Pixel Scroll 10/27/17 Dark Scroll Crashes, Pouring Pixels Into Ashes

(1) ASSUAGING YOUR TBR GUILT. Fantasy-Faction’s Nicola Alter playfully advises about “Coping with Reading Guilt in 7 Easy Steps”.

Signs you might suffer from Reading Guilt of one form or another can include:

1. The pile of unread books on your shelf, be it virtual or real, makes you feel anxious every time you look at it.
2. You occasionally dust off that book your friend loaned you and pretend you are about to read it, knowing in your heart you are just preparing it to collect more nightstand dust.
3. The sight of a bookstore evokes complex feelings of longing and guilt.
4. The book-devouring speed of a well-read friend makes you irrationally envious.
5. The question, “have you read…” elicits an instinctual dread, because whatever it is, you’ve usually never read it.
6. When someone recommends a book to you, you smile and make enthusiastic noises to cover the sinking feeling in your stomach, because it’s just another to add to the endless list and you’ll probably never get around to reading it anyway.
7. You are so behind on that reading goal you set that it just serves to depress rather than motivate you.
8. You have a vague but pervasive feeling that you haven’t read enough of the “important” books.
9. The hunt for bookmarks depresses you, because you realise they are all wedged in half-finished books and you can’t bring yourself to remove them.
10. You participate in online “How many of these books have you read?” quizzes, even though you know the results will not cheer you up.

Fortunately, Reading Guilt is a very treatable disorder, and if you are exhibiting these symptoms, you are not alone. Here are seven easy steps to help you cope with Reading Guilt, and prevent it from getting in the way of your bookly enjoyment….

(2) A CHEESY EVENT. The Harry Potter Festival that promised to “bring the magic” to Jefferson, WI last weekend has been roundly criticized as a dud: “Angry fans say organizers of Harry Potter Festival in Jefferson were unprepared”.

Some Harry Potter fans are cursing their decision to attend last weekend’s Harry Potter Festival USA in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

Fans says organizers promised an immersive experience but were instead unprepared for the crowds. City officials provided an estimate that around 35,000 attended the event on Saturday.

Here are some of the main criticisms circulating on the festival’s Facebook page: 1) Visitors say hidden costs were added on top of the price of admission 2) the effort put into decorations were at the level of a high school homecoming and 3) poor transportation planning caused long lines for shuttles.

…For hours people waited to get to certain attractions that have also been highly criticized online.

One person commented on the festival’s Facebook page “‘Hagrid’ ate breakfast without his wig and played on his phone the whole time and did not get up once for pictures. Very disappointing, especially for $20 per person!”

Another person wrote “Went to the ‘prison’ – where nothing was happening?! Empty tennis court? So extremely disappointed.”

Others say they wouldn’t make the drive to the again and regret doing it the first time.

“We traveled an hour and a half,” Maria Remillard of Elk Grove Village, Illinois said.

“And once we got there we were basically stuck there. The bus lines were hours long. I ended up walking back to the fairgrounds to pick up our car so I could go back and pick up my parents, my sister, and my daughter,” Remillard said.

“‘The Owlry’ was a small VFW hall with one stuffed animal and one girl signing letters for an extra fee,” Remillard said.

(3) SUBURBAN BLIGHT.  Adweek highlights another scary ad: “Xfinity Adds Its Own Creepy 5-Minute Film to 2017’s Fright Fest of Longer Halloween Ads”.  See the video at the link.

The Comcast cable brand just unveiled its own five-minute horror short, titled “The Neighborhood,” developed by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and written and directed by Dante Ariola of production company MJZ.

The tale concerns a spooky old mask, made out of a burlap sack, that seems to be making the rounds in one suburban neighborhood on Halloween. But those gifted with it quickly come to regret their mysterious new present.

(4) PULP ART BOOK. IDW Publishing has released “The Art of the Pulps: An Illustrated History” co-edited by Doug Ellis, Ed Hulse, and Robert Weinberg. Doug Ellis gives the background:

“The Art of the Pulps”, co-edited by myself, Ed Hulse and Robert Weinberg, came out earlier this week, on October 24 from IDW. For me, it was a long wait, but I think the final book was well worth it. Bob and I actually started preliminary work on the book back in January 2016, so it’s been nearly a two year project for me. Bob unfortunately passed away in late September 2016, just as we were about to start working on it in earnest, but fortunately Ed Hulse was willing to step in and help see the book through to its completion. I think Bob would have been very pleased with how it came out.

The book focuses on the colorful cover art of the pulps, along with a sampling of some black and white interior pulp art, containing roughly 460 images. But in addition to the images, there’s well over 50,000 words of text, written by some of the top experts in the pulp field. Besides contributions from the co-editors, we were fortunate enough to enlist the writing talents of (in alphabetical order): Mike Ashley (science fiction), Will Murray (hero), Michelle Nolan (sports), Laurie Powers (love), Tom Roberts (air and war), David Saunders (the great pulp artists), F. Paul Wilson (foreword) and John Wooley (detective). We think you’ll agree, if you read the book, that each did a bang-up job!

(5) DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS. Stevens Point author Patrick Rothfuss’ new show on Travel Channel, Myth or Monster, debuts with three showings this weekend on Travel Channel. Myth or Monster will first air 9 p.m. on Friday.

Rothfuss “dives into the past and consults with present-day eyewitnesses to expose the truth behind stories long believed to be sheer fantasy.”

The first episode is titled “Mothman:

Armed with new evidence of a modern-day sighting, acclaimed fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss investigates the local legend of an 8-foot-tall man-bird hybrid that has haunted a small West Virginia town for over 50 years.

(6) THE DICKENS YOU SAY. Alonso Duralde of The Wrap was disappointed: “‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ Review: Scrooge’s Origin Story Ends Up a Bit of a Humbug”

The history of Christmas is a fascinating one, from the biblical account of Jesus’ birth, to the church’s moving of his birthdate so as to capitalize on the popularity of pagan holidays like Saturnalia and Yule, to the Puritans banning it as a feast of licentiousness, to the abundant, familial celebration we know today. Standiford touches upon all of this, and on how the immense popularity of “A Christmas Carol” changed the culture around the holiday, but screenwriter Susan Coyne (“Anne of Green Gables”) and director Bharat Nalluri (“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”) gloss right over it in a way that will leave most viewers befuddled by the film’s title.

While Dickens (played here by Dan Stevens) was a well-established writer by 1843, the author was in something of a slump before he decided to take a crack at writing a Christmas story. “Barnaby Rudge” and “Martin Chuzzlewit” were slow sellers, and his essays about his trip to America hadn’t flown off the shelves either; meanwhile, he and his family were grandly restoring a new house, and his constantly-in-debt father John (Jonathan Pryce) was one of many people in Dickens’ orbit with hands perpetually out.

(7) KING TUT. Someone apparently tutted at John Scalzi about his weekly photos of incoming ARCs and review copies.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born October 27, 1948 – Bernie Wrightson
  • Born October 27, 1953 – Robert Picardo, who played the holographic doctor in ST-Voyager and is on the board of directors of the Planetary Society.

(9) LOOK OUT BELOW. Newsweek brings out Michael Rampino  to answer the question: “Did Dark Matter Kill the Dinosaurs? How Mass Extinctions Are Linked With Universe’s Mystery Ingredient”.

… Over the last three decades, some scientists have found a good correlation of mass extinctions with impacts and massive volcanism. Curiously they have also turned up evidence that these events occur in a cycle of about 26 to 30 million years. This attracted the interest of astrophysicists, and several astronomical theories were proposed in which cosmic cycles affected Earth and life on the planet.

My own hypothesis linked the Earthly events to the motion of the solar system as it moves through the galaxy.  Now, it seems that these geologic cycles may be a result of the interactions of our planet with mysterious dark matter.

How does dark matter affect our planet? Most dark matter can be found as huge haloes surrounding the disc-shaped spiral galaxies, like our own Milky Way. But in 2015 physicist Lisa Randall at Harvard, proposed that significant dark matter is concentrated along the central mid-plane of the galactic disk.

During the cyclic movement of the sun and planets through the galaxy, we pass through the mid-place about once every 30 million years. At these times, the dark matter concentrated there tugs on the myriad Oort cloud comments found at the edge of the solar system. This gravitational perturbation causes some of the loosely bound comets to fall into the zone of the inner planets, where some would collide with Earth, producing a roughly 30 million year cycle of impacts and associated mass extinctions. As a result, dark matter may have killed the dinosaurs.

(10) TREMONTAINE. At Fantasy Literature, Marion Deeds reviews the book version of Tremontaine Season One by Ellen Kushner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Patty Bryant, Racheline Maltese and Paul Witcover — “Tremontaine Season One: Magic can’t always be re-created”.

The most interesting secondary character is Micah, a young county girl in the city, who is a math genius. Disguised as a boy, Micah is taken up by the university students because she has a gift for winning card games, and because she is a genius. Micah is a problematic character for some of the writers. She is neuro-atypical. In some of these novellas, Micah convinces me that she is somewhere on the autism spectrum. In the hands of others she reads more like an innocent, much younger girl (eleven or twelve). This wobbliness broke my suspension of disbelief. Beyond the problem of Micah’s characterization, tone in general is a problem, changing from episode to episode, and sometimes clashing with the previous chapter, as it does most noticeably in Episode Seven, “The Swan Ball.”

