NESFA 2017 Short Story Competition Taking Entries

The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) is now accepting stories for its 2017 Annual Short Story Competition for new and emerging writers.

We are seeking science fiction and fantasy short stories that represent a diverse range of topics and authors within the genre.

The purpose of this contest is to encourage amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency. We will look for engaging openings, good character development, well structured plotting, powerful imagery, witty or humorous language, unique word or phrasing choices, and convincing endings. A qualifying entrant is a writer who has not previously published in a paid, professional forum, book, magazine, etc. at the time of submission, and who has received no more than $1000 for any previously published short stories (total) or other work of fiction in electronic form. Having published a novel, either in e-format or on paper automatically disqualifies you as an entrant in the contest.

All contest entrants receive a short critique of their work and finalists receive an assortment of free books.

Past judges have included award-winning authors such as Daniel Kimmel, Steven Brust and Garth Nix, among others.

The grand prize winner will receive a free membership to Boskone 56, New England’s longest running science fiction convention.

The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. All submissions must be made via email to storycontest@boskone.org in flat text, rich text, or any format readable by MS Word or Open Office. For more information, including submission guidelines and deadlines, visit http://www.nesfa.org/awards/storycon.html.

NESFA welcomes all writers and topics. We look forward to reading your submission and wish all of our writers good luck in NESFA’s 2018 Annual Short Story Competition.

Pixel Scroll 4/9/17 Ruler of the Pixelgram

(1) SUCCESSFUL CHARITY EVENT. Tom Edwards, one of the best cover designers in science fiction, teamed up with Parkinson’s UK and Keystroke Medium to raise money for Parkinson’s research. Three premade covers by Edwards, as well, as an editing package by Ellen Campbell, went to auction on April 8 and brought in almost 4000 pounds / $5000 US.

Sample cover

(2) FAKE NEWS PIONEER. His role was created to encourage U.S. support for Britain prior to America’s entry into WWII — “Louis deWohl: The Astrologer Who Helped Foil Hitler”.

Then, in June 1941, one of de Wohl’s more detailed predictions seemed to come true. “A strong collaborator of Hitler who is neither German nor a Nazi will go violently insane,” he foretold. “He will be in South or Central America, probably near the Caribbean Sea.” Three days later, U.S. newswires proclaimed that the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies, Admiral Georges Robert, had gone insane and had to be restrained by staff. The New York Post reported that newspaper editors across America “besieged de Wohl with requests for exclusive stories.” The astrologer possessed a mysterious ability to know the unknowable, and millions of Americans wanted to know more.

The way it worked behind the facade was masterful. The British spy agency first fed information to de Wohl, which he would write up in his column. In turn, MI5 would then feed the bogus information to the U.S. press. Unable to fact-check details with the Third Reich, the American press would report the news as real, which it was not. For example, the Vichy High Commissioner of the French West Indies never went insane.

(3) TINGLE TIME AGAIN. Almost a year ago, UrsulaV wrote a series of tweets in the style of Dr. Seuss after Chuck Tingle played Vox Day, who had slated him onto the Hugo ballot. File 770’s unofficial motto is “It’s always news to somebody” – usually me – and besides, this news is practically fresh again, with Tingle renominated and pranking the porn author who replaced him on Vox’s slate.

(4) NESFA STORY CONTEST. The New England Science Fiction Association is looking for entries in its annual story contest.

Do you like to write science fiction or fantasy stories? Are you an aspiring writer, but not sure if you’re ready for the big time? Then you’re just the kind of writer we’re looking for! The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA for short) is running a writing contest. Prizes include free books, and a grand prize of a free membership to Boskone. More important though is that we offer free critiques of your work. Our goal is to help young & aspiring writers to improve their writing, so you can become our new favorite writer! Check out our website for details:

http://www.nesfa.org/awards/storycon.html

We welcome submissions from everyone, in every country in the world (as long as it’s written in English, please!). Women, people of color, LGBTQ writers, and members of other underrepresented groups are encouraged to enter the contest.

(5) AH ROMANCE. The shortlist for the Romance Writers of America’s 2017 RITA and Golden Heart Awards was announced March 21. Here are the finalists of genre interest.

The RITA Award – “the highest award of distinction in romance fiction” — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas.

