Remembering The Wonderful Frank Capra

By Steven J. Vertlieb: Spending a quiet afternoon with one of cinema’s greatest, most distinguished motion picture directors, the brilliant Frank Capra. An intoxicating afternoon in which Frank and I sat alone together for a couple of hours on a bench at the home of a mutual friend…just the two of us…watching a 16 mm print of his Oscar winning classic. It Happened One Night. Absolutely sublime. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks for your friendship, Frank, and for the enduring legacy of your work in film. Today would have been your 120th year, and “Name Above The Title.” Happy Birthday, old friend.

Steven J. Vertlieb and Frank Capra.

During a particularly sad and lonely Christmas for my friend and hero, I wrote Frank Capra a few ineffectual words of hope and inspiration. His nearly heart-breaking response remains one of my most treasured letters. Today, May 18th, would have been his 120th birthday. He made, and continues to make, millions of people around the globe happy with the hope filled messages and optimism of his classic motion pictures, including It’s A Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and, of course, “Zuzu’s Petals.” Wishing you a joyous, and Happy Birthday in Heaven, Frank. Thanks for the memories. It truly was “A Wonderful Life.”

Pixel Scroll 5/18/17 For I Am A Bear Of Very Little Files, And Long Scrolls Bother Me

(1) NO NEED TO SAY MORE. Michael Swanwick recounts what he labels the shortest and most succinct discussion about the horror genre in the history of the speculative fiction community:

MICHAEL SWANWICK: “I don’t like horror because it scares me.”

ELLEN DATLOW: “That’s why I love it.”

(2) A FINE ROMANCE. Welcome to 21st-century dating. “This Man Is Suing His Date For Texting During ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy'”.

Texting during a movie is rude.

Brandon Vezmar from Texas is taking a stance on the issue by suing his Bumble date after she used her phone during a movie. The Austin American-Statesman reported that Vezmar filed a small court claim for $17.31, the price of a 3D showing of “Guardians of the Galaxy 2.”

“It was kind of a first date from hell,” he told the local newspaper.

The 36-year-old said that his date was on her phone “at least 10-20 times in 15 minutes to read and send text messages.” According to Vezmar, he told her she should text outside, so she left and took the car in which they both arrived.


Vezmar claimed he tried to text and call his date before taking the matter to court. He tweeted a screenshot once his date sent a statement to KVUE anonymously to say that, while she felt bad that his feelings were hurt, she chose to leave because he made her feel unsafe.

“His behavior made me extremely uncomfortable, and I felt I needed to remove myself from the situation for my own safety,” the statement read. “He has escalated the situation far past what any mentally healthy person would.”

Director James Gunn, who might have stayed safely out of this, unfortunately decided to show his ass, as if texting in the theater was the entire issue.

(3) TRAILER PARK. Aziz H. Poonawalla goes into deep analysis about the Star Trek: Discovery trailer.

But really, hairless Klingons? With a H.R. Geiger armor aesthetic?

It’s not like we haven’t seen the 60’s aesthetic embraced by modern television. Deep Space Nine went there and did it brilliantly — they arguably made the TOS USS Enterprise look even more gorgeous than any of her successors, and they didn’t change anything about her at all — just lighting and texture. Enterprise itself managed to authentically portray a pre-Kirk technology chic that had a more industrial feel, which was utterly believable as the ancestor to the softened look of the Kirk era. I do not accept that the Kelvinization of the Prime timeline was necessary to modernize the production. After all, the aesthetic of The Expanse and Dark Matter is thoroughly modern but doesn’t have the same Kelvin fascination with chrome and glass. Not that I want any Trek to go the grunge-fi look, but I do at least want Trek to honor it’s own identity. This feels like a rejection — purely a Han shot first decision.

(4) MESSAGE TO THE PAST. If the term “calendrical rot” hadn’t been invented for a different purpose, and we had a way to send it into the past, it would find the perfect Petri dish in this incredibly technical discussion of alternate timelines in Star Trek held on Reddit in 2015.

(5) SASQUATCH APPROPRIATED. In the Walrus, Robert Jago introduces his op-ed about Canada’s latest cultural appropriation controversy with an sff illustration: “On Cultural Appropriation, Canadians Are Hypocrites”.

Harry and the Hendersons is a 1987 fantasy movie about a Seattle family’s encounter with a friendly bigfoot (Harry) and their efforts to protect him from harm before releasing him in the mountains of the Pacific northwest. It’s a forgettable film, but it has undoubtedly been seen and heard in more Indigenous homes than has the story of Sasq’ets–the original sasquatch.

Sasq’ets, whose name was one of the few Halkomelem words to make their way into English, was one of a host of other legendary “wild people” living in the forests on the Pacific coast. For hundreds of generations, Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw children were raised on the stories of the wild people and taught to listen for their characteristic hu-hu-hu calls. Sasq’ets, along with Dzunuka, were said to capture wayward children, take them away from their families, and eat them. With their supernatural healing powers, the wild ones were thought to be invincible; only once was a wild person taken by angry villagers and burned alive. But to the mortals’ horror, the ashes began buzzing in a tiny chorus of little hu-hu-hu’s, and each particle sought out human flesh. This was the origin myth of mosquitos.

Sasq’ets taught our children to stay out of the forests at night. It connected us to our part of the world, in the same way that Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood connected Europeans to their ancient forests–and possibly for the same purposes. Our stories are works of genius and beauty, and vital to our relationship with the land. By no means do I want to restrict our legends to Indigenous people. I want you to know about Sasq’ets, and the psychedelically odd stories of the spirit of the South Winds, and all of the legends of our country.

But when the story is taken from us and told by outsiders without our involvement, its identity can be lost, and Sasq’ets becomes Bigfoot. The cultural dominance of non-Natives means that a B-movie like Harry and the Hendersons can have more influence over Salish children than the legend that inspired it.

(6) WESTLAKE’S BOND. Daniel Dern says be on the lookout for copies of Donald Westlake’s James Bond novel(ization) released last fall. “I’ve already just put a reserve-request in to my library.”

Forever And A Death

In the mid-1990s, prolific mystery and crime thriller author Donald E. Westlake submitted two treatments for the 18th Bond film (which would ultimately become ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’)….Never one to waste a good story, Westlake turned his treatments into a novel.

Dern adds:

Fewer Filers than normally expected might be familiar with Westlake, since he wrote near-zero scifi, by choice. OTOH, he wrote lots of great mystery/thriller/crime and other novels and stories, ranging from humorous, e.g. his John Dortmunder stories, and his tabloid-reporter ones, to serious, notably the ones written as Richard Stark.

See the Donald Westlake site.

My favorite Westlake book: Up Your Banners

(7) MACE WINDU GETS HIS OWN BOOK. The Jedi have always been the galaxy’s peacekeepers — but with the Clone Wars on the horizon, all that is about to change.

This August, writer Matt Owens (Elektra) will team with artist Denys Cowan (Nighthawk, Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers) to unveil the exciting story of one of the Jedi’s greatest warriors in STAR WARS: JEDI OF THE REPUBLIC — MACE WINDU #1!

One of the most accomplished and storied members of the Jedi High Council, his wisdom and combat prowess are legendary. Now, in this new story, readers will get to see Mace Windu lead his Jedi into battle, and face the ultimate test of leadership!

