(1) WHAT DID HE SAY? Scott Edelman hopes you will eavesdrop on his breakfast with the award-winning Chen Qiufan in Episode 49 of Eating the Fantastic.
Chen Qiufan has published more thirty stories in venues such as Science Fiction World, Esquire, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Interzone, and F&SF. His 2013 debut novel, The Waste Tide, was praised by Liu Cixin as “the pinnacle of near-future SF writing.” He’s the most widely translated young writer of science fiction in China. He has won Taiwan’s Dragon Fantasy Award, China’s Galaxy and Nebula Awards, and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award with Ken Liu.
We discussed why his favorite character from all of science fiction is Mr. Spock, what kept him going during the seven years between the sales of his first and second stories, the reasons H. G. Wells is a genius, why he believes science fiction is the greatest realism, the differences in reading protocols between Chinese and non-Chinese readers, why he hopes his own upcoming science fiction movie will defy his prediction there’ll be many bad SF movies to come in Chinese cinema, and more.
(2) SPACE AGING. Every TV viewer has heard about the problems of overweight – it turns out being weightless isn’t good for your health, either. The Brisbane Times has the story: “Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of a year in space”.
I make it to my bedroom without incident and close the door behind me. Every part of my body hurts. All my joints and all of my muscles are protesting the crushing pressure of gravity. I’m also nauseated, though I haven’t thrown up. I strip off my clothes and get into bed, relishing the feeling of sheets, the light pressure of the blanket over me, the fluff of the pillow under my head.
All these are things I’ve missed dearly for the past year. I can hear the happy chatter of my family behind the door, voices I haven’t heard for a long time without the distortion of phones bouncing signals off satellites. I drift off to sleep to the comforting sound of their talking and laughing.
A crack of light wakes me: Is it morning? No, it’s just Amiko coming to bed. I’ve only been asleep for a couple of hours but I feel delirious. It’s a struggle to come to consciousness enough to move, to tell her how awful I feel. I’m seriously nauseated now, feverish, and my pain has gotten worse. This isn’t like how I felt after my last mission. This is much, much worse.
Kelly’s article ends with a comment about prospects for an interplanetary mission.
…I also know that if we want to go to Mars, it will be very, very difficult, it will cost a great deal of money and it may likely cost human lives. But I know now that if we decide to do it, we can.
(3) INDIES ADMITTED. SFWA President Cat Rambo, in “SFWA and Independent Writers, Part Three: Launches and Lurches”, continues her four-part series about the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s decision to admit independently published writers.
Some statistics for the number-minded:
- We admitted twelve new members in that first wave, and there’s been a steady influx since. At the same time, existing members that had independent published experience felt more empowered to step forward and share their knowledge.
- According to the recent membership survey, 14.10% of the current membership identifies as indie, with another 37.57% considering themselves hybrid.
- Only a small percentage (less than 5%) derives more than 50% of their income from crowdfunding.
All My Expectations of Indie SFWA Members Confirmed As I and others had argued repeatedly, the change did not result in an influx of unqualified, affluent hobbyists trying to buy their way into SFWA, and we could, finally, put that particular straw man to rest and play taps while other straw folk were being assembled in the background.
As you can see by the numbers, it wasn’t a massive surge, but a solid number. For some people it was part of a lifelong dream. For others, it was a cautious exploration of just what SFWA had to offer them. More than anything else, these were pragmatic, working writers. In a thread on the discussion boards, people began to share their sales number in a revelatory and instructive way that emphasized what a smart move for SFWA this had been. I still insist one of the smartest moves that happened during my time with the board.
The balance of the post discusses specific ways that indie members benefit from SFWA membership. It ends with hints about a forthcoming awards-oriented project….
Next time, in Part Four (the final one) — what does the future hold in store? Includes talking about data from the recent SFWA member survey as well as revelation of at least one cool project designed to help people reading novels for all yearly awards, including the Nebulas, Hugos, Dragon, World Fantasy, among others. *cue mysterious music and exit*
(4) LIBRARIES ENJOY COPYRIGHT EXCEPTION. The Internet Archive reports “Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated!”
The Internet Archive is now leveraging a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold….
If the Founding Fathers had their way, almost all works from the 20th century would be public domain by now (14-year copyright term, renewable once if you took extra actions).
Some corporations saw adding works to the public domain to be a problem, and when Sonny Bono got elected to the House of Representatives, representing part of Los Angeles, he helped push through a law extending copyright’s duration another 20 years to keep things locked-up back to 1923. This has been called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act due to one of the motivators behind the law, but it was also a result of Europe extending copyright terms an additional twenty years first. If not for this law, works from 1923 and beyond would have been in the public domain decades ago….
