By John Hertz: In one of Forry Ackerman’s more inspired puns, he called us the Imagi-Nation.
We make things up.
Of course all art does. Maybe all life does.
I knew people with a bookshop that had two names, “Bookfellows” and “Mystery and Imagination”. I told them I liked “Bookfellows” better because all books were mystery and imagination.
SF is particularly hard. If it’s just like what we already know, it’s only mainstream. If it’s too unlike what we know, how are we going to engage with it?
I’ve mentioned C.S. Lewis’ advice I call the One Strange rule: ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, or extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances.
Ambitious SF authors may try both.
Glorious, the Greg Benford – Larry Niven novel appearing last year, is one of the more ambitious SF stories. It’s third in a series. I didn’t re-read the first two before reading it. I don’t think you’ll have to.
It’s an interstellar-travel book. To manage that, some authors make up a way to go faster than light. So far as present-day science knows, it can’t be done (yes, I’ve heard of the Alcubierre drive; even if it’s possible we can’t build it now). There’s no faster-than-light drive in Glorious. There are no generation ships. There’s suspended animation – “cold sleep”. The authors don’t suppose that will be easy or simple. There’s a lot of high-power computing machinery – artificial intelligence.
I don’t know if AI, cold sleep, or FTL will prove achievable. A century or a millennium from now any might have been demonstrated to be fantasy. Meanwhile a story treating any well is science fiction.
Some of Glorious might contradict some people’s religious faith. That faith might be right and Glorious wrong. But faith – I have some – isn’t science. It isn’t less valid – or so I believe – just different. Science is based on things that can be detected and measured in certain ways. Faith doesn’t have those limitations – so it has other limitations. I happen to believe some of Glorious is wrong. But I don’t read books to be agreed with.
Colonists in Glorious think they’re high-tech. They’ve left Earth, and found what looks like a suitable place far enough away. It would be only a short hop in an E.E. Smith book, or a Larry Niven Known Space book, but this isn’t one of those.
Colonists try to prepare for surprises. History shows and SF tells they’re surprised anyway.
People in Glorious get downloaded – if I were writing a few decades ago I’d have had to explain that – into bodies and even machines. That’s almost trivial – I did say almost – compared to what these colonists have to face.
They also have to find how to perceive what they’re facing.
We’ve had stories like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with protagonists on the high-tech side. Oh, look at those benighted creatures over there. In Glorious the sucker is on another tentacle.
There’s some reason to believe the Glorious protagonists are being played for suckers.
Benford is known for imagining physics. Niven is known for imagining aliens. Plenty of both in Glorious. There’s poetic writing too. It isn’t quite like either of them. This is a collaboration.
The landing team arrives. We’re a quarter of the way into the book.
The long meadow before them lay quiet and placid.
No greeting party.
No sign of any reception at all.
Not what any of them had planned.
…. a forest that seemed a writhing mass of wide, hollow limbs. Every living thing seemed endowed with light, airy mechanics. Translucent spiked leaves wove in an easy breeze, and diaphanous flowers of a shiny blue and golden yellow…. Beth knew that this plain was underpinned by struts, and so was clinging to a silvery tether trellis [p. 119].
Things will get more beautiful and more strange.
In another ambitious feature of this book, it has illustrations. The graphic artists are Don Davis and Brenda Cox Giguere. That hasn’t been an ordinary part of novels for adults in quite a while. The pictures are monochrome. They aren’t captioned. Like the words, they result from and invite imagination. I thought this had better not go without saying. Getting there took me a while.
Much farther along an alien being says,
“You have encountered our transmitter, which distorts space-time. You correctly deduce that we use this channel to speak with distant minds that carry out large, powerful experiments.”
“Look,” Viviane said, “we came here to communicate and colonize, if you will be so kind. Not about physics and such, at least not right away.”
Redwing whispered to her… “Let Twisto go on. It wants something from us [p. 354].”
If the space – land-space – or something – isn’t unoccupied, and if the people (“Science fiction is about people. Some of the people are aliens”) are higher-tech than our protagonists, how can colonization be possible – if they will be so kind? Must our protagonists, or anyone, be careless, arrogant, or worse?
When adults turned to Zoom for pandemic-era happy hours, kids filled the social void with Roblox. In 2020, Roblox Corporation’s free-to-play game—which allows users to construct original, three-dimensional online worlds—grew its daily user base 85% to more than 32.6 million. Players can do everything from delivering pizzas to exploring ancient Rome to shelling out real money for virtual Robux to outfit their blocky avatars. (As in many online communities, some have faced harassment.) “Futurists and science-fiction writers have been imagining the Metaverse for decades,” says CEO David Baszucki, referring to the concept of a persistent, shared, 3-D virtual space. Roblox is making it a reality.
(2) ANOTHER CONVENTION CASUALTY. Jo Walton’s Scintillation con — planned for October 2021 in Montreal — is canceled. Current plans are to hope for 2022. “2021 is also cancelled”.
There will be no Scintillation in 2021. There’s no word about the border opening. Vaccinations are happening, but unevenly, and it’s not possible to get any guidance as to whether it will be legal to have events in Quebec in October. We thought about pushing it back, but then it runs into both World Fantasy (still planned to be in Montreal, still planned to be at least partly in person) and winter. The hotel are very reluctant to commit, and keeping the whole thing as a possibility was making us anxious, and of course the closer it gets the harder it is for people to commit. The worst result would be having a con and losing money so we can’t do it other years. So I decided we’d be better to just cancel again, and have the best Scintillation ever in 2022….
(3) 2021 SEIUN AWARDS FINALISTS. Locus Online’s 2021 Seiun Awards Nominees post has translations into English of all the titles up for Best Japanese Novel and Best Japanese Story, as well as the correct English titles of the works nominated for Best Translated Novel and Best Translated Story (i.e. of works into the Japanese language.) And I don’t! So hie thee hence.
The awards will be presented at SF60, the 60th Japan SF Convention, scheduled for August 21-22, 2021 in Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture.
(4) ACTOR NOEL CLARKE FACES HARASSMENT ALLEGATIONS. BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, has suspended British actor and producer Noel Clarke following allegations of sexual misconduct reports CNN. He’s known to sff fans for playing Mickey Smith in 15 episodes of Doctor Who, and appearing in Star Trek: Into Darkness.
The body told CNN in a statement on Friday that it had made the decision to suspend Clarke’s membership, along with his recent award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema, “in light of the allegations of serious misconduct” leveled against him in the Guardian newspaper.
“BAFTA has taken the decision to suspend his membership and the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema award immediately and until further notice,” it added.
The suspension comes just weeks after Clarke was given the award — one of the academy’s most prestigious honors — at its annual ceremony on April 10.
According to the Guardian, claims of sexual harassment and bullying were made against Clarke by 20 women, all of whom knew him in a professional capacity between 2004 and 2019.
… The ISFDB’s roots can be found in USENET, a now archaic decentralized worldwide distributed discussion system intended to be sufficiently robust enough that in the event of a global thermonuclear war, surviving users would still be able to exchange angry barbs about the latest Robert A. Heinlein novel even as deadly fallout collected in deep drifts around the furious posters. By its nature, however, USENET posts tend to be ephemeral. Thus, in the mid-1990s, Al von Ruff and the entity known as Ahasuerus created the web-based ISFDB….
(6) 124C41+. SF2 Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie sent another update about prospects for UK fan groups resuming in-person meetings in the foreseeable future.
I have almost finished downloading five months of Nature PDFs that accrued during my “digital lockdown”, fortunately I had paper subscriptions so I was kept up-to-date during this time. Next is Science, BMJ, etc. And I’ve not yet looked at the backlog e-mails December 2020 to March ’21…
As lockdown over here in Brit Cit eases, our local Northumberland Heath DA8 Science Fiction Group is hoping for a members-only meet in June before resuming regular open meetings. Before then a few of us may though have a garden gathering as under CoVID rules, before late May, six are allowed to gather outside. (We hope Buffy the dog doesn’t count as one of the six: she slays vampires you know.)
Whether or not our SF group will have a larger barbecue this summer remains to be seen.
As for larger UK meetings, such as the Birmingham SF Group or the London SF Circle, getting to these will involve public transport and that may put off some. We will see. For now, the London SF Circle is virtual.
Fortunately, over here, both the weekly rates of infection and fatalities seem to be in steady decline, for which we have the vaccines to thank. (All hail the UK Science Base, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.)
Trusting things are going well for you over in the rebel colonies? News from some places elsewhere is depressing. Hopefully we can speed up vaccinating the world.
(7) DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Dream Foundry has made Cassie Alexander’s seminar “Injuries in Fiction and Writing About Other Medical Topics” available on their YouTube channel.