(8) PETER OLSON OBIT. SF Site News reports that Boston area fan Peter Olson (1949-2017) died April 28. He was active in NESFA and participated in the Ig Nobel Awards.


  • Born May 18 — R. Laurraine Tutihasi
  • Born May 18 — Diane Duane


  • Born May 18, 1897 — Frank Capra

(11) COMIC SECTION. John King Tarpinian says Ziggy has a point.

(12) WHIP OUT YOUR ROLL OF HUNDREDS. Nicole Pelletier on Good Morning America has a piece called “Classic Disney animation art featuring Snow White, Pinocchio headed to auction” about how a tranche of Disney cels from the 1940s is headed for auction in an event sponsored by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies.

Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will present the movie memorabilia auction, “An Important Animation Art Collection, The Property of a Gentleman” in New York City on June 5.

The sale will feature more than 290 original Disney animation drawings, storyboards, posters, concept art and celluloids, according to Bonhams’ press release.

(13) WARNING LABEL. While I was browsing Bertie MacAvoy’s Amazon page, I especially enjoyed this self-introduction:

Robert A.MacAvoy

If you are young to the S.F. field and don’t know who I am, I will prep you by warning that I often kill off my heroes, sometimes at the most unexpected times. But never in a depressing manner. I’ve never wanted to depress my readers. My outlook is essentially comic.

(14) DRYING OFF. This may be the first good news I’ve ever heard about a convention associated with the Ozarks. Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn reports how some fans are overcoming a natural disaster: “West Plains, MO Based Oz-Con Plans Game Day Event to Make Up For Canceled Day of Con”.

I think any reasonable person would forgive the con, considering this was an extreme, unpredictable situation where homes and lives were literally lost. What’s the Sunday of a con compared to that? To the extreme credit of the Oz-Con organizers though, they still want to try to make it right.

Yesterday Oz-Con organizers announced an event they’re calling “Flood Con.” It’s a free game day the con is hosting from 9:00am until 10:00pm on June 17th at the Missouri State University-West Plains Student Rec Center. Admission is free, but they’ll also be accepting cash donations and canned food items to help with ongoing flood relief in the area. There will be video games, tabletop games, and fellow geeks to have a grand old time with.

Admittedly, I haven’t heard much about sff in the Ozarks — just that famous story about the time Larry Niven arrived expecting to be GoH of Ozarkon only to find out the con had been cancelled. (Fans involve swear they tried to get a message to him, but in those pre-internet days it failed to reach him on the road.)

(15) FAME IN PIXELS. Who needs a monument when you can be an answer on Jeopardy!

(16) LOVECRAFT COUNTRY TO TV. Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warner Bros Television are teaming on Lovecraft Country, a one-hour drama that has been given a straight-to-series order by HBO.

There is connective tissue to Peele’s breakout genre feature Get Out, which brought a Black Lives Matter theme to the horror genre. Lovecraft Country, the 2016 novel from Matt Ruff, focuses on 25-year-old Atticus Black. After his father goes missing, Black joins up with his friend Letitia and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America to find him. This begins a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and the malevolent spirits that could be ripped from a Lovecraft paperback. The goal is an anthological horror series that reclaims genre storytelling from the African-American perspective.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, JJ, Dawn Incognito, Daniel Dern, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ky.]

It’s Myers & Miller Time at the KGB Bar

By Mark L. Blackman: On the summerlike spring evening of Wednesday, May 17th, the monthly Fantastic Fiction Readings Series presented authors E.C. Myers and Sam J. Miller at its longtime venue, the dimly-lit and aptly-named Red Room of the second-floor KGB Bar in Manhattan’s East Village. I arrived later than usual, and the crowd seemed at more than capacity.

Series co-host Matthew Kressel greeted the crowd, and reported on their current fundraiser on Kickstarter to cover the Series’ expenses. While the readings are always free and there’s no cover charge, it costs about $120/month (or $1,500/year) to run. He recited a partial list of “rewards”for donors (a fuller list may be found here), among them: signed copies of John Crowley books; from John Joseph Adams, trade paperbacks of Queers Destroy Science Fiction; from Ellen Datlow, “lots of books,”including Alien Sex; and from Neil Gaiman, four rare signed copies of his books. Additionally, Nancy Kress and Jeffrey Ford are offering Tuckerizations (that is, a character with the donor’s name in their books); John Langan to create a monster; and N.K. Jemisin and others critiques. The money, he assured, will be used for small stipends for the authors and to treat them to dinner after their readings. (Earlier Myers had kidded that there are no tote bags and the readers would not be interrupted mid-reading for a fundraising appeal.) He concluded by introducing the event’s first reader.

E.C. Myers. Photo by Mark Blackman.

E.C. Myers (the “E” is for Eugene) describes himself as “assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts, and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, New York. ”He has published four novels, the first of which, Fair Coin, won the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF and Fantasy, and the subsequent The Silence of Six was selected by YALSA as one of its “Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers”in 2016. His next book will be DoubleThink, (he’s on a 1984 kick — the book very much fits the current zeitgeist), a collection of stories related to The Silence of Six. (He also writes for ReMade, a YA science fiction series from Serial Box Publishing, from which I heard Matthew Cody read earlier this month at the most recent NYRSF Readings event.)

His offering was from “Big Brother,”a story in Feral Youth, a multiauthor collected which he characterized as “Canterbury Tales as YA,”with each telling a story. The starting point is a 17-minute viral video of a 13-year-old girl sleeping and, by appearance, erotically dreaming (in “full-on When Harry Met Sally“mode) recorded by her teen older brother who has dreams of being a filmmaker. A glimpsed hovering presence, he and his friends deduce, is likely an incubus. The creepy aspects of the story were only somewhat relieved by their humorous comments.

After an intermission, co-host Ellen Datlow assumed the podium and exhorted us to thank the Bar by buying drinks (it was definitely a night calling for hydration), and announced upcoming readings:

  • June 21 — Catherynne M. Valente and Sunny Moraine
  • July 19K. Jemisin and Karen Heuler

She then introduced the second reader of the evening.

Sam J. Miller

Sam J. Miller’s short stories have appeared in multiple “year’s best” anthologies and been finalists for multiple Nebula Awards as well as for World Fantasy and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards. His short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides”(from which he read at the KGB last year) won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award. His debut novel The Art of Starving, which will be out in July, was called “Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless and powerful … a classic in the making” by Book Riot. His second novel, The Breaks, will be published in 2018.

Like Myers, his selection was from a YA work, the forthcoming The Art of Starving; he read from the very beginning and the end. The protagonist, it seems, is not actually starving or even hungry, but simply “chooses not to eat.”He suffers from an eating disorder — though he emphatically rejects the label — in which he sees himself as “an enormous, fat, greasy, disgusting creature”while the rest of the world somehow sees him as “a scrawny bag of bones”and urges him to eat, thereby earning his undying hatred. Ultimately, he releases hundreds of pigs from a slaughterhouse and leads the “squealing army”to defile and destroy the homes of his perceived enemies.

At the back of the room, copies of Myers’ The Silence of Six and its sequel Against All Silence were for sale by the Word Bookstores of Greenpoint, Brooklyn (and Jersey City). Also available were free copies of “pamphlet”editions of the novellas “S.O.S.: A Prequel to The Silence of Six“and “DoubleThink,”a stand-alone in the SOS (or SØS) Series that bridges The Silence of Six and Against All Silence. Miller’s novel is, of course, not out yet, but he had stickers to sign and go into the book.

