Rondon Receives Sentence for Murder Conviction

Luis R. Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, today was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in state prison in connection with the October 2019 murder of Deborah Waldinger reports the Orange County (NY) District Attorney.

Rondon had been convicted by a jury in October of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. The sentence is the highest authorized under the law for murder in the second degree.

Rondon, who was a peace officer and sergeant with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority at the time of the murder, knew the victim through their activities in the Society for Creative Anachronism.

At the trial, prosecutors argued that Rondon had killed the victim by striking her repeatedly on the head with a recently purchased framing hammer, and then flew to California where he was later apprehended. Prosecutors argued that Rondon’s motive for killing the victim was that she had threatened to tell his wife about their relationship and that he feared losing his wife, his house and his pension.  

“I am gratified that this defendant received the maximum sentence for this particularly brutal murder that was made even more horrific by the fact that the victim was killed in her own home,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “It is always disturbing when someone whose job is to promote public safety commits acts of senseless violence.”

Speculative Literature Foundation Opens Kickstarter for the Portolan Project

Nalo Hopkinson, Andrea Hairston, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Mary Anne Mohanraj.

The Speculative Literature Foundation has launched a Kickstarter appeal to fund the Portolan Writing Project.

The Portolan Project is an open-source creative writing and literature resource. SLF is creating lessons where they interview masters of the field (including so far George R.R. Martin, Nalo Hopkinson, Kate Elliott, Paolo Bacigalupi, etc.) and editors (such as Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Liz Gorinsky), on aspects of craft. These modules include study questions and writing exercises, both for people working on their own, and for teachers to use in the classroom.

At this first stage of the project, they’re raising funds to provide honoraria to teachers who are creating the lessons. They’ve created 10 modules so far and want to create 90 more in the next six months, so that we have 100 initial — enough to represent a wide range of writers, and let SLF start organizing them into ‘courses,’ such as:

  • speculative ecofiction (hopepunk and otherwise)
  • queer & feminist writers of the 70s: remembering our history
  • world-building: its challenges and delights
  • Black futures: on Earth, and elsewhere in the galaxy
  • vampires, fairies, and other supernatural beings (including Shakespeare!)
  • the map is not the territory: building realistic histories
  • and much more!

While the Portolan Project does not plan to become an accredited MFA, they hope to offer many of the same benefits of such a program, for free, to anyone in the world.

For more details, cool rewards, and a video of SLF Executive Director Mary Anne Mohanraj talking about the project, check out their Kickstarter for Phase 1.

[Based on a press release.]

SCA Removes King of An Tir

The Society for Creative Anachronism Board of Directors has removed Emerson Waite (SCA name Christian Bane), as King of An Tir, their membership territory encompassing the Pacific Northwest and parts of Western Canada. The “Resolution to Remove the Sovereign of An Tir” published yesterday reads:

On October 27, 2021, at a Special Meeting of the SCA Board of Directors, the Board took a rare step and unanimously voted to remove King Christian Bane as the current Sovereign of An Tir, effective immediately. The Board reached this painful decision after significant deliberation and with the advice of our Officers.

At this time, An Tir remains in the capable hands of Queen Helene d’Anjou, until the Coronation of the Heirs to the Throne. We wish great success to her Majesty in serving independently for the remainder of Her Reign.

The SCA Kingdom of An Tir’s borders include the states of Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho, plus most of the Canadian Province of British Columbia, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. 

An “Announcement of Board Motions” on the Kingdom of An Tir website quotes the full motions that were before the Board and the results of the voting.

Yesterday, October 27, 2021, the SCA’s Board of Directors met and took the following actions:

Motion by Ross Roegner to remove Emerson Waite (Christian Bane) as Sovereign of the Kingdom of An Tir, effectively immediately. Second by Dale Fong-Frederick. Opposed: None. Chairman Dan Watson exercised his option to vote and did so in favor of the motion. Motion carried. 

Motion by Dale Fong-Frederick to direct the Society Seneschal to issue a Temporary Removal from Participation in the Society to Emerson Waite (Duke Christian Bane) and to further direct the Society Seneschal to begin an investigation into possible sanctions up to and including revocation of membership and denial of participation, effective immediately. Second by Gigi Coulson. Opposed: None. Chairman Dan Watson exercised his option to vote and did so in favor of the motion. Motion carried. 

This sanction precludes attendance or participation in any manner at any SCA activity, event, practice, or official gathering for any reason, at any time. This includes a ban on participation in officially recognized SCA social media sites, officially recognized SCA electronic email lists, and officially recognized SCA webpages.  

Please note that Queen Helene is now acting as both the Sovereign and the Consort of An Tir.  Crown Prince Sven and Crown Princess Roukinn are still the Heirs of An Tir.  Coronation will still take place, as scheduled, at 12th Night in January.  All awards, peerages, and honors bestowed prior to these board motions are still valid. 