Have you ever needed to incapacitate a character and gotten stuck wondering what was real versus what was functional for your project? As an author and RN, Cassie understands the way we need to sometimes bend things for fiction — but also the thrill of making fiction as truthful as possible. The first half of the talk will include an overview of such topics as: blows to the head, strokes, burns, gunshots/arrowshots, what’s “life support,” infectious processes, heart attacks, etc., and the second half of the talk will be audience questions about their WIPs.
…Of course, without Tolkien’s cooperation, the book never materialized—though I have to say I’m sorry. I personally would love to read what was, judging by the above, sure to be Auden’s half-catty, half-worshipful book on Tolkien. We’ll all just have to imagine it, I suppose.
Blame Doctor Who. When they arrived in 1963, the Time Lord and his chums didn’t merely create a franchise that would dominate British TV for more than 50 years – they spawned an entire universe of tonally imitative series set in space. From Blake’s 7 and Space Island One to Star Cops and Outcasts, UK TV schedules have been littered with these curiosities. With their rattling sets, iffy costumes and eccentric English charm, we might fondly call such shows “Mibs”, or Mostly Indoors British Sci-fi.
Another may be on the way in the form of Sky One’s space-prison drama Intergalactic, which begins tonight. While they differ in their specifics, these programmes share a love of big themes delivered on tight budgets. They’re also more liked than initial critical reception tends to suggest.
It stems from a paradox at the heart of the genre. For audiences, a futuristic setting conjures visions of spectacle, elaborate costumes and faraway locations, all augmented with cutting edge technology and special effects. In Hollywood, sci-fi has long pushed the envelope of what is possible in filmmaking. For TV producers on a tight leash, however, mostly indoor sci-fis have a different quality. When outside movement is limited by an infinite hostile void, you can film the whole thing in a tiny studio. Viewers get big ideas. You get great value. Everyone wins.
(10) LIGHTING UP THE TV. Netflix dropped a trailer for the second half of Season 5 of Lucifer.
It’s time to meet your new maker! Lucifer is back with eight thrilling new episodes. Season 5 Part 2 premieres May 28th.
Born April 30, 1839 – Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. (Personal name last, Japanese-style.) Possibly the last great Japanese woodblock artist. Some of his work is fantasy. Here is the cover of Higashi ed., Kaiki [“fantastic”], Uncanny Tales from Japan vol. 1 (showing Minamoto no YorimitsuCuts at the Earth Spider). Here is Midnight Moon at Mount Yoshino (Lady Iga no Tsubone confronting the ghost of Sadaki no Kiyotaka, see here). (Died 1892) [JH]
Born April 30, 1926 — Cloris Leachman. I’ve got her first in the genre in Young Frankenstein as Frau Blücher. (Strange film.) She does her obligatory mouse role when she voices Euterpe in The Mouse and His Child. Next up is being The Lord’s Secretary in The Muppet Movie. (Always a fun time.) Hmmm… she’s Millie Crown in Shadow Play, a horror film that I don’t plan on seeing. Not my cup of tea. Lots of voice work from there out and I will only note her as Mrs. Tensedge in The Iron Giant, a great film indeed. She in the live action and I assume disgusting Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse as Ms. Fielder. (Died 2021.) (CE)
Born April 30, 1934 – Baird Searles. Book reviewer for Asimov’s. Film reviewer for Amazing and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Co-wrote A Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction and A Reader’s Guide to Fantasy; Films of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Co-founded the SF Shop, New York. Drama and Literature director at Radio Station WBAI; weekly program “Of Unicorns and Universes”; 100-minute reading of “The Council of Elrond”, pronunciations verified with Tolkien by telephone; complete (serialized) reading of Last and First Men. (Died 1993) [JH]
Born April 30, 1938 — Larry Niven, 83. One of my favorite authors to read, be it the Gil Hamilton the Arm stories, Ringworld, Protector, The Mote in God’s Eye with Jerry Pournelle (The Gripping Hand alas didn’t work for me at all), or the the Rainbow Mars stories which I love in the audiobook version. What’s your favorite Niven story? And yes, I did look up his Hugos. “Neutron Star” was his first at NyCon followed by Ringworld at Noreascon 1 and in turn by “Inconstant Moon” (lovely story) the following year at L.A. Con I, “The Hole Man” (which I don’t remember reading) at Aussiecon 1 and finally “The Borderland of Sol” novelette at MidAmericaCon. He’s not won a Hugo since 1976 which I admit surprised me. (CE)
Born April 30, 1947 – Melinda Murdock, age 74. Ten novels, one shorter story, three covers. Here is Timegate; here is A Sea of Troubles. [JH]
Born April 30, 1959 – Bill Congreve, age 62. Two dozen short stories. Three Ditmars. Book reviewer for Aurealis. Edited four Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy (three with Michelle Marquardt), four more anthologies. Small press, MirrorDanse Books. Favourite (he’s Australian) meal: tabouli, roast chicken, Guinness, and Street’s Blue Ribbon ice cream. [JH]
Born April 30, 1960 – P.C. Cast, age 61. Three dozen novels, nine shorter stories, some edited by daughter Kristin Cast. In high school fell in love with mythology and Quarter Horses. Served in the Air Force, taught high school herself. NY Times and USA Today best-selling author. Prism, Holt Medallion, Laurel Wreath, Oklahoma Book awards. Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. [JH]
Born April 30, 1968 — Adam Stemple, 53. Son of Jane Yolen. One-time vocalist of Boiled in Lead. With Yolen, he’s written the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tales, Pay the Piper and Troll Bridge which are worth reading, plus the Seelie Wars trilogy which I’ve not read. He’s also written two Singer of Souls urban fantasies which I remember as engaging. (CE)
Born April 30, 1968 – David Goldfarb, 53. Worked part-time at The Other Change of Hobbit, when it was in its first location in Berkeley. Has been Tuckerized by Jo Walton in Ha’Penny and Half a Crown, and by Mark Waid in the comic book Legion of Super-Heroes. At ConJosé co-accepted Jo’s Astounding (then-Campbell) Award. He’s five-for-five in Mark and Priscilla Olson’s “Trivia for Chocolate” game at Worldcons he’s attended. He competed in “Win Tom Whitmore’s Books” at Denvention 3 and beat Tom and won a rare Bujold hardcover from him. [OGH]
Born April 30, 1973 — Naomi Novik, 48. She wrote the Temeraire series which runs to nine novels so far. Her first book, His Majesty’s Dragon, won the Astounding Award. She most deservedly won the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Uprooted which is a most excellent read. I’ve not yet read her Spinning Silver novel which won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature, so opinions are welcome. (CE)
Born April 30, 1973 – Jeanine Hall Gailey, age 48. Ten dozen poems; five collections. Co-edited Dwarf Stars 11 (annual anthology, DS Award finalists, SF Poetry Ass’n; poems of at most 10 lines). Two top prizes from Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Memorial Fund (2007, 2011). Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. Elgin Award. Moon City Poetry Award. [JH]
Born April 30, 1982 — Kirsten Dunst, 38. Her first genre role was as Claudio in Interview with the Vampire. Later genre roles include Judy Shepherd in Jumanji, voicing Christy Fimple in Small Soldiers, voicing Becky Thatcher in The Animated Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man franchise, voicing Kaena in Kaena: The Prophecy, and showing up on Star Trek: The Next Generation as Hedrilin in the “Dark Page” episode. She would have been nine years old in that episode! (CE)
Born April 30, 1985 — Gal Gadot, 36. Wonder Woman of course in the DC film universe. Other genre work, well, other than voicing Shank on Ralph Breaks the Internet, there really isn’t any. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro shows cops tracing a witch’s missing sibling. You’ll probably solve this disappearance before they do.
(14) IN CHARACTER. Keith Houston, in “Miscellany #90: The Grawlix” on his blog Shady Characters explains that the bunch of random typography in comics used to portray obscenity is called “The Grawlix” and was invented by Mort Walker for Beetle Bailey in the 1950s.
…But here’s the thing. A grawlix is not a collection of typographic characters — at least not the way that Walker defined it. In Lexicon, he writes:
“A variety of acceptable curse words are at the cartoonist’s disposal. He may throw in a new one from time to time, but the real meat of the epithet must always contain plenty of jarns, quimps, nittles, and grawlixes[.]”…
… After more than a year of shutdowns and delays, cantinas and gangster hideouts throughout the galaxy are finally opening their doors to more and more clientele. We haven’t felt this giddy and hopeful since Vader tossed Palpatine into the reactor of the Death Star. It’s only fitting that Star Wars Day 2021 should ring in a new era of optimism. After all, the entire franchise is rooted in the concept of sparking hope in dark times.
