Miller and Delany at NYRSF Readings 4/21

The award-winning writing talent of Sam J. Miller and Samuel Delany will be featured at the New York Review of SF Readings on April 21.

Sam J. Miller is a writer and a community organizer. He is a winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, and a graduate of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop. Sam will be reading a specially pared-down version of his Nebula-nominated story, “We are the Cloud.”

Samuel Delany‘s science fiction novels include Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection, Nova, Dhalgren, and the Return to Nevèrÿon series. The winner of four Nebula awards and two Hugo awards, Delany was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named him a Grand Master in 2013. He is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The event takes place in the Brooklyn Commons at 388 Atlantic Avenue. Doors open at 6:30, the readings begin at 7:00 p.m.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Passing the Bar in Birdman

St_James_Theatre_NYC_2007 COMPBy James H. Burns: There is no bar to the East of the St. James Theatre on Broadway.

At least, not the one in Birdman.

The bar is actually a few blocks away. Through the magic of filmmaking (that old canard), and the surrealism of this movie, many things are out of place —

Or in a new place, anyway, as the drums keep beating.

44th Street, where so much of Birdman takes place, is one of the New York boulevards I know best —

So the film held moments of a personal joy for me, that may not necessarily be there for others.

But there are certainly enough science fiction and fantasy tropes in the movie to make it a worthwhile viewing experiment for any genre enthusiast.

(And there’s at least one extraordinary sequence, towards the end, that I realized, may have always been one of my heart’s secret desires!)

There’s one more intriguing note, without giving away any spoilers to this Oscar-winning movie that seems to have infuriated so many.

At one point, we’re in front of the Holy Cross School–in real life, on 43rd just across 8th Avenue, towards 9th. For over a decade, beginning in the early 2000s, the Catholic school’s gymnasium was the scene of several collectables and nostalgia shows (featuring many pulps, comics and movie ephemera), run first by Gary Lyons, and the next series of shows, promoted by Brendan Faulkner and Frank Oviatt.

Both obviously, and covertly, Birdman abounds with such landmarks.

Those real, and of the neverwas.

2001 Shuttle Model Fetches Six-Figure Bid

21553709_1m BIGA screen-used model Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Space Shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey auctioned for $344,000 on March 28.

In the movie, Dr. Heywood R. Floyd rides the shuttle from the space station to the Moon to investigate a monolith buried in the crater Clavius.

The model measures 32″ high, 27″ wide, 28″ deep and has a diameter of 94″.

It was purchased by AMPAS for probable display in the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures which is expected to open in 2017.

The model is one of the rare surviving items made for Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film. He ordered most of the things destroyed to prevent them being reused in other movies. This particular model was given in the 1970s to an art teacher for use in classroom instruction.

Discover TV Party

Just one example of TV PARTY content fans will enjoy.

Just one example of TV PARTY content that may appeal to fans.

By James H. Burns:  For well over a decade — really, nearly, two decades!TV PARTY has been an amazing treasure trove of articles, columns, clips and photos from the history of TV, with a particular emphasis on LOCAL television shows from all over the country.

Even better, for those of us into this stuff, are the hundreds of items on the local kids’ TV shows from years past in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago… MANY places!

Much of this history, and really fun stuff, might be lost, or at least not as easily found (!) if not all so well gathered together in one place by the spiffy editorial eye of Billy Ingram.

(As one friend said to me, when I sent him the url/link a couple of years ago, “Jim, This is like you just handed me a million dollars!”)

If you’ve never checked out the website, and you have any interest in pop culture (music, movies and comics included!), please do so!

I think you’ll have a ball.

Now, here’s the only sad part: TV PARTY has hit a bit of a financial snag. All the great stuff certainly won’t be lost–it will be archived on the web — but according to the boss, there may well be no new scholarship, research, fun — or even an extra assortment of neat, goofy stuff!

This part is certainly not meant for those who I hope are about to have the fun of discovering TV PARTY for the first time.

But if everyone who’s spent significant time there in the past just kicked in a buck, the website could run, just about forever.