Paranormal Romance

  • Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert Harlequin, Nocturne Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor
  • The Beast by J R Ward New American Library Kara Welsh, editor
  • The Champion of Barésh by Susan Grant Self-published Mary Moran, editor
  • Enchanted Warrior by Sharon Ashwood Harlequin, Nocturne Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor
  • Ghost Gifts by Laura Spinella Montlake Publishing Alison Dasho, editor
  • The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre Self-published Sasha Knight, editor
  • The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy Kensington Publishing Corp. Peter Senftleben, editor
  • Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper Pocket Books Abby Zidle, editor

The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.

Paranormal Romance

  • “Beryl Blue, Time Cop” by Janet Halpin
  • “Bless Your Heart and Other Southern Curses” by Heather Leonard
  • “Constant Craving” by Kari W. Cole
  • “Fire’s Rising” by Grace Adams
  • “The Mer Chronicles: Love’s Diplomatic Act” by Kate Ramirez
  • “Soul Affinity” by A. Y. Chao

Award winners will be announced on July 27 at the 2017 RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida.

(6) MESSAGE FICTION. Bleeding Cool reports “Marvel Artist Ardian Syaf Hid Anti-Christian And Jewish Messages In This Week’s X-Men Comic”. The political background to the references is:

In Indonesia, 212 is the number used to denote a specific mass protest from 2nd December last year. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims marched against the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok,, over allegations of blasphemy regarding his use of the Qu’ran in campaigning against opponents. The march was organised, in part, with the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa. It was pretty hardline conservative and the protest demanded the government prosecute and jail Ahok based on the council’s fatwa, declaring him to be a blasphemer. This year, a 212 2.0 march with similar aims was held on the 21st of February.

(You can see the artwork at the link.)

The information comes from sources including this public Facebook post by an Indonesian comics reader:

Dear Marvel Comics My name is Haykal, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia And I would like to inform you something about your recent comics, X-Men Gold.

…I found out that on X-Men Gold comic, there’s a subliminal message of hatred towards minorities It was done by this person, a Muslim penciller from Indonesia https://www.facebook.com/ArdianSyafComicArt/

And he’s using your comics to spread hatred against non muslim minorities in Indonesia.

The “QS 5:51” on Colossus shirt refers to the Quran verse used by Muslim extremists to discriminate against the current governor which is also one of the governor candidates in the current election in Jakarta, Indonesia. https://quran.com/5/51

Bleeding Cool has since reported that Ardian Syaf was unwilling to discuss the issue with them.

Meanwhile, Marvel has made a statetment via Comicbook.com.

“The mentioned artwork in X-Men Gold #1 was inserted without knowledge behind its reported meanings. These implied references do not reflect the views of the writer, editors or anyone else at Marvel and are in direct opposition of the inclusiveness of Marvel Comics and what the X-Men have stood for since their creation. This artwork will be removed from subsequent printings, digital versions, and trade paperbacks and disciplinary action is being taken.”

Comicbook.com notes –

No further details were provided concerning how exactly Marvel will discipline Syaf. Preview art suggests that Syaf has already completed work on X-Men Gold #2, which releases on April 19. Syaf is also one of three announced rotating artists on X-Men Gold, along with RB Silva and Ken Lashley, so it may be some time before fans know for certain if he will returning to X-Men Gold.

And if you want to take a deep dive into this, Ms. Marvel writer G. Willow Wilson has a post up — Here is What Quran 5:51 Actually Says.

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Unicorn Day

What mythological creature has been more beloved over the centuries than the unicorn? Symbols of purity and enchantment, unicorns are loved by both children and adults alike and are integral parts of many fairy tales and legends. For all the roles they’ve played in literature, cinematography, and art as a whole, unicorns more than deserve their own day!

Unicorns were mentioned as far back as antiquity—ancient Greek writers believed they lived in the faraway and exotic country of India, which was then largely unknown to Europeans. However, the unicorn was then thought to be a powerful, fierce animal that was not to be meddled with. In the Middle Ages, the unicorn’s image was based greatly on Bible passages that were thought to speak of these animals, and unicorns slowly came to be seen as a symbol of strength, the purest kind of love, and the pets of virgin women. In fact, there is even a sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding a unicorn on her lap and patting it in Warsaw’s National Museum. Thus, unicorns have been appearing in works of literature for thousands of years. The most prominent more modern examples include Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and The Last Battle by S.C. Lewis. The whole immensely popular My Little Pony franchise is also based on unicorns.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • April 9, 1959 — NASA introduced the first seven astronauts to the press.

