2018 AnLab Readers’ Award Finalists

Analog magazine has posted the works from 2018 that finished in the top five slots in each category of the Analog Analytical Laboratory. The winners will be revealed in Analog’s July/August issue.

There are links to PDF files that will allow you to read all the finalists.

BEST NOVELLA

BEST NOVELETTE

BEST SHORT STORY

BEST FACT ARTICLE

BEST POEM

BEST COVER

Images of the five finalists are available at the site.  

2019 Asimov’s Readers’ Awards Finalists

The top five choices for Asimov’s 33rd Annual Readers’ Awards Poll are online. There are links that will allow you to read all the finalists. The winners chosen by readers will be revealed at a later date.

BEST NOVELLA

BEST NOVELETTE

BEST SHORT STORY

BEST POEM

BEST COVER

Images of the five finalists are available at the site.

[Thanks to Ctein for the story.]

Q&A With Jason Heller About Strange Stars

ROB THORNTON: Would you like to introduce yourself to our audience?

JASON HELLER: I’m a writer, editor, and musician from Denver. I do lots of writing about music and books, including reviews and essay for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and NPR. I’m also the former nonfiction editor for Clarkesworld, and I won a Hugo as part of that editing team in 2013.

Since then, I’ve edited a couple of fiction anthologies, most recently Mechanical Animals with Selena Chambers. I’ve been playing in bands for many years, and my current band is called Weathered Statues. We just toured Europe last fall, and it was pretty amazing to get up from behind the writing desk and hit the road with my guitar!

ROB THORNTON: What inspired you to write a book about the relationship between SF/F and popular music?

JASON HELLER: My first concert was seeing David Bowie in 1987, and at that point, I was already a huge fan of science fiction. I devoured books and music as a kid, and the deeper I got into Bowie, the more I began to pick up on these hints and fragments of futurism and science fiction in the music I heard on the radio, including bands like Rush, Devo, and Parliament.

Years later, after becoming a professional music journalist, I began writing lots of essays about the crossover between my two biggest loves, and in 2015 I started shopping around a book proposal for a history of this crossover. When Bowie died in 2016, I was already in the midst of writing Strange Stars. He was always going to be the central figure in the book, so that heartbreaking loss lit an extra fire under me.

Basically, I’ve always thought that music has never been given due credit for being one of the most fertile and inventive vessels for science fiction concepts and storytelling. In a nutshell, I wanted to set the record straight and show how so many works of popular music should be considered part of the science fiction canon.

Jason Heller

ROB THORNTON: What kind of audience do you envision for the book?

JASON HELLER: I hope that anyone remotely interested in the realms of science fiction or popular music would find something to float their boat in Strange Stars. I tried to walk the pathway between the two as sensitively as I could; I didn’t want to assume that all science fiction lovers are huge music nerds or vice versa (although, of course, many are, myself included).

Of course, I hoped my fellow Bowie fans would be particularly intrigued, but the book is not about Bowie only. Everything from obscure disco to underground punk is covered in Strange Stars, along with the huge artists you might automatically expect, such as Pink Floyd and Rush. I made every attempt to tease out to the bigger picture, the overall narrative arc, that connects everything from Heinlein to Kraftwerk to Star Wars, so there’s a story to be absorbed, not just a guide to great music for people to discover.

ROB THORNTON: How did you decide to use David Bowie’s career as a recurring theme in Strange Stars?

JASON HELLER: If all the musicians who were influenced by science fiction in the ’70s, David Bowie was the most visible, not to mention the most visibly science-fictional. But more than that, his very influential contributions to science-fiction music bookended that decade perfectly; he released his first science-fiction hit single, “Space Oddity,” in 1969, and he released “Ashes to Ashes,” the sequel to “Space Oddity,” in 1980. The ’70s fit perfectly between those songs, and as it turns out, Bowie’s on-off fascination and engagement with science fiction that decade perfectly paralleled so many larger events and trends that were happening in both science and science fiction, as well as in popular music. To use him as the barometer of science fiction rock in the ’70s just felt like the most natural thing I could do. Almost all roads in science fiction music lead either to or from Bowie in the ’70s.

ROB THORNTON: What was it like to work with editors on a book about the intersection of two minutiae-oriented pop cultures?

JASON HELLER: I loved working with my editor at Melville House, Ryan Harrington, who is not only brilliant but also very good at pointing out how my crazy, sprawling idea for a book could be focused into something tighter and more accessible. He helped me immensely when it came to making Strange Stars a book that both music fans and science fiction fans could relate to.

ROB THORNTON: Who was your favorite interview for Strange Stars and why?

JASON HELLER: I actually didn’t interview anyone for Strange Stars! It was all meticulous and exhausting research, including lots of quotes from past interviews with the musicians I covered in the book. Since Bowie died while I was in the process of writing Strange Stars, the possibility of interviewing him was sadly off the table. I figured if I couldn’t interview the main person in this book, it would feel imbalanced if I interviewed many of the lesser figures in my narrative, as important as they each are in their own right.

And it turned out there was simply no shortage of research material out there! As it is, I had to leave out tons of great quotes and anecdotes that weren’t entirely necessary to the story I was telling. If I’d had another few tens of thousands of words of original interview material to incorporate into Strange Stars, it would have vastly exceeded the wordcount my publisher gave me to work with! But I think everything worked out for the best.

ROB THORNTON: What was the most rewarding audio discovery you made while you were writing the book?

JASON HELLER: I made so, so many discoveries while working on Strange Stars. I went into this project thinking I had a pretty deep knowledge of science-fiction-influenced music, but as it turned out, I knew maybe half the story. Of all the musical rabbitholes I went down while researching for the book, the one that delighted me the most was science fiction funk. I’d always known that funk (and disco) were important parts of my story, and I collect funk and disco records from the ’70s, but none of that prepared me for the wealth of groups and artists of the era who contributed to the canon of science-fiction funk, besides the big names we all probably know like Parliament-Funkadelic.

If I had to pick a favorite discovery, it would be the 1979 song “Dark Vader” by Instant Funk. In it, the story of Darth Vader is retold from a sympathetic perspective — remember, this was before the revelations about his character seen a year later in The Empire Strikes Back! — that folds Star Wars fanfic and blaxploitation swagger into Afrofuturism. As I point out in Strange Stars, the song does for Darth Vader what Wicked did for The Wicked Witch of the West decades later.

ROB THORNTON: What surprised you the most during the research for Strange Stars? I was amazed to learn that Ian Curtis wanted to work with Michael Moorcock!

JASON HELLER: That was definitely one of the biggest surprises to me too! It’s hard to imagine what a collaboration between Joy Division and Michael Moorcock would have sounded like, but it’s amazing just to know they actually conversed about the prospect prior to Curtis’ death in 1980. Joy Division are so deeply associated with the bleak futurism (no-futurism?) of the post-punk movement, and Moorcock resides at the other end of the ’70s science-fiction-music spectrum thanks to his close ties to Hawkwind.

The kinship between Curtis and Moorcock is one of those startling little anecdotes I dug up that really tied so much of Strange Stars together for me. Likewise, so did the discovery that Paul McCartney asked Gene Roddenberry to help him write a science fiction musical for Wings in 1975! It never came about, of course, but wow, if only.

ROB THORNTON: How would you describe the relationship between popular music and SF/F?

JASON HELLER: It’s an interesting relationship. Neither popular music nor science fiction/fantasy acknowledge each other that openly. Crossovers pop up all the time — and as I detail in Strange Stars, they were especially rife in the ’70s — but there’s almost an introvert/extrovert dichotomy the two. That’s a massive oversimplification, but I think it does get to the heart of it, in a way.

Music is an openly joyous and collective thing; SF/F, and literature in general, is more intimately and personally experienced. But when the two feed off each other, the results can bring out the best in both. I’ve always wished the SF/F world in particular would pay more attention to the many musicians who struggle to find an audience with their science-fiction music, but I’m just happy people still make such music and pay attention to its rich history at all. Which is why writing Strange Stars was such an honor for me.

Pixel Scroll 2/8/19 It’s Just A Pixel To The Left, And A Scroll To The Right

(1) TAPPING MORE REVENUE STREAMS. Peter Grant has his own spin on the recent “day job” meme in “Disruption and the business of writing” at Mad Genius Club.