Prior to the reading, Datlow, as usual, circulated, taking pictures. Her photos of the event may be seen on her Flickr page, linked to the Series’ website.

R. A. MacAvoy’s Bear Stories

Bertie MacAvoy says “The motto under the name MacAvoy is ‘Bear and Forbear.’” But her husband Ron suggests it should be “FourBears” — or forty. That’s because they have had so many Close Encounters of the Bear Kind at their home in the Cascade foothills of Washington State.

Bertie wrote a series of anecdotes about these human-ursine meetings on her Facebook page. When she dropped social media for awhile the earliest ones might have been lost except that I happened to have clipped and saved them to a Word file. She later renewed her FB account and — because the bears keep coming to visit — added some new bear stories. I sent her the file, but as she is busy prepping a new book we agreed posting them on File 770 is quickest way to restore them to the internet. So it is my privilege to share these stories with you.

One of Three:


Our road is old Weyrhauser land, sliced along its length with long driveways, brush-fronted, at the ends of which are houses. One-of-a-kind houses. Ours is the oldest, built by a family named O’Brien in the middle of the last century. A few acres down from us is a geodesic dome. But at the other end there were until ten years ago wetland preserves, but the county or someone like that decided they really needed money, and they traded a developer for the right to lace mini-McMansions through it, as long as 90% of the wetlands needed for drainage were allowed to remain.

These developers did a bit more than allow them to remain. They filled the 50 year old second-growth woods with trails for the development people to use and they could not conveniently exclude others. So Ron and I used to ride our horses along these trails. The only danger we ever encountered was from a lady with an untrained mastiff who allowed it to attack my pony’s hind legs.

This day I was not riding, but walking my five-month-old doodle Doyle, who is the dog in my picture who looks like Godzilla next to me. (Fault of the picture.) I was training him to keep at heel. About half a mile in from the road, the trail arced to the left, so when Doyle started pressing against my leg, I was only pleased he was learning his business so well.

Then we saw a horse as we rounded the bend. A dark horse under the dappled light, and it seemed to have lost its rider. I went closer carefully, and Doyle heeled, heeled, heeled. Really big broad horse. Maybe a Friesian, or some horse of farm stock turned into a pleasure mount. Then the horse began to stand up.

It stood up slowly, with control, until it was (by later measurement against the high briars around the trail) over eight feet tall.

The black bear stood there, watching me. I thought of the things I had been told to do when confronting a bear in the woods. I thought hard. I came up with ( ———————————————————-.) I noticed the bear had a right paw filled with small branches, leaves and twigs. I remembered that the salmonberries, first of their ilk to fruit, were in full season. I saw at last that the bear was staring much in the way I must have been staring, and that his entire muzzle was shiny, drippy, and dare I say, faintly salmon-colored. I turned on my heel, slowly, whispering, “Doyle, heel.”

Boy, did Doyle heel. He heeled all the while I walked sedately in the direction from which I had come. After forty feet or so I looked over my left shoulder. Though I scarcely dared to do so, I dared less not to. I saw the bear, just at the edge of visibility. He had gone down to all fours, turned on his . . . heel? – And was peering at me carefully over his right shoulder. Our eyes met once more. I continued on until I could no longer see the bear, but could see the brightness of the cleared road ahead. Then I ran like a much younger person. All the while Doyle heeled for me. He heeled my left leg so closely he almost knocked us both down.


When I got home I thought about my moral obligations, both to the bear and to child-kind. Finally I called the County Sheriff’s line and told them I had seen a black bear in the development’s wetlands. “Well, they do live here,” drawled the man who answered. I assured him the bear had done nothing at all hostile. “That’s good,” he said. I reminded him that children play in those woods and he agreed that they do. Then again I said the bear had not been aggressive. By now he was just listening. At last I asked him what they would do about the bear. “I’ll tell a few folks he’s there,” said the deputy.

“But you won’t chase him . . . ” “Well, they do live there.” he repeated.

Bear Story Two of Three:


Because Ron cannot sleep with any noise at all, we live in the dark woods. This has its own consequences.

It was 12:00 pm. Maybe 1:00 am. There was a noise as though a large man was pulling our empty garbage cans along our gravel drive for fun. The dogs, instead of barking, were lying stone-still with their eyes open. I listened, …feeling much like the dogs about this noise, but Ron threw off the covers. “I can’t stand it” he said, rising.

I had been sleeping deeply and did not want this. “It will go away. They’re empty.”

But Ron was walking to the long closet, where the shotgun was. He had never taken out the shotgun before, not in the ten years we had lived here. “Cover me,” he said, climbing into his sweat clothes.

‘Cover me.’ I’d heard it all my life on cop shows. It was when one cop went behind another and . . . did what? All I was really certain of was that cop two was not supposed to shoot cop one, nor let him be shot. Or hurt otherwise.

I was very sleepy. Did not feel the spirit of adventure. But I rose, and not having a suit of sweatclothes, pulled on my bathrobe and foot-snuggies. I wished I could visit the bathroom, but he was striding out of the room. I scrambled to the hall closet and took out my own .357 magnum with laser sight.

(Here I must pause, for all of you who do not live in a county where the sheriff’s department has been so cut that there is an estimated 45 minute response time to any emergency call. We are encouraged to have guns in the house. Allowed to carry them, as long as we do not brandish. I do not carry as a rule. Ron and I are admittedly odd folk, but not odd in the manner you may now be suspecting.)

I followed him down the stairs to the garage door, still trying to think what a person does when ‘covering’. I thought of ricochet. I thought about how far a .357 magnum bullet may go through the trees when it does not hit anything. I kept the laser sight depressed so that I could watch the red light NOT approaching Ron’s back. He pressed the button to open the garage door.

It was very, very dark out there. Even though we hadn’t turned on the garage light, it was black on black. There were the faint grey and green tall rectangles of our wheelie cans lying on their sides, and beyond them a hump of black beyond all other blacks. Ron walked out and stood by the fallen cans and he made a sound. “Aaaaaaaaa,” he said (‘a’ as in hat). It was not a roar at all, but rather the sound an older brother would make to his younger brother who had embarrassed him once again. One time too many.

The bear, a half-grown juvenile, receded through the night. Meanwhile I was still moving the laser site left and right, while never it letting touch Ron. “What AM I supposed to do?” I asked him.

“Just cover me,” he said, dropping the shotgun carefully down and picking up the cans, one by one and wheeling them into the garage, where he jammed them between the cars and the motorcycles and the big beams. I looked out into the dark drive, but could no longer see the imprint of the black bear. I stood there until all the cans were enclosed. “Okay,” said Ron. He picked up the shotgun, we went in and he lowered the door.

I don’t think he said another word that night. He put the shotgun back, and I put back my revolver in its hidey place. I know he was asleep within 60 seconds of hitting the bed. I was surely not.