So, cash in those galactic credits and clear your schedule for Tuesday, May 4, because we’ve got your guide on how to party like it’s the days of the Old Republic. (Be sure to check back in with SYFY WIRE as more May the 4th goodies are revealed over the next week.)…
(16) URSA PASSES ORSON. In the Washington Post, Brittany Shammas says that a negative review of Citizen Kane from the Chicago Tribune has been unearthed, which makes Paddington 2 the highest ranking film on Rotten Tomatoes with uniformly positive reviews. “Rotten Tomatoes downgrades Citizen Kane’s perfect score”.
… A thousand memes and jokes were born of the news that the talking-bear sequel’s score of “100 percent Fresh” had bested the “99 percent Fresh” now assigned to the film widely hailed as the greatest ever made.
“please don’t misinterpret the adjusted Rotten Tomatoes rankings to mean that ‘Paddington 2 is now the best movie of all time.’ Paddington 2 *already was* the best movie of all time,” quipped David Ehrlich, a senior film critic at Indie Wire. “thank you.”…
Amazon has released a trailer for the upcoming sci-fi thriller “The Tomorrow War,” debuting this summer.
The movie, out July 2, stars Chris Pratt as Dan Forester, a high school teacher who is recruited by a group of time travelers to fight a war in the future. As an alien species threatens life on Earth, the only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to travel to the year 2051 and help save the planet. Dan teams up with his estranged father, played by J.K. Simmons, and a brilliant scientist, played by Yvonne Strahovski, to rewrite the fate of mankind.
Actor Jeff Goldblum is joining the cast of a fan-made Dungeons & Dragons podcast called Dark Dice, created and written by Fool and Scholar Productions. The high-concept audio drama starts out as a traditional session of D&D, complete with dice and a Dungeon Master. Sequences are then cut, condensed, and performed with additional voice acting, original music, and sound effects. Episodes featuring the Jurassic Park actor will begin airing for free on May 12. The announcement was made Wednesday by Deadline.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter was scheduled to embark on its most daring flight yet on Thursday. But it failed to lift off, so NASA plans to try again on Friday.
Ingenuity made history when it flew for the first time on April 19 – a 10-foot hover that marked the first controlled, powered flight ever conducted on another planet. Since then, the 4-pound drone has completed two more flights, venturing farther and flying faster each time.
Ingenuity was in good shape after its last flight, in which it traveled roughly 330 feet out and back. It was set to attempt an even more ambitious adventure on Thursday: a 117-second flight in which the little drone was supposed to reach a record speed of 3.5 meters per second. The plan was for the helicopter to climb 16 feet into the air, fly south for about 436 feet, and snap photos of the Martian surface along the way. It was then supposed to hover for more photos, turn around, and fly back to its original spot for landing.
But Ingenuity’s rotor blades didn’t lift it up at all.
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. I’m sure I can’t explain Captain Yajima but it’s pretty amusing.
[Thanks to N., JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Danny Sichel, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day jayn.]
The Daggers were first given in 1955, but for the first five years CWA called its top honor the Crossed Red Herring Award.
The award’s shortlist will come out in May, and the winners will be revealed at a ceremony on July 10.
This award is for the best crime novel by an author of any nationality.
Amer Anwar: Stone Cold Trouble (Dialogue)
S A Cosby: Blacktop Wasteland (Headline)
M W Craven: The Curator (Constable)
Ben Creed: City of Ghosts (Welbeck Fiction)
Garry Disher: Peace (Viper)
Mick Finlay: Arrowood and the Thames Corpses (HQ)
Nicci French: House of Correction (Simon & Schuster)
Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood (Sphere)
Elly Griffiths: The Postscript Murders (Quercus)
Antonia Hodgson: The Silver Collar (Hodder & Stoughton)
S G Maclean: The House of Lamentations (Quercus Fiction)
C D Major: The Other Girl (Thomas & Mercer)
Thomas Mullen: Midnight Atlanta (Little, Brown)
S J Parris: Execution (Harper Fiction)
Tade Thompson: Making Wolf (Constable)
Nicola Upson: The Dead of Winter (Faber)
Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre,)
Rebecca Whitney: The Hidden Girls (Mantle)
IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER
Eligible books in this category are thrillers set in any period and include, but are not limited to, spy fiction, psychological thrillers and action/adventure stories.
Charles Cumming: Box 88 (HarperFiction)
Robert Galbraith: Troubled Blood (Sphere)
Ryan Gattis: The System (Picador)
Ian Rankin: Song for the Dark Times (Orion Fiction)
Rod Reynolds: Blood Red City (Orenda Books)
Craig Robertson: Watch Him Die (Simon & Schuster)
Michael Robotham: When She Was Good (Sphere)
Catherine Ryan Howard: The Nothing Man (Atlantic Books)
Stuart Turton: The Devil and the Dark Water (Raven Books)
Ruth Ware: One by One (Harvill Secker)
Holly Watt: The Dead Line (Raven Books)
Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Zaffre)
JOHN CREASEY (NEW BLOOD) DAGGER
Eva Björg Ægisdóttir: The Creak on the Stairs (Orenda)
Susan Allott: The Silence (Borough)
Emma Christie: The Silent Daughter (Welbeck Publishing )
Catherine Cooper: The Chalet (HarperFiction)
Ben Creed: City of Ghosts (Welbeck Publishing)
Judi Daykin: Under Violent Skies (Joffe Books)
Egan Hughes: The One That Got Away (Sphere)
S W Kane: The Bone Jar (Thomas & Mercer)
Rob McInroy: Cuddies Strip (Ringwood Press)
Stephanie Scott: What’s Left of Me Is Yours (W&N)
Stephen Spotswood: Fortune Favours the Dead (Wildfire)
John Vercher: Three Fifths (Pushkin Press)
S R White: Hermit (Headline)
SAPERE BOOKS HISTORICAL DAGGER
J M Alvey: Justice for Athena (Canelo)
John Banville: Snow (Faber)
Vaseem Khan: Midnight at Malabar House (Hodder & Stoughton)
Laurie King: Riviera Gold (Allison & Busby)
Chris Lloyd: The Unwanted Dead (Orion Fiction)
S J Parris: Execution (HarperFiction)
Ben Pastor: The Night of Shooting Stars (Bitter Lemon Press)
Michael Russell: The City Under Siege (Constable)
David S. Stafford: Skelton’s Guide to Domestic Poisons (Allison & Busby)
A D Swanston: Chaos (Bantam Press)
Nicola Upson: The Dead of Winter (Faber)
Ovidia Yu: The Mimosa Tree Mystery (Constable)
CRIME FICTION IN TRANSLATION DAGGER
Fredrik Backman: Anxious People, translated by Neil Smith (Michael Joseph,)
Roxanne Bouchard: The Coral Bride, translated by David Warriner (Orenda Books)
Marc Elsberg: Greed, translated by Simon Pare (Black Swan)
Yun Ko-eun: The Disaster Tourist, translated by Lizzie Buehler (Serpent’s Tail)
Volker Kutscher: The March Fallen, translated by Niall Sellar (Sandstone Press)
D A Mishani: Three, translated by Jessica Cohen (Riverrun)
Jo Nesbo: The Kingdom, translated by Robert Ferguson (Harvill Secker)
Håkan Nesser: The Secret Life of Mr Roos, translated by Sarah Death (Mantle)
Mikael Niemi: To Cook a Bear, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner (Maclehose Press)
Agnes Ravatn: The Seven Doors, translated by Rosie Hedger (Orenda Books)
Maike Wetzel: Elly, translated by Lyn Marven (Scribe UK)
SHORT STORY DAGGER
Robert Scragg: “A Dog is for Life, Not Just for Christmas” in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg
Elle Croft: “Deathbed” in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg
Dominic Nolan: “Daddy Dearest” in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg
Adam Southward: “Especially at Christmas” in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg
Christopher Fowler: “Head Count” in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)
Victoria Selman: “Hunted” in Afraid of the Christmas Lights, edited by Robert Scragg
Clare Mackintosh: “Monsters” in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)
Stuart Turton: “Murder Most Vial” in First Edition: Celebrating 21 Years of Goldsboro Books (The Dome Press)
Livia Llewelyn: “One of These Nights” in Cutting Edge: Noir Stories by Women, edited by Joyce Carol Oates (Pushkin Press)
James Delargy: “Planting Nan” in Afraid of the Light, edited by Robert Scragg
Simpson Grears: “The Foot of the Walk Murders” in The Foot of the Walk Murders, edited by Simpson Grears (Rymour Books)
ALCS GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
Sue Black: Written in Bone (Doubleday)
Amanda Brown: The Prison Doctor; Women Inside (HQ)
Becky Cooper: We Keep the Dead Close (William Heinemann)
Martin Edwards: Howdunit (Collins Crime Club)
Andrew Harding: These Are Not Gentle People (MacLehose)
Debora Harding: Dancing with the Octopus (Profile Books)
Nick Hayes: The Book of Trespass (Bloomsbury Circus)
Ben MacIntyre: Agent Sonya (Viking)
Jax Miller: Hell in the Heartland (HarperCollins)
Daniel Smith: The Peer and the Gangster (The History Press)
Ravi Somaiya: Operation Morthor (Viking)
Kate Summerscale: The Haunting of Alma Fielding (Bloomsbury Circus)
Mark Townsend: No Return (Guardian, Faber & Faber)
DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
L J Ross
C L Taylor
A competition for the opening of a crime novel and synopsis, chosen by judges: bestselling author Leigh Russell, editor Stephanie Glencross (of Gregory and Company), Editorial Director at Bonnier Zaffre Katherine Armstrong and director of literary agency A.M. Heath and Co. Oli Munson.
