & GretelPeter Pan and Macbeth — all definitely genre. (CE) 
  • Born December 30, 1993 – Kaley Bales, age 27.  Visual artist.  Illustrations for Michael Ezell, Peter Madeiros.  Here is Why She Wrote.  “My biggest sources of inspiration are the Pacific Ocean coastline, fresh produce, and any mainstream media made before the 1970s.”  [JH]

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) TRADITIONAL GALLIFREYAN HOLIDAY CELEBRATION. “Doctor Who best Christmas episode revealed by fans” in a Radio Times poll.

…“God bless us, every one! A decade on, A Christmas Carol is still the Doctor Who festive special liable to turn even the greatest TV Scrooge into a true Christmas convert,” said Huw Fullerton, RadioTimes.com’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Editor.

“Filled with Who-letide cheer, adventure, flying sharks and even a Katherine Jenkins solo, this episode really does have it all. Is it any wonder it’s still at the top of any Whovian’s Christmas list?”

Also starring Michael Gambon, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill alongside Smith and Jenkins, the Steven Moffat-penned episode sees Smith’s Doctor try to evoke Charles Dickens’ classic tale to warm the heart of an old miser (Gambon), whose greed and apathy threaten the lives of countless people.

…Interestingly, the poll also recorded a high result for William Hartnell festive one-off The Feast of Steven (1965), which was actually the seventh part of the Daleks’ Master Plan serial, and saw the First Doctor break the fourth wall to wish everyone at home a Merry Christmas.

Considering this episode was irretrievably lost soon after broadcast and very few will have been able to see it, it seems likely fans were intending to show a general support for Hartnell’s Time Lord, and note his often-overlooked status as the first Doctor (and the only for 40 years) to have a Christmas special.

  1. A Christmas Carol (2010) 13 per cent
  2. The End of Time (2009/10) 11 per cent
  3. The Christmas Invasion (2005) 10 per cent (higher vote)
  4. The Feast of Steven (1965) 10 per cent
  5. Resolution (2019) 8 per cent (higher vote)
  6. The Husbands of River Song (2015) 8 per cent
  7. Voyage of the Damned (2007) 8 per cent
  8. Twice Upon a Time (2017) 7 per cent
  9. The Runaway Bride (2006) 6 per cent
  10. The Time of the Doctor (2013) 5 per cent
  11. Last Christmas (2014) 5 per cent
  12. The Snowmen (2012) 3 per cent (higher vote)
  13. The Next Doctor (2008) 3 per cent
  14. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe (2011) 2 per cent
  15. The Return of Doctor Mysterio (2016) 1 per cent

(11) GETTING READY FOR DISNEY+’S WANDAVISION SERIES.  [Item by Daniel Dern.]  This alone is enough to have me ready to subscribe to Disney+ (Yes, Loki also looks interesting, and as long as I (will) have a subscription, I will no doubt dip a mutant-clawed iron-armored toe into the other Marvel series). (And we’ll finally watch Hamilton: The Movie.)

Here’s the trailers. Yes it looks like it’s going to be a hopefully long strange trip.

In case you aren’t already sold, here’s a bit of background etc: (I assume there’s no spoilers, but can’t guarantee it.)

The show takes place after Avengers: Endgame (during which Vision died).

It takes (some of its) inspiration from Marvel’s House Of M event/story line (where W & V have young kids), and from Tom King’s superlative, heart-wrenching Vision 12-issue (2-15-2016) comic mini-series.

(King also, among other things, wrote the recent equally but differently moving Mr Miracle mini-series, for DC.)

And here’s several ways to get/read King’s series — worth doing for its own sake.

1, Buy the individual issues, or “graphic novels” (issues collected into book format), either The Vision (all 12 issues), or the done-in-two collections:

  • The Vision. 1, Little worse than a man (1-6)
  • The Vision. 2, Little better than a beast (7-12)

2, Read via Marvel’s Unlimited  comics streaming service (https://www.marvel.com/unlimited). (All twelve issues are there — on the mobile app, easy to find via BROWSE/SERIES/VISION. I’m having trouble finding it via the web interface.)

(FREE) 3, Digital borrow from HooplaDigital.com (well, 2 borrows), assuming your library offers Hoopla as one of its digital services.

(FREE) or as a library book borrow, either as a single volume,

Or as two volumes, like Hoopla

  • The Vision. 1, Little worse than a man
  • The Vision. 2, Little better than a beast

(12) TAKE A TRIP BACK IN TIME. A group of fans on Facebook painstakingly colorized all the comics in this 1944 photo of magazine covers on a newsstand. Click to see the image.  

(13) FIRST FIFTH. PBS program NOVA names “The top 5 science stories of 2020”.

…Despite facing coronavirus-related setbacks, researchers made profound discoveries and helped people understand some startling realities. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe grabbed a piece of an asteroid, and the Japan Space Agency’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft returned samples of another asteroid to Earth. Scientists found signatures of water on the moon and nearby space rocks, and an obscure gas on our celestial neighbor, Venus. Meanwhile, other scientific endeavors—like climate change research at the poles—faced a freeze as the pandemic brought “normal” life here on Earth to a halt

(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers 2020,” the Screen Junkies say last year was “a live action version of The Book of Revelation, featuring fires, famine, rain, and other signs of the End Times.”  Special Guest Patton Oswalt adds to the mirth.