(11) THEY LOST HIM AT HELLO. Superversive SF’s Declan Finn says he was so offended by Star Trek: Discovery that he had already turned it off before they reached the part that was designed to offend him: “The STD That Will Never Go Viral”.

I gave up at the 40 minute mark. So, all of this is this is, of course, before I got to the stuff that was designed to offend me. I’m told there are gay, bisexual and other sexes all over the place, that the Klingons were supposed to be Trump supporters, that they use cussing but can’t say “God” on the show.  Heck, I didn’t even get far enough into the episode to see “Michael” assault her captain, take over the ship in a mutiny specifically so she could commit an act of war on the Klingons… which happened.

But they never got a chance to appeal to my politics. They never got a chance to offend me. They never got a chance to make me angry. Because they never got me to care. Because this isn’t Star Trek. This is just a bad parody.

This is one STD that will never go viral.

(12) THE NOT RIGHT. Prager University produced a video, “What is the Alt-Right?” which briefly mentions Vox Day.

What is the alt-right? What is its worldview? How big is it? Michael Knowles, bestselling author and host of The Michael Knowles Show, took a deep dive into alt-right culture. Here’s what he learned.

When a reader of Vox Popoli brought it to Day’s attention he teed off on the site’s namesake.

I would have been shocked if Dennis Prager had anything positive to say about me. He’s a mediocre thinker and a mediocre writer whose columns on WND were lightweight, little trafficked, and almost entirely forgettable.

(13) ARISTOTLE! Speaking of Aristotle….Camestros Felapton has now reached Chapter 6 in his dissection of Vox Day’s SJWs Always Double Down: Anticipating the Thought Police.

“It is one of more than a dozen such tactics that I have observed SJWs utilizing over the past few year, and what is fascinating is how many of these tactics were first observed more than 2,400 years ago by one of Man’s greatest thinkers, Aristotle.”

Having said that, we don’t get an illustration of social media bait and report re-imagined for ancient Athens (which might have been interesting). I’d imagine the advice would be simple from Aristotle – if somebody is trying to bait you then don’t let them wind you up. There is an excellent example from Jesus in the New Testament dodging a “bait and report” when he is quizzed about paying taxes. Mind you I don’t think Vox reads the New Testament much, particularly not a section where his God implies that you should pay your taxes.

Anyway, put my side trip to Jesus aside, Vox is back with our friend Aristotle. This time rather than Aristotle’s Rhetoric, Vox wants us to look at The Organon and in particular the section called On Sophistical Refutations. “Sophistical” here referring to sophists – the quasi-professional arguers of stuff and/or Plato’s contemporary philosophers not in tune with the Socratic wing of thinking.

Aristotle lists 13 fallacies and Vox goes through them all to some extent. I’m going to look at them from a different direction…

(14) LET THERE BE LIGHTS. Tesla in real-world success: “Turns Power Back On At Children’s Hospital In Puerto Rico”.

Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital), in what company founder Elon Musk calls “the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico.”

The project came about after Puerto Rico was hit by two devastating and powerful hurricanes in September, and Musk reached out about Tesla helping.

Musk’s company announced its success in getting the hospital’s power working again less than three weeks after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, “Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities.”

Tesla’s image of the project’s solar array, in a parking lot next to the hospital, has been liked more than 84,000 times since it was posted to Instagram Tuesday.

(15) SOFTCOVER SCARES. Rise of a genre? “These ‘Paperbacks From Hell’ Reflect The Real-Life Angst Of The 1970s”. NPR did an interview with Grady Hendrix who argues that “horror” was not a mainstream term before _Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, et al.

On the appeal of horror paperbacks in the ’70s and ’80s

In the early ’70s, I think part of the appeal of these books is [that] they were written fast and without a lot of pretensions, and so in doing that, these authors were kind of capturing the time in which they were writing. And so you had in the early ’70s, late ’60s, all this fascination with the occult. Astrology was big, Time magazine had two covers that were like, “The New Age occult craze in America” and also there was a fear of our children — “What is this rock music and this LSD and this ‘Summer of Love’? Surely there must be a dark side there.”

And so these books really reflected a lot of where we were at the times and answered a lot of questions, and the answer to most of the questions was, “Yes, be very, very afraid of everything.” Jellyfish, mattresses, curtains, dogs, moths, caterpillars, children, dolls, clowns, puppets. But at least they were answers.

(16) NO RENDEZVOUS WITH THIS RAMA. Passing through: “Scientists Spot First Alien Space Rock In Our Solar System”.

It’s long been assumed that an interstellar object like this one should be out there, because giant planets in forming solar systems are thought to toss out bits of space crud that haven’t yet glommed into anything. But this is the first time scientists have actually found one.

The mysterious object is small — less than a quarter mile in diameter — and seems to have come from the general direction of the constellation Lyra, moving through interstellar space at 15.8 miles per second, or 56,880 miles per hour.

“The orbit is very convincing. It is going so fast that it clearly came from outside the solar system,” says Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s whipping around the Sun, it has already gone around the Sun, and it has actually gone past the Earth on its way out.”

(17) INSECURITY. The internet doesn’t know you’re a dog – or an AI: “AI Model Fundamentally Cracks CAPTCHAs, Scientists Say”.

A new model, described in research published today in Science, fundamentally breaks the CAPTCHA’s defenses by parsing the text more effectively than previous models with less training, George says.

He says that previous models trying to get machines to learn like humans have largely relied on a prevailing AI technique called deep learning.

“Deep learning is a technique where you have layers of neurons and you train those neurons to respond in a way that you decide,” he says. For example, you could train a machine to recognize the letters A and B by showing it hundreds of thousands of example images of each. Even then, it would have difficulty recognizing an A overlapping with a B unless it had been explicitly trained with that image.

(18) RUNAWAYS. Marvel’s Runaways will be on Hulu starting November 21.

(19) YOU HAD ONE JOB. Alien Invasion S.U.M. 1 official trailer.

[Thanks to JJ, Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Pixel Scroll 5/6/17 And He Called For His Pipe, And He Called For His Scroll, And He Called For His Pixels, Three.

(1) DUALING. Sherwood Smith discusses “Tremontaine: When Collaboration Really Works” at Book View Café.

Nowadays, collaborations are happening in all kinds of forms, in print form in our genre not just the traditional pair of co-authors: there was a rise of senior writer-and-junior writer combos, and the continued series.

Then there are the collaborations that share a lot in common with film development, in which writers gather (in film it’s the writers’ room) and hammer out a story between them all.

Then they either go off separately and write portions, or they pass material back and forth, each adding or subtracting or putting their own spin on the emerging narrative.

The most successful of these that has come to my attention lately is Tremontaine, which initially came out in episodes from Serial Box.

Serial Box in itself is interesting: they are using a TV model for readers. The episodes come out weekly, and I believe most if not all are developed by teams. The episodes individually are cheap—less than you’d spend on a Starbucks coffee….

(2) UP ABOVE THE BEAR SO HIGH. Jeff VanderMeer may inspire a new subgenre of sff with the great reception being given to his new novel Borne:

Wow. In Canada, the #1 hardcover bestseller in Calgary for the week is Borne. Thanks, Calgary. You must really love giant psychotic flying bears. (Borne was #5 in Canada overall, across all 260 indie bookstores that report in.)

(3) STAR TREKKIN’. Visit the edge of space with Captain Kirk. Space.com tells how — “‘Star Trek’ Icon William Shatner to Take Zero-G Flight in August”.

This August, William Shatner will get closer to the final frontier than he ever did in his “Star Trek” days.

The 86-year-old actor, who famously portrayed Captain James T. Kirk in the original “Star Trek” TV series and a number of movies, has signed up for an Aug. 4 flight with the Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero-G). The Virginia-based company sells rides on its modified Boeing 727 aircraft G-Force One, which flies in a series of parabolic arcs to give passengers brief tastes of weightlessness.

“Going weightless will turn a dream into reality,” Shatner said in a statement. “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to actually explore the final frontier, and now I have the opportunity to experience zero gravity firsthand. It will be an incredible adventure.”

You have a chance to share this adventure with Shatner, if you wish: Zero-G is selling a limited number of tickets aboard the actor’s flight for $9,950 apiece, plus 5 percent tax. (For perspective: a seat aboard a normal Zero-G flight runs $4,950, plus 5 percent tax.) Go to Zero-G’s website if you’re interested.

(4) TOURING CHINA. China Miéville is coming to the U.S. later this month on a book tour promoting October: The Story of the Russian Revolution, which is non-fiction.

(5) COMING ATTRACTION. Teaser poster for the FORUM FANTÁSTICO convention taking place in Lisbon, Portugal this September.

(6) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

In The Big Bang Theory series Wil Wheaton is a recurring character. In one episode, Sheldon goes to Wil’s house to confront him. The house number is 1701…a homage to the USS Enterprise.

John King Tarpinian adds, “Something even more trivial got me thinking: ‘A homage or an homage?’

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Free Comic Book Day

History of Free Comic Book Day Free Comic Book day was established by Joe Field in 2001. While writing for a magazine of the comic industry, he noted that there had been a resurgence in purchases in the wake of the recent flow of comic book franchise movies. Society and finances were both looking favorably on this unending wealth of stories, and so it was that he suggested the institution of a Free Comic Book Day to spread the fandom as wide as possible.

(8) FUR AND FEATHERS. Special effects aficionados will love the preview reel for the upcoming SIGGRAPH conference.

