Oscar Gaffe Brings Back Memories of SF Award Blunders

Bonnie & Clyde’s 50th anniversary moment at the Oscars was overshadowed when Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced La La Land instead of Moonlight, the correct winner.

Beatty told the audience that they had read the wrong envelope, saying that he saw that Emma Stone won for La La Land, who was actually the winner for best actress. Dunaway had read the winner before Beatty could stop her.

“I opened the envelope and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Beatty assured everyone, after admitting to the mistake and explaining that they had the wrong envelope

Fans immediately took to Facebook telling their friends it reminded them of the big mistake made during the Hugo ceremonies at Magicon in 1992.

As I wrote in my Worldcon report:

…The committee showed slides of the nominees’ names on the auditorium screen intended to be synchronized with Spider Robinson’s reading. But Spider appeared completely unrehearsed in this. After cycling through the Best Fanartist images twice while Robinson stood by obviously confused, Marty Gear as the “voice from above” had to explain the concept. It was an omen….

The ceremonies derailed when Spider ripped open an envelope and read that Lan’s Lantern won the Best Fanzine Hugo. While Robinson was placing the trophy in George Laskowski’s hands, on the screen behind him flashed a slide that the winner was Mimosa, edited by Dick and Nicki Lynch. Beside me, Janice Gelb cringed just like at Raiders of the Lost Ark when I warned her the face-melting scene was coming. Laskowski briefly said, “Thank you,” and got offstage because he’d seen Mimosa on the award plaque, too.

As [convention chair] Joe Siclari and others excused themselves from the audience and headed backstage to investigate, several more Hugos were given. Locus won Best Semiprozine. Michael Whelan accepted the Best Professional Artist Hugo, confessing “With so many artists in the field doing so much excellent work I feel like a thief taking this award. Nevertheless I accept it.” Gardner Dozois received another Best Professional Editor Hugo.

Now, a shaken Spider Robinson revealed that Mimosa was the correct Hugo-winning fanzine and was joined by Laskowski to turn over the trophy to Dick and Nicki Lynch. The mistake was reminiscent of the year Asimov accidentally announced Gene Wolfe’s “Island of Dr. Death” had won the Nebula, disbelieving that No Award (the correct result) had finished first and naming instead the second item listed. The only remotely comparable mistake at any other Hugo ceremonies happened in 1985 when the slide operator (of course) flashed that John Varley’s short story won before the emcee even announced the nominees. Laskowski has won two Hugos in the past — and showed extreme grace in surrendering Magicon’s Hugo to the Lynches.

Not that the comedy of errors was over. Completely in shock, Dick Lynch reached the stage alone and gazed at the shadowy auditorium doors hoping to see his wife, Nicki, who had made a quick trip out of the room after the fanzine Hugo had been given. “I wish my wife could be here. What do I do?” Dick seemed even more lost without his spouse than did Samantha Jeude [when she received the Big Heart Award], which permanently endeared him to women who commented about it later.

Another couple of Hugos were given. A representative of James Cameron’s company accepted the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo on behalf of Terminator 2. Michael Whelan claimed another Hugo in the Best Original Artwork category for the cover of Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen.

When Spider Robinson paused to find his place our claque of fanzine fans sitting in the VIP seats noticed Nicki Lynch was back. “Bring back Nicki Lynch!” shouted Moshe Feder, and Janice Gelb. Some stood up to yell. My God, even Andy Porter stood up and shouted through cupped hands, “Bring up Nicki Lynch!” It was like a Bud Greenspan documentary, like the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Spider agreed, “That’s an excellent idea,” and both editors of Mimosa finally had their proper moment together at the Hugo Awards.

When the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo went to The World of Charles Addams Spider tried to recover his humorous stride. “The award will be accepted by ‘Hand’….”  Yelled the audience, “That’s ‘Thing’!”

…People surged out of the awards looking for Laskowski, the Lynches and Spider, to console, congratulate or cross-examine. Robinson spent the evening wearing the erroneous card, listing Lan’s Lantern, around his neck on a string to prove it wasn’t his fault. Reportedly, calligraphers had specially prepared cards with every nominee’s name and title. They were told to do all of them, since the actual winners were a secret — and somehow the wrong card got included in the award-winner envelopes delivered to Spider.

The 1992 drama reminded everyone of what happened to Gene Wolfe at the 1971 Nebulas because it was a well-known story, having been retold by Harlan Ellison in Again, Dangerous Visions. A few years ago I pulled together people’s accounts of that night

However, nothing can rival Isaac Asimov’s ghastly mistake at the 1971 Nebula Awards ceremony. Nor has any other gaffe worked out better for the injured party in the long run.

On Saturday, April 3, 1971 the leading science fiction professionals were seated around banquet tables in New York’s Les Champs Restaurant watching Asimov hand out the Nebulas.

