(1) REDWOMBAT LOVEFEST. Tor.com is hosting — “’THE POTATO GOD WILL RISE.’ We Are Obsessed With Ursula Vernon’s Tumblr”.
But even if you don’t head over for the sketches and art, there are stories in abundance. For example, a true story about Vernon’s childhood, and “the thing” that she knew hid right behind her in her grandmother’s bathroom. (This tale eventually veers into precognition and predestination, believe it or not):
It seemed to me, looking in the enormous bathroom mirror, that I could see every part of the bathroom except the spot directly behind me, so that was where the unseen creature must be standing.
I didn’t know what it looked like. I had a vague feeling it was grey and shadowy and very flat, with long arms. I thought it would probably have eyes, but no mouth, but that was only a guess.
If I moved suddenly, it moved with me. At first, I thought it was just much faster than me, but that seemed sort of improbable–and when my mother would come into the bathroom, it wouldn’t matter how fast it was, it might risk being caught because there wouldn’t be any place it could stand that one of us couldn’t see it.
If fairy tales are more your beat, Vernon wrote her own version of the story about frogs falling from a girl’s lips when she speaks….
(2) RETRO HUGO FAN CATEGORIES. The FANAC Fan History Project is making available online as many 1940 Retro Hugo Nominees as it can. Joe Siclari writes:
For those of you planning to vote in this year’s Retro Hugo Fan Categories, the FANAC Fan History Project is providing relevant original materials for your reading pleasure. Too many times, Retro Hugos go to the nominee with the best name recognition. We have worked to make this material available so that everyone has a chance to read for themselves and cast a more knowledgeable vote.
The fanzines are here. They already have —
- Ray Bradbury’s Futuria Fantasia
- Bob Tucker’s Le Zombie and
- Harry Warner, Jr.’s Spaceways
They are trying to get 1940 copies of Forrest J Ackerman’s and Morojo’s Novacious and Ackerman’s Voice of the Imagi-Nation.
If you have copies that you can scan for us or loan to us to scan, please contact Joe Siclari (email@example.com) or Edie Stern (firstname.lastname@example.org).
FANAC’s Retro Hugo page also includes works by Best Fan Writer nominees from other 1940 fanzines than the fanzines listed above.
They have also made available an array of other fanzines from 1940: Shangri-La, Fantasy News, Futurian Observer and Fantascience Digest. Look for these at Classic Fanzines.
(3) HINES REPOST. Our Words, the new site about disabilities in sf, continues its launch by reposting Jim C. Hines on “Writing with Depression”, which first appeared on SF Signal in 2014.
From what I’ve seen, that anxiety is pretty typical for most novelists. But I’m particularly nervous about my next book, Unbound. This is the third book in my current series, and will probably be out in very early 2015, give or take a few months. I’ve put my protagonist Isaac through an awful lot in the first two books. As a result of those events, when we see Isaac again in Unbound, he’s struggling with clinical depression.
This isn’t the casual “had a rough day” depression people often think about. This is the debilitating one, a mental disability that’s damaging Isaac’s health, his job, and his relationships. This is…well, in a lot of ways, it’s similar to what I was going through two years ago. (Admittedly, Isaac’s depression is a bit more extreme, and I didn’t have to worry about cursed thousand-year-old magical artifacts, or accidentally setting a cathedral on fire with a lightning gun.) …
(4) BESIDES DUNE. John Bardinelli makes sure you don’t miss “5 Overlooked Masterpieces by Frank Herbert” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.
This week, Brian Herbert released a collection of his late father Frank’s unpublished short stories. It’s an odd, genre-spanning assemblage from creator of Dune, filled not only with science fiction tales, but mysteries, thrillers, “men’s adventure stories,” and more. It’s an intriguing look at the unheralded work of one of the most influential authors of the 20th century—proof that success in publishing doesn’t mean everything you’ve ever written will be a success, and another reminder the when you write one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, everything else you’ve done suddenly becomes a footnote.