SIGGRAPH 2017 brings together thousands of computer graphics professionals, 30 July – 3 August 2017 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

 

(9) A FEATURE NOT A BUG. Dragonfly cyborgs will fight terrorism reports Fox News — “How insect cyborgs could battle terrorism”.

The US military, like others around the world, has long pursued tiny flying robots to deploy for surveillance. Armed with tech like cameras and sensors, these flying robots could gather data that larger technology or humans could not.

To be useful in realistic conditions, the drones would need to be able to fly for long periods of time and be able to navigate around obstacles. They also need to be able to carry the weight of the data gathering systems.

(10) THE WORLD ON A STRING. If you like expensive toys, here’s a chance to pay a lot for “Yomega – Star Wars – Darth Vader – The Glide Yo-Yo” – tagged at $118.25.

  • Now available for a limited time, Yomega has produced its professional level yo yo, The Glide, in a collectible Star Wars Series with laser etching of Darth Vader and both Rebel and Imperial symbols.
  • The Glide has been engineered to the highest competition level standards. Machined from airplane grade aluminum, with a silicone pad return system and the world famous Dif-e-Yo KonKave bearing, this is a yo-yo meant for the most discerning player.
  • If you want the “Force to be With You” this is a must have piece for your collection.

Or for the same price you can rock the rebel logo — “Yomega – Star Wars -Rebel Symbol – Glide Yo-Yo”.

(11) GETTING PAID. Someone who should be able to buy as many yo-yos as he wants is Alan Dean Foster – Inverse recalls how “How George Lucas Made a Young, Anonymous Author Rich”. (And as Foster explains in the story, it’s something Lucas didn’t have to do.)

Alan Dean Foster, the author of the very first Star Wars book, remembers George Lucas doing him a huge solid, even when the fledgling director wasn’t rich.

The original Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977, and a full six months before that, on November 12, 1976, its novelization hit bookstore shelves. Though the author of the book — Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker — is listed under George Lucas’s byline, the novelization was in fact ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster.

(12) THIS BOX OFFICE WEEKEND IN HISTORY

Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire in the title role, the eagerly awaited comic book adaptation Spider-Man was released on Friday, May 3, 2002, and quickly became the fastest movie ever to earn more than $100 million at the box office, raking in a staggering $114.8 million by Sunday, May 5.

(13) BRADBURYVERSARY. Seventy years ago this week, recalls Phil Nichols, Ray Bradbury’s first book was published.

DARK CARNIVAL, a hardcover from Arkham House, collected Ray’s finest dark fantasy stories, most of them having previously been published in WEIRD TALES magazine.

Some of the classic story titles you may recognize: The Lake, The Small Assassin, The Jar, The Homecoming, The Crowd, The Scythe, There Was An Old Woman, Uncle Einar. Some of his best-ever fiction; and some of the best fantasy fiction of the twentieth-century.

Ray revised some of the stories between their WEIRD TALES appearances and their first book appearance. Then, with the passing years, he came to have second thoughts about some of the stories, and so he re-wrote them again when they were re-packaged for a new book, THE OCTOBER COUNTRY. The OCTOBER COUNTRY remains in print to this day.

Because of THE OCTOBER COUNTRY, Ray allowed DARK CARNIVAL to retire, and only once permitted a re-printing. That was for a special limited edition from Gauntlet Press. Both the original book and the Gauntlet edition are out of print today….

(14) BRICK AND MORTAR. Atlas Obscura takes you inside “Internet Archive Headquarters” in San Francisco.

With the stated mission of providing “universal access to all knowledge,” the Internet Archive is one of history’s most ambitious cataloging projects. So far millions of books, movies, television, music, software, and video games have been collected and digitized by the project, and that’s not counting the billions of websites they’ve been archiving over the past two decades with the Wayback Machine.

Fitting of such an ambitious project, the archive’s brick-and-mortar headquarters are also quite grand. The old Christian Scientist church in San Francisco’s Richmond district was chosen largely because the church’s front resembled the Internet Archive’s logo: the Library of Alexandria’s Greek columns. Inside the beautiful building you’ll find dozens of employees and volunteers digitizing everything from old home movies, to old LPs, to 8-bit video games….

(15) THUMBS DOWN ON DARK TOWER TRAILER. According to Forbes, “‘The Dark Tower’ Should Be A Surrealist Western, Not A Superhero Blockbuster”.

When I pictured The Dark Tower movie, I thought about the structure and pacing of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly mixed with the tone of The Road with the aesthetics of The Cell. If that sounds wacky, good, because The Dark Tower is wacky as hell. It’s a western with high fantasy elements thrown in, mixed with every book Stephen King has ever written, and actually includes Stephen King as a character himself in one of the most surreal storylines in literary history.

But what I’m seeing from this trailer weirds me out in a bad way….

(16) IN LIVING BLACK & WHITE. Terror Time forewarns — “LOGAN – B&W Version of Film Hitting Theaters In May”.

Fans of Wolverine will be getting an extra treat very soon. A Black & White version of the film ‘Logan’ will be hitting theaters May 19th and it will also be included on the DVD when that hits the shelves. Only down side of this awesomeness is that it will only be released in U.S. theaters.

This all started when the film was first released and a fan tweeted at the director James Mangold asking if a B&W version could be done like Mad Max. The director replied in kind and here we are.

(17) NEIL CLARKE, MOVIE STAR? I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. Watch the Absolutely Anything trailer.

Neil Clarke, a disillusioned school teacher, suddenly finds he has the ability to do anything he wishes, a challenge bestowed upon him by power-crazed aliens. Unbeknownst to Neil, how he employs his newfound powers will dictate the fate of mankind — one wrong move and the aliens will destroy Earth. CAST: Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Rob Riggle, Robin Williams, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Cat Eldridge, Michael J. Walsh, Carl Slaughter, and JohnFromGR for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg Hullender.]

Hot Serial:  NYRSF Readings Series Presents an Evening with Serial Box Authors

L to R: Joel Derfner, Michael Swanwick, Max Gladstone, Matthew Cody, Lindsay Smith, Ellen Kushner, Amy Goldschlager.

By Mark L. Blackman: On the spring evening of Tuesday, May 2, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series, in a special event, showcased Serial Box, a publisher of serialized fiction in text and audio delivered in weekly episodes; it currently runs five ongoing series. In this innovative – or perhaps retrograde – publishing platform, as with television, the serials are collaboratively written by author teams. Representing four of the serials, and reading from their projects, were authors Michael Swanwick, Max Gladstone, Lindsay Smith, Matthew Cody, and Joel Derfner. (Ellen Kushner participated in the events, though did not read.) The stories were as diverse as the “writers rooms,” touching upon Urban Fantasy, Mannerpunk, Magical Espionage, and Young Adult Science Fiction.

Welcoming the audience to the Series’ venue, the Brooklyn Commons in transit-accessible Brooklyn, executive curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy, shared the sad news of the death of Ama Patterson, who had been an integral part of Andrea Hairston’s performance at the Series. He thanked members of his own team, hinted at a possible special event later in the month, and announced that the 26th Season would likely close on Tuesday, June 6 with readings by Sam J. Miller and Lara Elena Donnelly. He then turned the stage over to the evening’s guest host/guest curator (and curator emerita) Amy Goldschlager.

Amy Goldschlager, an editor, proofreader and book/audiobook reviewer, related that serialized fiction began in the 19th century (notably with Dickens), and shared worlds with Thieves World and Wild Cards; Serial Box, she saw as “a wonderful confluence of it all.” With that, she introduced the first reader of the night, Joel Derfner, representing the Mannerpunk Tremontaine.

Joel Derfner

Joel Derfner is the author of Gay Haiku, Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Ended Up Happening Instead, and Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family. (Indeed, he does live, “alas, in Brooklyn, along with his husband and their small, fluffy dog.” He never did explain that “alas,” however.) His selection, from the prequel to – set 15 years before – Swordspoint, and preceding the writing of On the Causes of Nature (which figures in that novel), was characterized by Goldschlager as a “delightfully snarky bit of foreshadowing,” and contained many double entendres – intentional and not – about sausages. (His sex scenes, he said, were too long.)

Lindsay Smith

Next to read was Lindsay Smith, who offered a scene from the “urban fantasy Cold War thriller” (Goldschlager) The Witch Who Came in From the Cold. There are, Smith explained, two factions of witches, the Fire and the Ice (so “the Cold” is not just the Cold War), fighting a war (here in 1970s Prague) alongside the one with American, British and Soviet spies.

Matthew Cody

Like Smith, Matthew Cody is a YA author; his published works include the award-winning Powerless and the Supers of Noble’s Green series, the Robin Hood re-imagining Will in Scarlet, and his current series The Secrets of the Pied Piper. His Serial Box series, ReMade, is about resurrected teens who are kidnapped and sent to the future; the action takes place in the future and in flashbacks (the present), and the scene that he chose was one of the latter. The boy, Holden (yes, named after you-know-who), who played a fairy (the only boy one) with no lines in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, nervously offers a ride to the cast party to its star (Titania), which does not end as he might have hoped.

During the intermission, a raffle drawing was held for donors in the audience, and two won a season of the Serial Box serial of their choice.

Max Gladstone

Max Gladstone, co-creator of The Witch Who Came in From the Cold and creator of Bookburners, describes himself as having “been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drunk almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat.” He is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards­, Full Fathom Five, Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, Last First Snow., and the forthcoming Ruin of Angels (which doesn’t have a number in the title!). Bookburners is, he explained, a “supernatural procedural” about secret agents from the Vatican who pursue demons and black magic. For his reading, he offered the audience a choice between the first season and a preview of the third, which is launching in June, and the latter won out (the vote was not “rigged”). (What happened in Belfast?)