A discussion on Reddit has so far unsuccessfully tried to crowdsource the details behind the Board’s action.

A 2017 Facebook post by someone who said, “unfortunately” Christian Bane mentored her as an SCA fighter claimed “He can be cruel in his treatment of those in fealty to him, as well as manipulating those he harms into silence“ and pointed to a previous SCA disciplinary action against him.

Due to the potential for lawsuits, the SCA itself ordinarily does not give reasons for such decisions. The background tends not to come to light unless law enforcement is involved and the story makes the news, for example, as happened when an SCA King was arrested as a murder suspect in 2019.

SFWA’s “Magic and Mayhem” Fantasy StoryBundle Available ’til November 4

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has released their newest fantasy StoryBundle. The “Magic and Mayhem” Bundle is only available from October 13 to November 4, 2021 and can be purchased here: https://storybundle.com/fantasy.

StoryBundles are curated collections of books offered at a steeply discounted price. This collection features fourteen books from independent and small press fantasy writers that span the sub-genres of fantasy while showcasing magic-induced mayhem, from the hilarious to the horrible and everything in between.

J. Scott Coatsworth, chair of the SFWA Self-Publishing Committee, said, “We’ve significantly expanded our StoryBundle efforts this past year, and we’re delighted that the books in ‘Magic and Mayhem’ reflect so well the wide variety and the high quality of self-published, indie, and small press speculative fiction available today.”

The “Magic and Mayhem” StoryBundle is the result of an open submission call made by SFWA in the late spring of 2021, with books selected by the SFWA Self-Publishing Committee. The list of books is as follows:

Core Bundle

  • By the Pact by Joanna Maciejewska
  • Sekhmet’s Desire by Nova Blake
  • Tales of the Thief-City by Gareth Lewis
  • The Last God of Earth by A.J. Vanderpoel

Bonus Books

  • Darkmage by ML Spencer
  • Playing with Fire: a Magical Romantic Comedy by R.J. Blain
  • Ragnarok Unwound by Kristin Jacques
  • Cutie and the Beast by E.J. Russell
  • Phaethon by Rachel Sharp
  • Quincy Harker, Year One by John G. Hartness
  • Once Stolen by D. N. Bryn
  • Last Sword in the West by Ryan Kirk
  • Lady Changeling by Ken Altabef
  • 9 Tales of Raffalon by Matthew Hughes

Questions about the StoryBundle can be directed to the Self-Publishing Committee at storybundle@SFWA.org.

[Based on a press release.]

Rondon Murder Trial Begins

Trial continues next week for Luis R. Rondon, former King of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s East Kingdom, on charges in connection with the murder of Deborah Waldinger in October 2019 reports News12.

Court information shows that jury selection was completed on September 22, and the trial is expected to run through September 29.

Prosecutors believe Rondon used a framing hammer to beat 32-year-old Deborah Waldinger to death in her New Windsor, NY apartment on October 7, 2019. He then traveled to California to attend the Great Western War sponsored by the Kingdom of Caid, a regional chapter of the SCA, and was arrested by Taft (CA) police on October 11 at the Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area where the event was in progress. He was extradited to New York.

Rondon’s attorneys entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, felonies; and misdemeanor weapon possession in November 2019.

Rondon was expelled from the Society soon after his arrest.

The victim, Deborah Waldinger, was also active in the SCA, as well as in the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia.

See All 300 Self-Published Science Fiction Contest Book Covers

All three hundred covers of the books accepted by the inaugural Self-Published Science Fiction Contest can be viewed on the Pinterest board created by Fantasy-Faction

Eight out of the ten teams have also put up posts or videos about their assignments.

1 – Team Tar Vol OnTeam Tar Vol On SPSFC Round One Entries

2 – Team Fantasy-FactionThe 1st Annual Self-Published Science Fiction Contest – Introductions & Book List

3 – Team At Boundary’s EdgeOn book selections and how reading works in SPSFC; SPSFC At Boundary’s Edge: Meet The Contestants

4 – Team Red StarsTime To Read For SPSFC!

5 – Team Book InvasionMeet Team Book Invasion! Judges and Book List for the Self Published Science Fiction Competition [YouTube]

6 – Team FanFiAddictFanFiAddict – [No book post yet]

7 – Team Fantasy Book CriticFantasy Book Critic – [No book post yet]

8 – Team File 770Team File 770’s 30 Books for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest

9 – Team MeteorMETEOR REVIEWS

10 – Team Space LasagnaAnd here we go! (#SPSFC); SPSFC Team Space Lasagna – Pirate Twinkie Reads (wordpress.com)

JMS Has More To Say About The Last Dangerous Visions

J. Michael Straczynski has added a long comment to his Facebook announcement in defense of the decisions he’s made in shaping The Last Dangerous Visions, for example, holding it to 112,000 words to make it attractive to a major publisher.  