Third Bare Tale out of Three


Or: Putting on the Mantle of the Nanny

This story was supposed to be illustrated with a sketch consisting of the front end of a black bear in a doorway at night, with Doyle the black doodle standing stiff as a board with his teeth exposed and my feet beside him with legs extending into a white nightie, and one of my hands with index finger pointing forward, in minatory fashion. This sketch turned into nothing but a paper of eraser stains and confusion. All the black on black I guess. But actually anyone’s mind can produce it better than I did on a sheet of 20 weight. Put your own picture HERE

It was September of last year, and the heat on our flat-roofed house had become unbearable, so we left the living room French doors open onto the second-floor deck. It seemed an acceptable risk – after all there were only three thin poles connecting the deck with the ground, we are invisible from the road, and also the two dogs slept in the living room.

While still sleeping I heard a light, metallic clatter, followed by a bass “Wahhoooooo! Wahooooo . . . ” Which brought me to instant wakefulness. It was Doyle’s voice, but he had never used that word in his life.

It called to me with wolf-pack immediacy. I was on my feet and through the bedroom door without conscious thought. Behind me Ron was murmuring in his sleep. He had taken herbal sleep-drops.

Wolf-pack immediacy is not frontal-lobe enough to allow me to think of going for a weapon. I arrived at the French doors, where a piece of moon was cutting through the clouds, to find my very humanized, retired service dog had smashed out our rickety screen door and was standing in the threshold, stiff as a board and screaming into the face of a black bear on our deck. The bear was regarding him with ears forward, which is not a friendly sign in bears. It was a young bear, only perhaps 150 pounds.

‘Young bear’ was not a good sign among bears, either. (Full grown bears know better than to shinny up people’s deck posts to see what is to be seen. They also are probably too heavy to do so.)

I strode forward and placed myself next to Doyle. My response was purely intuitive, but it was the correct one. The bear could not be allowed through the threshold. Think about it. It was also correct pack behavior, because I am and must remain Doyle’s superior His cry went from ‘Whoooooo” to a more self-collected ‘Arghhh” and he back away two steps, placing his head just behind my legs. Again, proper pack behavior, whatever Rin-Tin-Tin’s you may have seen. The bear raised his little eyes to mine.

I don’t know whether the bear was even thinking about going into the house. I know he was immensely surprised to find his j.d. wanderings so forcefully interrupted. But he could also not easily get down off the deck – not without turning his back on two major threats. Neither could I back off, for a show of weakness to a bear with ears forward could easily be damaging. Or fatal.

I pointed my finger at the bear. “Bear,” I said in my most firm and parental voice. “You are not welcome here. Go away.” From the other room Ron mumbled “Who are you talking to? Who . . .?”

I dared not stop speaking. Nor step forward nor back. Nor raise my voice into a directly challenging tone. “Bear, go home, now!” I said, and “I mean it bear, right now. You must go home!” Doyle stood right next to me and between us we blocked the doorway perfectly.

The bear began to walk backwards and reached the rail. I had a strong sympathy for his predicament, but did not dare show it. “Over the rail, bear,” I said. “Go.” And I said other, similar things, not believing the bear understood English, but I can be more chiding in English than I ever could in Bear. And I feared silence.

“Who ARE you talking to?” asked Ron, and out of the corner of my eye I could see his white sleep-shirt appear down the hallway, but I dared not respond. The bear, meanwhile, managed to climb up the old and weather-damaged rail, while still craning his neck to keep eye contact. I talked, Doyle threatened and Ron questioned with increasing bewilderment while the bear crested the rail, and began to slide down the post. (The next day I saw some unpleasantly deep long scratches in the wood.)

When the screeching sound was over and I assumed the delinquent bear was on the ground, I shut both French doors. Doyle collapsed where he stood, eyes open and silent. “Will you at last tell me WHAT?” asked Ron, now behind me. I found my voice had broken and I could not.

This has been the last of my three encounter with bears in the Pacific Northwest. So far.


After feeling at rest last night, having finished my third of three North West bear stories, I was surprised this morning at 6:48 am, as I thought my husband and the dogs had left for their morning trek into Marymoor Park, to have him call up the stairs “Are you there? Are you THERE?” With my empty coffee cup beside me and my Kindle on my lap, I called back “Where could I be? Completely vanished? In another dimension?” and he bounded back up the stairs, just a dark outline with his Canadian Tilley hat on his head and said, “The bear stories are not over! The cans are spread all over the ground and enormous drag marks are everywhere!”

My mind had been on IMPOSSIBLE ODDS: the Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six, which I had just downloaded, so there were about three seconds of reset for me. Then I said, gleefully “But you didn’t wake up!”

The wide-brimmed hat shifted right and left. “I guess there weren’t any recycled cans in the garbage,” and then he was off to the park again.

It’s like Sam Gamgee said. The stories don’t end, you just fall out of them. And maybe back in.

Bear encounter #4 . . . and FIVE.

At one-thirty last night we were awakened by our dog Doyle’s bass bark, which is rarely given and sounds like the trump of doom. He stood beside the doors to the upper deck and repeated the bark, again and again. Doyle is an almost silent dog, so we knew it was something important. But what?

I suggested letting the dogs out into the pasture, because whatever… it was they had room to maneuver and were not at all stupid about their reactions to danger. Ron allowed me to let them out, and the Bark became a sort of howl. I think all Doyle needed, (being a tall, black dog) was phosphorus around his eyes to look like the Hound of the Baskervilles. Dingle was also yipping and running wildly. We could hear her feet on the grass. We could hear other sounds, too.

“It’s a bear,” said Ron. I’d never really heard a bear make noise before, and could see why people call them sows and boars. (Though I myself would always address a bear as Honored Sir, or Ma’m) Ron took point entirely during this encounter, because I was sore and stiff and my curiosity wasn’t overwhelming. Ron went out with an LED flashlight; I could see him through the upstairs window, walking to the fence. “Doyle has it treed,” he shouted.

Doyle had TREED a bear? Our aggressionless, hypersocial Doyle, retired service dog? “Is it a cub?” I called out. “Big enough,” he answered. It’s in the Doug Fir.” Ron seemed fascinated by the situation. Then he added “The bear has started crying.”

I could hear it. It really sounded like a cross between a growl and a child in distress. I went down and called in the dogs. Doyle came in quick enough. Dingle, who tends to get emotional about things, was more difficult. Then Ron said, “There’s another bear. It’s wuffling as the bear in the tree is crying. Can you hear it?”

I could. It was a much deeper sound. “Please come in,” I pleaded to my superhero of a mate, and Ron did, though he was clearly fascinated by the Ursine dialogue.

It was just what no human on the face of the earth wants: a young bear crying for its mama. And Mama comes.

We listened for some minutes, imagining what we would do if the cub (not a little, cute cub, remember) could not figure out how to get down the tree. Would we call the Fire Department? Stay housebound all day? But then the sound turned into a scrabbling. And the Mother and Son (or Daughter) reunion took place. About ten minutes later the dogs closest to our property started barking hysterically. Then, in another ten minutes, dogs further away.

Clearly we live on a bearish superhighway. I can work it out in my head how they come over the wild animal bridge over Novelty Hill Road and thence through the undeveloped area behind us, down our drive and to Peterson Pond (renamed Swan Lake by developers, though there is nary a webfoot of any kind upon it) and across 238th up the road to the North West. But there is nothing for them in that direction but increasing development, and I hope these two have gotten the idea that our Common Way is a bad choice. For their own sakes.