…In essence, we have to stop looking at each book as an income generator, and start thinking about multiple income streams.  Very few authors, indie or otherwise, make a living out of their writing.  Most of us have to have a “day job” as well.  I think we need to look at our writing as a series of small “day jobs”.  Writing a book alone won’t be sufficient;  we need to leverage that fan base into more income opportunities.  Some are already common.  Others will have to become so.  Examples:

  • Open some sort of support account (e.g. Patreon, etc.) where your serious fans can support you over and above buying your books.  It may be a small, slow start, but it’s something on which one can build.
  • Consider podcastingIt’s a growing trend, and it can be a money-maker if it’s handled correctly.
  • A tip jar on your blog or social media account can be a useful way for fans to offer support.
  • Consider offering appearances in your work to your fans.  They can have their names used for a character, and pay for the privilege (anything from a few dollars for a very minor character, appearing once, to a higher price for a major character with more “face time”).  This will probably only work if you’re an established writer, of course – it needs that sort of fan base.

And that’s just the first four of his seven bullet points.

(2) SOCK IT TO ME. Here’s how Rod Serling was supplementing his income back in the day:

(3) A BROADER PORTRAIT OF THE COUNTRY. Victor LaValle’s “Stories That Reclaim the Future” at The Paris Review is an excerpt from A People’s Future of the United States, edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams.

My father and I saw each other only three times before he died. The first was when I was about ten, the second was in my early twenties, and the last doesn’t matter right now. I want to tell you about the second time, when I went up to Syracuse to visit and he tried to make me join the GOP.

Let me back up a little and explain that my mother is a black woman from Uganda and my dad was a white man from Syracuse, New York. He and my mother met in New York City in the late sixties, got married, had me, and promptly divorced. My mother and I stayed in Queens while my dad returned to Syracuse. He remarried quickly and had another son with my stepmother. Paul.

When I finished college I enrolled in graduate school for writing. I’d paid for undergrad with loans and grants, and debt already loomed over me. I showed up at my dad’s place hoping he’d cosign for my grad-school loans. I felt he owed me since he hadn’t been in my life at all. Also, I felt like I’d been on an epic quest just to reach this point. I got into Cornell University, but boy did I hate being there. Long winters, far from New York City, and the kind of dog-eat-dog atmosphere that would make a Wall Street trader sweat. But I’d graduated. And now I wanted to go back to school. More than that, I wanted to become a writer. Couldn’t my dad see me as a marvel? Couldn’t he support me just this once?

Nope….

(4) SECOND VIEW. Amal el-Mohtar for NPR says “‘Black Leopard, Red Wolf’ Is A Beast Of A Book”.

I was once driving, alone and at dusk, down a dark and winding road that hugged a mountain thick with woods. I saw a black bear cross the road, from fields on the left to the mountain on the right.

I had never seen a bear so close before. Excited, I pulled the car up and parked near where I saw the bear vanish, and had my hand on the door before I came back to myself and thought, what am I doing? It’s a bear! I drove away unharmed.

There are things in one’s life that are best appreciated from a distance, and this book is one of them.

Meanwhile, the book’s film rights have been acquired: “Michael B. Jordan, Warner Bros. Nab Film Rights to ‘Black Leopard, Red Wolf’” reports Variety.

Michael B. Jordan’s Outlier Society and Warner Bros. have nabbed the film rights to “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” a buzzy new fantasy novel by Marlon James.

“Black Leopard, Red Wolf” draws on African mythology to tell the story of Tracker, whose acute sense of smell leads him to be hired to find a missing child against a backdrop of warring kingdoms and political chaos. The child he seeks may be the heir to an empire, something that complicates matters. James referred to the often bloody epic as an “African ‘Game of Thrones,’” but later said he was joking. Still, it includes plenty of the elements that made that HBO show a water-cooler phenomenon including witches, a shape-shifting leopard, a killer hyena, and conjoined twins.

(5) SHRUNKEN TROPES. James Davis Nicoll explores “SF Stories That Cut the Vastness of Space Down to Size” at Tor.com.

…Then there’s the ever-popular “we found these abandoned transit stations” scenario. If humans aren’t the builders of the system, they probably don’t know how to expand it or change it. Because Ancients are notorious for their failure to properly document their networks, humans and other newcomers have to explore to see where the wormholes/tunnels/whatever go. Explorers are like rats wandering through an abandoned subway system. Examples…

(6) ANOTHER READING TOOL. Rocket Stack Rank has posted its annual  annotated Locus Recommended Reading List. Eric Wong says, “New this year is merging the Locus list with RSR’s 2018 Best SF/F list, with Locus stories highlighted in red.”

By pivoting the merged list on category (novella, novelette, short story), publication, new writers, or author, and browsing the results, some noteworthy observations jump out visually.

  • Overlooked stories include “The Independence Patch” by Bryan Camp (score 8), “What is Eve?” by Will McIntosh (score 8), “Carouseling” by Rich Larson (score 7), each of which got recommendations from 5 prolific reviewers.
  • The traditional paid-only magazines (Analog, Asimov’s, F&SF, Interzone) had between 0%-6% of their stories in the Locus list, versus many free online magazines at 9%-16%, or Tor.com and Tor novellas which had a remarkable 31%-33% of their stories recommended by Locus.
  • There were 13 stories in the Locus list by Campbell Award-eligible writers.
  • Matthew Hughes, Robert Reed, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch each had 4 broadly recommended stories in RSR’s aggregated list, but none were in the Locus list. By comparison, Kelly Robson had 4 stories in the merged list and all 4 were recommended by Locus.

More details are available in the article, plus RSR features for flagging/rating stories that make it easy to track your progress when reading stories from a big list.

(7) FINNEY OBIT. Albert Finney (1936-2019): British actor, died today, aged 82. Genre appearances include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1959), Scrooge (1970), Looker, Wolfen (both 1981), The Green Man (mini-series, 1990), Karaoke, Cold Lararus (connected mini-series, both 1996), Delivering Milo (2001), Big Fish (2003), Corpse Bride (2005, voice). His final movie appearances were in 2012, for opposing camps in the superspy genre: The Bourne Legacy and Skyfall. 

(8) OREO OBIT. I managed not to know there was a model for the character until it was too late — “Oreo the raccoon: Guardians of the Galaxy model dies aged 10”.

Oreo the raccoon, the real-life model for Guardians of the Galaxy character Rocket, has died aged 10.

The news was announced on the comic book superhero team’s Facebook page. “Oreo passed away in the early hours of this morning after a very short illness,” it reads. “Many thanks to our wonderful vets for their compassion and care.”

Rocket the raccoon was voiced by Bradley Cooper in the 2014 film and its 2017 sequel.

Oreo died after a short illness early on Thursday morning, the Facebook post says “You have been an amazing ambassador for raccoons everywhere,” it reads. “You were perfect.”

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 8, 1819 John Ruskin. Much to my surprise, this English art critic and pretty much everything else of the Victorian Era is listed by ISFDB as having a genre writing, to wit The King of the Golden River, or The Black Brothers: A Legend of Stiria. Anyone ever read. (Died 1900.)
  • Born February 8, 1828 Jules Verne. So how many novels by him are you familiar with? Personally I’m on first hand terms with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. That’s it. It appears that he wrote some some sixty works and a lot were genre. And of course his fiction has become the source of many other fictions in the last century as well. (Died 1905.)
  • Born February 8, 1932 John Williams, 87. Composer of the Star Wars series, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the Superman films, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the Indiana Jones franchise,  Hook, the first two Jurassic Park films and the first three Harry Potter films.
  • Born February 8, 1953 Mary Steenbergen, 66. She first in a genre way as Amy in Time After Time. She followed that up by being Adrian in A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy which I suppose is sort of genre. She shows up next in the much more family friendly One Magic Christmas as Ginny Grainger. And she has a part in Back to the Future Part III as Clara Clayton Brown which she repeated in the animated series. And, and keep in mind this is not a full list, she was in The Last Man on Earth series as Gail Klosterman.
  • Born February 8, 1969 Mary Robinette Kowal, 50. Simply a stellar author and an even better human being. I’m going to select out Ghost Talkers as the work by her that I like the most. Now her Forest of Memory novella might be more stellar. She’s also a splendid voice actor doing works of authors such as John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire and Kage Baker. I’m particularly pleased by her work on McGuire’s Indexing series. So let’s have Paul Weimer have the last words this time: “I thought it was Shades of Milk and Honey for a good long while, but I think Calculating Stars is my new favorite.”