The phenomenon hardly stops with Herbert’s short fiction. Both before and after his signature series took off, he wrote thoughtful, mind bending sci-fi novels that you probably haven’t read, or even heard of, that deserve (almost) as much praise as Dune. Here are five worth tracking down.
Whipping Star One thing Star Trek tends to gloss over is how difficult it is to communicate with alien life. Linguistic and cultural barriers are a challenge, but what if a species doesn’t experience reality the same way we do? The Calebans in 1970’s Whipping Star are the perfect example: they look like stars to our squishy little eyes, and the concepts of linear time and occupying a singular position in space are completely foreign to them. When one of the Caleban needs help from a human, communication is an instant problem. Whipping Star treats us with a firsthand account of this puzzle, feeding us nearly nonsense dialogue until its ideas slowly start to make sense. It’s one of those books that gives you a solid “Ah ha!” moment, independent of the storyline…..
(5) BRITISH BOOK INDUSTRY AWARDS. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley won Book of the Year at the British Book Industry awards. The Guardian has the story.
First published in a limited print run of just 300 copies by independent publisher Tartarus Press, The Loney tells of a pilgrimage to the Lancashire coast, “that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune [where] the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents”. Word-of-mouth success with the small Yorkshire publisher meant it went on to be acquired by John Murray, and to win the Costa first novel award in January.
The British Book Industry awards, for “books that have been both well-written and brilliantly published”, called The Loney a “true British success story”. “A debut novel suspended between literary gothic and supernatural horror, it was written by an unknown author in his 40s, who worked part-time for 10 years to be able to write,” said organisers of the awards, which are run by The Bookseller magazine. “[The Loney] quickly became the hot literary novel, with almost 100 times its original print run.”
The Loney beat titles including Paula Hawkins’s international hit The Girl on the Train, and Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman to the top prize at the British Book Industry awards this evening. The award for non-fiction book of the year went to Lars Mytting and Robert Ferguson’s guide to wood-chopping, Norwegian Wood, a title which organisers said “demonstrated great publisher faith and vision”, while best children’s book was won by David Solomons’s My Brother is a Superhero.
(6) NOMINATION CLUSTERS. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon continues his search for statistical clues to the Hugo-winning novel in “Checking in with the 2016 Awards Meta-List”. Who’s leading the Meta-List? Here’s a hint: it involves the number five.
For this Meta-List, I track 15 of the biggest SFF awards. Since each award has its own methodologies, biases, and blind spots, this gives us more of a 10,000 foot view of the field, to see if there are any consensus books emerging.
As of early May we have nominees for 10 of the 15 awards. I track the following awards: Clarke, British Fantasy, British SF, Campbell, Compton Crook, Gemmell, Hugo, Kitschies, Locus SF, Locus Fantasy, Nebula, Dick, Prometheus, Tiptree, World Fantasy. I ignore the first novel awards….
(7) RACHEL SWIRSKY IN CHICAGO. She has posted her Nebula Awards schedule.
Thursday, 4pm-5pm: Come visit me to discuss short stories: “Brainstorm a problem area, or ask questions about writing short fiction.”
I’m also on three panels:
Friday, 1pm: The Second Life of Stories: handling backlist and reprints. Panelists: Sarah Pinsker, Rachel Swirsky, Colleen Barr, Marco Palmieri, John Joseph Adams, Don Slater
Friday, 4pm: Medicine after the End of the World: managing chronic conditions and serious illness after the apocalypse. Panelists: Annallee Flower Home, Nick Kanas, Daniel Potter, Rachel Swirsky, Michael Damien Thomas, Fran Wilde
Saturday, 4pm: Redefining the Aliens of the Future. Panelists: Juliette Wade, Charles Ganon, Nick Kanas, Fonda Lee, PJ Schnyder, Rachel Swirsky.
I’m also participating in the mass autographing, Friday, 8-9pm.
(8) MARS MY DESTINATION. David D. Levine, whose Arabella of Mars will be out from Tor in July, also has a full dance card this weekend.