Asimov had been pressed into service at the last minute. While that was not a problem for anyone who loved an audience as much as the Good Doctor, it meant that he had little time to study the handwritten list of results. In those days the emcee was not only given the names of the winners, but the names of the runners-up, which he also announced.

When Asimov came to the Short Story category his eyes slipped over “No Award” and he read the first real name on the list — which was Gene Wolfe, author of “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories.”

As Wolfe stood up a SFWA officer promptly whispered a correction to Asimov. Asimov went pale and announced he’d made an error. There was “No Award” in the Short Story category. Wolfe sat back down.

Eyewitness Harlan Ellison (writing in Again Dangerous Visions) says everyone felt awful –

Around him everyone felt the rollercoaster nausea of stomachs dropping out of backsides. Had it been me, I would have fainted or screamed or punched Norbert Slepyan of Scribner’s, who was sitting next to me. Gene Wolfe just smiled faintly and tried to make us all feel at ease by a shrug and a gentle nod of his head.

Fortunately, the mistake was eventually redeemed. As the author explained:

A month or so after the banquet I was talking to Joe Hensley, and he joked that I should write “The Death of Doctor Island,” saying that everyone felt so sorry for me that it was sure to win. I thought about that when I got home and decided to try, turning things inside out to achieve a different story.

He did, and his novella “The Death of Doctor Island” won a Nebula in 1974.

While, while we now know how Asimov made his mistake, we probably don’t have the full and complete explanation for the Oscar mixup because Beatty’s on-camera explanation is being disputed.

Backstage, Stone claimed she had the card that announced her as best actress win “the entire time.”

“I don’t mean to start stuff,” she said. “But whatever story that was … I had that card. I’m not sure what happened.”

Pixel Scroll 2/22/17 Scroll Me A Pixel And I Reply, Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie

(1) EARTH ][. Or maybe Seveneves for Seven Brothers. “NASA Telescope Reveal Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star”

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

 

(2) COMMON SENSES. Mary Robinette Kowal did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today where someone asked her opinion of this writing advice —

“Include all five senses on every single page of your manuscript. That’s every 250 words.”

This is stupid. Yes, you should include all five senses, but at that pace, it becomes muddy. Plus your main character probably isn’t running around licking the walls.

When you’re there, check the schedule of upcoming AMA’s on the right-hand side of the page. An almost-relentless list of heavy hitters, including Yoon Ha Lee on March 30, Aliette de Bodard on April 25, and Gregory Benford on May 16.

(3) SF HALL OF FAME IS BACK. “Prepare to party like it’s 3001” may not scan very closely with Prince’s lyrics, but that’s how MoPOP is inviting people to attend the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame which opens March 4 in Seattle.

Join MoPOP for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Celebration honoring the Hall of Fame’s 20th anniversary.

  • Featuring guests of honor: Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency); Wende Doohan, wife of the late James Doohan (Star Trek); Robyn Miller (Myst co-creator); and more
  • Live performances by Roladex, DJ Kate (False Prophet), and the all-female Wonder Woman-loving marching band, Filthy FemCorps
  • Trek Talk panel exploring Star Trek’s 50-year impact on pop culture, fandom, and geekery
  • Hall of Fame spotlights on the mammoth Sky Church screen
  • Costume parade, MovieCat trivia, gaming, and activities
  • Stellar photo ops, themed food and drink specials, and beyond

Tickets include admission into MoPOP’s Infinite Worlds of Science FictionFantasy: Worlds of Myth & Magic, Star Trek: Exploring New Worlds, and the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame gallery.

(4) TECHNOLOGY SHOULD NOT BE MUSHED UP. The future is not yet: UPS drone has glitches.

The delivery firm UPS has unveiled a drone-launching truck – but the event did not go completely to plan.

One aircraft failed to launch properly and was then nearly destroyed….

The Horsefly octacopter involved was made by Ohio-based Workhorse Group.

The initial test went well, with the aircraft launching from a platform built into the truck’s slide-open roof.

But a second attempt was more problematic.

The drone tipped over when it tried to take off, rocked back and was then nearly crushed when the truck’s roof began to close over the launch pad where the machine was still sitting.

(5) BUGS MR. RICO! This Saturday is the annual Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois here in Champaign-Urbanana (typo intentional). Jim Meadows explains:

The festival is put on by the university’s entomology department, using cheesy insect sf movies with bad science, to educate the public through reverse example.

This weekend, their guest is University of Illinois alumnus Paul Hertzberg, executive producer of the two movies being shown:  “Caved In” (2006) (with nasty beetles, I think) and 2016’s “2 Lava 2 Lantua” (nasty tarantulas — a sequel to “Lavalantula” which was shown at the festival last year).

The SyFy cable channel and its commissioning of cheap TV movies, often involving bugs, has been a godsend to the Insect Fear Film Festival, giving it a fresh supply of insect sf movies to draw from.

