The 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award for North Carolina Science Fiction and Fantasy shortlist was announced online June 29.
Where Oblivion Lives by T. Frohock (Harper Voyager)
The Women’s War by Jenna Glass (Del Rey)
The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (Saga Press)
Breaking Gods by D. J. Molles
To the Bones by Valerie Nieman (West Virginia University Press)
A Fall in Autumn by Michael G. Williams (Falstaff Books)
Ordinarily, the winner(s) would be announced at ConGregate on July 17, however, plans have not been finalized because the con is not being held in person this year.
The Manly Wade Wellman Award was founded in 2013 to recognize outstanding achievement in science fiction and fantasy novels written by North Carolina authors. The 2020 award covers novels published in 2019.
The award is named for long-time North Carolina author Manly Wade Wellman with the permission of his estate.
(1) US IN FLUX. The latest story from the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Fluxproject launched today: “The Wandering City,” a story about temporal anomalies, public spaces, and a new global consciousness by Usman T. Malik.
On Monday, 7/13 at 4pm Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Usman in conversation with James Graham, an architect and historian and director of the great series Columbia Books on Architecture and the City. Register at the link.
(2) AURORA AWARDS VOTING. Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association members can now vote online for the Aurora Awards through July 25. You must be logged in with an active CSFFA membership in order to access the voting page.
This page provides informatin on this year’s Aurora nominees.
The Voter Package Downloads also give you access to many of the works up for the awards this year. Like with voting, you need to be logged in to the website with an active membership to access these downloads.
(3) OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN. [Item by Olav Rokne.] The Manchester Guardian newspaper pays tribute to Star Trek icon Sir Patrick Stewart on the advent of his 80th birthday today, printing reminiscences from numerous of Stewart’s friends, colleagues, and co-stars. It’s a delightful piece to read,and paints a picture of someone who is not only iconic, but warmly human. My favorite bit is from his X-Men co-star Ian McKellen: “He’s long forgiven me my advice not to risk a solid career on the British stage by falling for an uncertain future in Star Trek.” “‘He’s so strapping and virile’: Patrick Stewart at 80 – by Shatner, McKellen, Tennant and more”
He’s a love and he is an intellectual in an athlete’s body. We had a long horse scene to do together once, and I recommended him wearing women’s silk stockings to avoid chafing and he nodded his head as a thank you. When he came out of his dressing room, he was wearing the lace stockings outside of his costume. “No, no, Patrick, underneath your costume!” We laughed, as we ordinarily did. I didn’t know he was so old.
… It can’t be true that Paul Weimer knows everybody in science fiction but if we were to draw a huge network graph, I think Paul would be at on of those nodes that helps joins multiple groups together. A regular columnist and pod-casting panellist in multiple venues, Paul is an insightful observer of the wider landscape of science fiction and fantasy. Paul is a bridge that links communities and people (exemplified by his revival of the popular mind-meld posts (http://www.nerds-feather.com/2019/09/the-hugo-initiative-mind-meld-favorite.html ).
…On Wednesday, Netflix announced that Chilling Adventures of Sabrinawill conclude with Part 4 of the series, meaning that the final eight episodes will be the series’ last. Those eight episodes are set to air in late 2020 and will explore what happens when The Eldritch Terrors descend upon Greendale. (Odds are it won’t be good.)
(6) FANTASTIKA (SWECON 2020) NEWS. Even a postponement til October won’t work, so this year’s con is off. Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf told Facebook followers:
We had a committee meeting last Monday. We decided not to have Fantastika in October. We do not know when the restriction about having a max attendance of 50 persons is going to end. What we are thinking of is organising a smaller event for local fans in October with some items that are web based. We are also planning to move Fantastika to spring.
In an effort to decide which Netflix sci-fi show is actually the best, Inverse asked our readers to fill out an online poll and over 1,200 of you did (1,234 to be exact). Here are the results, presented from worst (or least popular) to best science fiction series.
In first place —
1. STRANGER THINGS
We always knew it would end this way. Stranger Things is Netflix’s biggest original anything ever, and it gets bigger with each new season. With 377 votes, it’s also the winner of our poll by a huge margin. And with Stranger Things Season 4 delayed indefinitely due to Covid-19, there’s never been a better time to rewatch the entire series, right?