And by all benevolent spirits, for ours, too.

I Just Slapped A Bear

Three o’clock this morning there was a bellow and howl of dogs and I went out, still drugged with my sleeping pill, and there was a bear on the deck, looking in the screen door.

It wasn’t a very big bear. Probably no longer than Ron, although wider. (I have never, ever slapped Ron.) I opened the door and the bear just stared at me, inquisitively.

I’ve had enough. I hauled back and slapped it across the face. On each side of me the dogs were barking and shouting ‘Do it again!!”

The bear reacted just as though his mother had done the same thing to it. It retreated over the deck, jumped the rail and fell bodily onto the garden. Onto the same Nandina bush as the last falling bear.

This edge-of-the-wilderness life sometimes gets old. Really.

And FB keeps telling me I slapped Astrid Bear. I didn’t. I wouldn’t.

Here’s Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into — Bear

May 11, 2017

This morning, at 5:58, there was a crash on our north porch, where we have been keeping our Coleman camp stove, since our real range died three weeks ago. (We use it in the kitchen, but there is a danger of propane leaks, so . . . )

Ron scrambles out to see, but I’m looking through a window and shout “Cub! Cub!” Because it’s better to confront a full grown male black bear than get close to a cub with mother around.

The bear is a fleeing streak of black, going off. The stove is now in the kitchen and I smell propane.

It gets old. It really does.

2017 Anthony Awards Nominees

The 2017 Anthony Awards nominees were announced May 17.

The Anthony Award is named for the late Anthony Boucher (William Anthony Parker White), well-known writer and critic from the New York Times, who helped found the Mystery Writers of America.

The awards will be presented at Bouchercon in Toronto on October 15.


Best Novel

You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott [Little, Brown]
Where It Hurts – Reed Farrel Coleman [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]
Red Right Hand – Chris Holm [Mulholland]
Wilde Lake – Laura Lippman [William Morrow]
A Great Reckoning – Louise Penny [Minotaur]

Best First Novel

Dodgers – Bill Beverly [Crown]
IQ – Joe Ide [Mulholland]
Decanting a Murder – Nadine Nettmann [Midnight Ink]
Design for Dying – Renee Patrick [Forge]
The Drifter – Nicholas Petrie [G.P. Putnam’s Sons]

Best Paperback Original

Shot in Detroit – Patricia Abbott [Polis]
Leadfoot – Eric Beetner [280 Steps]
Salem’s Cipher – Jess Lourey [Midnight Ink]
Rain Dogs – Adrian McKinty [Seventh Street]
How to Kill Friends and Implicate People – Jay Stringer [Thomas & Mercer]
Heart of Stone – James W. Ziskin [Seventh Street]

Best Short Story

“Oxford Girl” – Megan Abbott, Mississippi Noir [Akashic]
“Autumn at the Automat” – Lawrence Block, In Sunlight or in Shadow [Pegasus]
“Gary’s Got A Boner” – Johnny Shaw, Waiting to Be Forgotten [Gutter]
“Parallel Play” – Art Taylor, Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning [Wildside]
“Queen of the Dogs” – Holly West, 44 Caliber Funk: Tales of Crime, Soul and Payback [Moonstone]

Best Critical Nonfiction Work

Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life – Peter Ackroyd [Nan A. Talese]
Letters from a Serial Killer – Kristi Belcamino & Stephanie Kahalekulu [CreateSpace]
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life – Ruth Franklin [Liveright]
Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker – David J. Skal [Liveright]
The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer – Kate Summerscale [Bloomsbury/Penguin]

Best Children’s/YA Novel

Snowed – Maria Alexander [Raw Dog Screaming]
The Girl I Used to Be – April Henry [Henry Holt]
Tag, You’re Dead – J.C. Lane [Poisoned Pen]
My Sister Rosa – Justine Larbalestier [Soho Teen]
The Fixes – Owen Matthews [HarperTeen]

Best Anthology

Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns – Eric Beetner, ed. [Down & Out]
In Sunlight or in Shadow – Lawrence Block, ed. [Pegasus]
Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens – Jen Conley [Down & Out]
Blood on the Bayou: Bouchercon Anthology 2016 – Greg Herren, ed. [Down & Out]
Waiting To Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak, Inspired by the Replacements – Jay Stringer, ed. [Gutter]

Best Novella (8,000-40,000 words)

Cleaning Up Finn – Sarah M. Chen [All Due Respect Books]
No Happy Endings – Angel Luis Colón [Down & Out]
Crosswise – S.W. Lauden [Down & Out]
Beware the Shill – John Shepphird [Down & Out]
The Last Blue Glass – B.K. Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, April 2016 [Dell]

Amy Murphy’s Allies and Enemies Series

By Carl Slaughter: Amy Murphy was a 2016 finalist for the Dragon Award in the military science fiction category. The third novel in her Enemies and Allies trilogy, Exiles, came out in March 2017. The box set, plus the box set exclusive Lexicon, came out in April 2017. Catch up with Amy at Dragon Con in September 2017 in Atlanta.


Sela Tyron, a simple soldier, born to serve the Regime with unwavering loyalty, finds her world upended when her worshiped captain and member of the elite, Jonvenlish Veradis, is arrested for treason. Her impulsive decision sees them both hunted by their former allies. Things go from bad to worse with the seemingly miraculous return of Veradis’s sister, Erelah, from the dead and the arrival of a new and dangerous enemy in ruthless pursuit of the dark secret she holds.


Purpose-bred soldier of the Regime, Commander Sela Tyron is as subtle as a hammer. To hammers, any problem can look like a nail, but the solutions aren’t always that easy. Abandoned on a planet of hostiles, for Sela, things are only starting to get complicated. After a daring rescue by her captain, Jon Veradin, Sela sacrifices everything to save him from charges of treason and execution. Hunted, their new careers as fugitives complicate further with the arrival of Jon’s sister, Erelah. Once brilliant, now seemingly driven mad, she warns of a monster who will stop at nothing to reclaim her.



For renegade soldier Sela Tyron and her former captain, Jon Veradin, the Reaches were a chance at a fresh start and freedom from the Regime. But what should be easy is never easy. In this savage, hardscrabble region, ruled by the ruthless Guilds, the pair quickly find themselves in the crosshairs of scheming gangsters and their muscle-bound henchmen. Meanwhile, Jon’s sister Erelah Veradin was supposed to be dead. That was her plan, anyway, when she sought to destroy the relentless Tristic. Miraculously alive, she’s now a captive of Zenti pirates led by the enigmatic Asher Korbyn—a man with his own secret agenda. Unsure of whom to trust, Erelah must face a new host of dangers on her quest to reunite with her brother as an even greater threat looms on the horizon and an old, familiar evil gathers strength in the darkness.


Ironvale. Splitdawn. Poisoncry. Three bloodthirsty guilds that control the decaying corner of space known as the Reaches. Their precarious balance of power exists at a tipping point. One nudge and chaos reigns. Renegade soldier, Sela Tyron, is willing to supply that nudge to help her partner, Jon Veradin, rescue his nuisance sister, Erelah. Even if it means trusting the traitorous Asher Corsair. Or turning herself into an assassin.