(9) BIG FINISH. The Washington Post’s Michael O’Sullivan interviews director Nacho Vigilando, whose film Colossal is a fusion of kaihu eige and romantic comedy that will be released this Friday.

Q: In that film [7:35 in the Morning], you critique the cliches of the movie musical by staging a song-and-dance number in a diner with seemingly ordinary people. “Extraterrestrial” plays with the tropes of the alien invasion movie. In “Colossal,” you do something similar with the genre of the monster movie. What’s so fascinating about genre cinema?

A: The moment in “Colossal” that sums up what you’re talking about is when Gloria calls her ex-boyfriend, because she wants to talk about this monster that is invading South Korea. And he responds by asking, “Why are you calling so late? That happened early this morning.” He thinks that means she has spent the whole day just sleeping. I’m really attracted to the idea of playing inside these sandboxes, in which everybody in the audience knows the rules. Our expectations of these films become part of the show somehow. I admire Superman, but am I a kind person all the time, the way Superman is? How can I relate to a character who has an “S” on his chest, since there are moments in my life when I behave like an a—— to other people?

(10) COUNTING THE PUPPIES. Greg Hullender has written up his analysis of the 2017 Puppy vote at Rocket Stack Rank“Slating Analysis: 2017”. He says, “I get a slightly higher number than you did: 88-118. I make up for that with some cool graphs.”

Now that the 2017 Hugo Awards Finalists lists have come out, we can estimate how many slate voters there were. By our calculations, there were between 88 and 118 of them. This is just slightly higher than Mike Glyer’s estimate of  “80 to 90”. When the detailed statistics are available in August, we’ll make a more precise estimate, using the methods we used in our article Slate Voting Analysis Using EPH Data: 2014-2016

(11) A THREE BLACK HOLE RATING. The Guardian shares Jay Rayner’s brutal review of Le Cinq, Paris, a Michelin 3-star restaurant.

Other things are the stuff of therapy. The canapé we are instructed to eat first is a transparent ball on a spoon. It looks like a Barbie-sized silicone breast implant, and is a “spherification”, a gel globe using a technique perfected by Ferran Adrià at El Bulli about 20 years ago. This one pops in our mouth to release stale air with a tinge of ginger. My companion winces. “It’s like eating a condom that’s been left lying about in a dusty greengrocer’s,” she says. Spherifications of various kinds – bursting, popping, deflating, always ill-advised – turn up on many dishes. It’s their trick, their shtick, their big idea. It’s all they have. Another canapé, tuile enclosing scallop mush, introduces us to the kitchen’s love of acidity. Not bright, light aromatic acidity of the sort provided by, say, yuzu. This is blunt acidity of the sort that polishes up dulled brass coins.

Do you think we could get a Kickstarter funded if he turned his jaded eye in the direction of the Puppies Forbidden Thoughts anthology?

(12) CRETACEOUS TASTINESS. When you hear a bell, think of tacos — TriceraTACOs, that is.

(13) THE PLANE TRUTH. John Scalzi does not get enough credit for his restraint.

(14) IN MEDEA RACE. “The Ballad of Maui Hair” is practically a companion piece to “The Anthem Sprinters.” These tweets just begin to set the scene:

(15) SONG AND DANCE MAN. In 1993, Christopher Walken appeared on Saturday Zoo with Jonathan Ross (who later got uninvited as toastmaster of the 2014 Worldcon in historic record time.) Walken gave an inimitable reading of “The Three Little Pigs.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, and Rev. Bob for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]

Fagan Wins Gaughan Award

Kirbi Fagan was presented with The Jack Gaughan Award for Best Emerging Artist during the NESFA Awards ceremony at Boskone on February 19.

The Gaughan Award “honors the memory of Jack Gaughan, a long-time friend of fandom and one of the finest SF artists of the 20th century.” The winner is selected by a three-person jury appointed by the President of the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA).

A gallery of her art can be viewed here.