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

2020 Stabby Award Nominees

Reddit’s r/Fantasy group has chosen the nominees for the Best of /r/Fantasy 2020 — the Stabby Awards.

The group has over 1.2 million members, although last year just 903 votes were cast.

Voting continues until January 4. The winners will be announced January 6.

There are many categories – the lists of nominees follow the jump.

Update: The r/Fantasy mods asked that File 770 remind everyone —

Rules surrounding vote brigading:

You are welcome and encouraged to share this voting thread, but links directly to the Google Form or shares of the voting thread that specifically ask folks to vote for you will be considering attempts to brigade. Share information about the Stabby Awards as a whole. Even if you’re not the original creator/nominee, but are sharing in support of someone, the same rules will apply. Don’t get your favorite creator disqualified by not following the rules. As in previous years, the moderator team reserves the right to determine winners in the event of hinky business.

Continue reading

Journey Planet 55: Russian Space — a Free Download

Cover by Sara Felix

By James Bacon: This unique issue of Journey Planet comes in two languages in parallel text, Russian and English. With bilingual text on every page we look at the Science, Engineering, Science Fiction, Films, Comics and poetry that the theme of Russian Space has to offer. 

Moscovite Co-Editor Ann Gry (Anna Gryaznova) was committed to ensure the issue was as accessible as possible to the readers, interested in the subject and spent a tremendous amount of time working on translations as well as seeking out new voices, and hearing from voices who may be very new to Journey Planet readers. This issue is a curated glimpse into the creative realms mostly inaccessible due to the language barrier and is an attempt to give an idea of how space theme connects us all. 

With articles from Maria Ku, Mikhail Katyurichev and Danila Chvanov, a comprehensive look at space-themed comics by Andrey Malyshkin, as well as interviews with the creators of “Meteora” from Bubble comics, Askold Akishin and Alexandra Shevchenko, prose and comics are well covered. An interesting part is dedicated to visual poetry along with some traditional verses by Andrey Suzdalev.

An extensive article on space-themed films, we also have an interview with Konstantin Bronzit (Oscars nominee) and Christopher Riley (BAFTA & Emmy nominee). 

With writings on visits to Museums or exhibitions by Nicholas Whyte and Dr Emma J. King, and Ann Gry visiting Kaluga — the place where Konstatnin Tsiolkovsky lived and worked, we have first hand reportage of some amazing space places and artifacts. 

Finally with articles on TEM2 and R7’s, a paper model of the MIG 105 by Oleg Ivanov and a selection of postage stamps featuring space, this issue offer many aspects of Russian Space and we hope readers enjoy it. 

This issue’s cover is a melding of art, collage work by Christopher J. Garcia, layout by Ann  Gry and a star field background by Hugo and Chesley finalist Sara Felix.

You can find the issue here:

Pixel Scroll 12/29/20 A Mime
In A Tesseract Still Has Ways To Get Out

(1) BRADBURY’S CHAMPION. The Los Angeles Review of Books hosts “Ray Bradbury at 100: A Conversation Between Sam Weller and Dana Gioia”.

COMMEMORATING THE CENTENNIAL of the great Ray Bradbury, biographer Sam Weller sat down with former California poet laureate and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts Dana Gioia for a wide-ranging conversation on Bradbury’s imprint on arts and culture.

SAM WELLER: The first time I met you was at the White House ceremony for Ray Bradbury in November 2004. You were such a champion for Ray’s legacy — his advocate for both the National Medal of Arts and Pulitzer Prize. As we look at his 100th birthday, I want to ask: Why is Bradbury important in literary terms?

DANA GIOIA: Ray Bradbury is one of the most important American writers of the mid-20th century. He transformed science fiction’s position in American literature during the 1950s. There were other fine sci-fi writers, but Ray was the one who first engaged the mainstream audience. He had a huge impact on both American literature and popular culture. He was also one of the most significant California writers of the last century. When one talks about Bradbury, one needs to choose a perspective. His career looks different from each angle….

(2) TUCKER ON BRADBURY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is from “Beard Mumblings,” a column by Bob Tucker that appears in the recently published Outworlds 71, but which was written in 1986 and is about the 1986 Worldcon.

There were some very pleasant memories of the con.  One of them was when Ray Bradbury recognized me in the huge 10th floor consuite and came over to shake and talk.  Mind you, we had not met each other for 40 years.  Our last meeting was the 1946 Worldcon in Los Angeles, yet he recognized and remembered.  I was very pleased to see him again, and equally pleased to get his autograph across the page of his chapter in Harry Warner’s All Our Yesterdays.  Judging the way he examined that page and that chapter, he doesn’t have a copy.

(3) WHEN HOKEY RELIGIONS AND ANCIENT WEAPONS ARE A MATCH. Professor Louise A. Hitchcock makes a connection in “The Mandalorian and Ancient Mediterranean Societies: The Way of The Force?” at Neon Kosmos. BEWARE SPOILERS.