But there is an exemption from this extension of copyright, but only for libraries and only for works that are not actively for sale — we can scan them and make them available. Professor Townsend Gard had two legal interns work with the Internet Archive last summer to find how we can automate finding appropriate scanned books that could be liberated, and hand-vetted the first books for the collection. Professor Townsend Gard has just released an in-depth paper giving libraries guidance as to how to implement Section 108(h) based on her work with the Archive and other libraries. Together, we have called them “Last Twenty” Collections, as libraries and archives can copy and distribute to the general public qualified works in the last twenty years of their copyright….
(5) FROM PAGE TO SCREEN. Paste Magazine listed “The 25 Best Comic Book TV Shows of All Time (Live-Action)” – how do their picks line up with yours?
The trend shows no signs of slowing—we count at least 20 shows from DC and Marvel alone, including such ambitious projects as a Damon Lindelof-helmed Watchmen on HBO, the long-awaited Y: The Last Man series on FX, The Punisher spinoff on Netflix and Hulu’s Runaways, whose pilot screening hooked me enough to at least keep watching. This list may look a lot different in a few years.
Number six is the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series of the Sixties.
(6) LACE OBIT. The SFWA Blog reports the organization’s former secretary (2002-2003) ElizaBeth A. Gilligan (Lace) died October 9 after a battle with cancer.
Gilligan published her first short story, Evolution,” in 1990 and began writing as a columnist for Midnight Zoo in 1991.
Subsequent short stories appeared in Witch Fantastic, Sword and Sorceress, Black Gate, and other anthologies. Her story “Iron Joan” made the Nebula preliminary ballot in 2002. Gilligan’s Silken Magic trilogy was published by DAW Books, with the first volume, Magic’s Silken Snare, appearing in 2003 and the second volume The Silken Shroud showing up the next year.
The final volume, Sovereign Silk, was delayed until earlier this year due to chronic illness. She edited the anthology Alterna-Teas in 2016….
SFWA President Cat Rambo said, “I had the pleasure with working with Beth as a volunteer the past couple of years and got a chance to interact with her in person at the Spokane Worldcon. This year has had a lot of losses; this one hits particularly hard.”
Locus Online says she is survived by her husband Douglas (married 1982), their two children, and two grandchildren.
Tom Whitmore, one of the fans who forwarded the story, added “She was a remarkably nice person, and a really good panelist at the cons I saw her at.”
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- October 11, 1984 — Space Shuttle astronaut, Kathy Sullivan, became the first American woman to walk in space.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
John King Tarpinian selected this one for Filers who are not fans of Twilight – The Argyle Sweater.
(9) ICONOCLASTIC INFUNDIBULUM. It’s said: “You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friends’ noses.” John Scalzi disagrees —
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 11, 2017
(10) A COMING ATTRACTION. Disney theme parks will be offering a pioneer VR adventure, Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire – ILMxLAB and The VOID – Immersive Entertainment Experience
A galaxy far, far away needs your help. In teams of four, be transported with family and friends in a brand new hyper-reality experience from Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The VOID. Under the orders of the budding rebellion, your team will travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Alongside the pragmatic droid K-2S0, your team must navigate through an enemy facility walking into danger at every turn. Disguised as stormtroopers, grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to fulfill your team’s orders. Pushing the boundaries of location-based virtual reality, The VOID and ILMxLAB bring the Star Wars universe to life through a multi-sensory, untethered story. See Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire only on location at Disney Springs in Orlando, FL, and Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA – coming this winter.
(11) OPEN AND CLOSED. David Steffen’s SFWA Market Report for October tells the changing status of many sff magazines and publishing projects.
(12) WHAT’S THE MATTER? New Scientist says “Half the universe’s missing matter has just been finally found”.
The missing links between galaxies have finally been found. This is the first detection of the roughly half of the normal matter in our universe – protons, neutrons and electrons – unaccounted for by previous observations of stars, galaxies and other bright objects in space.
You have probably heard about the hunt for dark matter, a mysterious substance thought to permeate the universe, the effects of which we can see through its gravitational pull. But our models of the universe also say there should be about twice as much ordinary matter out there, compared with what we have observed so far.
Two separate teams found the missing matter – made of particles called baryons rather than dark matter – linking galaxies together through filaments of hot, diffuse gas.
(13) MONEY ROLLS IN FOR ALTHERO. “AltHero raises $100k to fight social justice in comics,” says the subject line of an emailed press release, which sounds about right.
Vox Day’s crowdsourced appeal on the Freestartr platform to fund his new comics line has raised $102,156.00 from 1,133 backers, more than 4 times its original $25,000 goal. The appeal runs for another 18 days.