Peter Boland: Savage Games
Zack Daniel: The Tonganoxie Split
Kerry Eaton: Long Egg
Ashley Harrison: The Looking Glass Spy
Fiona McPhillips: Underwater
Karen Milner: Sister Killer
Julie Nugent: The Lying Days
Biba Pearce: Rough Justice
Hannah Redding: Deception
Edward Regenye: Lightfoot
Elizabeth Todman: The Tunnel Runners
Jennifer Wilson O’Raghallaigh: Mandatory Reporting
Bitter Lemon Press
Faber & Faber
Head of Zeus
No Exit Press
Awarded every year to an author whose crime-writing career has been marked by sustained excellence, and who has made a significant contribution to the genre. Votes from CWA members go forward to be deliberated on by an independent panel. This year’s recipient is:
… Even one of the better Alternate History works written by a very conservative author, Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli, only really works when it avoids history altogether. When it is a big outer space adventure, it’s relatively engaging. But the version of history depicted in the novel involves weird depictions of Barack Obama as a feckless Marxist ideologue; not so much a counterfactual as a motivated smear job….
(2) NETFLIX TRAILER. Sweet Tooth is “a post-apocalyptic fairytale about a hybrid deer-boy and a wandering loner who embark on an extraordinary adventure.” All episodes of Sweet Tooth premiere on June 4, only on Netflix.
(3) #FINISHINFINITYTRAIN TRENDING WORLDWIDE. There’s an avalanche of tweets from people calling for a studio to finish the Infinity Train series.
(4) THREE’S COMPANY. Kevin Standlee has some extended comments about the new Winnipeg bid and the rules governing whether it should appear on the published site selection ballot in “And Then There Were Three” on his Livejournal.
…Speaking theoretically, there are probably only about six cities in Canada that have the facilities to host a Worldcon. Two of them are in the east (Toronto and Montréal), and they’re both within 800 km of DC, which makes them ineligible to file (even as a write-in bid) under WSFS Constitution Section 4.7. (I’ve not looked at Ottawa or Quebec City’s facilities; if they have enough, then there might be eight potential sites rather than six. Also, any city I name includes anything in that city’s general area.) There’s little point in bidding for a site that’s ineligible in all but the most highly-unlikely scenarios — even more unlikely than the combination of circumstances that crashed the site selection at the 2011 Westercon, because Westercon’s rules are subtly different from Worldcon’s, and anyway, it seems unlikely to me that the existing bids would drive away so many supporters that None of the Above would win.
There are two plausible sites in western Canada (Vancouver and Calgary), but they have a somewhat less obvious political flaw, in that they’re less than 800 km from Seattle, which is bidding for 2025, The 2025 Worldcon will be selected at the 2023 Worldcon. A Worldcon selected for one of those cities would automatically disqualify Seattle’s bid. Bidding is hard enough without borrowing trouble by creating a group (Seattle’s supporters) that automatically would be biased against voting for you.
That leaves only two significant sites: Edmonton and Winnipeg. CanSMOF selected Winnipeg’s proposal, but I’m sure that Edmonton (and Calgary, and Vancouver) would make good places for a Worldcon someday….
…“[Harlan] had such an incredible collection of fantastic paintings,” Barker says on a new episode of Post Mortem with Mick Garris. “They were classics—covers of Weird Tales and all that wonderful ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s stuff.”
Garris recalls his own visit to “Ellison Wonderland” just as fondly. He didn’t, however, get a look inside Ellison’s bomb shelter, as Barker did when he was there. (“I do know that you had to go through a hobbit door to get into it,” Garris says.)
“Behind [the door] was a locked room which he said would survive three atom bombs,” Barker says. “This is all very Harlan, right? Maybe if that’s true, then you’re just saying ‘Hello’ to the cockroaches when you get out! But it was an incredible room, because in there, he had the books that he’d collected over the years that he would want to survive the apocalypse. I don’t have a bomb-proof room, but I’ve got those books, too—the books that I feel bespeak our culture.”
…A self-described avid budgeter, Mason currently spends about $120 per month on 11 subscriptions, from streaming services to Substacks and artist Patreon accounts — up from last year’s average of $94 per month.
Quarantine and the demise of digital media were driving factors in Mason’s decision to support more independent artists and writers. The pandemic is partly responsible for facilitating a subscription boom over the past year, but it’s also contributed to the growth of the creator economy, as more people make things from home. “I’m 32 with no kids, no student loans, and no plans to buy a house again,” Mason, the editorial director for the New York Times’s Games team, said. “I’m very much someone who will pay an artist for a thing that they’ve made.”
The monthly $5, $10, and $15 credit-line charges add up, though. When the subscription business model was pioneered by news publishers in the 17th century, there was little competition. Within the past two decades, all sorts of businesses have begun clamoring for a slice of the subscriber pie, from consumer product startups and retailers like Dollar Shave Club to media organizations and internet personalities.
A few major players have become so integral to people’s buying or streaming patterns, like Netflix or Amazon Prime, that consumers approach them almost as a sort of utility….
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 29, 2005 –On this day in 2005, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film premiered in the USA after premiering a day earlier in the U.K. it was based loosely off the series by Douglas Adams, and it was directed by Garth Jennings with production by a not insignificant multitude of individuals. The screenplay was credited to Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick which is a neat trick indeed given that he’d died some years before. It had a rather stellar cast of Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Anna Chancellor and John Malkovich. Critics mostly liked it and it scores an excellent sixty five percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. It did not figure in the Hugo nominations the following year.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 29, 1880 – Lillian Jones. Her one novel I know of is the first (1916) Utopia published in America by a black woman. A century later came Karen Kossie-Chernyshev ed., Recovering “Five Generations Hence” (2013) with the text, annotations, and essays. Here is a note from the Southwestern Historical Quarterly. (Died 1965) [JH]
Born April 29, 1908 — Jack Williamson. I’ll frankly admit that he’s one of those authors that I know I’ve read a fair amount by can’t really recall any specific titles as I didn’t collect him either in hard copy or digitally. A quick bit of research suggests the Legion of Space series was what I liked best when I was reading him. What did y’all like by him? (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born April 29, 1924 – Paul S. Newman. A novel and a shorter story; beyond that, or besides, or something, Guinness World Record for most prolific comic-book writer: 4,100 stories, 36,000 pages. Comic-book version of Yellow Submarine. Tom Corbett, Space cadet. (Died 1999) [JH]
Born April 29, 1943 — Russell M. Griffin. Author of but four novels as he died far too young of a heart attack. The Makeshift God, his first novel, I remember that novel as being a rather decent dystopian affair, and Century’s End was even bleaker. He wrote but nine stories. He alas has not made it into the digital realm yet. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born April 29, 1946 — Humphrey Carpenter. Biographer whose notable output includes J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography; he also did the editing of The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, and is responsible for The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends. He also wrote the engaging Mr. Majeika children’s series which is most decidedly genre. (Died 2005.) (CE)
Born April 29, 1955 — Kate Mulgrew, 66. Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and she’ll be voicing that role again on the animated Star Trek: Prodigy. Other genre roles include voicing Red Claw on Batman: The Animated Series, the recurring role of Jane Lattimer on Warehouse 13 and Clytemnestra in Iphigenia2.0 at the Signature Theatre Company. Finally she voiced Titania in a recurring role on Gargoyles. (CE)
Born April 29, 1956 – Alexander Jablokov, age 65. Six novels, four dozen shorter stories. Contributor to NY Review of SF. John Clute says AJ’s first novel has darkly suave competence, the most recent is exuberantly gonzo. AJ innocently says “In my work, I like good prose, interesting details, and as much humor as I can comfortably fit in.” [JH]
Born April 29, 1960 — Robert J. Sawyer, 61. Hominids which is quite excellent won the Hugo for Best Novel at Torcon 3, and The Terminal Experiment won a Nebula as well. Completing a hat trick, he won a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Mindscan too. Very impressive. And then there’s the FlashForward series which lasted for thirteen episodes that was based on his novel of that name. Interesting series that ended far too soon. (CE)
Born April 29, 1969 – Julia Knight, age 52. Eight novels, a couple of shorter stories. Has read The Great Gatsby, Gone with the Wind, Tales of the Dying Earth. “When not writing [likes] motorbikes, watching wrestling or rugby…. incapable of being serious for more than five min –” oops. [JH]
Born April 29, 1970 — Uma Thurman, 51. Venus / Rose in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Kage’s favorite film alongside Time Bandits), Maid Marian in the Robin Hood film that starred Patrick Bergin which I highly recommend, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. (CE)
Born April 29, 1976 – Micol Ostrow, age 45. Five novels, one shorter story for us, also a book (with Steven Brezenoff) classified as nonfiction being The Quotable Slayer i.e. Buffy. Fifty books all told. Earlier, ten years a children’s-book editor. “I live and work in Brooklyn, NY, alongside my Emmy Award – winning husband and our two daughters. It’s pretty much the best.” [JH]
(9) VISIT TO THE COMIC SHOP. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Marvel (and, I presume, DC) are seriously younger-izing some of their characters/stories… I took a pic of the back of the book, because IMHO it’s funnier in context of other titles.