(6) BRYANT’S WILD CARDS INTERVIEW. George R.R. Martin has online the video recorded at MidAmeriCon II of Ed Bryant talking about the Wild Cards series.

After we heard about Ed’s death, I contacted Tor to ask them if Ed had been one of the writers they had talked with in Kansas City. I am pleased to say he was, and we can now present his interview to you complete and uninterrupted.

All those who knew and loved him will, I hope, appreciate the opportunity to see and hear from Ed one last time… but I should warn you, there is a bittersweet quality to this tape, in light of what was coming. Sad to say, Ed never did finish that last Wild Cards story he was working on, nor any of the other tales that he hoped to write.

Sooner or later, all of us have to see The Jolson Story. Be that as it may, for one last time, I am honored to present my friend Edward Bryant…

 

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 22, 1630 — Popcorn was first introduced to English colonists by Native Americans.

(8) SPAM OF THE DAY. Daniel Dern tells the story —

I got this PR email (not unreasonably, since I’m a tech journo):

Subject: Feb. 2017: Marketing Tech Secrets Powering Unicorns

To which I replied: Why do I feel this is a Peter S Beagle / Cory Doctorow mashup novel?

(9) EXTRA CREDIT READING. Yes, I should mention The Escapist Bundle again.

You see, the eleven fantastic books in this bundle come from authors tied together by, among other accolades, their inclusion in a single volume of Fiction River, in this case a volume called Recycled Pulp. For those of you unfamiliar with Fiction River, it’s an original anthology series that Adventures Fantastic calls “one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

With 22 volumes published so far, Recycled Pulp proves one of the most creative volumes. Inspired by the fantastic, escapist pulp fiction of the last century, the amazing authors in this volume were tasked with creating modern escapist fiction from nothing but a pulp-inspired title. The results were fantastic, indeed.

The initial titles in the Escapist Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Waking the Witch by Dayle A. Dermatis
  • Hot Waters by Erica Lyon
  • Recycled Pulp by Fiction River
  • The Pale Waters by Kelly Washington
  • Isabel’s Tears by Lisa Silverthorne

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus SIX more!

  • A Death in Cumberland by Annie Reed
  • Neither Here Nor There by Cat Rambo
  • The Slots of Saturn by Dean Wesley Smith
  • The War and After by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Revolutionary Magic by Thomas K. Carpenter
  • Tales of Possibilities by Rebecca M. Senese

This bundle is available for the next 22 days only.

(10) VIRGIN FIELD EPIDEMIC. Steven Brust thinks con crud has been around for awhile.

Yes – that’s practically the Curse of King Tut’s Tomb.

(11) OH THE HUMANITY. “Two Huge Sci-Fi Novels Were Snubbed by the Nebula Awards” and Inverse contributor Ryan Britt is overwrought:

On Tuesday, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America released its nominees for the 2016 Nebula Awards and there were two glaring omissions in the category for Best Novel. Cixin Liu’s Death’s End and Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey. Does the nominating committee of the Nebulas have something against science fiction that everyone loves?

(12) STICK YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR EARS AND GO ‘LA LA LA’. Can Arrival win? Inverse skeptically takes “A Historical Look at Why Science Fiction Always Gets Screwed at the Oscars”.

1969’s 41st Academy Awards is a kind of patient zero for how respectable science fiction movies would be treated at the Oscars for the rest of time. The Academy had to acknowledge some good special effects and makeup, and at least give a shout-out to original writing. Science fiction received a pat on the head in 1969, but 2001: A Space Odyssey — maybe the best sci-fi movie ever made — didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture. And, like 1969, 2017’s intelligent sci-fi movie, Arrival, is pitted against an Oscar-bait favorite: the musical La La Land. In 1969, the musical Oliver! won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Art Direction. Clearly, the Academy prefers singing and dancing to thoughtful reflection on the meaning of existence.

Although when you put it in those terms, who doesn’t?

(13) NO COUNTRY FOR OLD SPACEMEN. Woody Harrelson has had a pretty good career, and will soon add to his resume an appearance in a spinoff from Star Wars. The first picture of the Han Solo film team was released the other day. (Westworld star Thandie Newton will also have a role in the film, though she is not in the photo.)

L to R: Woody Harrelson, Chris Miller, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo (as Chewbacca), Phil Lord and Donald Glover

(14) BRUNCH. Not to be outdone, Twentieth Century Fox issued a photo of the Alien: Covenant cast. Unfortunately, they didn’t furnish a handy key telling who’s who. Maybe that’s less important because so many of these characters will probably get killed before the end of the movie? That’s what we expect to happen in an Alien movie, anyway.

(15) STAR CLICKIN’. ScreenRant found it easy to remember “17 WTF Things Captain Kirk Did”. Here are some of the subheads from the middle of the list. How many of them can you associate with the right episode or movie even before you look?