(10) JOHN WILLIAMS BIRTHDAY. Steve Vertlieb sent a link to a retro review he wrote at the request of the premier John Williams web site, JWFAN, following Maestro Williams Summer, 2012 appearance at The Hollywood Bowl — John Williams – Hollywood Bowl 2012 (Review, Photos & Video) « JOHN WILLIAMS Fan Network – JWFAN

 (11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) EATING THE FANTASTIC. Scott Edelman calls on fans to pig out on pork belly tacos with Alan Smale in episode 88 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Alan Smale

My guest this episode is Alan Smale, who has published short fiction in Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, Abyss & Apex, and other magazines. He won the 2010 Sidewise Award for Best Short-Form Alternate History for “A Clash of Eagles,” about a Roman invasion of ancient America. That’s also the setting for his trilogy, which includes the novels Clash of Eagles, Eagle in Exile, and Eagle and Empire, all published by Del Rey in the U.S. and Titan Books in the UK. When not writing, he’s a professional astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

We met for lunch at Mad Chef Kitchen & Bar, a gastropub which opened recently in Ellicott City, Maryland’s Turf Valley Towne Square. We were looking for something equidistant from both of us with good food, and based first on my research and then our experience, we definitely found it.

We discussed why an astrophysicist’s chosen field of fiction is alternate history rather than hard science, how his fascination with archeology and ancient civilizations began, the reason he started off his novel-writing career with a trilogy rather than a standalone, the secrets to writing convincing battle sequences, the nuances of critiquing partial novels in a workshop setting, how his research into Roman and Native American history affected his trilogy, what steps he took to ensure he handled Native American cultures appropriately, that summer when at age 12 he read both War and Peace and Lord of the Rings, one of the strangest tales of a first short story sale I’ve ever heard, how and why he joined forces with Rick Wilber for their recent collaboration published in Asimov’s, and much more.

(13) LATINX STORYBUNDLE. Now available, The Latinx SFF Bundle curated by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Latin American science fiction and fantasy occupy an odd in-between space. The commercial categories we denominate fantasy, science fiction and horror don’t traditionally exist in Latin America. Instead, the fantastical is either simply called literature or receives the moniker of magical realism.

This means finding speculative fiction is trickier and more complex in this part of the world. It also means that Latinx authors may derive their SFF canon from a very different well than their Anglo counterparts. While science fiction and fantasy are normally associated with Tolkien or Asimov, a Latinx writer might be more inclined to think of Isabel Allende or Julio Cortázar. At the same time, it is not unusual for Latinx authors to have also been exposed to Anglo pop culture, fantasy and science fiction. Finally, since Latin America is a large region, the history, culture and folklore of Latinx writers may be radically different from one another.

The result is a wild, eclectic field of the fantastic, which is reflected by the selections in this bundle.

Read more about the bundle here.

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Virgins & Tricksters by Rosalie Morales Kearns
  • The Haunted Girl by Lisa M. Bradley
  • Lords of the Earth by David Bowles
  • The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SEVEN more!

  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias
  • The Closet of Discarded Dreams by Rudy Ch. Garcia
  • Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist by Kathleen Alcalá
  • Soulsaver by James Stevens-Arce
  • High Aztech by Ernest Hogan
  • Salsa Nocturna by Daniel José Older

(14) MORE TREK TECH. Nature advises: “Forget everything you know about 3D printing — the ‘replicator’ is here”. Rather ?than building objects layer by layer, the printer creates whole structures by projecting light into a resin that solidifies.

They nicknamed it ‘the replicator’ — in homage to the machines in the Star Trek saga that can materialize virtually any inanimate object.

Researchers in California have unveiled a 3D printer that creates an entire object at once, rather than building it layer by layer as typical additive-manufacturing devices do — bringing science-fiction a step closer to reality.

Attached pic of The Thinker replicated.

(15) STOP LIGHT. Nature discusses another almost-SF concept: “A traffic jam of light”.

A technique that harnesses energy loss has been used to produce a phase of matter in which particles of light are locked in place. This opens a path to realizing previously unseen exotic phases of matter.

When light passes through matter, it slows down. Light can even be brought to a standstill when it travels through carefully designed matter. One way in which this occurs is when the velocity of individual particles of light (photons) in a material is zero. Another, more intriguing, way is when photons, which normally pass through each other unimpeded, are made to repel each other. If the repulsion is strong enough, the photons are unable to move, and the light is frozen in place.

The ability to engineer quantum states promises to revolutionize areas ranging from materials science to information processing… The robustness and generality of this scheme will ensure that, as it is refined, it will find a home in the quantum mechanic’s toolbox.

(16) SOCIALGALACTIC. Vox Day is creating a more pliable form of Twitter – or is it a version of Gab that will obey him? (Didn’t Mark Twain say that the reason God created man is that he was disappointed in the monkey?) “Introducing Socialgalactic” [Internet Archive link].

Twitter is SJW-controlled territory. Gab is a hellhole of defamation and Nazi trolls. So, after many of Infogalactic’s supporters asked us to provide something on the social media front, the InfoGalactic team joined forces with OneWay and created a new social media alternative: SocialGalactic.

Free accounts have 140-character posts and 1MB storage, which is just enough for an avatar and a header. We’ll soon be making Pro accounts available at three levels, which will provide posts of 200, 480, and 999 characters, and image storage up to 500MB. Sign up and check it out!

(17) GAME V. INFINITY. Dakota Gardner and Chris Landers, in “Would Thanos’ Finger Snap Really have Stopped Baseball In Its Tracks?”  on MLB.com, have a pro and con about whether Thanos really wiped out Major League Baseball (as a shot of a devastated Citi Field in the Avengers: Endgame trailer shows), with one writer arguing that baseball would be doomed by Thanos and the other arguing that MLB would fill its rosters with minor leaguers after thanos wiped out half of the major leaguers because baseball always comes back.

Ask yourself this: Do you honestly believe baseball would simply stop if Thanos dusted half of all of MLB’s players, managers, front office staff, stadium personnel and fans? Do you think that if the universe had been placed into an existential funk, that baseball wouldn’t be even more necessary than it is today? Do you honestly believe that Alex Bregman or Clayton Kershaw or Mookie Betts, if they survived the snap, would be totally fine sitting on their butts and doing nothing for the rest of time?

(18) SAVING THE WORLD WITH LOVE TAPS. Tim Prudente in the Baltimore Sun profiles researchers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory who are creating a satellite called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) which, for the first time, will test to see if it’s possible to smash a satellite into an asteroid to deflect the asteroid from a course with earth: “An asteroid could destroy humanity like it did dinosaurs. A Hopkins team has a plan to save the world”.

…They plan for DART to reach speeds as fast as 15,000 miles per hour. The crash in October 2022 will fling debris from the asteroid moon. A small satellite will accompany the DART spacecraft to measure the effect.

The team wants to hit the asteroid moon with enough force to bump it, but not break it apart. The moon orbits the asteroid at a speed of about seven inches per second. They hope to change the speed by about a centimeter per second.

“We’re just going to give it a love tap,” said Andy Rivkin, the mission’s other co-lead and planetary astronomer at APL.

In theory, a series of taps over time could deflect an asteroid off a course for Earth.

(19) WHY LILLY WASN’T LEIA. Among other career goals, actress and writer Evangeline Lilly says she wanted to be Leia. It turned out that someone else had a lock on the part. (SYFY Wire: “Why Evangeline Lilly loved The Hobbit, was meh on the Lost ending, and wanted to be in Star Wars”).

“Several years ago, when I found out that J.J. Abrams was remaking, or rebooting, the Star Wars franchise, it was the only time in my career that I’ve ever put a call out,” she admits. “I wanted to be Leia. If I got to be a woodland elf [Tauriel in The Hobbit] and Kate from Lost and Leia, that would cover it. And then I got to be the Wasp! That’s all the big franchises.

“I was so in love with Leia when I was a little girl. Those were my two fantasies – to be a woodland elf and to be Leia tied to Jabba the Hutt in her sexy bikini. But then they called me back and said, ‘Well, there’s a little-known actress called Carrie Fisher who will be playing Princess Leia.’ Well, FINE, I guess that’s OK.”

While much better know for her acting, she says about her writing, “I see myself as a writer who has a fantastic day job.” Her children’s book series is The Squickerwonkers.