Margaret Atwood commented: “No editor has seen so many changes and done so much in publishing as the legendary and much beloved Nan Talese, known fondly to some as ‘the Nanster.’ She first came into my life at Simon & Schuster, then dragged me behind her troika as she galloped through the wilderness to Houghton Mifflin–where she acquired The Handmaid’s Tale sight unseen, in a preemptive bid–and then sashayed over to Doubleday. ‘Nanster, what are you doing?’ I cried in dismay. ‘I like a challenge,’ she said calmly, adjusting her white beret and trademark pearls. I can’t imagine her actually ‘retiring.’ It’s a figure of speech. She will continue reading, and reading my work, I hope, and offering commentary: ‘None of these people are very nice.’ “
…So I was unprepared when, watching Sliding Doors again recently, I found myself absolutely wrecked by the viewing. The movie’s perky setup was agonizing; its cheerful toggling between Helen’s two fates felt painful to witness. Because when I watched the movie this time around—in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people, with no end in sight—I wasn’t just thinking of Helen’s divergent futures. I was thinking of everyone else’s. To be alive in America right now is to be acutely aware of the paths not taken—to live, essentially, in the Sliding Doors proposition, and in the paradigm of the alternate history. Our news is doubly haunted: by the horror of real loss, and by the shadow of what might have been.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 9, 1926 – Murphy Anderson. Drew for Planet and Amazing; after his World War II service, also Fantastic Adventures and Buck Rogers. At DC he drew the Atom, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Spectre, Superman; inked Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Curt Swan; designed the costume of Adam Strange. Drew Wonder Woman for the first cover of Ms. Helped me with the L.A.con II Program Book (42nd Worldcon) when we gave the Forry Award to Julie Schwartz. Seven Alleys; Inkpot; Kirby, Eisner, Sinott Halls of Fame. (Died 2015) [JH]
Born July 9, 1927 – Robert Goldston. Four novels for us, ten covers for Nebula (as by James Stark), like this (back cover by Ken McIntyre), and this and this (back covers by Atom). Guggenheim Fellowship. Histories, juveniles, many more. (Died 1982) [JH]
Born July 9, 1927 — Susan Cabot. Her final film appearance was in Roger Corman’s horror feature, The Wasp Woman in which she played the lead role. She played Sybil Carrington in his earlier SF film, War of the Satellites. And in yet a third Corman film, The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent, she was Enger. (Died 1986.) (CE)
Born July 9, 1938 — Brian Dennehy. He was Walter in the Cocoon films, and, though it’s more genre adjacent than actually genre, Lt. Leo McCarthy in F/X and F/X 2. He also voiced Django in Ratatouille. His very last performance was as Jerome Townsend in the “Sing, Sing, Sing” episode of Penny Dreadful: City of Angels series. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born July 9, 1911 — Mervyn Peake. Best remembered for the Gormenghast series which is delightfully weird. Most fans hold that there are but there novels in the series (Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone) though there’s a novella, “Boy in Darkness”, that might be part of it. It has been adapted for radio three times and television once, and Gaiman is writing the script for a forthcoming series. (Died 1968.) (CE)
Born July 9, 1945 – Dean Koontz, 75. A hundred novels, sixty shorter stories; nine pen names; translated into forty languages; 500 million copies sold. Used to look like Gordon Liddy but tired of it and changed. Warns that supposed appearances in fanzines after 1968 are suspect, the tale to be told in his memoirs. His Website is here. [JH]
Born July 9, 1946 – Lynne Aronson, 74. Recruited by Phyllis Eisenstein. Entered the NyCon 3 Masquerade (25th Worldcon) in a dress made of magazine rejection slips. With husband Mark co-founded Windycon, chaired the first three, Guests of Honor at Windycon XV and XXX (some use Roman numerals, some don’t). Organized, if that word may be used in a fanzine, the Noreascon Two One-Shot Chorale (38th Worldcon). [JH]
Born July 9, 1957 – Todd Lockwood, 63. A hundred eighty book and magazine covers, a hundred sixty interiors. Here is a cover for Analog. Here is Karavans. Here is Resurgence. Known too for Dungeons & Dragons. Twelve Chesleys, one for Cerberus the Aardvark. Artbook, Transitions. [JH]
Born July 9, 1971 — Scott Grimes, 49. He’s Lieutenant Gordon Malloy. on The Orville, a show I’ve not watched and so would very much like to hear what y’all think of it. He did show up once in the Trek verse, playing Eric in the “Evolution“ episode Of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (CE)
Born July 9, 1972 – Rachel Hartman, 48. Three novels; a dozen cartoons in Strange Horizons. Madrigal choir, the QuasiModals. Having shown us the Goreddi religion she takes particular interest in its saints and their dogs. Admits her chief failing as a Canadian is that she is not a hockey person, but she did interview Ngozi Ukazu. [JH]
Born July 9, 1978 — Linda Park, 42. Best-known for her portrayal of communications officer character Hoshi Sato on the Enterprise. Her first genre role was Hannah in Jurassic Park III, she was Renee Hansen in Spectres which Marina Sirtis is also in. She was in some called Star Trek: Captain Pike three years back as Captain Grace Shintal. It has to be another one of those fan video fictions. (CE)
Born July 9, 1995 — Georgina Henley, 25. English actress, best remembered for her portrayal of Lucy Pevensie throughout the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise from age ten to age fifteen. She’s listed as having an unspecified role in an untitled Game of Throne prequel series but given the number of those proposed, this may or may not exist. (CE)
In time for the 25th anniversary of his beloved fantasy series-starter The Golden Compass, British author Philip Pullman will publish a new standalone short story featuring Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers announced today the October 15 release of Serpentine in hardcover and ebook format, featuring illustrations by Tom Duxbury. Listening Library will simultaneously release an audiobook, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman (The Crown; The Favourite).