… In a way, every filmmaker is really just playing with moving light and color on surfaces. That’s the whole ball game, a filmic given. But Pixar takes it further, or perhaps just does it more self-consciously and systematically. Its emotionally weighty, computer-generated animated films deploy precisely calibrated color and light to convey narrative and emotion—from the near-total absence of green in WALL-E (until postapocalyptic robots find the last plant on Earth) to the luminous orange marigolds that symbolize Miguel’s trip to the magical Land of the Dead in Coco through the contrast between the cool blue luminosity of the afterlife with the warm, snuggly sepia of New York City in last year’s Soul.
In fact, almost every Pixar movie works within a specific color palette, a story-specific gamut that filmmakers like Feinberg pull from and use to plan the look of each scene, a road map known as the color script. But Coco complicated that process. When its story moves to the Land of the Dead, it cranks up all the dials, colorwise. Those scenes look made out of neon, like a bio-organic version of Tokyo’s Shinjuku District at night. “When it came time to do the color script, it was like, ‘The Land of the Dead has every color. All of it takes place at night, so we can’t use time of day to elicit emotion. There is no weather in the Land of the Dead, so we can’t use weather to elicit emotion.’ Those are three pretty typical things we use to support the story,” Feinberg says….
(11) OCTOTHORPE. In Episode 30 of the Octothorpe podcast “Try to Always Use Chaps in a Gender-Neutral Way”, “John Coxon can’t make a poll, Alison Scott knows the religious forms, and Liz Batty has one more games thing (sorry). We chat about Swancon, DisCon III, FIYAHCON and the Hugo Awards.”
…For his homeschool science fair project, Kaeden [Griffin] tackled one of the most perplexing questions stumping pet owners: “Does your cat’s butthole really touch all the surfaces in your home?”
Kaeden, like many others out there, assumed that if his cat sits on a surface, then their “butthole will also touch said surface,” and to test his hypothesis, he and his mom, Kerry, applied nontoxic lipstick (bright red lipstick, in fact!) to the buttholes of their two well-behaved cats. The cats were then given a series of commands — including sit, wait, lie down, and jump up — and were compensated with praise and treats. The lipstick was removed with a baby wipe once they collected the necessary data, which took place in less than 10 minutes….
The New York Police Department has canceled its trial of a robot dog made by US firm Boston Dynamics after receiving fierce criticism regarding the “dystopian” technology.
“The contract has been terminated and the dog will be returned,” a spokesperson for the NYPD toldthe New York Post. John Miller, the department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told The New York Times that the machine was “a casualty of politics, bad information and cheap sound bytes.” Said Miller: “People had figured out the catchphrases and the language to somehow make this evil.”
The NYPD began leasing the machine nicknamed Digidog last year. “This dog is going to save lives, protect people, and protect officers and that’s our goal,” said the NYPD’s Frank Digiacomo in an interview with ABC7. The robot was deployed roughly half a dozen times during its tenure, mostly acting as a mobile camera in potentially hostile environments…
A neutrino-spotting telescope beneath the frozen Lake Baikal in Russia is close to delivering scientific results after four decades of setbacks. A glass orb, the size of a beach ball, plops into a hole in the ice and descends on a metal cable toward the bottom of the world’s deepest lake.
Then another, and another. These light-detecting orbs come to rest suspended in the pitch-dark depths down as far as 4,000 feet below the surface. The cable carrying them holds 36 such orbs, spaced 50 feet apart. There are 64 such cables, held in place by anchors and buoys, two miles off the southern coast of this lake in Siberia with a bottom that is more than a mile down.
This is a telescope, the largest of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere, built to explore black holes, distant galaxies and the remnants of exploded stars. It does so by searching for neutrinos, cosmic particles so tiny that many trillions pass through each of us every second. If only we could learn to read the messages they bear, scientists believe, we could chart the universe, and its history, in ways we cannot yet fully fathom.
“You should never miss the chance to ask nature any question,” said Grigori V. Domogatski, 80, a Russian physicist who has led the quest to build this underwater telescope for 40 years. After a pause, he added: “You never know what answer you will get.” It is still under construction, but the telescope that Dr. Domogatski and other scientists have long dreamed of is closer than ever to delivering results. This hunt for neutrinos from the far reaches of the cosmos, spanning eras in geopolitics and in astrophysics, sheds light on how Russia has managed to preserve some of the scientific prowess that characterised the Soviet Union.
The Lake Baikal venture is not the only effort to hunt for neutrinos in the world’s most remote places. Dozens of instruments seek the particles in specialised laboratories all over the planet. But the new Russian project will be an important complement to the work of IceCube, the world’s largest neutrino telescope, an American-led, $279 million project that encompasses about a quarter of a cubic mile of ice in Antarctica….
… “Today, in order to deploy three packages at one time, companies would have to buy or lease three drones,” Plümmer said. “Price-wise, you’re not going to want to have three of them when you can have one. And no one wants thousands of drones flying above their heads.”
The start-up’s new device is central to its broader vision of providing drones to firms seeking ways to distribute hot meals, groceries, medical supplies or other lightweight goods. It was created to “power logistical highways in the sky,” Plümmer said.
The company says the eight-rotor air vehicle is capable of level-four autonomy, which means it is mostly autonomous but requires a human for some tasks.
It has a 5.8-foot wingspan and measures under 4.5 feet from nose to tail….
Per the paper, this incident was probably the first major volcanic eruption witnessed by people in northern Europe since the end of the last Ice Age more than 10,000 years prior. The explosion covered about 90 square miles of fertile land in volcanic rock.
“[T]he impacts of this eruption must have been unsettling, posing existential challenges for Iceland’s newly arrived settlers,” write the authors in the study.
According to Owen Jarus of Live Science, the Vikings entered the newly formed cave soon after the lava cooled. They constructed the boat structure, placing ritual offerings inside and burning the bones of animals, including sheep, goats, cattle, horses and pigs. Historical records show that the Vikings associated the cave with Surtr, a giant responsible for battling the gods during Ragnarök and bringing about the end of the world in Norse mythology….
(17) BOOK TRAILER. An appetizer to get you interested in Einstein – The Fantastic Journey of a Mouse Through Time and Space by Torben Kuhlmann. More about the book as well as a sneak peek here.
Time is relative! Award-winning, illustrator Torben Kuhlmann’s brilliant new book bends time and imagination! When an inventive mouse misses the biggest cheese festival the world has ever seen, he’s determined to turn back the clock. But what is time, and can it be influenced? With the help of a mouse clockmaker, a lot of inventiveness, and the notes of a certain famous Swiss physicist he succeeds in traveling back in time. But when he misses his goal by eighty years, the only one who can help is an employee of the Swiss Patent Office, who turned our concept of space and time upside down….
Suppose Albert Einstein’s famous theories first came into being through an encounter with a little mouse.
[Thanks to Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, N., Hampus Eckerman, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, James Davis Nicoll, Olav Rokne, Michael Toman, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
As previously announced, the filing deadline for bidding for the 2023 Worldcon was February 26, 2021. We have examined Winnipeg’s filing documents and found them to be complete. Using our discretion as the administering convention, we have decided to include Winnipeg on the Site Selection ballot and to include them in any ongoing discussions with the other bidders.