“I don’t know many stories that have lived with someone as long as this has lived with me,” she says. “I was a reclusive young woman and a bit of a loner. I was somebody who came to literature very late, and when I did, I just fell in love with such a passion that I kind of became very focused on not just reading but writing as well. And seriously, that was my idea of a great Friday night at 14 – staying home and writing by myself.

“I was a big fan of Dr. Seuss, believe it or not. Where most people come to him at four, I was reading him at 14,” she continues. “And I think the adult side of me realized what he was doing. The subtlety of the messages he’d thread into these simple, silly poems really struck me as meaningful. And I realized that this adult took the time to put these sophisticated, important messages into my childhood stories.”

(20) SHARED WORLD. George R.R. Martin pointed to this recently uploaded Wild Cards authors video:

In August 2017, a large group of Wild Carders assembled at my Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe for a mass signing, and we interviewed them about the up and downs of writing other people’s characters, and having other people write yours.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steve Green, JJ, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Eric Wong, Paul Weimer, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day C.A. Collins.]

2019 Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire First Round Nominations

The nominations for the 2019 Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire have been announced. This is in effect a longlist, and in a few weeks the jurors will issue their shorter second round of nominees. The awards will be presented on June 9 at the Étonnants Voyageurs festival in Saint-Malo, France.

The jurors for the award are Joëlle Wintrebert (president), Jean-Luc Rivera (vice-president), Bruno Para (assistant secretary), Jean-Claude Dunyach (treasurer), Sylvie Allouche, François Angelier, Audrey Burki, Olivier Legendre, Sylvie Le Jemtel, Jean-Claude Vantroyen. The Secretary (not a member of the jury) is Pascal Patoz.

Roman francophone / Novel in French

  • BonheurTM de Jean BARET (Le Bélial’)
  • Dernières fleurs avant la fin du monde de Nicolas CARTELET (Mü Éditions)
  • Le Cycle de Syffe, tomes 1 & 2 de Patrick K. DEWDNEY (Au diable vauvert)
  • Chroniques de l’étrange, tomes 1 à 3 de Romain D’HUISSIER (Critic)
  • Entends la nuit de Catherine DUFOUR (L’Atalante)
  • Frankenstein 1918 de Johan HELIOT (L’Atalante)
  • Susto de luvan (La Volte)
  • Rouille de Floriane SOULAS (Scrineo)
  • Les Pierres et les Roses, tomes 1 à 3 d’Elisabeth VONARBURG (Alire)

Roman étranger / Foreign Novel

  • American Elsewhere de Robert Jackson BENNETT (Albin Michel)
  • Mémoires, par Lady Trent, tomes 1 à 5 de Marie BRENNAN (L’Atalante) [The Memoirs of Lady Trent, volumes 1-5]
  • Normal de Warren ELLIS (Au diable vauvert)
  • Le Chant du coucou de Frances HARDINGE (L’Atalante) [Cuckoo Song]
  • Luna, tomes 1 & 2 de Ian McDONALD (Denoël) [Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon]
  • Anatèm, tomes 1 & 2 de Neal STEPHENSON (Albin Michel) [Anathem]
  • Les Chroniques de St Mary, tomes 1 & 2 de Jodi TAYLOR (Hervé Chopin) [The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, volumes 1 and 2]
  • Dans la toile du temps d’Adrian TCHAIKOVSKY (Denoël) [Children of Time] (Interestingly, the literal translation of the French title is In the Web of Time; this is a book about spider people)
  • Amatka de Karin TIDBECK (La Volte)
  • Underground Airlines de Ben H. WINTERS (ActuSF)

Nouvelle francophone / Short Fiction in French

  • H+ de Pierre BORDAGE (in Dimension Technosciences @ venir, Rivière Blanche)
  • Ex silentio d’Olivier CARUSO (in Bifrost n°91)
  • Le Don du Roi de la Colline de Nelly CHADOUR (in Galaxies n°55)
  • La Déferlante des Mères de Luc DAGENAIS (in Solaris n°207)
  • En finir d’Isabelle DAUPHIN (in Bifrost n°89)
  • Le Peuple de l’eau d’Anne-Sophie KINDRAICH (in Galaxies n°53 / Mercury)
  • Issa Elohim de Laurent KLOETZER (Le Bélial’)
  • Le Patient aveugle de Cécile LADJALI (in L’Autre siècle, Fayard)
  • La Mort de John Smith de Michel PAGEL (in Bifrost n°91)

Nouvelle étrangère / Foreign Short Fiction

  • Les Vieux au feu de Margaret ATWOOD (in Neuf contes, Robert Laffont) [“Torching the Dusties”, from the collection Nine Tales]
  • La vérité est une caverne dans les Montagnes noires de Neil GAIMAN (in Signal d’alerte, Au diable vauvert) [“The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”, from the collection Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances]
  • Voyage avec l’extraterrestre de Carolyn Ives GILMAN (in Bifrost n°91) [“Touring With the Alien”]
  • L’Insondable profondeur de la solitude (recueil) de JingFang HAO (Fleuve Éditions) [a French collection with no English counterpart]
  • OrgHôtes de Tendai HUCHU (in Galaxies n°55) [“HostBods”]
  • L’Obélisque martien de Linda NAGATA (in Bifrost n°89) [“The Martian Obelisk”]
  • Retour à la maison de Mike RESNICK (in Galaxies n°54) [“Homecoming”]
  • Instantané de Brandon SANDERSON (in Sixième du crépuscule, Livre de Poche) [“Snapshot”, from the collection Sixth of the Dust]
  • Les Attracteurs de Rose Street de Lucius SHEPARD (Le Bélial’) [“Rose Street Attractors”]
  • La Machine à voyager dans le temps de Robert F. YOUNG (in Galaxies n°53 / Mercury) [“The Time Machine”]

Roman jeunesse francophone / Novels for youth in French

  • Déconnexion de Maiwenn ALIX (Milan)
  • Gingo de Sarah COHEN-SCALI (Gulf Stream)
  • Rhizome de Nadia COSTE (Seuil Jeunesse)
  • Les Plieurs de temps, tomes 1 à 4 de Manon FARGETTON (Rageot)
  • Power Club, tomes 1 à 3 d’Alain GAGNOL (Syros)
  • La Mémoire des couleurs de Stéphane MICHAKA (Pocket Jeunesse)
  • La Légende des 4, tomes 1 & 2 de Cassandra O’DONNELL (Flammarion Jeunesse)
  • Les Mystères de Larispem, tomes 1 à 3 de Lucie PIERRAT-PAJOT (Gallimard Jeunesse)
  • Roslend, tomes 1 à 3 de Nathalie SOMERS (Didier Jeunesse)
  • Elia, la passeuse d’âmes, tomes 1 & 2 de Marie VAREILLE (Pocket Jeunesse)

Roman jeunesse étranger / Foreign novels for youth

  • Diego et les rangers du Vastlantique d’Armand BALTAZAR (Bayard) [Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic]
  • Stella et les mondes gelés d’Alex BELL (Gallimard Jeunesse) [The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club]
  • Marqués d’Alice BROADWAY (Pocket Jeunesse) [Ink]
  • L’Anti-magicien, tomes 1 & 2 de Sebastien DE CASTELL (Gallimard Jeunesse) [Spellslinger and Shadowblack]
  • Génésis, tomes 1 & 2 de Claudia GRAY (Castelmore) [Constellation series: Defy the Stars and Defy the Worlds]
  • L’Ars Arcana de Lisa MAXWELL (Casterman) [The Last Magician]
  • Shades of Magic, tomes 1 à 3 de V.E. SCHWAB (Lumen) [A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, A Conjuring of Light]
  • La Faucheuse, tomes 1 et 2 de Neal SHUSTERMAN (Robert Laffont) [Scythe and Thunderhead]
  • Le Faiseur de rêves de Laini TAYLOR (Lumen) [Strange the Dreamer]

Prix Jacques Chambon de la traduction / Jacques Chambon Translation Prize

  • Michelle CHARRIER pour Les Livres de la Terre fracturée, tomes 1 à 3 de N.K. JEMISIN (Nouveaux Millénaires) [The Broken Earth Trilogy]
  • Jacques COLLIN pour Anatèm, tomes 1 & 2 de Neal STEPHENSON (Albin Michel) [Anathem]
  • Laetitia DEVAUX pour L’Anti-magicien, tomes 1 & 2 de Sebastien DE CASTELL (Gallimard) [Spellslinger and Shadowblack]
  • Mélanie FAZI pour Sixième du crépuscule de Brandon SANDERSON (Livre de Poche) [the collection Sixth of the Dust]
  • Francis GUÉVREMONT pour Invasion de Luke RHINEHART (Aux Forges de Vulcain) [Invasion]
  • Éric HOLSTEIN pour Underground Airlines de Ben H. WINTERS (ActuSF)
  • luvan pour Amatka de Karin TIDBECK (La Volte)
  • Patrick MARCEL pour Le Serpent Ouroboros, tomes 1 & 2 d’E.R. EDDISON (Callidor) [The Worm Ouroboros]