  1. Threatened To Spank a Planetary Leader
  1. Took Scotty To A Bordello To Cure His “Total Resentment Towards Women”
  1. Created the Khan Problem in the First Place
  1. Didn’t Tell Anyone Else He Knew They Weren’t Really “Marooned For All Eternity”
  1. Cheated on a Test — And Made It Really Obvious
  1. Pissed Off “God”

(16) PROPOSED WORLDCON 75 PANEL. It isn’t the joke, it’s how you tell it.

The Rosetta Stone for deciphering this cryptic exchange is Ursula Vernon’s 2012 blog post “In Which I Win A Hugo And Fight Neil Gaiman For Free Nachos”.

…Pretty much the minute I handed the Hugo to Kevin and sat down, the fact that I was running on a mango smoothie and crabcakes hit me, and I wanted a cheeseburger or a steak or something RIGHT NOW. The Loser’s party had a small free nacho bar. It was very tight quarters, and I had to squeeze past a curly-haired man in a dark suit who was….ah.

Yes.

“I shall dine out for years,” I said, “on the story of how I shoved Neil Gaiman aside to get to the free nachos.”

He grinned. “When you tell the story, in two or three years, as you’ve added to it, please have me on the floor weeping, covered in guacamole.”

“I think I can promise that,” I said.

(17) MEANWHILE, BACK IN 1992. Tom Hanks frames a clip of Ray Harryhausen receiving the Gordon E. Sawyer Award from Ray Bradbury at the Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards.

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

2017 Academy Awards Nominees

Arrival, the movie adaptation of Ted Chiang’s “Stories of Your Life,” and Hidden Figures, the dramatization of African-American women who worked on the early space program, are among the nominees for Best Motion Picture in the 2017 Academy Awards nominees list.

Arrival’s director, and Hidden Figures supporting actress Octavia Spencer also received nominations. Other films of interest to Hugo voters nominated in technical and animation categories are shown below. For a complete list of categories, click the link to CNN.

Best motion picture of the year

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Viola Davis in Fences
  • Naomie Harris in Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman in Lion
  • Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea

Best animated feature film of the year

  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia

Achievement in cinematography

  • Arrival
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Silence

Achievement in costume design

  • Allied
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Jackie
  • La La Land

Achievement in directing

  • Arrival – Denis Villeneuve
  • Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson
  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins

Achievement in film editing

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Moonlight

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

  • A Man Called Ove
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • Jackie
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Passengers

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • Audition (The Fools Who Dream) from La La Land
  • Can’t Stop The Feeling from Trolls
  • City Of Stars from La La Land
  • The Empty Chair from Jim: The James Foley Story
  • How Far I’ll Go from Moana

Achievement in production design

  • Arrival
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Hail, Caesar!
  • La La Land
  • Passengers

Best animated short film

  • Blind Vaysha
  • Borrowed Time
  • Pear Cider and Cigarettes
  • Pearl
  • Piper

Achievement in sound editing

  • Arrival
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Sully

Achievement in sound mixing

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Achievement in visual effects

  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Adapted screenplay

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hidden Figures
  • Lion
  • Moonlight

No Oscar for Arrival Score

arrival-1

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced 145 original scores are eligible for this year’s Oscars – but the score from the hit science fiction movie Arrival is not one of them.

Variety reports the Academy’s music branch disqualified Arrival’s original score, fearing “that voters would be influenced by the use of borrowed material in determining the value of Johann Johannsson’s original contributions to Denis Villeneuve’s alien invasion psychodrama.”

Per Rule 15 II E of the Academy’s rules and eligibility guidelines, a score “shall not be eligible if it has been diluted by the use of pre-existing music, or it has been diminished in impact by the predominant use of songs or any music not composed specifically for the film by the submitting composer.”

The most prevalent pre-existing music in the film is an emotional piece by composer Max Richter called “On the Nature of Daylight,” which also featured prominently in Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” It was determined that there would be no way for the audience to distinguish those cues, which bookend the film, from Johannsson’s score cues.

The Film Music Society says there are 55 minutes of original Johannsson music in the Arrival score, in comparison with the time devoted to the Richter composition —

Richter’s piece bookends Denis Villeneuve’s film, underscoring the Amy Adams sequences at the beginning (for nearly three minutes) and the end (for five and a half minutes). According to Johannsson, editor Joe Walker used the Richter as temporary music, and cut the opening sequence to it.

“It was always the intention to replace it,” Johannsson explained, as nearly always happens with temp music in a film. “I did several attempts, but I didn’t want to emulate that [Richter’s] sound. I wanted the opening music to have a correlation with the rest of the score. So I composed a piece for a cappella voices, which ultimately didn’t make the cut.” …The same piece was used prominently in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (2010) and appears in at least three other films.