Skylark Award Goes To Walton

SF/fantasy author Jo Walton was presented with the E.E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction (the Skylark) during the NESFA Awards ceremony at Boskone on February 19.

The award is given annually by vote of the Regular members of the New England Science Fiction Association to a person, who “has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him.”

The Boskone Blog outlined Walton’s career for a recent interview —

Jo Walton has published thirteen novels, three poetry collections and an essay collection. She won the John W. Campbell Award in 2002, the World Fantasy Award for Tooth and Claw in 2004, the Hugo and Nebula awards for Among Others in 2012, the Tiptree Award for My Real Children and the Locus Non Fiction award for What Makes This Book So Great in 2014. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal. She reads a lot, enjoys travel, talking about books, and eating great food. She plans to live to be ninety-nine and write a book every year.

 

Arnold Receives Gaughan Award

First Kill by Tommy Arnold.

Tommy Arnold was presented the Jack Gaughan Award for Best New Artist at Boskone 53.

The New England Science Fiction Association gives the award annually to an artist who has become a professional within the past five years. The recipient is chosen by a panel of judges.

More examples of the winner’s artwork can be seen at his website.

Doug Hoylman (1943-2015)

Doug Hoylman.

Doug Hoylman.

Doug Hoylman’s six championships in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament are the exclusive focus of his Washington Post obituary, however, the longtime sf fan, who died on November 2, once was an active fanzine editor.

He grew up in the small town of Kalispell, Montana. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1969.

God comics HoylmanHoylman would have been a freshman at M.I.T. when he and Al Kuhfeld, another M.I.T. student, published God Comics #3: The World’s Most Blasphemous Comic Fanzine, with contents that included a Justice League parody called the “God Squad” featuring Thor, Mercury, Mary, Poseidon and Ball. The cover shows Batman removing his mask to reveal Wonder Woman.

Later, while editing the M.I.T. Science Fiction Society’s Twilight Zine, Hoylman advocated a viewpoint that so sharply contrasted with his contemporaries’ he is quoted in Peter Justin Kizilos-Clift’s 2009 dissertation “Humanizing the Cold War Campus: The Battle for Hearts and Minds at MIT, 1945-1965” –

While most science fiction readers were still men, more women were becoming readers, writers, and fans, and were being welcomed as equal participants into the MIT Science Fiction Society and the vast universe of science fiction. “Coeds are welcome in the society,” wrote Twilight Zine editor Doug Hoylman in November 1962, “in fact we have a disproportionate number of them. Our vicepresident and our treasurer are coeds. The views held by V—D— [Voodoo, the notoriously anti-feminist MIT humor magazine] and other forces of evil regarding Tech Coeds are not subscribed to by the Society.”

The first sf convention Hoylman attended was Pacificon II, the 1964 Worldcon in San Francisco.

He moved to the Washington area about 1970 and worked at Geico Insurance until the 1990s.

I’m missing some connecting history, but he was involved with NESFA closely enough to have been designated part of the club’s faux Fanzine Review Board in 1972, whose responsibilities were recorded in his apazine —

The Fanzine Control Act of 1971 is a little-known part of the Phase 2 economic program designed to fight fanzine inflation. Fanzines are important to the economy, particularly as regards the manufacturers of duplicating equipment and the United States Postal Service, and it is in the public interest to see that fanzines do not become so inflated that their publishers are unable to maintain them (the recent collapse of Science Fiction Review is a case in point).

The job of the Fanzine Review Board is to see to it that the President’s guidelines are enforced (these include a maximum permissible increase in number of pages of 5.5% per annum; any editor going from mimeograph to offset must have FRB approval).

The Board consists of five fans, five pros, and five large contributors to the Republican Party….

Hoylman also wrote a Holmes pastiche for the NESFA genzine Proper Boskonian, “Moriarty and the Binomial Theorem.”

When Minneapa was founded in the early 1970s he became a member, and was in the famous 1974 Minneapa group photo (as was Al Kuhfeld).

Wheile living in the DC area, he participated in the Washington Science Fiction Association. Google shows he was an active host of area gaming groups in his last years.

His dominance in crossword tournaments began with his 1988 championship, followed by others in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000. He also had three second-place finishes and three third-place finishes.

I hope File 770 readers who knew Doug Hoylman will add their memories about him in comments.