(12) IF THERE WERE AIRBNB REVIEWS OF THESE. Riley Sager, in “Don’t Stay In These Famous Literary Haunted Houses!” on CrimeReads, has Airbnb news of haunted houses where you shouldn’t go on vacation, including the house where The Amityville Horror was set “how can you list a place on this site and NOT MENTION THERE’S A DEMON PIG!” and the Overlook Hotel, setting for The Shining (“I’m not sorry the place was destroyed #sorrynotsorry”.)
(13) ON YOUR MARK. Nate Hoffelder’s good work in registering www.cirsova.com and pointing it at Black Lives Matter caught someone’s attention:
Hmm, a search of the US Patent and Trademark Office shows no dead or live attempts to register Cirsova as a trademark. Maybe Nate could do that next?
Josephine Flowers became a ranked, competitive Scrabble player more than a dozen years ago, and to commemorate the moment, she inscribed her custom-built game board with one of her favorite sayings: “Never underestimate the power of words.”
The phrase serves as a constant reminder to her that, even when people say that the words formed on a Scrabble board are supposedly divorced of meaning, they can still inflict pain.
That is why Flowers, who is Black, and several other members of the North American Scrabble Players Association, have called on the organization to ban the use of an anti-Black racial slur, and as many as 225 other offensive terms, from its lexicon.
“You could be sitting there for a 45-minute game just looking at that word,” said Flowers, a mental health worker from West Memphis, Ark. “And if you don’t know the person who played it, then you wonder, was it put down as a slight, or was it the first word that came to their mind?”
Needless to say, the article does not include a list of these 226 terms.
Rats will enthusiastically work to free a rat caught in a trap — and it turns out that they are especially eager to be a good Samaritan when they’re in the company of other willing helpers.
But that urge to come to the rescue quickly disappears if a potential hero is surrounded by indifferent rat pals that make no move to assist the unfortunate, trapped rodent.
These findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, suggest that rats are similar to people in that they’re usually eager to help, but bystanders can affect whether or not they’ll take action in an emergency.
“We are constantly looking at others to see their reactions. And this is not a human thing. This is a mammalian thing,” says Peggy Mason, a neurobiologist at the University of Chicago, adding that it’s something she watches play out in the daily news.
…”With the addition of more and more bystanders, the likelihood of helping goes progressively lower,” Mason explains. “It’s in every textbook. It’s a pillar of modern psychology.”
Until recently, though, the bystander effect had only been tested in humans. And Mason studies rats.
Many people might find it tricky keeping quiet through an entire roller coaster ride, but one Japanese theme park wants you to do that – and more.
Fuji-Q Highland near Tokyo re-opened last month after its virus shutdown.
It asked riders to avoid screaming when they go on its rollercoasters, to minimise spreading droplets, and instead “scream inside your heart”.
And to encourage people to play along, it’s getting riders to put on their most “serious face” for the ride photo.
They can share their photo online in the #KeepASeriousFace challenge, and those who do best will be given free day passes
…The no screaming rule – in addition to the mandatory use of masks – is meant to stop potential virus-carrying droplets from flying out of your mouth at 80mph.
Clearly, it’ll be impossible to enforce this ruling – and according to executives who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, violations will not actually be punished.
But it’s all part of measures being taken by theme parks to give customers the confidence to return after the shutdowns, and assure them their safety is being taken seriously.
[Thanks to Olav Rokne, Daniel Dern, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]
Deeply disturbing charges from two women about being abused by Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books, were aired by The Horror Show With Brian Keene on July 2.
Content warning for physical and sexual assault, and incest.