“It’s been around,” Richter quips. “It’s one of those pieces with a strong atmosphere. It does seem to have a gravitational field that pulls things into it.”

Eric Persing, president of Spectrasonics, whose sound libraries are widely used in film and TV, says it’s an unjust decision. He protested on Facebook (quoted here with permission) —

I’m sorry, but this is absolutely infuriating….it’s the Birdman problem all over again. It’s obviously now time to clear out the Academy Music judging branch and start over with a younger generation that understands the value of hybrid scoring…you guys have lost your minds and are completely out of touch. The rules are ridiculous.

Johannsson writes over 55 minutes of some of the most moving and fresh film music of the whole year and the committee rules “that the credited …composer did not write significant and prominently featured music in the film.” That’s just not true! His score is clearly and prominently featured throughout the film.

He got disqualified because of a single piece of additional music, and simply because it’s a classical piece? Obviously if it had been a featured song, this would not be an issue at all and Johannsson’s score would NOT have been disqualified. It’s purely because the non-score music used is orchestral that all these alarm bells start going off in the Academy Music branch. (oh no…..strings!)

Look guys, modern filmmakers don’t work in the traditional way and might include some additional pieces of music the composer didn’t write…just like they include licensed songs for key scenes in a movie. Judge the score for what it it is. That’s the current reality of filmmaking, is absolutely absurd to punish the composer over this reality….it’s time to adjust the rules to recognize how films are made now.

The Oscar eligibility issue has not interfered with the director-composer partnership — Johannsson is currently writing music for Villeneuve’s next film, Blade Runner 2049.

Pixel Scroll 3/1/16 If You Like To Pixel, I Tell You I’m Your Scroll

(1) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. “Can you make a living writing short fiction?” is the question. Joe Vasicek’s in-depth answer, filled with back-of-the-envelope calculations, is as carefully assembled as any classic hard sf tale.

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that short stories are not like longer books. In my experience (and I am not a master of the short form by any stretch), short stories do not sell as well in ebook form as longer books. That’s been corroborated anecdotally by virtually every indie writer I’ve spoken with.

At the same time, they aren’t like longer form books in the traditional sense either. I have three deal breakers when it comes to traditional publishing: no non-compete clauses, no ambiguous rights reversion, and no payments based on net. Short story markets typically only buy first publication rights with a 6-12 month exclusivity period, and pay by the word. That means that there’s no reason (unless you want to self-publish immediately) not to sell your short stories to a traditional market first.

(2) PAT SAYS IT’S PERFECT. Patrick St-Denis, who reviews at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist,  just awarded a novel a rare (for him) 10/10 score.

People have often criticized me for being too demanding when I review a novel. They often complain about the fact that very few books ever get a score higher than my infamous 7.5/10. But the fact is that year in and year out, there are always a number of works ending up with an 8/10 or more.

When I announced on the Hotlist’s Facebook page last week that Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar would get a 10/10, some people were shocked. I received a couple of messages asking me if it was the first book to get a perfect score from me. I knew there were a few, but I actually had to go through my reviews to find out exactly how many of them had wowed me to perfection. Interestingly enough, in the eleven years I’ve been reviewing books, Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar will be the 11th novel to garner a perfect score. The 13th, if you throw the Mötley Crüe biography and GRRM’s The World of Ice and Fire into the mix.

(3) GOLDEN SOUNDS. Trisha Lynn on “Road to the Hugo Awards: Fight the Future for Best Fancast” at Geeking Out About….

What Works

There are many podcasts out there which are dedicated to reviewing books and movies from a critics’ perspective. However, I believe this is one of the first podcasts I’ve heard of which reviews the actual worlds in which the books or movies take place. Of all the episodes I’ve heard, there are very few instances in which I feel that either Dan or Paul or their guests know or care too much about the current science fiction/fantasy literary blogosphere’s opinions of the works, its creators, its production team, or the actors portraying the characters. They are just there to discuss the work and only the work. When they do bring in references to other works or the greater outside world, they do it either near the beginning or near the end so that the discussion of most of the episode is focused on just the world inside the movie or book. It’s both fan discussion and literary criticism in its purest form, where the only clues you have are the work itself, the world you currently inhabit, your personal experiences, and that’s it.

(4) A BRIDGE JOKE TOO FAR? The Guardian asks “Could Cthulhu trump the other Super Tuesday contenders?”

“Many humans are under the impression that the Cthulhu for America movement is a joke candidacy, like Vermin Supreme – a way for people disgusted by a political system that has long since perished to voice a vote for a greater evil to end the status quo and the world,” says [campaign manager] Eminence Waite, sighing in a way that makes you think she’s been asked this question many times before. “They have never been so wrong, yet so right. Cthulhu is no joke.”

(5) HOW MUCH IS YOUR HARRY WORTH? Old editions of Harry Potter books may be worth up to $55,000.