After reaching its initial funding goal in only four hours, a new right-wing comic series, Alt*Hero, exceeded the rare $100,000 mark in just 12 days, with more than 1,000 backers signing on to help the alternative comic wage cultural war on the social justice-converged comic duopoly of Marvel and DC Comics. It is being written by prolific Marvel and DC Comics veteran writer Chuck Dixon and six-time Hugo Award Finalist Vox Day.
The press release makes a point of quoting derogatory remarks about the appeal to motivate donations from culture warriors on the right.
…The reaction to the announcement of Alt*Hero was decidedly mixed. While support has been strong on the right side of the ideological spectrum, left-wing comics fans denounced the new comic on Twitter and other social media platforms. “As awful as you’d expect,” reported LGBTQ Nation. “Vox Day is literally to the right of Genghis Khan, with two feet planted firmly in the Reichstag… the type of punk-ass feeb whose jaw Batman was born to break,” declared Jason Yungbluth, a cartoonist for MAD Magazine.
(14) MEANWHILE, BACK IN SJW LAND. No money in it, but some good laughs for those of you who enjoy stories of mistaken SJW credential identity.
a mate spent $130 at vet on his cat then had to lock it in his bedroom for 5 days recovery, and JUST NOW HIS ACTUAL CAT WALKED IN ? pic.twitter.com/TyeiFfARJK
— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) October 10, 2017
(15) MILEHICON. The 49th annual MileHiCon takes place at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center from October 27-29. More than 100 science fiction/fantasy/horror authors, artists and other speakers will participate. MileHiCon’s guests of honor include authors Eric Flint, Jane Lindskold, and artist Carrie Ann Baade. Local author Jason Heller will preside as toastmaster.
- The largest SF/fantasy art show and auction in Colorado
- Round-the-clock gaming
- Vendors room full of science fiction, fantasy and horror-related items
- CosPlay (costume) contest
- Critter Crunch (robotic sumo wrestling)
- Mass author autograph session with over 60 authors participating (no extra fees)
- Literacy Auction with hundreds of donated items. All proceeds donated to a Denver based charity literacy program.
- During the weekend over 200 different programs will be offered on subjects ranging from Writing * Publishing * Artist demonstrations * Hands-on Workshops * Science presentations * Autograph sessions * Kids’ programming * Costuming * Gaming * and much more!
A three-day membership will be $48 at the door. Full weekend memberships can also be purchased in advance at https://milehicon49.planningpod.com/.
(16) TAG TEAM ROBOTS. Pacific Rim Uprising trailer. In theaters March 23.
(17) MOUNT TBR CALLING. Broaden your horizons: “The great writers forgotten by history” at the BBC is a discussion of The Book of Forgotten Authors, by sometime-genre author Christopher Fowler.
What do Agatha Christie’s favourite mystery novelist, the winner of the 1973 Booker Prize, and a writer who reputedly bashed out 100 million words, creating an archetypal schoolboy antihero along the way, have in common?
The answer will cause even the most successful author’s ego to wilt a little. Despite enjoying ample sales and plentiful esteem in their lifetimes, the names of this formerly starry trio – Elizabeth Daly, JG Farrell, and Billy-Bunter-creator Charles Hamilton (pen name Frank Richards) – are today largely unknown, their works under-read or out of print altogether. Now, they’re among the figures filling a thought-provoking new guide, The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler.
(18) BEFORE ALAN TURING. The BBC celebrated Ada Lovelace Day (October 10) with a look at “The female code-breakers who were left out of history books”.
According to some of the researchers and writers who have revealed these stories, along with setting the record straight, there is an opportunity to encourage the technically gifted women of today.
Fagone points to the controversial discussions of whether women can equal men in certain fields, such as mathematics or computer programming.
“There are all these debates – is there a biological difference?” he says.
“We don’t need to have that debate because we have the history – when you go to the history, women have been there, they’ve been doing this work all along.”
(19) TEST YOUR BUDS. Identify the flavor and you have a chance to win big money.
OREO has launched a brand new cookie with an exciting twist that will put its fans taste buds to the ultimate test.
Cookie lovers across the U.S. who correctly guess the flavor of the new Mystery OREO Cookies can enter for a chance to win $50,000.
John King Tarpinian’s guess is, “Broccoli!”
(20) ELECTRIC DREAMS TRAILER. Amazon Video is bringing out a 10-episode series, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams.
[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman, Dave Doering, Carl Slaughter, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Alan Baumler, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Rambo, Tom Whitmore, Joel Zakem, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]