The charges were initially shared by Sarah Read on June 20, when she tweeted a screencap of the account posted by Beatts’ ex-girlfriend on Facebook. (The source post either is not public, or has since been removed.)
“Alan Beatts is the owner of Borderlands Books in San Francisco and my ex-boyfriend. He grabbed me by the hair and threatened to kill me with a knife to my throat. He tried his damndest to rape DoveStep Beatts. I know there are others he assaulted and abused. It feels weird to ask for people not to support an indie bookstore right now, but please don’t support Borderlands Books,”
Keene also spoke to Alan Beatts in an off-the-record conversation – disclosing that Beatts is someone he had a 20-year professional and personal relationship with, that he is not only “intricately tied to,” but is the subject of an entire chapter in Keene’s recently-published memoir End of the Road.
Keene said on the podcast: “This is the one that broke me, folks. …All I can say is I’m sorry to everyone involved. …I will not be doing any more signings at Borderlands Books.”
Author Christopher Golden tweeted a link to Keene’s podcast with the comment that these allegations are “stomach-turning” and that “I love the store but as long as he’s connected to it, I couldn’t support them.”
And the store’s Events calendar indicates several virtual items which had been scheduled for this week have been called off, with only the explanation — “Due to unforseen circumstances, this event has been cancelled.” This includes virtual appearances by Katherine Addison, Jo Walton, Mike Chen, Kelly McWilliams, Kate Elliott, and Mary Robinette Kowal.
— Somewhere I’ve got the CD (includes MP3 versions) of these & 6+ other Star Wars tunes he did. (Mike, happy to do an item or post with more, or we can just add thread.)
To which, in the subsequent comment, OGH said, “A post would be very welcome.” (Which, irrelevantly, calls to mind Ogden Nash’s very-short “Ode To A Baby”.)
So here, per this post’s title, is a bunch of additional Star War parodies, including a few I hadn’t known about. (Found, unsurprisingly, by simple dint of doing a web search (I use DuckDuckGo, BTW) on “Star Wars song parody” — also try using “parodies” for a slightly different yield.)
The winning author receives a certificate of merit and a falcon sculpture crafted in wood.
The Maltese Falcon Society was founded in San Francisco in 1981, and later added chapters in New York and Japan. The Japanese chapter is the last one still active, and holds meetings in Tokyo and Osaka.
…Next up are these Vampire Milk Chocolate Kisses that might look like your classic Hershey’s Kisses (with adorable bat foil) but when you bite in, they’re stuffed with a strawberry creme filling fit for a vampire. You get the strawberry flavor before you even bite in, which I loved. They taste like a chocolate-covered strawberry but, like, way easier to eat.
…In addition to new candies, you’ll also find some old faves on shelves this fall like Reese’s Pumpkins, mini Pumpkin Pie Kit Kats, Hershey’s Glow-In-The-Dark minis, and milk chocolate Monster Kisses with adorable themed foils. All of these will start rolling out in stores as the holiday gets closer which gives you plenty of time to coordinate a Halloween costume around your favorite candy.
…We regret to announce that after consultation with our convention hotel, the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center in Lombard, Illinois, we have determined that it is not possible to hold our convention this year due to COVID-19. The next Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention is scheduled for April 16-18, 2021 at the same location.
…The 2020 show would have been our 20th, and we had plans to make it our best yet. We’ll take this extra time to work on making what will now be our 20th show (albeit in 2021) even better!
The FanX® staff, much like the attendees, looks forward to all our events all year long. We never fathomed we would be in such a state of uncertainty for this year’s event because of a global pandemic. With the recent rise of Utah’s COVID-19 cases, the possibility of having the event this September and meeting again with our FanX family is looking bleak. Unless we see a significant reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the next couple of weeks, we do not feel it is in the best interest of the community and the attendees for us to continue with the plan to have the event this year. Keeping the safety of everyone at the event is always our top priority.
…In the case that we are able to have FanX® in September 2020, we are preparing to have plenty of safety features in effect and are working with health professionals to take as many safety precautions as possible. We are still preparing details of what this might look like for attendees, and we will continue to monitor COVID-19 best practices at that time for events.
(4) ON WITH THE SHOW. “‘Batwoman’ Casts Javicia Leslie as New Series Lead” – Variety has the details. Leslie, who was on God Friended Me for two seasons, will replace Ruby Rose on “Batwoman” but showrunner Caroline Dries says that Rose’s character, Kate Kane, will not be killed off on the show.
“Batwoman” has found its new series lead, with Javicia Leslie set to step into the cape and cowl for the show’s upcoming second season on The CW.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said.