Prix Wojtek Siudmak du graphisme / Wojtek Siudmak Graphic Design prize

  • Armand BALTAZAR pour Diego et les rangers du Vastlantique d’Armand BALTAZAR (Bayard) [Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic]
  • Adrian BORDA pour Musiques d’Outre-mondes, dirigée par Eric Lysøe (Arkuiris)
  • Nicolas FRUCTUS pour La Quête onirique de Vellitt Boe de Kij JOHNSON (Le Bélial’) [The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe]
  • Philippe GADY pour Le Défi d’Edmond HAMILTON (Le Bélial’) [Captain Future’s Challenge]
  • Jamie GREGORY pour Marqués d’Alice BROADWAY (Pocket) [Ink]
  • Miles HYMAN pour Kaboul de Michael MOORCOCK (Denoël) [published only in French thus far]
  • Emily C. MARTIN pour Le Serpent Ouroboros, tomes 1 & 2 d’E.R. EDDISON (Callidor) [The Worm Ouroboros]
  • Donatien MARY pour Les Mystères de Larispem, tomes 1 à 3 de Lucie PIERRAT-PAJOT (Gallimard)
  • Dogan OZTEL pour L’Infernale Comédie de Mike RESNICK (ActuSF) [The Galactic Comedy]
  • Jeam TAG pour Rétrofictions de Guy COSTES & Joseph ALTAIRAC (Encrage)
  • Elena VIEILLARD pour Invasion de Luke RHINEHART (Aux Forges de Vulcain) [Invasion]

Essai / Essay

  • Anticipation n°1 : Transhumanisme (Revue, Books on Demand)
  • Eidôlon 123 / C’était demain : anticiper la science-fiction en France et au Québec (1880-1950) (Revue, Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux)
  • Dictionnaire de la fantasy dirigé par Anne BESSON (Vendémiaire)
  • Comment parler à un alien ? Langage et linguistique en science-fiction de Frédéric LANDRAGIN (Le Bélial’)
  • Libère-toi cyborg ! le pouvoir transformateur de la science-fiction féministe de ïan LARUE (Cambourakis)
  • La Science fait son cinéma de Roland LEHOUCQ & Jean-Sébastien STEYER (Le Bélial’)
  • Hors des décombres du monde de Yannick RUMPALA (Champ Vallon)
  • Vampires, fantômes et apparitions. Nouveaux essais de pneumatologie littéraire de Daniel SANGSUE (Hermann)

Prix special

  • Guy COSTES & Joseph ALTAIRAC for their career as scholars and collectors over 40 years, exhibited in their monumental work Rétrofictions. Encyclopédie de la Conjecture Romanesque Rationnelle Francophone (Encrage)

Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics 2019 Finalists

The five finalists for the 2019 Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics Award were revealed February 7.

The award celebrates diversity in comics and comic creative teams, and honors the memory of Dwayne McDuffie. McDuffie was a comics writer and co-creator of Milestone Media, which featured superheroes of varying genders, sexualities, race, and ethnicity. He died in 2011 at the age of 49. The award is given to comics that continue his legacy of featuring diversity as well as telling a compelling story.

This year’s finalists are:

The 2019 selection committee consisted of nine comics and animation professionals who personally knew and worked with Mr. McDuffie and/or have demonstrated a serious commitment to his vision of excellence and inclusiveness on the page and behind the scenes, Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Jennier de Guzman, Joan Hilty, Jamal Igle, Mikki Kendall, Heidi MacDonald, Kevin Rubio, Geoffrey Thorne, and Will J. Watkins.

The winner will be announced at the Long Beach Convention Center on February 15, just ahead of the Long Beach Comic Expo weekend.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy for the story.]

Yes I Can

By John Hertz:  Maybe the spirit of Sammy Davis, Jr., will allow my borrowing his title. My reason can wait till the end.  You may find it sooner.

In this year’s Hugo Awards I’ve recommended Alternate Routes (Powers) for Best Novel and The Glass Bead Game for Best Novel of 1943 (Hesse; Retrospective Hugo).  Nominations close March 15th.

We’ll have a trial run of Best Art Book, besides our regular Best Related Work.  University of Chicago professor Harry Kalven used to talk of United States law on freedom of speech “working itself pure”, which seems to have been the story of Best Related Work so far, and may continue if Best Art Book is established.

Meanwhile I can recommend Out of This World at Home, vol. 5 of Mark Evanier’s Pogo collection The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips, without injustice to the Michael Whelan art book Beyond Science Fiction – which, if regrettably titled, is full of wonders; see my note on an exhibit preceding it here.

Evanier says This World contains “two prime years of what I think is the best newspaper strip ever – and even folks who disagree with me on that don’t usually disagree by much.”

He knows a lot more about comics than I do, but I don’t have to decide about Little Nemo — or Krazy Kat — to applaud This World.

Rick Marschall in America’s Great Comic-Strip Artists (rev. 1997; p. 255) says, “Walt Kelly was master of all that could be surveyed….  Pogo generously included … fantasy, literary and intellectual touches, farce and parody, graphic brilliance … poetry … and good old-fashioned slapstick.”

Pogo, in the Okefenokee Swamp where he lives, is a possum.  Many things prove to be possible, or impossible, there.  In Latin – we can all guess whether Kelly delighted in this – possum means I can.

International Film Music Critics Association Awards Nominations 2018

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) announced its list of nominees for excellence in musical scoring in 2018 on February 7.

Composer James Newton Howard received the most nominations with four. He is nominated for his work on two scores – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second film in the Harry Potter spinoff series, and the controversial Jennifer Lawrence Cold War spy thriller Red Sparrow – and is one of the five nominees for Composer of the Year. His other major score in 2018 was for the lavish fantasy The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

Ludwig Göransson, the 34-year-old Swedish composer, is nominated for Score of the Year, Composer of the Year, and Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror Score for his groundbreaking work on the enormously successful Marvel super hero film Black Panther. Göransson’s other work in 2018 included a second massively popular super-hero film, Venom.

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is an association of online, print and radio journalists who specialize in writing and broadcasting about original film, television and game music. The winners of the 15th IFMCA Awards will be announced on February 21.

The list of nominees is as follows:

FILM SCORE OF THE YEAR

  • BLACK PANTHER, music by Ludwig Göransson
  • FIRST MAN, music by Justin Hurwitz
  • MARY POPPINS RETURNS, music by Marc Shaiman
  • MAX AND ME, music by Mark McKenzie
  • SOLO, music by John Powell

FILM COMPOSER OF THE YEAR

  • ROQUE BAÑOS
  • NICHOLAS BRITELL
  • LUDWIG GÖRANSSON
  • JAMES NEWTON HOWARD
  • ALAN SILVESTRI

BREAKTHROUGH COMPOSER OF THE YEAR

  • THOMAS ADÈS
  • IVÁN PALOMARES
  • MANUEL RIVEIRO
  • AMELIA WARNER
  • THOM YORKE

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DRAMA FILM

  • EN LAS ESTRELLAS/UP AMONG THE STARS, music by Iván Palomares
  • FIRST MAN, music by Justin Hurwitz
  • IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, music by Nicholas Britell
  • MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, music by Max Richter
  • VICE, music by Nicholas Britell

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A COMEDY FILM

  • CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, music by Geoff Zanelli and Jon Brion
  • CRAZY RICH ASIANS, music by Brian Tyler
  • MARY POPPINS RETURNS, music by Marc Shaiman
  • THE SISTERS BROTHERS, music by Alexandre Desplat
  • VIDEOMANNEN/VIDEOMAN, music by Robert Parker and Waveshaper

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLER FILM

  • KING OF THIEVES, music by Benjamin Wallfisch
  • LA SOMBRA DE LA LEY/GUN CITY, music by Manuel Riveiro and Xavier Font
  • MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT, music by Lorne Balfe
  • OPERATION FINALE, music by Alexandre Desplat
  • RED SPARROW, music by James Newton Howard