I’m at the airport again, heading for the Nebula Conference in Chicago, where I will learn whether or not my short story “Damage” won the Nebula Award. I will also appear on programming:
- Thursday May 12, 2:00-3:00 pm: Interfacing with Conventions in LaSalle 2 with Lynne Thomas, Dave McCarty, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trota
- Friday May 13, 8:00-9:30 pm: Mass Autographing in Red Lacquer Room. Free and open to the public. I will have ARCs of Arabella of Mars to give away!
- Saturday May 14, 8:30-10:00 pm: Nebula Award Ceremony in Empire Room.
- Saturday May 14, 10:00-11:00 pm: Nebula Alternate Universe Speeches in Empire Room.
- Sunday May 15, 10:00-11:00 am: When Is It Time for a New Agent? in LaSalle 2 with Kameron Hurley.
As long as I am in Chicago, I will also be appearing at Book Expo America, signing ARCs of Arabella of Mars 1:00-2:00 pm at autograph table 7.
(9) CHECK ANYONE’S NEBULA SCHEDULE. Here’s the tool that will let you find any SFWAn’s panel at this weekend’s event – Nebula Conference 2016 Schedule.
(10) CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CHU FAMILY. No need to look up Wesley Chu’s Nebula schedule –
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
- May 11, 1936 – Dracula’s Daughter was released. Trivia: Bela Lugosi was paid for his participation in publicity photos for this film even though he did not appear in it.
- May 11, 1984 – Firestarter premiered, a movie based on a Stephen King novel.
(12) ELLIOTT REVIEWED. We mustn’t overlook a book with the magic number in the title — Microreview [book]: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott at Nerds of a Feather.
It might be easy to, at first glance, compare this book with other YA franchises because of its use of death sports and young people. Fives is a game where participants are part athletes, part combatants, and routinely die or are seriously injured on the court. It’s a game that involves complex traps and requires a keen mind and strong body. And it sits at the heart of a plot that revolves around political intrigue, oppression, and privilege. So at first blush it might seem slightly familiar. And yet the character work and the setting set it apart, give it a more historically grounded feel where Fives is more reminiscent of chariot racing than anything more contemporary.
(13) ADVANCED READING CODEX. At Black Gate, Elizabeth Cady argues “The Birth of the Novel” happened a thousand years earlier than some academics believe.
In my last post, I described one product of the Hellenistic period of ancient art as the invention of the novel. This surprised many people, who thought that the novel was an invention of a much later time. So of course, being an academic of leisure (she says as she ducks a flying juice box), I had to say more about it.
Some scholars do date the invention of the novel to the Modern period in Western Europe. I will display my ignorance and say I do not know why this is. Many books exist outside of English, outside of the Modern period, and in fact outside of the Western hemisphere that easily qualify as novels, so it is difficult for me to see this claim as much more than chauvinism. But if someone wants to correct me on this point, I am willing and eager to be enlightened. Or to fight you on it.
The first novel that we have comes from somewhere between the 2nd Century BCE and the 1st Century CE. It is a positively charming little book called Callirhoe, and it describes the travails of a beautiful young woman who marries her true love, an equally handsome young man named Chaereas. Shortly after their wedding, he kicks her in a fit of jealous rage and she dies.
At least that’s what everyone thinks. She has in fact been put into a coma, only to awaken when pirates invade her tomb. These pirates kidnap her and take her to Miletus to sell her at the slave market; she is then sold to a man named Dionysius. Callirhoe is so beautiful and virtuous that Dionysius falls in love with her as well, and asks her to marry him. She would refuse but she has discovered she is pregnant with her first husband’s child, and agrees to the marriage out of maternal devotion….
(14) THE PEEPS LOOK UP. John DeChancie reposted his homage to the LASFS clubhouse on Facebook.
…I only remember the good times. I remember the late nights, the Mah Jongg, the Hell games, the cook outs, the late night bull sessions. . .but what I cherish most is the sheer pleasure of meeting and talking with other people who share my view of the universe.