First up, hardcover first editions of the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone could fetch anywhere from $40,000 to $55,000. Only 500 were published, and 300 went to libraries, so if you have one, go ahead and treat yourself to a nice dinner. You can afford it.

This edition has a print line that reads “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” and credits of “Joanne Rowling” rather than JK.

(6) BUD WEBSTER MEMORIAL. There will be a Memorial for Bud Webster on March 12, from noon til 5 p.m., at the Courtyard by Marriott Williamsburg, 470 Mclaws Cir, Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Hotel Rooms: $89.00 – Please ask for the Bud Webster Memorial Rate – Also mention Mary Horton or Butch Allen if there is some confusion while trying to book the room. We are not catering anything. Sodas and snacks are available at registration

(7) DON’T GET STUCK IN THE MIDDLE. Kameron Hurley (according to her blog, an “intellectual badass”), reveals how to “Finish your Sh*t: Secrets of an Evolving Writing Process”.

People often ask how I’m able to do all that work on top of having a day job, and the answer is, most days, I just don’t know. But one thing I have learned in the last three months is that I have a lot easier time completing a draft that has me stuck in the mucky middle if I just skip ahead and write the ending.

I tend to spend a lot of time on the openings of my novels and stories, and it shows. My latest short story for Patreon, “The Plague Givers,” is a good example of this. There’s a very polished beginning, as far as the prose goes, and then it veers off into simplier language for much of the middle, and returns a bit toward the end to the more polished language. I will most likely go back and polish out the other half of the story before finding a home for it elsewhere, but watching how I completed that story reminded me of how I’ve hacked my process the last few months to try and get work out the door just a little faster.

I’m a discovery writer, which means I like to be surprised by events that happen in a book just as a reader would be.

(8) LURKER QUEST ACHIEVED. In the February 8 Scroll (item 10) a lurker described a story and asked for help identifying it.

The answer is Kent Patterson’s “Barely Decent”, published in Analog in 1991. The literary estate holder was located with an assist from Kevin J Anderson, who had anthologized another Patterson story, and from Jerry Oltion. The rights holder has authorized a link to a free download of the PDF for the story.

(9) THE POWER OF LOVE. Barbara Barrett shows how mighty love is in the worlds of Robert E. Howard: “Discovering Robert E. Howard: ‘My Very Dear Beans, Cornbread and Onions’ (Valentine’s Day—Robert E. Howard Style)” at Black Gate. But this otherwise serious roundup begins with a leetle joke —

For those of you who searched for the right way to describe your feelings for that certain special someone on February 14, Robert E. Howard might have been be a good source. After all, he was a wizard with words. And he did have a novel approach when it came to romance. As Bob Howard explains to Novalyne Price Ellis in her book One Who Walked Alone:

[M]en made a terrible mistake when they called their best girls their rose or violet or names like that, because a man ought to call his girl something that was near his heart. What, he asked, was nearer a man’s heart than his stomach? Therefore he considered it to be an indication of his deep felt love and esteem to call me his cherished little bunch of onion tops, and judging from past experience, both of us had a highest regard for onions. (106)

(10) OSCARS. At the Academy Awards on Sunday night, sf favorites The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens won nothing, but Mad Max: Fury Road, so often praised here in comments, won six Oscars (Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Make-up and Hair, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing), more than any other film.

Other sf/fantasy winners — Best Animated Feature Film: Inside Out and Best Visual Effects: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington, and Sara Bennett for Ex Machina.

(11) FAST OUT OF THE GATE. R. S. Belcher, fresh from his GoH-ship at MystiCon, is ready to impart “Lessons Learned at a Writing Workshop”.

Lead strong, hook ’em, and keep ’em hooked: This advice given to several of the workshop participants made an amazing difference between draft one and draft two. The sooner you get the reader’s attention and begin to unwind the reason for your tale, the stronger the likelihood, your reader will keep reading to learn more. Novels can afford a little more leisurely pace…but only a little, and for short fiction, a strong, powerful hook is needed right out of the gate. You may only have a few sentences of an editor’s attention before they decide to keep reading or toss the Manuscript—make them count.

(12) MESSAGE FIRST. SFF World’s “Robert J. Sawyer Interview” offers this self-revelation.

What came first – the story or the characters?

Neither. I’m a thematically driven writer; I figure out what I want to say first and then devise a storyline and a cast of characters that will let me most effectively say it. For Quantum Night, the high-level concept is this: most human beings have no inner life, and the majority of those who do have no conscience. And the theme is: the most pernicious lie humanity has ever told itself is that you can’t change human nature. Once I had those tent poles in place, the rest was easy.

(13) A LITTLE LIST. David Brin asks, “Trumpopulists: what will be the priorities?” at Contrary Brin.