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR FILM

  • BLACK PANTHER, music by Ludwig Göransson
  • FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD, music by James Newton Howard
  • JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, music by Michael Giacchino
  • READY PLAYER ONE, music by Alan Silvestri
  • SOLO, music by John Powell

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR AN ANIMATED FILM

  • INCREDIBLES 2, music by Michael Giacchino
  • ISLE OF DOGS, music by Alexandre Desplat
  • MAX AND ME, music by Mark McKenzie
  • SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, music by Daniel Pemberton
  • WATERSHIP DOWN, music by Federico Jusid

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A DOCUMENTARY

  • DYNASTIES, music by Benji Merrison and Will Slater
  • FREE SOLO, music by Marco Beltrami
  • McQUEEN, music by Michael Nyman
  • TIDES OF FATE, music by Pinar Toprak
  • WILD, music by Matthijs Kieboom

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A TELEVISION SERIES

  • AIQING DE BIANJIANG/FRONTIER OF LOVE, music by Mark Chait
  • LA CATEDRAL DEL MAR, music by Federico Jusid
  • LOST IN SPACE, music by Christopher Lennertz
  • WESTWORLD, music by Ramin Djawadi
  • YELLOWSTONE, music by Brian Tyler

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE FOR A VIDEO GAME OR INTERACTIVE MEDIA

  • 11:11 MEMORIES RETOLD, music by Olivier Derivière
  • GOD OF WAR, music by Bear McCreary
  • NI NO KUNI II: REVENANT KINGDOM, music by Joe Hisaishi
  • SPIDER-MAN, music by John Paesano
  • TORN, music by Garry Schyman

BEST ARCHIVAL RELEASE – NEW RELEASE OR NEW RECORDING OF AN EXISTING SCORE

  • BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, music by Wojciech Kilar; album produced by Dan Goldwasser; liner notes by Tim Greiving; art direction by Dan Goldwasser (La-La Land)
  • THE BRIDE WORE BLACK, music by Bernard Herrmann; The Basque National Orchestra conducted by Fernando Velázquez; album produced by Jose M. Benitez and Edouard Dubois; liner notes by Frank K. DeWald; art direction by Nacho B. Govantes (Quartet)
  • DRACULA, music by John Williams; album produced by Mike Matessino and Robert Townson; liner notes by Mike Matessino; art direction by Jim Titus (Varèse Sarabande)
  • EL HOMBRE Y LA TIERRA, music by Antón García Abril; album produced by Jose M. Benitez and Miguel A. Órdóñez; liner notes by Miguel A. Órdóñez; art direction by Nacho B. Govantes (Quartet)
  • THE VIKINGS, music by Mario Nascimbene; The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra & Chorus conducted by Nic Raine; album produced by James Fitzpatrick; liner notes by Frank K. DeWald; art direction by Jim Titus (Prometheus/Tadlow)

BEST ARCHIVAL RELEASE – COMPILATION

  • CARTER BURWELL: MUSIC FOR FILM, music by Carter Burwell; The Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé; album produced by Marijke Vandebuerie and Valerie Dobbelaere; liner notes by Patrick Duynslaegher and Raf Butstraen; art direction by Stuart Ford (Silva Screen)
  • THE COMPLETE LONDON SESSIONS, music by Georges Delerue; album produced by Robert Townson; liner notes by Robert Townson; art direction by Robert Townson, Bill Pitzonka, and Bob Peak (Varèse Sarabande)
  • HARRY POTTER: THE JOHN WILLIAMS SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION; music by John Williams; album produced by Mike Matessino; liner notes by Mike Matessino; art direction by Jim Titus (La-La Land)
  • THRILLER 2, music by Jerry Goldsmith; The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nic Raine; album produced by James Fitzpatrick and Leigh Phillips; liner notes by Jon Burlingame; art direction by Nic Finch (Tadlow)
  • A TRIBUTE TO MICHAEL KAMEN, music by Michael Kamen; The Malaga Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Pablo Urbina; album produced by José M. Benítez and Chris Malone; art direction by Nacho B. Govantes (Quartet)

FILM MUSIC LABEL OF THE YEAR

  • INTRADA RECORDS, Douglass Fake, Roger Feigelson
  • LA-LA LAND RECORDS, MV Gerhard, Matt Verboys
  • QUARTET RECORDS, Jose M. Benitez
  • TADLOW MUSIC, James Fitzpatrick
  • VARÉSE SARABANDE, Robert Townson

FILM MUSIC COMPOSITION OF THE YEAR

  • “The Landing” from FIRST MAN, written by Justin Hurwitz
  • “Finale” from MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS, written by Max Richter
  • “Overture” from RED SPARROW, written by James Newton Howard
  • “Mine Mission” from SOLO, written by John Powell
  • “The Adventures of Han” from SOLO, written by John Williams

[Thanks to Steve Vertlieb for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 2/7/19 “What Are You In For?” “Littering.” And They All Moved Away From Me. “And Making A Nuisance.”

(1) TWO CIXIN LIU MOVIES BATTLE FOR TOP BOX OFFICE. A pair of films based on the work of Cixin Liu recorded the top box office grosses in mainland China over the Chinese New Year.

Popular Chinese director Ning Hao has seen his comedy fantasy film “Crazy Alien” gross more than $100 million at the mainland China box office after just two days on release during the Chinese New Year holiday period. It’s the highest two-day total for any film in the Middle Kingdom so far this year.

The milestone was passed at around 8 p.m. on Wednesday. By 10 p.m., the film’s accumulated gross had advanced to $101 million (RMB680 million), according to website China Box Office.

The film is about a zookeeper who finds an unusual animal and takes it home. There he discovers that the creature is in fact an extraterrestrial, but getting rid of it may be problematic.

China’s first homegrown sci-fi epic, The Wandering Earth, is continuing its upwards trajectory. After opening at No. 4 on Tuesday, the start of the Chinese New Year, it gained traction on Wednesday to move into the No. 2 spot, and today, it led the daily Middle Kingdom box office.

With an estimated additional RMB 342M ($50.7M) on Thursday, the increase from yesterday was about 33% for a local cume of RMB 800M ($118.6M). That still lags about $20M behind Crazy Alien‘s cume, though it should quickly make up the difference after Crazy Alien had led the first two days of the Lunar New Year period. The Wandering Earth‘s performance is testament to the positive buzz being generated by the $50M pic, which stars Wolf Warrior 2’s Wu Jing in a race against time to save the planet’s population.

(2) RETCON. Maybe you think you’ve painted yourself into a corner but Robert Woods knows lots of tricks to get out of these situations – “‘Retcon’: How To Rewrite Details In An Ongoing Series” at Standout Books.

Secrets, lies and errors in judgement

The easiest way to add or remove details from a story is to undermine those elements that contradict the new canon. In Stars Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope¸ Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker that his father was a skilled pilot betrayed and killed by the evil Darth Vader. Later in the series, it’s revealed that Vader is Luke’s father and that Obi-Wan knew all along.

Creator George Lucas has claimed that he always knew Vader was Luke’s father, but fans point to a host of evidence that this wasn’t the case when the scene was written. If they’re right, Lucas had no problem retconning his decision later, since the information that stood in his way came from a single source. When it’s time to reveal that Vader is Luke’s father, Obi-Wan admits he lied, hiding the truth to try to influence Luke’s reaction.

This is the easiest way to retcon information out of a story – someone lied, omitted key details, implied something that wasn’t true, or thought they were telling the truth but were wrong. Sometimes, this means adding additional information to give characters a reason to have lied, but since all this takes place in the realm of character motivations and interactions, it can even serve to enliven a story, and it might inspire new directions, as in the Star Wars prequel films….

(3) KOREAN SF. Neil Clarke announced Clarkesworld’s opportunity to expand its program of sf in translation: “Clarkesworld Receives Grant to Publishing Korean Science Fiction”.

In May 2015, Clarkesworld published “An Evolutionary Myth” by Bo-Young Kim, translated from Korean by Gord Sellar and Jihyun Park. I am pleased to announce that Clarkesworld Magazine has now received a grant from the Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea) to translate and publish nine more Korean science fiction stories in 2019.

The process for selection and translation of stories will be similar to the model developed for Clarkesworld‘s Chinese translation project, which has recently celebrated its fourth anniversary. In that model, a group of people serve as a recommendation team that will provide story notes and details to Neil Clarke for evaluation and selection. Stories will then be confirmed for English language availability, contracted, and assigned to one of several translators.