…Thus, like both Achilles and Gilgamesh of early epic, baby Grogu has semi-divine aspects paired with Din Djarin’s stoic sense of duty and discipline. The pairing both calls to mind Patroclus who becomes a role model to the younger Achilles as well as Enkidu who becomes humanised through his friendship with Gilgamesh. In each epic tale the pair are changed by their bond of affection which is forged through shared experience. In all of these epics, the friends are also tragically separated, our ancients by death, and Grogu by Din Djarin’s quest to return him to the Jedi to finish his training. An element of danger is added by the fact that the Empire is seeking to capture or buy Grogu to increase its power through acquiring his force sensitive blood.

The weekly quest for survival as Din and Grogu, pursue their goal operates on the basis of pre-monetary economy that is reminiscent of maritime trade in the ancient Mediterranean. Food and drink are sometimes obtained through a shared code of hospitality, exchanging mercenary acts for information or needed supplies, transporting individuals from one port to another, providing Beskar ingots in exchange for ship repairs, and even trading spices. In other words, things haven’t changed a lot since the Silk Road brought needed goods from Asia to Mesopotamia or ships transported copper from Cyprus to Crete.

(4) OWN THOSE LITTLE BLACK BOOKS. [Item by Rob Thornton.] Games Designers Workshop is doing two Bundles of Holding that together will contain all of legendary science fiction roleplaying game Traveller’s Little Black Books (LBBs). Currently, “Traveller LBBs 1” and “Traveller LBBs 2” are available. Both bundles together comprise the complete LBB collection.

Traveller! We’ve resurrected both of our 2015 offers of the classic “Little Black Books” from the Golden Age of Traveller, the original science fiction tabletop roleplaying game. Together these two bargain-priced offers give you DRM-free .PDF ebooks of all 50+ rulebooks, supplements, and adventures published as half-size manuals (with elegant black covers) by Game Designers’ Workshop, 1977-1982.

(5) BROKEN HEARTS OF A WRITING LIFE. Stephen R. Donaldson mourns the response to his latest draft.

11/12/20
“The Killing God”: progress report

                I’ve finally finished my first-pass revision of Book Three of THE GREAT GOD’S WAR, “The Killing God” (formerly known as “The Last Repository”). The text is now ready to deliver to my agent and editor. In its current form, it stands at 1100 pages, a bit more than 283,000 words. What happens next? My agent will read the book much faster than my editor will; but I won’t start on the next revision until I’ve received what are politely called “comments” from both of them. At that point, no doubt, Berkley (and Gollancz in the UK) will schedule publication. Sometimes this requires me to do my next revision in a hurry. But not always.

12/6/20 
“The Killing God”: bad news

                My agent has submitted the book to my editor at Berkley. Without reading it (!), my editor informed me that Berkley will not consider publishing the book until I cut 100,000 words. Roughly 35% of the text. On the assumption that I will not do such violence to my own work, Berkley has removed the book from their publication schedule.
Their assumption is correct. At this stage, I routinely prune my manuscripts by 10%. I may conceivably be able to go as far as 15%. But whether or not anyone likes my characters and how I handle them, my stories are very tightly plotted. Each piece relies on–and is implied by–what came before it. I can’t mutilate Book Three without making the entire trilogy incoherent.
My agent believes that where we stand now is not the end of “The Killing God.” (Never mind of my career.) He has persuaded my editor to go ahead and read the book. He hopes that seeing how strongly Book Three caps Books One and Two (which she loved) will persuade her to rethink her position. I have my doubts. I suspect that her position is corporate rather than editorial: my books no longer earn enough to make them worth publishing regardless of their intrinsic merits. Naturally, I hope I’m wrong.

When I have more news, I’ll post it here. I don’t expect to hear anything until sometime in January.

(6) NEXT NYRSF READING. Sam J. Miller will be featured on the virtual New York Review of Science Fiction reading, Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST.

Now that the Dystopia Year of 2020 is over, we will begin 2021 with the wonderful writer Sam J. Miller to make sure we stay on our toes.

Sam J. Miller is the Nebula Award-winning author of The Art of Starving (an NPR best of the year) and Blackfish City (a “Must Read” in Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine). Sam’s short stories have been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. He is the last in a long line of butchers, and he has also been a film critic, a grocery bagger, a community organizer, a secretary, a painter’s assistant and model, and the guitarist in a punk rock band. He lives in New York City, and at samjmiller.com

After the reading general series dogsbody Amy Goldschlager will interview the author, and then we’ll open up the discussion to general questions from our virtual audience. Barbara Krasnoff will be the Audience Wrangler.

Please help us keep the series going by donating to NYRSF Reading Series producer Jim Freund at PayPal.me/HourWolf.

(7) EXPANDING THE HONORVERSE. Eric Flint did a title reveal on Facebook today.

Well, it’s official. After much wrangling and soul-searching, we’ve settled on the title To End In Fire for the upcoming Honorverse novel David Weber and I are writing. It’s tentatively scheduled for publication in October.

I tried to hold out for the more exciting title of The Cabal In The Luyten 726-8b (UV Ceti) System, but David overruled me. He thinks that title is too obscure. I find that hard to believe, given that the star system is clearly identified in the Gliese Catalog of Nearby Stars, which I’m sure can be found on every literate person’s bookshelves. But, he’s got the final sayso on account of he’s the one who created this whole setting.