Moshe Feder Wins Skylark

2015 Skylark Award

2015 Skylark Award. Photo by Moshe Feder.

Congratulations to Tor editor Moshe Feder who was presented the 2015 Skylark Award tonight at Boskone. The Skylark is given annually by the New England Science Fiction Association to a person who, in the opinion of the membership, “has contributed significantly to science fiction, both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late ‘Doc’ Smith well-loved by those who knew him.”

Although Boston has been under stormclouds and buried in snow this weekend, once the weather clears Moshe is well advised to  heed Jane Yolen’s traditional warning about displaying the award…

Ways to Keep Your Club Vibrant, Tip #207

The fan who sent me the link hoped I’d headline the story — “NESFA’s Hosting a Gaming Con, Possible Sign of Impending Apocalypse.”

But as much fun as it is to tease NESFAns, I know from their clubzine, Instant Message, the venerable New England Science Fiction Association has been holding game days for awhile. Deciding to host the New England Gaming Convention is growing an interest they already have.

The con runs September 22 from Noon til Midnight at a VFW in Somerville, MA, with members playing board games, card games, tabletop games, RPGs, and dice games.

“Great tournaments, awesome prizes, and epic freebies” are promised. Memberships are $20. Full details on the web page.

[Thanks to Anonymous for the story.]

Pam Fremon, F.N. Passes Away

Pam Fremon died November 7 of a heart attack reports Deb Geisler. Fremon, a long-time NESFA member, lived in Waltham, MA. She chaired the 2002 and 2006 Boskones, served several terms as Clerk of the NESFA, and was selected a Fellow of NESFA in 1990.

“She brought together MCFI and Bill Neville who did all our Lens-Family art, and was a major force in the group that did the starry vests that you showed in a recent item,” Chip Hitchcock recalls, adding this praise: “She was invariably calm when people around her got more and more tightly wound.”

“At Noreascon Four, [Pam] was the goddess of signs, pumping out many, many signs for the convention while not-quite chained to the large-format printer we had bought for the task,” said Deb, pointing to the photo below.

I remember the deftly humorous meeting reports she wrote when Clerk of the NESFA – some bits so funny I had to share them in File 770. Here are two examples: each begins with my couple of lines of introduction, followed by Pam’s quotes.

From 2000:

Hardly anyone is embarrassed to be seen entering a NESFA meeting anymore, but there seems a good reason not to attract attention on the way out. Clerk Pam Fremon says at the end of the January 23 meeting:

     “We stole away into the night, mindful of the wolves.

     “Through the years, many creatures have, of course, chased NESFAns on the way to Other Meetings — such a common occurrence that it has never seen mention in Instant Message….until now.

     “Wolves are fairly typical predators for winter meetings, but going a little further north (say, Andover, MA), polar bears are not uncommon, though they don’t usually appear until January (in December they’re too busy with Coca-Cola commercials.) In most of the rest of the year the chasers vary: moose, snakes, coyotes, pigeons. In one notably hot day when even cars were so hot that they could manage just 15 mph, members were chased by turtles.”

From 2003:

Instant Message 711 (and what issue could have a luckier number than that?) Clerk Pam Fremon reported the menu of NESFA’s November 24 Other Meeting:

     “Deb [Geisler] and Mike [Benveniste] fed us to the gills with an enormous tray of lasagna (containing 5 lbs. of meat and 2 lbs. of mushrooms). It was a free-range lasagna that had been humanely slaughtered and carried no trace of fur, feathers, nor scales. Deb acknowledged that this year she hadn’t also made an emergency back-up lasagna, figuring that this one would be enough. As she said, people had brought enough sweets for 27 courses of desserts. At the end of the meal there was only one helping of lasagna, and Dave Grubbs (after some coaxing) valiantly threw himself onto it.”

Pam Fremon with the large-format printer at Noreascon 4.

Facelift for NESFA Clubhouse?

The New England Science Fiction Association has voted to spend over $20,000 to cover the front of its clubhouse with James Hardie sheeting. The minutes of the August 5 meeting frankly state —

People question the value of this project. However, our front is uninviting; it looks abandoned.

Google Maps’ snapshot of the property doesn’t show much, but if the Clerk of the NESFA says it’s so, who’s going to argue?

Strange to think I’ve never visited there. I must add put that on my bucket list.