Back on stage, Goldschlager said that she and Freund had asserted that there can’t be a NYRSF Readings season without a reading by Michael Swanwick, and he writes for Serial Box. Swanwick has written nine novels – the latest of which is Chasing the Phoenix – 150 short stories, and countless flash fictions, and has received the Nebula, Theodore Sturgeon, World Fantasy and Hugo Awards. He returned us to The Witch Who Came in From the Cold, prefacing his reading by noting that, as if there aren’t already too many characters in it, he had brought in two more, the Russian general Bitovsky and the Norwegian Magnus. (They must be spies – they’re meeting in “a spy bar.”)

There was a recess as the stage was reset with all of the readers – joined by Kushner – for an interview by Goldschlager. She opened by asking about the process of collaboration, which Gladstone called “a Frankenstein process.” There are a lot of story breakdowns. (As on tv, the editor/publisher equivalent is a “showrunner.”) Smith said that Witch is “more puzzle-piecey,” with people gravitating toward their own characters. Derfner disagreed, and jokingly called her a liar. There are a lot of personal meetings over Tremontaine. Gladstone noted his writers retreats. What struck him, said Swanwick, was how many times a story goes through the editorial process, somewhere between six and 123 (he cited a debate over whether it’s duct tape or duck tape – as in a film or tv show, there has to be consistency, or continuity). There is a “house voice.” Derfner said that he liked “having structure, and not having to make things up.” In Season 1, he said, he had trouble getting Diane’s (the Duchess Tremontaine) voice right and asked Kushner to revise him. She said that she was doing Joel doing herself; the process was “metaphysical” (I offered the word). They had to invent a new way of doing a narrative.

Cody said with his background in theater (he holds a Master’s Degree in Theater, with a focus on Shakespeare), he enjoyed the collaborative process. People would fight for their idea, but only up to a point. Alluding to ReMade, Goldschlager noted that we figure things out (that they’re in the future) before the characters do, and wondered about how “genre-savvy” the readers are, particularly in YA. Whatever the genre, replied Cody, soap opera is the “underpinning” of YA. Finally, she asked Gladstone if The Witch Who Came in From the Cold and Bookburners take place in the same universe. “Stay tuned,” he intoned, providing a perfect conclusion to the interviews.

In the Q&A that followed, an audience member asked how they select people to be “in their zone.” Gladstone looks for writers “who are going to jump on and run with it” and had a “willingness to speak the same language.” Kushner said that she had it easier, had the advantage of everyone being a Swordspoint fan, knowing and loving the Riverside books, and knowing that they can “play well with others.” The writers, she continued, “have to be flexible, open to their ideas being changed.” There are gay men in the story, and so she has “an actual gay man” writing episodes. His theatrical background also helps. (Derfner has, as his biography states, composed the score to musicals that “have played in New York, London, and various cities in between [going counterclockwise].”) Her Tremontaine team, she observed, was “queer or writers of color, or both.”

The next questioner asked if the long form was easier to play with than a shorter form. Gladstone said that it made it easier to “compartmentalize.” Smith said that they have to create an “atmosphere;” she can tell which writer wrote which episode, yet the story unifies and flows. The final questioner asked about how much work goes into the “Series Bible” (again, a tv term). Cody said that it gave “everyone a level playing field,” but, as Gladstone agreed, it changed quickly and almost immediately as everyone gave input.

The customary Jenna Felice Freebie Table returned and there were copies of Tremontaine offered for sale. The audience, which approached 70, included Melissa C. Beckman (the Readings’ “official photographer”), Richard Bowes, Rob Cameron, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Barbara Krasnoff (the House Manager and a Nebula Award nominee), John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Marianne Porter, James Ryan, Terence Taylor (Tech Director), Paul Witcover, and Serial Box co-founders Molly Barton and Julian Yap. Throughout the course of the evening and afterward, members of the audience availed themselves of the Café’s fare.

Writers React: Thumbs Up for New WFA Design, Thumbs Down for Lovecraft Nominee Pins

Everyone’s raving about Vincent Villafranca’s winning design for the World Fantasy Award. However, World Fantasy’s statement in the same press release that nominee pins will still feature the supposedly retired Lovecraft image is being widely criticized.

There was one dissent, from a Castalia House blogger —

Here is a sampling of the reaction to the news about the Lovecraft nominee pin:

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Tradition! Tradition! NYRSF Readings’ Annual Family Night Again Features Kushner & Sherman

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Monday, December 12, 2016, the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series continued its tradition of celebrating the December Holidays Season with “Family Night,” featuring one of its favorite families, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (in their eighth, by my count, December appearance). Also traditional was the December guest host. (Her anonymity here is due to her outside professional concerns.)

The event, held at the Series’ venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café (in the outskirts of Downtown Brooklyn – dare we call it “Bordertown?”), opened with a welcome from its Executive Curator, Jim Freund, who is otherwise the longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (the show broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 a.m.) He cautioned the gathering that the readings were being Livestreamed (this later surprised Kushner, who’d expected only to be “seen” on radio), and thanked those who had donated (the readings are nominally free, with a suggested donation of $7) as they help the Series continue (there is a rental fee for the space).

Moving into 2017, upcoming readers will be:

  • Tuesday, January 10th, Phenderson Djeli Clark and Shan Chakraborty, with guest curator Rob Cameron (who was running the cameras and whose nom de video-wiz is Cam Rob);
  • Friday, February 10th, James Morrow and Jack Womack;
  • Tuesday, March 7th, we’ll all be getting Older, siblings Malka Older and (the elder Older) Daniel José Older (also getting older, these jokes; guest curator Amy Goldschlager had earlier called it Family Night II);
  • Saturday, April 1st (despite the date, not an April Fool’s joke), the Series will host a 75th birthday gathering for Samuel R. (Chip) Delany
  • May 2nd, Goldschlager returns as host for an evening with the Serial Box podcasters (Max Gladstone, et al.).

Family Night came about, said the evening’s guest host, because December is traditionally a family time; since then, the theme has grown from the readers to encompass the audience regulars, who have become a family of sorts (Kushner soon after referred to “the NYRSF Holiday Reading family”), and stated that it was “an honor to be part of it.”  Tonight’s readers, she concluded, were “a very special pair of writers, spouses and people,” and introduced the first reader.

delia-sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman is the author of, among other works, the Prometheus and Andre Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze, The Evil Wizard Smallbone and The Fall of the Kings (written with Kushner). Prefacing her reading, she promised a selection that wouldn’t “bring blushes to young cheeks.”  (Ellen’s offering, however, “will bring blushes to many cheeks.”) With that caveat, she read from Chapter 2 of The Evil Wizard Smallbone. On a cold December night in Maine, Nick, a runaway lost in the woods, stumbles into the Victorian mansion of the titular evil wizard – it even says “Evil Wizard” on his business card, and moreover he is the proprietor of Evil Wizard Books. Smallbone declares that Nick (whom he calls Foxkin) is his apprentice and promptly puts him to work around his house, farm and shop. The boy finds it magically impossible to run off, and, when he talks back, discovers to his dismay that he has, it seems, spent most of a week (and missed Christmas) turned into a spider. The evil wizard’s brusqueness was a source of much humor.

During the intermission, a raffle was held (for those who’d donated), with the prizes being a “rare” set of press-on tattoos from the online serial program Tremontaine (pronounced, we learned, “Trem-on-ten,” not “-taine”), a “Live, Laugh and Love” mug, and the copy of The Evil Wizard Smallbone from which Sherman had just read; all raffle winners also received a pencil commemorating Ellen’s and Delia’s 20th anniversary. (That the tickets drawn were consecutive, and one winner was the guest curator, might have prompted cries of “rigged” from someone who shall not be named.)

ellen-kushner

Ellen Kushner

The second reader of the evening, Ellen Kushner, is the author of the World Fantasy Award-winning Thomas the Rhymer, the children’s book The Golden Dreydl (adapted by her) as The Klezmer Nutcracker), and the much-loved novels and related short stories in the Riverside series, which has been called a “fantasy of manners” and “mannerpunk,” alternating wit, intrigue, sex, swordplay and chocolate. Swordspoint (an audiobook of which won an Audie Award) introduced readers to the setting, and was visited again in The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings (written with Sherman), and an online collaborative prequel to Swordspoint, called Tremontaine, with the e-publisher Serial Box (SerialBox.com; season two premiered this past October). In addition, Kushner co-edited (with Holly Black) Welcome to Bordertown, a revival of the original urban fantasy shared world series created by Terri Windling.

The story from which she read, “When I was a Highwayman,” is brand new and slated to appear in The Book of Swords, edited by Gardner Dozois. Set in Riverside, 4-5 years before Swordspoint and 12 years after Tremontaine, it is a standalone that she hoped is comprehensible to non-readers of the Riverside series. (The series is not written in order, and Kushner has gone back to prequels and sequels to fill in and expand on incidents; at times this may be limiting.) Here the young swordsman-for-hire Richard St. Vier (who serves as narrator) is in partnership with the grifter Jessamyn. When work for them dries up – she’s recovering from a terminated pregnancy and the nobles for whom he performs in demonstration bouts of swordplay or as a bodyguard at weddings are in the country for the summer – and they’re running out of things to pawn or sell, he’s talked into accompanying two lowlife acquaintances as they waylay traveling nobles. (His sword is to be the incentive to “stand and deliver.”) Unfortunately, he foregoes a mask and their very first robbery victim turns out to be a young nobleman with whom he’s quite intimately acquainted. Laughter was frequent and out loud (I’m uncertain about occurrences of cheeks blushing).