Leslie will portray a new character on the show named Ryan Wilder. She is described as likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane (previously played by Ruby Rose), the woman who wore the Batsuit before her….
… Bogi’s writing is a positive challenge that asks people to reconsider the scope of works that they engage with. “Positive” in the sense that it is driven by creative output and the advocacy for creators of speculative fiction rather than the sense of simply being ‘feel-good’ or avoiding pointing out the ingrained prejudices and issues within the wider SF&F community.
(7) GAIMAN PANEL LIVESTREAM. The 2020 Auckland Writers Festival went virtual and is running a Winter Series of livestreamed panels. On Sunday, July 12, Episode 11 will feature:
English master storyteller Neil Gaiman with his latest, ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’, author and curator Kolokesa Uaf? M?hina-Tuai discussing ‘Crafting Aotearoa’ and Canadian writer and artist Leanne Shapton with ‘Guestbook: Ghost Stories’.
(8) BRADBURY’S PSEUDONYMS. First Fandom Experience fills readers in about “The Making Of ‘The Earliest Bradbury’”, their recently published volume of his earliest writing as a science fiction fan.
… However, developing a comprehensive list of Bradbury’s fanzine contributions required intensive effort by the FFE team and others.
Fortunately, there was a clear starting point: the first and most numerous of Bradbury’s fanzine appearances are found in the club organ of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League (LASFL), Imagination! This title ran for thirteen issues from October 1937 — the same month that Bradbury joined the group — to October 1938. The FFE archive includes a full set of these rare issues, and we read them exhaustively to find anything written by or referring to Bradbury.
This seemingly straightforward task soon revealed a key challenge: Bradbury and other members of the LASFL frequently published under a variety of pseudonyms. We puzzled over a number of articles that might have been penned by Bradbury, but sported whimsical bylines like “D. Lerium Tremaine” and “Kno Knuth Ing.” (A previous blog post discusses our early attempts to sort this out.)…
Today, Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, author of the Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the likely future Booker Prize-winning novel The Mirror and the Light, turns 68.
But you probably knew that. What you might not have known was that Mantel was the film critic for the UK’s The Spectator for four years, between 1987 and 1991, during which time she reviewed many films, including Overboard (“God bless us all. And send us better films next week.”), The Accused (“Economy is commendable, but a woman in all her complexity cannot be represented by a pair of outsize shoulder-pads.”), and Fatal Attraction (“A quite unremarkable film in most ways, with its B-movie conceits, cliché-strewn screenplay and derivative effects.”).
She also reviewed RoboCop—and rather enjoyed it:
“F—— me!” cry the criminals, as RoboCop blasts them into the hereafter. Rapists, robbers, terrorists are minced before our eyes. Villains are blown apart, defenestrated, melted down into pools of toxic waste. “You have the right to an attorney,” the courteous robot voice reminds them, as he tosses them through plate glass. The pace is frenetic. The noise level is amazing. You absolutely cannot lose interest; every moment something explodes….
(10) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
Forty-three years ago in the Bananas literary zine which was edited by Emma Tennant and published by Blond & Briggs, Angela Carter’s “The Company of Wolves“ was first printed. (A novelette by J.G. Ballard, “The Dead Time”, and a short story by John Sladek, “After Flaubert” comprised the rest of the zine.) Three years later, it was included in Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories collection. It would win a BSFA Award for Best Media as it would become a film of that name written by Angela Carter and Neil Jordan which starred Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, Stephen Rea and David Warner. It is quite often produced as a theatre piece in the U.K. (CE)
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born July 8, 1906 — Walter Sande. He’s best remembered for being on Red Planet Mars, The War of the Worlds and Invaders from Mars, but he also showed up playing a heavy in such serials as The Green Hornets Strikes Again! and Sky Raiders, the latter being at least genre adjacent. He’s had a recurring role as Col. Crockett on The Wild, Wild West, and one-offs on Voyage to the Bottom of The Sea, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space and Bewitched. (Died 1971.) (CE)
Born July 8, 1925 – Lou Feck. Forty covers, a few interiors. Here is Rogue in Space. Here is Cinnabar. Here is On Wings of Song. (Died 1981) [JH]
Born July 8, 1930 – George Young. Program Book and publicity for Detention (17th Worldcon). His head was under the first propeller beanie, made (i.e. the beanie) by Ray Nelson, inspiring on another evolutionary track Beanie Boy of Beanie and Cecil; here’s RN telling the story to Darrell Schweitzer. See photos of and by GY via the FANAC.org index. [JH]