Titles are just window dressing, anyway. What matters is the story — which in this case is shaping up to be a dandy. If I say so myself as shouldn’t, if I subscribed to Samwise Gamgee notions of modesty. Which (clears the throat), I don’t, on account of I’m a shameless scribbler and he’s, well, a hobbit when you get right down to it.

(8) MOSS OBIT. Actor Basil Moss (1935-2020) died November 28. There’s an overview of his career in The Guardian.

Basil Moss, who has died aged 85, was a perennial character actor often popping up in popular series as authority figures, but he found his best parts in two BBC soaps.

He became a familiar face on television as the librarian Alan Drew in Compact, set in the offices of a glossy women’s magazine… 

After Compact, Moss’s other TV roles included … a doctor with the hi-tech military agency Shado, defending the Earth against aliens, in UFO (1970-71), the puppet master Gerry Anderson’s first full live-action series; and Robert Atkinson in the political thriller series First Among Equals (1986).

Uncredited, Moss was also seen as a Navy submarine officer in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967).

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 29, 1967 — “The Trouble with Tribbles” first aired as 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.” Memory Alpha also notes Heinlein had Martian flat cats in The Rolling Stones that were similar to these and Roddenberry called to apologize for these being so similar. Who remembers these?  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 were Trek episodes written by Jerome Bixby, Norman Spinrad and Theodore Sturgeon.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 29, 1843 – Carmen Sylva.  Keyboardist (piano, organ), singer, graphic artist (painting, illuminating), poet, writer in English, French, German, Romanian, she left us particularly a dozen tales published in English as Pilgrim Sorrow, one in The Ruby Fairy Book and more recently in the VanderMeers’ Big Book of Classic Fantasy (2019).  CS was a pen name, she was the Queen of Romania.  (Died 1916) [JH]
  • Born December 29, 1915 – Charles L. Harness.  A dozen novels, five dozen shorter stories; appreciation of Van Vogt in Nebula Awards 31; interview “I Did It for the Money” in Locus (but, as has often been said, fiction-writers are liars).  SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Author of Distinction.  Best known for “The Rose” and The Paradox Men.  Three NESFA (New England SF Ass’n) Press books; here is Jane Dennis’ cover for Cybele, with Bluebonnets.  Patent lawyer.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born December 29, 1916 John D. MacDonald. He wrote three genre novels of which I think the best by far is The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything. He also wrote some sixty genre short stories, many of the genre are collected in End of The Tiger which is available from the usual digital suspects (Died 1986.) (CE)
  • Born December 29, 1924 – Art Rapp.  At his home in Michigan he welcomed fans and published Spacewarp; after two years’ Army service in Korea he married Nancy Share and moved to Pennsylvania.  Two N3F Laureate Awards (Nat’l Fantasy Fan Fed’n), later a term as N3F President.  To him was revealed the fannish ghod (naturally opinions differ on what this is for; it may indicate the shape of a cheek with a tongue in itRoscoe.  (Died 2005) [JH]
  • Born December 29, 1928 Bernard Cribbins, 92. He has the odd distinction of first showing up on Doctor Who in the Peter Cushing as The Doctor non-canon Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. film. He would show up in the 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. (CE)
  • Born December 29, 1945 – Sam Long, age 75.  First noted in Fred Hemmings’ Viewpoint reporting Eastercon 23, he notably published (with Ned Brooks) the Mae Strelkov Trip Report (as you can see here; PDF) after friends brought the fine fanartist MS from Argentina.  SL still appears e.g. in The MT Void (pronounce it M-T, not as an abbreviation for mountain).  [JH]
  • Born December 29, 1950 – Gitte Spee, age 70.  This Dutch artist born in (on?) Java has done lots of illustrations for us.  Here is Detective Gordon’s first case in English and in Polish.  Here is Rosalinde on the Moon(in French).  [JH]
  • Born December 29, 1961 – Kenneth Chiacchia, Ph.D., age 59.  Medical science writer at Univ. Pittsburgh, and since he is ours too, member of both SFWA and the Nat’l Ass’n of Science Writers.  A dozen stories; poems (the 2007 Rhysling anthology has this one).  Carnegie Science Center Journalism Award.  [JH]
  • Born December 29, 1966 Alexandra Kamp, 53. Did you know Sax Rohmer’s noels were made into a film? I didn’t. Well she was the lead in Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru which Michael Shanks also shows up in. She’s also in 2001: A Space Travesty with Leslie Neilsen, and Dracula 3000 with Caspar van Dien. Quality films neither will be mistaken for, each warranting a fifteen percent rating  among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes.. (CE) 
  • Born December 29, 1963 Dave McKean, 57. If you read nothing else involving him, do read the work done by him on 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. (CE) 
  • Born December 29, 1969 Ingrid Torrance, 51. A very busy performer who’s had one- offs in Poltergeist: The Legacy, The Sentinel, Viper, First Wave, The Outer Limits, Seven Days, Smallville, Stargate: SG-1, The 4400, Blade: The Series, Fringe, The Tomorrow People, and Supernatural.
  • Born December 29, 1972 Jude Law, 48. 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. (CE)

(11) KAL-EL AND LL. SYFY Wire is there when “The CW’s Superman & Lois drops first heroic trailer for new DC series”.