Amy J. Murphy

“The Allies and Enemies Trilogy represents about 15 years of dedicated indecision and lack of self-confidence. Science fiction was my first love with all its glory of plastic weapons, poorly constructed sets and formulaic magic plot “reset” buttons. Where TV and movies could only supply me with an occasional fix of geekdom, I started to mainline books and Marvel comics. These inspired me to write my own stories that no one was allowed to read. Like ever. Until now.

“This story started with the character of Sela Tyron (a name I love and the heroine I wish I could be, BTW) as the driving force. I wanted to tell her story and, without her realizing it, have her fall in love. Allies and Enemies introduces you, gentle reader, to a world that’s been kicking around in my head for more than a decade. It is only through the magical graces of eBook self-publishing, that will be able to experience this story (and hopefully the ones to follow).”


Pixel Scroll 5/17/17 Round Up The Usual Pixels

(1) THE REAL AMERICAN GODS. Mark-kitteh says, “This may be the perfect combo of SF and cats for us–”

(2) ANIMAL FILIBUSTER. The Washington Post’s John Kelly interviewed Ralph Nader, who has written a fantasy novel, Animal Envy, in which animals are given the power to speak via a software program and “are given a 100-hour special broadcast” to discuss all their issues — “In his odd new book, Ralph Nader talks to the animals –and they talk back”.

Ralph Nader –tireless windmill-tilter –is standing at the National Zoo recalling a conversation he once had with an editor at The Washington Post about what he felt was the paper’s less-than-adequate coverage of his presidential campaign.

“I remember saying, ‘There are times I say to myself, I wish I was a panda, given the coverage The Post gives to pandas,’” Nader said.

Well, Nader still isn’t a panda, but he is a kangaroo, a dolphin, an elephant, a crocodile, a squirrel, an owl, an Arctic tern, a German cockroach, a European corn borer, a radioactive Chernobyl beaver, and dozens of other mammals, reptiles, birds and insects.

They’re all characters he assumes in his new book, “Animal Envy: A Fable.”

He is also a cheetah: Safe at any speed…

(3) LUNCH OR HISTORICAL REENACTMENT? “Cynthia Felice and I break into the Watergate Hotel!” That’s what Scott Edelman says in his dramatic invitation to listen to Episode 37 of Eating the Fantastic.

Grab lunch at the Watergate with my unindicted co-conspirator Cynthia Felice in Episode 37 of Eating the Fantastic.

I visited the Watergate Hotel recently, and in case those of you familiar with the history of that infamous location might be thinking I went there to bring down a president with a Bob Woodward/Carl Bernstein-style investigation, let me quickly add … no. Rather, I went there to investigate the food at the recently opened Kingbird restaurant, with a guest who surprised me with her sudden visit to Washington, D.C., and whom I somehow managed to convince that a meal with me would be oh, so much more fun than visiting the National Air and Space Museum.

Joining me within the walls of the Watergate Hotel was Cynthia Felice, who published her first short story, “Longshanks,” in 1976 in the pages of Galileo, a science fiction magazine published by the late, great Charlie Ryan, and her first novel, Godsfire, two years later. She is also the co-founder with Ed Bryant — about whom, alas, I must also say late and great — of the Colorado Springs Writer’s Workshop.

We discussed how Frank Herbert’s Dune made her say, “Hey, I can do that,” the virtues of owning a motel while being a writer, the marriage advice Kate Wilhelm gave her at Clarion, what Thomas M. Disch told her that fixed one of her short stories, why we all loved the late, great Ed Bryant, the extraordinary lengths David Hartwell went to as he edited her second novel, how her collaborations with Connie Willis began, and more.

(4) THOSE SIDEKICKS, THEY DO GET WEARY. ComicMix’s John Ostrander, in “Sidekicking Around”, delves into one of comics’ well-known formulas.

Robin falls into a strange category of the child or teen sidekick. He was originally introduced to lighten up the Dark Knight Detective and, again, to give Batman someone to talk to rather than himself. Robin humanized the Bat. His popularity gave rise to a whole slew of child/teen associates such as Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad. Later, these five went from supporting characters to central ones when they formed their own super-team, the Teen Titans (later, just the Titans when they all outgrew their teenage years).

The original Robin, Dick Grayson, later grew out of his shorts and tights to become a full-fledged hero of his own, first as Nightwing and then later, briefly, actually taking Bruce Wayne’s place as Batman before reverting back to Nightwing. There have been other Robins since then, including one — Jason Todd — who was killed by the Joker. Don’t worry; he got better. The role is currently being filled by Bruce’s son, Damian. I believe he died as well at one point but is also now feeling better.

(5) STEAMPUNK BIBLIOPHILE RETURNS. This week 2012 Hugo Finalist Selena Chambers released Calls For Submission, her new short fiction collection.

Selena Chambers’ debut collection guides readers out of space and time and through genre and mythos to explore the microcosmic horrors of identity, existence, and will in the face of the world’s adamant calls for submission. Victorian tourists take a virtual trip through their (and the Ottoman empire’s) ideal Orient; a teenage girl learns about independence and battle of the bands, all while caring for her mesmerized, dead mother; a failed Beat poet goes over the edge while exploring the long-abandoned Government Lethal Chambers.

Chambers was a Related Work co-Hugo Finalist in 2012 with Jeff VanderMeer for their collaboration on The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature.

(6) MORE YA AWARD WSFS WANK. Kevin Standlee says, “You’d Think I’d Remember These Things”. You need to read all four steps to follow his argument, but here’s a foretaste of what you’ll be getting into if your click the link….

  1. Item 1 means that that as it currently stands, the Worldcon 75 WSFS Business Meeting does not have the authority to name a YA Award. However, the 2018 WSFS Business Meeting could apply a name to the Award in a single vote because of that provision. (Of course, this is all moot if the base proposal fails to be ratified.)

  2. Should the 2017 Business Meeting decide to ratify that YA proposal without the provision, the 2017 Meeting could then move as a new amendment to insert a name into the Award, with the name being something that could be passed in 2017 and ratified in 2018, like any other WSFS Constitutional amendment. That means the YA Award would have no official name in 2018, but (assuming 2017 passes a naming amendment that is ratified in 2018), it could get an official name for 2019 and beyond.

(7) BREW FOR TWO. Sounds like anybody who makes it through the Worldcon 75 Business Meeting will probably need to stop over in Iceland on the way home to chill out — “Beer baths to open in North Iceland in June”.

Kaldi brewery in Ãrskogssandur, just north of Akureyri in North Iceland, will be opening beer baths and spa in the coming month.

“The construction of the baths is progressing and everything is according to plan,” says Agnes Anna Siguroardottir, CEO of Kaldi brewery.

There will be seven beer baths in total, all suitable for two people. All guests that have reached 20 years in age can relax in their beer baths with a beer in hand, as there will be a pump by each bath. 20 is legal drinking age in Iceland.


Film director Stanley Kubrick was a big admirer of Steve Martin’s movie The Jerk. (Source: IMDB)


  • May 17, 1902 –The Antikythera mechanism is recovered. Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the occasion.