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, while at another table, books by Sherman and Kushner were for sale and autograph.

The capacity crowd of about 60 included Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Rob Cameron (running tech), Randee Dawn (whose Christmas lights skirt was appropriate as well for the Festival of Lights), Amy Goldschlager, Lynn Cohen Koehler, Barbara Krasnoff (managing the door), Josh Kronengold, Lisa Padol, James Ryan, Terence Taylor, Gay Terry, Leah Withers and Claire Wolf Smith. Afterward, people milled around, socialized and grabbed a bite at the Café.

Pixel Scroll 1/21/16 Babylon Hive

(1) RULES OF FASHION. Mary Robinette Kowal knows the inside story about “David Hartwell’s sartorial splendor 1941-2016”.

David was a fashion junkie. I know– I know exactly what you’re thinking. That a man who would wear paisley and pinstripes is not an example of sartorial sense. But wait. He collected haute couture pieces. Those jackets, terrifying ties, shirts, and trousers had been the height of fashion when it was produced.

He might spend years tracking one down. Often, he was wearing them in combinations that the designer had actually intended. When I saw him at conventions after that, we didn’t talk fiction. He would tell me the story behind whatever pieces he was wearing and talk about the designer and the theory behind why this particular combination had been fashionable in its day. He wasn’t buying clothes because they were tacky; he was buying them because he was enjoying this whole meta-conversation about fashion and taste.

(2) YOUR OWN SPACESHIP. SF Signal’s new Mind Meld, curated by Paul Weimer, poses these questions —

Q: Congratulations. You can take a trip on, or if you prefer, captaincy of, the spacecraft of your own choice from genre literature. The only catch is–it can’t be the Millennium Falcon or the Firefly. Rey and Mal refused to give up their ships. What spacecraft would you want to own, or travel on? Why?

The answers come from Amanda Bridgeman, K.V. Johansen, Jay Garmon, Alexandra Pierce, Julia Rios, Joshua Bilmes, Josh Vogt, Brenda Cooper, Jacey Bedford, Laurel Amberdine, L. M. Myles, and Angela Mitchell.

(3) ONE CREEPY LANE. J.J. Abrams is a busy man. His movie 10 Cloverfield Lane is coming to theatres March 11. Esquire writer Michael Sebastian summarizes what the trailer reveals about its story.

The movie stars John Goodman, whose character is living in a bunker with what appears to be his family. There’s a nostalgic sheen to the setting, and it’s reminiscent of the hatch in the Abrams co-created TV show Lost. It’s unclear whether they’re stuck in the bunker because of what happens in Cloverfield, when a giant monster wreaks havoc on New York City. The movie is told through what is said to be found footage of the disaster.

 

(4) HUGO RULES IDEA. Jonathan Cowie’s solution for what he feels is broken in the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form category is, ironically, to undo the change that was made to fix the category in the first place, and go back to voting for series as a whole.

A possible suggested solution? My suggestion actually would not impact on Hugo nominators and voters in any way! As far as they would be concerned they would carry on nominating and voting on the short-list in the usual way as if nothing had changed.  But what would change would be the way the nominations were treated: both the series and the episode titles would be counted differently.

Here, with nominations, a nominator could nominated episodes from five separate series or, at the other end of the extreme, for five episodes from the same series, or any mix in-between just as nominators can do now. (And ‘yes’, I know that the nominating rules are about to change but for now I want to keep this simple.)  The change would be in the way these nominations were counted.  Nominators would get just one vote per series they nominate. This means that if you voted for four episodes of Star Trek and one of Tripped then that would only  count for one vote each for Star Trek and Tripped (two series votes — one for Star Trek and one for Tripped — even though four episodes of Star Trek were nominated).  At this first nomination stage we would only be considering series (not episodes).  In this specific way the series with the most votes would get on the short-list ballot with nominators effectively getting just one vote per  series they nominate.  Ignoring episode titles at this stage, and considering only series (be they TV or web series or even short films), would ensure that the ballot had on it a list of different series with no duplicates.  In other words all the series on the ballot would reflect the numbers of people nominating series (and not, as is now, the numbers nominating different episodes of the same series).

Then, with the next stage of finalising the shortlist would come the individual episode part.  At this stage we have just a list of series and an episode title needs to be associated with each. However some series may have had more than one episode nominated. Here, all those that nominated for series on the short-list would have their nominations for all  their individual episode titles counted: again, one vote per  episode title.  And so, to continue with our example, all  our nominator’s four Star Trek episodes would all be counted and each episode title get one vote.  Of all the nomination forms submitted, the individual episode with the most nominations for any single series is the one that gets on the ballot.

This would mean that the Hugo for Dramatic Presentation Short Form nominations would better reflect the diversity of televisual SF that exists with a range of different series always ending up being on the short-list final ballot and then with the most popular episode at the nomination stage associated with each one.

(5) KUSHNER REMEMBERS. So many fine reminiscences about David Hartwell are being posted. Here is an excerpt from Ellen Kushner’s:

I quit that job to write my first novel. When I finished Swordspoint, no one in the field would touch it but David. While my agent tried selling it mainstream, David said he would be there waiting (then at Arbor House) if that failed. I joked that it was just his revenge on me for quitting on him – to get me back in his clutches – but they were fine clutches to be in. He made sure my little ms. was read by the likes of Samuel R. Delany, and he proudly told me he was getting me a Thomas Canty cover, knowing that was my ultimate dream…

(6) DONATIONS REQUESTED. Kathryn Cramer, grateful for the care David Hartwell was given at a local hospital, asks people to make a contribution

Though David was on a respirator for an extended period of time, Elizabethtown Community Hospital in Elizabethtown, NY does not have a mechanical respirator of its own. A wonderful nurse whose name I didn’t catch or have forgotten spent FIVE HOURS, yes FIVE FUCKING HOURS, compressing a blue rubber bulb that substituted for the action of David’s diaphragm. They took wonderful, compassionate care of him, and this is not a complaint about the service.

Rather, if you are thinking of David tonight and wish you could have done something, please follow THIS LINK http://www.ech.org/make-a-contribution.html and make a donation earmarked to buy ECH its own mechanical respirator.

ECH is a small, rural hospital. They do not own their own respirator. Rather, there is a shared one that travels from one facility to another.

David did not die for lack of a respirator. Nothing could have saved him. But please, as you think of him this evening, think not just of David, but of the matter of the nurse who was his lungs Tuesday night. I am deeply grateful to her. But what she did should not have been needed.

Based on my experience of the past few days, it is my considered opinion that NO HOSPITAL IN AMERICA SHOULD BE WITHOUT ITS OWN RESPIRATOR.

This is the 21st century. We can do this.

(7) IS COSPLAY IMPERILED? The lawsuit is about copyright protection for cheerleading uniforms, however, Public Knowledge in “Cosplay Goes to the Supreme Court” says the decision could have consequences for recreation costumers. Truth or clickbait?

Yes, you read that right: the Supreme Court of the United States may get to decide the legal status of all those Jedi robes you’ve got squirreled away. The Supreme Court is considering a case that will set the standard for when clothing and costume designs can be covered by copyright—and when people who mimic them (such as costumers) can be sued for potentially enormous damages.

The parties to the case, Star Athletica and Varsity Brands, both design cheerleading uniforms. Varsity claims that major portions of their designs are entitled to copyright protection, while Star Athletica points out (and is backed up by a long line of caselaw) that clothing designs are explicitly exempted from copyright. Their arguments rest on different interpretations of a legal concept known as “separability”—a topic so abstract and murky that even seasoned copyright lawyers avoid it.

To understand the case and its impact, you need to keep in mind two things. First, copyright protects creative works. It does not protect what it calls “useful articles,” or items which are designed purely for utility. Copyright protects a statue; it does not protect the chisel….

All of which brings us back to cosplay. If the Supreme Court decides on a test that gives a lot of leeway for “original” designers to sue others for infringing on the “look” of their clothing, costumers are left right in the crosshairs. And copyright damages can be positively massive, running up thousands of dollars per infringement. Public Knowledge will be filing in support of Star Athletica’s petition before the Supreme Court, highlighting the scope of hobbyists and consumers that the ruling could impact.

(8) TERMINATED. Don’t be looking for a second Terminator 2. Be happy with the one you had. Yahoo! Movies explains, “A Sequel To ‘Terminator Genisys’ Is Likely Dead In The Water, But That’s Okay”.

Hollywood loves reboots and prequels so much right now that they want them to make love and create preboots. Yes, preboots. Something to kickstart cash cows back into delivering that sweet sweet franchise milk. Prometheus is kind of a good preboot, X-Men: First Class was great, but Terminator: Genisys was the motion picture equivalent of Budnick holding onto your waist and spending your arcade cash (except more confusing). That’s probably why the sequel to the prequel reboot (presequeboot?) that was unfathomably titled Terminator 2, has been removed from Paramount’s release calendar.

(9) ELLISON VOICES GAME. The game originally created in 1995 can now be played on a phone. “I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream is now on mobile” reports Jeffrey Matulef on Eurogamer.net.