As for the voting fee that will be charged for 2023 site selection memberships, the Winnipeg bid has accepted the voting fee previously agreed between the two other bids that filed by the deadline – Chengdu, China, and Memphis, USA.
Jon Del Arroz’ attorney has filed documents opposing San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc.’s (Worldcon 76’s) motion for summary judgment in Del Arroz’ defamation suit against Worldcon 76. The defense has asked the court to render summary judgment on the record already submitted in hope of getting the case dismissed without trial. (See “Worldcon 76 Moves for Summary Judgment in Del Arroz’ Defamation Suit”.)
Santa Clara (CA) Superior Court Judge Socrates P. Manoukian has set a hearing on the motion for summary judgment for May 11. If the motion is not granted, the case is scheduled for a jury trial beginning June 14.
The full set of documents recently filed by the plaintiff can be downloaded free of charge from the Superior Court of CA, County of Santa Clara court’s Case Information Online website – search case number 18-CV-334547.
Made available below are two of the documents, the 25-page “Plaintiff’s Points And Authorities In Opposition To Defendant’s Motion For Summary Judgment” and the 67-page “Declaration Of Jonathan Del Arroz In Support Of Opposition To Motion For Summary Judgment”.
The introduction to “Plaintiff’s Points And Authorities In Opposition To Defendant’s Motion For Summary Judgment” filed by Del Arroz’ attorney gives an overview of their reasons why the motion should be denied:
In 2o18, Defendant San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. (“SFSFC”) banned Plaintiff Jonathan Del Arroz (“Del Arroz”) from being physically present at the seventy-sixth annual World Science Fiction Convention (“World Con 76”). SFSFC announced on its social media in relevant part that:
“We have taken this step because he has made it clear that he fully intends to break our code of conduct. We take that seriously. Worldcon76 strives to be an inclusive place in fandom, as difficult as that can be, and racist and bullying behavior is not acceptable at our WorldCon. This expulsion is one step toward eliminating such behavior and was not taken lightly.” (emphasis added.)
Since SFSFC’s Code of Conduct defines racial harassment as serious offense, SFSFC stated to everyone Who read its social media that it had banned Del Arroz for planned acts of racial harassment.
This published statement was false. In discovery, SFSFC acknowledges that it banned Del Arroz on the speculation that he might enter the suite of private party the Science Fiction Writers of America (“SFWA”) and secretly record in that suite. This speculation had nothing to do with racial harassment. The malice of the statement was compounded by SFSFC’s policy encouraging people to record at WorldCon 76 With body cameras, and SFSFC’s admitted lack of evidence that Del Arroz intended to enter private site without permission.
In smearing Del Arroz as racist bully, SFSFC has subjected Del Arroz to contempt, ridicule, shunning, and injury in his vocation. The evidence of this includes lost book sales at WorldCon 76. The false claim that Del Arroz is racist harasser forced him to hire publicist and avoid science fiction conventions in his home region.
SFSFC’s response makes light of its libel. It argues that “racism” and “bullying” have no meaning, despite case law applying defamation concepts to those words in concrete situations and notwithstanding its Code of Conduct rule against “racial harassment.”
SFSFC also argues that Del Arroz was “public figure” without showing the extent of his fame or the existence of any public controversy about the subj ect of its libel.
SFSFC attempts to concoct defense based on taking statements made by Del Arroz out of context and even though they are not pertinent to SFSFC’S defamation.
SFSFC argues that its defamation is protected by the “common interest” privilege. Further, SFSFC ignores the fact it posted the defamation on its social media, which was open for the world to see, and therefore far beyond the bounds of any “common interest.”
SFSFC has never shown that the world as whole had legally cognizable interest as opposed to idle or malicious curiosity in the private membership status of Del Arroz. Finally, SFSFC ignores the special damages that Del Arroz can show and the fact that it libeled him per se since the defamatory impact of the libel is evident on the face of the announcement.
SFWA reports that Alan Dean Foster’s missing royalties owed by Disney have been resolved, however, about a dozen additional authors have requested assistance from the organization, including the authors of Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones, and multiple other properties. SFWA has provided Disney with the names of authors who are similarly missing royalty statements and payments going back years. (For details of Foster’s claims, see Cora Buhlert’s coverage of “The #DisneyMustPay Alan Dean Foster and SFWA Joint Press Conference” held in November 2020.)
Honor contracts now held by Disney and its subsidiaries.
Provide royalty payments and statements to all affected authors.
Update their licensing page with an FAQ for writers about how to handle missing royalties.
Create a clear, easy-to-find contact person or point for affected authors.
Cooperate with author organizations that are providing support to authors and agents.
The #DisneyMustPay Task Force reports they presented these steps to Disney and offered them an opportunity to include a statement in an email to their members. Disney declined.
Authors may be missing royalty statements or checks across a wide range of properties in prose, comics, or graphic novels. This list is incomplete and based on properties for which we have verified reports of missing statements and royalties:
LucasFilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc.)
Boom! Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
Dark Horse Comics (Licensed comics including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.)
20th Century Fox (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, etc.)
Marvel WorldWide (SpiderMan, Predator)
Disney Worldwide Publishing (Buffy, Angel)
“Writers must be paid or given missing royalty statements; these contracts must be honored,” said Mary Robinette Kowal, President, SFWA. “We urge all authors to review their statements to make certain they are in order.”
To get help in seeking resolution, an affected author does not need an agent or membership in any author organization. Writers who are missing royalties or royalty statements may fill out this form hosted by SFWA. Anonymity is guaranteed.
Last year, Alan Dean Foster came to SFWA’s Grievance Committee because he had written novels and was not being paid the royalties that were specified in his contract. During the investigation, SFWA discovered that Disney was now the rights holder and contacted them. The initial contact refused to pay.
Disney’s argument was that they had purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract. SFWA was forced to take the matter public to get a resolution. SFWA suspected that other authors would be similarly affected.
SFWA says Disney is being reactive rather than proactively working with them to address the significant issue that has been brought to their attention.
SFWA reports that while in talks for Foster’s Alien novels, Disney was told that he was also missing statements and royalties for his Star Wars novelizations. They would not begin the process nor resume royalty statements until Mr. Foster contacted them with a formal claim.
“SFWA wishes to create a cooperative relationship with Disney, but the corporation flatly refuses to work with us,” said Kowal. “They say they are committed to paying the authors, but their actions make it clear that Disney is placing the onus to be paid on the authors, while at the same time attempting to isolate the authors from receiving counsel from their professional author organization.”
During the initial #DisneyMustPay campaign, SFWA proposed a hypothetical situation based on Disney’s position that they had purchased the rights but not the obligations to Mr. Foster’s work. In this scenario, Company A might sell a property to their sister Company B to get out of paying royalties.
This situation is no longer hypothetical. Fox had licensed the comics rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Dark Horse. After Disney purchased Fox, they withdrew those rights from Dark Horse and granted them to Boom! Comics. When one Buffy author contacted Boom! about missing royalties, they were told that “royalties don’t transfer.”
Disney is one of the owners of Boom! Comics.
Since Disney has declined to cooperate with the task force in identifying affected authors, the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is requesting help to contact everyone who might be affected. The joint task members ask writers, readers, and fans to alert authors who may be affected.
And the Task Force lists other ways to support this effort:
Do not boycott, as this will disproportionately affect those authors who are being paid.
Use #DisneyMustPay on social media. Help is needed to bring the task force’s five action items to the attention of Disney’s decision-makers.
Do purchase the works of affected authors for which they are receiving royalties.
The #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is making sure writers’ working conditions are fair and safe, but individual negotiations are, rightly, between the authors, their agents, and the rights holder. Hence, the Disney Task Force is looking at structural and systemic concerns.
One of those concerns is identifying the authors whose royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration. Working with the task force would have streamlined identifying those authors for Disney—since the Task Force has current contact information for the various organizations’ members—and Disney knows when acquisitions happened and for which properties.
Without that cooperation, the #DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force is broadcasting, widely and loudly, to make sure that everyone who might be affected hears the message.
A task force made up of science fiction and fantasy, romance, crime and horror authors has been formed in an attempt to persuade Disney into paying authors outstanding royalties for novelisations and comics relating to their properties, including Star Wars, Alien and Indiana Jones.
The so-called DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force includes major writers Neil Gaiman, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Robinette Kowal and Chuck Wendig among its members. It has been formed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in partnership with the Author’s Guild, Horror Writers Association, National Writers Union, Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.