… While the teaser isn’t very long (or footage-heavy for that matter), it does give us our first look at the Kent family unit, while Clark talks about how the stress of life can strengthen a person beneath the surface. His use of the phrase “forged liked steel” is a nice little nod to one of Superman’s monickers: the Man of Steel.

(12) SPDIEY’S NEW THREADS. Spider-Man’s hideous new costume that looks like he tore it off a New England Patriots cornerback is revealed in Amazing Spider-Man’ #61.

Over the years, Spider-Man has donned a host of iconic costumes, from his classics digs to the black suit to the Iron Spider. Now in 2021, everyone’s favorite Wall-Crawler will get a brand-new costume to add to his legendary wardrobe! Designed by superstar artist Dustin Weaver, this vibrant new look is unlike any that Peter Parker has worn before. The mysterious look can be seen on Weaver’s incredible variant covers for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #62 and April’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #63.

…  Peter Parker will wear this new suit for his face-off against Kingpin in the next arc of writer Nick Spencer’s hit run. Discover the mystery behind this top-secret costume when AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #61 and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #62 swing into shops this March!

(13) SUPERHERO LIFTS THEATER CHAINS. Deadline reports “’Wonder Woman 1984’ Opening Boosts Movie Theater Stocks, But AMC Loses More Ground”.

The better-than-expected Christmas-weekend opening of Wonder Woman 1984 is giving most exhibition stocks a welcome boost as the misery of 2020 gives way to hope for a brighter 2021.

Shares in Cinemark, Imax, Marcus Corp. and National CineMedia rose between 3% and 7% apiece after the sequel took in $16.7 million domestically, the best bow by any film during the coronavirus pandemic.

AMC, the world’s largest theater circuit, was a notable exception to the rally. Its stock dropped 5% on ongoing investor concern about its liquidity and a potential bankruptcy filing…. 

(14) BOOGLY WOOGLY STUFF. This is great — Boston Dynamics sets its robots dancing in “Do You Love Me?” on YouTube.

(15) SPLINTERS ARE BETTER. “Japan developing wooden satellites to cut space junk” – BBC News has the story. [Via Slashdot.]

…The partnership will begin experimenting with different types of wood in extreme environments on Earth.

Space junk is becoming an increasing problem as more satellites are launched into the atmosphere.

Wooden satellites would burn up without releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere or raining debris on the ground when they plunge back to Earth….

Does this train of thought wind up with Captain Harlock’s spaceship?

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [By Martin Morse Wooster.] “Batman:  The Animated Series/The Heart of Batman” on YouTube is a 2018 documentary, directed by Alexander Gray, on the 1990s “Batman: The Animated Series” which many critics, such as Glen Weldon, say is the best version of Batman.  The film shows that the immediate inspiration for the series was Tim Burton’s Batman and Steven Spielberg’s desire to build an animation at Warner Bros., including giving the budget to have a full orchestra record Shirley Walker’s imaginative score.  Creators Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski give many influences, including film noir, German expressionist films, Citizen Kane, Max Fleischer’s Superman cartoons, and the art of Alex Toth.  But Andrea Romano gets a lot of credit for coming up with superb voices, including Mark Hamill as the Joker and Kevin Conroy as Batman.  The series also turned Harley Quinn into a full-fledged, interesting character and led to Margot Robbie playing her in three big-budget movies.

As an aside, Batman:  The Animated Series discusses how earlier animated shows of the 1980s had stifling restrictions imposed by network censors.  One writer (who wasn’t identified) worked on Super Friends.  One episode had the Justice League shrunk to midgets leading to Robin fighting a spider.  The censors said the cartoon had to include a scene where the spider is seen crawling away because Robin couldn’t hurt the spider.

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

Pixel Scroll 12/28/20 This Irrepixel-Able, Trantor ‘Original’, This Mule-Produced Crime

(1) FRONT AND CENTER. Octavia Butler is on the cover of Huntington Frontiers, published by the Huntington Library in Pasadena. Read the cover article here: “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky” by Lynell George.

When I last encountered Octavia E. Butler, it was 2004 and she was slated to deliver the keynote at the Black to the Future Festival in Seattle, Washington. Time has flattened or obscured some of the details of days spent reporting on panels, lectures, and post-event gatherings. I don’t remember the precise order of events of that opening evening, but I do recall some of Butler’s heartfelt words about finding and making community in this brief but special moment when we were assembled together. I sat, scribbling notes in my reporter’s notebook, making shapes of letters in the darkness of the auditorium. Her voice didn’t seem to need amplification—it was warm and deep and burnished with authority, as if she was not just leading things off, but leading a country….

(2) NOT OUT OF LEFT FIELD. First Fandom Experience solves three eofannish mysteries in “V is for Vincent, Vernon, Vytautas”. Learn more about a famous photo taken over the weekend of the First Worldcon in —

V is for Vincent

Below is one of early fandom’s most iconic images. On Independence Day, 1939, this carload of irascible youth from states far and wide ventured forth from the World Science Fiction Convention in New York to Coney Island. It’s a who’s-who of prominent First Fans: Madle and Agnew from Philadelphia, Korshak and Reinsberg from Chicago, Rocklynne from Ohio, and one very tanned Ray Bradbury from Los Angeles.