Born July 8, 1934 – Merv Binns. Co-founded Melbourne SF Group, founded Melbourne Fantasy Film Group; ran first Australian SF bookshop Space Age Books; Guest of Honour [note spelling] at 9th Australian nat’l SF convention (“natcon”), 13th, 44th; at 2nd New Zealand natcon; chaired Cinecon, SF film convention. Big Heart (our highest service award). Ditmar, Chandler, Infinity, McNamara Awards. Fanzines Australian SF News, Out of the Bin. (Died 2020) [JH]
Born July 8, 1944 — Jeffrey Tambor, 76. I first encountered him on Max Headroom as Murray, Edison’s editor. Later on, and yes, I sat through that film, he’s Mayor Augustus Maywho in How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Finally, I’ll note he was in both of the only true Hellboy films playing Tom Manning, director of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. (CE)
Born July 8, 1944 — Glen Cook, 76. With the exception of the new novel which I need to read, I’ve read his entire excellent Black Company series. I’ve also mostly liked his far lighter Garrett P.I. series which it seems unfortunately he’s abandoned. And I should read the Instrumentalities of the Night as I’ve heard good things about it. (CE)
Born July 8, 1945 – D. West. First-rate fanartist. See here (cover for Chunga), here (Inca), here (Banana Wings); a hundred fifty interiors in his consummately sour style. Here’s Randy Byers’ tribute (some harsh language, some fanzine slang). (Died 2015) [JH]
Born July 8, 1953 – Mark Blackman, 67. Chaired Lunacon 38. Illustrated (with Greg Costikyan) the New York Conspiracy’s Hymnal. I met him in TAPS (the Terrean Amateur Press Ass’n), later in person. Reports from New York, like this; can often be found in WOOF. [JH]
Born July 8, 1954 — Ellen Klages, 66. Her novelette “Basement Magic” won a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. I strongly recommend Portable Childhoods, a collection of her short fiction, which published by Tachyon Publications, my boutique favorite publisher of fantasy. Passing Strange, her 1940 set San Francisco novel which won a BSFA Award and a World Fantasy Award is also really great. (CE)
Born July 8, 1970 — Ekaterina Sedia, 50. Her Heart of Iron novel is simply awesome. I’d also recommend The Secret History of Moscow as well. It’s worth noting that both iBooks and Kindle list several collections by her, Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance and Wilfill Impropriety that ISFDB doesn’t list. They’re quite superb it turns out as is Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy anthology she edited which won a World Fantasy Award. (CE)
Born July 8, 1978 — George Mann, 42. Writer and editor. He’s edited a number of anthologies including the first three volumes of Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. Among my favourite books by him are his Newbury & Hobbes series, plus his excellent Doctor Who work. (CE)
Born July 8, 1978 – Erin Morgenstern, 42.New York Times Best-Seller The Night Circus won Alex and Locus Awards; 127 editions in 21 languages. The Starless Sea came next. Does Nat’l Novel Writing Month which indeed produced Circus; “I’m grateful to Chris Baty for coming up with such an outlandish idea and also he has very good taste in wine.” Otherwise she drinks Sidecars without sugar. [JH]
(12) COMICS SECTION.
You know what a bear does in the woods. Heathcliff shows what an alien does in the woods.
(13) SLAP HAPPY. [Item by Dann.] I came across this one and thought it might be of interest. Sasha Wood’s Casually Comics channel on YouTube offers a frequently fun and detailed look into various comics. This episode from last year covers the ubiquitous meme where Batman slaps Robin. Sasha does an entertaining dive into the alternative universe that was the World’s Finest series.
I have found Sasha’s approach to be well balanced, informative, and fun. A little signal boost in her direction would be a good thingTM.
(14) FLYING BY. Cat Rambo will be teaching “Principles for Pantsers” online on Saturday, August 1, 1-3 PM Pacific time. Registration and scholarship info at the link.
Some people outline. Others don’t. There’s plenty of advice on how to do the former, but those who practice the latter sometimes feel that they’re floundering, and no one’s providing any principles. Working with my own process as well as that of students, clients, and mentees, I’ve come up with twelve principles that you can apply, post-pantsing, in order to start moving from chaos to order.
Join Cat Rambo for a workshop in which they teach you how to pants successfully.
Merriam-Webster raised the hackles of stodgy grammarians last week when it affirmed the lexical veracity of “irregardless.”
The word’s definition, when reading it, would seem to be: without without regard.
“Irregardless is included in our dictionary because it has been in widespread and near-constant use since 1795,” the dictionary’s staff wrote in a “Words of the Week” roundup on Friday. “We do not make the English language, we merely record it.”