The author organisations came together after the SFWA became involved in the author Alan Dean Foster’s battle to get Disney to pay him royalties for his bestselling novelisations of Star Wars and Alien. Foster was asked to write his novelisation of Star Wars: A New Hope by George Lucas himself, which was published in 1976. When Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, it bought the rights to the Star Wars novel, while Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019 meant it also bought rights to Foster’s novelisations of Alien, Aliens and Alien 3….
But despite the books still being in print, Foster claimed that Disney was not paying him royalties for them and that he’d had to go public after the company ignored multiple queries from his agents, legal representatives and the SFWA. The latter claimed that Disney had argued that it had purchased the rights, but not the obligations of the contract.
(2) SLF OLDER WRITERS GRANT. The Speculative Literature Foundation will be taking applications for the SLF $1000 Older Writers Grant from May 1-31. Complete guidelines here.
The SLF $1000 Older Writers Grant is awarded annually, since 2004, to a writer who is fifty years of age or older at the time of grant application, and is intended to assist such writers who are just starting to work at a professional level. We are currently offering a $1000 grant annually, to be used as each writer determines will best assist his or her work.
This grant will be awarded by a committee of SLF staff members on the basis of merit. If awarded the grant, the recipient agrees to provide a brief excerpt from their work, and an autobiographical statement describing themselves and their writing (500-1000 words) for our files, and for possible public dissemination on our website.
This grant, as with all SLF grants, is intended to help writers working with speculative literature. Speculative literature is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making — and more. Any piece of literature containing a fabulist or speculative element would fall under our aegis, and would potentially be work that we would be interested in supporting.
(3) IT’S ABOUT TO HATCH. Melinda Snodgrass invites readers to look over her shoulder as she explains “How I Plot”.
I mentioned on Twitter that I was getting ready to outline or break two new novels, and a follower asked if I could describe my process. It ended up being a really looong Tweet thread so I thought I would pull it all together here for folks who might not be on Twitter. I always outlined from the time I first started writing, I think it was a function of having been a lawyer and knowing that a brief has to take a judge or a jury to a certain conclusion so structure is important. I’m also the type of person who likes to have an itinerary when I travel and hotels booked in advance. But it wasn’t until I got my first job in Hollywood that I truly learned how to “break a story”. Ira Behr, Rick Manning and Hans Beimler were my teachers and they were very good ones. So without further ado….
First, I never start anything unless I know the ending. I don’t mean the wrap up, falling action, but the actual exciting climax. The next thing I ask myself is “What is the theme of this book?” What is it I want to impart about the human condition? The human heart in conflict with itself as William Faulkner wrote.
My short hand for this is “Plot is the shit that happens. Theme is why it matters.”…
(4) CHRIS GARCIA’S SFF FILM PODCASTS. Chris Garcia says he’s rediscovered a ton of episodes of his old podcasts and has started posting them on a new series of feeds.
Fantasy Film 101 is available from Pinecast or Apple. Its 16 episodes cover fantasy film history, emphasizing short films, foreign works, and the super-artsy.
(5) JOHN HODGMAN WEIGHS IN ON TIME TRAVEL CONTROVERSY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is John Hodgman’s column from the April 18 New York Times Magazine.
Tony; “My son read that the director James Gunn’s favorite time-travel movie is A Christmas Carol. That isn’t time travel! Please find against Scrooge, my son, and James Gunn, just to be sure. (P.S. I was mistaken. Apparently, it was Robert Zemeckis who said this.”
Hodgman: “I had never thought of Scrooge’s big night as time travel! And for that reason I find against you. Back To The Future is wonderful but only one template for time travel in movies. There’s the multiple timelines concept, as in Avengers: Endgame, which would account, say, for an alternate universe in which Robert Zemeckis, director of Back To The Future, could be wrong about time travel. But as with all these stories, they are designed to inspire imagination, not stamp it out as you seek to do with your own Tiny Tim. G Buy your son the biggest goose in town as damages.”
(6) AND THAT’S NOT ALL! [Item by Daniel Dern.] The new season (starts May 2) of DC Legends Of Tomorrow looks like a wild whacky ride! Watch the trailer even if you currently don’t plan to watch the show! And io9’s post “Legends of Tomorrow Season 6 Trailer: Aliens, Disney, Reality TV” says that beyond what the trailer shows, the season will include other references —
… And that’s not all! Entertainment Weekly confirms there will also be a Clue episode, an ALF episode (because of course there is), and, according to showrunner Phil Klemmer, “another episode that’s virtually all Constantine (Matt Ryan) in the Spanish Civil War, and that could just as well be from the Constantine TV show,” which sounds completely awesome….
(7) FIRM GRASP ON THE CATNIP. In“Timothy Reviews The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin” at Camestros Felapton, Timothy the Talking Cat propounds literary truths about a great classic that were previously unsuspected by any human being. But fairly obvious to a cat, evidently.
Greetings, salutations and the assorted lyrics of Hello, Goodbye by the mop-headed foursome from Liverpool to you all. I am, once again, your inimitable host and master of ceremonies, Timothy the Talking Cat esquire, who shall be taking you on a journey into the foundational texts of modern scientifiction….
Doctor Who‘s John Barrowman and David Bradley are set to reprise their roles for the theatrical event Time Fracture.
The pair, who play Captain Jack Harkness and the First Doctor on the BBC sci-fi series respectively, have recorded cameo appearances for the Immersive Everywhere event.
… Time Fracture is set to take place at Immersive | LDN in London and will put fans in the middle of a new Doctor Who story set at the time of the Blitz.
(9) COLLINS OBIT. Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins died April 28. Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk had this to say:
“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins. As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module – some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ – while his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone. He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot.
“Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. ‘Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,’ he said. Intensely thoughtful about his experience in orbit, he added, ‘What would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.’…”
(10) TODAY’S DAY.
April 28 – National Superhero Day. Marvel, naturally, celebrated by advertising a forthcoming production.
(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
April 28, 1946 — On this night in 1946, The Shadow’s “Dreams of Death” episode first aired. It starred Lloyd Lamble (of Quatermass2 fame) as Lamont Cranston and The Shadow with Lyndall Barbour as Margot Lane and Lloyd Berrill as The Announcer. The Shadow in the radio series was quite different from the printed version as he was given the power to “cloud men’s minds so they cannot see him”. This was at odds with the pulp novel character who relied solely on stealth and his guns to get the job done. Likewise Margo Lane was a radio creation that would later be added to the pulps. You can hear the episode here.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born April 28, 1840 — Palmer Cox. He was known for The Brownies, his series of humorous books and comic strips about the troublesome but generally well meaning sprites. The cartoons were published in several books, such as The Brownies, Their Book for some forty years starting in the 1870s. Due to the immense popularity of his Brownies, one of the first popular handheld cameras was named after them, the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera. (Died 1924.) (CE)
Born April 28, 1910 – Sam Merwin. Edited Fantastic, Startling, Thrilling, Wonder, later Fantastic Universe; for a while editor of Satellite, associate editor of Galaxy; his letter columns were lively; he generally improved our field. Six novels, six dozen shorter stories for us; also romance and detective fiction, under various names. (Died 1996) [JH]
Born April 28, 1914 – Phil High. Working thirty years as a bus driver did not prevent, may have helped, his writing a dozen novels, fourscore shorter stories. See here. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born April 28, 1917 — Robert Cornthwaite. Actor in such Fifties films as The Thing From Another World, The War of the Worlds, Men Into Space and Destination Space. He would be active well in the Twentieth Century in such productions as The Twilight Zone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Colossus: The Forbin Project , The Six Million Dollar Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and White Dwarf. (Died 2006.) (CE)
Born April 28, 1926 – Jim Bama, age 95. Fourscore covers, a few interiors for us; interviewed by Vincent Di Fate in SF Chronicle. Outside our field, Westerns, sports, commercial art. Here is The 480. Here is V.Here is He Could Stop the World. Illustrators Hall of Fame. Artbooks The Art of JB; The Western Art of JB; JB, American Realist with introduction by Harlan Ellison. [JH]
Born April 28, 1926 – Bill Blackbeard. One short story that I know of; correspondent of Amazing, Fantasy Times, Riverside Quarterly, Weird Tales; fanziner, in various apas including The Cult. Extraordinary collector of comics in newspapers and otherwise, eventually 75 tons; he produced 200 books, and that ain’t the half of it. See here (note by Our Gracious Host), here (Fancyclopedia 3), here (The Comics Journal). (Died 2011) [JH]
Born April 28, 1930 — Carolyn Jones. She began played the role of Morticia Addams (as well as her sister Ophelia and the feminine counterpart of Thing, Lady Fingers) in The Addams Family. Though she had an uncredited role in the original The War of the Worlds which was her first genre role as a Blonde Party Guest, and she was Theodora ‘Teddy’ Belicec in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She had a recurring role as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds on Batman. (Died 1983.) (CE)
Born April 28, 1948 — Terry Pratchett. Did you know that Steeleye Span did a superb job of turning his Wintersmith novel into a recording? You can read the Green Man review here as reviewed by Kage’s sister Kathleen. My favorite Pratchett? Well pretty much any of the Watch novels will do for a read for a night when I want something English and really fantastic. (Died 2015.) (CE)
Born April 28, 1959 – Fran Dowd, age 62. Chaired Eastercon 49; with husband John Dowd active in Eastercons and Novacons; F & J both Fan Guests of Honour at Eastercon 61. Sofa, i.e. chair when we need one, of the Sheffield Science Fiction and Fantasy Society. Posted her Books Read in 2020 here. [JH]
Born April 28, 1970 – Danielle Ackley-McPhail, age 51. Nine novels, five dozen shorter stories, a dozen poems; a score of anthologies with various co-editors. Member and supporter of Broad Universe. Was at the last known Lunacon in 2017, then in 2019 HELIOsphere. She and husband Mike McPhail publish ESpec Books. [JH]
Born April 28, 1971 — Chris Young, 50. Bryce Lynch in the Max Headroom series which I still hold is of the best SF series ever done. The only other genre I think he’s are two horror films, The Runestone and Warlock: The Armageddon. Unless you call voice roles in The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars and The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue genre… (CE)
Born April 28, 1982 — Samantha Lockwood, 39. Daughter of Gary Lockwood of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame. And she apparently was in yet another video Trek fanfic though this may not have ever gotten done before Paramount squashed them, Star Trek Equinox: The Night Of Time. There’s a trailer but no actual episode that I can find, so her role in Sci-Fighters which as Girlfriend is her only genre role. (CE)
(13) COMICS SECTION.