Based around the Harlan Ellison short story of the same name, I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the last five humans are immortal and forever tortured by a supercomputer that wiped out humanity 109 years ago. You play as all five survivors as they confront the various psychological and physical tortures bestowed upon them by their sadistic, sentient captor.

You can play each chapter in any order and there are multiple endings available. You can also change the graphics and sound by choosing different audio and visual filters and new touch-based control inputs are available as well….

This time out Night Dive, who now owns the rights to the game, joined forces with mobile porting company DotEmu, who previously ported Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition, The Last Express and Double Dragon Trilogy.

I Have no Mouth, and I Must Scream costs £2.99 / $3.99 on iOS and Android.

Game play is reviewed in this video from Monsters of the Week by RagnarRox.

(10) ASIMOV ANALOGY. New Republic contributor Jeet Heer, who was quoted here in a Hugo roundup last year, has worked a classic sf reference into his recent speculation about Trump’s appeal within his own party.

Trump, on the other hand, is so anomalous a figure that the GOP establishment can console themselves with the knowledge that he leads no faction. Even if he wins the nomination, Trump can be safely relegated to the category of a one-off, a freak mutation, never to be repeated. Trump would be like the character The Mule, in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. In the schema of Asimov’s far future science-fiction series, The Mule is a galactic conquerer who throws history off the course that it was expected to take, but the changes he introduces are ultimately minor because he has no successor.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 21, 1789 – The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy, is published in Boston. (Apparently it wasn’t banned in Boston – think how much that would have helped sales.)

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 21, 1938 – Robert “Wolfman Jack” Smith. My friend, “Imponderables” author David Feldman, ran Wolfman Jack’s campaign for president, once upon a time.

For President Wolfman Jack

(13) LOCAL FOSSIL MAKES GOOD. I’m a bit skeptical about the idea of a “Welsh dinosaur” – especially one that avoided being turned into coal. But the BBC feels perfectly comfortable writing headlines like “Welsh dinosaur named ‘dragon thief’”.

A 201-million-year-old dinosaur that fell out of a cliff face at Penarth in South Wales in 2014 has been formally named as Dracoraptor hanigani.

Loosely translated, the Dracoraptor part means “dragon thief”; hanigani honours Rob and Nick Hanigan – the two fossil-hunting brothers who found it.

In a new analysis, scientists say the specimen is possibly the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur from the UK.

(14) PUN CONTENT WARNING. Fresh from reading about the Puppy characterization of Damien G. Walter’s grant, James H. Burns saw that Blackpool is to stage a ‘reimagining’ of the King Kong story, thanks to a £680,000 Arts Council grant and wondered if it was bananas to think this means King Kong is on the Dole…

He’ll be here all week, folks.

(15) OTHER MONKEY BUSINESS. The very last thing in Eric Robert Nolan’s “Throwback Thursday: Weird 1970’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ merchandise” is a book cover identifying Jerry Pournelle as the author of the novelization Escape From The Planet of the Apes. How did we forget that?

Finally, pictured below is a novelization of one of the movie’s sequels, “Escape From the Planet of the Apes” (1971).  I think I saw this among the disheveled paperback library that always occupied the back seat and back floor of my Dad’s car.  I saw Boulle’s source novel in that back seat once, with a weird minimalist art cover.  My Dad explained that it was “very different from the movie.”  Or I might have seen it on the floor of the closet I shared with my brother.  (That closet functioned according to trickle-down economics — the really cool stuff occasionally fell from his top shelf to the floor where I could grab it.)

(16) A LITTLE LIST. No, I am not going to be linking to many more of these, or really, any more of these, but I laughed when I saw Luther M. Siler’s headline – “Oh, why not: #Hugo awards eligibility post”.

Rumor has it that Hugo nominations are going to open up next week, and I have two– count ’em, two! different works that will be eligible for nomination.

(Yes, indie authors are eligible.  I checked.)

(17) ASPIRING SPACE TAILOR. Adam Savage has been talking recently about his desire to make one of the spacesuits from The Martian to add to his costume collection. And he convinced Fox to loan him one to take a look at first.

(18) ZOOLANDER/MOONRAKER MASHUP? It’s not just Adam Savage who wants to wear a spacesuit. In “To infinity and beyond: how space chic is ready for blast off”, The Guardian says all kinds of fashion designers are returning to 2001 — the film, that is.

At the men’s shows in Milan last week, astronauts appeared almost as often on the catwalk as the inevitable Bowie tributes. Versace produced a show dedicated, as Donatella said, to the future. The mood – all shiny white plastic – felt very 2001 (the film, not the year), especially when the show began with models running around the darkened catwalk in bright fibre-optic outfits, like those training for a mission. When the lights went up, Versace’s idea of an astronaut was earthbound, slick and boardroom-ready, probably with important financial reports rather than space food in his backpack-cum-jetpack. He wore a silver mac, or chunky bright white trousers and matching biker jackets, a bit like the fashion version of Buzz Lightyear’s outfit. A cropped leather jacket with Versace’s version of Nasa badges was another highlight of haute astronaut style.

One outfit in the accompanying photos has enough decorative pins on it to be Radch haut-couture.

(19) BINKS RECLAIMED. Chris Hallbeck’s Maximumble comic for January 21 has a new use for Jar-Jar Binks.

And after you read the comic, you’ll understand why it makes me think of this routine by Lily Singh –

[Thanks to Alan Baumler, Will R., Glenn Hauman, Lorcan Nagle, James H. Burns, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day IanP.]

NYRSF Readings Annual Family Night Features Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman, and a Menorah

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, December 8 the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series continued its tradition of celebrating the December Holidays Season with “Family Night,” featuring one of its favorite families, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (for their seventh December happening).

On the Series’ Facebook page, in response to a query, producer/executive curator Jim Freund explained what makes it Family Night.  “Delia and Ellen are family to each other – a married couple. Also virtual family to so many of us at the Reading Series and the sf community.  And further the fiction is family-friendly – no disclaimers necessary for sensitive ears.” Also in keeping with custom, their reading was guest-hosted once more by the Reading Series’ third curator (1994-96; longtime attendees know who), its “Jon Pertwee,” as it were.  (Her anonymity here is due to her outside professional concerns.

The festive event, held at the Series’ current venue, the Brooklyn Commons Café (in Downtownish Brooklyn and “located near more public transportation than Times Square”), kicked off as usual with a welcome from Jim Freund, who is otherwise the longtime host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (the show broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am and worldwide at wbai.org, and for a time afterwards may be heard on-demand as well as an RSS feed for podcasts) and Podcast Editor and Host for the Hugo Award-winning Lightspeed Magazine.  The Kickstarter campaign to fund the Series, he reported, has not yet gotten under way (stand by, as broadcasters say), and he relayed news of the recent death of his WBAI colleague Simon Loekle (who had participated in the Series, including a memorably chilling rendition of Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” – and yes, the “l” is pronounced).

Continuing, he trumpeted upcoming readings in the Series’ 25th season: on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 the readers will be Terence Taylor (sf/fantasy writer as well as the Series’ video producer – and no, he won’t run an extension cord from the booth – Freund will handle the equipment) and Maria Dahvana Headley; and on Groundhog Day (Tuesday, 2 February), Barbara Krasnoff and Richard Bowes. Jumping ahead, April’s event will be a launch for Clockwork Phoenix 5, and May’s a play by Andrea Hairston.  Finally, Jim invited the audience to grab dinner during the intermission or after the readings at the Café, which has added hot items to its menu, then turned hosting duties over to the guest-curator (this place was, she declared, the Series’ “nicest home venue”), who introduced the evening’s first reader.

In Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner introduced readers to the much-honored and much-loved Riverside series, which has been called a “fantasy of manners” and “mannerpunk,” alternating wit, intrigue, swordplay and chocolate. The audiobook, which she narrated, won both an Audie and Audiofile Earphones Award, but, she confessed, she felt a bit odd reading, having heard professionals perform her work. She did, though, have to invent an accent for one character, then coach one actor in it.  (Later, in conversation, she revealed how instead of attempting an accent during this reading, she achieved the effect with syntax, intonation and consonant emphasis.)

Tremontaine, from which she read selections of its first chapter, “Arrivals,” is a prequel to Swordspoint, set some 15 years earlier.  One “arrival” is literal, discussion between the Duke and Duchess Tremontaine about the birth of the baby who will be the future Alec Campion, the Mad Duke Tremontaine. Another is farmgirl Micah, who, on family advice, has cut her hair and is passing as a boy, and has, we see, hidden talents as a geometer.  A third viewpoint character, Ixkaab Balam (aka Kaab), a trader, has just come to Riverside, a place full of thieves, “very bad women,” swordsmen, and poor people who like a bit of flash and dazzle (and singing – Ellen sang a few bars of a woman’s song), and almost immediately challenges a local who has insulted her people, her mother and her outfit.  (The reading was inadvertently enlivened further by Kushner’s pages getting dropped and scattered.)