No, let me rephrase that. I look forward to people who have a view of the universe to share. Not everyone does. What most distinguishes the mentality of SF and its fandom from that of the mundane is the capacity to be aware of the vastness of everything out there, all the wild possibilities, the fantastic vistas, the realms of infinite regress, the black reaches and streams of bright plasma. Most humans have their myopic eyes fixed on the dirt. They don’t look up much. When they do, it is with fear and apprehension….
(15) AEI STAR WARS PANEL. The American Enterprise Institute presents “The world according to Star Wars”, part of the Bradley Lecture Series, on Tuesday, July 14. RSVP to attend this event, or watch live online here on June 14 at 5:30 PM ET. (Registration is not required for the livestream.)
Cass Sustein joins AEI scholars Norman Ornstein, James Pethokoukis, and Michael Strain to discuss his new book, “The World According to Star Wars,” a political and economic comparison of the “Star Wars” series and today’s America.
Cass Sunstein, the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, has turned his attention to one of the most beloved and successful film series of our time, “Star Wars.” In his new book, “The World According to Star Wars” (Dey Street Books, 2016), Mr. Sunstein, who has written widely about constitutional and environmental law and behavioral economics, argues the legendary series can teach us a lot about economics, law, politics, and the power of individual agency.
Mr. Sunstein will be joined by AEI’s Norman Ornstein, James Pethokoukis, and Michael Strain for a discussion of the timeless lessons from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.” Books will be available for purchase, and a book signing with follow the event.
(16) NEW SAMPLES AT GRRM SITE. George R. R. Martin told Not A Blog readers where to find new samples from two forthcoming books.
For all the Wild Cards fans out there, we’ve got a taste of HIGH STAKES, due out this August. HIGH STAKES is the twenty-third volume in the overall series, and the third and concluding part of the ‘Fort Freak’ triad. The sample is from the pen of the talented Ian Tregillis, and features Mollie Steunenberg, aka Tesseract. You’ll find it at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/wild-cards-excerpt/
((Readers with weak stomachs be warned, HIGH STAKES is our Lovecraftian horror book, and things do get graphic and bloody and… well… horrible. Althought not so much in the sample)).
And… because I know how much bitching I’d get if I offered a new sample from Wild Cards without also doing one from A SONG OF ICE & FIRE… we’ve also changed the WINDS OF WINTER sample on my wesbite, replacing the Alayne chapter that’s been there for the past year with one featuring Arianne Martell. (Some of you may have heard me read this one at cons).
Have a read at: http://www.georgerrmartin.com/excerpt-from-the-winds-of-winter/
You want to know what the Sand Snakes, Prince Doran, Areo Hotah, Ellaria Sand, Darkstar, and the rest will be up to in WINDS OF WINTER? Quite a lot, actually. The sample will give you a taste. For the rest, you will need to wait.
And no, just to spike any bullshit rumors, changing the sample chapter does NOT mean I am done. See the icon up above? Monkey is still on my back… but he’s growing, he is, and one day…
(17) ZOOM BY TUBE. From Financial Times: “Musk’s Hyperloop in step towards reality”. (Via Chaos Manor.)
Elon Musk’s dream of ultra-high speed travel through a tube came a small step closer to reality on Tuesday, when one of the companies set up to pursue the idea announced it had raised another $80m and said it was ready to show off a key part of the technology.
Mr Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, stirred a wave of interest in 2013 in a technology known as hyperloop — a tube from which air is pumped out to maintain a near-vacuum, theoretically making it possible for pods carrying people or freight to move at close to the speed of sound.
The idea was floated as a potential alternative to California’s plans for a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Coming from an entrepreneur who has come to be seen in some tech circles as a visionary, it attracted enough attention to trigger a race among start-ups trying to prove the technology is in fact practical.
(18) AGENT CARTER. E!News asks“Did ABC Just Secretly Cancel Agent Carter?”. BEWARE SPOILERS.