The Far Side involves what happens when aliens are the ones posing a familiar nature question.
Dracula said, “I never drink…wine.” The zombies in Bliss say something else.
… Jupiter’s Legacy is based on Millar and artist Frank Quitely’s 2013 cross-generational saga about rifts in a super-powered family, whose conflicting politics and ideologies manifest themselves as a global power struggle, causing significant collateral damage. “People expected it to be like Kick-Ass or Kingsman,” he says, “which are quite nihilistic, really violent and ironic, whereas this show is very sincere. Kick-Ass is a pastiche of superheroes, but Jupiter’s Legacy is a love letter. The big question is: is it ethically correct, if you have the power to save the world, to stand back and do nothing?”
… The series contains what Millar calls a “boomer versus millennial argument”. This is reflected mostly through the Sampson family: Sheldon (AKA The Utopian) and Grace (AKA Lady Liberty) are the elder, age-defying leaders of The Union, a paramilitary team that has symbolised the American ideal ever since they gained their superpowers during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Cut to the present day and we find their children, Chloe and Brandon, are increasingly disillusioned by their parents’ code and expectations. “Superman is the best guy you could possibly have,” says Millar, “but imagine if he was your dad? That’s the idea with The Utopian, who the whole world loves. But what does that mean for your children? Because the pressures are incredible.”
Daniel P. Dern adds:
Like many-to-most supercapes these days, the issues of power/authority along with “hard to have a life when you’re a cape” fuel this. It’s not as extreme as The Boys.
Mark Millar has written bunches of superhero comics (including an entire publishing brand of his own creations).
Frank Quitely is one of my favorite comic artists. For example, All-Star Superman (1-12), Flex Mentallo (1-4), a great run on New X-Men.
Jupiter’s Legacy is based on a manageable-to-read # of comics — 24 issues across 5 books/volumes, plus 10 issues of JUPITER’S CIRCLE, a prequel series.
Buy the individual comic issues or the collected-into-books
Borrow the books from your library
Buy & e-read via Kindle, ComiXology.
I enjoyed the comics; I’m ready to watch the show and see how it goes.
(15) STRETCH RUN. [Item by Michael Kennedy.] After achieving all the basic goals on flights 1–3, Ingenuity is now ready for a little stretch. Stretch goal, that is. Flight 4 will go further, faster, and take more photos than ever before. As for what might happen on flight 5, project Chief Engineer Bob Balaram said, “We have been kicking around several options regarding what a flight five could look like. But ask me about what they entail after a successful flight four.” “With Goals Met, NASA to Push Envelope with Ingenuity Mars Helicopter”.
… The fourth Ingenuity flight from Wright Brothers Field, the name for the Martian airfield on which the flight took place, is scheduled to take off Thursday, April 29, at 10:12 a.m. EDT (7:12 a.m. PDT, 12:30 p.m. local Mars time), with the first data expected back at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California at 1:21 p.m. EDT (10:21 a.m. PDT).
“From millions of miles away, Ingenuity checked all the technical boxes we had at NASA about the possibility of powered, controlled flight at the Red Planet,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “Future Mars exploration missions can now confidently consider the added capability an aerial exploration may bring to a science mission.”
The Ingenuity team had three objectives to accomplish to declare the technology demo a complete success: They completed the first objective about six years ago when the team demonstrated in the 25-foot-diameter space simulator chamber of JPL that powered, controlled flight in the thin atmosphere of Mars was more than a theoretical exercise. The second objective – to fly on Mars – was met when Ingenuity flew for the first time on April 19. The team surpassed the last major objective with the third flight, when Ingenuity rose 16 feet (5 meters), flying downrange 164 feet (50 meters) and back at a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second), augmenting the rich collection of knowledge the team has gained during its test flight campaign.
“When Ingenuity’s landing legs touched down after that third flight, we knew we had accumulated more than enough data to help engineers design future generations of Mars helicopters,” said J. “Bob” Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer at JPL. “Now we plan to extend our range, speed, and duration to gain further performance insight.”…
The moon’s surface is pockmarked with craters, the relics of violent impacts over cosmic time. A few of the largest are visible to the naked eye, and a backyard telescope reveals hundreds more. But turn astronomical observatories or even a space probe on our nearest celestial neighbor, and suddenly millions appear.
Bettina Forget, an artist and researcher at Concordia University in Montreal, has been drawing lunar craters for years. Ms. Forget is an amateur astronomer, and the practice combines her interests in art and science. “I come from a family of artists,” she said. “I had to fight for a chemistry set.”
Moon craters are named, according to convention, for scientists, engineers and explorers. Some that Ms. Forget draws have familiar names: Newton, Copernicus, Einstein. But many do not. Drawing craters with unfamiliar names prompted Ms. Forget to wonder: Who were these people? And how many were women?
“Once this question embeds itself in your mind, then you’ve got to know,” she said.
Ms. Forget pored over records of the International Astronomical Union, the organization charged with awarding official names to moon craters and other features on worlds around the solar system. She started underlining craters named for women.
“There was not much to underline,” Ms. Forget said.
Of the 1,578 moon craters that had been named at that time, only 32 honored women (a 33rd was named in February)….
A new trailer has been released for the upcoming documentary In Search of Tomorrow, which taps into the nostalgia of the sci-fi films of the 80s. For any of you who grew up in the 80s and enjoyed these films, this is the kind of doc that you can truly appreciate.
The film comes from journalist and filmmaker David A. Weiner and it’s a “four-hour-plus retrospective of ’80s sci-fi movies featuring interviews with actors, directors, writers, SFX experts, and composers.” They have over 75+ interviews and there are a lot of stories and revelations that come to light….
(19) COLBERT (ON FRESH AIR) TALKS ABOUT HIS INTRO TO SF & F. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Among other things. The SF stuff starts around minute 30, where he names a handful of authors that many Filers will know, including a few that you rarely hear in mainstream conversations, like A.E. Van Vogt Also, how Joe Biden is arguably (my word not his or Terri’s) part of his “origin” story going from playing a character to being a (night show) host as himself. “Stephen Colbert On Missing His Live Audience And Making Comedy A Family Business” on NPR.
On why he turned to sci-fi and fantasy in his grief when his brothers and father were killed in a plane crash when he was a kid
Anything is possible [in fantasy stories]. Often it’s a young man who finds himself with extraordinary powers that he didn’t have at the beginning of the story. There’s a “chosen one” in fantasy stories. Often there’s a missing father figure — if they’re not just orphans outright. … I think being able to make…an alternate world where there are new rules, or the character who you identify with can make his own rules, maybe even bring back the dead or make things impossible possible … I think that’s related to being in a constant state of grief and anxiety and needing a place to be able to escape to.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, BravoLimaPoppa, Martin Morse Wooster, IanP, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Daniel Dern, and Michael Toman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Lenora Rose.]