One thing needs to be pointed out since folks who have never actually seen any of the TLDV stories seem to have very strong opinions about what that book should be, and without seeing what this one is, what it shouldn’t be.

There was no one thing that stands as Harlan’s version of TLDV. It never existed because it was always in a state of flux. It was going to be whatever it was on the day when he finally finished with it. THAT was to be TLDV, not something frozen in amber that only reflected the70s. Which is why he continued buying stories all through the 80s and into the 90s (including from folks like Stephen Dedman) because he saw the book as a living document that would have to grow and change to stay relevant with changing times. It wasn’t supposed to be static until it actually came out…and he was the first to say that some stories would have to be trimmed to make room for ones that were more current.

Further to the point: no publisher in their right mind is going to put out a 700,000 word anthology that follows on books that came out in the 70s. The risk is too great. A reasonable sized book, yes. A behemoth, no. And the whole point of the exercise is to put the work of the best of the original DV writers, and those new voices Harlan wanted to continue to see, out where the mainstream world could see it…not as a limited edition sold to the already-faithful, not as an Ebook or a print-on-demand…but something to be published from a major company that would receive the kind of critical attention in the press that these stories and Harlan’s work deserve.

The only way for that to happen is to follow Harlan’s lead, pare away any stories that are no longer as relevant as they were, or have been supplanted by real-world events, and focus on the very best of the very best…so the book is lean and mean and strong and utterly bulletproof. (And do bear in mind that over half the original inventory was originally pulled and published elsewhere in any event.)

To those out there complaining that every single story should be included…if that were done, the book would never be published and nobody would ever see any of it in any credible form. You can have one or the other but you can’t have both. The modern publishing business doesn’t work that way.

The now-completed Last Dangerous Visions contains the sharpest, most incisive stories by the leading lights of the last 40 years…the stories Harlan believed were the strongest and the best-of-the-best.

So…crazy idea for the internet…how about people wait to see what the book actually *is* and what’s actually *inside* it before deciding what it actually is and what’s actually inside it? And understand that what *you* think the book should be isn’t the point…it’s what Harlan thought the book should be, which was never one particular thing, because it kept changing over the years. This reflects where all of that thinking finally wound up. This is the book that he would have wanted to see out there so that the writers included (all others have had their stories reverted so they can appear anywhere at the discretion of their estates or themselves) can receive the critical attention that those stories deserve.

Last Dangerous Visions News

J. Michael Straczynski told Facebook readers today that The Last Dangerous Visions has been finished.

THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS has at last been completed. The final draft went off to the agency that will be handling the sale about fifteen minutes ago. This has been a massive effort…112,000 words…tracking down the estates of the original writers to be included in the book, and nailing down some newer A List writers; fans of Harlan’s who wanted to be a part of TLDV. (And for the record, Harlan continued to buy stories for the anthology right through the 90s, and stopped only due to illness. He saw TLDV as a living document, and fought to keep it relevant when some stories became less timely or were supplanted by real world events.)

I will have more to say about the contents at a later date, but suffice to say that they include some of the most visionary writers in the science fiction genre over the last 48 years.

[Thanks to JJ and Chris Barkley for the story.]

JMS’ announcement last year. It’s now Summer 2021, so really no delay at all, considering the history of the project…

Vox Day’s Blog Offline

Blogger has blocked user access to Vox Day’s Vox Popoli blog, telling readers it is “under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations.” Blogger is owned by Google.

Vox Day immediately restored availability of Vox Popoli’s posts at a new URL, “milobookclub.com”, and commented on the situation in “Conflict is the air we breathe” [Internet Archive link.] He begins:

As you’ve almost certainly noticed if you’re here, Google has decided to roll the dice and take its chances with the Legal Legion of Evil. As with YouTube, Blogger hasn’t entirely deplatformed the account, but instead elected to block access to the blog while publicly issuing false and defamatory statements about it.

This is not a surprise. This day has been a long time in coming, and we have been prepared for it on every front. You may wish to note that this post was made barely an hour after Google took action. Special thanks to the dev team, who were ready for instant action and whose rapid response time allowed such an easy and seamless transformation….

He does not reveal Blogger’s stated reason for the action. It might be his anti-vaccination posts, or advocacy of racism, or even his anti-corporate posts targeting Marvel – but since these things have been his regular drumbeats for some time, one can only speculate why Blogger took action today.

Comments have not been turned on at the new URL, nor are past comments available there. Vox Day says his SocialGalactic platform is hosting parallel discussions of each post.

[Via Camestros Felapton.]