There is often a logic, beneath shrill jeremiads. For example, Ted Cruz has proclaimed that even one more liberal or moderate justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court might shift the reading of the Second Amendment (2A) — does it give private individuals an unlimited right to own guns, or reserve that right only to members of a militia?  (Go read the amendment and come back. In Heller v. D.C. the court went with Red America’s wishes by one vote, one interpretative vote. Moreover, let me shudder and add that Cruz is probably right about this one thing. The swing between those two interpretations is very likely to teeter for our lifetimes and more. But in railing about the near-term, he and his followers ignore the long term implication — …

that the Second Amendment, as currently worded, is by far the weakest in the entire Bill of Rights.  If this court or the next one does not reverse Heller, then it will inevitably happen when some huge national tragedy strikes. That’s called the “Ratchet Effect” (see The Transparent Society), and you are behooved to plan, during good times, for what you’ll do at some future crisis, when the public is scared.

If today’s political rightwing were rational, it would be working right now to gather consensus for a new Constitutional Amendment that might protect weapon rights far more firmly than the ambiguous and inherently frail Second. I have elsewhere described just such an amendment, which could actually pass! Because it offers some needed compromises to liberals and moderates – some positive-sum win-wins – while protecting a core of gun rights more firmly than 2A.

(14) JUDGING LOVECRAFT AND OTHERS. Frequent readers of Jim C. Hines will find his Uncanny Magazine essay “Men of Their Times” not only deals with its topic in a significant way, it also outlines the analytical process he applies to history.

…This argument comes up so quickly and reliably in these conversations that it might as well be a Pavlovian response. Any mention of the word “racism” in association with names like Tolkien or Burroughs or Campbell or Lovecraft is a bell whose chimes will trigger an immediate response of “But historical context!”

Context does matter. Unfortunately, as with so many arguments, it all tends to get oversimplified into a false binary. On one side are the self–righteous haters who get off on tearing down the giants of our field with zero consideration of the time and culture in which they lived. On the other are those who sweep any and all sins, no matter how egregious, under the rug of “Historical Context.”

….In an ideal world, I think most of us would like to believe humanity is growing wiser and more compassionate as a species. (Whether or not that’s true is a debate best left for another article.) If we assume that to be true, we have to expect a greater amount of ignorance and intolerance from the past. We also have to recognize that humanity is not homogenous, and every time period has a wide range of opinion and belief.

When we talk about historical context, we have to look both deeper and broader. Were Lovecraft’s views truly typical of the time, or was his bigotry extreme even for the early 20th century? Did those views change over time, or did he double–down on his prejudices?

Recognizing that someone was a product of their time is one piece of understanding their attitudes and prejudices. It’s not carte blanche to ignore them.

(15) STORIES OF WHAT-IF. At Carribean Beat, Philip Sander talks to Nalo Hopkinson, Tobias Buckell, Karen Lord, and R.S.A. Garcia.

Caribbean Beat: How do you define speculative fiction?

Nalo Hopkinson: I generally only use the term “speculative fiction” in academic circles. Science fiction and fantasy are literatures that challenge the complacency of our received wisdoms about power, culture, experience, language, existence, social systems, systems of knowledge, and frameworks of understanding. They make us reconsider whose stories deserve to be told, whose narratives shape the future and our beliefs, and who has the “right” to make and remake the world.

Is there a distinctively Caribbean kind of spec-fic?

A bunch of Caribbean SF/F [science fiction/fantasy] writers will be gathering to discuss this in March at the University of California, Riverside, as part of a year of programming I’m co-organising on alternative futurisms. I suspect one of the things we’ll end up talking about is Caribbean relationships to the experience of resistance — how it’s shaped our histories and imaginations, and so how it must shape our imaginative narratives. For instance, when I watch The Lord of the Rings, I wonder what the orcs do to rebel against their forced existence as beings created to be foot soldiers and cannon fodder.

We’ll probably also talk about the unique impact of place and space on the Caribbean psyche. I recently wrote a short story for Drowned Worlds, a fiction anthology on the theme of the effects of rising sea levels worldwide. For me, coming from island nations whose economies are often dependent on bringing tourists to our beaches, and which are the guardians of so much of the world’s precious biodiversity, it was particularly painful and personal to write a story about what will become of our lands. The resulting piece is angry and spooky, and combines science with duppy conqueror in ways that are uniquely Caribbean.

On the panel, we might also talk about language. The multiple consciousness that Caribbean history gives us is reflected in our code-switching, code-sliding, code-tripping dancehall-rapso-dubwise approach to signifying simultaneously on multiple levels. Science fiction reaches for that in its use of neologisms. Caribbean people, like so many hybridised peoples the world over, live it. We are wordsmiths par excellence.

(16) PUPPY COLLATION. Kate Paulk shut off comments at Sad Puppies IV and says “I’ll be going through them and collating the results over the next 2 weeks”. The Hugo nominating deadline is March 31.