(16) WHY WAIT? Robert Zubrin says that an Artemis flight around the moon is possible this year: ““Artemis 8” using Dragon” in The Space Review.
A mission equivalent to Apollo 8—call it “Artemis 8”—could be done, potentially as soon as this year, using Dragon, Falcon Heavy, and Falcon 9.
The basic plan is to launch a crew to low Earth orbit in Dragon using a Falcon 9. Then launch a Falcon Heavy, and rendezvous in LEO with its upper stage, which will still contain plenty of propellant. The Falcon Heavy upper stage is then used to send the Dragon on Trans Lunar Injection (TLI), and potentially Lunar Orbit Capture (LOC) and Trans Earth Injection (TEI) as well.
Russia’s secret police on Tuesday arrested a respected former reporter who worked in recent months as an adviser to the head of the country’s space agency, accusing him of treason for passing secrets to a NATO country.
Life News, a tabloid news site with close ties to the security apparatus, posted a video of the former reporter, Ivan I. Safronov, being bundled off a leafy Moscow street into a gray van by plainclothes officers of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the domestic arm of what was known in Soviet times as the K.G.B.
The F.S.B. said that Mr. Safronov was suspected of working for the intelligence service of an unspecified NATO country, passing on “classified information about military-technical cooperation, defense and the security of the Russian Federation.”
What information that could be, however, was unclear. Mr. Safronov only started working at the space agency, Roscosmos, in May. Before that, he worked for more than a decade as a well-regarded journalist for Kommersant and then Vedomosti, both privately owned business newspapers with no obvious access to state secrets.
New evidence has been found for epic prehistoric voyages between the Americas and eastern Polynesia.
DNA analysis suggests there was mixing between Native Americans and Polynesians around AD 1200.
The extent of potential contacts between the regions has been a hotly contested area for decades.
In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl made a journey by raft from South America to Polynesia to demonstrate the voyage was possible.
Until now, proponents of Native American and Polynesian interaction reasoned that some common cultural elements, such as a similar word used for a common crop, hinted that the two populations had mingled before Europeans settled in South America.
Opponents pointed to studies with differing conclusions and the fact that the two groups were separated by thousands of kilometres of open ocean.
Alexander Ioannidis from Stanford University in California and his international colleagues analysed genetic data from more than 800 living indigenous inhabitants of coastal South America and French Polynesia.
… Penguin Random House hasn’t revealed a plot for the novel, but presumably, it’ll pick up the adventures of Wade, Aech, and Art3mis now that they’re in charge of the OASIS, and will come with plenty of nerd references.
However, Liptak was no fan of Ernest Cline’s most recent book, Armada, as he reminded his Reading List audience by reposting his review titled “Ernie Cline’s Armada Fucking Sucks”.
(21) VIDEO OF THE DAY.[Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Truly, Madly, Cheaply! British B-Movies” on YouTube is a very entertaining 2008 BBC documentary presented by Matthew Sweet about the B movies produced in Britain from the 1930s to the 1970s. These films were in all sorts of genres, and ones in the 1930s gave Merle Oberon and Sir John Mills some of their first parts, but sf and fantasy films are discussed, including Devil Girl From Mars, Trog, and Konga. Also discussed is the 1973 film Psychomania (also known as The Death Wheelers), a zombie biker movie so bad that star Nicky Henson, interviewed by Sweet, said, “I can’t believe I’m talking to you about this film nearly 40 years later.” (Psychomania was also the final film of George Sanders.)
[Thanks to Doug Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, Olav Rokne, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, David Doering, Cat Eldridge, Dann, and John Hertz for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
Love Bites centers on two people trying to rebuild their lives – one in a very literal way.
…Two years after a painful divorce, Chloë is still struggling to leave the house, paralysed by anxiety and memory. So when she’s bullied into a night of dancing by her busybody aunt and finds herself in a goth club, on her own, in a strange part of town, she isn’t looking for anything more than to pass the time until she can leave.
Then she meets Angela, a smart, beautiful astronomy Ph.D. student whose smile makes her heart pound. In Angela’s eyes, Chloë can see a future. Suddenly, home alone is the last place Chloë wants to be.
…Angela and Chloë might just be perfect for each other. But how do you build a life together when one of you is already dead?
About the author:Ry Herman, born in the U.S., is now a permanent Scottish resident, and has been writing theatrical plays for most of his life. He acts and directs, and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019. He is bisexual and genderqueer. Hobbies include baking bread, playing tabletop roleplaying games, and reading as many books as humanly possible.