(There’s some kind of tip thingy, at the website.)

I don’t have a horse in this race, except that a bunch of my “columns” have run there, and I’ve had even more fun reading those written by others.

So, go — and have some fun!

And if you’re long familiar with the environs of TV PARTY, please forward this message along.

It would be nice if TV PARTY could remain a natural resource!

Lisle Resignation Follow-up

Yesterday, SFWA President Steven Gould not only answered a question File 770 posed about the organization’s pursuit of public grants, he delivered a general description of SFWA’s objectives in reincorporating in California.

Part of that statement confirmed SFWA is now able to relax its policy on repayment of emergency medical grants made to members.

At the same time that I sent my question to Gould, some comments here about my article on Holly Lisle’s resignation from SFWA prompted me to ask her whether I had interpreted her reasons correctly.

Essentially I had, but Gould’s statement overtook Lisle’s original reply and made part of it obsolete. So now Lisle has given me permission to reblog her considerably expanded  “Follow-up on my resignation from SFWA”:

Holly Lisle: First, I applaud SFWA’s desire to give grants rather than loans to people suffering from medical emergencies. Continuing its practice of having members volunteer to fund those grants is probably the intent—but the repayment of the loans kept the fund fluid so more loans could be offered.

Under the new system, the well will run dry promptly, requiring more donations from a membership ever less eager to give, and alternate sources will need to be found—and the government is ever willing to fund grants so long as the grants are spent regularly and in a timely fashion, and not kept in storage to maintain a self-funded system.

Second, as I said right at the beginning of my original statement, I know SFWA had many GOOD reasons for wanting to move the corporation to California.

Third, however, Sun Tzu says to prepare not for what the enemy might do, but for what he CAN do.

I’ll note that I do not consider SFWA the “enemy.” The Art of War, though, is applicable to many situations in life beyond war, and it is applicable to organizations that expand their powers and reach over time.

Organizations generally begin with the best of intentions. They generally increase the powers they give themselves for good reasons and with hopeful intent.

However, across the life of an organization, every power the organization gives itself will eventually be used, first in “exceptional” cases, and over time as a matter of course.

An organization that puts itself into position where it CAN tap into Federal funds for the purposes of redistributing them eventually WILL.

It may do so tentatively at first, but exceptions become conventions, and people who have a conscience about using money they didn’t have to earn are replaced by those who happily use promises of giving that unearned money to friends and allies within an organization in exchange for votes.

Campaigns of “FREE Writing Grants for SFWA Members! It’s YOUR Money!!” will remove those with consciences from office and replace them with those who think “free” money taken at gunpoint from taxpayers is just nifty.

Gould states, “We are certainly investigating the possibility of applying for appropriate grants from public and private sources when the purposes of those grants line up with our existing mission programs. But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

And this is the part of that statement that proves I made the right choice in posting my open letter and walking away NOW.

“But we have yet to do so and I seriously doubt it will ever be a significant portion of SFWA funding.”

I DON’T. Organizations follow predictable paths.

Federal income tax was initially a pittance compared to revenue taxes.

SFWA is an organization with an elected government, too.

Gould and others who intend the best will be replaced (and probably must faster than they imagine) by those who want to have power within SFWA, and who see that a new path to power within the organization has just been created by the simple expedient of promising money that isn’t theirs to folks who would like have money they didn’t have to earn, and who are willing to vote to rob Peter to pay themselves.

Cats Laughing Again

Cats Laughing, a psychedelic folk rock band with authors Emma Bull, Steven Brust, and Adam Stemple, plus Lojo Russo and new addition Scott Keever, will play a reunion concert Friday, April 3 at Minicon.

Livestream audio and video from the concert, presented free on ConcertWindow, begins at 9:00 p.m. EDT. SisterTree, featuring Kerri Joy and Dee Brust, will open with a short set. Richard Tatge will provide a light show.

David Dyer-Bennet, part of the concert’s Beyond Conventions team, is spreading the word. “We don’t get paid for number of people connected, but it would still be cool if people wanted to have Cats Laughing parties at conventions or elsewhere, or even go so far as to present the stream in a program item.”