(17) TALKING TO THE CUSTOMERS. The Video Shop presents “400 Fourth Wall Breaking Films Supercut”. (Most of you already know that when somebody on stage acknowledges the audience, that’s called breaking the fourth wall.) (Via io9.)

Since you’re reading this let me give you a bit of background and a couple of provisos.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of fourth wall breaking films. There are shitloads. Definitely more than 400. But 400 seemed a tidy number to end on. It’s not an academic study and there’s no rhyme or reason behind the grouping of the clips other than what seemed to work. So while yes, there are highbrow French new wave films in there I’ve also had to include The Silence of the Hams and Rocky and Bullwinkle. But then I kind of like that.

And because it’s mine I give more screen time to my favourite serial offenders, just because I can. Take a bow John Landis, Woody Allen and Mike Myers.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Rob Thornton for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Mart.]

2016 Oscar Nominees

Here are the 2016 Academy Awards nominees of genre interest.

Best Picture

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Doug Mitchell and George Miller
  • The Martian, Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam

Best Actor

  • Matt Damon, The Martian

Best Directing

  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Film Editing            

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Best Original Score

  • John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
  • The Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak

Best Visual Effects

  • Ex Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
  • The Martian, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Best Original Screenplay

  • Ex Machina, Alex Garland
  • Inside Out, Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Martian, Drew Goddard

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
  • Boy and the World, Alê Abreu
  • Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie, Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
  • When Marnie Was There, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Best Cinematography                      

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale

Best Costume Design

  • Cinderella, Sandy Powell
  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin

Best Animated Short Film

  • Bear Story, Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
  • Prologue, Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
  • Sanjay’s Super Team, Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
  • We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, Konstantin Bronzit
  • World of Tomorrow, Don Hertzfeldt

Best Sound Editing

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David White
  • The Martian, Oliver Tarney
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Matthew Wood and David Acord

Best Sound Mixing

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  • The Martian, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

 

2012 Oscar Nominees

The 2012 Academy Award nominations show there are still some sf/fantasy stars in the cinema firmament, even if they are not in the prestigious Best Picture or acting categories. (Unless we appropriate Hugo, the 3-D movie about the man who invented special effects — I haven’t seen it, you tell me.)

The genre dominates the Visual Effects category, as is often the case:

Visual Effects
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Real Steel
Hugo
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Unlike last year, when the Short Film (Animated) category was highlighted by the work of recent Worldcon GoH Shaun Tan, there is no comparable standout in 2012, although a couple of these might be claimed as examples of sf/fantasy (links have been added to the trailers I viewed while drafting this post):

Short Film (Animated)
Dimanche/Sunday
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

In the Animated Feature Film category, the story of greatest interest to me is about the contender not nominated.

Having reported Steven Paul Leiva’s argument against allowing The Adventures of Tintin as an Oscar contender in the animation category, I was interested to find Spielberg’s movie did, indeed, fail to make the cut. Even after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had announced in July 2010 that “motion-capture films are no longer considered eligible for the Best Animated Feature Film category,” Paramount had continued to urge on voters the view that Tintin isn’t a just a performance capture film. Academy voters evidently felt differently.

Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots,” Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski

About the animated films that are up for an Oscar the NY Times observed:

The animation voters this year skewed European and hand-drawn, choosing “”A Cat in Paris,” a French film, and “Chico & Rita,” made by a Spanish director and designers, over more high-profile, high-tech hopefuls like “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Arthur Christmas” and Pixar’s “Cars 2.” (It is only the third time since Pixar was founded a decade ago that its name did not pop up in the best animated feature selections, though it did garner a nod for its short, “La Luna.”)

Oscar VFX Longlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on January 4 the 10 films still in the running in the Visual Effects category for this year’s Academy Awards®. Plenty of fantasy and science fiction films are on the list, as usual:

  • “Captain America: The First Avenger”
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”
  • “Hugo”
  • “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
  • “Real Steel”
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
  • “The Tree of Life”
  • “X-Men: First Class”

The Academy’s visual effects branch will watch excerpts from these movies and choose the five finalists. They will be revealed along with the other Oscar nominees on January 24.

Shaun Tan Film Nominated for Oscar

AussieCon Four Artist GoH Shaun Tan is up for an Oscar in the Best Short Film (Animation) category for The Lost Thing, based on Tan’s book.

The full slate of nominees in the category is:

Short Film (Animation):

  • “Day & Night” Teddy Newton
  • “The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
  • “Let’s Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
  • “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
  • “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Tan and a small team worked on the adaptation from 2002 to 2010. It uses CGI with 2D handpainted elements.

The trailer is available here (YouTube).

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the story.]

Update 01/26/2011: I don’t think too many people will suppose we mean Shaun Tan was GoH of the 1975 AussieCon, but no reason to needlessly worry Janice!