Warning: The following contains mild spoilers for both last night’s new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America: Civil War. If you’re particularly averse to those sorts of things, you may want to turn away. Consider yourselves warned.
Dearly beloved, we gather here today to pay tribute to to the life of Agent Peggy Carter. But is it also time that we begin mourning Agent Carter, too?
If you didn’t make it out to the megaplex over the weekend to catch Captain America: Civil War, last night’s new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. probably dropped quite a bomb on you with their brief mention about the passing of the beloved founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the age of 95. That’s right, friends—Peggy Carter is dead….
(19) RED S GOING FROM CBS TO CW? ScreenRant explains why “Supergirl Season 2 Move to The CW Now a Stronger Possibility”.
CBS joined fellow TV networks FOX and The CW in airing its own DC Comics-based TV show in 2015 with Supergirl. However, the future of the series, starring Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers a.k.a. Kara Zor-El (Superman’s cousin), is currently up in the air following the airing of its season 1 finale. Although CBS CEO Les Moonves previously appeared to suggest that Supergirl season 2 is all but a done deal, the show has yet to be formally renewed, even now that the deadline for such a renewal is staring CBS right in the face.
There have been rumors that Supergirl could make the move to The CW – the place that Supergirl co-creators Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg’s other DC superhero TV shows (Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow) call home – for its sophomore season. While those claims were relatively shaky in nature, it’s now being reported that Supergirl moving to The CW is more of a real possibility and that steps are being taken to prepare for such a change, behind the scenes on the series.
(20) QUICK SAVE. “Here’s hoping The Flash wrote Kevin Smith a big fat check” says Polygon.
Whatever they paid for last night’s episode, it wasn’t enough
Whatever amount of money CW paid Kevin Smith to direct last night’s episode of The Flash, it wasn’t enough. The man responsible for Clerks (and everything that’s followed in its wake) single-handedly pulled the show out of a narrative tailspin the likes of which haven’t been seen on television since the second season of Heroes.
Now it’s up to the show’s core team to follow through and finish on a high note. Here’s how it went down.…
(21) MOVIES TO WATCH FOR. Hampus Eckerman recommends keeping an eye open for a chance to see these three movies.
A group of online gamers are invited to try a state-of-the-art virtual reality video game but things take a turn for the sinister when these masters of the shoot ’em up discover they will literally be fighting for their lives.
NEUROO-X, a German-Swiss-Chinese entertainment company group, stands for games that dissolve the boundary between reality and gaming). A new gadget, the myth-enshrouded RED BOOK, offers the ultimate gaming experience. The most secret longings of gamers are scanned by the engine and transformed into fantastic adventures. The conspiracy psychoses of users are the raw material for the storytelling of NEUROO-X. Marcus, Chief Development Manager of NEUROO-X dies shortly before completion of the RED BOOK. His lover Ryuko finds out that something terrible happened during testing of the game in China, and the deeper she submerges into the secret of NEUROO-X, the more she loses touch with reality. She neglects her son Walter, who logs into the game and disappears into the digital parallel world. The more Ryuko fights the corporation in order to rescue her son, the more she updates the narrative desired by NEUROO-X. Ryuko finds herself in a world full of demons, witches, knights and terrorists.
Three ordinary guys are thrust into a parallel world of an old Sci-Fi movie. Trapped in a low budget universe they must somehow fight their way home before it is too late.
(22) TEACH YOUR HATCHLINGS WELL. “Godzilla Celebrates Take Your Child to Work Day!” at Tor.com features wonderful kaiju humor.
Take Your Child To Work Day is a chaotic time – hordes of tiny creatures swarming office spaces, demanding attention and snacks and opportunities to spin around in swivel chairs. But imagine, if you will, Godzilla participating in this tradition! Tumblr-er CaqtusComics proposed such a scenario to fellow Tumblr-er Iquanamouth, and the resulting comic is perfection.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Hampus Eckerman, Michael J. Walsh, Rachel Swirsky, David D. Levine, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]