In a Q&A, Kushner clarified that Tremontaine was a 13-weekly episode (in the current season) serial released Wednesday mornings (the seventh ran the next day) in text and audio (she recommended getting both) from SerialBox.com.  (The serial would not break for Christmas or New Year’s, leading Ellen to proclaim that it was a perfect escape from dull holiday family gatherings – “Tremontaine is even more fucked-up than your family.”)  Chapter 1 is available online for free, the rest cost money.  Episodes have been written also by Alaya Dawn Johnson, Malinda Lo, Joel Derfner, Racheline Maltese (who was present) and Patty Bryant.  Freund noted that Riverside has always been sort of a shared universe; The Fall of the Kings was written with Delia Sherman.  Well, said Kushner, it’s not wide-open, but “curated,” a collaborative serial.  She also noted that her dress and the host’s were based on the Riverside cityscape, the latter a design by Kathleen Jennings.

During the intermission, a raffle was held for a bottle of the exceedingly rare Tremontaine Pale Ale (shhh, another label had been soaked off and replaced by one with one of Jennings’ cover designs), a copy of Kushner’s The Golden Dreydl, a Jewish take on The Nutcracker (appropriate as it was Chanukah), and an inscribed (and kissed) copy of the manuscript from which Delia Sherman would be reading. In a true Chanukah miracle (topping that extra-burning oil), I won the third prize.  Then, speaking of which, as it was the third night of the Festival of Lights, Ellen presided over the ceremonial lighting of a Chanukah menorah (three candles plus the “servant” candle) and a brief blessing.  The host then introduced the second reader of the evening.

Delia Sherman is the author of, among other works, the Prometheus and Andre Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze (from which she has read at previous NYRSF Readings), a time-travel historical set in antebellum Louisiana.  This time she read excerpts from Chapters 3-5 of The Evil Wizard Smallbone (which, she announced to the crowd’s disappointment, won’t be out until November 2016), appropriately (and giving equal time to the other December holiday) scenes set at Christmas.  We are first introduced to the eponymous 300-year-old proprietor of Evil Wizard Books and founder of the idyllic (at least on the surface), coastal town of Smallbone Cove in adults’ (“Covers”) uncomfortable answers to a young girl’s awkward questions about Zachariah Smallbone’s evil and magic.  Then we meet the (evil) wizard as he puts a boy, Nick, a runaway who had sought refuge, to work around his house and shop.  Nick (whom Smallbone calls Foxkin), having spent part of a week (and missing Christmas) turned into a spider (he’s better now), and finding it magically impossible to run off, undertakes a succession of chores.  (Is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in his future?)

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, while at an adjoining table, books by Sherman and Kushner were for sale and autograph.  The capacity crowd of about 65 included Melissa C. Beckman, Richard Bowes, Chris Claremont, Randee Dawn, Beth Fleisher,  Barbara Krasnoff, Josh Kronengold, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Gordon Linzner, Racheline Maltese, Lisa Padol, Max Schmid, Terence Taylor, Leah Withers, and, of course, Claire Wolf Smith.  Afterward, people milled around, socialized and grabbed a bite.

[See photos from the event in a public post on Ellen Kushner’s Facebook page.]

2015 Audie Award Finalists

The Audio Publishers Association (APA) has announced the 2015 Audie Awards finalists. The Audies are given in 30 categories for spoken word entertainment.

Here follow the genre category finalists, and other categories containing names of interest to genre fans.

AUDIO DRAMA

  • Anne Manx and the Blood Chase; by Larry Weiner; Narrated by Claudia Christian, Moira Kelly, Patricia Tallman, with full cast; RRCA
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles; by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adapted by David Pichette and R. Hamilton Wright; Narrated by Geoffrey Arend, Wilson Bethel, Seamus Dever, Sarah Drew, Henri Lubatti, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Moira Quirk, Darren Richardson; L.A. Theatre Works
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire; by Brandon Sanderson; Narrated by Terence Aselford, Kimberly Gilbert, David Jourdan and a full cast; Graphic Audio® A Movie in Your Mind®
  • The Swords of Riverside; by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman; Narrated by Ellen Kushner, Barbara Rosenblat, Katherine Kellgren, Dion Graham, Simon Jones, et al.; SueMedia Productions for Neil Gaiman / ACX
  • Under Drake’s Flag; by G.A. Henty; Narrated by Brian Blessed; Heirloom Audio Productions

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8-12

  • The Graveyard Book; by Neil Gaiman; Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Neil Gaiman, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt; HarperAudio
  • The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw; by Christopher Healy; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; HarperAudio
  • How to Catch a Bogle; by Catherine Jinks; Narrated by Mandy Williams; Listening Library
  • A Snicker of Magic; by Natalie Lloyd; Narrated by Cassandra Morris; Scholastic Audio
  • Unstoppable Octobia May; by Sharon G. Flake; Narrated by Bahni Turpin; Scholastic Audio

CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES UP TO 8

  • Deep in the Swamp; by Donna M. Bateman; Narrated by Tom Chapin; Live Oak Media
  • Follow, Follow; by Marilyn Singer; Narrated by Marilyn Singer & Joe Morton; Live Oak Media
  • H.O.R.S.E.; by Christopher Myers; Narrated by Christopher Myers and Dion Graham; Live Oak Media
  • Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; by Patricia Hruby Powell; Narrated by Lizan Mitchell; Recorded Books
  • This Is Not My Hat; by Jon Klassen; Narrated by John Keating; Weston Woods
  • Timeless Tales of Beatrix Potter; by Beatrix Potter; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren; Tantor Media

FANTASY

  • Cress; by Marissa Meyer; Narrated by Rebecca Soler; Macmillan Audio
  • The Emperor’s Blades; by Brian Staveley; Narrated by Simon Vance; Brilliance Publishing
  • Hawk; by Steven Brust; Narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark; Audible, Inc.
  • The Queen of the Tearling; by Erika Johansen; Narrated by Katherine Kellgren; HarperAudio
  • Words of Radiance; by Brandon Sanderson; Narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer; Macmillan Audio

MULTI–VOICED PERFORMANCE

  • The Anatomy Lesson; by Nina Siegal; Narrated by Adam Alexi-Malle, Peter Altschuler, Emma Jayne Appleyard, Hannah Curtis, Gildart Jackson, Bruce Mann, Steve West; Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Graveyard Book; by Neil Gaiman; Narrated by Derek Jacobi, Neil Gaiman, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, and Julian Rhind-Tutt; HarperAudio
  • Land of Love and Drowning; by Tiphanie Yanique; Narrated by Cherise Boothe, Korey Jackson, Rachel Leslie, Myra Lucretia Taylor; Recorded Books
  • A Long Time Gone; by Karen White; Narrated by Susan Bennett, Jennifer Ikeda, and Pilar Witherspoon; Recorded Books
  • The Sixteenth of June; by Maya Lang; Narrated by Julia Whelan, Will Damron, and MacLeod Andrews; Brilliance Publishing
  • Stars: Original Stories Based on the Songs of Janis Ian; by Janis Ian (editor), Mike Resnick; Narrated by Janis Ian, Emily Rankin, Gabrielle du Cuir, John Rubinstein, Kathe Mazur, Kristoffer Tabori, Paul Boehmer, Sile Bermingham, Stefan Rudnicki and Susan Hanfield; Audible, Inc.

PARANORMAL

  • Damoren; by Seth Skorkowsky; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Audible, Inc.
  • The Girl with All the Gifts; by M.R. Carey; Narrated by Finty Williams; Hachette Audio
  • Pleasure of a Dark Prince; by Kresley Cole; Narrated by Robert Petkoff; Simon & Schuster
  • A Second Chance; by Jodi Taylor; Narrated by Zara Ramm; Audible, Inc.
  • Suffer the Children; by Craig Dilouie; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Tantor Media
  • Yesterday’s Gone, Season One; by Sean Platt, David Wright; Narrated by R.C. Bray, Chris Patton, Brian Holsopple, Ray Chase, Maxwell Glick, Tamara Marston; Podium Publishing

SCIENCE FICTION

  • The Beam: Season 1; by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant; Narrated by Johnny Heller, Tara Sands, Ralph Lister, Ray Chase, R.C. Bray, Jeffrey Kafer, Chris Patton, Eric Martin, Brian Holsopple, Rachel Fulginiti, Stephen Bowlby, and Emily Woo Zeller; Podium Publishing
  • Dark Eden; by Chris Beckett; Narrated by Matthew Frow, Jayne Entwistle, Ione Butler, Hannah Curtis, Robert Hook, Bruce Mann, Nicholas Guy Smith, and Heather Wilds; Penguin Random House Audio
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August; by Claire North; Narrated by Peter Kenny; Hachette Audio
  • Lock In; by John Scalzi; Narrated by Wil Wheaton, Amber Benson, and a full cast; Audible, Inc.
  • The Martian; by Andy Weir; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Podium Publishing

SHORT STORIES/COLLECTIONS

  • The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher; by Hilary Mantel; Narrated by Jane Carr; Macmillan Audio
  • Dangerous Women; by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois; Narrated by Claudia Black, Scott Brick, Karen Dotrice, Jonathan Frakes, Iain Glen, Janis Ian, Stana Katic, Inna Korobkina, Jenna Lamia, Lee Meriwether, Emily Rankin, Maggi-Meg Reed, Fred Sanders, Allan Scott-Douglas, Sophie Turner, Harriet Walter, Jake Weber; Penguin Random House Audio
  • Faceoff; Edited by David Baldacci. Written by Linwood Barclay, Steve Berry, Lee Child, Lincoln Child, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Linda Fairstein, Joseph Finder, Lisa Gardner, Heather Graham, Peter James, Raymond Khoury, Dennis Lehane, John Lescroart, Steve Martini, T. Jefferson Parker, Douglas Preston, Ian Rankin, James Rollins, M. J. Rose, John Sandford, R.L. Stine, F. Paul Wilson; Narrated by Dylan Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jeremy Bobb, Daniel Gerroll, January LaVoy, with David Baldacci; Simon & Schuster
  • Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths; by Bernard Evslin; Narrated by Todd Haberkorn; Graymalkin Media
  • The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories; by R. A. Salvatore; Narrated by Dan Harmon, Danny Pudi, Al Yankovic, Felicia Day, Greg Gurnberg, Melissa Rauch, Michael Chiklis, Sean Astin, Tom Felton, David Duchovny, Ice T, and Wil Wheaton; Audible, Inc.
  • The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories; by Patrick Taylor; Narrated by John Keating; Macmillan Audio