But among the who’s-who, there’s a “who’s that?” V. Kidwell. …

During the first Worldcon, fans took the opportunity to visit Coney Island where this foto-op took place: Front: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne Top: V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Korshak, Ray Bradbury Coney Island, July 4, 1939)

(3) JAPANESE BOFFO BOX OFFICE. [Item by N.] “’Demon Slayer’ Overtakes ‘Spirited Away’ to Become Japan’s Biggest Box-Office Hit Ever”The Hollywood Reporter has the story. (Also it’s the fifth highest grossing film of the entire year, surpassing Sonic the Hedgehog, which is a coherent sentence I have just typed.)

Demon Slayer is based on a popular 2016 manga by Japanese artist Koyoharu Gotoge. But the property didn’t become a pop cultural phenomenon until it was adapted into an anime series for television. Produced by Tokyo-based studio Ufotable, the 26-episode series aired on Tokyo MX and other channels in 2019, but later became a sleeper smash hit when it re-aired on Netflix and Fuji TV. The popularity of the series reignited interest in the manga, making it a runaway bestseller. As of December, the Demon Slayer manga series has sold nearly 120 million copies.

When Ufotable’s big-screen adaptation of the series hit Japanese cinemas this fall, conditions were ripe for a box-office bonanza. Japanese cinemas nationwide had fully reopened nationwide after a brief period of COVID-19 shutdown in the spring. Since the Hollywood studios had postponed most of their releases until 2021, Demon Slayer had limited foreign competition and Japanese cinemas were highly motivated to wring as much earnings potential as possible for the local blockbuster. 

(4) WILL POWER. “Brain-controlled gaming exists, though ethical questions loom over the tech” reports the Washington Post.

As the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center shut its laboratories following the covid-19 outbreak, Nathan Copeland, a 33-year-old volunteer, collected the equipment that would grant him transformative abilities during lockdown. Paralyzed from the chest down with only limited arm movement, Copeland took home an advanced brain-computer interface, a device that allows him to control on-screen actions using only his mind.Copeland is part of cutting-edge research into brain-computer interfaces at the University of Pittsburgh, recently awarded over $8 million by the National Institutes of Health. The team’s experiments are a peek into a potential transhumanist future more commonly associated with cyberpunk movies “The Matrix” and “Ghost in the Shell.” Since 2015, Copeland has lived with a transistor-like chip, known as a multi-electrode array, surgically implanted directly into his brain. Copeland’s chip records the rapid-firing of cellular neurons — an almost inscrutably complex neurological signal — which is ferried over to a computer for what’s referred to as “decoding.” This signal is subsequently “translated” into the desired, seemingly telekinetic actions of its user.

To date, one of the team’s biggest successes has been decoding the complicated neural signals to allow Copeland to control a nimble robotic arm…. 

(5) JEDI CONSERVATION MOVEMENT. Musings on Mouse analyzes “Star Wars ‘nostalgia fatigue,’ and Marvel’s bankruptcy lesson”. BEWARE SPOILERS. I don’t think I included any below, however, definitely some in the linked article.

…Quality, some may argue, isn’t just representative of one episode or one movie, but the franchise as a whole. Case in point: The Mandalorian finale….

That, many critics argued in the days after the episode aired, is precisely the problem. As Matt Zoller Seitz wrote on Vulture, “the series succumbs to the dark side of parent company Disney’s quarterly earnings statements, which keeps dragging Star Wars back toward nostalgia-sploitation and knee-jerk intellectual-property maintenance.” Other fans rolled their eyes at the criticism, pointing out that Star Wars has always returned to the franchise’s most popular characters, most noticeably in the Expanded Universe’s novels, comics, and video games. 

Sound familiar? It should — it’s the exact same debate that popped up in 2017 after Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi hit theaters. What is Star Wars? It’s an argument we’ve come back to with The Mandalorian’s second season finale. I’m not a critic, and this newsletter doesn’t exist to critique art. What I’m more acutely interested in is determining Star Wars’ future business. Let’s be clear: Star Wars is more than fine, but as Star Wars expands under Disney, there’s always room to figure out how to ensure it grows at a healthy rate instead of risking alienating parts of its consumer base every year.

(6) PUTTING THEIR STAMP ON THINGS. JSTOR Daily’s Livia Gershon points to the introduction of a new academic work that overviews “James Tiptree Jr. and Joanna Russ: Sci-Fi Pen Pals”.

At first glance, the classic science-fiction authors James Tiptree Jr. and Joanna Russ might not seem to have much in common. Behavioral psychologist Alice Bradley Sheldon began writing under “James Tiptree Jr.” in 1968, when she was in her fifties. She used the fictional male name and real knowledge of science and the military to infiltrate male-dominated science-fiction magazines. Russ, two decades younger, was an outspoken radical feminist, English professor, and critic. And yet, as Nicole Nyhan writes, the two writers exchanged hundreds of letters over fifteen years. Nyhan provides the introduction to a selection of writing from Tiptree’s side of the correspondence.