(4) HOLD THE CAKE! In theory a new edition of The Best of R.A. Lafferty was released by Gollancz today. Except it wasn’t.

(5) READ THIS, NOT THAT. But yesterday Tor.com published Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut story “Articulated Restraint”.

He took a slow breath. “No one is dead. A ship returning from the moon had a retrorocket misfire while docking with Lunetta yesterday evening.”

“Oh God.” Scores of people worked on the Lunetta orbiting platform. People she knew. And Eugene Lindholm, her partner for today’s run—his wife would have been on the lunar rocket. Ruby played bridge with Myrtle and Eugene. She turned, looking for the tall black man among the people working by the pool. He was at the stainless steel bench, running through his checklist with tight, controlled motions. No one was dead, but if the Meteor had taught the world anything, death wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to someone. “How bad?”

(6) FANHISTORY RESOURCE. Peter Balestrieri, Curator, Science Fiction and Popular Culture Collections at University of Iowa Libraries has announced —

The Daniel McPhail Correspondence Collection is now processed and ready for research http://aspace.lib.uiowa.edu/repositories/2/resources/2836. This includes around 500 letters and post cards sent by the biggest names in fandom and the pros, starting around 1930. It’s not digitized but digitized copies of individual letters are available on request http://aspace.lib.uiowa.edu/repositories/2/resources/2836.

McPhail was one of the earliest sf fans (1929). He co-edited a magazine called The Original Idea with Jim Speer (Jack’s older brother). In 1936 he founded the Oklahoma Scientifiction Association. An early member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA), McPhail introduced the Mailing Comment –which, if you’ve ever belonged to an apa, you know that’s what everyone hopes their contribution will inspire. File 770 published McPhail’s obituary in 1984.

(7) JOSHI FELLOWSHIP. There’s a name I don’t associate with fellowship, nevertheless — The John Hay Library at Brown University invites applications for its 2019-2020 The S. T. Joshi Endowed Research Fellowship for research relating to H.P. Lovecraft, his associates, and literary heirs. The application deadline is March 15, 2019.

The Hay Library is home to the largest collection of H. P. Lovecraft materials in the world, and also holds the archives of Clark Ashton Smith, Karl Edward Wagner, Manly Wade Wellman, Analog Magazine, Caitlín Kiernan, and others.

The Joshi Fellowship, established by The Aeroflex Foundation and Hippocampus Press, is intended to promote scholarly research using the world-renowned resources on H. P. Lovecraft, science fiction, and horror at the John Hay Library. The Fellowship provides a monthly stipend of $1,500 for up to two months of research at the library between July 2019 and June 2020. The fellowship is open to individuals engaged in pre- and post-doctoral, or independent research.

(8) HOW TO AFFORD AN EDITOR. Authors who want their manuscripts worked on by a professional an editor know they have to come up with the bucks to pay them. There have been a couple of threads recently filled with more-or-less serious advice about ways “broke” writers can foot the bill. C.L. Polk’s begins here.

Fred Coppersmith’s less serious thread begins here.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

February 7, 1940 — Walt Disney’s movie Pinocchio debuted. Guillermo del Toro’s version might be slightly darker.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born February 7, 1812 Charles Dickens. Author of more genre fiction according to ISFDB than I knew. There’s A Christmas Carol that I’ve seen performed lived myriad times but they also list The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells That Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year InThe Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of HomeThe Battle of Life, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain and The Christmas Books. Somewhere there being overly broad in defining genre perhaps? (Died 1870.)
  • Born February 7, 1908 Buster Crabbe. He also played the title role in the Tarzan the Fearless, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers series in the Thirties, the only person to do though other actors played some of those roles.  He would show up in the Seventies series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a retired fighter pilot named Brigadier Gordon. (Died 1983.)
  • Born February 7, 1913 Henry Hasse. Best known for being the co-author of Ray Bradbury’s first published story, “Pendulum”, which appeared in November 1941 in Super Science Stories. ISFDB lists a single novel by him, The Stars Will Wait, and some fifty short stories if I’m counting correctly. (Died 1977.)
  • Born February 7, 1929Alejandro Jodorowsky, 90. The Universe has many weird things in it such as this film, Jodorowsky’s Dune. It looks at his unsuccessful attempt to film Dune in the mid-1970s. He’s also has created a sprawling SF fictional universe, beginning with the Incal, illustrated by the cartoonist Jean Giraud which is rooted in their work for the Dune project which is released as comics.
  • Born February 7, 1941 Kevin Crossley-Holland, 78. Best known for his Arthur trilogy consisting of The Seeing Stone, At the Crossing-Places, and King of the Middle March. I really liked their perspective of showing a medieval boy’s development from a page to a squire and finally to a knight. Highly recommended. 
  • Born February 7, 1949 Alan Grant, 70. He’s best known for writing Judge Dredd in 2000 AD as well as various Batman titles from the late 1980s to the early 2000s.  If you can find it, there’s a great Batman / Judge Dredd crossover “Judgement on Gotham” that he worked on. His recent work has largely been for small independents including his own company. 
  • Born February 7, 1950 Karen Joy Fowler, 69. Her first work was “Recalling Cinderella” in L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Vol I. Her later genre works are Sarah Canary, the Black Glass collection and  the novel The Jane Austen Book Club, is not SF though SF plays a intrinsic role in it, and two short works of hers, “Always” and ““The Pelican Bar” won significant Awards. Her latest genre novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, is being adored far and wide. 
  • Born February 7, 1950 Margaret Wander Bonanno, 69. She written seven Star Trek novels, several science fiction novels set in her own worlds, including The Others, a novel with Nichelle Nichols. In putting together this Birthday, several sources noted that she had disavowed writing her Trek novels because of excessive editorial meddling by the publisher. She self-published Music of the Spheres, her unapproved version of Probe, the official publication. According to her, Probe has less than ten per cent of the content of her version.
  • Born February 7, 1960James Spader, 59. Most recently he did the voice and motion-capture for Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No I did not enjoy that film. Before that, he played Stewart Swinton in Wolf, a Jack Nicholson endeavour. Then of course he was Daniel Jackson in Stargate,  a film I still enjoy though I think the series did get it better. He then plays Nick Vanzant in Supernova andJulian Rome in Alien Hunter. 
  • Born February 7, 1985 Deborah Ann Woll, 34. She is known for her roles as the vampire Jessica Hamby in True Blood, and Karen Page in Daredevil, The Defenders, and The Punisher.she also played Molly in the horror film Little Murder and Amanda Harper in Escape Room, another horror film. 

(11) COMICS SECTION.

  • Basic Instructions explains the structure of ST:TNG episodes.
  • Tom Gauld has ideas for future weather forecasts.

(12) QUARTERS, WITH MORE OR LESS BITS. Writing for The Mary Sue—and using floor plans that were on Angie’s List—Kaila Hale-Stern takes a look at six different Captain’s quarters from the various Star Trek series (“Let’s Judge These Star Trek Captains’ Quarters”). Welcome to Kirk’s, Picard’s, Sisko’s, Janeway’s, Archer’s, and Lorca’s abodes.

We’ve had several beloved Starfleet Captains, but how are they sleeping at night? Journey with me into the final frontier of Star Trek Captains’ quarters, and let’s see who had the sweetest floor plan.

Courtesy of a post by home services site Angie’s List, we now have detailed layouts to pore over. They created floor plans of our Captains’ quarters, starting with Kirk’s in The Original Series to Archer’s on EnterpriseDiscovery is a bit trickier Captain-wise, since we only have the late unlamented Lorca’s rooms for reference—but maybe Pike will show us where he lays his head in the future.

(13) DON’T SHUSH THEM. Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table… “Brian Blessed among stars brightening up library speaker system”.

Library closing time is ringing out to the sound of Brian Blessed after a host of celebrities recorded their voices for the building’s loudspeaker system.

Manchester Central Library has recruited the Flash Gordon actor and other stars to bring a showbiz feel to its public information announcements.

Former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh and ex-England footballer Gary Neville are also onboard.

The quirky bespoke broadcasts will run for two weeks, the city council said.

(14) PTERRY WOULD BE PROUD. BBC tells why — “Climate change: ‘Future proofing’ forests to protect orangutans”.

A study has identified key tree species that are resilient to climate change and support critically endangered apes.

Planting them could help future proof rainforests, which are a key habitat for orangutans, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN.