SOLO NARRATION — MALE

  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson; Narrated by Richard Armitage; Audible, Inc.
  • The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw; by Christopher Healy; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; HarperAudio
  • The Martian; by Andy Weir; Narrated by R.C. Bray; Podium Publishing
  • Mr. Mercedes; by Stephen King; Narrated by Will Patton; Simon & Schuster
  • The Other Story; by Tatiana de Rosnay; Narrated by Simon Vance; Macmillan Audio
  • Radiance of Tomorrow; by Ishmael Beah; Narrated by Dion Graham; Macmillan Audio

THRILLER/SUSPENSE

  • The Avengers, Lost Episodes Vol 1: Hot Snow; Adapted by John Dorney; Narrated by Various; Big Finish Productions
  • Dead Six; by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari; Narrated by Bronson Pinchot; Audible, Inc.
  • In the Morning I’ll Be Gone; by Adrian McKinty; Narrated by Gerard Doyle; Blackstone Audio Inc.
  • The Lost Key; by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison; Narrated by Renee Raudman and MacLeod Andrews; Brilliance Publishing
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead; by Michael Koryta; Narrated by Robert Petkoff; Hachette Audio
  • Wayfaring Stranger; by James Lee Burke; Narrated by Will Patton; Simon & Schuster

Finalists for two special awards, Distinguished Achievement in Production and Audiobook of the Year will be announced in April. The winners will be announced May 28.

NYRSF Readings Returns to Brooklyn for Annual “Family Night” Featuring Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman

By Mark L. Blackman: On the evening of Tuesday, December 2 the New York Review of Science Fiction Readings Series celebrated the December Holidays Season by continuing its tradition (its seventh commemoration) of “Family Night” with one of its favorite families, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (for their sixth December happening). Also in keeping with custom, their reading was guest-hosted once more by the NYRSF Reading Series’ third curator (longtime attendees know who). In a departure, though, the event was held for the second time at the Commons Brooklyn, an event-hosting space a manageable hike from the Barclays Center, rather than at its usual venue, the SoHo Gallery for Digital Art. (At least one attendee showed up instead at the Gallery.)

The Reading Series’ executive curator Jim Freund, host of WBAI-FM’s Hour of the Wolf radio program on sf and fantasy (which broadcasts and streams every Wednesday night/Thursday morning from 1:30-3:00 am), as well as host of the Hugo-winning Lightspeed Magazine Podcast, welcomed all and announced that the Series will return to the SGDA on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, presenting Sarah Pinsker and Daniel José Older. Future readings are likely to revisit the Commons; the building, incidentally, houses the management of WBAI and is expected to become the broadcast space early next year. Freund turned hosting duties over to the guest-curator, who introduced the evening’s first reader.

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman is author of the Prometheus and Andre Norton Award-winning The Freedom Maze (from which she has read at previous NYRSF Readings), a time-travel historical set in antebellum Louisiana, as well as other stories and novels for both younger readers and adults, including Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove, The Fall of the Kings (with Ellen Kushner), Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen. The selection she shared, “Sacred Harp,” originally was published in Horns of Elfland (which she co-edited) and appears in her recent collection of short fiction, Young Woman in a Garden (despite the title it is decidedly not Young Adult), which made Publishers Weekly’s list of Best SF of 2014. The story is about a sacred harp or shape note choir, centering on Gretchen, an unsympathetic narrator (not usual for Sherman) who, frustratingly and increasingly pissed-off, leads her singers in hymns until, miraculously, the earthly meets the heavenly. The reading evoked a number of chuckles and made the audience want to hear the music. For those unfamiliar with shape note singing, Kushner stepped in to lead a chorus of “Babylon Has Fallen.” In a question-and-answer, Sherman replied that she does not write while listening to music, though ambient noise is ok and she has written in cafés. In contrast, Kushner writes in silence, or to listening to music whose words she doesn’t understand, and “she does not like to write in cafés.” Sherman noted that she had to teach herself how to write YA (Young Adult). “I don’t have an inner teenager. I have an inner 10-year-old and an inner 25-year-old.”

After a short recess, during which a raffle was held for a copy of the audiobook of The Freedom Maze and the manuscript from which Ellen Kushner would be reading, Wolf Smith introduced the second reader of the evening.

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner is an award-winning novelist (Thomas the Rhymer), editor (she recently co-edited Welcome to Bordertown), audiobook performer (her audiobook of Swordspoint, which she narrated, won both a 2012 Audie and Audiofile Earphones Award), klezmer devotee (The Golden Dreydl: a Klezmer “Nutcracker”), co-writer of the historical/feminist/magic realist/shtetl radio musical drama The Witches of Lublin, and public radio personality (longtime host of the public radio show Sound & Spirit); additionally, she recently served as guest host for Fantasy Magazine‘s Women Destroy Fantasy podcasts.

Notably, she is also the creator of the “mannerpunk” cult novel Swordspoint, and its follow-ups the Nebula Award-nominated The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of the Kings (as noted, written with Delia Sherman) and related short stories; her offering was from the next novel in the series, still a work in progress, tentatively titled City Year. (The term refers to a ritual of highborn young ladies, and, she revealed, a source was a guide for debutantes written a century ago; also, some “flavor” of their interplay was inspired by Little Women.)

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

She read several charming and entertaining scenes featuring 15-year-old Jessica Campion, the bastard daughter of the Mad Duke Tremontaine by the actress known as the Black Rose, and Lily Martin, a girl of the same age who works in a Riverside tavern and wants to be a stage actress (plus ça change), who form a relationship, along with a scene with Alec Campion, the Mad Duke, and his swordsman Richard St Vier. In response to a question, Kushner said that she had no plans to write the oft-cited, legendary play The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death.

The guest-host returned to the front of the room to close out the evening.

As traditional at these Readings, the Jenna Felice Freebie Table offered giveaway books, and refreshments (cider, cheese and crackers, and tangerines). At another table, books by Sherman and Kushner were for sale and autograph.

The capacity crowd, exceeding 50, included Randee Dawn, Karen Heuler, Barbara Krasnoff, Josh Kronengold, John Kwok, Lissanne Lake, Lisa Padol, Robert Rodriquez, James Ryan and Susan Ratisher Ryan. Following the stacking of the chairs, the guests and about 20 members of the audience adjourned to a nearby bar and grill.

Kushner Sherman at NYRSF Reading 12/2

The New York Review of SF Readings continues its annual tradition of Family Night with Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner on December 2.

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman

Delia Sherman’s most recent short stories have appeared in the young adult anthology Steampunk! and in Ellen Datlow’s Naked City. She’s written three novels for adults: Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove, and The Fall of the Kings (with Ellen Kushner).She’s now turned her hand to novels for younger readers. Changeling and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen are both set in the magical world of New York Between.  The Freedom Maze is a time-travel historical about antebellum Louisiana which won the 2012 Prometheus Award and the Andre Norton Award. Her recent collection of short fiction, Young Woman in a Garden, has appeared on PW’s list of Best SF of 2014.

She has worked as a contributing editor for Tor Books and has co-edited the fantasy anthology The Horns of Elfland with Ellen Kushner and Donald G. Keller, as well as The Essential Bordertown with Terri Windling, as well as two anthologies of interstitial fiction, Interfictions 1, with Theodora Goss and Interfictions 2, with Christopher Barzak. When she’s not writing, Sherman is teaching, editing, knitting, and cooking. Although she’s frequently on the road, she actually lives in a rambling apartment in New York City with partner Ellen Kushner and far too many pieces of paper.

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner

Ellen Kushner’s cult classic novel Swordspoint introduced readers to the setting to which she has since returned in The Privilege of the Sword (Locus Award, Nebula nominee), The Fall of the Kings (written with Delia Sherman), and a growing handful of related short stories.  She recently recorded all three novels in audiobook form for Neil Gaiman Presents/Audible.com, and Swordspoint won both a 2012 Audie and Audiofile Earphones Award.  With Holly Black, she co-edited Welcome to Bordertown, a revival of the original urban fantasy shared world series created by Terri Windling, and oversaw the 2013 Brilliance Audio audiobook production with original music by Drew Miller of Boiled in Lead.

A co-founder of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, Ellen Kushner was also the longtime host of the national public radio show Sound & Spirit, and created several one-woman shows for it, including The Klezmer Nutcracker, which she then adapted for New York’s Vital Theater. She is currently working on a new novel in the Swordspoint?series. She recently served as guest host for Fantasy Magazine’s Women Destroy Fantasy podcasts. She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman. They have no cats, and she does not like to write in cafes. She loves to read aloud.

The NYRSF Readings will take place Tuesday, December 2 at The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue. Doors open at 6:30 — event begins at 7

The full press release follows the jump.

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