(10) THE BIRD BLABS. The Vulture knows what might have been: “The Secret History of William Gibson’s Never-Filmed Aliens Sequel”

But there’s an alternate universe where the series’ propulsive momentum only increased –a reality in which the third Alien film featured advanced xenomorphs exploding in batches of half a dozen from people’s legs, stomachs, and mouths; where cold-warring rival space stations of communists and capitalists race to outdo one another with their genetic experiments on the aliens’ tissue; where a flock of the phallic horrors flies through the void of space, only to be beaten back by a gun-toting robot. Oh, and there’s a thing called the New Beast that emerges from and sheds a shrieking human’s body as it “rips her face apart in a single movement, the glistening claws coming away with skin, eyes, muscle, teeth, and splinters of bone.”

This is the alternate universe where legendary science-fiction writer William Gibson’s Alien III (that’s “III,” not “3”) screenplay was realized. It is, perhaps, a better world than ours….

You can find the screenplay in an antiquated .txt file online, and there have been occasional discussions of it on message boards and niche blogs, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t been appropriately acknowledged as the remarkable genre-fiction artifact that it is. Indeed, with studio backing and the right production team, one can imagine the finished film being on par with Alien and Aliens, and it certainly would have altered the course of the franchise’s history. With the arrival of Alien Covenant –a movie that, whatever its merits, largely retreads ideas from the series’ previous installments –it’s time to tell the story of how Gibson’s Alien III came to be, why it never crossed the finish line, and what made it special.

(11) KIDPROOFING. John King Tarpinian recommends, “Take the kids to see Alien this weekend, then put this cookie jar out. They will never “steal” a cookie again.” ThinkGeek’s Alien Ovomorph Egg Cookie Jar:

(12) CONDIGN REVENGE. Isn’t Aidan channeling me here?

(13) PUN TIME. Yes, I think this is funny, too.

(14) SHADOW CLARKE JURY GOES INTO OVERTIME. Now they need to deal with the actual Clarke Award shortlist.

With both the Sharke Six and the official Clarke shortlist now out of the bag, I thought I’d like to reflect a little on some of the books I encountered that did not make the running, either through being ineligible (i.e US-published) or through not being submitted. I’ve found myself wanting to talk about them because even now at the end of Phase One of my Sharke reading and with a sizeable number of eligible submissions under my belt, these omissions still feel notable, with discussion around the Clarke Award seeming the poorer for their absence.

The Booker Prize has already had its debate about allowing American novels into the mix, with predictably divided responses. Whether or not the Clarke should open itself up to US submissions is a discussion that lies beyond the remit of this essay, though it does seem a shame that there have been and will continue to be books that stand central to any discussion of the year’s SF and yet under current Clarke rules must remain excluded from one of its most prestigious awards.

I still haven’t reviewed two of the books on my original shortlist. As it happens, we now know that neither of the books made it onto the Sharke Six, and neither made it onto the official Clarke Award shortlist, though I suspect for rather different reasons. So I thought I would take this opportunity to consider why they might not have been chosen.

I’ll start with Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.

Superficially, this seems to be exactly the sort of novel that has often found its way onto the Clarke shortlist. It is an elegantly, at times beautifully written novel, as here when an astronaut moves from the spinning outer ring of a spaceship to the gravity-free core:

Of all the books that I personally shortlisted for this project The Power is the one that I find most challenging to judge and to write about. I chose it precisely because of this difficulty; I had read it before and felt decidedly mixed about it. I have loved some of Alderman’s earlier work — her debut Disobedience (2006) was one of the first books that I reviewed online — and have read her assiduously, with great pleasure. Yet this fourth novel, her breakthrough book, left me unsure and unsettled. While friends and critics turned out in numbers to praise its ingenuity and confidence, its bold engagement with the dynamics of power and gender, I hung back and sat on my immediate reaction. Which was: Yes, all those things, but… I couldn’t decisively put my finger on what the ‘but’ was; it was just there, throwing up a barrier between the book and me. At the same time, I couldn’t dismiss it; I was niggled. It stayed with me. So much so, that when it came time for creating my Clarke shortlist I knew The Power had to be on it. Whatever my personal reservations, it was clearly one of the more thought-provoking and eloquent of the submitted books. I felt I owed it a re-read, to test my first response.

Other commentators have already discussed the alternate history setting of Azanian Bridges (Paul Kincaid on this site and Gautam Bhatia at Strange Horizons, while Mark Bould also provides a useful list of other African alternate histories on his own website), and I don’t see any real point in recapitulating what they’ve already said so well.

Instead, I want to focus on the relationship between Martin van Deventer, the white psychologist, and Sibusiso Mchuna, the young black man whom he is attempting to treat. Sibusiso, a trainee teacher, has withdrawn into himself after witnessing the murder of his friend, Mandla, at an anti-government rally. At a loss to know what else to do for him, his father has agreed to his being admitted to the local mental asylum for treatment. We can only speculate as to why his father did this rather than taking Sibusiso home but for now consider it as only one among many markers of the fact that Sibusiso is metaphorically as well as literally a long way from home, living in a white world, among people who have no idea about him.

(15) WE INTERRUPT YOUR READING FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT. Now that Chuck Tingle’s professional porn has been linked from the Hugo Voter Packet, Hugo administrator Nicholas Whyte feels the need to clarify his cameo appearance in the work — thus his LiveJournal post “Pounded In The Butt By My Second Hugo Award Nomination, by Chuck Tingle”:

Second paragraph of third section:

“Hello, I’m Chuck,” I say, formally introducing myself.

I am quoted (well, paraphrased) in the crucial second section, in which author Chuck Tingle, miserable after the defeat of Space Raptor Butt Invasion in the 2016 Hugo Awards, receives notification from the 2017 Hugo Awards adminstrator that he has been nominated this year. Let’s just say for the record that the demands subsequently and consequently made of him as part of the Hugo process are not those actually required of Hugo finalists in real life.

(16) THE BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE. “This 10-year-old donated thousands of comic books to veterans”The Week has the story.

Carl Scheckel knows that not all heroes wear capes. In a show of support for American soldiers, the 10-year-old comic-book aficionado from New Jersey decided to collect and donate thousands of comic books to veterans in hospitals and servicemen deployed overseas. The mastermind of, Scheckel gathered roughly 3,500 books for the nearby Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, When he arrived to donate them in person, officers treated him to a surprise VIP tour of the base, where he got to try on military gear and explore the inside of a place. ‘It was the best day of my life!’ wrote Carl on his website.

(17) AN OPPORTUNITY ON MARS. It’s been there for over 13 years! “Mars rover reaches site that scientists still can’t explain”.

Opportunity, which is much, much smaller than its car-sized Curiosity cousin, was sent to Perseverance Valley in hopes of shedding some light on its origins. Scientists studying Mars know that the valley was carved by some dramatic force, but with a handful of possibilities including water, wind, and even muddy rocks, there’s still no clear answer. With the rover in place, researchers plan to use its observations to generate a detailed map which will be used to plan the vehicle’s driving route along the rim and eventually into the valley itself.

(18) ON THE WAY TO THE FINAL FRONTIER. I found out about LUNAR from BoingBoing:

Motion designer Christian Stangl and composer Wolfgang Stangl created this gorgeous short film, titled LUNAR, from thousands of NASA photographs taken by astronauts.


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Scott Edelman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Darrah Chavey.]

Fantastic Fiction at KGB Opens Kickstarter Appeal


By Carl Slaughter: Fantastic Fiction at KGB needs your help. By June 14th, 2017, Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel want to raise a minimum of $4,500 to host the famous, longstanding, monthly reading in New York for 3 more years — and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to do it.