(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1970 — Fifty years ago at Heicon ’70 in Heidelberg, Germany, “Ship of Shadows” by Fritz Leiber wins the Hugo for Best Novella. (It would also be nominated for a Nebula.) It was published in F&SF in July, 1969 which as you can see was billed as a Special Fritz Leiber Issue. This was a bizarre story of Spar, a blind, half-deaf barman at the Bat Rack. We’ll say no more. The other finalists were “A Boy and His Dog” by Harlan Ellison, “We All Die Naked” by James Blish, “Dramatic Mission” by Anne McCaffrey and “To Jorslem” by Robert Silverberg.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • 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 in “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.) (CE) 
  • Born December 28, 1922 Stan Lee. Summarizing his career is quite beyond my abilities. He created and popularized Marvel Comics in such a way that the 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.) (CE) 
  • Born December 28, 1929 – Janet Lunn.  Three novels, two shorter stories, one anthology for us; much else.  Metcalf Award, Matt Cohen Award, Order of Ontario, Governor General’s Award, Order of Canada.  Quill & Quire obituary here.  (Died 2017) [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1932 Nichelle Nichols, 88. Uhura on Trek. She reprised her character in Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek II: The Wrath of KhanStar Trek III: The Search for SpockStar Trek IV: The Voyage HomeStar 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. (CE)
  • Born December 28, 1934 Maggie Smith, 86. First genre role was as Theis in Clash of the Titans though she’s 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. (CE) 
  • Born December 28, 1942 Eleanor Arnason, 78. 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 at the usual digital suspects. 
  • Born December 28, 1945 – George Zebrowski, age 75.  A score of novels (Macrolife particularly applauded), a hundred shorter stories, several with co-authors.  Clarion alumnus.  Edited Nebula Awards 20-22; four Synergy anthologies, half a dozen more e.g. Sentinels with Greg Benford in honor of Sir Arthur Clarke.  Three years editing the SFWA Bulletin (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) with Pamela Sargent and Ian Watson.  Nonfiction anthologies Beneath the Red Star (studies on international SF), Skylife (with Benford; space habitats), Talks with the Masters (Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Gunn).  Book reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.  Campbell Memorial Award.  “Never Forget the Writers Who Helped Build Yesterday’s Tomorrows” in SF Age.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1946 – Sheryl Birkhead, age 74.  Long-time fanartist and (it serves us right) veterinarian.  Here is a cover for Tightbeam.  Here is one for It Goes on the Shelf.  Here is one for Purrsonal Mewsings.  Here is one for The Reluctant Famulus.  Kaymar Award.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1952 – Ramona Wheeler, age 68.  Two novels, a score of shorter stories.  Essay “The Sailor of No Specific Ocean” in the Hal Clement memorial anthology Hal’s Worlds.  Here is her cover for her collection Have Starship, Will Travel.  Here is her cover for her collection Starship for Hire.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1963 – Robert Pasternak, age 57.  A dozen covers, two dozen interiors for us.  Interviewed in On Spec.  Aurora Award.  Here is Leslie Fiedler’s biography of Stapledon. Here is the May 93 Amazing.  Here is the Dec 00 Challenging Destiny.  Here is the Summer 13 On Spec.  Here is a review of a Jun – Jul 07 exhibition.  Here is an image from a Winnipeg Free Press interview.  Here is an ink-drawn face; see here.  [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1979 – D. Renée Bagby, age 41.  Eight novels for us, five dozen others (some under another name).  Air Force brat, now wife; born in the Netherlands, has also lived in Japan, six of the United States.  Has read The Cat in the HatPersuasionThe Iliad and The OdysseyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  “The voices start talking and I type what they say.” [JH]
  • Born December 28, 1981 Sienna Miller, 39. The Baroness in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. 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 VukA Fox’s Tale, a Hungarian-British animated tale that sounds quite charming.  (CE) 

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) A DISH BEST SERVED LOLD. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Zachary Pincus-Roth discusses how a bunch of Millennial Disney musical fans came up with “Ratatouille: The Musical,” created songs, cosplayed characters from the imaginary musical (including enlisting their parents to play older characters) and even creating a fake cover of Playbill for the imaginary musical.  Disney Theatrical Productions stated “although we do not have development plans for this title, we love when our fans engage with Disney stories.” — “How TikTok and social media are changing Broadway fandom”.

(11) OBI BUT NO OBI-WAN. This happened last year, but it’s news to me… “Japanese theatre to stage kabuki version of Star Wars” in The Guardian.

The Star Wars franchise is about to breach the artistic final frontier with a one-off performance of a kabuki adaptation starring one of Japan’s most revered stage actors.

The classical Japanese theatre, which combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, will swap samurai swords for lightsabers and replace feudal warriors with the forces of light and darkness.

Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, which are being staged in Tokyo, will combine plots from each of the franchise’s latest trilogy, substituting plots drawn from the days of feudal clan rivalry with drama from a galaxy far, far away.

Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor, will take to the stage as Kylo Ren, the conflicted son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, in front of 50 winners of an online lottery….

(12) UNFINISHED TOLKIEN. John M. Bowers asks “Did Tolkien Write The Lord of the Rings Because He Was Avoiding His Academic Work?” at Literary Hub. The trouble with this headline is that it’s not as if Tolkien didn’t procrastinate about working on his fiction, too.