Researchers surveyed 250 plants in Indonesia’s Kutai National Park.

Over 1,000 orangutans are thought to inhabit the park, as well as other rare animals such as the Malayan sun bear.

“Selecting which species to plant is a significant contribution to restoring the health of this ecosystem,” said study co-author Douglas Sheil.

“Of course, the reasons why forest cover was lost in the first place must also be addressed for reforestation efforts to succeed.”

(15) NAMING A ROVER. They didn’t pick “Blood” — “Rosalind Franklin: Mars rover named after DNA pioneer”.

The UK-assembled rover that will be sent to Mars in 2020 will bear the name of DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin.

The honour follows a public call for suggestions that drew nearly 36,000 responses from right across Europe.

Astronaut Tim Peake unveiled the name at the Airbus factory in Stevenage where the robot is being put together.

The six-wheeled vehicle will be equipped with instruments and a drill to search for evidence of past or present life on the Red Planet.

Giving the rover a name associated with a molecule fundamental to biology seems therefore to be wholly appropriate

(16) A PERSONAL CATASTROPHE. While trying to “upgrade their toilet facility” there was a water leak on the International Space Station (“ISS Suffers Toilet Malfunction, Leaks Water Everywhere”). Earthbound DIY plumbers can probably sympathize.

The toilet onboard the ISS was installed in 2008, during one of the last space shuttle missions. It’s based on a design that’s about as old as the ISS itself, so it was in need of some improvement. The ISS astronauts were trying to install that improvement when something went wrong. 

According to a NASA blog, the ISS crew were trying to install the new Universal Waste Management System, a next-gen toilet system that’s supposed to be smaller, lighter, cleaner, and more efficient than what they have now.  […]

The aforementioned 1 February 2019 NASA blog explains:

Universal Waste Management System (UWMS):

The crew successfully installed a new double stall enclosure within Node 3 today. During the activity, the crew experienced a water leak while de-mating a Quick Disconnect (QD) for the potable water bus. Approximately 9.5 liters leaked before the bus was isolated by MCC-H flight controllers. The crew worked quickly to re-mate the leaky QD and soak up the water with towels. An alternate QD was then de-mated in order to continue with the installation. The new concept, referred to as the Universal Waste Management System (UWMS), includes favorable features from previous designs while improving on other areas from Space Shuttle and the existing ISS Waste Collection System (WCS) hardware. This double stall enclosure provides privacy for both the Toilet System and the Hygiene Compartment. The starboard side will provide access to the existing toilet and the port side will be used for hygiene until new replacement Toilet System arrives in early 2020.

Mopping up 2.5 gallons of water is hard enough with gravity to collect it all on the floor for you,

(17) GET MY BETTER SIDE. NASA has taken a candid snapshot of the neighbors (NASA: “First Look: Chang’e Lunar Landing Site”). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted the landing site of China’s Chang’e 4 lander on the back side of the Moon. The LRO wasn’t close enough to picture the whole Chang’e 4 “family”—the tiny rover is just too small for the camera to pick up.

On Jan. 3, 2019, the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 4 safely landed on the floor of the Moon’s Von Kármán crater (186 kilometer diameter, 116 miles). Four weeks later (Jan. 30, 2019), as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter approached the crater from the east, it rolled 70 degrees to the west to snap this spectacular view looking across the floor toward the west wall. Because LRO was 330 kilometers (205 miles) to the east of the landing site, the Chang’e 4 lander is only about two pixels across (bright spot between the two arrows), and the small rover is not detectable. The massive mountain range in the background is the west wall of Von Kármán crater, rising more than 3,000 meters (9,850 feet) above the floor.

(18) FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT. The future of musical concerts—is it to be folded inside games? Blockbuster shoot-em-up game Fortnite recently called a cease fire and staged a concert (The Verge: “Fortnite’s Marshmello concert was a bizarre and exciting glimpse of the future”).

Even if you’re not a huge fan of electronic music or have never heard of the EDM producer Marshmello, Fortnite’s live in-game concert was still a shockingly stunning sight to behold — it was also an unprecedented moment in gaming. It truly felt like a glimpse into the future of interactive entertainment, where the worlds of gaming, music, and celebrity combined to create a virtual experience we’ve never quite seen before. 

At 2PM ET [2 February], every one of the likely tens of millions of players of Epic Games’ battle royale title were transported to a virtual stage. There, Christopher Comstock — who goes by the DJ name Marshmello and is known best for his signature food-shaped helmet — began a 10-minute mini-set, all while while up to 60 players across thousands of individual matches were able to watch live. Epic, having learned from past one-time live events like its iconic rocket launch and its most recent freezing over of the entire game map, smartly launched a special game mode specifically for the show. 

Based on its team rumble mode, it allowed players to respawn if they were taken out by an especially rude enemy trying to spoil the fun. Going even further, however, Epic disabled the ability to use weapons for the entirety of the 10-minute event, which ensured that everyone could have a front-row seat to the spectacle. 

(19) DON’T TELL ME. Matthew Johnson’s song parody is a mite long for a Scroll title, so I’ll salute it here:

Counting pixels on the scroll, that don’t bother me at all
Playing D&D ’til dawn, with my twenty-sideds gone
Eating soylent green and watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Now don’t tell me I can’t go back in time

[Thanks to Paul Weimer, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, StephenfromOttawa, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Stan and Ollie: A Review

By Steve Vertlieb: Stan And Ollie is truly one of the loveliest films that it has been my privilege to see in years. This sweet, gentle portrait of the screen’s indisputably greatest comedy team is often hilarious, yet heartbreaking in its unflinching portrait of two incandescent souls who lit up motion picture theaters with their impeccable artistry. John C. Reilly is astonishing as Oliver Hardy, known affectionately as “Babe” to those closest to him. His transformation and performance are deeply touching, focusing on the portly actor’s frailty, gambling addiction, and quiet dignity as the years begin to evaporate his strength and vitality. This is clearly the performance of his career. Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, the creative force behind the team’s hilarity and success, is gently brilliant in his depiction of a comedic genius struggling to keep the team alive as their gradual descent from fame and from youth has begun taking its inevitable toll.

Their respective wives are their seeming opposites. Ida Kitaeva Laurel (Nina Arianda) is a shrill, domineering woman whose physical stature and brash personality loudly overshadow her outwardly meek husband. Lucille Hardy (Shirley Henderson) is closer to Stan in demeanor, yet married to the gregarious “Babe” Hardy. Dedicated to preserving her beloved husband’s failing health and happiness, Lucille is the anchor who must rescue Ollie from his own excesses. Ida and Lucille are as different as Stan and Ollie, providing a striking, if bizarre, reflection and mirror image of their respective spouse’s personalities. Danny Huston in another of his menacing performances as Hal Roach, and Rufus Jones as the ruthless promoter who imports the boys to England in the latter years of their careers are, perhaps, symbolic of the crass tastes of a fickle public who have, in so cavalier a fashion, discarded the once beloved comedy team to the ash heap of fame and fortune.

Jeff Pope’s deeply melancholy screenplay, based upon Laurel and Hardy: The British Tours by A.J. Marriot, begins with the duo’s career high as they battle for release from their contract with Hal Roach, then effortlessly segues into their declining years as entertainers when the world and their once loyal fans have all but forgotten them. Laurel, who wrote all of the team’s classic comedy dialogue and routines, brings his ailing partner to England to revive their popularity with a proposed new film based upon the legend of Robin Hood. Sadly, the film never materialized, but a dream sequence in which Stan and Ollie re-create the first meeting of Robin and Friar Tuck is genuinely hilarious.

Rolfe Kent’s musical score brings sweet clarity to the failed dreams and quiet frustration, endured proudly by the embattled, fallen comic warriors, while Laurie Rose’s muted colors and cinematography lend historical accuracy to a bleak, heart aching descent from fame, popularity, and grace.

Directed with affection, and dignity by Jon S. Baird, this Sony Classics release is a tender, sweetly compassionate look at the greatest comedy team in motion picture history … after the adulation and parade had passed them by. Their growing sadness as the reality of age, health, and sad obscurity conspires to consume their devotion to one another ultimately masks a consummate love story that these gentle souls shared. Stan And Ollie is, at its considerable heart, a love story … a fragile take on the rigors and aftermath of fame, and the ultimate redemption of two beautiful human souls whose lasting dignity, respect, and affection for one another comprised the artistry, charm and enduring magic that was … and is … Stan And Ollie.