The reading series features luminaries and up-and-comers in speculative fiction. Admission is always free. The series brings together the greater New York community of writers, editors publishers, agents and fans into one location each month. We also publish a monthly podcast audio of the readings so people who cannot attend the physical event can still enjoy the readings. Fantastic Fiction is a great place to hear and meet talented new and veteran authors, as well as make valuable connections and meet new friends. Many lasting friendships and professional connections have been made through the Fantastic Fiction reading series.

Past readers: Joyce Carol Oates, Lucius Shepard, Jeffrey Ford, N.K. Jemisin, Scott Westerfeld, Kelly Link, Paul Tremblay, Laird Barron, China Miéville, Nancy Kress, Peter Straub, James Patrick Kelly, Victor LaValle, Joe Hill, Jack Ketchum, Brian Keene, Samuel Delany, Holly Black, Michael Swanwick, Kit Reed, Andy Duncan, Richard Bowes, Catherynne M. Valente, Jeff VanderMeer, Naomi Novik, Elizabeth Bear, Lev Grossman, and a host of other talented authors. Click the link for the full list.

Quick history: Terry Bisson and Alice K. Turner started the KGB Fantastic Fiction reading series in the late 1990s, attempting to bring together mainstream writers with writers of speculative fiction in order to show, in Alice Turner’s words, “that at a certain level they were plowing exactly the same field.” In the spring of 2000 editor Ellen Datlow took over for Alice K. Turner and in August 2002 Gavin J. Grant, publisher of Small Beer Press, stepped in for Bisson when he moved to California. Author Matthew Kressel stepped in for Gavin in April of 2008.

Matthew Kressel and Ellen Datlow.

Ellen Datlow answers a few questions.

Carl Slaughter: Where does the money go?

Ellen Datlow: Each month we give the authors a small stipend, we tip the bartenders (who always give the authors free drinks), and we take the authors out for dinner after the reading. Since it typically costs us around $120 per month, we need $1500 per year to maintain the series.

CS: What’s the criteria for inviting an author to read?

ED: We try to pick two readers whose work might complement each other-also at least one better-known writer with a relative unknown. We try to make sure we have at least one reader who will bring in more of an audience than our regulars.

CS: Is there a cost for getting into the bar or listening to the readings?

ED: No -we get the use of the bar for free for two hours a month. The bar in turn hopes that attendees will buy drinks (soft or hard) during that period of time.

CS: Is there a charge for accessing the podcast?

ED: No-it’s free on the website

CS: Have you ever thought about charging to ease the financial burden?

ED: No – even if we wanted to, we could not without a different deal with the bar.

CS: What about selling an audio?

ED: No – we haven’t really though about it, although if we did, we’d have to contact all the readers and ask their permission.

CS: Do you pay travel expenses for out of town authors?

ED: No we don’t.

CS: What books are on display?

ED: Word Bookstore supplies books for the readers if they are available through a wholesaler. If not, the readers can sell copies of their own books before the reading, during intermission, or afterward.

CS: Suppose an author who hardly ever visits New York will be in town on a reading night? Or just wants a memorable experience and is willing to pay their own way?

ED: They’re welcome to join the audience. We’re scheduled several months in advance, so anyone coming to town needs to query us wayyyy in advance.

CS: Who’s on the horizon?

ED: Sunny Moraine, Catherynne M. Valente, Karen Heuler, N.K. Jemisin, Rajan Khanna, Chris Sharp, Katherine Vaz, Kai Ashanti Wilson, James Patrick Kelly, Grady Hendrix, David Rice.

CS: Is there a CD or website with an archive of readings?

ED: The audio files are our archives:

Worldcon 75 Releases Hugo Voter Packet

The 2017 Hugo Awards voter packet is now available for download by Supporting, Attending, Youth and First Worldcon members of Worldcon 75. The packet is an electronic collection that helps voters become better informed about the pool of finalists. Works included are made available by finalists and their publishers.

The voter packet contains complete texts of many Hugo-nominated works, preview versions of some works, and directions for finding some finalists’ works online. The packet itself can be accessed by members directly from their online ballots with personalized links.

Nicholas Whyte, Hugo administrator for Worldcon 75, said:

This year’s voter packet is the most extensive and complete collection since the packet’s inception in its present form 10 years ago. We are deeply appreciative of the publishers, authors, artists, editors, and other creators who have generously provided their works to this year’s Hugo Voter Packet, and ask that voters who feel the same way consider posting on social media to thank the publishers, editors, and creators who have participated in the packet.

In most ballot categories there are separate downloads for each of the three most common ebook formats (EPUB, MOBI, and PDF). In the few cases where a publisher has provided only a PDF version of a work, the PDF has been included in each of the different format packets so that members will not have to do extra downloading. The exceptions to this are the Dramatic Presentation, Artist, Graphic Story, Fancast, and Editor Long Form categories, where there is only a PDF download.

The Hugo Voter Packet will be available for download until the voting deadline at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time on 15 July 2017 (2:59 am EDT, 07:59 BST, 09:59 EEST). As in previous years, Worldcon 75 asks that voters honor publishers’ and creators’ request that they reserve these copies for their personal use only, and that they do not share these works with non-members of Worldcon 75.

Here is an overview of the packet contents:

  • Novel: 5 full novels and 1 excerpt
  • Novella: 6 full novellas
  • Novelette: 6 full novelettes
  • Short Story: 6 full short stories
  • Related Work: 4 full long works, 1 full short work, and 1 excerpt
  • Graphic Story: 6 full works in PDF form only
  • Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): a PDF document summarizing the Finalists, with hyperlinks to each work’s video trailer, official website, IMdb entry, and Wikipedia entry.
  • Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): a PDF document summarizing the Finalists, with hyperlinks to each work’s video trailer, official website, IMdb entry, and Wikipedia entry. In the case of the Clipping musical work, links are included to listen for free on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp.
  • Editor – Short Form: submissions from 6 editors
  • Editor – Long Form: submissions from 6 editors
  • Professional Artist: image galleries for 6 artists, with citations of where and when each work was published, and a PDF document with links to all the artists’ websites
  • Semiprozine:  submissions from 6 semiprozines
  • Fanzine: submissions from 6 fanzines
  • Fancast: PDF submissions for 6 fancasts with episode summaries and links to online podcasts
  • Fan Writer: submissions from 5 fan writers and 1 PDF document with a link to an online submission from a 6th fan writer
  • Fan Artist: image galleries for 6 artists, and a PDF document with links to all the artists’ websites
  • Series: 2 full series, 1 novel for each of 2 series, 1 excerpt for each of 2 series, and a PDF document for each series which lists all the works in the series and includes some hyperlinks to bonus related online content.
  • John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: 3 novels, 2 novellas, and 9 short stories for 6 authors

Readers who do not have membership in Worldcon 75 can still access a great deal of Finalist material at no cost; see this page for links: Where To Find The 2017 Hugo Finalists For Free Online.

Those wishing to purchase membership to Worldcon 75 may still do so. Supporting membership is €35 / $40; Adult Attending membership is €195 / $215; and First-Time Adult Attending membership is €95 / $110. All three of these membership levels are eligible to receive the Hugo Voter’s Packet. Worldcon 75 Membership Page.