…Already by 1932 he admitted to Chapman the weight of the Chaucerian incubus upon his conscience. His Gawain edition, “Chaucer as a Philologist,” and “The Monsters and the Critics” had all appeared before the Second World War. Set against this relatively slender résumé were undelivered assignments such as his Pearl edition, the book-length “Beowulf” and the Critics, and his EETS edition of Ancrene Wisse. If his own harsh remarks about George Gordon holding up their Chaucer edition did not quite qualify him as a “slanderer,” these complaints did de?ect blame from his role as an “idler” who failed to reduce his annotations to a publishable length. He would confess during a newspaper interview in 1968, “I have always been incapable of doing the job at hand.”

(13) AROUND AND AROUND. “Animation reveals invisible center of solar system that’s not the sun”Business Insider knows where it is. In a minute, you will too.

It’s common knowledge that the sun is the center of the solar system. Around it, the planets orbit — along with a thick belt of asteroids, some meteor fields, and a handful of far-traveling comets.

But that’s not the whole story.

“Instead, everything orbits the solar system center of mass,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency, JAXA, recently explained on Twitter. “Even the sun.”

That center of mass, called the barycenter, is the point of an object at which it can be balanced perfectly, with all its mass distributed evenly on all sides. In our solar system, that point rarely lines up with the center of the sun…

(14) THOUGHT OF THE DAY. From Mike Kennedy: “I just realized that the various dings, buzzes, and clicks our phones/watches play to get our attention are clearly intended to train us to understand R2-D2.”

(15) EMERGENCY HOLOGRAPHIC IP LAWYERS. CinemaBlend will explain “Why James Bond’s Studio Once Sent A ‘Very Stern Letter’ To Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Crew”.

Star Trek is a franchise that primarily deals in the world of sci-fi, but it’s not unheard of for the franchise to attempt parody other genres every so often. Such was the case in the Deep Space Nine episode “Our Man Bashir,” in which an accident in the Holosuite traps the crew in Bashir’s spy fantasy program. The episode is a fun nod to the genre of ’60s spy films but apparently was not well-received by James Bond studio MGM.

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Mind Matters sets the frame for a DUST short in “Sci-Fi Saturday Film: The Robot Tries To Learn About Grief”.

An elderly woman, Sheila, whose daughter has been in a high-conflict zone in a military environment, learns to manage with a robot—ordered apparently off the internet, with a manual—that can learn to do homework and hang Christmas decorations.

It’s an agreeable story and good Christmas fare!

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]

SFWA Grand Master Wishlist

James Gunn with his Grand Master Award in 2007.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) honors one living writer each year with the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

The recent deaths of two distinguished sf writers have drawn attention to the award. The late Ben Bova is someone Gregory Benford wished would have gotten it. James Gunn, who passed away last week, deservedly did get it. And he is also now the fifth Grand Master to die in the past four years (preceded by Brian Aldiss, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, and Gene Wolfe.)

What writers are File 770 readers hoping SFWA will honor in years to come? Give your ideas in a comment.

To start the discussion rolling I asked four writers who they think deserves priority.  

Gregory Benford sent a list of five:

  • Nancy Kress
  • Bruce Sterling
  • David Brin
  • Greg Bear
  • Steve Baxter

Ursula Vernon says:

Oh lord…my choices might be rather idiosyncratic! But I’d want Terri Windling, Robin McKinley, Diane Duane, Barbara Hambly and Ellen Kushner to all be considered. Terri Windling would probably be top of my list.

Past SFWA President Cat Rambo, who led the selection process during her years in office, sent this overview:

The biggest thing stopping Bova being a candidate — and the reason a lot of my picks didn’t fly — is that there’s been a lot of past “the rule is they can’t be dead” stuff. This leads to some weirdness (IMO), including people factoring in how healthy candidates are. To me it has to be someone who shaped the genre — my picks were Peter Beagle, C.J. Cherryh, Jane Yolen, and Bill Gibson, and I think all of them have a substantial and unquestionable legacy and influence on the field.

I’d love to see the award revamped, and be something that could go to multiple people, living and dead, each year, along the lines of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. I know top of my list would be Octavia Butler, and there’s some other now-gone folks that I would also put above Bova, although he is certainly worthy. 

That last thought about expanding eligibility resonates with Nisi Shawl ’s SFWA Grand Master Wishlist:

I’m surely not the first to name Octavia E. Butler as a priority for the honor of SFWA Grand Master.  I mean.  I mean come on.  She was a MacArthur Fellowship-certified genius who demonstrably changed the field.  She was gracious, kind, and charming in person and ruthlessly gorgeous in her prose.  She was a tireless worker, a dreamer, a sincere advocate for emerging authors such as myself, and the moment for us to honor her is fast approaching.  Or maybe it’s already here.

My other two picks for most-likely-to-make-Grand Master are known primarily for their short stories, a form I feel has gotten much shorter shrift than it deserves. 

Nebula-winner Eileen Gunn is a short story writer supreme.  Wisewoman and wise-ass, Eileen is generous with that most precious of authorial treasures, her time.  She teaches, she critiques, she analyzes, she sets forth on pioneering journeys to the heart of speculation and leaves shining footsteps for us to follow. 

And Ted F. Chiang (ask Ellen Klages what the “f” stands for) is a careful, precise giant in this field.  His stories are exquisite and true to the core.  Long may he live!  Long may he reign as Grand Master—and soon!

Add your own names and ideas in the comments.