The reunion was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign that Neil Gaiman promoted in this amusing video —

The Cats Laughing Facebook page has plenty of photos of the band. And here is a clip of Emma Bull singing a bit of “Signal to Noise” at a recent rehearsal.

Holly Lisle Resigns from SFWA

Holly Lisle has publicly resigned from Science Fiction Writers of America, though not for any reasons associated with the latest round of culture wars. It’s because she’s opposed to income tax. And what has that got to do with SFWA? She explains —

SFWA moved from Massachusetts to California for the purpose of allowing SFWA to claim tax dollars to offer grants. I’m aware that there were other—good—reasons for the organization’s move, but this particular poison pill in the changes made to SFWA requires me to walk away and never look back.

The only money that can ever be honestly given comes voluntarily from the person who earned it—and taxes are not voluntary. Try not paying them if you doubt this.

SFWA reincorporated in California in 2013 according to state records. Few of the reasons for doing so have been discussed in publicly-accessible forums. The option to conduct voting electronically is one. Readers may infer from Lisle’s statement that the possibility of tapping into public money for grants is another.

The rest of her resignation letter says:

Grants donated by SFWA members would have been honest and decent. But that’s not what SFWA wants to do. SFWA (and the members who voted in favor of the change of incorporation—I did not) wants to come out looking heroic for giving money that it did not earn (or receive voluntarily from members) to people who didn’t earn it either.

“Giving” grants taken from tax dollars is nothing less than theft of taxpayer money. This action forces people who have no interest in the careers of writers receiving grants to support those writers’ work, no matter how distasteful, badly written, or objectionable they might find it.

It is institutionalized thuggery, and were I to remain a member, I would brand myself complicit with the thugs.

Anyone who remains in SFWA, knowing what this organization has chosen to do, will be doing the same.

Lisle explicitly condemns income tax in a comment:

The taxing of income—that money upon which the individual must rely to survive—is a massive assault on individual rights. Taxing of purchases other than food and water is, however, appropriate.

It’s not hard to find people in the sf field who condemn income tax, though never before have I seen a writer accuse SFWA of being complicit with tax authorities.

LA Opera Costume Shop Sale 3/28

CostumeSale15_e-blast COMPCosplayers and masquerade competitors are noted for making their own costumes, however, the LA Opera’s Costume Shop sale on March 28 is a rare opportunity for anyone who loves exotic apparel.

Over 1,000 costumes on 90 clothing racks will be wheeled out to the parking lot and put on sale alongside tables of one-of-a-kind items such as handcrafted hats, uniquely designed shoes, numerous masks, theatrical jewelry, period wigs, gladiatorial armor and even slave cuffs! Also for sale will be bolts of unusual fabrics and faux fur, as well as buttons, belts, floral hair pins, bustles and panniers.

Costumes available for sale will include items from Aida, The Barber of Seville, The Birds, The Broken Jug, Cinderella, The Grand Duchess, Lucia di Lammermoor, Orfeo ed Euridice, The Queen of Spades, Salome, The Turk in Italy, The Turn of the Screw and Vanessa, among others.

While many items will be priced to clear, a “Diva Rack” of costumes worn by major names like Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa and others will be reserved for high rollers prepared to spend from $1,000 to $5,000.

[Thanks to James Bacon for the link.]

Borderlands Books Has How Many Sponsors?

Borderlands Books in San Francisco.

Borderlands Books in San Francisco.

When San Francisco’s Borderlands Books announced in February it could stay in business if 300 people bought sponsorships for a hundred dollars apiece, the number of sponsors needed to underwrite the store’s survival plan came forward in less than 48 hours.

Remarkably, it didn’t stop there. “We are continuing to offer sponsorships to anyone who is interested,” the store’s March newsletter revealed. “At this point the count is over 600 and will probably continue to climb.”

And climb it has. A recent e-mail to sponsors said, “As I write this, there are 740 of them out there, including you.”

[Thanks to Dave Doering for the story.]