MIKE GLYER: What was the inspiration for Love Bites?
RY HERMAN: I met the love of my life in a goth club, one night very close to the turn of the 21st century. Both of us had recently gotten out of awful relationships. That created a bond between us, in the shared understanding of what we’d both been through, but at the same time it made us reluctant to start anything new. That dynamic, that simultaneous drawing together and pushing apart, eventually formed the basis for the book.
MG: Legend, books, and movies give vampires various attributes and vulnerabilities. What have you added and subtracted from the traditional vampire? In fact, doesn’t one of your characters try to come up with tests to answer that for herself?
RY HERMAN: I tried to keep my vampires fairly traditional in their attributes. Mine are a bit more invulnerable than some. There are so many accumulated vampire legends, though, that every author has to pick and choose. One I didn’t include, but would love to see in a story sometime, is the arithmomania aspect; in some legends, one way to stop a vampire is to put a pile of millet or rice in their way, because they’ll be compelled to stop and count every grain.
And yes, the main vampire in my story is a scientist by training, and she immediately sets out to test how her newfound supernatural powers work. She becomes very frustrated, too, when some of them obstinately defy logic – she isn’t invisible, so why doesn’t she have a reflection?
MG: I enjoyed the wordplay – where else am I going to see a character say they spent a weekend learning to “cooper a firkin”? Language that suited the character just fine, I should add – she’s an editor at a publishing house, after all. But to tailor the vocabulary just right, did you have to “kill your darlings” sometimes?
RY HERMAN: I actually tend to hear character voices very clearly in my head from the beginning. I suspect that’s because I began my writing career as a playwright, and theater conveys information almost entirely through dialogue. But for the same reason, physical description was something I had to go through a long process of learning to write when I turned to novels. I think it was around the third draft when I realized that maybe readers would like to know what my characters look like – you never put that in a play, because you don’t know what actor will end up playing the part. In the early stages of the book, there were a lot of failed attempts at description, and a number of descriptive passages I initially quite liked but later realized had to be changed or cut.
MG: Lately I have seen several writers put into characters’ mouths the idea that life is composed of stories we tell ourselves. The figure in Love Bites who says that might be an unreliable narrator – (or might not!) – Is her advice a good strategy for changing your life?
RY HERMAN: Yes and no, I think. Many of the events that affect our lives really are external to us and out of our control, and there isn’t a way to alter them through sheer force of will. But I do think that the way we interpret and respond to events is, in a real way, an ongoing story we tell ourselves. It’s possible to change that narrative. And if we’re all the protagonists of our own stories, it’s important to remember that tragedies are traditionally about protagonists who can’t or won’t learn and change.
MG: Two of your main characters are abuse survivors from other relationships, and in a series of scenes threaded through the book you show us what one of them experienced. What’s one thing a writer needs to keep in mind when writing about a character in an abusive relationship?
RY HERMAN: I’m reluctant to make a blanket prescription for this, because I think everyone experiences abuse in their own way. For myself, I found it important to keep it as emotionally real as I could, even when that made it very difficult to write. But leaving out the difficult parts would have meant only telling part of the story.
MG: Who are some authors of supernatural characters that you admire, and why?
RY HERMAN: There are so many! I’m going to have to restrict it to a few. Robin McKinley created some of the best vampires ever written in Sunshine – recognizable as once being human, but at the same time creepily alien. For fairies, I might go with Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales series. She makes them attractive and horrifying at the same time. The werewolves in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books are pretty great. But I really could go on forever – Kirsty Logan’s mermaids, Tasha Suri’s daiva, Sophie Cameron’s angels, R. F. Kuang’s shamans, Robert Jackson Bennett’s gods, Max Gladstone’s craftworkers, Fonda Lee’s Green Bones, N. K. Jemisin’s orogenes, Rachel Hartman’s dragons, Victoria Schwab’s ghosts, T. Kingfisher’s witches, Tamsyn Muir’s necromancers …
MG: By the end of the book important decisions about sexuality and the fate of a relationship are not the only issues your main characters have to cope with, so are immortality, supernatural strength, and foretelling the future. Is there meant to be a sequel? The key relationships get resolved, but there are questions that didn’t demand immediate answers which could lead to another novel.
RY HERMAN: There will be a sequel! Bleeding Hearts, the second book about Angela and Chloë, will be coming out sometime in 2021. I wrote it because those unresolved questions eventually made me desperate to find out what was going on with the characters a year later.
MG: What else does the future hold for Ry Herman?
RY HERMAN: Hopefully, a lot more books after these!